Friday, December 14, 2018

Margo's Musings: Math in Motion...


Sophie Germain wanted to learn more about math than the measurements in her father's dress shop. But being a young girl in Paris during the French Revolution made it difficult to explore her interest in numbers. After unsuccessfully trying to end their daughter's obsession with learning, Sophie's parents allowed her to work in private, believing it impossible for a woman to become a mathematician. After Sophie sees an experiment involving vibrations from a violin bow that causes sand to dance on a plate, her curiosity is sparked. She hones her craft, studying ancient Greek equations and submitting her work to scholars. When the Royal Academy of Sciences holds a contest to find a way to predict vibrational patterns, it's her aim to calculate the answer. Even with the odds against her, nothing stopped Sophie.


My little sister, Margo, picked out this children's picture book when we were visiting the Connecticut Children's Book Fair this year. We were lucky for the chance to chat with the illustrator, Barbara McClintock, and listen to her talk about her experience illustrating Nothing Stopped Sophie. During her presentation, Ms. McClintock explained how math could be intimidating for her, and as an artist taking on this project she felt nervous. But digging deeper into Sophie's story, the shady lines that twist math and art together came into focus, and she was able to zoom in on who Sophie was and what kept her going. For creators, passion drives the craft—that was their common ground.

Read about Barbara McClintock at the CT Children's Book Fair

Barbara McClintock & Jess Haight

Telling Sophie not to think about math was like telling a bird not to soar. 

Nothing Stopped Sophie by Cheryl Bardoe is an excellent book. The story paints a simple, though vivid picture of, what I'm sure was the very complex, life of Sophie Germain. Of course the illustrations are brilliant, and it was awesome to see Barbara McClintock speak at the book fair. I think the story is well written and shows how absurd it is to believe a person's work is any more or less significant depending on their gender, another reason Sophie loved math so much. To her the numbers were poetry in motion— they didn't care who was sorting them out. I thought it was interesting to see the problems through Sophie's eyes and, as an adverse-math person, I was able to appreciate them in a romantic way. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes math and history or if you appreciate the details in Barbara McClintock's excellent artwork. 👀 

Has anyone else read Nothing Stopped Sophie by Cheryl Bardoe? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Reading!

~ F


30 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fantastic book, even for those of us who are not maths-freaks! Hugs, Valerie

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    1. Valerie- I really enjoyed it and learned a lot too! :) ~F

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  2. Math, a woman, and the French Revolution??? I've got to look into getting this one into my school. Thanks!

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  3. For some people, math is their language and nothing will stop them from speaking it.

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    1. Alex- So true- and utterly amazing to me. :) ~F

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  4. I think I probably needed more books like this in my life when I was younger. I'm not really a maths person at all - but this one makes it seem like it makes maths quite inviting, and beautiful illustrations are always a plus too :) Great review x

    My recent post: https://oliviascatastrophe.com/2018/12/november-wrap-up-2018/

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    1. Olivia- I agree that it is a wonderful book to help show people how wonderful math can be! :) ~F

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  5. This sounds like a refreshing read, I like that the character is a girl and not as one might have expected a boy.

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    1. Tracy- I liked that too. Wonderful to read about a woman in history who changed the world of math. :) ~F

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  6. I come from a math/science oriented family and always felt inferior because I could not understand their passion. This sounds like a book I could benefit from - then and now.

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    1. EC- It helped me understand the passion people have for math too! :) ~F

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  7. Being able to break it down for any to read sure is a win. Sounds like a different and great one indeed.

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    1. Pat- I agree! Wonderful writing to make us all be able to understand. :) ~F

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  8. Love this book sounds amazing and love the draws, beautiful have a nice weekend!

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    1. Gloria- Glad you enjoyed the review. Hope all is well with you! :) ~F

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  9. I loved how you described this story, girls. I was transfixed with your review! I'd love to read more about Sophie in the future. I know there is a picture book about a little boy who I believe became a mathematician as well but I've never heard of Sophie's story.

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    1. Adriana- Glad to introduce you to Sophie. It was wonderful to read about a female mathematician. :) ~F

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  10. I haven't read the story but history is one of my favorite subjects. While math is one of my hardest subjects, this book might help me understand it better. Thanks. Adding it to my list.

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    1. Beverly- Enjoy! I think you will really like this one. :) ~F

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  11. I haven't seen this book, but it looks amazing. I will definitely check it out. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Rosi- You are welcome! It really is a fabulous book. Enjoy! :) ~F

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  12. I haven't read it but I love the cover.

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  13. I've not read 'Nothing Stopped Sophie', but it sounds very good.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Jan- It really is. All the best to you, too! :) ~F

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  14. What a great book! I love the illustrations!

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    1. Magic Love Crow- Aren't they fabulous? :) ~F

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  15. This book looks pretty adorable :D Math is not for me, so this book would probably not be for me either, haha, but I love the illustrations. Glad you enjoyed this one :)

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    1. Carina- You might be surprised! I think even those who don't like math will enjoy reading about Sophie's life. :) ~F

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