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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars

on 16 November 2017
My seven year old daughter loves this book. It is mind and vocabulary expanding. Short too, so a nice one before bed
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Everybody loves a romantic underdog story, where the guy who seems to have no chance at all ends up with the girl of his dreams. But Norton Juster (unsurprisingly) puts a rather different spin on the usual story in "The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics," which is a charming little picture book about... well, a dot and a line. And a squiggle.

"Once upon a time there was a sensible straight line who was hopelessly in love... with a Dot." But though he voices his devotion, the Dot isn't interested -- she's busy romancing a bad-boy Squiggle, and considers the Line to be hopelessly boring and conventional. The Line falls into a depression over his hopeless love... only to discover that he has skills that make the Squiggle look pitiful. Can he win over Dot?

When he wasn't writing clever books like "The Phantom Tollbooth," Norton Juster was a successful architect. To be an architect, you need to know something about lines -- and "The Dot And the Line" is basically a celebration of geometry and all the wild things you can do with a seemingly simple line. Art, mathematics and nature are all explored via The Line.

And Juster writes the whole thing in a delightfully punny manner ("... and before long he was completely on edge," along with an illustration of the Line on the very edge of the page), with some delightful phrases ("You are as meaningless as a melon!"). And he finds countless clever ways to insert the Line into all sorts of places (THE LINE AS A POTENT FORCE IN THE WORLD OF ART), emphasizing its importance far above the Squiggle.

And what's more... it's just so endearing to see the Line working so hard to win over The Dot.

"The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics" is an enchanting little romance that explores all the possibilities in a simple Line. A charming little fairy tale of geometry.
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VINE VOICEon 15 May 2004
Chances are that you know the author, Norman Juster, from his outstanding book, "The Phantom Tollbooth." What many people don't realize is that he created this classic book also in 1968, which was turned into an Academy Award winning short film. This book is a delight at many levels, providing the perfect opportunity for adults and children to read and discuss together. For although this book is indicated for the 4-8 year old group, younger children will love it, too, and the ideas in it are fascinating for adults. So, you should probably think of this as a book for "children of all ages."
You can read this book primarily from several different perspectives. It may be easier for you child if you emphasize one at a time when you introduce the book. First, there's the classic love "triangle" involving a line (a rather straight fellow) who falls for a circle, the circle (who's frivolous despite being perfectly identical in all directions -- "You're the beginning and the end, the hub, the core and the quintessence . . . ."), and a messy squiggle of a line who appeals to the dot (who the dot thinks is "gay and free, so uninhibited and full of joy"). This story line is the easiest for everyone to follow.
Although the line is a rather dependable and likeable sort, he's just not interesting to the circle (". . . and you are as stiff as a stick. Dull. Conventional and repressed. Tied and trammeled. Subdued, smothered and stiffled."). So he goes off to "learn new tricks" and creates the ability to make an infinite number of shapes out of his line. She's impressed, and that wins the fair maiden.
The next level at which people can understand the book is to appreciate that lines can form parts of objects (like a tightrope, a lance, the equator, or a tug of war rope). If you create angles in a line, you can create all sorts of wonderful shapes from a triangle on up to very complex geometric solids. These are described by name, so this is a flying start for geometry and trigonometry later on. If you curve the line, you can create magnificent shapes of soaring grandeur. Here's where the vocabulary goes way beyond what a 4-8 year old can handle. But that's where you can be the intelligent adult who helps out. This interpretation would be wonderful for a classroom discussion also.
The third level of the book relates to the mathematical expressions behind how you turn a line into a curve or create an angle. The book has the illustrations present for this interpretation, but not the discussion. If you understand how these shapes can be described mathematically, you can make that connection for your child. A good resource for this is the Logo program that children of this age can use to draw with a turtle. You could have many happy hours together writing programs to create these shapes. If you don't know Seymour Papert's books on learning (he wrote Logo), you should read "Mindstorms" and "The Children's Machine." "The Dot and the Line" would also make excellent reading in a classroom that is using Logo.
The puns themselves are worth the cost of the book. I won't give you any examples because I don't want to spoil them, but some minor ones do show up in the quotes above. The puns take turns aiming in different directions to expand the perspective the reader has on words as sources of character comments, descriptions about physical characteristics, and plastic qualities.
One of the great sections of the book is where the circle begins to appreciate the differences between purposeful shapes and random ones. "And she suddenly realized that what she thought was freedom and joy was nothing but anarchy and sloth." This is an important section because it releases the concept of mathematics as purposeful freedom to the reader. Anyone who "gets" that message is likely to have a much easier and happier time pursuing mathematics as the delightful mental discipline that it is.
If your child takes to this material, I suggest that you might follow up with some more advanced discussions about math. Either "The Birth of the Algorithm" or "Just Six Numbers" could be read by you and then translated into age-level appropriate examples and discussions to connect math to science. This would be a wonderful gift to give to any child.
Appreciate the potential of pure numbers . . . infinitely!
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on 19 July 2001
I am a maths lover so I loved this book. It uses the elegant concept in higher maths as a love story between a well educated middle class line and a flight dot. The dot is originally enamoured with the lure of a lower class, bad mannered squiggle but as the line learns to use higher maths to extended himself, she becomes as intrigued as this reader.

Having said all this, it is of little interest to children. The love part is doomed to put off any boys anyway and the maths part is only really interesting when you have covered the subject in depth at school. I am not sure who the best audience is.
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on 8 January 2013
I chose to purchase this book because my art teacher introduced me to it and I thought I would like a copy of my own. It's funny with a serious message and explains complex ideas in a simple funny way. A fabulous little book. In fact I purchased two copies and gave one away as a christmas present
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on 2 November 2016
Absolutely love, love, LOVE this story! Fell in love with the Chuck Jones cartoon version first and then found the book and it's a treasured posession in my house! Brilliantly romantic (eventhough the dot doesn't deserve such a wonderful line) A must have for any Juster fan... or any person ever!
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on 26 August 2014
This simple little book is a true gem. Wonderfully illustrated, it tells the story of a dot who mistakes a squiggle as more interesting than a straight line until the day that the line realises he can become so much more.
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on 24 February 2014
A gorgeous hardback illustrated edition telling the romantic story of the dot & the line.
Highly recommended for all and any odd couples out there!
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on 20 October 2014
I love this book, can read it over and over!
Arrived in time in a good packaging.
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on 4 July 2015
Great little book, lovely edition
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