Math Appeal: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles

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9780439210461: Math Appeal: Mind-Stretching Math Riddles
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NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Greg Tang challenges kids to solve problems creatively in this follow-up to MATH FOR ALL SEASONS.

In this book you'll learn to see
How very clever you can be.
We'll teach you tricks to help you add,
Some day in math class you'll be glad!

In this follow-up to MATH FOR ALL SEASONS, Greg Tang underscores the importance of four basic rules in problem-solving. Keeping an open mind, looking for unusual number combinations, using multiple skills (like subtracting to add) and looking for patterns will guarantee any child success in math. In MATH APPEAL, Tang continues to challenge kids with his innovative approach to math.

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Review:

Bright, whimsical illustrations and clever rhymes introduce challenging exercises. The verses are not particularly memorable, but they present the problems-how squares on a kite can be added quickly or peas in a pod grouped-with hints for their solutions. "My kite flies high, my kite flies free,/My kite just landed in a tree!/I was busy counting squares,/Now my kite is stuck up there./How many squares? Let me see,/It's best to add diagonally!" Teaching guides appear at the back of the book, and not all of the strategies for problem solving are obvious. In a note, Tang states that his goal is "to encourage clever, creative thinking," and the questions posed do that. This book will engage readers' visual and auditory senses and may be enjoyed one-on-one or in classroom settings.--School Library Journal, February 2003
The team behind the series of Mind-Stretching Math Riddles, which began with The Grapes of Math, continues with Math Appeal by Greg Tang, illus. by Harry Griggs. Each riddle presents a problem (e.g., "Boston Pea Party" posits: "A pea would find it rather odd,/ To be alone inside a pod./ They like to hang out with their friends,/ For them the party never ends!/ Can you count up all the peas?/ With 11's it's a breeze!") and suggests a way to solve it. Griggs's illustrations prompt readers to look for symmetries and patterns.--Publishers Weekly, Januar 20, 2003
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, jalape-o 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.--Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2002

From Booklist:

Gr. 2-4. Tang, whose upbeat math books include The Grapes of Math (2001), offers children another playful experience with arithmetic. It seems misleading to call the rhymes "riddles," as that implies some twist of humor in the answer. However, the colorful, digital artwork, which stretches across each double-page spread, creates a cheerful setting for the challenges. On the left-hand page, groups of objects are aligned in a way that will make counting them easier. On the right, a rhyme sets out the problem to be solved and hints at a path toward its solution. One example involves grouping pods of five or six peas into sets of eleven peas: "A pea would find it rather odd, / To be alone inside a pod . . . Can you count up all the peas? / With 11's [sic] it's a breeze!" Some children will find it quicker to devise their own strategies or just to count the objects than to figure out the hint and apply it to the solution, but those who persevere will learn a useful approach: grouping objects as an aid to counting them. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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