Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Grandfather Tang's story

Title : Grandfather Tang's story - A tale told with tangrams
Author : Ann Tompert
Illustrator: Robert Andrew Parker
Publisher : Dragon fly books
Ages : 5+
Pic Src : Amazon

If the geometric shapes from your Mathematics text book were to transform into myriad shapes and characters, what would you get ? Tangrams ofcourse!

Little Soo and her grandfather are spending some quiet time under a tree, playing with their tangram puzzles.The girl asks her Grandpa to narrate the story of the Fox fairies. Grandpa starts off the story in a very interesting way, by arranging his set of tangrams as one fox and arranging Soo's set as the other fox. The fox fairies (which are part of the Chinese folk lore and believed to be endowded with magical powers of transformation) Wu Ling and Chou are the best of friends, but they also try to outsmart each other on some occassions. On one such day, Wu Ching challenges Chou and provokes him that there was no way he could change into a rabbit as quickly as himself. So while Wu Ling transforms into a rabbit, the clever Chou changes into a dog and chases him. This is the beginning of the cat and the mouse game between the two foxes. On the run Wu Ling morphs into a squirrel and clambers up a tree. The chase continues from the land to the water to the sky, every transformation of the prey and predator getting deadlier.

The highlight of the book is that every transformation of the foxes has been depicted using tangrams. So the children are held spell bound, as we flip the pages and  they await to see what the fox has morphed into. The amazing animal characters that can be created using just seven geometric shapes, are bound to enthrall the kids, making them want to explore the subject and indulge in their own creative tangram figures.

So does Chou finally devour his best friend in a frenzy ? Does the tale have a twist in the end ? What do you think ?!

This is a great book to start talking about the basic geometric shapes to our little children and show them how these shapes can be manipulated to get some imaginative figures. The basic tangram puzzle is given at the back of the book, which can be traced and cut out for the kids. This could be the beginning of hours of fun for the children as their story telling and creative ideas, take flight, with something as basic as geometric shapes.

This video from youtube, tells a lovely story of the origin of tangrams. Sqidoo has lot of activities related to tangrams too. Do check them out along with the book.


sathish said...

I was amazed by how easily the illustrator and author came up with the various characters using only 7 shapes of tangrams.

Choxbox said...

Sounds totally awesome R. Keep look out for it.

Arundhati said...

Tangrams have provided much fun here - have gifted to many kids, and sprung the more challenging ones on unsuspecting grown-up visitors :)

Interesting to see a story around tangrams. Nice pick, Ranjani!

ranjani.sathish said...

Sathish and Chox, yeah it is mind boggling when you think of the numerous characters that can be created with these seven shapes !

Arundhati, my son had a set of tangrams when he was younger. I am trying to recollect what happened to those ! I now so badly want to start playing it again with son and daughter, after reading this book !

sandhya said...

Wow, this sounds like a great book! Chinese fairy tales do have many instances of animals morphing between species, and a tangram is a wonderful tool to illustrate such a tale.

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