Annika Riz, Math Whiz by Claudia Mills, illustrated by Rob Shepperson
Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux
Release date: May 2014
From the publisher:
Last fall, I read and shared Claudia’s middle grade, Zero Tolerance. I found her style to be simple and straightforward, but striking right to the heart of a very real issue.
Now, Claudia is bringing that same clear voice to a new series, Franklin School Friends. The first book, Kelsey Green, Reading Queen released last year. In Annika Riz, Math Whiz, we meet one of Kelsey’s best friends. Kelsey, Annika, and their third “musketeer”, Izzy, do everything together. But there’s one area where Annika stands out: Math. Annika loves math. You could say she’s born into it. Her father is a high school math teacher. Her mother is a tax accountant. And Annika is convinced that she can teach her dog, Prime, to count.
Annika’s two best friends, however, hate math. So when the opportunity arrives for Annika to enter a Sodoku competition at the local library, she jumps at it. Not only will it be fun, but she’ll show her two best friends how wonderful math can be. In the end, though, it’s not a competition that wins her friends over, but a real life application that shows Izzy and Kelsey just how valuable Annika’s math skills are.
Just as Claudia Mills found the voice for the middle grade student in Zero Tolerance, so too has she found the voice for elementary students in Franklin School Friends. Her tone is light, her pacing quick, but the dilemmas Annika and her friends face very real. From unique interests to burnt cookies to classroom rivals to school fundraisers, she has captured what it is to be a “big kid”. Moreover, I appreciate that this series supports the idea that every child has a unique gift or talent, be it reading, math, sports, etc. One of those talents isn’t more valuable than the other and each child’s talent deserves showcasing.
Isn’t that a message we want all kids to hear?
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