Thursday, August 8, 2013

STEM Friday: Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Dessert

Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Dessert
written by Cindy Neuschwander; illustrated by Wayne Geehan
2013 (Charlesbridge)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

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It's time for the annual Harvest Faire in the kingdom. One tradition is the selection of a Harvest Sweet. With the castle cook felled by illness, someone else is going to have to create this treat. Lady Di of Ameter and Sir Cumference seek out two local bakers. Pia, from the French city of Chartres, makes wonderful pies. Bart Graf, a baker of German descent, is a creator of cookies. Both bakers are so good that Lady Di and Sir Cumference are unable to decide whose dessert should be the Harvest Sweet. Pia and Bart are instructed to whip up a batch of their best concoctions to present to the people of the town. The townsfolk will vote for their favorite. To keep track of the voting, Pia uses tally marks in flour on her baking table while Bart lines up dough pinches in groups of five. Unfortunately, their respective pets foil their attempt at data collection and another day of baking ensues. This time, Pia generates a pie graph using color candies and Bart stacks cookie molds like a bar graph. The results of the voting are such a surprise to both bakers that they work together to create a Harvest Sweet.

Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Dessert would be an excellent kick-off to a unit on graphing. The humor of the wordplay and the subject matter of desserts will be very attractive to students and teachers. There are a variety of graphs presented in the story. Think about the possibilities of creating your own dessert graphs. A big cookie used as a pie chart would be fun. A candy bar graph using M&Ms or Skittles is another activity that is popular with students. Combining sweets and math is a can't miss idea.

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