From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8–A dynamic book filled with puzzles and problems to solve. Blocks of color, diagrams, and photo collages contribute to the exciting layout. Four sections (Where do numbers come from? Magic numbers, Shaping up, and The world of math) cover the history of counting, zero, number theory, Pi, chance, logic, fractals, and much more. The contributions of mathematical greats, from Ahmose to Albert Einstein, are described in brief. Many of the examples and questions are popular culture items; answers are provided in the back of the book. There is an error; the book attributes selecting animals to take on the ark to Moses rather than Noah. Not all sources are attributed (such as the chance of dying from various causes), although all images are. This title is well indexed and has a detailed table of contents. A fun romp for number and puzzle lovers.–Erlene Bishop Killeen, Fox Prairie Elementary School, Stoughton, WI
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Gr. 4-7. Ball aims straight at kids' natural enthusiasm for puzzles and nifty phenomena in this wide-angle view of math. Readers will find the usual number history, finger-counting tricks, and magic squares here, but Ball extends his purview well beyond typical classroom subjects to touch upon topology, chaos theory, and fractals. Some discussions and exercises will challenge even grown-up brainiacs ("It's possible to make a hole in a postcard-sized piece of paper that a person can step through. Can you work out the pattern?"), but many others (making an icosahedron; performing probability-based card tricks) are spot-on for inquisitive kids who like to fiddle and ponder. Perhaps the only real drawback is the book's design. Fragments of text appear beside distractingly scattered photos, and the jacket's cheerful primary colors seem to target a younger audience than will be capable of absorbing the concepts. Try this on kids who ask for books on Sudoku number squares, and give it to teachers at many levels, who will want to borrow from Ball's pedagogical toolbox. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved