What Sane Person Writes a Novel about Fractions?

fractions“Mathematics is boring. Why do we have to study it anyway?”

“Do I REALLY have to finish all my Math homework? It’s just the same stuff over and over, and it makes no sense to me.”

“I hate doing these algebra exercises. They are SOOOOO boring.”

“I don’t understand this. It’s stupid. Why can’t I do something useful with my time?”

If you are a parent or teacher, then you have probably heard it all. The whining. The complaining. The angry outbursts. For a logical and emotionless subject, Mathematics has an uncanny ability to draw passionate responses from young people. It’s seldom a “YAY, I have Math homework” kind of response. No, it’s more like “ARGHHHH, I HATE Math!”

So why would anyone choose Mathematics as a starting point for a youth novel? And note that we are not talking about some mystical and captivating mathematical subject like String Theory or Equations of Relativity. No, sirree! We like a challenge, don’t we? Out with the exciting stuff, so we can sink our teeth into a common, garden-variety subject: fractions. Yes, you read that correctly. FRACTIONS. Not eye-popping fractal mathematics, mind you. Just regular fractions with numerators and denominators: those little number beasts you encountered way back in grade three of four.

Fractions in all their simple glory were the starting point for “Fractonia”. So is this a story about fractions? (Are you yawning and shaking your head in disbelief?) Yes, but probably not in the way you think. When I was at school and fractions were introduced to the class, the teacher talked about picking apples from a tree. (That was in the days when children actually went outside and climbed trees, so students could relate to the image of apples hanging from a tree.) More recently, while doing research for a new project, I took a look at some junior school materials focused on fractions. The apples were gone from the chapters about fractions. In their place, the reference to pizza slices appeared more often than anything else. (It seems the “an apple a day” phrase has been replaced with “a slice of pizza a day“.) Imagine this pizza being cut into pieces. Your friend eats one slice. You eat five slices. What percentage of the pizza is left? Is this stimulating your imagination and encouraging learning, or is it just making you think that you are hungry? Is there a different way to visualize fractions?

I set out to create a story that would give readers an entirely new perspective on fractions. Why? So they could better understand fractions? No – so they could know it is possible for something as “boring” as fractions to become interesting just by changing our perspective. I wanted to paint an imaginative picture over those sad pizza slices with no story to tell – a picture so unexpected that it would encourage readers to create their own imaginative ways to view subjects they found “boring”. In my experience, an interested student is more likely to learn and overcome learning difficulties than a student who is bored with the topic they are studying. In her article entitled, “How the Power of Interest Drives Learning“, Annie Murphy Paul says the following: “When we’re interested in what we’re learning, we pay closer attention; we process the information more efficiently; we employ more effective learning strategies, such as engaging in critical thinking, making connections between old and new knowledge, and attending to deep structure instead of surface features. When we’re interested in a task, we work harder and persist longer, bringing more of our self-regulatory skills into play.” If we learn better when we are interested, why not find a way to make what we have to learn interesting and engaging? It seems like a simple, common-sense way to ensure we learn more and enjoy doing it.

At its core, “Fractonia” is less about Mathematics and more about attitude. Yes, fractions are part of the story, but no, the story is about exploration, discovery, and possibility. It’s about taking responsibility for our own learning. Our learning is not our parents’ or our teachers’ responsibility – it is OURS: yours and mine. We don’t have to wait for our teacher to make the subject exciting or justify why we should study it. We don’t need to be entertained before we can learn something. No, the process of learning is an adventure that can be created and hosted inside your very own imagination. Go on the adventure, or stay home and mope about how boring everything is.

If you have never had a teacher show you HOW to create your very own learning adventure, sit down and read. But don’t read to be entertained – read to discover. Read so the book can become your teacher and show you how to create your own learning adventure. “Fractonia” is my adventure with something as simple as fractions. Other authors will take you on different adventures. You may not be ready to write your adventure in a book, but you are ready to have an adventure. There are no age limits on learning – we never outgrow a good adventure. What will your next adventure be?

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FRACTONIA Book Release

Fractonia by Pearl R. Lewis - a calculated adventure for inquisite minds“Fractonia” is uncloaked! The doors to the secretive Fractonian Realm have finally been opened to Earth dwellers. You (yes, YOU) are invited to go where few have gone before.  Are you ready to discover what lies on this side of the Beyond Realm?

All worlds this side of the Beyond Realm face challenges of galactic proportion, but only Fractonia is in a race against time. In an effort to find the elusive key to survival, Fractonia opens its doors to a select few outsiders: creatures believed to carry Fractonia’s solution.

To his surprise, Matthew Roberts receives an invitation from Fractonia. Perhaps you have met the freckle-faced young Roberts? Matthew is the well-adjusted youth who isn’t crippled by peer pressure or intimidated by homework on Fridays. He plays nicely with team mates, yet functions just as comfortably on his own. He is the nice guy everyone gets on well with, yet few remember to invite to their parties. So why did someone as average as Matthew get an invitation to visit a secretive realm? 

Matthew may be unremarkable in most areas of his life, but he does possess a certain something that turns heads. Matthew Roberts has an insatiable appetite for adventure. And he knows exactly how to feed that appetite. In fact, he does it so well that it gets the attention of a world he did not even know existed.

Adventure doesn’t follow playground rules or keep weekend hours. Sometimes it comes knocking when you least expect it. Matthew is grappling with the challenges of a mathematics class when a new adventure knocks him right off his chair. Matthew finds himself translated into the Fractonian Realm – the perfect destination for exploration and discovery. From the silent memory beasts to the talkative representative of the Royal Service Extraordinaire, there is no shortage of the bizarre and the wonderful in Fractonia.

With so much to captivate one’s attention, it is tempting to fall prey to the passing of the yonkinots . Will Matthew become so distracted by what this new world has to offer that he fails to discover the real reason for his invitation? The clock is ticking, and time is running out – for Matthew and for Fractonia.

Become part of the Fractonian adventure – purchase your downloadable copy of “Fractonia” today. 

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