Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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***Math Potatoes

Mind-Stretching Brain Food

by Greg Tang

illustrated by Harry Briggs

Reviewed April 24, 2006.
Scholastic Press, New York, 2005.  40 pages.

Available at Sembach Library (J 793.74 TAN).

I love Greg Tang’s books!  They present math concepts in a playful way, and teach concepts intuitively.  They include puzzles that provide some fun, while painlessly showing an easier way to do different mathematical tasks.  I enjoyed doing the puzzles myself, and think I learned from them.

Greg Tang explains the purpose of the book beautifully in his note at the front.  He says, “People often ask me, ‘Why did you start writing books?’  The answer is simple.  I wanted to make math easier for kids.  When I looked around, so many kids were doing math the hard way.  They were counting when they could be adding, they were adding when they could be multiplying, and they were memorizing when they could be understanding.  No wonder they thought math was hard!

“I believe math can and should be easy.  My goal in writing Math Potatoes is to help kids ages 7-12 learn a few common sense strategies that make arithmetic faster and easier.  In each problem, I intentionally present numbers in deceptive ways, using visual tricks based on color, spacing, and alignment to make less efficient groupings more obvious, and more efficient groupings less obvious.  The idea is to challenge kids to combine numbers in smart ways, not just obvious ways….

“I hope all my books encourage kids to seek smarter, easier solutions, and I hope Math Potatoes provides healthy food for thought to kids everywhere.  Bon appétit!”

Once again, Greg Tang has done an excellent job achieving those goals.

Other books by Greg Tang:
The Best of Times
Math Appeal


Copyright © 2006 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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