Book Review of "Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss" by Danica McKellar

Lisa R. Parker

Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss [Soft cover]

by Danica McKellar

352 pages, $24.95

ISBN-10: 1594630496


At the end of the 80s, the network ABC blessed America with an endearing drama entitled “The Wonder Years.” A youthful Fred Savage navigated the unrest of maturing in the 60’s, a period of American history fraught with turbulence. In this family sitcom, his co-star, Danica McKellar, was his winsome, on-and-off-again girlfriend, Winnie. Struggling with math concepts was probably too mundane a plot to be aired on this amicable television show.

Ms. McKellar decided to take a break from acting to attend UCLA where she earned a BS in Mathematics-even helping to author original research proving an original math theorem. During that course of study, she had an epiphany: mathematics does not have to be the bane of young females. Opting not to stay in the lofty towers of mathematics academe, she wrote Math Doesn’t Suck, a book specifically aimed at young females to help those struggling with math anxiety.

Kiss My Math builds upon the content of Math Doesn’t Suck, to take its readership to a higher understanding of pre-algebraic concepts. Having taught math in high school, this writer cannot find fault with the demonstration of math principles presented. One of the benefits of studying math, or even teaching math, is the fact that, in the end – math problems can have only one right answer. Math anxiety arises when a student realizes that math is an exacting study…one that cannot be achieved through a bluffing process.

Prepubescent girls will appreciate the efforts to provide dating tips and glimpses from Danica’s personal experiences as she navigated adolescence. McKellar is to be commended for including testimonials from professional women that illustrate the study of mathematics can be helpful in even glamorous feminine careers, such as fashion merchandising.

It is hard to take some of the illustrations seriously, however. For instance, to teach the difference between positive and negative integers, McKellar calls them “mint-egers” instead. A good tasting mint is a positive integer and a bad tasting trifle is a negative integer. If you have a negative taste in your mouth, like -6, you can combine it with a positive integer to get 0. She calls this a “lint-eger” since it’s so bland.

Know a young female who’s struggling with math? This book could help, but keep it away from her dad; he will laugh himself silly over the rest of it.

Review by Steven King, MBA, MEd

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