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It almost works. Part of the new-to-the–U.S. TanTan Math Story series, its premise is simple. A family of four (mother, father, sister, brother) visits a large museum that advertises a major exhibition called (coincidentally) “Discover Math in Art.” Once inside, they tour the carefully structured exhibition galleries and begin to make mathematical and artistic discoveries and connections. A number of familiar paintings are introduced along with their underlying mathematical dimensions: Jasper Johns’ 0 Through 9 shows numerals; Seurat’s work demonstrates dots; while Kandinsky and Leger evidence geometric shapes. Changing point of view can be seen via Degas’ dancers, while Picasso’s abstractions simultaneously incorporate various directions and angles. Distance, depth and even time (Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory) are also explored. Unfortunately the backmatter, featuring a few rudimentary follow-up activities, skimps on the art information. The book lacks a list of resources and further suggestions for more learning about either math or art.
Some may find this simplistic and oversold, but a few highly industrious parents and creative teachers, eager to more fully integrate the arts into Common Core curriculum, may find even these skimpy explorations invigorating. (Picture book. 3-5)