Flatt and Barron’s fourth and final entry in the Math in Nature series rounds out the seasons with a look at shapes in the summer.
From 2-D to 3-D, Flatt explores all sorts of shapes, though only rarely do either the text or the gorgeous cut-paper collages reflect shapes actually found in nature. Moles dig out tunnels in the shapes of rectangles, triangles and squares, while ghost crabs use the sand excavated from their holes to build spheres, prisms and cylinders. A spread depicting a beaver’s dam asks readers to find 3-D shapes with various numbers of faces. From shapes, Flatt moves on to explore such relational concepts as above, below, under, over, beside, etc. A pond scene challenges readers’ knowledge of symmetry; dolphins turn, flip and slide; and two final scenes ask readers to look at placement. Barron’s artwork continues to be the major draw, as this latest shares the flaws of the other books in the series. The rhythm and rhyme are inconsistent, sometimes dropping altogether, and the book lacks an answer key. The audience isn’t clear—those who are drawn to picture books may find themselves in over their heads, as the concepts and vocabulary are not explained. This entry also mixes math with a bit of science, with murky results. Backmatter gives a brief paragraph of information about each featured animal.
If reading with a caring adult, children can show off what they know and extend their learning, though there’s not much realistic about the nature. (Math picture book. 5-7)