Prather’s Pick: ‘New math’ book for kids, parents
August 28, 2018
This week, I searched for some new books that might be appropriate for back-to-school. In the children's room at the Craig Library, in the "new books display," I found the coolest book. "Do Not Open this Math Book" is intended for both children and their parents, because it covers "new math."
The book was written by Danica McKellar, a New York Times bestselling author, who has written a number of math books. This week's book is published by Crown Books for Young Readers (2018), and the illustrations were created by Maranda Maberry.
It appears the book was intended for childre age 6 to 9. Kids can read the books themselves, especially those who are advanced in math, but the book is probably best used if read with a parent, because the author intended the book as a way to "bridge the gap between the memorized (old way of doing math) and new math."
By reading the book, following simple directions, and playing games, children and parents will become acquainted with "new math." Parents will be able to help their children with homework, parents who homeschool their children can build new math into the curriculum, and teachers will undoubtedly be able to incorporate some ideas from the book into their plans. There is a "new math" translation guide for grown-ups at the back of the book, too. This is a great book!
A reader can't help but be attracted to the cover. The title, "Do Not Open this Math Book,"stands out, because it is done in white lettering on a black background. A strip of yellow-orange tape (the kind used to block off a construction site or police investigation) has "Addition + Subtraction" printed across it. In the bottom, left-hand corner of the cover, a little mouse peeks out. He wears a blue shirt with "Math Scares Me" printed on it. This is Mr. Mouse who is so scared of math that he warns the reader not to open the book.
Of course, the reader opens the book anyway, and Mr. Mouse is on the credit page, cautioning the reader to not open any other pages. But the reader turns the page, and he or she finds two pages of introduction to the book. Danica, the teacher, is there, and in cartoon, comic-book-like frames, she tries to convince Mr. Mouse that math can be easy, fun, and useful.
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There's a note to parents, followed by chapters of games, practice problems and answers, explanations, and silliness, because Mr. Mouse is there all the way through the book. Just look at these chapter titles: "Stinky Toes and Hopping Frogs," "A Big Box of Googly Eyes," and "How to Destroy a Turkey Sandwich," among others — there are 10 chapters, in all.
Oh, boy, there's a lot of fun in this book and a lot of learning, too. It's a winner!
You can find this book in the children's room at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries — as soon as I return it. The book costs $21.99, in hardcover, if you decide to buy it.