Math Appeal : Mind-Stretching Math Riddles

by Greg Tang, Illustrated By Harry Briggs

Scholastic Press
February 2003

Ages 6 – 8 . Grades 1 – 3

Library of Congress: 2002005354

Lexile measure: NP

DRA: 24

Guided Reading: M



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.
Greg Tang

Greg Tang was tutoring math in his daughter's class when he noticed something interesting about the dominoes they were using. Each white dot had a pencil mark on it, which meant the children had been counting them one at a time. Mr. Tang taught them to look for patterns instead, and to add and subtract groups of dots in order to calculate the dominoes' value quickly. From there, he developed a new method of teaching arithmetic in a visual and spontaneous way. His method teaches both computational and problem-solving skills, and is so fun and challenging that children forget they are learning math! He believes that all kids are capable of doing well in math, and he has a mission to make math a natural part of every child's life. He has successfully taught his method to children from ages five to ten.

Grapes of Math and Math for All Seasons are part of a series of books that will help children gain the range of skills needed for higher math. His books challenge and encourage children to use creativity and common sense to solve problems, rather than formulas and memorization.

Greg Tang has an impressive mathematics background. He earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in economics from Harvard, and he also holds an M.A. degree in Math Education from New York University. He has applied his problem-solving methods in building successful companies and products in a variety of industries. Greg Tang currently lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, with his family.


  • 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



Jacketed Hardcover / Smyth

ISBN: 9780439210461

40pp. | 9 x 10