March 29, 2000|By Jon Scieszka

Editor's note: What do you do when your day is filled with one problem after another? Find out how one girl breaks her Math Curse.

The average modern baseball player

3.) Babe Ruth = The average modern baseball player

I stagger out of school. I'm a math zombie now. I have to find something to break this math curse. I decide to try chocolate. My favorite candy bar is usually 50c. But guess what? Today it's on sale for 50% off: I decide to buy licorice instead. I pull out my money. I have a $5 bill, a $1 bill, a quarter and a penny. George Washington is on both the quarter and the $1 bill. Abraham Lincoln is on both the penny and the $5 bill.

So which is true:

a.) 1 Washington equals 25 Lincolns.

b.) 5 Washingtons equal 1 Lincoln.

c.) 1 Washington equals 100 Lincolns.

d.) 1 Lincoln equals 20 Washingtons.

I am now a raving math lunatic. What if this keeps up for a whole year? How many minutes of math madness would that be?

"What's your problem?" says my sister.

"365 days X 24 hours X 60 minutes," I snarl.

Then the problems really begin. I dream I'm trapped in a room with no doors and no windows. The room is covered with a lifetime of problems. I have only one piece of chalk. How do I get out? I'm about to give up and die, when the answer to my problem comes to me. Fractions. I break the chalk in half. Then I put the two halves together. One half plus one half equals one whole. I put the hole on the wall and jump out.

I'm free.

I've broken the math curse. I can solve any problem. And life is just great until science class, when Mr. Newton says, "You know, you can think of almost everything as a science experiment ..."

From MATH CURSE, written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith. Text Copyright c Jon Scieszka, 1995. Illustration Copyright c Lane Smith, 1995. Published by arrangement with Viking Children's Books, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.

Weekly question

If the math curse had lasted an entire year, how many minutes would that be?

Send us your answer by fax to 410-783-2519, by e-mail to sun.features@baltsun.com or by mail to Weekly Question, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.