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Math for Smarty Pants - book review

Book Review
Math for Smarty Pants by Marilyn Burns, illustrated by Martha Weston (Little Brown & Company, 1982).
Ages 6 and up with help, 10 and up independently

This book has been around for awhile (there's one task involving a dial phone!), and it deserves the long run. There are professional mathematicians who trace the roots of their passion for math to this book. Math for Smarty Pants is a peppy, intelligent book by Marilyn Burns, a pioneer in bringing math to the masses. That's math the way mathematicians think about it - looking for patterns and relationships in numbers and shapes. Burns has a gift for presenting deep mathematics as if it were no more intimidating than a drugstore puzzle magazine, but a lot more fun.

There's a lot of variety in Math for Smarty Pants. There are puzzles, games, things to make, and fun little essays on mathematical oddities. The statistics chapter has a whole riff on pencils - how many are made each year, how many times they would circle the Earth if laid end to end, how long a line you could make with all those pencils - on and on.

The complexity and reading level of the activities varies too. You could buy this book for a child as young as 6 or 7 and find several activities to do with them. At 9 or 10, kids might pick up the book on their own and find many more items of interest. By 12 or 13 they'd be able to understand everything in the book and have fun with it independently. It's a book that your kids can come back to again and again.





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