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Math Curse

Math Curse

4.3 12
by Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith (Illustrator)

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Staff
Arrgh! Does tunafish plus tunafish equal fourfish? A girl finds herself trapped in a math curse when her teacher tells the class they can think of almost anything as a math problem. Soon she sees math everywhere. Scieszka and Smith join forces again to create another lunatic masterpiece, and adults will writhe in sympathy as they remember their own math curses.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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.)
Children's Literature - Judy Katsh
The two bad boys of "kiddie lit" have done it again! Their irreverent look at math and the way we teach it in school will delight anyone who has ever sat through a meaningless explanation of what happens when the two infamous story-problem trains speed away from their respective stations. Readers who appreciate a first class marriage of text, illustration, sense, and nonsense will love this book.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Sorry, Mrs. Fibonacci, but when you labeled everything a math problem, my mind couldn't cope. I loved arithmetic but word problems drove me crazy. If I wanted to know how long it takes a train to go from one place to another, I'd get a train schedule. Scieszka, a former math teacher, takes numerical enigmas and rejiggers them in this mind-boggling, hysterically funny book. The combination of art and text is a hoot. There is some legitimate math within the nonsense, but most of it is just plain fun. Read it aloud at your next faculty meeting in a deadpan, serious style. If no one laughs, fire them! Assignment: What is the significance of Mrs. Fibonacci's name?
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
The duo who dare to be different take us into the world of numbers in this book. They combine math and literature and get the story of a young heroine whose questions multiply when her teacher, Mrs. Fibonacci, tells the math class, "You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem." The young girl is spun into the world of mathematics. Problems she encounters include simple arithmetic processes, mathematical systems, money, measuring, and geometry. The mathematical facet of the book is equaled by playful references and humor, which gains the book exponential power. One could read Math Curse with a child as young as second grade and that child would enjoy the story at face value, but upper elementary and middle school mathematicians will better appreciate the humor and references.
School Library Journal
Spice up your classes with books by Greg Tang, an author who encourages kids to take a playful approach to math. Each book has complete explanations for the problems posed. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Carolyn Phelan
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.
Children's Literature - Joan Kindig
There are those who like math and those that love math....and then there are those that HATE math! Everything about it is a challenge. It is as if, well, it is a curse! Written and illustrated by the team that brought you the Stinky Cheese Man and the True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, this book is funny from page one where a little girl is drawn into a curse by her math teacher's words: "You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem." Yikes! From that moment on, everything IS a math problem and it is making her insane. She thinks of how many M&Ms lying side by side would run the length of the Mississippi River, how many pints in a quart, and how many ounces in a pint. Everything is madness. That is, until she figures out a way to make a whole (aka, hole) and she escapes from her math nightmare through the hole. So much of this is tongue in cheek and hilarious that it just might make a math lover out of you. Well, OK, maybe a math "tolerater." The movement of the animation makes the dreamlike bits in the book come alive in a way that print just could not do. It makes the DVD, a companion to the book, a perfect choice. The interview with the creators of the above mentioned books is worth acquiring the video even if you hate math. Running time: 15 minutes. Animation. Reviewer: Joan Kindig, Ph.D.

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
11.31(w) x 11.25(h) x 0.40(d)
560L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Multiple award-winning author Jon Scieszka grew up in Flint, Michigan, the second oldest and the nicest of six boys. Jon went to school at Culver Military Academy in Indiana where he was a Lieutenant; Albion College in Michigan where he studied to be a doctor; and Columbia University in New York, where he received an M.F.A. in fiction. He taught elementary school in New York for ten years in a variety of positions. He is the author of many books for children including the New York Times Best Illustrated Book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (illustrated by Lane Smith), the Caldecott Honor book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (illustrated by Lane Smith), and Math Curse (illustrated by Lane Smith).  In addition to his work as an author, Jon also runs a web-based literacy program called “Guys Read” that is designed to encourage boys, particularly reluctant readers, to get involved with books. In 2008, Jon was named the country’s first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a joint effort of the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council. During his two-year role as Ambassador, he acted as a spokesperson for children’s literature, speaking to groups of parents, teachers, and children to encourage the importance of reading. You can visit Jon online at www.jsworldwide.com.

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Math Curse 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MsChocoholic More than 1 year ago
Scieszka has some of the best books and Math Curse is no exception. This is a fantastic book to show kids that math is in EVERYTHING we do. The fly pages are excellent and there are interesting facts all over the jacket. Scieszka makes everything more fun and the poor child in the story is cursed with seeing the math in everything. But after a long day of dizzying math, he realizes that if you just "put the hole on the wall and jump out" that everything will be okay. This book can be used for just about any math topic and kids find it hilarious.
The_Queen_of_all_PARPdom More than 1 year ago
My family loves this book! It's a great read aloud and it gave us an opportunity to talk about math in everyday life. Ihave 1 son who loves math and 1 who hates it but they both loved this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I used to read this over and over again in the library when I was 8. I am in college now and still remember it, but now I can appreciate its artwork evenmore. It's not bad illustrations at all- Lane Smith is inventive. I guess innovation turns off people, though.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best written math picture books around. It imparts math concepts without hitting them too hard so kids are turned off. It's droll and the illustrations are fabulous. Highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The children¿s book Math Curse, by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith is appropriate for children ages 7 through 10. There are no chapters. The words are pretty big. The book¿s setting takes place from the beginning of one day to the beginning of the next. The story relates to the study of math because everything becomes a math problem. If I were a math teacher, I would use it to teach math because it shows the importance of math. My opinion of the book is that it is funny and it really shows how math is a part of everyday life. The strength of this book is that it explains the importance of math. The weakness of this book is it¿s bad art. My favorite portion of this book is when she said ¿does tuna fish and tuna fish equal four fish?¿ My suggestion for a sequel is a Science version, because the story ends when she is in science class and her teacher Mr. Newton says ¿You know you can think of everything as a science experiment.¿
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would definitely reccomend this book, especially for those students who complain why do we need math we are never going to use it. It gets students to see that math is all around them and it gets students to use their critical thinking skills with word problems they give!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I used this book as a Halloween lesson to place a "curse" on my students. They all enjoyed this book. After reading it, I had all my students create their own math curses. This is a great book for a project to get students motivated about math!
Guest More than 1 year ago
WONDERFUL book! It makes a great read aloud book. Perfect for an audience of any age. I bought this book to read aloud to my high school math class and it's great!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was exellent, I reccamend it to everyone that likes a good laugh. It is about a little girl that when her math teacher puts a curse on her she finds out that everything involves math, AHH! So read it yourself and i prommise you, you will like it!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is ultimately a great book to give to those kids who just feel like they cannot continue on in math. Sure, math is frustrating, but we all have to go through it and that is exactly what this book shows. I would recommend this to any and everybody!