I love books by Jon Scieszka. He is so clever, and manages to turn topics like science and math into pure laugh-out-loud fun, all the while surreptitiously teaching something to his readers.
In this book, the young boy who narrates says he was “cursed” by his math teacher, “Mrs. Fibonacci.”
[The Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers in which you get to the next number by adding up the two numbers before it. For example, starting with 1 and adding it to get the next number, and then continuing in this way, you get: 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 3+5=8, and so on. It’s a “thing” because, amazingly enough, you can see the Fibonacci pattern everywhere in nature, such as in more than 90 percent of plants in which multiple parts are arranged around a single stem.]
As the story opens, Mrs. Fibonacci tells her students, “You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem.”
And that is exactly what the boy begins to do, in a way that always ends humorously. For example:
“I take the milk out for my cereal and wonder:
How many quarts in a gallon?
How many pints in a quart?
How many inches in a foot?
How many feet in a yard?
How many yards in a neighborhood? Haw many inches in a pint? How many feet in my shoes?”
“1. Estimate how many M&Ms it would take to measure the length of the Mississippi River.
2. Estimate how many M&Ms you would eat if you had to measure the Mississippi River with M&Ms.
3. Bonus: Can you spell Mississippi without any M&Ms?”
In the end, he finally gets free of the curse, only because math is suddenly no longer a “problem” for him.
“‘I’ve broken the math curse.
I can solve any problem.
And life is just great until science class, when
Mr. Newton says,
‘You know, you can think of almost everything as a science experiment….’”
Whimsical, cartoon-like illustrations by Lane Smith complement each page.
To quote the author, this book is “for ages > 6 and < 99.”
Evaluation: Like other books by this team, this one is both adorable and informative. But really, if you want to know about a true math “curse,” you could live with someone, like I do, who watches videos on The WorldWide Center of Math everyday, and regularly comes out into the living room to try to explain to me differential equations or Euler’s formula. Talk about a curse!
Published by Viking, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 1995