a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Math Curse (1995)
Jon Scieszka / Lane Smith (illustrator)
Highly Rated!
Note: This work of mathematical fiction is recommended by Alex for children.

In this children's picture book, the main character finds that "anything can be a math problem" when her elementary school teacher puts a math curse on her. For example:

(quoted from Math Curse)

Unfortunately for me, LUNCH is pizza and apple pie. Each pizza is cut into 8 equal slices. Each pie is cut into 6 equal slices. And you know what that means: FRACTIONS.

  • If I want 2 slices of pizza, should I ask for:
    a) 1/8 b) 2/8 c) 2 slices of pizza
  • What is another way to say 1/2 of an apple pie?
    a) 2/6 b) 3/6 c) la moitie d'une tarte aux pommes
  • Which tastes greater?
    a) 1/2 a pizza b) 1/2 an apple pie We haven't studied fractions yet, so I take 12 carrot sticks 3 at a time and eat them 2 at a time.
  • I probably should not like this book. After all, it makes one think of math as a bad thing (a curse) and it promotes the idea that math is nothing other than a class in school leading to "problems". However, I do like it, because it is cute and funny. How about the dedication?

    (quoted from Math Curse)

    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? -J.S.

    Contributed by Michelle M.

    "I really enjoyed this book, even though you do mention that math is viewed as a curse...but also it emphasizes that math is all around us, whether we're aware of it or not! I am a secondary math education major at West Liberty State College in West Virginia, and this book prompted me to do an honors project about math anxiety. This book lets you laugh at math instead of fearing it...I loved it!"

    Contributed by Wendy Wills

    This quirky kids author (The Real Story of the Three Little Pigs) hit the nail on the head. My 8 year old and I went through each of the problems presented. Some were too old for him. But we did calculate how many M&Ms, laid side by side, would line one side of the Mississippi River! He thought THAT was cool.

    Contributed by Pam

    I really love this book. It allows the student to see and understand that mathematics is in everything that exists. It adds humor to mathematics; therefore, making it less intimidating to the student who struggles to understand math concepts.

    Contributed by heather

    My 8th Grade Math teacher read this book to my whole class and everyone thought it was for like first graders. What age group is it for??

    Heather, I think youo and your classmates were right. I would guess that 3rd-5th grade kids are the ideal audience. Adult audiences can also appreciate its innocent humor, which is probably why your math teacher thought it would be a good thing to read. However, I would not have tried it with middle or high school students (who were little kids too recently and are to eager to prove that they are older now) to like this book. Try it again in 10 years -- or better yet, read it to your children when you're a parent -- and then you'll understand what your teacher thought you'd get out of it. -Alex

    Contributed by Winnie Chen

    i love this book, my teacher read it to me and class, and now i get do our own not to copy your book but as a project this was supposed to be a 7 grade project but im in 5 grade

    More information about this work can be found at
    (Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)

    Works Similar to Math Curse
    According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
    1. The Princess Hoppy or the Tale of Labrador by Jacques Roubaud
    2. Number Stories: Learning Arithmetic Through the Adventures of Ralph and His Schoolmates by Alhambra G. Deming
    3. The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster
    4. Uncle Georg's Attic by Ben Schumacher
    5. Odd Squad by Tim McKeon / Adam Peltzman
    6. The Number Devil [Der Zahlenteufel] by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
    7. A Tangled Tale by Lewis Carroll
    8. Math Patrol by TV Ontario
    9. Lost in Lexicon: An Adventure in Words and Numbers by Pendred Noyce
    10. Donald in Mathmagic Land by Hamilton Luske (director)
    Ratings for Math Curse:
    RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
    Mathematical Content:
    3.88/5 (24 votes)
    Literary Quality:
    4.2/5 (24 votes)

    GenreHumorous, Didactic, Children's Literature,
    MotifMath as Beautiful/Exciting/Useful,
    MediumPicture Book,

    Home All New Browse Search About

    Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

    (Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)