Cover image for Math curse
Math curse
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Viking, c1995.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : ill. ; 29 cm.
Reading Level:
560 L Lexile
Added Author:
When the teacher tells her class that they can think of almost everything as a math problem, one student acquires a math anxiety which becomes a real curse.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 510 SCI 1 1
Book J 510 SCI 1 1
Book J 510 SCI 0 1
Book J 510 SCI 0 2
Book J 510 SCI 1 1

On Order



Did you ever wake up to one of those days where everything is a problem? You have 10 things to do, but only 30 minutes until your bus leaves. Is there enough time? You have 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants. Can you make 1 good outfit? Then you start to wonder: Why does everything have to be such a problem? Why do 2 apples always have to be added to 5 oranges? Why do 4 kids always have to divide 12 marbles? Why can't you just keep 10 cookies without someone taking 3 away? Why? Because you're the victim of a Math Curse. That's why. But don't despair. This is one girl's story of how that curse can be broken.

Author Notes

Jon Scieszka was born September 8, 1954 in Flint , Michigan. After he graduated from Culver Military Academy where he was a Lieutenant, he studied to be a doctor at Albion College. He changed career directions and attended Columbia University where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1980. Before he became a full time writer, Scieszka was a lifeguard, painted factories, houses, and apartments and also wrote for magazines. He taught elementary school in New York for ten years as a 1st grade assistant, a 2nd grade homeroom teacher, and a computer, math, science and history teacher in 3rd - 8th grade.

He decided to take off a year from teaching in order to work with Lane Smith, an illustrator, to develop ideas for children's books. His book, The Stinky Cheese Man received the 1994 Rhode Island Children's Book Award. Scieszka's Math Curse, illustrated by Lane Smith, was an American Library Association Notable Book in 1996; a Blue Ribbon Book from the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books in 1995; and a Publisher's Weekly Best Children's Book in 1995. The Stinky Cheese Man received Georgia's 1997 Children's Choice Award and Wisconsin's The Golden Archer Award. Math Curse received Maine's Student Book Award, The Texas Bluebonnet Award and New Hampshire's The Great Stone Face Book Award in 1997. He was appointed the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Library of Congress in 2008. In 2014 his title, Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor made The New York Times Best Seller List. Frank Einstein and the Electro-Finger made the list in 2015.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Whew! This latest whimsical work from Scieszka and Smith (The True Story of the Three Little Pigs; The Stinky Cheese Man) is bound to stretch out the old thinking cap. The day after her teacher announces, "You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem," the narrator is afflicted with a ``math curse'' that affects how she views every facet of her day (``Everything seems to be a problem''). A minimum of the questions she asks herself are entirely logical ("How many quarts are in a gallon?''); some are far-fetched extrapolations (if an M&M is about one centimeter long and the Mississippi River is about 4000 kilometers long, how many M&Ms would it take to measure the length of this river?); and a happily hefty number are sheer nonsense: "I undo 8 buttons plus 2 shoelaces. I subtract 2 shoes. I multiply times 2 socks and divide by 3 pillows to get 5 sheep, remainder 1, which is all I need to count before I fall asleep." Like the text, Smith's wonderfully wacky collage-like art will give readers ample food for thought-even if it's part junk food. Here's a morsel: "Does tunafish + tunafish = fournafish?" Kids will want seconds-count on it. Ages 7-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

The math curse begins when the narrator's teacher suggests that almost everything can be thought of as a math problem. Suddenly everything, from deciding what time to wake up to how twenty-four birthday cupcakes can be split among twenty-five people, becomes a problem. Textured, modern, abstract art and text in varied type create a sophisticated, humorous look at a subject that often engenders the high level of anxiety portrayed here. From HORN BOOK 1995, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Ages 6^-9. Children will know what they're in for when they read Scieszka's dedication: "If the sum of my nieces and nephews equals 15, and their product equals 54, and I have more nephews than nieces, HOW MANY NEPHEWS AND HOW MANY NIECES IS THIS BOOK DEDICATED TO?" But unlike in their classrooms, readers are in control here: they can decide whether or not to calculate the solution. In the story, a girl wakes up one morning to find everything in life arranging itself into a math problem. Throughout the school day, each minor event inspires her to create new sets of math problems, which quickly develop from the merely arithmetical to the moderately puzzling to the truly wacky. Other kids in math-across-the-curriculum classes may sympathize when the teacher asks how to divide Rebecca's 24 cupcakes among 25 people: "I'm the first to figure out the answer. / I raise my hand and tell Mrs. Fibonacci / I'm allergic to cupcakes." She decides that her teacher has put a math curse on her, but in her dreams that night, she finds a way out of her mathematical mindset. Bold in design and often bizarre in expression, Smith's paintings clearly express the child's feelings of bemusement, frustration, and panic as well as her eventual joy when she overcomes the math curse. Scieszka and Smith triumph, too, at the top of their class as artists and entertainers, their distinctive voice and original vision creating a child-centered, witty picture book about the woes of math anxiety. --Carolyn Phelan

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-5-Can math be funny? You bet! When her teacher says that everything can be a math problem, our protagonist's curse begins. Getting dressed, eating breakfast, or having pizza at lunch all turn into word problems. Wu narrates with appropriately bewildered hysteria and the musical bed blends nicely with Scieszka's hilarious text and Smith's off-kilter art. Not only will students be amused, but they can also solve the real problems as learning extensions. Teachers can encourage students to write and illustrate their own problems in imitation of the book as well. CCSS.Math.Content.4.OA.A.3 Solve multistep word problems posed with whole numbers and having whole-number answers using the four operations, including problems in which remainders must be interpreted. Represent these problems using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity. Assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies including rounding. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

An unsuspecting student falls victim to the Math Curse when her teacher notes that ``You can think of almost everything as a math problem.'' Suddenly, everything is: ``I wake up at 7:15. It takes me 10 minutes to get dressed, 15 minutes to eat my breakfast, and 1 minute to brush my teeth . . . if my bus leaves at 8:00, will I make it on time?'' If it's not a time problem, it's equivalents (``How many inches in a foot?''), multiplication, nondecimal numbers, money combinations, and more. What's the cure? It comes to her in a dream: A problem with an answer is no problem at all. Smith's big paintings-cum-collage are, as usual, way strange, perfectly complementing the wild, postmodern page design with concatenations of small objects, fragments, and geometric shapes and figures, all placed on dark, grainy backgrounds. Another calculated triumph from the fevered brows that brought forth The Stinky Cheese Man (1992) and other instant classics, this one with a bit of brainwork deftly woven in. Readers can check their answers on the back cover. (Picture book. 7-9)