G is for Googol: A Math Alphabet Book

September 1998


A Math Alphabet Book

B is for Binary, F is for Fibonacci, P is for Probability…even a small sample begins to give you the idea that this is a math book unlike any other. Ranging freely from exponents to light-years to numbers found in nature, this smorgasbord of math concepts and trivia makes a perfect classroom companion or gift book for the budding young mathematician at home. Even the most reluctant math student will be drawn in by the author’s trademark wit, Marissa Moss’s quirky illustrations and funny captions, and the answers revealed in W is for “When are we ever gonna use this stuff, anyway?”

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From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-An enchanting alphabet book that will make its audience laugh out loud. Beginning with “A is for Abacus” and ending with “Z is for Zillion,” the author takes readers on a roller-coaster ride through important terms and concepts. The text is lively and clear and will appeal to even those who think math is as dull as the kitchen floor. Two particularly clever examples are “R is for Rhombicosidodecahedron” and “W is for ‘When are we ever gonna use this stuff, anyway?'” The cartoon illustrations are colorful, amusing, and informative. Young people will relate to the characters in these drawings that lend a visual dimension to the text. They will also appreciate the large, spacious pages. A terrific title to instruct and entertain. Linda Wadleigh, Oconee County Middle School, Watkinsville, GA Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 3-5. This large-format alphabet book introduces terms and ideas from mathematics, with (usually) one topic per letter. Entries include abacus, binary, cubit, diamond (“There are no diamonds in math. We put diamond in this book so you would know it doesn’t belong here”), equilateral, exponent, Fibonacci, googol, y-axis, and zillion. The humorous style Schwartz brought to How Much Is a Million? lightens the reading here, and so do the bright watercolor-washed drawings and cartoons by Marissa Moss, author-illustrator of the Amelia’s Notebook series. Still, it’s hard to understand why the information, however well presented, appears in an alphabet book. The alphabetical theme makes the arrangement of ideas a haphazard, arbitrary affair. Nevertheless, the attractive book may interest browsers and open doors to further math study. Also, this resource explains terms like binary system and Fibonacci numbers in ways that middle-grade children might understand. Carolyn Phelan

Kirkus Reviews

Each topic gets several paragraphs of breezy, accessible discussion, illustrated with labeled, freely drawn ink-and-watercolor figures.

Smithsonian Magazine

Quite a rare commodity: a mathematical text displaying clarity and wit in equal measures.