Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's a Fibonacci Kinda Day! (Or... Figure Skating and Fibonacci: Who Would Have Guessed?)

It's 11/23 (or 1-1-2-3) and therefore a great day to be talking Fibonacci. OK, sure, 11/23/58 woulda been an even better day, but I'll take four numbers in sequence anytime.

And how to celebrate such a superbly sequential day? What about a guest post from author Kate Messner who, it just so happens, features Fibonacci in her upcoming novel Sugar and Ice (a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Winter 2011 Kids IndieNext pick)? Yes!

Because the truth is, I just had to find out how Fibonacci and figure skating ended up in the same place... and luckily for me, Kate was willing to explain.

Figure Skating and Fibonacci: Who would have guessed?

The great thing about writing a novel is the mental playground that opens up during that process. Writing a book is an invitation to explore places you love, places you’ve always wanted to go.  It’s a chance to meet people long dead and invent people out of thin air.  And it’s a chance to play around with all of your favorite ideas.

Like a maple farm at sugaring time.  A figure skating rink with high stakes competition. And why not throw in a little cool math, too?  Though they might seem like unlikely companions, all of those threads play a role in SUGAR AND ICE, my latest novel for young readers, due out from Walker/Bloomsbury December 7th.   

Small-town figure skater Claire Boucher has always been content to skate in her local Maple Show and help out at the community rink, but when a charismatic Russian skating coach shows up in town with a scholarship offer, she finds herself transported to the uber-competitive world of Lake Placid’s Olympic Center, where ice time takes priority and Claire finds herself struggling to meet her school obligations – even the math project on Fibonacci numbers she was so excited about.

Why is Claire fascinated by Fibonacci?  Mostly because the number patterns he wrote about really do appear in some amazing places in nature and elsewhere (maybe even in skating!)  And it doesn’t hurt that the cute, friendly guy at skating is a math geek, too.  Here’s an excerpt from one of Claire and Luke’s Fibonacci conversations in SUGAR AND ICE:

“You still working on that Fibonacci project?” Luke asked. “I could give you a hand if you want. I like that stuff.”

“Actually, I’m doing pretty well. I’m making a slide show, so I’ve been taking pictures around the farm now that the flowers are out. I’m trying to find more examples of the numbers in places other than nature and art.”

“Don’t forget music.” Luke held up the iPod. “You can listen to that Bartók on here later if you want.”

“I found that on iTunes when you talked about it before. But I was thinking about Fibonacci in figure skating. Those numbers are everywhere. They must be in skating, too, don’t you think?”  Claire leaned forward in her seat. “Any idea whether or not the rink is a golden rectangle?”

“Hmm…it might be a little long. We could check.  But what about the lead in to our spins?”  Luke traced a spiral in the air with his finger.

“Oh my gosh!” Claire bounced a little in her seat. “I bet you’re right! I bet it’ll be a golden spiral. That would be perfect!”

Luke’s eyes lit up. “We can test it out later. I’ll do a scratch spin right after the Zamboni comes out, and we’ll check the tracing on the ice.”

Abby sighed a dramatic sigh.  “Luke, this is the saddest attempt to impress a girl in the history of the world. You are getting geekier by the minute.”

Luke leaned back and punched her lightly on the arm. “You’re just jealous that you don’t share my mathematical awesomeness.”

“You mean your Fibo-nerdiness.”

Claire laughed. “Aw, go easy on him, Abby. I’ll take all the help I can get. If I can manage to get this project done with my skating schedule, it’ll be a Fibo-miracle.”

Sweeeeet! Thanks for stopping by, Kate, and all I really need to say is "Fibo-nerdiness!" Yes!

For more on SUGAR AND ICE,  you can visit Kate’s website. And if you live in the Northern NY area, you’re invited to join Kate for a book launch at The Bookstore Plus on Main Street in Lake Placid from 3-5pm on Saturday, December 11th.  

If you can’t make it but would like a personalized, signed copy, call The Bookstore Plus at (518) 523-2950 by December 10th, and they’ll send it out after the event on the 11th. Pretty cool.

For even more Fibonacci fun, I've got a guest post up over at Kate's blog today, too, telling a little about my own fascination with Fibonacci... and the sequence that led to my own book deal. 

Do you have any big Fibonacci plans today (or anytime, really)? We'd love to hear about it if you do. Regardless, enjoy the day, and Fib on!


Toby Speed said...

I can't wait to read Sugar and Ice. I loved The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. and wish I could get to Lake Placid for the signing. But I'm glad the bookstore is offering signed books by mail!

Thanks for this piece, Greg.

Kate Messner said...

Thanks, Toby! (I wish you could come say hi in Lake Placid, too!)