A lot of advanced mathematical functions are based on or integrate fractions, including problems in trigonometry, calculus and physics. Even a proper understanding of decimals has its foundation in fractions and their properties. Perhaps the least "fun" of all the Barron's Painless books, Painless Fractions is at once one of the most important and most practical. The goofy cartoon drawings and cheesy jokes are still here, but so are pages and pages of problems, some of them more than half a page long.
Each problem is fully explained and outlined in step-by-step form so kids aren't lost between the problem itself and the solution. "Caution—Major Mistake Territory" boxes alert kids to common mistakes, while others offer hints for solving problems more easily and basic function reminders. Multiple examples for each problem type help kids really internalize the information, while Brain Ticklers with complete answers give them a chance to apply the knowledge they've gained on their own.
Just before the index in the back of the book is a list of web resources for kids to further improve their fractions skills. Most of them feature games and quizzes designed to reinforce already-known concepts—like those found in this book. Middle and high school students might think they're too old for fractions, but if they don't fully understand the concepts associated with them they'll encounter plenty of trouble when they move on to more complicated math study. Great as a remedial or just a refresher course, Painless Fractions is surprisingly not an oxymoron.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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