Sir Cumference and the First Round Table: A Math Adventure

Title: Sir Cumference and the First Round Table: A Math Adventure026120

Author: Cindy Neuschwander

Illustrator: Wayne Geehan

Publisher and Year: Charlesbridge Publishing, 1997

Number of pages: 32

Genre: Humor, Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: King Arthur of Camelot becomes worried when he sees a neighboring group, the Circumscribers, look as if they might attack. The king calls his most trusted knights to help him decide what to do. One of the king’s knights, Sir Cumference, brings his wife, Lady Di of Ameter, and son, Radius, with him. The knights gather around the rectangular table and have to shout to be heard because the table is too long. Lady Di suggests that Sir Cumference change the shape of the table. Sir Cumference draws out several ideas: a square, diamond, octagon, and oval. However, none of the shapes please the king, which sends Sir Cumference back to the drawing board. A frustrated Sir Cumference goes for a ride with his wife and son to think. While out on the path, Radius sees a fallen tree and comes up with the idea to use a slice of the tree for the table. Sir Cumference likes the circular-shaped table idea and presents the new shape to King Arthur, who loves it. Thus, the knights are given the name: Knights of the Round Table. King Arthur then discovers that the Circumscribers are not planning to attack and peace is restored.

I like that this book breaks down the definitions of circumference, radius, and diameter, and cleverly relates them to the characters. For example, King Arthur names the measurement “diameter” after Lady Di of Ameter because her reach is equal to the distance across the circular table; he names the measurement “radius” after Sir Cumference’s son, Radius, because his height is equal to the distance from the center of the circular table to the edge; he names the outside edge of the circle “circumference” after Sir Cumference. Students will not need any background information to read this book since the vocabulary concepts will be broken down for them.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book lacks cultural diversity. However, you could use this book to teach students to not get discouraged or give up, but take a break to regroup, when struggling on a problem. Like Sir Cumference, it can take a few tries to come up with the right solution. I would say that this book is appropriate for upper elementary and junior high students because of the complexity of the sentences and mathematical topics. There are also a lot of conversations taking place throughout the book that are difficult to keep track of.026120i1

Interdisciplinary Connections: This book does a great job of teaching readers about mathematical topics associated with geometry, specifically circumference, diameter, and radius. As a way to integrate both math and visual art, you could have your students design their own table and then pick a partner to find the circumference, diameter, and radius of their table.

Other Information: I really enjoyed reading this book, especially since I am working towards a minor and middle school endorsement in math. It is such a fun book. While reading, you could have your students stand up every time a mathematical concept is addressed and then discuss that concept as a class. As a closure activity, you could have your class sit in a circle, pretend they are knights sitting at a round table, and discuss this book.

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