I have to admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of the books of Theoni Pappas. They don’t excite me in the same way that a collection of Martin Gardner’s problems or Ian Stewart’s math essays do. But I greatly respect the huge impact she’s had in making mathematics palatable to so many people. She’s written over 40 books, many for kids, and they’ve been very well received.
A brief biography of Theoni Pappas appears on the NCTM website, because the Theoni Pappas fund sponsors an award through NCTM’s Mathematics Education Trust. Teachers in grades 9‑12 can apply for awards up to $4,000 to develop materials under the Connecting Mathematics to Other Subject Areas grant.
So, what made me think about Theoni Pappas? It turns out that some folks on Amazon who bought my book, Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks, also bought her book, Math Talk. And though I’m not a fan of most of her books, I do love this one. It’s a collection of “mathematical poems for two voices,” and it contains quite a few gems. One reviewer at Amazon said, “This is a delightful, engaging introduction to the world of mathematics, giving children and adults alike a glimpse of the wonderful adventures that lie beyond simple (and boring) drills.”
A review in the NCTM journal Mathematics Teacher said, “Math Talk, in its novel approach, would make an interesting addition to the mathematics library for any age group.”
Below is a poem from the book. I’m surely violating copyright laws by posting this, but you can see this same poem by choosing the “Look Inside” link at Amazon, so whatever.
I applaud her attempt to mix math and language, and I’m honored that my book gets to share a page with hers.
I hope you enjoy her poems as much as I do.