MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Claudia and the Middle School Mystery (Baby-sitters Club) (1995)
Ann Martin
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Contributed by Vijay Fafat

A 100-page novel for 2nd graders about Claudia, a girl who is weak in mathematics but who studies hard to pass a class test with flying colors, only to get accused of cheating by the substitute math teacher because another student copies from Claudia’s math exam. The book chronicles Claudia’s state of mind, her struggle with math and the ultimate ploy to ferret out the truth in the open to clear her name.

The book should be a good, inspiring read for the youngsters in many places. For example, take the following situation, where Claudia gets the math test and immediately freezes up:

“I focused on the first problem. It didn’t seem to make any sense. I blinked and looked again. It looked like nothing but a jumble of words and numbers. What was I going to do? All of a sudden, I felt dizzy. What was I going to do? There was no way I was going to make it through this test if I couldn’t even make sense of the first problem! Then I remembered what Janice had told me, “If you get nervous, Claudia, just take a few deep breaths. Remember, you don’t have to do the test in any special order. If the first question looks too hard, find one that you CAN do, and then you can always go back. I looked down the page. There! Problem Six! I was sure I knew how to do that one. By the time I finished it, all the stuff I had studied had come back to me. […] I didn’t work fast – I took my time and made sure I did not make any “foolish” mistakes.”

The parents make the mistake of not trusting Claudia. Some of her Babysitters Club friend believe her while others do not. The young readers can learn from the ways the disbelievers come to acknowledge their error and put their faith in her.

Interestingly, the very first paragraph of the book is:

(quoted from Claudia and the Middle School Mystery (Baby-sitters Club))

“If Gertrude used two-thirds of a cup of chocolate to make eight cookies, how much chocolate would be in each cookie?”

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Works Similar to Claudia and the Middle School Mystery (Baby-sitters Club)
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Square Root of Murder by Paul Zindel
  2. The Wright 3 by Blue Balliet
  3. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet
  4. The Unknowns: A Mystery by Benedict Carey
  5. The Witch of Agnesi by Robert Spiller
  6. Getting Somewhere by Jenny Pausacker
  7. Math Curse by Jon Scieszka / Lane Smith (illustrator)
  8. Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra by Wendy Lichtman
  9. Do the Math #2: The Writing on the Wall by Wendy Lichtman
  10. A Little Mathematician - Katie by Tadashi Miura
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Categories:
GenreMystery, Children's Literature,
MotifMath Education,
Topic
MediumNovels,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)