Count On Me

Count On Me
Miguel Tanco
Tate Publishing

The little girl in this story wherein every one of her family members has a passion, struggles to find hers – at first that is. Her dad loves to paint, her mum loves entomology, her brother is a budding musician but none of these find favour with our young narrator.
Nor do those activities she tries – dancing, cooking, singing or sports, for instance:

not a single one arouses passion in her, worthy though they might be.

All else has failed but what about maths? Now there’s something that really fuels her enthusiasm – a passion at last! Yes maths is amazing

and it’s everywhere once you start looking: there’s an abundance of geometric shapes in the playground, at the lake,

in the block buildings she constructs. There are perfect curves to be discovered; number conundrums to solve over a family meal; then there’s symmetry in making a paper plane, as well as the excitement of launching and tracking its trajectory once complete.

As the girl reminds us, being passionate about maths can be strange to some people – hard to comprehend in fact – but as she says in conclusion, ‘ there are infinite ways to see the world … And maths is one of them.’
Seeing the world through the lens of a mathematical mind can most certainly seem well-nigh incomprehensible. It certainly was to this reviewer whose amazing dad (a Cambridge mathematician), maths puzzle solver extraordinaire, and for whom maths was inherent in his job, failed to understand how it was my least favourite subject at secondary school, and one I couldn’t wait to drop after O-level.

It’s great for those with a maths aversion as well as to demonstrate the power and importance of passions, whatever they are. I love the way in which Tanco shows readers the world through that mathematic lens, illustrating so many different concepts in his watercolour spreads of everyday activities, while also introducing mathematical vocabulary in the girl’s narrative. I love too the final ‘My Maths’ notebook that explains and illustrates the mathematical terms and concepts that are part and parcel of the story. Perhaps if I’d had this gem of a picture book as a child who knows …

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