2018 Mathical Prize Winners Announced

Math + Literature = 2018 Mathical Book Awards for Ages 2-18

Berkeley, CA – February 22, 2018 — What do a sneaky baby, a smelly room full of sheep, alpacas, llamas, and yaks, and a hundred billion trillion stars have in common? They are all Mathical Award Winners – or more accurately put, they are the subjects of award-winning children’s books inspiring a love of mathematics in the world around us.

The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) announced the 2018 winners today of the Mathical Book Prize, which recognizes outstanding fiction and literary nonfiction for youth ages 2-18. “We are trying to engage kids in the power and beauty of mathematics – power in that we want to give them confidence to consider and solve arithmetic, spatial, logical, structural, algebraic problems; beauty in that math can be employed to better understand and appreciate the wonders of nature and also human artistic expression, for example in fine art and music,” said Roger Strauch, MSRI board chair and chair of the Roda Group, a Berkeley venture capital firm.

The prize, now in its fourth year, is selected annually by a committee of PreK-12 teachers, librarians, mathematicians, early childhood experts, and others. This year’s honorees include the following:

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars is a dizzy whirl through numerical reaches kids rarely get to see — a delight!” said Jordan Ellenberg, co-chair of the Mathical Selection Committee, professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, and author of How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking.

“Watch a crowded room of numbers completely unravel…” hinted Mike Shaughnessy, former president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and member of the Mathical committee.

  • For Pre-Kindergarten, the Mathical Award Winner is Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke (Candlewick Press).

“Children will learn about adding and subtracting when they watch people give Baby food at the market. Baby is very sneaky and puts different foods in Mama’s basket!” reported two second-grade students of Fran Wilson, a teacher at Madeira City Schools outside of Cincinnati, Ohio and Mathical committee member. 

The Mathical Book Prize is awarded by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), in partnership with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and in coordination with the Children’s Book Council (CBC).

The prize spans ages 2-18, with honors awarded for Grades 9-12, Grades 6-8, Grades 3-5, Grades K-2, and PreKindergarten titles. The Mathical list is intended as a resource for educators, parents, librarians, children, and teens.

Selected winning titles are distributed to children in need in the Bay Area with the support of First Book and the Firedoll Foundation, who also underwrite the creation of reading guides for families. More information: mathicalbooks.org.


Mathical Award Winners and Honor Books, 2015-2018:

Grades 9-12

Honor titles: Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly; Meanwhile, by Jason Shiga; The Unknowns, by Benedict Carey; What Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Ideas, and Why They Matter, by Jeffrey Bennett

Grades 6-8

Honor titles: Giant Pumpkin Suite, by Melanie Heuiser Hill; The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel, by Deborah Hopkinson; The Ice Castle: An Adventure in Music, by Pendred Noyce; Leonardo da Vinci Gets A Do-Over, by Mark P. Friedlander, Jr.; Mathemagic! Number Tricks, by Lynda Colgan; Navigating Early, by Clare Vanderpool; Ruby Redfort: Feel the Fear, by Lauren Child; Secrets, Lies, and Algebra (Do the Math #1), by Wendy Lichtman

Grades 3-5

Honor titles: Bedtime Math: This Time It’s Personal, by Laura Overdeck; Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, by Joseph D’Agnese; By The Numbers 3.14: 110.01 Cool Infographics Packed with STATS and Figures, by National Geographic Kids; Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds, by Ann McCallum; Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems, by J. Patrick Lewis; Just the Right Size: Why Big Animals are Big and Little Animals are Little, by Nicola Davies; Numbed!, by David Lubar; The Rookie Bookie, by L. Jon Wertheim and Tobias Moskowitz; Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, by Kelly Jones

Grades K-2

Honor titles: The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős, by Deborah Heiligman; Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant, by Songju Ma Daemicke; How Many Jelly Beans? A Giant Book of Giant Numbers!, by Andrea Menotti; Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives, by Lola M. Schaefer; Shapes, Reshape!, by Silvia Borando; Zero the Hero, by Joan Holub


Honor titles: Count the Monkeys, by Mac Barnett; Count with Maisy, Cheep, Cheep, Cheep!, by Lucy Cousins; Goodnight, Numbers, by Danica McKellar; I Know Numbers, by Taro Gomi; A Mousy Mess, by Laura Driscoll; Over in a River: Flowing Out to the Sea, by Marianne Berkes

Hall of Fame titles (classic titles, across all ages): Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, by Lewis Carroll; The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster; The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle; A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle


About MSRI: The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) is one of the world’s preeminent centers for collaborative research in mathematics. Located in Berkeley, California, MSRI’s mission is to advance mathematical research, foster talent, and further the appreciation of mathematics. MSRI strives to make mathematics accessible and exciting to those outside the field through the National Math Festival, sponsorship of Numberphile (YouTube’s most popular informal mathematics channel, with over 2.4 million subscribers), film production for public television including the much-recognized Navajo Math Circles, and the Mathical Book Prize. MSRI has created a national Math Circles movement of small organizations teaching and engaging children in math as a hobby. www.msri.org

About CBC: The Children’s Book Council is the national nonprofit trade association of children’s book publishers in North America, dedicated to supporting and informing the industry and fostering literacy. The CBC is the anchor sponsor of Children’s Book Week, and is proud to partner with other national organizations on co-sponsored reading lists, educational programming, and literacy initiatives.

About NCTM: The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) is the public voice of mathematics education, supporting teachers to ensure equitable mathematics learning of the highest quality for all students through vision, leadership, professional development, and research.  Founded in 1920, NCTM is the world’s largest mathematics education organization, with 90,000 members and more than 230 Affiliates throughout the United States and Canada. 

About NCTE: The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is the nation’s most comprehensive literacy organization, supporting more than 25,000 teachers across the PreK–college spectrum. Through the expertise of its members, NCTE has served at the forefront of every major improvement in the teaching and learning of English and the language arts since 1911.

About the Firedoll Foundation: The Firedoll Foundation is a private family foundation founded by Sandor and Faye Straus in 1998. The Foundation helps non-profits “fight the good fight” for environmental conservation and justice, immigration and human rights, community development, Middle East peace, and support for those affected by traumatic brain injury.

Mathical Supporters Kit

Resources for media, educators, and librarians to use to promote and feature Mathical award winners in children’s reading programs can be found on the Mathical website at mathicalbooks.org.

Jennifer Murawski
17 Gauss Way, Berkeley, CA 94720-5070
Ph: 510-642-0771