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Math Curse by Jon Scieszka
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Math Curse (original 1995; edition 1995)

by Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith (Illustrator)

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1,3961145,435 (4.2)20
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 |
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I really loved this book. I like that it shows how math problems can be applied to real life situations such as if I wake up now and takes me x amount of time to get dressed, will I be ready in time? The problems presented will make children understand math is an important part of life that cannot be escaped, which I believe is the big idea of the book. Along with this the illustrations to represent the problems were fantastically drawn and kept my attention on the problem at hand while reading. ( )
  StephanieWeiner | Sep 16, 2014 |
What happens if absolutely everything becomes a word problem? Our main character is about to lose his mind, until he embraces the math. Full of fun logic and math problems and a lot of silliness. Possibly good for breaking up the stress of LEAP time? ( )
  kradish | Jul 30, 2014 |
I fell in love with "The Math Curse", and can't wait to share it with my kids. I just ordered a copy for them, which will be conspicuously displayed on my coffee table. I feel like I just bought myself a ticket to listen to my kids chuckle their way through math problems. Shall I secretly video?

I will definitely have this in my class library or check it out from the school library for kids to peruse. For some kids, math feels like death, and this light-hearted take on the "curse" does what Keeper of Soles does for mortality.

I wonder what the best way to incorporate this book is? Group read? Just have it on hand? A page a day? I'm fishing for ideas.

In the continuing spirit of using librarything to record links to potential resources, I wonder if I should explore this book, which one a teacher's choice in 2009. I need to get my hands on as many arts-integrated resources as possible.

http://www.amazon.com/Math-Poetry-Linking-Language-Fresh/dp/1596470720 ( )
  Desirichter | Jul 29, 2014 |
This book explained how math is everywhere we look. Math can be found in waking up in the morning, as well as brushing your teeth. I wouldn't use it with my second graders because some of the math problems were on a higher level, but i would definitely add it to my library. ( )
  Kbernard | Jul 18, 2014 |
This book is a friendly, funny way to introduce kids of all ages to higher mathematical concepts in a logical sequence. ( )
  EllenMazieKeyes | May 31, 2014 |
Sciezka has created a zany picture book that encourages readers to see the entertainment and everyday application of math. In the story, the young protagonist hears his math teacher (Mrs. Fibonacci) say that you can think of almost everything as a math problem. The next day the boy starts having a problem. Everything he does becomes framed as math. Eating pizza involves fractions, getting to the bus on time relates to times and rates, and passing out cupcakes to the class uses addition, subtraction, division, and fractions! He realizes that he has a math curse! Every subject and every activity becomes an equation or a word problem. Finally, the boy is driven nearly to distraction with his math obsession for an entire day, and he dreams he is trapped in a room covered in equations. He solves a problem, puts two halves together to make a whole, puts the hole on a wall, and jumps to freedom. His math anxiety is over. Too bad the next day he hears his science teacher say you can think of almost everything as a science experiment.

What a wonderful way to demonstrate how math is ingrained in our world. So many children see math as a boring skill with no relevance, because they just know the formulas and drills, and don't understand the underlying concepts. This book visually illuminates what math means, with an abundance of fun. On each page, the reader gets the story, and often an assortment of math questions that range from simple to quite complex and are related to the activities the boy is engaged in. It's not necessary to answer the questions to appreciate and enjoy the story. However, a great afternoon activity could be reading the story with your children, and then working out some of those problems together. Also, most of the math questions have silly elements to break up any idea of drill-and-kill school work. For instance, one box asks three questions: If my bus leaves at 8:00, will I make it on time? How many minutes in 1 hour? How many teeth in 1 mouth? The whole book lovingly pokes fun at math, while celebrating how important math is in the world around us.

The illustrations are an inseparable component of the book. They are part collage, part drawings, and incorporate math everywhere. Numbers are part of almost every page. Circles are broken into pie pieces, and information is shared in bar graphs. Formulas and math facts float around. The collage placement adds to a surreal atmosphere, and reinforces the feeling of a curse. Also, the expressions on the bewildered boy's face are hilarious, and adorable when he wakes up feeling confident in his math prowess. Every aspect of the book is aligned with the theme. Even the book flaps have math problems and hidden jokes. The author and illustrator are represented in a Venn diagram at the back of the book. Numbers in the copyright information are given in roman numerals and the prices is given as a math equation. This is a fabulous book, with attention to every detail, and an excellent use of the picture book format. Parents and teachers need this book in their library. ( )
  nmhale | May 31, 2014 |
I enjoyed this book simply because it challenges your mind while reading. If you are using this in math class it gives your students a fun way to learn mathematical knowledge. However, if you were using it in any other class it may not make as much sense. I liked solving the problems in the book, but sometimes it was extremely distracting. I forgot I was even reading a book, but that could be the point! Overall, it is a great book that I would use in my classroom. ( )
  CMJohnson | Apr 29, 2014 |
This book was very interesting. It is acceptable for a wide range of ages. It has some pretty complicated concepts in it. It was entertaining, and funny. ( )
  SamanthaMulkey | Apr 24, 2014 |
A little boy is told by his teacher in math class that "everything in life can be looked at like a math problem". And this just causes all sorts of trouble for him. A hilarious story of how he finds number and math problems in everything he faces in life. There are great chances to get students involved in the math solving while keeping them entertained with the humor of the story. I really enjoyed it and love the way the author was able to incorporate the two subjects together. ( )
  kryoung1 | Apr 23, 2014 |
I loved this book. The little girl cannot get math out of her head! It begins driving her crazy. I think this book is great for students because it does relate math to everything. The illustrations are really fun. I loved the play on things. A lot of thought was put into this creative book. I love the problems that the children would be able to solve. Such a beneficial book! I would recommend for grades 2nd and above. ( )
  Imandayeh | Apr 23, 2014 |
My teacher read us the Math Curse at school and I had to read it again. I loved this book, it is the best math children's book I have read. It kept me interested and had a lot of different math problems. The illustrations were great and the book was really funny. I would definitely use this book in my future classroom and it could be great for 3rd and up. ( )
  aloupe | Apr 22, 2014 |
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 |
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