Book Review of The Math Kids: A Knotty Problem
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The Children’s Book Review
Written by David Cole
Illustrated by Shannon O’Toole
Ages 9-12 | 206 Pages
Publisher: Common Deer Press | ISBN-13: 9781988761732
What to Expect: Friendship groups, problem-solving, compromise, relocation.
Seventh in the Math Kids series, A Knotty Problem continues the adventures of the four friends as they use math and people skills interchangeably to navigate the world around them.
With teammates as good as Jordan and Justin, Catherine and Stephanie are convinced that nothing can stand in their way of winning the district math competition this year. Unfortunately, things don’t quite go as planned. When the state soccer tournament turns out to be on the same day as the math competition, the girls are shocked to find that Justin seems to care more about winning than compromise—and maybe even their friendship.
Horrified that he would try to make Stephanie choose between her love of math and soccer, both girls quit the math club. Then, to put the icing on the cake, they discover that Justin might be moving away altogether. With their team of 4 whittled down to just 1, will any amount of problem-solving help them make things add back up again?
The four protagonists are realistic and relatable. As well as modeling problem-solving in real-life situations for readers, they reinforce a key message throughout the series: Math is not just for geeks and not just for school. A Knotty Problem focuses on an idea that many kids—and especially intelligent ones—find challenging: the idea that not every problem has an ideal solution.
Shannon O’Toole’s old-school black and white illustrations keep this chapter book accessible, while an appendix at the end explains the Math concepts for readers who want to learn more.
Overall, A Knotty Problem is instructive and enjoyable, offering readers a thought-provoking story about how STEM can help with everyday problems and situations.
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About the Author
David Cole has been interested in math since he was a very young boy. He pursued degrees in math and computer science and has shared this love of math at many levels, including teaching at the college level, coaching elementary math teams, and running a summer math camp. He also has a love of writing and has written a number of plays that have been performed. The Math Kids was born of a desire to combine his interests and exercise both sides of his brain at the same time.
About the Illustrator
Shannon O’Toole is a Toronto-based illustrator, painter, and elementary school teacher. Her playful illustration work is inspired by the unique and humorous characters in her life. Aside from illustrating books for children, Shannon has exhibited her artwork in galleries across Ontario. When she is not drawing, Shannon can be found curled up with her dog, Edgar watching old movies.
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