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2019 Mathical Winners Announced

Annual Prize Features Math Stories for Youth Ages 2-18

Berkeley, CA – March 7, 2019 — From the inspiring true stories of the Apollo 8 astronauts and a pioneering woman mathematician to tales of a middle school girl struck by lightning and a young elephant who loves to build towers of wooden bricks, this year’s Mathical Book Prize winners offer young readers a glimpse of the exciting—and sometimes unexpected—ways that mathematical ideas fit into the world around them.

The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) announced the 2019 winners today of the Mathical Book Prize, which recognizes outstanding fiction and literary nonfiction for youth ages 2-18. The announcement took place at the Critical Issues in Mathematics Education conference, where math educators discussed strategies for incorporating literary works with mathematical content into primary and secondary school curricula.

The Mathical Prize, now in its fifth 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:

●    For Pre-Kindergarten, the Mathical Award Winner is Crash! Boom! A Math Tale, by Robie H.Harris (Candlewick Press).

●    For Grades K-2, the Mathical Award Winner is Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain, by Cheryl Bardoe (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers).

●    For Grades 3-5, the Mathical Award Winner is The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, by Stacy McAnulty (Random House Children’s Books).

●    For Grades 6-8, the Mathical Award Winner is To the Moon! The True Story of the American Heroes on the Apollo 8 Spaceship, by Jeffrey Kluger and Ruby Shamir (Philomel Books for Young Readers).

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).

Selected winning titles are distributed to children in need in the Bay Area with the support of First Book and the Firedoll Foundation, who have also underwritten the creation of reading guides for families.

As part of the 2019 National Math Festival, past and present Mathical award-winning authors will speak and host book signings for the public on May 4 in Washington, DC. This free, all-ages event is organized by MSRI in cooperation with the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) and the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath).

The following Mathical Honor Books were also announced by the selection committee:

●    PreK: Press Here, by Hervé Tullet; 100 Bugs! A Counting Book, by Kate Narita

●    Grades K-2: 3×4, by Ivan Brunetti; Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo13, by Helaine Becker; The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague, by Julia Finley Mosca; When Sophie Thinks She Can’t, by Molly Bang

●    Grades 3-5: Hidden Women: The African-American Mathematicians of NASA Who Helped America Win the Space Race, by Rebecca Rissman; Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Infographics, by Steve Jenkins

●    Grades 6-8: If You Find This, by Matthew Baker

●    Grades 9-12: Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor

Joining the Mathical Hall of Fame list of classic titles this year is The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure, by Hans Magnus Enzensberger.

The Mathical list is intended as a resource for educators, parents, librarians, children, and teens. To view the full list of Mathical titles, visit mathicalbooks.org.


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 2.8 million subscribers), film production for public television, 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 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 each and every student through vision, leadership, professional development, and research. With 40,000 members and more than 200 affiliates, it is the world’s largest organization dedicated to improving mathematics education in prekindergarten through grade 12. NCTM envisions a world where everyone is enthused about mathematics, sees the value and beauty of mathematics, and is empowered by the opportunities mathematics affords. www.nctm.org

About NCTE: The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is the nation’s most comprehensive literacy organization, supporting 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. www.ncte.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. www.cbcbooks.org

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 jmurawski@msri.org

17 Gauss Way, Berkeley, CA 94720-5070

Ph: 510-642-0771


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