Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes.
aRHYTHMetic: A Book and a Half of Poetry About Math
Written by Tiffany Stone, Kari-Lynn Winters, Lori Sherritt-Fleming. Illustrated by Scot Ritchie. Followed by Hungry for Math (2015).
Reading level: ages 3-7 • 42 pages • poetry anthology
Also published in French as aRYTHMétique, translated and adapted by Christine Jutras-Tarakdjian (Gumboot, 2009; Tickle Trunk Publications, 2011).
Ideal for home or classroom use, these rollicking rhymes explore basic concepts of arithmetic in new and engaging ways. Catch the mathematical beat with the title poem, “aRHYTHMetic.” Count by two’s with “Teacup Pups” and “Kitty Chat.”
Learn about ordinal numbers from a bison that loves being “Third in the Herd.” Discover “The Shape of Things” all around us. Roundup “Rot-TEN Dragons” into groups from ten to one hundred. And help “Princess Estimation” guess the number of spots on her new Dalmatian.
These seven math poems by Tiffany Stone, Kari-Lynn Winters and Lori Sherritt-Fleming, illustrated playfully in full colour by Scot Ritchie, are guaranteed to equal fun that will bounce you right out of your seat!
We have online videos of the first book launch, held April 2009 at Science World in Vancouver, featuring the Oscar-worthy stage performances of all three authors. Videos are 24 minutes long in QuickTime format. Download small movie (28MB) or large movie (124MB) (right-click “save as” to download to your computer), and see some photos of the launch on Lori’s website.
Brief mention in Vancouver Sun, 3/24/2009:
Review by Linda Ludke, in CM Magazine (Canadian Review of Materials), 27:16 (December 17, 2010), online at umanitoba.ca/outreach/cm.
Poetry and math have a lot in common. Stanzas are made up of a number of lines, and lines are made up of a number of syllables. There are shapes in math and in concrete poetry. Counting out loud and reciting a poem both have rhythmic appeal. The seven poems in this collection explore primary math concepts.
The opening selection, “aRHYTHMetic,” is a patterned chant that invites children to chime in. Pooches skip count by 2s in “Teacup Pups,” and cats also consume treats in increments of 2 in “Kitty Chat.” Cows explain the difference between first, second and third in “Third in the Herd.” Two-dimensional shapes are found everywhere in “The Shape of Things” – from a tiger’s “Triangle tooth” to a girl’s rhombus shaped kite. Groups of “Rot-TEN Dragons!” play hockey, juggle balls and ride on scooters in multiples of 10 up to 100. When “Princess Estimation” receives a Dalmatian pup for her birthday, she demonstrates her estimating skills.
Scot Ritchie’s watercolour cartoon illustrations offer many opportunities for more counting practice. The 100 dragons are all different sizes, colours and patterns. Cat treats are in the shape of mice, goldfish and sardines. Bright, detailed pages invite closer inspection.
The breezy, fun poems make a good attempt at presenting math in an accessible manner.
Crocs, Acrostics and Math. Review by Carol-Ann Hoyte, in Canadian Children’s Book News 32:4 (Fall 2009), pp. 22-23
See scan of magazine article (PDF).
With a pencil, pen, computer or even a typewriter, children’s poets paint word pictures which often prompt us to think of ordinary people, places and things in surprising and refreshing ways. Tiffany Stone, Lori Sherritt-Fleming and Kari-Lynn Winters give arithmetic a rhyming and rhythmical makeover. Through the anthropomorphization of crocodiles, Robert Heidbreder removes a young child’s real-life fear of these creatures. Avis Harley discusses African wildlife in a new and markedly different format.
Math and poetry may seem like strange bedfellows, but the two converge in aRHYTHMetic, a clever collection of seven rhyming poems which introduce basic mathematical concepts.
Tiffany Stone wrote three of the book’s poems. The title poem can be read by two voices – with one child / group reading the first column and a second child / group reading the second one. This rhythmic response continues until they reach the last line of the poem which they read together. In Stone’s “Third in the Herd,” a bison ruminates on the perks of being number three: “I’m third in the herd. / It’s second to none. / Third in the herd is / NUMBER ONE!) In “Princess Estimation,” the title character wants to know how many spots her dalmatian pup sports on its fur. Using the skills of counting, estimation, and multiplication, she comes up with an answer.
Like Stone, Kari-Lynn Winters has penned three selections. Furry, four-legged housemates noshing on treats star in her “Teacup Pups” and “Kitty Chat” – two poems which introduce the concept of counting by twos. In “The Shape of Things,” she describes two-dimensional shapes found in nature: “Undersea. / There they are. / Oval shell / and five-point star.”
“If you look v-e-r-y closely, / when they think you’ve left home, / you can count rot-TEN dragons] that sneak out to roam.” In Lori Sherritt-Fleming’s “Rot-TEN Dragons,” a child left home alone spies 10 dragons as they emerge from their hiding places. The number of creatures increases by tens until there are 100 of them. The dragons retreat to their hiding places, ten by ten, when they detect the child’s parents nearing home. This 72-line poem, presented across 18 pages, is the book’s longest poem.
This lighthearted collection offers a subtle and innovative way to turn number-loving kids onto poetry and poetry-loving kids onto numbers. Youngsters will delight that animals, a perennial favourite, appear in five of the seven poems. Scot Ritchie’s playful artwork makes the poems come alive and fills the pages with action without overwhelming the eye.
Ritchie’s art has previously graced the pages of poet Robert Heidbreder’s See Saw Saskatchewan and Eenie Meenie Manitoba. In Heidbreder’s new collection Crocodiles Play! illustrated by Rae Mate, the author returns with more reptilian romp. Here, Heidbreder hosts a rhyming croc-o-block celebration of sports. His seven poems double as riddles as they each describe a sport without naming what it is.
Marlene McLaren, teacher
Today I read your delightful book aRhythmetic to my Grade 1 students. You and your co-authors certainly know how to reach the minds of young chlildren in such a creative and fascinating way. Not only does this book entertain, but it teaches.
At first, I thought the content would primarily focus on arithmetic; however, I am so pleased to see an emphasis, as well, on higher level vocabulary.
I often teach a special spelling unit on words that have “-ation” as an ending. Fabulous! I can now use your book as a springboard to my lesson. You include such words as “estimation, celebration, Dalmatian, information, approximation, and nation.” These higher-level words are used in such imaginative ways! I also will use your book when introducing ordinal numbers, skip counting by tens, and multiplying and dividing by ten.
Thank you for your collective energy, your creative minds, and your infectious enthusiasm for children, reading, and learning.
Kari is available to visit schools, libraries, birthday parties, workshops … Please see more about author visits.
Spelling of title
* This book is spelled aRHYTHMmetic in English (two ‘h’s) and aRYTHMétic (one ‘h’) in French. Not arythmetic, arhithmetic, arithmetic, arythmatic, arhythmetique, arhythmétique, or arhythmatic. (This list provided for the benefit of search engine mis-spellings.)
mis-spellings: arythmetic arhytmetic arytmetic arhithmetic arhythm etic a rhythmetic a rithmetic arythmatic arhythmatic