Math Curse
Math Curse

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Annotation: A girl is caught in the relentless grip of math-mania as her whole world turns into a weird numbers problem.
Catalog Number: #192805
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 1995
Edition Date: 1995
Illustrator: Smith, Lane,
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-670-86194-4 Perma-Bound: 0-605-27360-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-670-86194-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-27360-3
Dewey: E
LCCN: 95012341
Dimensions: 28 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
The math curse begins when the narrator's teacher suggests that almost everything can be thought of as a math problem. Suddenly everything, from deciding what time to wake up to how twenty-four birthday cupcakes can be split among twenty-five people, becomes a problem. Textured, modern, abstract art and text in varied type create a sophisticated, humorous look at a subject that often engenders the high level of anxiety portrayed here.
Kirkus Reviews
An unsuspecting student falls victim to the Math Curse when her teacher notes that ``You can think of almost everything as a math problem.'' Suddenly, everything is: ``I wake up at 7:15. It takes me 10 minutes to get dressed, 15 minutes to eat my breakfast, and 1 minute to brush my teeth . . . if my bus leaves at 8:00, will I make it on time?'' If it's not a time problem, it's equivalents (``How many inches in a foot?''), multiplication, nondecimal numbers, money combinations, and more. What's the cure? It comes to her in a dream: A problem with an answer is no problem at all. Smith's big paintings-cum-collage are, as usual, way strange, perfectly complementing the wild, postmodern page design with concatenations of small objects, fragments, and geometric shapes and figures, all placed on dark, grainy backgrounds. Another calculated triumph from the fevered brows that brought forth The Stinky Cheese Man (1992) and other instant classics, this one with a bit of brainwork deftly woven in. Readers can check their answers on the back cover. (Picture book. 7-9)"
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5--From the inventive minds of Scieszka and Smith comes an unusual take on the subject of mathematics. More for the ``Time Warp Trio'' audience than for Stinky Cheese Man (1992, both Viking) devotees, Math Curse opens with the ominously simple statement, ``You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem.'' From that point on, the young narrator is overwhelmed with daily math. Getting dressed, eating breakfast, getting to school--everything involves addition, subtraction, measurement, probability, etc. Questions are boxed and numbered within the narrative, just as they might appear in a textbook. The questions, however, are not always typical workbook queries. For example, ``I take the milk out for my cereal and wonder: 1.How many quarts in a gallon? 2.How many pints in a quart? 3.How many inches in a foot? 4.How many feet in a yard? 5.How many yards in a neighborhood? How many inches in a pint? How many feet in my shoes?'' Some of the humor may have to be explained to readers. Kids will be able to figure out most of the problems on their own, depending on their grasp of fractions. Smith's illustrations are wild and rollicking. Combining drawings with collage, he creates a multi-textured school scene that reflects the narrator's confusion. Numbers are everywhere, but so are whimsical touches such as the individual expressions on the 24 cherries that adorn the class's cupcakes. This title can certainly be used as lighthearted relief in math class, but the story will be heartily enjoyed simply for its zany humor and nonstop sense of fun.--Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly
Whew! This latest whimsical work from Scieszka and Smith (The True Story of the Three Little Pigs; The Stinky Cheese Man) is bound to stretch out the old thinking cap. The day after her teacher announces, """"You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem,"""" the narrator is afflicted with a ``math curse'' that affects how she views every facet of her day (``Everything seems to be a problem''). A minimum of the questions she asks herself are entirely logical (""""How many quarts are in a gallon?''); some are far-fetched extrapolations (if an M&M is about one centimeter long and the Mississippi River is about 4000 kilometers long, how many M&Ms would it take to measure the length of this river?); and a happily hefty number are sheer nonsense: """"I undo 8 buttons plus 2 shoelaces. I subtract 2 shoes. I multiply times 2 socks and divide by 3 pillows to get 5 sheep, remainder 1, which is all I need to count before I fall asleep."""" Like the text, Smith's wonderfully wacky collage-like art will give readers ample food for thought-even if it's part junk food. Here's a morsel: """"Does tunafish + tunafish = fournafish?"""" Kids will want seconds-count on it. Ages 7-up. (Oct.)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Children will know what they're in for when they read Scieszka's dedication: If the sum of my nieces and nephews equals 15, and their product equals 54, and I have more nephews than nieces, HOW MANY NEPHEWS AND HOW MANY NIECES IS THIS BOOK DEDICATED TO? But unlike in their classrooms, readers are in control here: they can decide whether or not to calculate the solution. In the story, a girl wakes up one morning to find everything in life arranging itself into a math problem. Throughout the school day, each minor event inspires her to create new sets of math problems, which quickly develop from the merely arithmetical to the moderately puzzling to the truly wacky. Other kids in math-across-the-curriculum classes may sympathize when the teacher asks how to divide Rebecca's 24 cupcakes among 25 people: I'm the first to figure out the answer. / I raise my hand and tell Mrs. Fibonacci / I'm allergic to cupcakes. She decides that her teacher has put a math curse on her, but in her dreams that night, she finds a way out of her mathematical mindset. Bold in design and often bizarre in expression, Smith's paintings clearly express the child's feelings of bemusement, frustration, and panic as well as her eventual joy when she overcomes the math curse. Scieszka and Smith triumph, too, at the top of their class as artists and entertainers, their distinctive voice and original vision creating a child-centered, witty picture book about the woes of math anxiety. (Reviewed November 1, 1995)
Word Count: 1,524
Reading Level: 3.7
Interest Level: 2-5
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.7 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 12474 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.8 / points:2.0 / quiz:Q07468
Lexile: 560L
Guided Reading Level: N

Did you ever wake up to one of those days where everything is a problem? You have 10 things to do, but only 30 minutes until your bus leaves. Is there enough time? You have 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants. Can you make 1 good outfit? Then you start to wonder: Why does everything have to be such a problem? Why do 2 apples always have to be added to 5 oranges? Why do 4 kids always have to divide 12 marbles? Why can't you just keep 10 cookies without someone taking 3 away? Why? Because you're the victim of a Math Curse. That's why. But don't despair. This is one girl's story of how that curse can be broken.

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