Math Curse, Jon Scieszka Lane Smith, picture book that teaches math,, Pragmatic Mom, PragmaticMom

Fun Picture Book Teaches Math: Math Curse

Fun Math Picture Book for Kids

I saw this book during Curriculum Night at my elementary school in my 3rd grader’s classroom.  I flipped though it and then bought my own copy because Jon Scieszka of Henry P. Baloney is one of my son’s favorite authors (and mine too!) and Lane Smith is a really talented illustrator.  I first noticed Lane’s work on the unfinished script of Dr. Seuss’s last book, Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!, and he did an amazing job of combining Dr. Seuss’s sketches with his own illustrations.  Also, anyone entrusted with Dr. Seuss’s last, unpublished work must have been carefully selected!

Math is subtlety presented throughout this book.  For example, the boy in the story’s teacher who starts his math curse by proposing that everything you think about can be a math problem is named Mrs. Fibonacci.  The science teacher is Mr. Newton so I had a suspicious feeling that this name was not randomly selected.  I looked up Fibonacci in Wikipedia and this is what it says…

Math Curse, Jon Scieszka Lane Smith, picture book that teaches math,, Pragmatic Mom, PragmaticMom

In mathematics, the Fibonacci numbers are the numbers in the following integer sequence:

0,\;1,\;1,\;2,\;3,\;5,\;8,\;13,\;21,\;34,\;55,\;89,\;144,\; \ldots\; (sequence A000045 in OEIS)

By definition, the first two Fibonacci numbers are 0 and 1, and each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two. Some sources omit the initial 0, instead beginning the sequence with two 1s.  This is a problem in the book which I failed to solve.  My dad who was a math professor would be so disappointed!

And so, the wild ride of everything in this boy’s life becoming a math problem begins:

  • Getting ready for school is a telling time problem.
  • Getting dressed is an addition and subtraction problem.
  • Breakfast is a problem of units of measurement:  quarts, gallons, pints, inches, feet, yards!
  • The school bus is a word problem.
  • Birthdays of his classmates becomes a graph.
  • Rows of desks is a number grouping problem/division/multiplication problem.  He’s really about to lose it when the lunch bell rings!
  • Oops, lunch is fractions courtesy of pizza and apple pie.
  • Social Studies is converting units of measurement.
  • English is algebra.
  • Phys. Ed. is a sports problem.
  • Art is the ancient Mayan numbering system.
  • Then the counting gets really weird!  Regular, Binary and other patterns that I don’t understand or recognize.  Oops, should have recognized the Fibonacci pattern!
  • Birthday cupcakes almost become a complicated fraction problem.
  • The candy store is a word problem of percent off plus a problem using money.
  • He’s a raving math lunatic now and gets befuddled by a circular logic problem involving his mom and dad.
  • Luckily it’s bedtime and he finds a way to escape his math curse…

All is well until his science teacher, the good Mr. Newton,  proposes that … “Everything can be seen as a science experiment!!.”  Uh oh!

My five-year-old can’t even do half of the math in this picture book but he’s enjoyed this book so much that we’ve read it every night for a week and he insisted that I blog on it.

My son is also a big fan of Jon Scieszka and counts The Stinky Cheese Man and Henry P. Baloney as faves!

Henry P. Baloney is a fun story about an alien boy trying to explain why he’s slightly late for school.  The book uses words from more than two dozen foreign languages that kinda sorta sound like the word you’d think would be in the story so it’s really fun to figure out and say the words. Lane Smith also illustrates this book for another winning combination!

Henry P Baloney, foreign language fun picture book, lane smith, jon sciezka,, Pragmatic Mom, PragmaticMom

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! is a celebration of teachers who don’t teach to state standards but to expand a child’s world and mind.  It’s good stuff!

Dr. Seuss, teacher appreciation picture book, Lane Smith, Jack Prelutsky,, Pragmatic Mom, PragmaticMom

The Stinky Cheese Man is a funny twist on nursery stories with the winning combination of Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith.

The Stinky Cheese Man, Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith,, Pragmatic Mom, PragmaticMom

Follow PragmaticMom’s board Math Fun on Pinterest.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. We love Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. My 7-year-old is in the middle of the Time Warp Trio series. We haven’t done Math Curse or Henry P. Baloney yet, but I think we will soon.

  2. We love this book! Okay, it is true, I have a secret math brain.

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