The Lost Key, a Mystery with Whole Numbers

From the Graphic Universe line of Lerner books comes the "Manga Math Mysteries"-- books that combine elementary math with graphic-novelish, elementary-level, mystery stories.

The first of the series is The Lost Key, by Melinda Theilbar, illustrated by Tintin Pantoja (Lerner, 2009). In this story, a group of kids from a Kung Fu School must confront older bullies who have stolen the key to school and used it to make off with some of the school's gear. "If kung fu makes you so smart," reads the note they left behind, "maybe you can figure out where we hid your stuff." The kids must track down the lost items, using very simple math to make sure everything is there, and recover the lost key. (I thought, based on the title, that it might be fantasy-ish, but it is just really and truly about a lost key).

Both as a read aloud for my six-year old and an independent read for my nine-year old, this book worked just fine, and they both enjoyed it. I'd be very happy for more books in the series to throw their way. My older boy is a picky reader, but graphic stories of this level are something he eats up like candy (if he enjoyed eating candy, which he doesn't).

I'm not sure, however, that the deliberate insertion of math into the text quite works. The math was much more basic than I expected, at least a year or two, if not more, below the level of the text. Although the math was used by the kids to make progress in solving their mystery, they seemed to old to have to be actually counting out loud...I think, though, that the level of math involved gets higher in later books in the series, which would make sense.

What made this book really stand out in my mind, however, was this:

Isn't she a kick-ass karate teacher? The kids are a pretty multicultural lot too.

Here's another review, at Comics Worth Reading.

(review copy received from Lerner)

1 comment:

  1. Gosh, check out kick-ass karate teacher's figure. Man, I knew I should take up a martial art!


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