Describes the life and work of Eratosthenes, the Greek geographer and astronomer who accurately measured the circumference of the Earth.
- ISBN: 9780316515269
- Author: Lasky, Kathryn
- Published: 1994 , Little, Brown Young Readers
- Themes: Astronomy, History, Mathematics, measurement
- Descriptors: Biography - Autobiography- Memoir, Egypt, Greece, Intermediate (ages 9-14), Primary (ages 6-9)
- No. of pages: 48
One thought on “The Librarian Who Measured The Earth”
Lauren: I really like the way it emphasizes questions and questioning. It’s quite a model of the inquiry process through eyes of a young boy.
Kathleen: I am just discovering this book for the first time even though it is 1999 publication. How did it get lost in the cracks? It IS a perfect book to use in terms of inquiry. I wonder if I tuned this book out because it appeared to me to be a information text with a strong historical view of ancient Greece, and I didn’t have any purpose for using a book on ancient Greece.
Lauren: I was intrigued because the title intrigued me. I am very much in tune with info books, and this one does it with a story as well as getting in all of the facts. The fact that the main character asks questions was the hook for me.
Kathleen: Look what I missed over the past 13 years by judging a book by it’s cover. This book could have been used in so many ways to show the importance of wondering in a story format that is in a biographical picture book.
Lauren: to me, it is such a model of natural inquiry. It’s how we learn at both home and at school, as well as how professions do their work, historians, architects, dentist, doctors, and mechanics. They start with a problem and then do the research to figure it out. And so, the character starts with a zillion questions and narrows down to systematically doing what he needs to do to find an answer.
Kathleen: I really like the mathematics of it. The main character, Eratosthenes, used a formula to figure out the circumference of the earth. I wanted to get a paper and pencil and see if I could work out his problem along side his thought process.
Lauren: Now we have tools to do what he did, he actually thought about how to measure the circumference of the earth and stay in one place. His calculations are within 100 miles accuracy.
Kathleen: Interesting this is one of the first children’s books that young readers are introduced to that provides factual information that the world was round thousands of year before Columbus was born. How did the Europeans forget the earth was round?
Lauren: I think Columbus knew the earth is round but he didn’t know there was a continent between Europe and Asia. They didn’t know about North and South America.
Kathleen: This might be a great book to share when Columbus Day roles around?
Lauren: In terms of being international, it is more ancient than contemporary. It may not be contemporary but it is strong in culture.
Kathleen: It’s about ancient Greece and how kids went to school, and how girls were not part of schooling. Boys went to school and had access to information; girls were not even mentioned as having any type of schooling.
Lauren: I don’t like the part of the book where the slaves took the young Greek boys to school. We are still grappling with the same social inequities; we are still reaping the negative benefits that started all those thousands of years ago.
Kathleen: The inequities of gender and class were very evident in this book. The illustrations also provide the notion of inequities by portraying the king’s son as being bored, alluded to being a child of privilege.
Lauren: The illustrations to me provided information that may not always come out in the text. Along with the king’s son privilege, the pictures of the bematists walking to provide precise measurement is another example of obtaining information from the pictures that is supported in the text.
Kathleen: Yes, I’d never heard of bematists before, and having the picture of what they exactly do was brilliant.
Lauren: I love the illustrations because they are not exactly representational; it’s not photographic in nature. It’s more realistic, and colorful.
Kathleen: We discussed inquiry, social inequities, historical facts, the world of mathematics, and illustrations. Maybe it’s when you become more aware of a particular topic, such as Ancient Greece, you notice it more all around you. Such is the case of this book and the perspectives we shared on the themes that cut across multiple settings in our world.