Monday, November 8, 2010
Nonfiction Monday is hosted to day by Shelf-employed.
My selection is The History of Counting, written by Denise Schmandt-Besserat and illustrated by Michael Hays.
To say that this book traces the development of counting would by accurate, but certainly wouldn't give the author all the credit do her. An archaeologist who specializes in the Middle East, Schmandt-Besserat has focused her expertise on one of humankind's most essential activities. Written with scientific accuracy, the book makes this complex topic very accessible without losing track of important details.
The History of Counting moves from primitive counting methods through the expected ancient civilizations from Sumerian to Roman and finally to the Arabic system used today. The text is enriched with discussions of abstract counting, the use of ten digits and a look at people such as the Paiela of Papua New Guinea who utilize unique methods for counting or reckoning "how many."
Written at a fifth grade level, the book includes a glossary and is illustrated with glowing paintings that provide a beautiful counterpoint to the text.