Harried schoolteacher? Worried parent? Self-defined math klutz? All could profit from the text, but there is enough...

MATHEMATICS MINUS FEAR

HOW TO MAKE MATH FUN AND BENEFICIAL TO YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE

Potter (This May Help You Understand the World, 2008) accessibly deconstructs simple math.

This Oxford graduate in classics, who has taught math in Rwanda and Romania, confesses that he had a problem doing sums in his head. That started him on his pursuit of an explanation of why so many people fear math or despair of doing even simple arithmetic. The result is a patient and gentle dissection of the rules: how and why they work; carefully worked-out examples; simple tricks to make mental calculations easier; and ample do-it-yourself problems, helpfully explicated in an appendix. True, most readers could do without the corny stereotypes: the classroom with the obnoxiously bright Bernadette versus the hopelessly disorganized Charlie (who never does get the message). But Potter rationalizes the rules with his artful use of visuals, numerical tables, squares or rectangles with grid lines to depict fractions and ways to cope with them. While most of the book deals with arithmetic, later chapters explore elementary algebra and probability theory, again demonstrating the logic of the rules. Throughout, Potter takes time to digress into math history, including brief sketches of principal thinkers, and he offers plenty of practical advice: He explains why your best bet at the roulette table is to lay down your chips on the first round and then leave the table, whether you’ve won or lost.

Harried schoolteacher? Worried parent? Self-defined math klutz? All could profit from the text, but there is enough sophistication and wry humor in Potter’s approach to appeal to more savvy readers of any age.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60598-376-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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