Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Review: Fractions = Trouble! by Claudia Mills (2011)

Fractions = Trouble! is a sequel to 7 x 9 = Trouble! Main character Wilson Williams struggles with understanding fractions, so his parents hire a tutor, Mrs. Tucker, to help him. Wilson is convinced he is the only student in the history of his elementary school who has ever needed a tutor, and he keeps the tutoring sessions secret from his best friend, Josh, and from everyone else at school. In the meantime, he and his younger brother, Kipper, make plans for the science fair. Wilson decides to study his hamster while Kipper studies the effect of wind on different sized tents. After a few unexpected turns of events, Wilson comes to accept his need for a tutor and things end on a positive note.

This short book reminded me a lot of Muggie Maggie, a chapter book by Beverly Cleary about learning to write in cursive. I recognized the same introspective and insular point of view, and the same frustration and need for secrecy in both characters.Wilson also shares some characteristics with Richard "Beast" Best from the Polk Street School series by Patricia Reilly Giff, who worries that other kids will judge his difficulties with school. Fractions = Trouble also includes one of the best younger siblings I've read in a chapter book. Kipper is a unique character, with strange quirks, including a strong attachment to two stuffed animals. I thought Wilson's interactions with him were some of the strongest moments in the book.

All in all, a great story to share with kids who struggle in math, or with any subject. Recommended to boys in grades 2 and 3 who are just starting to read chapter books on their own.