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Book Review of "Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss" by Danica McKellar
Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss [Soft cover]
by Danica McKellar
352 pages, $24.95
In the late ’80s, the ABC network blessed America with an endearing drama titled “The Wonder Years.” A young Fred Savage navigated the turmoil of coming of age in the 60s, a turbulent time in American history. In this family sitcom, his co-star, Danica McKellar, was his charming girlfriend, Winnie. Wrestling with math concepts was probably too mundane a plot to air on this friendly TV show.
Ms. McKellar decided to take a break from her acting career to attend UCLA where she earned a BS in math, even helping to write up original research proving an original mathematical theorem. During this course of study, she had an epiphany: math should not be the bane of young women. Choosing not to stay in the high towers of the academy of mathematics, she wrote Maths don’t sucka book specifically for young women to help those struggling with math anxiety.
kiss my math is based on the content of Maths don’t suck, to bring its readership to a better understanding of pre-algebraic concepts. Having taught mathematics in high school, this writer finds nothing wrong with the demonstration of mathematical principles presented. One of the benefits of studying math, or even teaching math, is the fact that ultimately math problems can only have one correct answer. Math anxiety arises when a student realizes that math is a demanding study…a study that cannot be achieved through a process of bluffing.
Prepubescent girls will appreciate the effort to provide dating advice and insights into Danica’s personal experiences as she navigated her teenage years. McKellar is to be commended for including testimonials from professional women who illustrate that studying math can be useful even in glamorous female careers, such as fashion merchandising.
However, some illustrations are hard to take seriously. For example, to teach the difference between positive and negative integers, McKellar calls them “mint-egers” instead. A good tasting mint is a positive integer and a bad tasting trifle is a negative integer. If you have a negative taste in your mouth, like -6, you can combine that with a positive integer to get 0. She calls it a “lint-eger” because it’s so bland.
Do you know a young woman who struggles with math? This book might help, but keep it away from his father; he will foolishly laugh at the rest.
Review by Steven King, MBA, MEd
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