Author: Claudia Mills
Pictures by: Rob Shepperson
Published: May 13th, 2014 by Farrar, Strous, and Giroux
Summary: (Grades 2-4) Annika Riz loves math more than anything. She’s trying to teach her dog, Prime, to count. She’s determined to beat fellow math whiz Simon Ellis in a Sudoku contest at the public library. She even sleeps under number-patterned sheets. But Annika’s best friends Kelsey and Izzy think math is boring. All they care about is the upcoming school carnival: their principal is going to be dunked in a dunking tank and their class is going to have a booth selling home-baked cookies. But then disaster foils the friends’ cookie-baking plans. Can math save the day?
Review: Each of the books in the Franklin School Friends series tells the story of a different third-grade student with a passion for a school subject. I was excited to read Annika Riz’s story because she is a math whiz—and I love math! Annika looks at the world through math-tinted glasses, and she wants everyone to love the subject as much as she does. She even attempts to teach her dog, Prime, how to count. I found the story to be so very charming. Annika is an endearing character who will resonate with many kids (and adults). Her energy and enthusiasm is refreshing. I suspect that readers will appreciate math much more by the end of this book. This series would be a great addition to elementary school classrooms. Series books are a big step in many students’ journey to becoming avid readers. Most adult readers list series books as a major part of their reading identities, so I am a strong advocate of having these texts available to students.
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Annika looks at the world through a math mind. Teachers might ask students to pick a school subject and show how that subject is important in many of their everyday activities. This would teach students to apply what they are learning in school to their world.
Check out the downloadable curriculum guide for the Franklin School Friends here!
Discussion Questions: How does Annika approach the sudoku contest? Do you think she does a good job preparing for it?; What role do Annika’s friends play in her life? Because the girls have such varying interests, are you surprised they are friends? Why or why not?; Why do the girls decide to make lemonade? Do you think this was a good choice?; In what ways does Annika use math to examine aspects of her world?
We Flagged: “Kelsey loved reading and Izzy loved running the same way that Annika loved math. But Annika didn’t hate reading and running the same way that the others hated math. It was hard when your two best friends hated the thing in the world that you loved the most” (4).
Read This If You Loved: Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, Judy Moody by Megan McDonald, and Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows
Claudia Mills is the acclaimed author of fifty early-chapter and middle-grade books, including 7 x 9 = Trouble!, How Oliver Olson Changed the World, and Zero Tolerance. Claudia was a professor of philosophy for over twenty years at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she received many teaching awards, before leaving the university to write full time. She has two sons. To learn more, visit her website at claudiamillsauthor.com.