Mind-Boggling Numbers

illus. by Julia Patton. 32p. chart. ebook available. further reading. websites. Millbrook. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9781467734899.
Gr 1–4—Factoids, math, and silly stories combine in this epistolary-style offering. Each of the 12 spreads depicts a "story problem" in the form of an imaginary child's letter to Ms. Mary Math. Her response answers the question and gives additional fun facts, while on the opposite page is a whimsical illustration of the subject at hand. The pictures serve more as zany, slightly chaotic imaginings of the story problems rather than functional diagrams. Exaggerated, cartoonish images feature mathematical references and children. Ms. Mary Math's letters do describe how she solves the problems but are richer in exclamation points and comparisons to familiar objects (the volume of a milk carton, the height of the Statue of Liberty, etc.) than in step-by-step guidance. Equations and mathematical processes are mostly confined to the "Do the Math" section in the back matter, which also includes metric conversions; definitions for area, speed, and volume; and further resources. Consider pairing this title with delightful math storybooks like Andrea Menotti's How Many Jelly Beans?? or Jon Scieszka's Math Curse, or with Laura Overdeck's "Bedtime Math" series for fun word problems that kids can solve themselves.
VERDICT Amusing but not essential, this book may work best in the hands of enthusiastic parents, educators, or XKCD fans who wish to inculcate a love of numbers in the next generation.

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