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Pythagoras Eagle & the Music of the Spheres (2003)
Anne Carse Nolting

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

A very well-written, highly mathematical novel for 5th – 6th graders. Three children – Shawna, Adin and Tavia – are math aficionados and are trying to crack the Beale Ciphers, a set of 3 documents from the early 1800s which purportedly encode information about a treasure. They don’t succeed, of course, but along the way, they run into many interesting mathematical topics like factorials, Fibonacci numbers, triangular numbers, substitution ciphers, Pythagorean numbers, etc, all of which are woven into the novel’s narrative quite well.

A particular example from the book: As the 3 children were heading home once, they saw a very large crane which was being set up to be used for bungee jumping. The crane had to be 120 feet high for it to be safe for such jumps but the operator was not sure nor did he care of it was 120 ft high – he simply assumed it was so because this new crane was similar to the old. The children, worried that ths would lead to an accident, decide they must verify the crane’s height. With an inspired thought, they decide to use their shadows and the geometry of similar triangles to carry out the measurement. Accurately measuring Tavia’s shadow to be 9 strides / feet long, the crane’s shadow to be 198 strides and Tavia’s height of 5 feet, they deduce the crane to be 198/9*5 = 110 feet high…

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Works Similar to Pythagoras Eagle & the Music of the Spheres
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Number Devil (Der Zahlenteufel) by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
  2. Odd Squad by Tim McKeon / Adam Peltzman
  3. Math Curse by Jon Scieszka / Lane Smith (illustrator)
  4. The Unknowns: A Mystery by Benedict Carey
  5. Lost in Lexicon: An Adventure in Words and Numbers by Pendred Noyce
  6. The Magic Two-Horn by Sergey Pavlovich Bobrov
  7. A Little Mathematician - Katie by Tadashi Miura
  8. Three Days in Karlikania by Vladimir Levshin
  9. Sticks by Joan Bauer
  10. Cyberchase by Educational Broadcasting Corporation
Ratings for Pythagoras Eagle & the Music of the Spheres:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
5/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
5/5 (1 votes)

GenreDidactic, Children's Literature,
MotifMath as Beautiful/Exciting/Useful,

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May 2016: I am experimenting with a new feature which will print a picture of the cover and a link to the page for a work of mathematical fiction when it is available. I hope you find this useful and convenient. In any case, please write to let me know if it is because I would be happy to either get rid of it or improve it if that would be better for you. Thanks! -Alex

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)