Melinda Thielbar is a math educator and the author of the Manga Math Mysteries graphic novel series. These graphic novels entail a group of friends from the Sifu Faiza’s Kung Fu School who use clues and mathematics to solve mysteries, with each novel being a new mystery. The stories emphasize the use of problem solving and they demonstrate to readers that math can be used in real-world applications. The math topics that are covered within the eight graphic novels include fractions, distance and measurement, geometry, multiplication and division, money, time and temperature, whole numbers, and probability. This book review is focused on The Manga Math Mysteries 7: The Book Bandit: A Mystery with Geometry
As the local library opened its doors for business, the librarians were in shock when they saw a huge cardboard “Book Bandit Monster” statue in the reading room, brought in through the window. How did this gigantic statue fit through the window? This question was left for the library patrons to answer. After reading an article in the local newspaper about this mystery and the reward offered for solving it, a group of friends from Sifu Faiza’s Kung Fu School decided to help. The goal: figure out how the “Book Bandit Monster” was brought into the library through the window without being disassembled. Are you ready to discover who won and how they figured it out? Read the graphic novel, to find out!
Immediately, the graphic novel begins with an example of when mathematics is used in the real-world, “Make sure the string is parallel to the side of the garden, Michelle.” Additionally, as the group of friends begin solving the mystery, each character includes background knowledge about certain geometrical shapes. For example, “The base is a rectangle. The corners are right angles, but all four sides aren’t the same length. Only the opposite sides are the same,” and “A circle’s diameter is always less than its circumference.” These quotes are important because they exhibit how mathematical information is beneficial not only within the classroom, but outside as well. Hence, the information within the quotes helped the friends through their process of solving the mystery.
Why Read the Book:
Not only should you read this book, but you should also read the Manga Math Mysteries series. However, you should read The Manga Math Mysteries 7: The Book Bandit: A Mystery with Geometry because it delivers mathematical content in a realistic and engaging way. I found myself learning information about geometry more effectively while reading this graphic novel than I have in class or when reading other sources. There are visual components that appeal to the readers and within these visuals, there are numerous diagrams that demonstrate how the friend’s problem-solve and how they came to the conclusions about how the “Book Bandit Monster” was able to be brought in through the window of the library. The most important thing that is that this graphic novel, as well as the entire series, demonstrates real-life applications of math in an effective and entertaining way. As a result, this book challenges the thoughts of students/people who say “Why am I learning this? I am never going to use it outside of class.”
The graphic novel contains an immense amount of mathematical content and thus, I would argue that it would be a great resource to use in the classroom. Additionally, depending on the content area, it includes review information and is an introduction to solving proofs. Personally, I can see myself using this graphic novel, or others similar to it in my classroom and if you check it out, maybe you will too.