Once Upon a Story
May 19, 2014

Annika Riz, Math WhizAnnika Riz, Math Whiz by Claudia Mills, illustrated by Rob Shepperson

Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux

Release date: May 2014


Pages: 128

From the publisher:

Annika Riz loves math more than anything, so when she hears about a sudoku contest at the local public library, she is determined to win it—maybe then her friends Kelsey Green and Izzy Barr will see that math is just as cool as reading and running. When the school carnival, the biggest fundraiser of the year, comes around, Annika realizes her class booth is losing money by selling their lemonade too cheaply. Annika embraces her math skills, saves the day, and shows her friends that math can be useful and even a bit of fun, too.



About the author: Claudia Mills, Philosophy claudia.mills@colorado.edu photo by: Larry Harwood

Claudia Mills is the acclaimed author of fifty early-chapter and middle-grade books, including 7 x 9 = Trouble!, How Oliver Olson Changed the World, and Zero Tolerance. Claudia was a professor of philosophy for over twenty years at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she received many teaching awards, before leaving the university to write full time. She has two sons. To learn more, visit her website at claudiamillsauthor.com.
Check out the downloadable curriculum guide for the Franklin School Friends here!



My thoughts:

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?



One lucky winner will receive a copy of the first two books in the Franklin School Friends series–KELSEY GREEN, READING QUEEN (paperback) and ANNIKA RIZ, MATH WHIZ (hardcover). U.S. addresses only. Giveaway closes at 11:59pm on Monday, June 2nd.

Giveaway Closed!

The winner, according to Random.org is….

Rachel B!


Congratulations, Rachel!

Please respond within 48 hours to claim your prize.



One response to “Review: Annika Riz, Math Whiz”

  1. Thanks for featuring me on your blog today, dear Maria, kindred spirit book lover that you are. It was definitely harder for me to write Annika’s story than Kelsey’s – I’m a reading queen but NOT a math whiz! So I’m glad you think I was able to give a good presentation of a girl who loves math. 🙂

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