Mathematical Nights: Math Fiction by Robert Black

Mathematical Nights: Math Fiction by Robert Black Series Cover

In the Mathematical Nights books, the heroine Lennie Miller finds herself roped into the role of "Pattern Finder," solving problems for a group of mathematically challenged monsters. The readers receive all the information needed to solve the problems at the same time Lennie does, and they can then try to solve the problems themselves or follow along as Lennie and her friend Gil find the solutions. But the path to those solutions isn’t always the simplest or most direct one. Lennie runs into complications along the way, which not only makes for a more interesting story but also illustrates some often-neglected truths about problem solving.

The aim of the novels is to present math concepts in a memorable and entertaining way, taking readers through the full experience of mathematical discovery. The combination reflects author Robert Black's own experience as both a degreed engineer and a writer. Both of his parents were math teachers, and he excelled in math and science throughout school, earning a degree in mechanical engineering and math from Vanderbilt University. He works as a senior quality engineer in California but has also written for kids, beginning with his time on the staff of Nickelodeon's You Can't Do That on Television

Robert Black writes: "When I started developing my ideas for mathematical fiction, I knew fairly quickly that I didn't want to take the route of a 'minute mystery' type of story, such as the Encyclopedia Brown series. I didn't want to use a format where the story presents a math problem and then the reader flips the page or goes to the back of the book to find an impersonal narrator explaining how to get the answer. There are a few 'math mystery' books like that available—even some good ones—but I wanted to do more. My goal wasn't just to present mathematical facts and techniques; I wanted to show as much of the problem-solving experience as I could, with all the twists and turns and dead ends and unexpected realizations that come with it. I wanted to do as much as I could to make my readers feel like they're there solving the problems along with the characters."

There is a supporting and fascinating website created by the author, with lots more puzzles and cited connections to the works and puzzles of Lewis Carroll, Descartes, Fibonacci, Pascal, and ancient Persian mathematicians.

Robert Black is also the author of the Mathematical Lives series, a set of biographies about mathematicians who helped to shape, not just mathematics, but also our world as we know it today.

In the Mathematical Nights books, the heroine Lennie Miller finds herself roped into the role of "Pattern Finder," solving problems for a group of mathematically challenged monsters. The readers receive all the information needed to solve the problems at the same time Lennie does, and they can then try to solve the problems themselves or follow along as Lennie and her friend Gil find the solutions. But the path to those solutions isn’t always the simplest or most direct one. Lennie runs into complications along the way, which not only makes for a more interesting story but also illustrates some often-neglected truths about problem solving.

The aim of the novels is to present math concepts in a memorable and entertaining way, taking readers through the full experience of mathematical discovery. The combination reflects author Robert Black's own experience as both a degreed engineer and a writer. Both of his parents were math teachers, and he excelled in math and science throughout school, earning a degree in mechanical engineering and math from Vanderbilt University. He works as a senior quality engineer in California but has also written for kids, beginning with his time on the staff of Nickelodeon's You Can't Do That on Television

Robert Black writes: "When I started developing my ideas for mathematical fiction, I knew fairly quickly that I didn't want to take the route of a 'minute mystery' type of story, such as the Encyclopedia Brown series. I didn't want to use a format where the story presents a math problem and then the reader flips the page or goes to the back of the book to find an impersonal narrator explaining how to get the answer. There are a few 'math mystery' books like that available—even some good ones—but I wanted to do more. My goal wasn't just to present mathematical facts and techniques; I wanted to show as much of the problem-solving experience as I could, with all the twists and turns and dead ends and unexpected realizations that come with it. I wanted to do as much as I could to make my readers feel like they're there solving the problems along with the characters.

There is a supporting and fascinating website created by the author, with lots more puzzles and cited connections to the works and puzzles of Lewis Carroll, Descartes, Fibonacci, Pascal, and ancient Persian mathematicians.

Robert Black is also the author of the Mathematical Lives series, a set of biographies about mathematicians who helped to shape, not just mathematics, but also our world as we know it today.

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Night of the Paranormal Patterns

Author: Black, Robert

Subjects: Mathematics; Science Fiction/Fantasy; Gifted Women and Girls

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

ISBN: 978-0-89824-482-3

Order code: 4823

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 4823S

Night of the Paranormal Patterns Cover

When seventh grader Lennie Miller moves to the tiny town of Bailey, Indiana, she's convinced that life is both boring and unfair. What could possibly be interesting about a place in the middle of nowhere? But it's not long before she learns that Bailey isn't at all what she expected. It is located on the edge of the Mystical Realm, and Lennie has a gift for seeing the otherworldly creatures that cross over from that world to ours. What's more, Lennie learns that those creatures consider her a "Pattern Finder," which means that they come to her to solve their math problems. And they certainly have some unusual problems!

Soon Lennie and her new best friend Gil are calculating who would win a race between a vampire and a werewolf, how fast gremlins reproduce, how many different ways wizards can switch bodies with one another, and how much cargo aliens can take with them on their ship. Maybe Bailey is a little too interesting. But just as it looks like she’ll be a Pattern Finder for life, Lennie discovers a potential way out. Can she find the magical veil her ancestor stole and go back to being a normal kid again?

Author Robert Black mixes his narrative with a series of pre-algebra-level math puzzles in what he calls "mathematical fiction." He says: "I wanted to use storytelling as a way of communicating math concepts. Just as a good historical novel can introduce readers to different times and places, I'm introducing readers to ways of looking at the world through numbers. When Lennie Miller and Gil try to solve a math problem, readers are right there with them. Math can be a collaborative experience. There are many different ways to look at a problem, and it helps if you can talk with someone and trade ideas to see which way is best. There's a lot of trial and error involved, too. It's okay to try an approach and discover that it doesn't work. Lennie and Gil go through all of that. They make mistakes. They go down blind alleys and have to try again. And readers get to share in that experience."

"Night of the Paranormal Patterns is not only a rousing fantasy adventure; it also encourages young people to look at solving math problems in a new way, as each conundrum originates organically from the monsters' daily lives. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library YA collections." – Children's Bookwatch

When seventh grader Lennie Miller moves to the tiny town of Bailey, Indiana, she's convinced that life is both boring and unfair. What could possibly be interesting about a place in the middle of nowhere? But it's not long before she learns that Bailey isn't at all what she expected. It is located on the edge of the Mystical Realm, and Lennie has a gift for seeing the otherworldly creatures that cross over from that world to ours. What's more, Lennie learns that those creatures consider her a "Pattern Finder," which means that they come to her to solve their math problems. And they certainly have some unusual problems!

Soon Lennie and her new best friend Gil are calculating who would win a race between a vampire and a werewolf, how fast gremlins reproduce, how many different ways wizards can switch bodies with one another, and how much cargo aliens can take with them on their ship. Maybe Bailey is a little too interesting. But just as it looks like she’ll be a Pattern Finder for life, Lennie discovers a potential way out. Can she find the magical veil her ancestor stole and go back to being a normal kid again?

Author Robert Black mixes his narrative with a series of pre-algebra-level math puzzles in what he calls "mathematical fiction." He says: "I wanted to use storytelling as a way of communicating math concepts. Just as a good historical novel can introduce readers to different times and places, I'm introducing readers to ways of looking at the world through numbers. When Lennie Miller and Gil try to solve a math problem, readers are right there with them. Math can be a collaborative experience. There are many different ways to look at a problem, and it helps if you can talk with someone and trade ideas to see which way is best. There's a lot of trial and error involved, too. It's okay to try an approach and discover that it doesn't work. Lennie and Gil go through all of that. They make mistakes. They go down blind alleys and have to try again. And readers get to share in that experience."

"Night of the Paranormal Patterns is not only a rousing fantasy adventure; it also encourages young people to look at solving math problems in a new way, as each conundrum originates organically from the monsters' daily lives. Highly recommended, especially for public and school library YA collections." – Children's Bookwatch

Night of the Frightening Fractions

Author: Black, Robert

Subjects: Mathematics; Science Fiction/Fantasy; Gifted Women and Girls

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

ISBN: 978-0-88092-603-4

Order code: 6034

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 6034S

Night of the Frightening Fractions Cover

Seventh grader Lennie Miller has a gift. Her new hometown of Bailey, Indiana, sits on the edge of the Mystical Realm, and she can see the creatures that cross over from that world to ours. The creatures know that Lennie is a Pattern Finder, and they come to her for help with their math problems—and they have a lot of problems. With her best friend Gil, Lennie solves an array of ghastly and ghostly dilemmas. She computes a ghost girl's inheritance, determines the winner of a Bigfoot foot-size contest, calculates how much money a vampire and a werewolf need to spend on a ring for the girl they both love, and helps a monster chef with his recipes.

All of these problems are scattered among the biggest problem of all: Lennie must save both the Mystical Realm and Bailey from a horde of brain-eating zombies. Can she figure out how to stop them in the Mystical Realm before they reach Bailey? Can she help the wizards set up another line of defense? Can she figure out the chances that the otherworldly creatures will be able to put brains that have been removed for safekeeping back into the correct bodies, since they inadvertently neglected to label them? There are so many problems to work out to try and help the Mystical Realm stay safe from the zombies! Lennie's gift doesn't feel like one to her—it's more like a curse. But when a zombie shows up at her doorstep, she knows that her mathematical talents are the only thing that will save her—and the world as she knows it!

Robert Black says about his creative math puzzles: “A lot of math problems don’t make sense in real life. They never explain why you’d have sixty watermelons or why you'd want to give three-fifths of them to your friend. But in my books, the math problems come out of the situations the characters get into, and the characters have reasons why they want to solve those problems.”

"Very highly recommended for school and community library collections. Young readers new to author Robert Black's unique approach to storytelling will also want to read the first Lennie Miller novel." – Midwest Book Review

Seventh grader Lennie Miller has a gift. Her new hometown of Bailey, Indiana, sits on the edge of the Mystical Realm, and she can see the creatures that cross over from that world to ours. The creatures know that Lennie is a Pattern Finder, and they come to her for help with their math problems—and they have a lot of problems. With her best friend Gil, Lennie solves an array of ghastly and ghostly dilemmas. She computes a ghost girl's inheritance, determines the winner of a Bigfoot foot-size contest, calculates how much money a vampire and a werewolf need to spend on a ring for the girl they both love, and helps a monster chef with his recipes.

All of these problems are scattered among the biggest problem of all: Lennie must save both the Mystical Realm and Bailey from a horde of brain-eating zombies. Can she figure out how to stop them in the Mystical Realm before they reach Bailey? Can she help the wizards set up another line of defense? Can she figure out the chances that the otherworldly creatures will be able to put brains that have been removed for safekeeping back into the correct bodies, since they inadvertently neglected to label them? There are so many problems to work out to try and help the Mystical Realm stay safe from the zombies! Lennie's gift doesn't feel like one to her—it's more like a curse. But when a zombie shows up at her doorstep, she knows that her mathematical talents are the only thing that will save her—and the world as she knows it!

Robert Black says about his creative math puzzles: “A lot of math problems don’t make sense in real life. They never explain why you’d have sixty watermelons or why you'd want to give three-fifths of them to your friend. But in my books, the math problems come out of the situations the characters get into, and the characters have reasons why they want to solve those problems.”

"Very highly recommended for school and community library collections. Young readers new to author Robert Black's unique approach to storytelling will also want to read the first Lennie Miller novel." – Midwest Book Review

Night of the Frightening Fractions Cover

Night of the Eerie Equations

Author: Black, Robert

Subjects: Mathematics; Science Fiction/Fantasy; Gifted Women and Girls

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

ISBN: 978-0-89824-398-7

Order code: 3987

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 3987S

Night of the Eerie Equations Cover

A TV crew for a ghost hunting show has set up in Bailey, Indiana, to try to find evidence of paranormal activity, and seventh grader Lennie Miller has mixed feelings about it. Lennie is a Pattern Finder. She can see the supernatural creatures from the Mystical Realm that cross over into our world, and they search her out to help them solve their often-unusual and always-complicated math problems. It's a role that Lennie would happily give up. And now, with a TV crew in town, that might actually happen.

The creatures in the Mystical Realm are worried about being discovered. If they are, they'll have to move the Mystical Realm to another location, and they'll have to find themselves another Pattern Finder. The idea excites Lennie...mostly. It would be great not to have to solve so many weird problems, but without the otherworldly creatures around, would life become boring in her tiny rural town? 

While Lennie wrestles with this dilemma, she and her best friend Gil must solve a variety of paranormal problems, many of which are related to trying to keep the Mystical Realm hidden, such as determining the sizes of crop circles so they can be regrown, figuring out where a warrior on a flying dragon needs to drop a deterrent from the air to hit a certain spot on the ground, calculating the best escape plan for a vampire and a werewolf, computing the interest rate on a loan to move the mystical threshold, and determining the best location for adding a neutralizing formula to a glowing river as the chemicals break down and flow downstream.

Throughout, Lennie struggles with whether or not she should be solving these problems at all. If she simply did nothing, the TV crew would undoubtedly discover the Mystical Realm, and she would never have to solve another problem for the creatures that live there. It would sure be nice to be a normal kid again. Or would it?

A TV crew for a ghost hunting show has set up in Bailey, Indiana, to try to find evidence of paranormal activity, and seventh grader Lennie Miller has mixed feelings about it. Lennie is a Pattern Finder. She can see the supernatural creatures from the Mystical Realm that cross over into our world, and they search her out to help them solve their often-unusual and always-complicated math problems. It's a role that Lennie would happily give up. And now, with a TV crew in town, that might actually happen.

The creatures in the Mystical Realm are worried about being discovered. If they are, they'll have to move the Mystical Realm to another location, and they'll have to find themselves another Pattern Finder. The idea excites Lennie...mostly. It would be great not to have to solve so many weird problems, but without the otherworldly creatures around, would life become boring in her tiny rural town? 

While Lennie wrestles with this dilemma, she and her best friend Gil must solve a variety of paranormal problems, many of which are related to trying to keep the Mystical Realm hidden, such as determining the sizes of crop circles so they can be regrown, figuring out where a warrior on a flying dragon needs to drop a deterrent from the air to hit a certain spot on the ground, calculating the best escape plan for a vampire and a werewolf, computing the interest rate on a loan to move the mystical threshold, and determining the best location for adding a neutralizing formula to a glowing river as the chemicals break down and flow downstream.

Throughout, Lennie struggles with whether or not she should be solving these problems at all. If she simply did nothing, the TV crew would undoubtedly discover the Mystical Realm, and she would never have to solve another problem for the creatures that live there. It would sure be nice to be a normal kid again. Or would it?

Night of the Eerie Equations Cover

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