Book Review Archive: How Many Guinea Pigs Can Fit on a Plane?: Answers to Your Most Clever Math Questions

This review was originally published online as part of SLJ’s August 2017 Xpress Reviews.

How Many Guinea Pigs Can Fit on a Plane?: Answers to Your Most Clever Math Questions by Laura Overdeck

Gr 5-8 –Overdeck deviates from the format of her previous “Bedtime Math” books with this question-and-answer title that provides step-by-step math solutions for the fun and imaginative questions submitted by real kids. The questions are grouped into five chapters (“Animal Math,” “Nature Gone Wild,” “Math for Your Mouth,” “Your Life in Numbers,” and “Earth and Friends”) with a sixth chapter dedicated to tricks for doing quick mental math. Readers are walked through the solution to the title question, many other “how many”–based inquiries, and queries like which moves faster: a hopping bunny or a running person? There are also occasional fact-based questions that don’t require a mathematical answer, but Overdeck then extrapolates a related question that does require math. For example, a kid-supplied question about the length of the trip from Earth to Pluto segues into a breakdown of figuring out how fast the New Horizons probe traveled. The concepts of Pi, circumference, area, and volume are introduced prior to the first chapter, and are used in many of the math problems, along with multiplication and division of small and large numbers. Also heavily featured in the answers is the conversion of units of measurement, but that concept isn’t explicitly explained. 

VERDICT Proof that word problems can be fun, this title is recommended for public and school libraries, especially those with established fans of the “Bedtime Math” series.–Kacy Helwick, New Orleans Public Library [Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.]