Flatt’s latest, the third in the Math in Nature series, encourages children to use math to measure.
Measuring with nonstandard units found in nature—footprints in the snow, otters in lakes, piles of porcupine leftovers—Flatt and Barron encourage children to look at the world in new ways. But this way of measuring may also confuse very young readers, for whom the book is best suited: “How far do flakes fall? / Is it one length for all? / The distance depends / on the start and the end.” One question on this spread asks readers to count “[h]ow many snowflakes deep is the snow?” The grid of blue, gray and purple flakes provides the answer—eight—but it doesn’t have any basis in reality. Other pages are more successful, encouraging readers to measure using the birds at two birdfeeders, bringing up the issue of the size of the measuring units—each is four birds long, but chickadees and cardinals are different sizes, as are their feeders. Distance, area, capacity, mass, time and comparisons round out the volume, which asks good questions, but children already need to have a good grasp of those concepts in order to answer them. Barron’s stunning cut-paper collages are the highlight of the book, while backmatter provides a paragraph of information about each of the featured creatures.
When read with a caring adult, this may challenge readers to look at measurement in a different way. (Math picture book. 4-7)