Review Blog

Feb 11 2020

Mr Archimedes' bath by Pamela Allen

cover image

Angus and Robertson, 2020. ISBN: 9781460758960. 32pp., hbk.
(Age: All) Highly recommended. As the 40th anniversary reprint testifies Mr Archimedes' bath has become a children's classic as each new generation learns about the Greek mathematician Archimedes and the physics of water displacement in the best possible way - with lots of fun and giggles! With delightful illustrations of a portly Mr Archimedes, Kangaroo, Goat and Wombat, Allen brings to life the mathematician as he tries to work out why the water overflows when he and his animal friends get into the bath.
Readers will be entralled right from the first illustration where Mr Archimedes and the animals are all stuffed into a bath, Kangaroo's tail and paws sticking out, Wombat's head just above water and Goat's hoof resting on Kangaroo's neck while water pours onto the tiled floor. This sets the tone for the rest of the illustrations, one in sepia on the left hand side of the page and a full colour drawing on the other. The expressions on the faces of all are delightful and readers will have a wonderful experience following the story through the illustrations.
The story itself features big print which will be a boon for beginning readers and the mathematical ideas will delight any child or adult as Allen demonstrates the ways that Mr Archimedes experimented and worked out his mathematical theory. He measured the depth of the water, but it still rose and all the animals denied doing it; when they all got out of the bath the water had gone down. When Kangaroo stayed out it still rose and so on with each animal until only Mr Archimedes was left. Then the friends have so much fun making the water go up and down with such a mess.
Commended in the Children's Book Council Book of the Year Awards 1981, and winner of the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature (1980), Mr Archimedes' bath is a must for every library and will fit in beautifully with the mathematics curriuclum in the classroom. Teacher's notes are available. Themes: Problem-solving, Humour, Measuring, Scientific method, Mass, Volume and Capacity, Mathematicians​.
It is such a wonderful story with truly memorable illustrations that parents will find it becomes a firm favourite with children and a book that will be kept for the next generation.
Pat Pledger

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