Are you looking for a fun book to read over the summer? I just finished Lilac Mohr’s delightful Math & Magic in Wonderland, and I loved it.
Highly recommended, for kids or adults!
As a bonus, Lilac has offered a giveaway to go along with this review. Scroll down for details, and you might win a free paperback…
About the Book
A Jubjub bird disguised as a lark,
Borogroves concealing a snark,
When you’re in Tulgey Wood, you must
Be careful whom it is you trust…
With the discovery of Mrs. Magpie’s Manual of Magic for Mathematical Minds, Lulu and Elizabeth embark on an exciting journey to a realm inspired by Lewis Carroll’s poetry. The twins must use ingenuity and sagacity to solve classic logic puzzles that promise to uncover the book’s secrets and earn them The Vorpal Blade. In this interactive novel, the reader is invited to play along with the two heroines on their grand mathematical adventure.
Do you have the smarts to help Lulu and Elizabeth outwit the frumious Bandersnatch?
It’s time to enter Wonderland and find out!
What I Liked
Puns, poetry, and plenty of puzzles. Tangrams, tessellations, truth-tellers and liars. History tidbits and many classics of recreational mathematics.
The sisters Lulu and Elizabeth seem real — though perhaps more widely read than most of us. They are different from each other. They make mistakes and have disagreements. But they never deteriorate into the cliché of sibling rivalry that passes for characterization in too many children’s books.
In each chapter, the girls must solve a language, math, or logic puzzle to proceed along their journey. Then a “Play Along” section offers related puzzles for the reader to try.
No matter how challenging the topic, the book never talks down to the reader.
What I Didn’t Like
… Um … Honestly, I can’t think of anything.
Since it’s traditional to criticize the editing of self-published books, I will say this: There was at least one place where the wording seemed a bit awkward. I would have phrased the sentence differently. But don’t ask me to identify the page — I was too caught up in the story to bother jotting down such a quibble. And I tried flipping through the book as I wrote this post, but I can’t find it again.
Buy, or Don’t Buy?
Buy. Definitely buy.
Unless you hate logic puzzles and despise Lewis Carroll’s poetry.
But for everyone else, this book is truly a gem. If you like The Cat in Numberland or The Man Who Counted, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy Math & Magic in Wonderland.
Math & Magic in Wonderland
JULY 6, 2016
Math & Magic in Wonderland is spellbinding. When I first offered to read and review Math & Magic in Wonderland I was excited because the author mailed this to me personally. In the days leading up to its arrival in my mailbox, I became increasingly anxious. I am horrible at math. And it’s a book written about math. Shouldn’t a book about math be boring to those not in the field or even those like me who dread to even teach it?
Math & Magic in Wonderland is not just a book – it is a journey you find yourself hoping doesn’t end.
“With the discovery of Mrs. Magpie’s Manual of Magic for Mathematical Minds, Lulu and Elizabeth embark on an exciting journey to a realm inspired by Lewis Carroll’s poetry. The twins must use ingenuity and sagacity to solve classic logic puzzles that promise to uncover the book’s secrets and earn them The Vorpal Blade. In this interactive novel, the reader is invited to play along with the two heroines on their grand math adventure.
Do you have the smarts to help Lulu and Elizabeth outwit the frumious Bandersnatch?”
After I read the back of the book, I knew that this was no ordinary book with math involved. I am beyond happy I opened the page and began reading. Chapter One was “slow” to me but that is because you are being introduced to the characters, Lulu and Elizabeth. The author, Lilac Mohr, was very detailed when it came to talking about these twin sisters. At moments I felt like I related more to Lulu then at other times I felt connected with Elizabeth. It was an interesting tug of war with me throughout the whole novel when it came to the connections I felt with both of these heroines. Once you finish Chapter One, you find yourself solving riddles and puzzles along with the girls. This is where the magic comes into play. I went along with the questions at the end of this chapter and completed them before I went on.
I found myself up late at night, hiding on my bathroom floor and working out math problems on paper.1
Chapter Two is where I went into complete “leave me alone” mode. I became entwined in the mystery of Mrs. Magpie’s Manual and kept waiting for new magical creatures to pop up. Lilac has created a world that you want to travel to. Similar in that of Alice and Wonderland where Alice’s falls down a rabbit hole, the girls are leading you on a journey in Tulgey Wood that you want to end (for everything to fall into place) yet you want to stay forever.
How is Math & Magic in Wonderland kicking my butt?!
Thinking logically is not always my strong suit. Some problems I found to be intriguing and I immediately solved them in my head. For example:
“(3pts.) – The boat initially contained 1 cm of water. Lulu, Elizabeth, and Manxome each caused the water level inside the boat to rise 0.5 cm per river crossing trip. Pepper Pig’s extra weight cause the water level to rise an additional 1 cm for each trip that he made. How much water was at the bottom of the boat once everyone crossed the river?”
For me, this answer was easier. 8.5 cm when they finished all this crazy back and forth rowing to get to the other side. Why so much rowing? Well you need to read the novel and play along to understand the background to this daring river crossing.
I will be honest though, that was an easier one. Lilac has you play along with the girls as if you were with them in Tulgey Wood. You make shapes with tangrams and get to test out Thale’s method for calculating the height of an object. Okay. Testing Thale’s method is only one question amongst many. There are about 63 questions that need to be solved so the girls can move on. Are you up for the challenge?
In the end, I answered poorly in my opinion. I just barely made it to Aristocrat (Apprentice, Craftsman, Aristocrat, Noble, and Sovereign)!! However, I was excited to get there and plan on working the problems again in the future. Marty (my hubby) is excited to read this novel and work the problems too. I am sure he just wants to out “math” me. Oh the fun times ahead in our house with Math & Magic in Wonderland!
Are you curious to know if Lulu and Elizabeth solved all the puzzles to finally get through Tulgey Wood and meet Mrs. Magpie? And did they ever get past the tricky Bandersnatch’s? Who can they trust? Who will lead them astray? And will their parents notice they have been gone?