Saturday, September 5, 2015

Book Review: Infinity and Me (Math Picture Book)

Infinity and Me
Written by Kate Hosford
Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
ISBN: 9780761367260
August 2012
32 pages

Bibliographic Information
Hosford, K., & Swiatkowska, G. (2012). Infinity and me. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books.

Plot Description
Infinity and Me is told from the point of view of eight-year-old Uma, a young girl who is questioning the meaning and her understanding of infinity. Throughout her day, she encounters different explanations that span disciplines as she, and the reader, make sense of this complex concept. Infinity is first explored as a mathematical definition and symbol, but then is illustrated through applications within our everyday lives. For instance, the narrator's grandmother prompts her to think about infinity in terms of family and how there have been many generations that have come before and many more that will come after her. As explained in the author's note, the challenge is "to find your own way to imagine this idea." The book's shared examples may serve as a springboard for readers to in fact imagine their own ways.

Quantitative Reading Level
Lexile: AD670L
ATOS: 3.4

Qualitative Reading Analysis (High for Grades 2-3)
In line with the quantitative ATOS rating, and in terms of text structure and language features, this book is well-matched for elementary-aged readers. At the same time, however, the concepts presented are complex in nature since they are abstract. Supporting this assessment regarding the knowledge demands of the text, the Lexile rating is designated as AD "Adult Directed." For optimal exploration of the book, adults may accompany reading of the text with discussion and other activities. Also, while the protagonist is an eight-year-old child, the artwork and concepts would make the book suitable for sharing with older students.

Content Areas
  • Math (infinity)
  • Science (astronomy, scale)
  • History-Social Science (family relationships)
  • English Language Arts (fictional narrative)
  • Art (symbols, space)

Content Area Standards
  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.NF.A.2: Number & Operations-Fractions > Develop understanding of fractions as numbers > Understand a fraction as a number on the number line; represent fractions on a number line diagram.
  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.6.NS.A.1: The Number System > Interpret and compute quotients of fractions, and solve word problems involving division of fractions by fractions, e.g., by using visual fraction models and equations to represent the problem.
  • History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools > 2.1 > Students differentiate between things that happened long ago and things that happened yesterday.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.7: Reading: Literature > Integration of Knowledge and Ideas > Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).

Curriculum Suggestions
  • Curriculum Guide - The author Kate Hosford has provides a free curriculum guide on her website. This valuable resource includes a pre-reading activity, discussion questions, and handouts to support post-reading and extension activities.
  • Mathematical symbols and concepts - For secondary level students, the book could be used as a model and then students could create their own picture books for other mathematical symbols and concepts (e.g., pi, null, etc.)
  • Visual and graphic design - Students may study the illustrations and text layout (e.g., changes in font size) to determine how it affects the reading of the story. They may then apply these concepts to illustrate another text.

Subjects and Themes
  • Mathematical number sense
  • Philosophy and self identity
  • Symbols and representation
  • Size and scale
  • Time and space
  • Family relationships


Links to Supporting Digital Content

Personal Thoughts
I highly recommend this beautifully illustrated picture book, as it provides a wonderful starting point for deeper thinking and discussion. The ideas presented are complex, but I read the book with my five-year-old daughter, and there were great natural points throughout the book for me to stop and ask her to share her thoughts, which she did with interest and excitement. While appropriate for an early elementary audience, this may also be used with older students as a conversation starter.

Reviewed in conjunction with San Jose State University's School of Information Fall 2015 INFO 237-10 School Library Media Materials course. Fulfills "math picture book" for Subject Area Blog Assignment.

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