Review Detail

Kids Fiction 2517
Better than a math tutor!
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Ella doesn't like math because she struggles so much with it that she may have to have a tutor over the summer to help reinforce her skills. She doesn't want to spend her time doing that, so she hopes that she can bring her math grade up and avoid it. The problem? The teacher cancels the tests for the rest of the year and decides to have a math fair instead. Ella is assigned to a good group, but the topic, time conversions, is one with which she struggled. And it's worth two test grades! Her friends Jolina and Lucille, as well as Jonathan, offer to help as much as they can, and the group decides that they will picture a lot of animals, and convert their average life expectancies into hours, minutes and seconds. The idea comes from the fact that an opossum died on the school grounds, wasn't cleaned up, and ended up "catching" a soccer ball. (Hence the cover.) Ella has other problems as well; her free-wheeling photographer aunt is having renovations done on her condo and is bunking with Ella. So is her dog, Chewy. Ella is very particular about her room, so this stresses her out a lot. As the math fair approaches, things continue to go wrong in spectacular fashions. Will Ella end up having to spend her summer working on math, even after all of her hard work?
Good Points
As focused as many students are on school, it is surprising that there are few fiction books that feature school work as a problem. There are a few math book, like Weissman's The Short Seller and Annika Riz, Math Whiz, but most books involving school involve journaling for language arts classes. I appreciated that Ella tried her best, and while she doesn't love math at the end of the book, she feels her skills are stronger.

It was nice that Ella's parents were supportive, even if her mother relied a bit too much on meatloaf for family dinners! There was a lot of gentle humor in this book, both at home and at school. The issues with friends were realistic as well.

This will be a popular choice for readers who enjoy realistic fiction. I wish the cover and title were a little more upbeat, but that shouldn't dissuade fans of realistic school stories from picking this one up!
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