STARRED REVIEW
March 2001

Coloring outside the lines

By Greg Tang
Review by
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This book has some serious problems. Seriously! Greg Tang, math whiz and author of The Grapes of Math wants your kids to see math in a screwy kind of way.

How many fish are in this class?
Answer quick and you will pass.
Here's a hint, a little clue,
When counting fish, just look askew!

 

Tang has cleverly disguised problem-solving and critical thinking in what he calls "mind-stretching math riddles." But I gotta tell you, there's no pain and agony here. It's more like looking at cool pictures from several different angles. These riddles are riddled with bright, bold illustrations by Harry Briggs, coaxing kids into seeing patterns, thinking creatively and ultimately learning clever math shortcuts and skills applicable to multiplication and even algebra. Creativity and problem-solving working together? How's that?

Greg Tang squashes all the drills and rote memorization we've all suffered through: 2 + 2 = 4 . . . 2 + 3 = 5 . . . Zzzzz. Then he shows kids how to look for symmetries, even if that means turning the illustrations sideways or upside down, all while meeting the challenge of a math problem in rhyme.

Children and their parents will want to reread the book, because once they get the hang of it, they'll go back and solve the same problems differently or make up new problems, using their own brand of pattern-making and natural intuition. According to the buzz, The Grapes of Math will be the first in a series of fun and easy creative math books. How do I know? I heard it through the grapevine.

This little corner is a salute to those overachieving writers, artists and publishers who rebel against the bookmaking norm (whatever that is) and insist on creating a one-of-a-kind. 

 

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The Grapes of Math

The Grapes of Math

By Greg Tang
Scholastic
ISBN 9780439210331

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