Review: Math & Magic in Wonderland

Are you looking for a fun book to read over the summer? I just finished Lilac Mohr’s delightful Math & Magic in Wonderland, and I loved it.

Highly recommended, for kids or adults!

About the Book

Math-Magic-WonderlandA Jubjub bird disguised as a lark,
Borogroves concealing a snark,
When you’re in Tulgey Wood, you must
Be careful whom it is you trust…

With the discovery of Mrs. Magpie’s Manual of Magic for Mathematical Minds, Lulu and Elizabeth embark on an exciting journey to a realm inspired by Lewis Carroll’s poetry. The twins must use ingenuity and sagacity to solve classic logic puzzles that promise to uncover the book’s secrets and earn them The Vorpal Blade. In this interactive novel, the reader is invited to play along with the two heroines on their grand mathematical adventure.

Do you have the smarts to help Lulu and Elizabeth outwit the frumious Bandersnatch?

It’s time to enter Wonderland and find out!

–from the back cover of Math & Magic in Wonderland by Lilac Mohr

What I Liked

Puns, poetry, and plenty of puzzles. Tangrams, tessellations, truth-tellers and liars. History tidbits and many classics of recreational mathematics.

The sisters Lulu and Elizabeth seem real — though perhaps more widely read than most of us. They are different from each other. They make mistakes and have disagreements. But they never deteriorate into the cliché of sibling rivalry that passes for characterization in too many children’s books.

In each chapter, the girls must solve a language, math, or logic puzzle to proceed along their journey. Then a “Play Along” section offers related puzzles for the reader to try.

No matter how challenging the topic, the book never talks down to the reader.

What I Didn’t Like

… Um … Honestly, I can’t think of anything.

Since it’s traditional to criticize the editing of self-published books, I will say this: There was at least one place where the wording seemed a bit awkward. I would have phrased the sentence differently. But don’t ask me to identify the page — I was too caught up in the story to bother jotting down such a quibble. And I tried flipping through the book as I wrote this post, but I can’t find it again.

Buy, or Don’t Buy?

Buy. Definitely buy.

Unless you hate logic puzzles and despise Lewis Carroll’s poetry.

But for everyone else, this book is truly a gem. If you like The Cat in Numberland or The Man Who Counted, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy Math & Magic in Wonderland.

Useful Links

Disclaimer: Like almost all book links on my blog, the links in this post take you to Amazon.com, where you can read descriptions and reviews. I make a few cent’s worth of affiliate commission if you make a purchase — but nowhere near enough to influence my opinion about the book.

And Now for the Giveaway

Math-Magic-WonderlandLilac offered a paperback copy of Math & Magic in Wonderland for one lucky reader of Let’s Play Math blog.

The giveaway is done. Congratulations, Keshua!

But the comments section below remains open, and I’d still love to hear your answers:

  • Tell us about your favorite language, math, or logic puzzle book! Or share a book you’ve been wanting to read.

23 thoughts on “Review: Math & Magic in Wonderland

  1. I never thought I’d be able to say there are too many fun math books. But how am I going to keep us with it all?! Thanks for letting me know I’ll have to add another morsel to the pile.

  2. I love Math for Smarty Pants and other books by Marilyn Burns, and we’ve been enjoying Penrose the Mathematical Cat as well. This one looks like a lot of fun.

  3. I love The Book of Think by Marilyn Burns, and The Number Devil by Hans Enzensberger. Sir Cumference and the Knights of Pi also gets an honourable mention from me.

  4. Wow, this book sounds right up my 10 year old daughter’s alley. She loved reading Cat in Numberland. We had many nice conversations about that book. Your site is always overflowing with awesome ideas, books, projects, links and on and on…😀

  5. My favorite math puzzle book is ” the moscow puzzles 359 mathematical recreations” overall i like Martin Gardener puzzle books too.
    by the way I speak kurdish ( kurdish math blogger), but right know I am in US for Grad school. love your blog Denise

  6. Mostly for high school and older, Math Girls and Math Girls 2 are both very good.
    For logic puzzles, I recommend Smullyan’s books, especially Alice’s Adventures in Puzzleland.

    One other puzzle type we have just started are lateral thinking puzzles. The podcast Futility Closet usually has one each episode and my family has enjoyed listening and “playing along.” Even better, it has inspired my kids to create their own, leading to exploration of the structure of the puzzles and debates about what makes a good puzzle.

    1. Hi, Joshua. I haven’t read the Math Girls books. I’ll have to look those up. I love the Smullyan logic puzzle books — The Lady or the Tiger is my favorite.
      And I LOVE it when kids are inspired to create their own puzzles!

  7. The current math related books on our library shelf are How To Be A Math Genius, Growing Patterns, and Optical Illusions in Art. Thanks for the giveaway!

  8. I jut wanted to add that I’m hosting a virtual book club / math club for “Math and Magic in Wonderland” where I post videos of my kids exploring various math and language concepts. This week, we’re playing with alliteration, palindromes, age word problems, calculating your age on other planets, and memorizing a song to remember the first 30 digits of Pi! I hope you join us!
    http://learnersinbloom.blogspot.com/2016/08/book-club-week-1-and-giveaway-math-and.html

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