Book review – ‘More’ (a mathematical biology perspective)

by Allan Roberts

Book Discussed: Springman, I.C. (writer), Lies, Brain (illustrator). More. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company: New York, New York.

If you’re a student of biology you might have noticed a general lack biological accuracy in how animals are represented in children’s cartoons and literature. One thing that impressed me about the children’s book ‘More’ was the general phenotypic correctness of the main character, a bird. Or to be specific, a black-billed magpie (Pica hudsonia).

The storyline is structured around the magpie amassing an ever-greater collection of haphazard objects. The things that the bird collects include an intriguing assortment of cultural artifacts: tokens from board games (Scrabble, Monopoly, chess), a shopping list, pencils (HB and 2H), a pocket knife, a comb, a cassette tape labeled “THE WALL.” Objects perhaps reminiscent of a typical cluttered kitchen drawer of odds and ends.

Also interesting, from the ornithological perspective is that the bird has an identification number printed on a leg band.

What’s the identification number of the bird in the book ‘More’ ?

Because individual pictures offer only partial glimpses of the identification number, it is difficult to reconstruct the number with absolute certainty. However, the number begins with 31415 : the first few digits of pi.

Yup. It’s a mag-π.

Magpie

Credit: David Herr. Photo Source: USDA Forest Service “Find-a-Photo” site: https://fsplaces.fs.fed.us/fsfiles/unit/wo/wfrp/find_a_photo.nsf/

Advertisements