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Math Potatoes: Mind-stretching Brain Food Hardcover – July 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6–Tang's seventh entry in a series that includes The Grapes of Math (2001) and Math-terpieces (2003, both Scholastic) is another winner. Each spread includes a poem consisting of neatly rhymed couplets that first set a scene (I gaze into the evening sky,/Think great thoughts and wonder why) and concludes with a hint or suggestion as to how the objects on the opposing page might most efficiently be grouped to arrive at a sum (When you look up to the heavens,/Try to think in groups of sevens!). There are no overt patterns so that, as Tang says in his author's note, children are challenged to combine numbers in smart ways, not just obvious ways. The book concludes with clear diagrams and succinct explanations providing the solutions. Briggs's computer-generated art is crisp, clear, and delightfully quirky. For example, Sock Hop features a loafer on guitar, work boots on drums, and a high-heeled pump on keyboard. Puzzle-loving kids will pick this up on their own, and teachers could pair it with Jon Scieszka's Math Curse (Viking, 1995) for an energizing departure from the standard math lesson.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 3-5. The seventh in Tang's math series, which includes The Grapes of Math (2000), this picture book uses all kinds of visual tricks to demonstrate how to make arithmetic faster and easier. On each double-page spread, a rhyming verse has fun with a variety of subjects. Most rhymes are about foods--including pickles, potatoes, and "flat-jacks"--and the bright, computer-generated pictures are as playful as the words. This goes far beyond the usual simple counting book. The games are complex, the visuals are tricky, and although the rhyme seems straightforward ("Instead of adding row by row / Columns are the way to go"), readers must think carefully about adding, subtracting, and multiplying. "Imagine eight in every row / Just subtract and you will know." The spacious, illustrated answer pages at the back explain the puzzles, which will be fun for classroom use as well as for kids trying to find shortcuts in the counting jungle. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Series: Math Potatoes
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1St Edition edition (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780439443906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439443906
  • ASIN: 0439443903
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 9.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Greg Tang earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in economics from Harvard University and an M.A. in math education from New York University. Greg Tang has taught students of all ages, from kindergarten to college, and has used his problem-solving methods to create successful products and companies across many industries. He lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, with his three children. Greg's web address is www.gregtang.com.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By ReadItDiva on May 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The book entitled Math Potatoes contains 16 poems of "mind-stretching brain food." Through cleverly written rhymes, Tang offers kids a way to understand what is being asked and find the answer using problem solving techniques that make arithmetic smarter, easier, and a lot more fun!

Many of the students that I tutor say they don't like math. They resort to counting on their fingers instead of grouping numbers the way Tang suggests in his book. For example, the riddle entitled "Smart Cookies" challenges kids to count each chocolate chip by grouping them into a square and adding the rest. The colorful illustrations and the solutions provided in the back of the book help the students to understand the concepts.

The entire Scholastic math series by Tang is a great educational tool. Highly recommended!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Bolesky on January 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
My almost-8 year old daughter has hundreds of books, but which one does she want me to read to her EVERY NIGHT? _Math Potatoes_. I read the little rhyme, then she solves the math problem. I'm going to get some more from this series. She loves it. I love it because it teaches problem solving and math. It's very cool. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

ADDENDUM

Got most of the books in this series, and they were all winners!

My daughter is now 11. When all of the books in the Math Potatoes series (by Greg Tang) wear thin from hundreds of readings, get _Hello World! Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners_. I was worried that nothing would compare to this series in her pre-teens, but this book is a perfect fit! LOLcats would say: "Quality time? I haz it."
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Spudman TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though I taught middle schoolers for thirty years, I only occasionally intersected with the math world via across the curriculum activities. I bought Math Potatoes because I love all things potato and sometimes teach elementary math at our tutoring center.

The book itself is attractively designed with colorful computer graphics and glorious potatoes on the cover. Alas only the cover and two pages within are potatofied. The author blends verse and math to create riddles and encourage young readers to visualize different ways to group items for addition.

One of the math properties that I understand is the commutative property. Addends can be grouped and added in any order and the sum is the same. It's a simple principle that I think this book belabors. Answers to the riddles with the "correct" grouping strategies are found in the back of the book. Correct means that the suggestions of the riddle were followed. I would like to see other possible groupings mentioned because multiple alternate groupings are possible.

I shared this book with several real math teachers and a few young students. Neither teachers nor students were overly impressed though they do find some value in the book. One teacher suggested adding real life problems and exercises with actual numbers for practice. Seeing the "answer" immediately after each presented puzzle would be convenient though logistically perhaps not practical.

Torn between awarding three or four stars, I've decided to be generous and rate Math Potatoes barely four stars.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mike Henry on August 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a MUST-HAVE book for all elementary classrooms! This book is a superb example of literacy across the curriculum... and it is FUN!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Green on March 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Greg Tang wrote this series of math books for kids. They are all great books! I bought the whole series for my two sons after I saw these recommended math materials on Beestar. Math Potatoes is the seventh book of the series. In this book, each clever riddle poses a problem and offers a helpful hint. I often read the riddles to my 7-year-old. At first, he didn't understand the ways of grouping and finding patterns and symmetries. But gradually, he is able to make smart sums and find groups of equal size. This book really helps kids to build problem solving skills and get kids ready for the challenges of higher math.
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