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A great book for a nonexistent audience

August 30, 2013

The world of children’s music suffers from a constant influx of “regular” musicians who have kids and then decide to do a children’s album — or so laments a friend, anyway. Since these Johnny-come-latelies haven’t made a study of other children’s music, they go for low-hanging fruit (writing songs about all of the usual topics: dinosaurs, brushing teeth, sharing, naps) and make rookie mistakes (like using irony and humor in ways that kids won’t understand).

Not being a professional musician, I’m not guilty of that particular sin. Instead I’ve taken the equally cliched path of fancying myself a children’s book author despite being largely oblivious to the standards of this genre.

My latest work, Leila Z and the Terrible Triplets (the sequel to Cakes by Leila Z!), is an interesting case in point. It’s essentially an adaptation of a math seminar I attended as a freshman at Williams College in the fall of 1991.

Leila Z cover

As a science-for-the-masses guy, I’m proud of this book. It presents the math in a fun, relatively accessible manner without being preachy. And yet, even now that the book is done, I still can’t really define its target audience. The story is too simplistic for anyone over the age of 10, and the math is too hard for anyone younger than that.

For now, I’m billing it as a “mini math mystery for the whole family.”

preference diagram

One comment

  1. […] in elementary school. The format is easily grasped by anyone who has ever divided up a pie (or a cake). Does any other type of graph connect so well to a common visual from everyday […]



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