Book Review: Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone

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I was at the library the other day, perusing Math picture book section when suddenly I stumbled upon a book put on the wrong shelf.  This book surely couldn't be a Math book.  It didn't look Math-y enough.  

It belongs in the adventure or history section, I thought.  

Turns out, I was right.  

And wrong.  

It was a Mathematical adventure book!  

Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone, by Cindy Neuschwander, is a book geared towards 3rd through 5th grade, yet can be enjoyed by the entire family, thanks to a plot rich in substance and illustrations by Wayne Geehan that enthrall.   

What first grabbed me about this book was the title.  

Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone. 

Clever, right?  I knew right off that this book would encourage Math vocabulary, and with characters named Lady Di of Ameter and her son Radius, I was definitely right.  Suddenly, the words vertex, Geometry, symmetry, Circumference, diameter, and radius take on an image never thought of before, and that helps create a picture for the brain.

The whole premise of this book is to teach Euler's Law.   That is, that if you add the number of faces on a geometric solid with the number of its points or vertices, and then subtract, the answer will always be 2.  

In the book, the King is searching for an heir to his throne and so creates a puzzle for 5 different knights to attempt to solve.  The knight clever enough to find the answer wins the honor of the throne.

Adventurous, right? 

The book takes you along on Vertex's journey of counting faces and vertices and subtracting edges.  Illustrated in a chart disguised as parchment paper, the reader is a captive audience of the process he goes through to attempt to find the hidden sword.  

Beautifully written and illustrated, cunning plot, clear and concise explanations, this book is just one of several books in the Sir Cumference series and sure to appeal to many different learning intelligences.  

Definitely one for the family bookshelf!  

For a list of all Cindy Neuschwander's books to date, and for lesson plans extending the learning of Sir Cumference, click here.