Saturday, April 17, 2010

#105 Stacey the Math Whiz


At the end of the school day, Stacey gets a message from Ms. Hartley, the chairperson of the SMS Math department, requesting a meeting. Stacey can't figure out what Ms. Hartley might want with her, so she's pretty mystified. As it turns out, Ms. Hartley wants to invite her (again) to join the Mathletes, SMS's competitive math team. They have a real shot at the state championship that year, and since Stacey's standardized test scores are so high, the team could really use her help. Stacey isn't too excited about the idea; she figures that most of the kids on the team are total nerds, and she doesn't really want to spend her spare time hanging out with them. She gives Ms. Hartley a "maybe," but doesn't think she'll end up joining. At that afternoon's BSC meeting, though, the other club members are surprisingly in favor of Stacey becoming a Mathlete. She starts to rethink the idea, and decides to join.

Stacey's first meeting/practice with the Mathletes is the next evening at Ms. Hartley's house. She starts to think that she might have made a mistake when she finds out that Jason Fox and Alexander Kurtzman are on the team, too (they're dorky), but she feels better when she finds out that Emily Bernstein, Rick Chow, Bea Foster, Mari Drabek, Amanda Martin, and the Prime Minister of the UK are also on the team. They work on some tough math puzzles, and although Stacey gets the right answers with no problems (pun not intended....) she still isn't sure that she's ready for the meet the following day. Ms. Hartley assures her that she is.

The next day's meet goes well, and SMS becomes the Stoneybrook 8th grade math champions. Next up is regionals, which SMS also wins. Last but not least is the state championship, which is a best of three series. SMS takes the first match with no problems (dang it, I have to stop doing that!!!), but they lose the second one. Just before the third match is supposed to happen, Stacey's dad calls with some news. He's got tickets to a U4Me concert, and he wants to take Stacey. It's on the same day as the final match for the Mathletes, and there's no way that Stacey can do both. At first, she chooses the concert. She rationalizes that family is more important than friends/school, and she really wants to see U4Me again (she got kicked out the first time, remember?). In the end, though, she decides that she can't let the Mathletes down. They end up winning the match as a team, and Stacey breaks the individual state scoring record.

There's actually a lot going on in subplot land. First, Stacey's dad loses his job, buys a car, and starts spending (or wanting to spend) all this time with her. It starts to conflict with her other responsibilities, but he eventually gets a new job and goes back to being Mr. Workaholic. Also, there's a math fair at SES, and lots of the BSC charges enter. Finally, Stacey HAD been tutoring Lindsey DeWitt in math, but once she joins the Mathletes, Claudia takes over. As it turns out, Claudia is just the person to help Lindsey; Claud has a slightly more "creative" way of solving math problems which gets the job done just as well as Stacey's more correct way.

Rating: 3

Thoughts and Things
  • This book was surprisingly entertaining, considering the fact that it's all about math.
  • Would it even be legal these days for Ms. Hartley to host a school group meeting in her basement?
  • I don't know what it is with divorced BSC dads being creepy, but I have to add Ed McGill to the list. First, he buys that huge Lincoln Town Car with tinted windows, and he wants to spend all his time with Stacey. He's always taking her out to late movies, and buying her flowers. He even comments on the fact that she's so beautiful that she makes the flowers look ugly.
  • There's no way on God's green Earth that I would have been in a MATH FAIR in elementary school. Or, you know, ever.
  • This is the third time in the series that Claudia has sucessfully tutored someone. She really needs to start giving herself more credit for being able to do stuff like that!


  1. Goodness gracious. The source of the subplot for Mean Girls has been revealed!

  2. I hate terms like "mathlete" and "academic decathlon." What you're doing is hard (and probably beyond me) but it's not a sport.

  3. Nerds seem to catch a lot of flak from AMM and the ghost writers in this series. I'll never understand that. As a proud nerd, I can assure them that we're more than just pocket protectors. :)

    It would indeed be legal for Ms. Hartley to host the meeting in her basement, but it certainly would invite a lot of suspicion... *ahem*

  4. ugh.... mr mcgill IS creepy!