Books Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert
The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls
Teacher and author Tom Durwood presents a refreshing dive into mathematics theories as well as history with his work in The Adventures of Ruby Pi and The Geometry Girls. This book is one of a calculated adventure series for young adults and is especially aimed at young adult females, fueled with the intention of re-sparking an interest in math as well as other STEM (Science Technology Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects. Purchase Here.
What captures the interest about this book, is the effort to focus on the application of mathematics in everyday life. The stories focus on a variety of scenarios which include a knowledgeable mix of history, mystery, math, science, and engineering.
In addition, the use of highly intelligent female lead characters, coming from a variety of cultures, circumstances, and time periods, maintains the interest as they utilize their knowledge and skills in intensely proficient manners to solve mysteries, confront enemies, and overcome obstacles.
Initializing this adventurous collection is the first of five stories, Ruby Pi and the Mystery of the old Carthusians. Within this story, readers are introduced to Rupashana Lal Pyradhakrishnan, an intelligent engineering student. Her nickname Ruby Pi comes from a Ruby necklace that she always wears. The story takes place in Victorian London, where Ruby and her firm win the bid to be involved in the rehabilitation of a school’s cathedral. Meanwhile and unfortunately, Ruby does encounter some racism, because she is Hindu and female. However, Ruby overcomes much of the friction she experiences by being her naturally gifted self by using her mathematical prowess to solve a surprising mystery, that arises, thus gaining the respect of others who doubted her skills. In this story applied mathematics is featured to rebuild the cathedral. This story is followed up with a thorough explanation from a real-life mathematician concerning the holding up of the cathedral roof.
Subsequently, the next story, titled Mean Girls features the horrors of war. The year is 1940 and France is at war with Germany and a field hospital is set up in a monastery populated with wounded soldiers and nursing students. Surrounded by death and disaster Simone is forced to take a violent stand when the monastery comes under attack. Simone’s bravery and intelligence save the day. This story features solving codes with cryptography.
Next, the third story, The Architect, set in Africa, features 14-year-old Isoke, an inventive young woman, both brave and a natural-born leader who uses Geometry to save a queen.
Story four, Numerators, follows with the adventure of Yan Li, set in 1958 China. Yan Li is a farm girl who applies her skills in reading and analyzing data.
Finishing out the collection is the final and fifth story, The Visitor set in Florida in 1967 features Shawnee a Black American student who applies her skills in reading data and forecasting, to demonstrate the possibilities of Black financial independence to an important figure in the Black equality movement, Martin Luther King Jr.
Altogether, The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Geometry Girls made for an astute, creative, and literate read, which I enjoyed by delving not only into math theories and their real-life applications but also expanding into history and cultures. Author Durwood has created an impressive and unique venue for young girls to engage with the world of math. Also, his work aptly demonstrates that it is possible for females from any cultural base to be proficient in mathematical applications. I enjoyed each well-detailed story and its resilient, intelligent female characterizations and also the notes at the end of each story, as well as the illustrations and website resource themathgirls.com help to make the books in this series well worth checking out.
The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Math Girls
Author Tom Durwood continues his edifying series, The Adventures of Ruby Pi with his work in The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Math Girls which offers another published collection of intriguing sojourns into the world of math. Purchase Here.
The collection of stories continues on with the clever template of short stories rife with the elements of history, mystery, culture, and math, while also uniquely set in a variety of time periods and locales. This collection also continues to expose readers to more than just math. The stories are also fueled by looks into distinct and well-detailed histories, events, and cultures artfully combined into unforgettable math lessons demonstrating math principles applied in real life.
Starting out the first story engages the attention with Ruby Pi and the case of the Shy Mathematician. Ruby Pi is a spirited young Indian woman and a very capable female engineer with her own firm in London. Her life changes from engineer to problem solver as she works to uncover the mystery of the code in the notebooks of well-known but shy mathematician, Anaan Warinder who is found dead from being poisoned. Overall, this story brings focus to Ruby’s application of her code-breaking skills as well as using probability to solve problems.
Next Blue Moon over the Mogollons, a story set in the late 1800’s in the New Mexico territories, explores different mathematical theorems through the central character in this story, fifteen-year-old Casey, who card counts to help her family cheat at card games. Also, the story delves into the deeper mathematical theory involving snipers hitting their mark by accounting for distance, curvature, target, and origin point, when Casey has to become a sharpshooter.
Continuing on, Pen’s Black Swan moves to 1992 where young British student Penelope employs economic forecasting with critical thinking skills to calculate the risk in the financial markets.
The fourth story, Jayani’s Big Gamble which features Jayani, a master baker’s apprentice and a young girl of fourteen, whose determination, work ethic, intellect, and application of the formula for volume help her to save her aunt from a horrible fate.
Last but not least, the fifth and final story Sasha with the Red Hair set in 1957 Russia, brings to the fore, two intelligent female characters, a mysterious ancient Mayan tablet and code breaking.
Altogether, Tom Durwood’s The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Math Girls once again offers youthful readers a unique set of adventurous stories featuring intelligent female heroines, who set wondrous examples of using their critical thinking skills and use of math theories.
All in all, I enjoyed the distinctive approach to math. These are interesting stories that engage the intellect as well as excite with action and mystery. Author Durwood has written these literate stories with a wonderfully creative bent, which I think would make a great set of math teaching tools.
Additionally, I enjoyed the other perks within the book, which include illustrations, diagrams, and sections of Tom’s notes all of which serve well to deepen the understanding of the presented mathematical theories. However, my only issue with this read is towards the end of the book, the digital formatting needs to be realigned as some of the chapters start at odd spots on the page. Otherwise, I found this book made for an interesting read which I do recommend to eager minds who are mathematically inclined.
Miss Ruby Presents an Introduction to Higher Math
A small but concise booklet, Miss Ruby Presents an Introduction to Higher Math is a workbook to be used as a companion to The Adventure of Ruby Pi series by author and teacher, Tom Durwood. This booklet has been created in co-production with Tom Durwood and math teachers, Kara Colley, Ali Raza, Graham van Gottfrier, Justin Gardiner, and Ahmed Dakwar.. In particular, this book places focus on five of the math concepts taken from the inspiring Ruby Pi stories. Purchase Here.
Chapter by chapter, this booklet allows participants to hone a deeper understanding of the math used in the Ruby Pi series. Dutifully, each chapter provides a basic template to build the math psyche, which includes sections provided by author Tom Durwood who dispenses his insight into the math and how it applied in its related story. Additionally, included are sections of expertly helmed introductions to the math in each chapter provided from the savvy perspective of a different co-author, a math teacher.
Moreover, the book includes a hands approach with practice examples with clearly illustrated problems to be solved. In particular, the workbook includes the topics of Geometry, Bayes Rules, Algorithms, Data and Analytics, and Probability and Kinematics.
Meanwhile looking briefly at the included math topics by chapter; Chapter 1, Geometry, comes from the story The Architect, where female protagonist Isoke has a life-saving awareness of geometric patterns. The introduction to Geometry included in this chapter is written by math teacher Kara Colley. Next Chapter 2, looks at Bayes Rules from the story, The Case of the Shy Mathematician, the introduction to the theory is written by math teacher Ahmed Dakwar. Then Chapter 3 Algorithms stems from the story Pen’s Black Swan, with the introduction to the concept written by math teacher Justin Gardiner. Followed by Chapter 4, Data and Analytics featured in the story Numerators, the introduction to this subject is written by math teacher Ali Raza. Chapter 5, Probability and Kinematics features from the story, Blue Moon over Mogollons, with the introduction to these math concepts written by math teacher, Graham van Gottfrier.
Altogether, I was intrigued by The Adventures of Ruby Pi series and have found, this booklet, Miss Ruby Presents an Introduction into Higher Math to be invaluable as a companion to the mathematical applications presented in the Ruby Pi series. The chapters are well thought out, and the math topics are explained with math-literate clarity, while the included math questions give nurturing rise to enhancing the math skills of the math-curious reader. I definitely recommend this book to complement reading the series.