Boyds Mills Press ISBN 9781620916278
INT Grades 3-6 Rating: 4
In 1975 the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot used the term “fractal” to name the repeating shapes found in the natural world. Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature is an introduction to this type of pattern, found all around us in rivers, plants, mountains, lightning, and even within the human body.
This non-fiction work opens with a very basic discussion of common shapes, followed by the more complex question of how to categorize seemingly irregular objects. Fractals are defined as a shape with “smaller parts that look like the whole shape,” such as the way each broccoli floret resembles the whole head. Illustrating the concept are vivid photographs by author Sarah C. Campbell, her husband Richard P. Campbell, and several contributors.
The author briefly introduces geometric (non-natural) fractals and instructions for drawing a Sierpinski triangle. An afterward by Michael Frame summarizes the life and work of Benoit Mandelbrot and illuminates the practical applications of fractals (including the feasibility of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak).
Mysterious Patterns offers an interesting focus on a topic not typically-or easily-covered in a juvenile picture book. Grade school readers and above will find the selected photos useful in visualizing and understanding the characteristics of fractals.
Nina Ditmar, CLJ
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