Sunday, January 8, 2017

New for 2017

With the new year I am adding a new title, Tessellating Animals Activity Book, to my books available on Amazon and CreateSpace.

All but one of my previous books have been either maze or coloring books and this new one contains a little of each plus much more. It is a combination of a traditional activity book and a book about tessellations.

I am not sure where the idea for this book came from. I was toying with the possibility of doing a maze book with only animal tessellations, but for reasons I no longer remember, I changed course and opted to expand the content to include more than mazes. The final draft of the book contains 21 mazes and ten coloring pages, all of them illustrating very short fables, mostly from Aesop.

I was not planning to develop new tessellations for the book but I found gaps between what I already had and what would fit well in the book. One of the additions was an attempt to do a scorpion tessellation that is used for a maze. It is not very realistic but I like the stinger part.

What else fits into a tessellation activity book? Matching and identification problems apply short explanations of topics such as symmetry, translation, rotation, and valence. These activities fill 19 pages and use almost half of tessellations designs that are in the book.

Mazes led me to tessellations because both use grids. I looked for other puzzle types that might fit a grid. Word searches were an obvious possibility, and there are ten pages of this type of puzzle. Below is the corner of one of them showing how tessellating turtles are used to frame the puzzle.

In addition to visual mazes, I have long been interested in what I call hidden-path mazes in which the challenge is to discover the maze. This type of puzzle occupies 13 pages.  Below is a corner of one in which the path is on the ponies with letters that have mirror symmetry and the walls are ponies with letters that do not have mirror symmetry.

Sudoku puzzles are grid based but I thought the 9-by-9 variety might be too complex for the book, so I settled for mini-Sudoku puzzles that are based on grids of 16 and 36 cells. There are seven pages of them, with two per page. I used the extra space on some of these to point out a few features of tessellations. Below is part of a six-by-six puzzle framed with a design of tessellating elephants that I did for the book.

Decoder puzzles do not need a grid but can be put into one, as can word scrambles in which the order of letters is altered. There are eight pages of the former and three of the latter. Below is the corner of a decoder puzzle that contains two messages that are mixed together, one contained in letters that have rotational symmetry and the other in the rest of the letters. To decode, you must move back or forward from the given letter, with the dots telling you how far and in which direction. (This is the most complex of the decoder puzzles in the book.)

Finally, there is one dot-to-dot puzzle making a total of 92 pages of puzzles and explanations using about 160 different tessellations patterns. More than half of the tessellations are of birds because I find them by far the easiest animal to tessellate. The final 14 pages of the book give solutions to the puzzles.

Searching through Amazon for something similar turned up one short book and I am not sure how similar it actually is. I suspect that the reason there is so little that is similar is that very few people find tessellations as nearly as interesting as I have found them. The suggested audience is anyone who enjoys tessellations and that may be a small group.

The main reason I designed this book is because it was fun. It would be nice if the book would also earn a bit of money, but at least it will not lose money thanks to on-demand printing.

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