Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. by Greg Pincus

As if being the middle child isn't bad enough, sixth-grader Gregory K. has the misfortune to be born into a family of math obsessed geniuses.  Misfortune?  Greg is not a fan of math, he would rather spend his time writing poetry.  Greg's problem is that while his parents believe that he loves math (yes, it was Greg himself who helped lead they down that path of delusion), he is now on the verge of flunking math and his teacher wants to have a meeting with his parents.

But wait, there's more.

Greg and his best friend Kelly want to go to Author's Camp together.  It is a summer of writing that they have been planning to do together for years.  And now, it is especially important since Kelly and her mom will be moving 140 miles away at the end of the school year.  Yet, in the teacher/parent/student meeting, when his parents tell him to do better or it is Math is Magic Camp for Greg, he decides to keep his parents happily believing in his love for math by announcing his intention to compete in the City Math competition.  And why not? It extra credit that might boost his low math grade and, besides, the competition is months away, and surely Greg could think of something in the meantime.

Kelly is furious when she finds out what Greg has done, knowing how bad he is at math.  But Greg keeps on reassuring her that Author's Camp is going to happen, he just has to talk to his parents about it, and submit an sample of his writing with his application.  None of which he has been able to do, because he is afraid to tell them he loves poetry, and not math.

Luckily for Greg, he has a math teacher who seems to understand his problem with relating to math, and who understands that he also needs and wants a B in it.  Mr. Davis gives him a journal and explains that his math homework is to write about math.  Where he sees math, how he sees it, anything that relates to math goes in the journal for the rest of the term.

But is a B possible for a flunking student?  And that math competition?  That is for math brains like his older brother Owen, who swept the competition every year, or like his 9 year old sister Kay, who will one day do the same.  Is Greg up to all the challenges that he is facing?

This was a fun book to read, especially for a person who was a bad in math as Greg is.   Greg is a quirky character, but so is everyone in his family.  What is interesting to see in the family dynamics is how everyone gets to live their bliss except Greg, and that is only because they all share the same bliss except Greg.  His bliss is hidden away in an old, empty fuse box hole.

I thought this book was interesting, and had a nice way of handling Greg's math phobia and I loved the ending.  I have to admit that I would have liked a little more character development, but not as far as Owen is concerned.  I think he should get the award for being one of the most arrogant, obnoxious, sometimes plain old mean brother.  Kay, on the other hand, is smart and kind, I like that.  She is a character I would like to get to know better, perhaps in a novel of her own  But, of course, this is Greg's story, so…

Kelly's mom runs a pie shop and Greg loved pie.  I like the pie factor, though I haven't met many 11 year olds who are that crazy about pie, except for my own Kiddo.  I did think there would be some kind of pie/pi connection, but when I thought about it, I decided too obvious and I liked the Fibs better.  And I really liked watching Greg's fibs morph into Greg's Fibs.  Oh dear, I guess you will just have to read the book to know what I am talking about.

Greg (Pincus) did a great job of valuing poetry without devaluing math in The 14 Fibs of Gregory K, which I thought was a nice touch.  This is a fun book that will probably have great appeal to middle grade readers, many of whom will be asking a question similar to mine: Why, of why did I not have Mr. Davis for math when I was in school?

This book is 9+
This book was purchased for my personal library.

So what is a Fib?  This New York Times article nicely explains what a Fib is.

And after you read that, you will probably want to know more about Greg Pincus and his Fibs and you can in this New York Times article.

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