Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Guest-Blogger Lucina Kathmann, Author of a Forest of Mathematics / Un bosque de matemáticas

This week's guest-blogger, writer Lucina Kathmann, is a long-time resident of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She works hard for the International PEN San Miguel Center's many programs, including a reading series, and in fact, just this morning, I received her e-mail announcing the San Miguel PEN 30th Anniversary Celebration this Saturday July 18 at Bellas Artes. 5 pm: Film, Breaking the Maya Code, with film maker David Lebrun present, 100 pesos and 8 pm: (even if you haven't gone to the film) Wine and cheese fiesta in the patio with reminiscences of San Miguel PEN, 1979-2009. (Want to join San Miguel PEN? Check it out here.)

Kathmann has recently published a most unusual book for tweens, teens and, as she puts it, "imaginative adults": A Forest of Mathematics/Un bosque de matemáticas. In this novel / math book, with illustrations by Fabian Nanni, animal characters in a forest present negative numbers, Cartesian coordinates, exponents, fractions, decimals and percents through "real-life" (of the forest) situations, worksheets included, and a young dragon whose wrongdoings are redeemed through math. Apropos of its publication, I asked Lucina to contribute five relevant links. Over to you, Lucina!

Hello Madam Mayo and Madam Mayo readers. Here are some recommended websites that come from my recent history.

When I was writing A Forest of Mathematics, I wanted to emphasize important steps recommended by the mathematician, who is the Bear, as “Bear Steps.” I did not want an artist's conception of a bear's paw print; I wanted accurate paw prints. This site has nice accurate black and white schematic prints from most mammals, both forepaws and rear paws. It will fill most “paw print needs.”

#2. Microsoft's Equation Toolbar
A Forest of Mathematics is a math book. It has a lot of special requirements, in particular in representing fractions and decimals. When I got to long division I was really stumped. How do you write say, 55 divided by 22? I finally had to learn to use an equation toolbar. If you don't have one and need one, I think this will help you.

#3. Decimales
The family of my editor in Argentina protested because they use commas instead of periods for decimal points. My kids in Mexico said they used periods. I investigated and found sites supporting both conventions, but I think the movement of history in Latin American mathematics is toward periods. I sent some website citations supporting my decision. Here is one.

#4. Chiron Books
Chiron Books has republished my bilingual story book Payshapes and the Bear, originally published in 2000 in Salta, Argentina, copies unavailable for years. The book has new stories and Spanish/English text on facing pages, better for language teaching. Chiron publishers Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin have recently won two prizes for their own children's novel Anna's World. Their website is spectacular and I know they have more technical feats in mind, so I recommend following their doings.

#5. How to List Your Book on
Chiron Books is already on the job with online distribution for Payshapes and the Bear, but my publisher for A Forest of Mathematics, Biblioteca de Textos Universitarios of the Catholic University of Salta, Argentina, does not have any way to distribute books. So I have gone through the rigamarole to put A Forest of Mathematics on myself. Pat Perrin from Chiron Books told me how. Here's where you start.

-- Lucina Kathmann

---> For the archive of Madam Mayo guest-blog posts, click here.