Tuesday, April 25, 2017
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When I was fighting breast cancer, I dropped below 100 pounds. At 5’6”, that is danger territory. Between nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and just no appetite, my husband, the cook in our family since I went back to work after our second son was born, and my caregiver, did everything he could to entice me to eat. For most of the five months of chemo, my standard fare was Cream of Wheat, with water, not milk, boiled potatoes without even butter, Jell-O™, hummus with spears of fresh cucumber, popsicles and ginger ale. A couple of friends discovered I could eat ginger snaps, and kept me supplied.... (Read More ...)

A hot air balloon in flight at the Mid-Hudson Valley balloon festival along the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia) One of the best things about Robert E. Wells’ book, “Can You Count to a Googol?” is that he takes you through the build-up of numbers slowly. Both author and illustrator, he shows you a whimsical imagining of 1, inviting readers to see themselves with one banana balancing on their nose. By the time you get to 100 bananas balancing on 10 monkeys, you have slipped quietly into the understanding that adding zeros adds places in a number and multiplying... (Read More ...)

Readers know the classic book for reading your grandchildren to sleep, “Goodnight, Moon.” A new classic has been introduced, “Can I Just Take a Nap?” A bowl of Cheerios (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Ron Rauss, architect, poet and first-time children’s book author, decided to enter a contest in 2010 that Cheerios hosts every year for new children’s book authors. He won, beating out more than 8,000 entries. Simon and Schuster published his book and General Mills, owner of Cheerios cereal, put a small, paperback version in three million boxes of Cheerios. Now, it’s out in hardback. Although... (Read More ...)

I remember watching the Disney movie, “Mary Poppins” when it first came out. It was released August 27, 1964, the summer before my Senior year of high school. Child dressed in “Mary Poppins” costume, 1964. The Walt Disney Company had a very successful children’s toy and costume merchandising campaign in conjunction with the Julie Andrews film. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) I had never read the original 1933 book on which the movie is based, and, after watching the movie, it never occurred to me to read the book. That changed when I recently saw the movie, “Saving Mr. Banks.” This... (Read More ...)

This is a story about a girl who spills all the buttons in Grandma’s button box while Grandma is out taking her morning walk. Spanish metal button circa 1650-1675, 12mm diameter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) She loves Grandma’s button box because Grandma tells a story about each button. There are buttons from Grandma’s wedding dress, her own baby sweater. Lost buttons that turned up in the doghouse, the fishbowl, the gerbil’s cage. Buttons from everyone in the family – Grandpa’s suspenders, her brother’s tuba recital. She and her brother and sister looked all over to find all the buttons... (Read More ...)

Author Cindy Neuschwander, an elementary and high school math teacher, decided there weren’t enough storybooks about math for children. So, she started writing her own and now has eight published. She is now a third-grade teacher. All Giza Pyramids in one shot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometry, uses the theme of Egyptian pyramids to introduce solid shapes. Though children don’t quite realize it, they are learning that some of the characteristics of solid shapes are the number of sides, or faces, they have, and the number of edges and corners, or vertices. To children... (Read More ...)

Pumpkins, photographed in Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Last summer, my grandson took some of the money he’d earned from cleaning off shelves for me and we went to the bookstore so he could buy a book of his own. He looked through biographies and fiction, then picked a Math workbook. This shocked the bookstore clerk, who could barely contain her delight when he put the book up on the counter and brought out his own money. He asked his grandfather to read the exercises to him while they did the math problems together. His mother, of course, an accountant, approved when she heard the story. My... (Read More ...)

It starts out like a remake of the story of Rumpelstiltskin, ten years later. Rumpelstiltskin from The Blue Fairy Book, by Henry J. Ford (Photo credit: Wikipedia) But, Rumpelstiltskin now exercises a different power from the one he used last time to spin straw into gold. He can multiply things at will. By the time you are drawn into the story of how he does this, you have been practicing multiplication for pages. And, further, you have been introduced to the very different skill of multiplying by fractions and the fact that numbers go down when you do this, not up. Perhaps it is no surprise that... (Read More ...)

When I visited my father’s childhood home in Schenectady, New York with my brothers last summer for my 65th birthday, I felt like I was attached to the very streets. I’ve never lived in Schenectady. The Cheat River in the Monongahela_National_Forest in West Virginia, nearing its headwaters (from the state’s highest peaks). (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Some years before, I’d seen my father’s childhood home when I visited Schenectady for the first time, walked down the sledding hill on the street closed off in the winter for the children. I imagined my grandfather walking along... (Read More ...)

Just in time for Thanksgiving! Not that you’re having spaghetti and meatballs for Thanksgiving, but because you’re likely to have lots of people sitting around the table. Spaghetti with meatballs and tomato sauce (Photo credit: naotakem) Have you ever thought about letting your children figure out the seating arrangement, how many at each table, combining and rearranging card tables that seat four when you overflow the dining room table? That’s what the children’s story book, “Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! A Mathematical  Story” is all about – adding, subtracting, multiplying... (Read More ...)