Geometry Is as Easy as Pie by Katie Coppens

Tumblehome Books. 2019

Caution: This book will inspire you to play with geometric concepts…and your food!

Katie Coppens has written a delightful book for elementary and middle schoolers that covers an array of geometric concepts through pie. From concepts of symmetry to tessellations, polygons, angles, and measurements, Coppens links basic geometric concepts to pies of all sorts. The text is direct and straightforward and will leave readers itching to try the concepts, and the recipes, themselves.

This book looks appealing from page one. It features delicious looking pies, diagrams to clarify and explain geometric principals, and step-by-step recipes illustrated with photos of pies in progress.

This physical means of teaching geography is a brilliant approach, and what kid would complain with a delicious snack as the result?

Coppens is a teacher and she definitely knows how to interest kids and how to cover geography concepts clearly. Although the text is concise, the reading level is a bit high, in part because the book has a lot of domain-specific vocabulary. Although some gifted kids may take off and devour this book on their own, I think most kids will benefit by working through the book and the recipes with a parent or teacher. As I write this review, the country is locked down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It might just be the perfect time to work through this book as a family. When they return to school, the kids can wow their teachers with their geometry knowledge!

Teachers and homeschoolers should note that in addition to the recipes and hands-on practice such as decorating your pie with tessellations or parallel and perpendicular latticework, there are also thirty meaty geometry questions in the book and an answer key on the publisher’s website. In addition, there’s a great glossary and an eye-popping array of pie inspiration pictures.

I highly recommend this book. And after I finish making pie, I’m heading online to check out Geology is a Piece of Cake also by Katie Coppens.

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

mango-shaped-space

Recorded Books, 2007.

Mia Winchell is a middle schooler with a secret: for her, everything has a color as well as a shape or a sound. Until third grade Mia thought everyone saw things that way, but when she tried to explain it in math class everyone laughed at her and her teacher thought she was lying. Since then, she’s kept her secret to herself. But one day in the grocery store Mia meets a little boy who also sees colors for words. Their meeting emboldens Mia to confess her secret to her parents. The confession isn’t easy, and it takes them some time to understand.

It’s been a tough year for Mia. Her grandfather’s death had her whole family, and especially Mia, mourning. Now she has to deal with reinterpreting who she is as someone with a condition named synesthesia. Will she be able to mesh who she once was with who she is now?

I listened to A Mango-Shaped Space as an audio book expertly read by Danielle Ferland. Though I was enjoying the story and fascinated by the details of synesthesia, a condition artists like Van Gogh and Rachmaninoff also had, I must admit that I considered not finishing the book at a point about halfway through. The synesthesia had been explained, and the plot was spiraling toward both inevitable bad decisions of adolescence and difficult facts of life. Though I took a break from the story, I couldn’t resist finishing it, and I’m glad I did. Not all of the terrible things I was anticipating came to pass, and the story wraps up in a place of warmth and love that left me feeling buoyed rather than sad.

This book has so many points that readers can connect to. It’s rich in details of neuroscience, personal relationships between classmates and family members, death and grieving. This would make a great addition to a classroom or school library.

I listened to A Mango-Shaped Space as an audio book from my local library.