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Math Curse by Jon Scieszka

Math Curse (original 1995; edition 1995)

by Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith (Illustrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,333None5,783 (4.19)13
royabdunnur's review
Age: Primary

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Summary: A boy is told that anything can be a math problem, then he starts to see everything as math problems, which the reader can then figure out.
  royabdunnur | Apr 18, 2012 |
All member reviews
Showing 1-25 of 101 (next | show all)
Math Curse is about how math really is everywhere in our lives. The book takes everyday things like milk for your cereal and shows how many math problems you can get from one item: Quarts in a gallon etc. Everywhere the main character looks, a math problem is there. Some of the math is rather high level for the age of the child that would be reading the book. The quadratic formula is on one page. But it really doesn't go into the math itself; just all the places it can be found. ( )
  aleader | Mar 14, 2014 |
This book is about a little girl who has a "math curse." Everything that occurs in her life she perceives as a math word problem. This is not your typical math book! It is funny and educational. It helps children relate math to their every day lives!
  Courtney1114 | Dec 3, 2013 |
Jon Scieszka did it again. This easily became one of my favorite book. Scieszka started the book with a girl waking up in the morning and start thinking about all the math problems in her life. Children are able to do some of the math in the book and enjoy all the nonsense Scieszka wrote. The never ending narrative helps students to see how an idea can spark another as well. Also, this is a good book to teach students about full-circle ending writing.
  joshuachanyh | Nov 29, 2013 |
This book was about a boys daily life, but it was made into word problems. Each page had a new problem that students can solve. I would read this book to my students because it was a fun book to read. It teaches students how to solve problem. I know it would entertain them because they get to answer the questions themselves. This book would be perfect to use in a math class. ( )
  Swelker | Nov 27, 2013 |
I LOVED this book. The illustrations are kind of Tim Burton-like, which gives an otherwise cutesy story this dark edge. Often students don't understand the practical use of mathematics, and so they don't like math class, but this book shows how almost ANYTHING can be a math problem.
  mrea | Nov 27, 2013 |
The title of this book will catch the attention of students. Math is a subject that many students fear. It is precise in the answers and can seem intimidating until the logic and connections are made. While educational, the story remains fun and interesting. This is a must have for math teachers. ( )
  lvalido | Nov 27, 2013 |
A little boy goes through his day and realizes that all his problems are math problems. This would be a fun book to have an interactive read-aloud and solve the problems in the book with the students. ( )
  HannahRevard | Nov 26, 2013 |
I have always been very intrigued by all the flattering reviews and the seemingly fabulous reputation of author/illustrator duo [a:Jon Scieszka|27318|Jon Scieszka|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1201028327p2/27318.jpg]/[a:Lane Smith|23573|Lane Smith|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1343416984p2/23573.jpg] since reading [b:The Stinky Cheese Man: And Other Fairly Stupid Tales|407429|The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales|Jon Scieszka|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327955928s/407429.jpg|1814587]. Somehow I just don't have the insight required to understand the thoughts behind the book design (which I mostly find hideous), nor do I appreciate the illustrations or understand where the humor is supposed to be coming through. Now, since I have both an extensive background in math and a great passion for the subject, I thought maybe this book would be more within my realm.

It's a sad fact that lots of children (and adults) struggle with math and math concepts, yet our society has a greater than ever need for people with math skills or at least a good understanding of math. So, anything that has as purpose to try to enlighten us as to the mysteries of math (which is one of the goals of this book, as far as I understand, the other being to try to make us laugh, right?) deserves recognition. So, I first took a quick look at this book, unfortunately only to put it down thinking: "Man! No one is ever going to learn anything from this book, if ever that was the point!" I found it so chaotic and disorganized, just page after page filled with disconnected words and numbers. But then I started thinking that maybe those chaotic pages are meant to show how some people may actually be feeling about the math they are dealing with. It's too much, too fast and it's not served to them in a neat, orderly fashion, with appropriate visuals and helpful diagrams. So, if that's the point the author is trying to make, that's a valid point. And where does that leave us? Well, math is this awfully complicated thing and just looking at math problems should make your head spin and induce headache. (At least, that's what the pages of this book first did for me.)

But, can this book help us get an understanding or grasp any math concepts? Now, there's a handful of so called math problems in the book. Some of them are actual elementary arithmetic problems, others are nonsensical thrown in for fun. A good student will probably get some satisfaction from seeing that he/she can answer all the problems. I'm not totally sure if the book will teach you anything. That two halves make a whole? (or "hole", get it?)

My first reaction to the book was that of disappointment. Consider for instance that a large part of the book focuses on conversions. Is this, honestly, what school children are made to spend most of their time on? How boring! And if so, wouldn't our time and money be better spent if we simply adopted the metric system??

Obviously, I'm not the target audience, but I can understand that the unconventional look of the book in itself makes it cool, and thus appealing to grade schoolers even if it doesn't appeal to me. And once I got over my intense dislike of the esthetics of the book, there were quite a few things that I liked in it. I like how the first page (with the foreword) uses the division sign in the design, that's neat. I like the Mayan numerals picture, I like the logical paradox in the dinner story and I like the Venn diagram on the dust jacket. The answers on the back cover are a good idea and I like that some of the answers can be phrased as "a lot", "just because", "once in a while" or even "I don't know" to emphasize that even when doing math not everything is always black and white, right or wrong. I also like the cupcake story as an example of thinking out of the box. And I like the bills and coins integrated into the drawings of Lincoln and Washington. So, overall, I probably like more things than I dislike about this book, even if the same things continue to grate me. A teacher could probably use this book in a class room to motivate kids, or just to do something different. And, in case you opened the book and felt completely overwhelmed and confused by it: Don't worry about it. The whole point of the book is to make math look like a horrid nightmare. So, don't panic! Go to the next to last page, and rest assured that if you just give yourself enough time to gather your thoughts, things will eventually fall into place.

Finally, if you have a precocious kid/teen on your hands who really likes math, I would highly recommend [a:Martin Gardner's|7105|Martin Gardner|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1269645617p2/7105.jpg] puzzle books to older kids for some juicier math problems, or even [a:Shasha's|47140|Dennis E. Shasha|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1221975472p2/47140.jpg] Dr. Ecco, for instance [b:Doctor Ecco's Cyberpuzzles: 36 Puzzles for Hackers and Other Mathematical Detectives|82492|Doctor Ecco's Cyberpuzzles 36 Puzzles for Hackers and Other Mathematical Detectives|Dennis E. Shasha|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171022417s/82492.jpg|79638]. ( )
  Fjola | Oct 17, 2013 |
Math Curse, by Jon Scieszka, was a very fun and interesting book. Math curse was very much like science verse except instead of being a book of poetry about science we have a book full of all the different types of math problems in word problems. Jon's idea of making these two books really was great and I think will be used in all of classes when I start teaching. I really enjoy this book and my favorite part of this book has to be the illustrations. The math problems on each page are said in a big word problem but they all can also be seen in the background which is a great aspect that allows any child to read this book. Another part of the book that I like was the context of the book. Most picture books have a main idea or concept but, this book really just gave a huge amount of information that allows any student to learn a little bit about a lot of ideas. The last part of this book that I liked was character, while there was really only one main characters he went from being just like any other kid, hating math. After his day of having a math curse the character has not only grown to like math but he has decided that math is fun. This character development was great and realistic, but also very relatable which is great for small children. The main idea of this story is that math isn't as awful as everyone says it is. ( )
  babshe1 | Oct 6, 2013 |
Cute book that introduces some math concepts to lower elementary school kids. ( )
  pussreboots | Jul 10, 2013 |
This one left me with my head spinning, but I was smiling, so I can forgive him for that. It really was a lot to think about and his strange sense of humor pervades every page. The illusrations have a topsy-turvy, all-consuming sort of feel and the book as a whole is funny and thought-provoking. ( )
  matthewbloome | May 19, 2013 |
After the first read, this book became one of my favorites. I love the storyline, riddles, and plays on words. The topics that the book covers varies along with the skill levels. If read in an elementary class, not everyone would understand some of the text, but everyone would understand something. I can't wait to share this book with children. ( )
  LindseyB12 | May 7, 2013 |
This book was great! It keeps you thinking and is interesting too. This would be great for students to read because it makes math fun. ( )
  crfonten | Apr 27, 2013 |
I really loved this book. As a student who has always struggled with math until very recently I would have liked it a bit more if my teacher would have read me this book. It is fun and witty, but is still teaching the principles of math. I also really liked that there were problems that you hardly realized were there because of the flow of the story. I would love to use this book in a future classroom. ( )
  LauraMcQueen | Apr 27, 2013 |
I really enjoyed reading this book; it has so many levels to it. While it is written for children there are many parts of the book that children will not understand but an adult will. You can appreciate this book at any age because everyone has had their struggles with math. You can relate to all of the different problems and the book really gets you thinking on another level besides just reading and looking at the pictures. ( )
  ghimbert | Apr 27, 2013 |
Life becomes nothing but a series of math problems after he teacher places a "math curse" on him by saying that math can be seen everywhere... so now he sees it everywhere and it is driving him crazy. Math covers this book from front to back and top to bottom and in very clever and witty ways. There is humor to be found on every single page and for readers of many different ages. It takes a subject that typically causes so much anxiety and makes a fun to talk about. ( )
  KellyLPickett | Apr 26, 2013 |
It's tough work not to laugh when reading this playful, quirky, definitive math book for kids. In this book, math teacher Mrs. Fibonacci tells kids that everything can be a math problem, and now the narrator sees math everywhere! Everything has become a comical math problem, and the frequent mathematical allusions throughout the book provide additional entertainment for any adult readers. Perhaps the best indicator of this book's brilliance is the inclusion of the books price ($17) in binary (10001). This book would be a great inclusion to a classroom as part of morning bell work or other quick reviews/introductions to lessons. ( )
  Laene | Apr 26, 2013 |
A young boy faces the everyday struggles of math. Everywhere he goes, he sees a math problem. It really is a cute book; I enjoyed it! It shows children that all problems can be solved, and that they should be afraid of math like most people are.
  aclemen1 | Apr 26, 2013 |
Today in math class my teacher told us everything can be a problem. That's when I actually had a problem. Everything I do is now a problem. This book describes all his problems and makes them into a math problem for the reader to solve. This is a great and fun book to show in a math class. It will have the children doing math problem while reading a story. The style of the book is written in a unique way. Everything is a math problem from the price to the dedication page. ( )
  jaimie919 | Apr 25, 2013 |
Summary: A teacher tells one of her students that you can see math in everyday life. The student becomes stressed out regarding how complication and just how much math there is in everyday life.

Personal Reaction: I wish I had read this when I was in grade school. Math was never my strong subject and I think this would have helped. The illustrations flowed well with the story and the story line itself took a complicated subject and brought humor to it.

Classroom Extension:

1) Have students create their own math problems regarding daily activities, create a worksheet and pass it out for the class to solve.

2) Have students solve the math problems in the story. ( )
  RosieBillings | Apr 24, 2013 |
One students gets a math curse after their teacher told them that everything can be seen as a math problem. She starts to question everything and lots of math sample calculations turn up.
A very recommendable book for children to make math interesting, rich in variety, close-to reality and colorful. It even captured me to solve all these math example since they are wonderfully thought and funny too. ( )
  sabrina89 | Apr 24, 2013 |
We read this book in the class and it felt like we was in a math class. We had to think logical and out of the box. I like this book and I would introduce this book to children who are in middle school. Some people has a fear in math, but once they get through this book they might just see math from a different point of view. ( )
  MaryEttaJ | Apr 24, 2013 |
I like this book because I'm a math person. I really loved how the author made everything a math problem, even the price of the book. THere was also a few riddles which was fun to solve. ( )
  ArielDean | Apr 23, 2013 |
This book is a fun look at how math is used in everyday life and in everything we do. The illustrations are limited to a few pictures, but the math facts, which are lettered texts, does not take away the flow of the story. I would recommend this book in math to show how fun math can be when used in a different way. ( )
  epalaz | Apr 23, 2013 |
This book brilliantly gets kids smiling and laughing at the dry subject of math. We learn that math problems are in every second of our daily lives, and that we are quickly solving math problems without even thinking! This book could definately bring up children's confidence about math, and make them look at math in a different and fun way. This is a great example of how we can incorporate math lessons into literature. ( )
  awoodham93 | Apr 23, 2013 |
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