Monday, September 29, 2014

Bringing Down the Mouse by Ben Mezrich

Charlie is a whiz at math, and he sits with the other Whiz Kids during lunch. One day, a mysterious boy named Finn saves Charlie from being bullied, and an unusual relationship begins. Finn introduces him to a new teaching assistant at their school, and she tells him about a secret college project. She loves math too, and she wants to see if her specially chosen group of students can win the big prize at a Florida amusement park. They'll first need to figure out how to beat the carnival games, and then Charlie must predict where a spinning wheel will stop. It seems pretty amazing, but Charlie wonders if something more is going on.

You probably won't like this book if you don't like math. It's kind of cool to read about ways to beat unfair carnival games, but it often involves math and science. The gang finds tricky ways to toss coins onto slippery plates, pop balloons, and climb a wobbly web made of rope. The book has an unusual conflict, and I always had a feeling there was something wrong about the teacher's story. It makes for a surprising climax.

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