That headline makes me feel positively Olympian. (I’ve been trying to get more exercise lately, anyway.) The Florida Book Awards for 2008 have been announced, although their web site may not have been updated quite yet. Missing Math: A Number Mystery has won the third place medal in the Children’s Literature category. Who knew that an artistically-inclined person like me would ever have anything to do with numbers?
The 9th grade guidance counselor had that serious-grown-up look when informed of my reason for not taking any more advanced classes in the subject: I will never go into any field that requires math. As an art major in college, that logic continued and no math classes appeared on my schedule. When my children’s book editor in the early 1990s suggested doing a picture book with a math theme, it was startling, to say the least. And yet...
I began thinking about my everyday activities as an author-illustrator, from bookkeeping to measuring layouts to estimating how long it would take to do an illustration. Apparently math was integral to my daily existence! If you’re a traditional quilter reading this, your geometry muscles get a work out on a regular basis, right?
The other ironically nice thing about math from an artistic standpoint is its abstract nature. The possible imagery one can use with a concept is up to the imagination. If multiplication can be paired with Halloween characters, why not? I made a list of terms such as counting, adding, subtracting, and so on, and have been working my way through them ever since. All the titles (so far) are here. Kids seem to like my visual approach to math, and hopefully they’ll have a more positive attitude about it than I did.
The idea of “taking math away” took several years to crystallize into the story told in the book. To read more about that little adventure in writing, click here. It appears that keeping an open mind and doing a few sit-ups now and then can really pay off!