There she is, Winnie Cooper — Kevin Arnold's first kiss on "The Wonder Years" — all grown up and an internationally recognized mathematician? Whaaat?? Wasn't she working in "The West Wing" White House a couple of seasons ago?
Clearly she — and when I say "she" I mean Danica McKellar, the girl who played Winnie Cooper on TV — found time to go to college, graduate with honors, and pen the excellently titled, Math Doesn't Suck: How To Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail (Hudson Street Press, 294 pages, $23.95). Sounds.... practical.
The book is aimed toward middle-school girls, but paging through I think there's plenty for ... ahem ... grown women who quit taking math classes the moment they stepped onto the college campus quad, and even boys who can't quite grasp complex fractions — though find me the boy that's going to shell out his hard-earned lawn-mowing money for this chick-litty textbook and I'll hand over my Book Room copy and save him the $23.95.
But let's get back to Winnie — I mean Danica, who actually does add some fun to the drudgery of math. She incorporates a chocolate malt recipe into her lesson on converting decimals to fractions; figures out unit rates of use with beauty products; and best of all, she consults an astrologist to find out what a girl's sign can tell her about her study habits. As a Capricorn, I am highly capable of discipline and self-control, have a tremendous amount of patience, and am a perfectionist prone to worrying.
No worries here; my math days are over, but for those who are having trouble in school — regardless of age or gender — this book would be excellent supplemental reading. There are multiple points of entry throughout the pages to keep a wandering mind interested: cute graphics, information boxes, notes, "Danica's Diary" entries, testimonials and quizzes galore.
School starts soon, so if there are any kids out there in need of an easy-to-read math tutorial, drop me a note. I'll consider all pleas and send the book to the most in-need.