Mathematics is a sum total of calculated logic and applied intuition. Our parents and grandparents used to say – One must practice Math to become good at it. This ancient parental wisdom has been employed in various mathematical training schools that give simplistic math drill to students to get a number and calculation memory.

The beauty of Mathematics is that you cannot see it as an event like in Science and form theorems.

You need to recognize the beauty of numerical patterns, connect the dots, apply logic set by the original Mathematicians and remember by heart to be good at other fields. Imagine forever counting on fingertips how much two numbers when added would be. In a way, it is a language in itself, the usage of which must come naturally without stopping to think.

This book interested me for three reasons:

  1. My own interest in numerical patterns
  2. To show the magic of numbers to my children.
  3. The green-eyed monster – considering I have written a book – Mathematics Fun, Fact and Fiction, I simply had to see what the competition is doing.

The Book

Section 1

Maths Tips Section

This section contains the following –

a) Problems with Surprising Solutions– These are real-world problems which children must be aware of, especially if they need to understand whether two medium pizzas or one large pizza is a better deal considering the big bad adults out there are always out to fool the innocent children. This section also puts together several matchstick puzzles and picture calculation puzzles. This was fun to do with children as I always interest them in maths by using these.

b) Calculations without Calculators– These are several tips to perform faster calculations. I found this section the most exciting. In the bygone days of without calculator, I prided myself on being quick with numbers. These would add to skillset. Also, the section gives quick tips on table learning, so move away finger counting which my kids do often.

c) Interesting Maths Fact– I found the section on credit card numbers enlightening. I already had some inkling that the numbers mean something because when I type my first few digits the Visa symbol gets activated in online forms.

d) Techniques for Exams/ Interviews– Some complex problems that usually come in competitive exams, like the number lock problem or square/ triangle counting problem.

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Section 2

Magic Tricks Section

These are a set of cool math tricks which as children we used for guessing the original number. I fondly remembered those complex sums we did in our mind. However, the set of cool tricks in this book are complex and advanced and I really need to study them in detail. I am most impressed by the calendar pattern and the mnemonics in this section. Also, I found the mathematical tambola interesting. I had once conducted a candy tambola but this one would be good for an advanced age group. With the element of speed, it would get even more raucous.

My Opinion

For a Maths lover, this is an interesting book and likewise for a parent. As a fellow writer/ competition, I say hats off. What I wrote was more as stories and this one is focused on numbers and calculations from the experts in Mathematics. My suggestion is to expose children to a few tricks at a time, not necessarily reading to them but to interest them with the magic tricks. Children love to show-off and this would interesting to build in learning and fun.

 What is important for children to understand is that there is not a single way to solve a mathematical problem. One can solve the same problem using more than one branch of mathematics.

Another would be the power of approximation in large calculations. This builds speed of estimate and also is useful when one needs to compare the different magnitude/ implication rather than know the absolute numbers.

The most important section for my children would be the calculation without calculators. 

Considering the importance of mathematics and number patterns in every field, it is a great book to get children thinking and interested in following these patterns. I recently watched a movie based on NASA scientists. I was amazed that every decision was based on accurate numeric calculations, including arriving at the correct landing point/ trajectory of a rocket.

Each day is a new learning for me in terms of numbers and this book is certainly a fascinating start for children. Most books give practice, this one gives logic to the calculations.

A child uses numbers early on after birth. They can estimate which is the bigger toy, and later on which bag has more candies or how one could unfairly divide a bag of chips by appropriating the bigger chips for self. The internet savvy kids can judge that a parent would be more likely to buy them a discounted product than a full priced one.

So when the numbers are so much ingrained in our systems, why not nurture and sharpen them further?

Readometer

 Interesting book for children and adults

Title – How to be a Mathemagician
Authors – Aditi Singhal and Sudhir Singhal
Price – Rs 299
Publisher – Penguin

Mathematics is an integral part of our life but many of us think of it only as a subject to be studied in school or college. In this book, Aditi and Sudhir Singhal, renowned maths educators, demystify mathematical principles and outline fascinating, fun and easy-to-learn techniques to excel in this field. Divided into two parts, How to Be a Mathemagician is a double-sided book that packs twice the punch, with one section containing tricks and delightful activities, and the other stimulating problem-solving steps to simplify calculations, quirky maths facts and much more. Meant for all age groups— students, teachers and parents alike — How to Be a Mathemagician will make you fall in love with the world of numbers.

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