Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mysterious Marvelous Mathematics

I like authors who consistently see the world with different eyes; having a perception expanding wider and deeper than the obvious.  Doing so with joy and playfulness is a positive plus for their readers. Repeatedly author Amy Krouse Rosenthal will take something simple but conscious like planting a seed in the ground; adding wonder to create something new as she did in Plant A Kiss

In her title, This Plus That: Life's Little Equations (Harper), with illustrations by Jen Corace, she devises her own unique take on mathematical functions; viewing what is and offering how it came to be.  With a lighthearted look at what defines the everyday lives of her characters she invites readers to do the same.  Words are her numbers.

Beginning with two little girls:


we follow them and another boy into a world of words that can be seen or touched to those that can not.  We discover activities with an end result.  From the silly to serious, through the seasons, looking at opposites and into our hearts we read, listen and learn.

Two words with another added starts with hello and finishes with the sandy shore.  Substituting one word for another takes us from the classroom to the playground.  Repetition gives us a feeling or a goal.

The beauty of this volume is in the simplicity of a single word or short phrase; when combined the results give readers pause, causing an "ah-ha" moment or "I never thought of that before."  Rosenthal's sense of getting to the heart of a definition through the eyes of a child or for the eyes of a child is perfectly perfect.  This is my kind of math.


Artist Jen Corace brings her own special talents, her ability to isolate a single setting, event or emotion, using pen and ink with watercolor and some acrylic to this title.  Her front endpapers feature a blue-green sky filled with puffy clouds, a singular smiling cloud nestled next to a grinning sun.  A dusty purple sky sprinkled with stars and hearts with a happy moon presiding covers the closing endpapers.

Using lots of white space but also altering her image sizes, placement on the page or even bleeding them off the edges of a page, Corace extends the narrative.  The rosy, rounded checks on her characters, small expressive eyes and animated movements pair with Rosenthal's perspective.  Color palette, boldness and a lighter touch for background or mood are delightful.  My favorite illustration is the two page spread depicting symphony.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal's This Plus That: Life's Little Equations coupled with the artwork of Jen Corace adds, divides, subtracts and multiplies life's moments with immeasurable bliss and insight.  This title + students x creativity = reading + writing.  It might be fun to design an activity or extension using Tomorrow's Alphabet by George Shannon with illustrations by Donald Crew along with this book.
Follow the links to the author and illustrator websites by selecting their names above.  Follow this link for a podcast interview of Jen Corace.  To browse inside the book at HarperCollins follow this link.

No comments:

Post a Comment