________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 27. . . .March 24, 2017


The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places. Rev. Ed.

Cora Lee & Gillian O’Reilly. Illustrated by Lil Crump.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2016.
99 pp., pbk. & hc., $14.95 (pbk.), $21.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-849-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-850-0 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Mathematics-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Thomas Falkenberg.

***½ /4



”Math is nothing special,” he’s always saying. “It’s everywhere and in everything, and we all use it, not just me.” Well, one day, he had to prove it. (p. 8)

So, what is math? The real question is: what isn’t. (p. 10)


In 2007, I reviewed the first edition of this wonderful book, The Great Number Rumble on “math in surprising places”. The core story – quite explicitly outlined in my previous review – has not changed, although some minor changes to the wording has been made and one longer chapter in the first edition has now been broken up into two separate chapters. The book tells the story of a contest between the Director of Education, who has banned mathematics from the school curriculum, and Sam, who is “crazy about math” and who is the new friend of Jeremy, the narrator of the story. As the story unfolds, the reader learns about the role that mathematical ideas and concepts can play in helping us understand with greater depth our everyday life experiences.

      There are three more substantial changes from the first to the second edition. First, the illustrator has changed, with the images quite distinctly different from those in the first edition. Whether that is an improvement is a matter of taste. The second change is that the revised edition has newly included a table of contents and a selected bibliography by chapter; both clearly an improvement over the first edition. The new edition has also included a page with the pictures and biographical information on the two authors and the illustrator; there is also a slightly expanded glossary in the second edition. The third substantial change concerns the ‘featurettes” that run throughout the book. The featurettes extend the mathematical topic(s) of the respective chapter. While the focus of most featurettes in both editions is the same, there are some featurettes that are only found in one but not the other edition. As I have discussed in my previous review, the featurettes substantially complement the work done in the storyline of helping the reader understand the role of mathematics in deepening our understanding of everyday phenomena. Through historical accounts, some of the featurettes put also a human face to the development of mathematical thinking and ideas.

      As I wrote in my review of the first edition: The Great Number Rumble is a goldmine for places in our lives in which mathematical ideas are “surprisingly hidden”.

Highly Recommended.

Thomas Falkenberg teaches mathematics education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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