Welcome, Tessalation! Blog Tour Visitors!
As parents and educators, it seems as though we’re forever trying to find ways to bring math alive for our children and students. If that sounds familiar, the new book Tessalation! by Emily Grosvenor, should be on your bookshelf. Thisdelightful math-inspired adventure follows Tessa Truman-Ling on a backyard tour of the tessellating patterns she finds there.
The author, Emily Grosvenor, is an independent magazine writer who contributes to Sunset, Portland Monthly, AAA Via, 1859 Magazine and other periodicals. She is co-founder of WordStudio, a writing workshop series, and a member of the board for the Terroir Creative Writing Festival. I had a chance to chat with Emily recently, and enjoyed hearing about her inspiration and personal relationship with the book.
Where did you grow up?
I lived the bulk of my childhood in Lancaster, PA, also known as Amish country, though I’d say my most formative experiences happened at my grandparent’s home in Brookville, PA.
Are you like the main character in the book at all?
Yes! I see a lot of me in Tessa. I was a very imaginative child, prone to ignoring requests, eager to explore and often immersed in some kind of creative imaginative project. As an adult I am the same. Tessa is different in how much she connects with the natural world. Though I spent a lot of time outside as a child, I didn’t really feel like it was a personality necessity until I moved to Oregon as an adult.
What childhood experience of your own reminds you of the book?
I really relished gifted class in elementary school as it gave us space to do things that challenged us and presented the world in a different way. We first learned about tessellation in 4th grade – I made a series of interlocking seals. The desire to create and make patterns is very strong with me. One of the themes of the book is that there is an overarching beauty and order to the word that we are all a part of. I am constantly looking for – and finding – these in my own life.
What is your favorite part of the book?
The hug at the end! We always joke that we are the snuggliest family on the face of the earth, so the idea of calling it “tessellating,” or fitting together perfectly like puzzle pieces, really resonates with me, my kids, and my partner.
Do you plan to write more children’s books?
I have found this process to be thrilling, satisfying and fun. Other types of writing I do don’t always maintain that level of high energy. Writing never feels like a slog to me, but getting the work out in the world can. I haven’t felt that with Tessalation!, in part because it immediately resonated with so many people. It is quite easy to keep up enthusiasm for a project when you feel like the world is experiencing it with you. I do have some ideas for other children’s books, but I want to give Tessa some time to run around a bit.
What inspired you to write Tessalation!? A while back I did one of those exercises where you think about what you loved doing as a child, and I am slowly working through all of my 4th grade obsessions! Everything I do is pieces, like in a quilt – making patterns, discovering meaning by assembling the parts. At some point, after having my kids, I painted a mosaic tile pattern on my bathroom wall. Then I bought curtains with patterns. Then a door mat. The pattern was everywhere and I wondered what was going on. A few of my friends named their little girls Tessa and I kept turning it over in my head. Tessa. Tessa is “asset” spelled backwards. Elation. Tessalation! It pulled from many areas of my life.
What activities do you suggest for incorporating the book into a math lesson or experience?
The simplest activity would be to read the book and then follow the DIY tessellation tutorial at the end of the book. Making patterns is an excellent way to access math concepts from a creative approach. Another way to look at why tessellations could be useful would be to do an exercise where you cut out triangles from cloth. How many can you cut out if you just draw them freehand in the space? What if you tessellate them – will you get more or fewer triangles from the same piece of cloth? Another fun activity is to do a Tessa hike. You can read the book and then look for like objects – similar sized leaves, sticks, stones or other objects – and then create a pattern with them at the end of the hike. This won’t be a tessellation, but it is a fun activity. Or you could just look for patterns in nature – bark on a tree, the way the mud dries. Pattern is everywhere.
Thank you again, Emily, for sharing your time with me!
This post is our little stop on the Blog Tour to celebrate Emily’s new book. I hope you’ll take a moment and visit the other tour destinations!
June 17: WORLD TESSELLATION DAY, DeniseGaskins.com
July 1: KidsMathTeacher.com
July 3: Hike It Baby
July 5: WaldorfBooks.com
July 6: Writers and Author on Fire podcast
July 7: Medium.com
July 8: Pinot Mom
July 9: Math Hombre
July 11: TalkingMathwithKids.com
July 12: MathforLove.com
July 13: Math Coach’s Corner
July 14: MathLessTraveled.com