Book review: Annika Riz, Math Whiz

Mills, Claudia. Annika Riz, Math Whiz. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2014. 128 pages. $15.99. Ages 7-10. Grades 2-5. ISBN 9780374303358.

Annika Riz loves math. She’s trying to teach her dog, Prime, to count. The training pays off with Prime. He ultimately learns the difference between a few dog biscuits and too many when he raids the pantry and makes himself sick. Annika’s friends call her house the ‘math house.’ The home is full of books about math; there are magnetic digits arranged in equations on the refrigerator. The story is full of math vocabulary and uses. Annika’s friends are determined to enter a drawing while Annika tries to dissuade them with logic. “Are you kidding? I am not buying a ticket,” Annika said, shocked that the others were ignoring the plain math facts of the situation. “Do you know what your chances are of winning? There are 400 kids at Franklin School, so if each one buys a ticket, you have a one in 400 chance of winning. That’s practically no chance at all.” Her friends argue that somebody has to win and that you certainly would not win if you didn’t buy a ticket. There is an element of gambling here. Note that Annika wins this drawing because her friends buy her the ticket. This produces the false sense of ‘lucky’ associated with gambling. Annika is determined to win a Sudoku contest at the public library. She even sleeps under number-patterned sheets.

The best part is the end of the story where Annika uses math to calculate the expenses of the lemonade and how to create a profit margin. Can math save the day? Not everybody loved math and thought it was the coolest subject ever. But everybody should at least pay enough attention in math to be able to know how to price a glass of lemonade!

*** Good book; rich math vocabulary and theme of hard work and determination.

October 2014 review by Penny McDermott.

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