by David Cole
Published on: October 7, 2019
I have a young nephew who doesn’t like to read. In fact, he runs away from me when I say the word ‘book.’ The other day I had the Netgalley site open when he peered over and saw this book. He quickly looked at what it was about and said it looked interesting and told me I needed to read it and tell him if it was good. So, I did and I am very thankful that I can tell him that it was good.
The Math Kids are at it again! When their new friend, Special Agent Carlson, asks them to take a look at a cryptic poem written by a dying bank robber, they know they will need all of their math skills to crack the case. The poem isn’t their only problem, though. Their favourite school janitor is fired for stealing from student lockers. The Math Kids know Old Mike would never do anything like that, but how can they prove it, especially with the new janitor watching their every move? Jordan, Stephanie, Justin, and Catherine will need math, bravery, and a little bit of luck if they hope to solve the bank robbery case and get Old Mike his job back. Will they be able to figure out the unusual pattern in time?
I rather enjoyed reading this middle grade read. With two mysteries to solve it gave the math kids quite a lot of things to do, but it was never overwhelming or confusing. At the beginning, Special Agent Carlson provided them with a brief description of a cold case and the poem he was hoping they could decipher. Although one might think the FBI cold case would be the main one the kids would be interested in figuring out, the kids heart really appears to be invested into solving the case of their favorite school janitor, which really makes you like them even more.
I was surprised at how entertaining the solving of the cases were. With the school janitor case, they need to figure out how someone might have discovered the locker combinations. I’ll be honest, I’ve never given it any thought to how the locker combinations of my middle school or high school were changed each year. All I knew is that I felt sorry for whomever it was that had to do all of them. I also don’t know if the method described in the book of how they assign locker combinations is true, but it was interesting to go through the process with the kids.
What also interested me was the moral dilemma of how to get a fellow student to confess to something that they had done wrong. They weren’t into completely destroying the individual, but did want to see justice done – and wanted to get janitor Mike back at school. In this day and age where online bullying is far too common, I really appreciated the author showing kids who might read the book a level of empathy and mercy in how fellow students can be treated.
Another great aspect of the book is how at the end of some of the chapters, the author provides science or math related puzzles to think on that are later explained in the Appendix section. This section also includes additional information for certain things that were mentioned in the book that is non-science or math related. In this case, the 7 Wonders of the World had been mentioned and the author provides a little information on each one.
I can definitely recommend this book to middle grade readers and perhaps non middle grade readers who may just want to test their math knowledge a little. Not only does the story contain educational information, but it was an interesting, quick read that all can enjoy.
Rating: 5 stars
Thank you to Netgalley and Common Deer Press for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.