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A Gebra Named Al, A Novel by Wendy Isdell. Review by Troy, age 11.

This is an interesting book about a girl named Julie who is kind of frustrated with her algebra as she is trying to work on a problem. She puts her head down on her school algebra textbook and falls asleep. The problem she was working on was -5+3(6). She's dreaming when she hears a voice saying "Positive 13, Positive 13!" and she's thinking, "No, it's -12!" And then this guy, who is an imaginary number, says, "No, because of the order of operations, it's parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division and THEN addition/subtraction." She thinks, "I HATE math!"

But since the guy's hearing her thoughts, he gets offended, and starts to close the portal that he used to connect their minds. She jumps through at the last minute, and finds herself in a plane where she meets Al, a Gebra, which is like a zebra, only with mathematical equations instead of stripes. He takes her to the head Gebra, who has the equation E= mc2 written boldly over his chest. The head Gebra then instructs Al to take her to the Periodics. There she discovers that the Periodics look a lot like horses, but they feel or look like whatever chemical element or isotopes they represent.

The Council which is the Periodics all grouped together, decides to have Tritium and Deridium (two isotopes), Al the Gebra, Lithium and Hydrogen take Julie to the Mathematician, king of the Kingdom of Mathematics. They spend a week getting there, and the king writes a paper of formulas to get her back to her own house and extra formulas so that it will appear as if only one hour has passed. When she gets back, she decides to write a story about what happened to her, which is this book.

There are some interesting characters such as Tungsten, who is a twisted Periodic and the main evil character, and Wolframs, which are like shapechanging werewolves with wolf/ram bodies.

I rate the book a 9 out of 10. It has lots of interesting characters, and it explains mathematics and science in an ingenious way so that even a common layman can understand it. It is unique, I've never read a book like it. I would recommend it for ages 8 to 12. It does go through square numbers, order of operations and the periodic table of elements, but you don't need to fully understand this to enjoy the novel.

Reviewed 5/8/04

Also see reviews at http://math.cofc.edu

 

Review of A Gebra Named Al by Wendy Isdell