Pythagoras and the Ratios: A Math Adventure

Publication date: February 2010

Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.

Author: Ellis, Julie




Pythagoras and the Ratios follows young Pythagoras in musical math adventure. Pythagoras and his cousins want to compete in a music contest. They must work together and use ratios to get all their instruments to play in harmony. Throughout the journey, Pythagoras finds a mathematical relationship that relates to the beautiful sounds.

This text is generally appropriate for sixth grade math learners. The use of illustrations and diagrams are useful for clarifying ideas and capturing the audience. High achievers may need to be supplemented with additional material. The book introduces the famous mathematician, Pythagoras in a playful way to students. The author’s tone is appropriate for students. An index which includes  historical notes, how to make instruments like Pythagoras, and how mathematical knowledge is used to tune modern instruments. This learning aid helps to expand the student’s learning even further.


The Flesch-Kincaid formula scores this book at a 5th grade reading level. This may be attractive to struggling readers or students who will enjoy analogies to math, even if they are stronger readers. Grecian names of people and instruments as well as other Grecian words are used throughout the text and may be unfamiliar. The illustrations may help students make comparisons to instruments they are familiar with. (Example lyre, can be compared to a harp or a low-level guitar)

Use in Class

This book will be used as a read along exercise. To prepare the students for the text a story impression can be completed. A project involving the creation of an instrument like the main character Pythagoras could be performed. This project plays to the strengths of creative students and those who enjoy music. Although this book is not designed for advanced readers explicitly, even strong readers may benefit from the playfulness and creative nature this book embodies.

Unit Focus


Submitted by Ashley Jackson

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