Pocket full of puzzles;Primary;Reviews;Mathematics;Books

22nd May 1998 at 01:00
MATHAMUSEMENTS. By Raymond Blum. pound;10.99

MATH CHALLENGES. Puzzles, tricks and games. By Glen Vecchoine. pound;9.99

FANTASTIC BOOK OF MATHS PUZZLES. By Margaret Edmiston. pound;9.99. Sterling Publishing. UK distribution: Chris Lloyd Sales and Marketing Services, 463 Ashley Road, Parkstone, Poole, Dorset, BH14 0AX. Tel: 01202 715349

If you can put up with the occasional Americanism ("math", "favorite", "liter", and a glossary that defines an inch as "a US unit of length") these 96-page pocket-sized American hardbacks are well worth considering as sources of challenging mathematical activities for more able nine to 12-year-olds.

The pages are heavily text-laden and children will need to be competent readers.

Mathamusements, the easiest of the three, contains a pot pourri of mathematically-based tricks, puzzles and amusements such as instructions for working out a person's day of birth.

Math Challenges offers more than 70 problems, investigations and games, most of them requiring a fairly high level of investigational and strategic skills.

Among them are classics such as the Bridges of Konisberg problem and Mobius strip investigations. One fascinating chapter is devoted to some of the puzzles of Lewis Carroll, and there is a superb section on grid and dot games.

Fantastic Book of Math Puzzles contains a series of word problems all in the context of the land of Pymm - home of dwarfs, minotaurs, dragons and wizards. Again, several classics crop up including this neat variation on the ubiquitous "hand-shakes" investigation: each of 15 knights seated at a round table clink tankards with the knights to the immediate right and left. How many clinks are there?

Paul Harrison

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