I had seen a review of Hot X: Algebra Exposed by Danica McKellar at Pink Me and was intrigued. I heard about the book on Ira Flatow’s Science Friday. When I saw it at the library I knew it was saying, “Review Me!” But actually I also had an ulterior motive. You see, I know a boy who used to love math and now grimaces at the mere word. Would a book directed at getting girls to appreciate math hold any hope for an extremely jaded boy?
The good news is Hot X is much more than a guide to algebra. It’s also a hip call for young people to work hard, particularly at math, in order to attain their dreams. McKellar wants her readers to feel smart and confident, and develop the skills to be successful. It is a very positive message repeated throughout the book.
How is the math? A huge plus is that the questions are based on fresh, real world examples and each step is explained clearly. There are shortcuts and memory tricks. This celebrity author does know math. The book would be useful for anyone struggling with algebra, including adults.
Is Hot X too “girly” for guys? The illustrations of high heel shoes are probably not going to draw them in, but the cute girls are a whole different story. Let’s face it, at a certain age boys are going to find girls pretty interesting, and this book is in a way a look into the mysterious minds of young women. Plus it is easy to skip the parts aimed at young women and got straight to the math. Danica even admits she gets letters from boys who have used the book.
Although clearly written as a resource to purchase as a to supplement a math course, the tips and exercises could be a useful for instructors or for tutors looking for yet another way to get a point across. There are are additional solutions to problems on McKellar’s website.
The bottom line is that Hot X is much more than just a pretty face and a clever title. If you are studying or teaching algebra, you should take a look at it.
Hardcover: 417 pages
Publisher: Hudson Street Press (August 3, 2010)
Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by Anastasia Suen’s Nonfiction Monday page. This week’s post is at Write About Now.