Mathematical Nights: Math Fiction by Robert Black

Mathematical Nights: Math Fiction by Robert Black Series Cover

Author 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, 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."

In the Mathematical Nights books (Night of the Paranormal Patterns, Night of the Frightening Fractions and Night of the Eerie Equations), 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 friends find the solution. 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 the reader through the full experience of mathematical discovery. The combination reflects 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 an engineer and a quality assurance manager 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

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 also has published Liberty Girl, set in Batimore at the end of the first World War, and Unswept Graves, a time travel story about San Francisco's Chinatown.

Author 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, 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."

In the Mathematical Nights books (Night of the Paranormal PatternsNight of the Frightening Fractions and Night of the Eerie Equations), 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 friends find the solution. 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 the reader through the full experience of mathematical discovery. The combination reflects 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 an engineer and a quality assurance manager 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

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 also has published Liberty Girl, set in Batimore at the end of the first World War, and Unswept Graves, a time travel story about San Francisco's Chinatown.

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Night of the Paranormal Patterns

Author: Black, Robert

Subjects: Mathematics; Science Fiction/Fantasy; Mathematical Fiction; Gifted women

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13

Grade: 5, 6, 7

ISBN: 978-0-89824-482-3

Order code: 4823

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Night of the Paranormal Patterns Cover

"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

Things were bad enough when seventh grader Lennie Miller had to leave her home and her friends and move with her parents to the little town of Bailey, Indiana. But then she discovered that Bailey has a secret—a Mystical Realm few people can see, full of ghosts, wizards, and monsters. And worst of all, these creatures have decided that she is their "Pattern Finder," the person they all turn to for help with their math problems!

Soon Lennie and her new friend Gil are challenged to figure out who would win a race between a vampire and a werewolf, how fast gremlins can reproduce, and how much cargo a crew of aliens can carry in their flying saucer! 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 escape her destiny?

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 the ways of looking at the world through numbers. When Lennie Miller and her friends try to solve a math problem, the reader is 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 her friends go through all of that. They make mistakes. They go down blind alleys and have to try again. And the reader gets to share in that experience."

 What is a "Paranormal Pattern"? The paranormal part comes from all the monsters who ask Lennie to solve their math problems; the "pattern" comes from the fact that math is essentially the study of patterns. "Once you recognize that there are patterns," says Robert Black, "you can use them to find the answers. It makes math a lot less baffling."

"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

Things were bad enough when seventh grader Lennie Miller had to leave her home and her friends and move with her parents to the little town of Bailey, Indiana. But then she discovered that Bailey has a secret—a Mystical Realm few people can see, full of ghosts, wizards, and monsters. And worst of all, these creatures have decided that she is their "Pattern Finder," the person they all turn to for help with their math problems!

Soon Lennie and her new friend Gil are challenged to figure out who would win a race between a vampire and a werewolf, how fast gremlins can reproduce, and how much cargo a crew of aliens can carry in their flying saucer! 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 escape her destiny?

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 the ways of looking at the world through numbers. When Lennie Miller and her friends try to solve a math problem, the reader is 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 her friends go through all of that. They make mistakes. They go down blind alleys and have to try again. And the reader gets to share in that experience." 

 What is a "Paranormal Pattern"? The paranormal part comes from all the monsters who ask Lennie to solve their math problems; the "pattern" comes from the fact that math is essentially the study of patterns. "Once you recognize that there are patterns," says Robert Black, "you can use them to find the answers. It makes math a lot less baffling."

Night of the Frightening Fractions

Author: Black, Robert

Subjects: Science Fiction/Fantasy; Mathematical Fiction; Gifted women

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

"Very highly recommended for school and community library collections. Young readers for whom this is their first encounter with author Robert Black's quite special and unique approach to storytelling will also want to read the first Lennie Miller novel." – Midwest Book Review

Night of the Frightening Fractions continues the story of seventh grader Lennie Miller, who has to solve the math problems of monsters in her new hometown of Bailey, Indiana. With her best friend Gil, not only does Lennie have to compute a ghostly girl’s inheritance and help a monster chef with his recipe, but she is the only person in her town who can save Bailey from a horde of often hilarious zombies.

Each chapter is filled with pre-algebra math problems. Robert Black says about his creative math puzzles: “A lot of work 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 for whom this is their first encounter with author Robert Black's quite special and unique approach to storytelling will also want to read the first Lennie Miller novel." – Midwest Book Review

Night of the Frightening Fractions continues the story of seventh grader Lennie Miller, who has to solve the math problems of monsters in her new hometown of Bailey, Indiana. With her best friend Gil, not only does Lennie have to compute a ghostly girl’s inheritance and help a monster chef with his recipe, but she is the only person in her town who can save Bailey from a horde of often hilarious zombies.

Each chapter is filled with pre-algebra math problems. Robert Black says about his creative math puzzles: “A lot of work 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.”

Night of the Frightening Fractions Cover

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Night of the Eerie Equations

Author: Black, Robert

Subjects: Science Fiction/Fantasy; Mathematical Fiction; Gifted women

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

Seventh grader Lennie Miller continues her math adventures in Night of the Eerie Equations, the third book in Robert Black’s Mathematical Nights series. This time a crew of TV ghost hunters has come to Bailey, Indiana, and it seems as though they may find out about Lennie’s ability to talk to vampires, wizards, and monsters. This will relieve Lennie from her responsibilities of “Pattern Finder,” and she will no longer have to solve her invisible friends’ math problems. Now she not only has to decide whether she should betray her friends or keep them safe, but she has to figure out a way to keep the ghost hunters from hunting for her.

Night of the Paranormal Patterns and Night of the Frightening Fractions are Robert Black's previous novels in which Lennie goes on a series of adventures as she solves her monster friends’ math problems. Each of the three novels is filled with pre-algebra math problems that readers are encouraged to solve along with Lennie.

Seventh grader Lennie Miller continues her math adventures in Night of the Eerie Equations, the third book in Robert Black’s Mathematical Nights series. This time a crew of TV ghost hunters has come to Bailey, Indiana, and it seems as though they may find out about Lennie’s ability to talk to vampires, wizards, and monsters. This will relieve Lennie from her responsibilities of “Pattern Finder,” and she will no longer have to solve her invisible friends’ math problems. Now she not only has to decide whether she should betray her friends or keep them safe, but she has to figure out a way to keep the ghost hunters from hunting for her.

Night of the Paranormal Patterns and Night of the Frightening Fractions are Robert Black's previous novels in which Lennie goes on a series of adventures as she solves her monster friends’ math problems. Each of the three novels is filled with pre-algebra math problems that readers are encouraged to solve along with Lennie.

Night of the Eerie Equations Cover

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