86 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2000
I bought this book for my daugther when she was in kindergarten. "Again Mommy." she demanded after I had read it to her. And so, I read it again. "Again Mommy." And so, I read it to her again. "Again Mommy." and so... I have long since lost track of how many times we read the book.
It starts with Mrs. Fibonnaci telling her class that "YOU KNOW,you can think of almost everything as a math problem." And we're off on adventure of doing just that.
The illustrations are wonderful, and match the text perfectly. The book is silly for young children and funny for older children. It is obvious and subtle at the same time. I think this is why some reviewers think that it miscategorized as being for ages 4 to 8. There is so much in the book that kids see it differently at different ages. My daugther is now in 4th grade and she still takes this book off the shelf to read... just for fun. Recently she had a math assignment to show a series of numbers. She chose a Fibonnaci series. This book stays with you.
The book ends with Mr. Newton telling his class "YOU KNOW, you can think of almost everything as a science experiment." Note to the author: I'm waiting for you to write the "Science Curse."
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 1998
I teach math to adults, and I use this book in my classes when I discuss math anxiety. I also use it to illustrate some major math ideas, such as base numbers (important in computers and video games), the Fibonacci series (important in natural science and a good illustration of how math developed in the abstract can often later be found to have practical application), logic, and combinations. The book is chock full of math concepts, all presented in the context of everyday circumstances, which makes it a very valuable tool in making the argument to my students for their need to study math. It is also a very, very entertaining book, and all of my students can relate to the girl's frustration and anxiety. My 9 year old son reads this book at least once a week (for the last year, now!), and still laughs when he reads it. It is wonderfully illustrated and well written, a true gem. I recommend it for children and adults alike, and especially for math teachers of all ages.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2002
There are few author-illustrator teams that I like as much as John Scieszka and Lane Smith. They have teamed up time and again to create books that both children and adults find humorous and wonder-filled. I have become an admirer of their books. Still--I had serious doubts that anyone could make math fun. Math Curse proved me wrong.
One could scourer the earth and not find a bigger hater and despiser of math than me. It has been a thorn in my side and the bane of my existence.
Yet, surprisingly, Math Curse is just as engaging and funny as any other book by Scieszka/Smith. Smith in particular, does an exceptional job in this book. Some of his best illustrations can be found in these pages. The pages ringed by text are classic.
The message of math curse is a simple one--math is all around us. The main character's teacher makes this point one day in class. The main character spends the rest of this book finding out just how true her teacher's statement was.
The humor of Math Curse comes mainly from nonsensical (yet often true) problems that the main character works out in her head while seeking to cure her "math curse."
Math Curse is a funny, educational book. It is representative of all that is great about the work of this author-illustrator team.
I give it my full recommendation.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 1998
I'm a math major and during my classroom observations, I read this book to 4th graders and they loved it. The teacher ask me to stay and read it to the 5th and 6th graders. The book is illustrated beautifully and it really makes students and adults understand that math is a part of our every day life. I love the way the authors relate every aspect of the book to math: the price of the book is an addition problem, the price is also in available in binary, it's for ages >6 and <99!!! The fact that Mrs. Fibonacci is her teach is just too cool! I've become a math lunatic myself. Thanks to the authors for such grand creativity!
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 1998
This is one of those children's books that adults will be reading to themselves and chuckling out loud. It was read to a classroom of 1st graders who loved it. Most of the children took it as a straightforward and funny story about a little girl who has had a "math curse" put on her by her math teacher. She perceives everything as a word problem in math. Some children (only one so far in my experience) might feel compelled to work each and every problem and experience distress if they can't come up with all the answers. Which is another important lesson of the book....some problems AREN't math problems. To try and solve these problems using math is just wacky. I think this lesson is every bit as important as the one that math is very pervasive in everyday life. The book ends when the little girl breaks the math curse and "life is just great until science class, when Mr. Newton says, YOU KNOW, you can think of almost everything as a science experiment..."
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
I'm always fascinated by those picture books so incredibly popular that they inspire highly sought after sequels. We expect sequels from popular movies and television shows, but picture books are a different matter entirely. What is it about a good book for children that causes masses of people to clamor for another of its ilk? I ask all of this because Jon Scieszka's ingenious, "Math Curse", is a perfect example of what I'm asking. Telling a simple tale of a boy (or possibly a girl) as he/she becomes enmeshed in a never ending day o' math problems, the book has recently been joined by the equally amusing "Science Verse". As such, it deserves closer inspection.
One day our protagonist (who, for lack of a gender, I will refer to in as unbiased a manner as I possibly can) wakes up with a problem. Just the day before, the kid's teacher pronounced that, "You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem". Whoopsie! Before you know it our hero is spinning in an out-of-control vortex of mathematically inspired thoughts and questions. These range from the practical questions you'd often receive in school ("Mrs. Fibonacci has this CHART of what month everyone's birthday is in: 1. Which month has the most birthdays? 2. Which month has the fewest") to the downright silly ("What is another way to say 1/2 of an apple pie? a. 2/6. b. 3/6. c. la moitie d'une tarte aux pommes"). By the end of the day our little protagonist can't take it any more. Fortunately a fortuitous dream ends all math problems and in the morning everything's the same again. This is until the teacher thinks to mention, "You know, you can think of almost everything as a science experiment".
Don't get the impression by this review that this book is going to be dull to you parental English majors out there. I can personally assure you that as a child/teen/adult I have hated and continue to hate all math related ventures. Nonetheless, this book charmed me. First of all, that has a lot to do with its creators. I turn your attention now to the incomparable Jon Scieszka (pronounced shiss-ka, or so I am told) and his partner in crime Lane Smith. If you're already familiar with their particularly original, "The Stinky Cheese Man, and Other Fairly Stupid Tales" or "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs", then you have some sort of an idea what to expect. Both men are delightful twisted, but twisted in entirely different ways. While Scieszka puns and takes an especial pleasure in silly statements and questions, Lane illustrates his pictures with creative psychotic aplomb. The result is a book that's as vastly original as it is enjoyable to read through.
Genuinely funny picture books are always too far and few between. Since I can honestly tell you that this book is a droll little piece of chicanery that you should be sure not to miss, you've no need to worry. Just go out and purchase it for your kids, your kids' friends, and children you've never seen before in your life but who may enjoy the laudable, "Math Curse". It'll do you a spot of good.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2000
This book is sooo funny! It was first read to me when I was in the third grade, and I've loved it ever since. I'm currently a tenth-grader, but Math Curse reminds me of how life used to seem confusing in different ways than now. I think it's a great book to read aloud, along with showing all the cute pictures. The story and the questions asked are so absurd that they will keep you laughing out loud.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2000
This is a wonderful book that will crack kids up every time they read it. They will read it again and again to capture all of the nuances in this story. Teachers and parents alike will enjoy reading this book to their students and having them solve the multitude of problems. Most kids will enjoy a project to think of as many math problems in their day as they can. I love this book!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2006
After her math teacher "Mrs. Fibonacci" says that almost everything could be thought of as a math problem, the narrator enters a bizarre realm where "everything seems to be a problem," and it gets increasingly worse, as she becomes a "math zombie" before the brilliant (and for older folks, profound) conclusion. The math problems start out simple ("It takes me 10 minutes to get dressed...If my bus leaves at 8:00, will I make it on time?"), even English is a math problem ("If mail+box=mailbox... Does lipstick-stick=lip?)" Money, time, measurement, fractions, sequences, estimation, sets, logic and more are covered--there's even a quadratic formula and mention of Zeno! The brilliance of this book is that it anticipates and removes the obstacle of math phobia, specifically fear of word problems, that I saw more often than not back when I was a math teacher. Although the bookcover says "For ages > 6 and < 99," and that is true because of the layers of relevance, I'd especially recommend it for early third grade, that way by the time the onslaught of word problems begins, word problems will seem more like word "puzzles" and fun. Great critical thinking tool, fun both in its story and visuals.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2004
Short summary: This is a fun, oversized-square of a book that applies different math principles to every day issues, like telling time, dividing food into equal portions, counting objects, and so on. It is best for kids who have some idea how fractions work. Some math problems are easy, and some are not so easy, so everyone can be successful at least part of the time.
How it has (or hasn't) worked in my own house: I found Math Curse at the used bookstore and dropped it on the kids' bookshelf. It stayed there for a long while until the four-year-old neighbor girl discovered it.
She LOVES it -- vivid pictures, odd shapes, silly problems, offbeat style -- and I'm getting a little tired of it, perhaps because it's pretty challenging to read it in a way that makes sense to a four year old.
Part of the challenge is that there is more on the page than the story; it's a stop-and-look-and-discuss-and-OH MY! LOOK WHAT HAPPENED! book, and most of the math is beyond a four year old's immediate grasp, so after a while I find myself thinking with every page, "Do I read (and explain and explain and explain) this side bit, or do I give up on the Educational Value today and stick to the bare plot so that we can reach the end of the book before dinner time?"
It's an increasingly difficult decision, which I think reflects the fact that I'm getting bored with it after several dozen readings. (On the other hand, reading this book isn't supposed to be "all about me," so I've chosen to grin and bear it.)
This is a GOOD math book for kids aged 8 to 10 or so. It will also read a LOT faster with anyone who knows anything about arithmetic and fractions.
However, as this book turns up very frequently in middle-elementary grade classrooms, I recommend that you think twice about buying it for home -- and teachers, if possible, I suggest you ask your students' prior teacher(s) if they read the book last year.