The Amazing Book of Shapes


40 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-590-24306-3
DDC j516'.15





Illustrations by Lydia Sharman
Reviewed by Christy Conte

Christy Conte is a Toronto-based freelance writer.


In the areas of subject matter and intended audience, these books share
obvious similarities. In terms of approach, emphasis, and depth of
information provided, however, the two titles are significantly
dissimilar and will probably appeal to two entirely different groups of
young readers.

Both books are designed to help children explore the relationship
between mathematics and shapes in everyday life. Both have a hands-on,
project-oriented focus; neither book is intended for passive reading.
Both Ross and Sharman provide a useful glossary for quick reference.

The background and training of the authors has determined the approach
each has taken. Sharman is a professional designer and, not
surprisingly, Shapes is visually spectacular. Bold primary photographs
and drawings are well laid out, threatening to leap right off the large,
crisp white pages. Triangles, on the other hand, though fully
illustrated, is driven by detail and information, reflecting Ross’s
background as a professor of library and information science.

For the keen math or science student, Triangles provides a wealth of
information. On the subject of fractals, for example, Ross not only
names and gives instructions for creating several types, but throws in
some historical references, as well. Sharman’s fractals are
beautifully depicted, but the text’s descriptions are somewhat
simplistic. Also, whereas in Triangles attention is paid to geometric
applications in such areas as railway-truss design, surveying, and
architecture, Shapes provides more of a starting-off point, focusing on
such basics as shapes, patterns, and symmetry.

Each of these books has something to offer. From preschool level and
up, with or without a scientific bent, children will appreciate Shapes
for its graphics, mirror bookmark, and accompanying stencils and pattern
grids. For the 9- to 14-year-olds with a definite interest in the topic,
however, only Ross’s Triangles will satisfy. Both are recommended.


Sharman, Lydia., “The Amazing Book of Shapes,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,