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Go Figure!: A Totally Cool Book About Numbers (Bccb Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award (Awards)) Hardcover


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Go Figure!: A Totally Cool Book About Numbers (Bccb Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award (Awards)) + Why Pi? + How to Be a Math Genius
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: Bccb Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: DK CHILDREN (August 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756613744
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756613747
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-8–A dynamic book filled with puzzles and problems to solve. Blocks of color, diagrams, and photo collages contribute to the exciting layout. Four sections (Where do numbers come from? Magic numbers, Shaping up, and The world of math) cover the history of counting, zero, number theory, Pi, chance, logic, fractals, and much more. The contributions of mathematical greats, from Ahmose to Albert Einstein, are described in brief. Many of the examples and questions are popular culture items; answers are provided in the back of the book. There is an error; the book attributes selecting animals to take on the ark to Moses rather than Noah. Not all sources are attributed (such as the chance of dying from various causes), although all images are. This title is well indexed and has a detailed table of contents. A fun romp for number and puzzle lovers.–Erlene Bishop Killeen, Fox Prairie Elementary School, Stoughton, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-7. Ball aims straight at kids' natural enthusiasm for puzzles and nifty phenomena in this wide-angle view of math. Readers will find the usual number history, finger-counting tricks, and magic squares here, but Ball extends his purview well beyond typical classroom subjects to touch upon topology, chaos theory, and fractals. Some discussions and exercises will challenge even grown-up brainiacs ("It's possible to make a hole in a postcard-sized piece of paper that a person can step through. Can you work out the pattern?"), but many others (making an icosahedron; performing probability-based card tricks) are spot-on for inquisitive kids who like to fiddle and ponder. Perhaps the only real drawback is the book's design. Fragments of text appear beside distractingly scattered photos, and the jacket's cheerful primary colors seem to target a younger audience than will be capable of absorbing the concepts. Try this on kids who ask for books on Sudoku number squares, and give it to teachers at many levels, who will want to borrow from Ball's pedagogical toolbox. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Johnny Ball Go Figure!
Rebecca of Amazon
Very highly recommended for both elementary school and homeschooling science studies reading lists.
Midwest Book Review
Totally cool book presented in a totally cool fun way.
Phillip M. Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca of Amazon HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Without math, the pyramids would never have been built. ~ Johnny Ball

Go Figure! gives children the opportunity to unlock the magic of numbers through brainteasers, mind-reading games and magic tricks. This book also contains some of the puzzles that have stumped the world's smartest mathematicians.

The author, Johnny Ball introduces concepts to make math more fun and very easy to understand. Part of what makes this book quite enjoyable is the full-color pages filled with diagrams, pictures and explanations. The concepts are divided into four main chapters:

Where do Numbers come from?
Magic Numbers
Shaping Up
The World of Math

Children will learn about Roman numerals, infinity, secret codes, World News, how counting began, shapes, chaos and logic. Johnny Ball also answers the following questions:

Did Cavemen Count?
How many molecules are in one glass of water?
What do the symbols on a Babylonian clay token mean?
How did the Mayans count?
How do insects use prime timing to survive?

How did numbers evolve? See Indian numbers go from 10 symbols to what they are today. One was originally a horizontal line. Three, three horizontal lines. Which really helps to explain why three looks the way it does today. Really fascinating stuff even for adults to read about.

As someone who enjoyed writing words upside down on my calculator in school, I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining book about how math evolved through time. There is even a page comparing 1-100 in Babylonian, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Chinese script, Hindu, Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Mayan and Modern Arabic.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Lorel Shea VINE VOICE on January 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a homeschooling parent, I have read a lot of math books written for children. Go Figure! is one of the freshest and most fun! The pages are saturated with information, and my one complaint is that it feels a bit visually overwhelming. Don't let the colorful pages fool you, this book is very meaty and will take some time to digest. My son really enjoyed the section on ancient number systems. The chart on pages 24-25 compares Babylonian, Hebrew, Roman, Mayan, Hindu, and others. Readers can also learn about the golden ratio and phi, prime numbers, Pascal's triangle, buckyballs, and much, much more. There are nearly 100 pages of information here, geared toward middle school and up.
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Format: Hardcover
Go Figure! A Totally Cool Book About Numbers is a book specifically designed to show young readers that the science of math and numbers can be cool, fun, and crucial to understanding the universe's secrets. Each two-page spread teaches the reader about fascinating numerological concepts in plain and simple terms, from brain-twisting logic puzzles (a TV game show host has you pick from three garage doors, each with a car behind it. After you pick one, he knowingly reveals that one of the doors you didn't pick is empty. Should you switch your choice?) to the amazing shapes of fractals to the fascinating properties of the "golden ratio" phi and much more. Illustrated throughout with full-color diagrams and photographs, Go Figure! takes an adventurous approach to stimulating young minds and exploring mathematical mysteries. Very highly recommended for both elementary school and homeschooling science studies reading lists.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Anna Gaskin on May 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I found this book incredibly interesting, and I'm no maths fan - I leafed through it while babysitting for a friend who has a son of 9, then I bought the book for myself! It is so well written and extremely funny in parts. I would recommend this book to anyone of any age. I guarantee you will learn something new.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Paul Deardon on May 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a truly awesome book, full of fascinating insights, entertaining all the way through and amazingly wide in scope, ranging from school math to jokes, puzzles, games and high-level topics like chaos. Note that the "mistake" mentioned in the first editorial review is not really a mistake but an old joke: How many animals of each sex did Moses take on the Ark? The answer of course is "none - it was Noah who built the Ark!"
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Science-Minded on September 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Here's a rare find: A lively, colorful, intellectual book about math for kids (or indeed anyone who can do basic arithmetic).

Author Johnny Ball begins at the beginning, with a review of the many ways that different cultures reckon numbers. Base ten? How about base 20 (in cultures where people count on their fingers AND toes)?

Kids also get to see how different systems for writing numbers--from Egypt to Rome to India to the Mayan empire--developed. And Ball presents all sorts of intriguing topics, including pi, magic squares, primes, geometry, topology, logic, and fractals.

The book is bursting with helpful illustrations and peppered with questions, thought problems, cool math shortcuts, and activities. For example, the reader learns how to prove that a triangle's angles add up to 180 degrees (by drawing a triangle on paper, tearing out each corner, and then fitting them together along a straight line).

Negatives? The explanations aren't always satisfying, as when Ball explains why numbers from the Fibonacci sequence (i.e.,...5, 8, 13, 21, 35...) turn up in nature so often. ("...they provide the best way for packing seeds, petals, or leaves in a limited space without large gaps or awkward overlaps.")

But I don't really see this as a shortcoming. The book is designed to be a brief introduction, and Ball's presentation should inspire the curious reader to track down more information.

My more important complaints:

(1) Some of the "brain teasers" are really just smart aleck riddles about how we interpret everyday speech--e.g., "How many birthdays does the average man have?" (Answer: One) or "How is it possible to push a large doughnut through a cup handle?" (Answer: Poke your finger through the handle and give it a push!
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