Math Mysteries: The Triple Threat -- Math Monday Book Review


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

It is very rare to find a good math novel. I was once gifted The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzenberger by a student's family. It is a middle grade novel, so I thought it was a bit strange (to receive as a high school teacher), but then I read it. I loved it. Unfortunately, it is out of print, and I loaned my copy to someone and never got it back. That is my biggest experience with a math novel. However today I am sharing a new math novel with you. It is not a fantasy as The Number Devil, but it has some great math in it and it is explained in ways that kids will be able to understand. The book is volume 1 of the Math Mysteries series. It is Math Mysteries: The Triple Threat by Aaron Starmer and illustrated by Marta Kissi. It is recommended for ages 8 to 12. 

From the Publisher:

A page-turning mystery brimming with lighthearted intrigue and essential middle-grade math skills, Math Mysteries: The Triplet Threat by author Aaron Starmer will have readers on the edge of their seats as they unravel the who-done it using math. Perfect for both mystery and math lovers, as well as kids who love puzzles, riddles, brainteasers, and adventure stories!

It's the first day of the fourth grade at Arthimos Elementary and things are already off to a strange start--poisonous cookies, a zipline disaster, a missing iPad, and what are those strange sounds coming from the school custodian's wheelbarrow? Luckily the Prime Detectives--Abby “the Abacus” Feldstein, Cameron “Cam” McGill, and Gabriel “Gabe” Kim--are on the case! Using arithmetic, geometry, and logic, the Prime Detectives are sure to figure out who did what, when, and why! A gripping new middle grade mystery series, each book contains multiple, interlinked mysteries that readers help solve using math. Includes answers showing step-by-step solutions.

From Me:

While I would find it hard to believe fourth graders could understand all of the math and have such a love for math as the Prime Detectives this is a fun book. I love how it integrates math into the story lines and shows a real use of it. I also love that it is a multicultural book. One of the Prime Detectives is Black. There are math puns abound in the book including the name of the elementary school, but the math in the book is real. There is math about time, measurements, and divisibility. When the kids use math to explain what happened, the math is explained and put into boxes to mark it and make it clear. This book would be great for a fourth grade to read and then discuss the various math in it. 

The story is well written, and the math is explained well. Some of the pages have illustrations which help the reader and makes the story more fun. The math topics include time, recipe conversions, weight conversions from standard to metric, and divisibility, in particular the rule for if a number is divisible by three. Their teacher also discusses that all numbers are divisible by one and then how to tell if numbers are divisible by two. There are many available posters of the divisibility rules including some free ones over at Everyday Chaos + Calm. Obviously, to go with this book I would do lessons based on the math in it. I would teach more of the divisibility rules and find some conversion problems to do with the class. I really love how the math is used to solve mysteries that could happen in everyday life. It is truly a wonderful example over and over again of how useful math is in everyday life and it is not just making change or such. Overall if you have a mystery lover, math lover, or just an avid reader or want to jazz up your middle grade math lessons, be sure to check out this book. 

I made the above picture with a quote from Gabe in the book. I loved the quote and may hang the sign up in my classroom. It is a great quote and would be amazing for a statistics class or any class studying graphs and data.