Sunday, June 25, 2017

Manga Math Mysteries: The Runaway Puppy

I reviewed another volume of Manga Math Mysteries in the past, and I liked it pretty well. As I am always looking for the rare unicorn that is a relevant, actually enjoyable mathematics graphic novel, I thought I would check in with another volume in the series. The Runaway Puppy is much like The Secret Ghost in that best thing about this book is the expressive, clear, and fun artwork. It also stars the same bunch of good friends united by school and martial arts classes, which is a plus if you are dealing with a young reader who digs series books. The story, about a puppy who gets out of the yard (it's sort of in the title) and how the gang use probability to figure out her is pretty solid, if a little didactic.
Still, the story has some good points. The examples might get a bit repetitive, but I appreciated how this book used them in contrast to show how probability works and how odds are not just cut-and-dried eventualities that always play out in uniform manner. This characteristic could be very helpful in spelling out math concepts to a learner. Also, it sneaks in a little bit of medieval literature, with the dog being named after Charlemagne's daughter Bradamante. This book might not really be manga and does not feature the most thrilling narrative, but I still think it would be a good, quick read for an elementary student who is into math, kung fu, dogs, fun-looking comics, or books where kids play detective.

This book is a collaboration between writer Lydia Barriman and artist Becky Grutzik. According to the bio at the back of the book, Barriman is a "teacher, doctoral candidate, and writer of math courses for all ages." I could not find any additional info about her. Grutzik works on all kinds of indie comics, including the series Peep Lite and Aegis, and she shares her art and adventures via her Twitter page. I really enjoyed her work here, and her other works seem entertaining and inspired.

I was not able to find much in terms of reviews for this title, but it does have a four-star rating on Goodreads. This review by Publishers Weekly of the first volume in the series seems to touch on the flavor of this volume as well.

The Runaway Puppy was published by the Graphic Universe imprint of Lerner Publishing, and they have a preview more info about the book here.

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