Math Curse

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Math Curse
Author Jon Scieszka
Lane Smith
Translator Jake Scott
Cover artist Lane Smith
Country United States
Language English
Subject Mathematics
Genre Children's books
Picture books
Publisher Viking Press
Publication date
Pages 32
ISBN 978-0-670-86194-1
OCLC 32589625
[E] 20
LC Class PZ7.S41267 Mat 1995
Followed by Science Verse

Math Curse is a children's picture book written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith, suitable for ages six through nine years. Published in 1995 through Viking Press, the book tells the story of a student who is cursed by the way mathematics works in everyday life.

Plot summary[edit]

The nameless student, begins with a seemingly innocent statement by his math teacher- "you know, almost everything in life can be considered a math problem." The next morning, the hero finds himself thinking of the time he needs to get up along the lines of algebra. Next comes the mathematical school of probability, followed by charts and statistics. As the narrator slowly turns into a "math zombie", everything in his life is transformed into a problem. A class treat of cupcakes becomes a study in fractions, while a trip to the store turns into a problem of money. Finally, he is left painstakingly calculating how many minutes of "math madness" will be in his life now that he is a "mathematical lunatic." His sister asks him what his problem is, and he responds, "365 days x 24 hours x 60 minutes." Finally, he collapses on his bed, and dreams that he is trapped in a blackboard-room covered in math problems. Armed with only a piece of chalk, he must escape-and he manages to do just that by breaking the chalk in half, because "two halves make a whole." He escapes through this "whole", and awakens the next morning with the ability to solve any problem. His curse is broken...until the next day, when his science teacher mentions that in life, everything can be viewed as a science experiment.

Math Problems[edit]

The book is full of actual math problems (and some rather unrelated questions, such as "What does this inkblot look like?"). Readers can try to solve the problems and check their answers, which are located on the back cover of the book.

Adapted for the stage[edit]

The book was also adapted for the stage by Heath Corson and Kathleen Collins in 1997. It was first performed at the A Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, in 1997, with subsequent productions at other locations. Its West Coast premiere was in 2003 at the Powerhouse Theatre of Santa Monica, California. Directed by Collins, the cast included Kerry Lacy, Thomas Colby, Will Moran, Andrew David James, and Emily Marver. The play met with warm reviews and succeeded with its audiences as well as local school children.


The book was critically acclaimed, winning a number of awards and accolades, including Maine's Student Favorite Book Award, the Texas Bluebonnet Award, and New Hampshire's The Great Stone Face Book Award.[1][2]