Marvelous Math: A Book of Poems

9780689806582_p0_v3_s260x420Marvelous Math by Lee Bennett Hopkins is a playful look at the sometimes surprising ways math is part of our daily’s life. The poems cover a vast range of topics from multiplication, division, and fractions to time, counting and measurement, but all relate math to our everyday world. The book is illustrated in full color by Karen Barbour.

“Hopkins pulls together poems on mathematics, providing insights from writers such as Karla Kuskin, Janet S. Wong, and Lillian M. Fisher,” according to School Library Journal. 

Several selections share the predictable theme of the significance of math and numbers. Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s title poem, for example, asks questions such as, “How fast does a New York taxi go?” and “How slow do feathers fall?” and suggests how to find the answers: “Mathematics knows it all!” Some take a unique point of view, as in Betsy Franco’s “Math Makes Me Feel Safe”: “Knowing that my brother will always be/three years younger than I am,/and every day of the year will have/twenty-four hours.” Rhymed and open verse styles are represented, as are a variety of tones. David McCord’s “Who Hasn’t Played Gazintas?” is a playful presentation of spoken language. Barbour’s lively illustrations dance and play around the poems. Her boldly outlined watercolor figures, often wearing ill-fitting hats, fill the pages with childlike whimsy. Children will enjoy studying the oddly colored animals, numbers, and stylized, arched-browed people. A delightful collection.

An amazon reviewer added that the book is  “a wonderful way to connect mathematics to communication arts. This book of math poetry shows children how math is readily used in one’s daily life. The colorful illustrations help keep the children intersted. It has given my students the enthusiasm for trying to write some poems about math also. This is great for home and also as a teaching tool.”

The EAI Education site said:
Hopkins pulls together poems on mathematics, providing insights from writers such as Karla Kuskin, Janet S. Wong, and Lillian M. Fisher. Several selections share the predictable theme of the significance of math and numbers. Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s title poem, for example, asks questions such as, “How fast does a New York taxi go?” and “How slow do feathers fall?” and suggests how to find the answers: “Mathematics knows it all!” Some take a unique point of view, as in Betsy Franco’s “Math Makes Me Feel Safe”: “Knowing that my brother will always be/three years younger than I am, / and every day of the year will have / twenty-four hours.” Rhymed and open verse styles are represented, as are a variety of tones. David McCord’s “Who Hasn’t Played Gazintas?” is a playful presentation of spoken language. Barbour’s lively illustrations dance and play around the poems. Her boldly outlined watercolor figures, often wearing ill-fitting hats, fill the pages with childlike whimsy. Children will enjoy studying the oddly colored animals, numbers, and stylized, arched-browed people. A delightful collection.

LEE BENNETT HOPKINS is a distinguished poet, writer, and anthologist whose poetry collections include the highly acclaimed Hand in Hand: An American History Through Poetry, illustrated by Peter Fiore, and My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, and America at War, both illustrated by Stephen Alcorn. Mr. Hopkins’s numerous awards include the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for “lasting contributions to children’s literature” and both the Christopher Award and a Golden Kite Honor for his verse novel Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life. He lives in Cape Coral, Florida.

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