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MATH APPEAL by Greg Tang


Mind-Stretching Math Riddles

by Greg Tang & illustrated by Harry Briggs

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-439-21046-1
Publisher: Scholastic

Discovering patterns in groups of objects to discover their total number is Tang’s forte, and here he is as engaging as ever, even when his examples don’t necessarily make intuitive—or, for that matter, common—sense. Each two-page spread provides the reader with a dazzlingly colored image of a number of objects—honeycomb cells, jalapeño peppers, ladybug spots—and a little rhyming ditty that sets the scene and provides a hint on how to solve the addition problem. Most often the reader is asked to discern some pattern to make the sum more manageable or how to use subtraction to make finding the sum easier, as when adding rows of starfish with gaps in their ranks: “How many starfish are in view? / This is all you have to do. / Instead of counting one by one, / Just subtract and you’ll be done.” (An answers and explanations page is included.) Tang’s counterintuitive examples are less successful, as in counting raindrops in a rainbow by counting them within the arc of each color group rather than in the more obvious, and simpler, straight lines passing through the arc. Nonetheless, it is another take on how to get the job done—it’s all in the seeing. Best of all, Tang makes play out of math and the problem-solving riddles keep math-suspicious minds from wandering and maybe even from clogging. (Picture book. 7-10)