cartoon guide to algebra book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

In his book, The Cartoon Guide to Algebra, Larry Gonick approaches a subject that is often confusing in a humorous and visually engaging manner. While traditional math is usually composed of black and white equations, many students struggle to move from standard arithmetic to the more complicated idea of solving for the unknown.

To assist students who are trying to navigate Algebra, Gonick has created what I would call a cartoon vocabulary book that will put them on the road to algebraic literacy. Most chapters address one or more key functions or terms and explain them in cartoon fashion with humorous illustrations and explanations. I believe this book would be an excellent companion to a traditional textbook, especially if a student is having difficulty grasping specific concepts. The table of contents is specific enough that a person can flip directly to the portion of the book that would assist them at that time. While this book is a guide to Algebra, it is not a replacement for a textbook, as it lacks enough practice problems to ensure comprehension. An Algebra teacher would probably enjoy using excerpts in class for a more humorous approach to a dry subject.

As a point of clarification, this is a Cartoon Guide to Algebra, but it is not a traditional comic book. It lacks a narrative thread like a graphic novel or action comic. Before I had a chance to read it, I handed this book to my son who enjoys comic books with academic themes. He flipped through this one, but didn’t want to sit down and just read for fun as it is definitely more of a concept teaching text.

Overall though, this book does an excellent job of explaining Algebra and would be appropriate for all ages from high school to college and more. I would recommend it to anyone needing additional help on the subject or to a student who appreciates a more visual approach. It rounds out Larry Gonick’s previous Cartoon Guides that he has written on a wide variety of subjects including science, history and math. Be prepared for learning to come alive in this unique approach to Algebra!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.