Stacey the Math Whiz (RS#105)

Original Publication Date: 1997

Ghostwriter? Yes, Peter Lerangis. Furthermore, one Peter G. Hayes is thanked (perhaps he helped with some math things?), and the book is "in memory of Jessica Knott, and in honor of Liesl Flandermeyer and all Jessica's friends." A Google search reveals nothing about who Jessica was.


I'll get this out of the way right now: I hate the term "mathlete" and others like it. Yes, math and other academic studies are hard, but they're not sports. I've done math up through calculus, and taken higher science classes, and did well in them. I also did well in sports. The two are not the same thing. If you love math or whatever subject, that's fantastic. Continue learning, and pass on your love of the subject to others. But if you have to make it sound like you're doing a sport then you're going to make me think you're justifying something. "Math Team" or "Math Club" sounds like it respects itself more than "Mathletes." Anyway.

Stacey is invited to join her school's Mathlete team, a competitive math club. Just when she accepts, her dad shows up, having been laid off. He seems pretty chipper about the whole thing, confident that he'll soon be employed and for now enjoying some time with his daughter. (Also, due to her new time commitment, Stacey can't tutor Lindsey DeWitt in math, so Claudia takes her place and actually does very well.) Stacey is very busy, but enjoying the competitions. She helps the SMS team do very well. But she's spread a little thin, especially since while he's between jobs, Stacey's dad is a bit overwhelming. As much as she enjoys spending time with him, it's exhausting because he wants to go do a lot of fantastic things.

Because this is Stacey, she ends up having to choose between an amazing concert with her dad and the first in a best-two-out-of-three state championship meet. After feeling guilty about letting down either her dad or her team, she decides to go to the meet (like she should, because that was her first commitment), and is very relieved when her dad is completely understanding: he didn't know about the conflict. Stacey's team wins that match, and her dad is there to cheer her on. But he probably can't make the other one (or two if Stacey's team loses the second) because of his new job. It seems he's back to his workaholic self. It does come down to a third meet, of course. Stacey gets the last question for not only the win, but to break the individual scoring record for the state...despite joining partway through the season...but let's not have too much math in a book about math.

Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: Cheese Doodles, peanut M&Ms, Ruffles

Mallory seems to correct Claudia's mistakes (like "explanation point" vs "exclamation point") more than most. Perhaps from editing her own work, or having younger siblings?

Someone please explain to me how Claudia confuses "how" and "who" yet correctly uses the phrase "bated breath."

Even when Stacey's rushing to answer a math question in the competition, she dots her Is with hearts.

Their Families:

Stacey's dad is still seeing his girlfriend, Samantha.

Stacey's mom seems to hold more resentment post-divorce than Stacey's dad. Maybe she considers him more at fault, maybe he really WAS more at fault, maybe she's jealous that he's dating, maybe Stacey's dad hides it better.

The Club (and clients): nothing new.


SMS has its own math department, and we are for the first time introduced to its head, Ms. Hartley. We also meet Ms. Kolinsky, a teacher's aide.

PSA Time:

Matt Braddock was probably glaring at Haley not because he wanted a different name in their playing, but because she wasn't signing, and thereby leaving him out of the conversation. It's just plain rude to communicate in a language that only part of the group understands, if you can avoid it.

Nicky's techinique of estimating how many items are in a container (like candies in jar: count the number in one row, one column, and how many rows deep then multiply the three numbers) is a very good way to do it. I've won more than one competition, usually at baby showers, by doing this.


Oh, my. Adam interrupts Nicky in the bathroom when Nicky is seeing how many sheets of toilet paper he can grab with one pull. But from how embarassed Nicky asks and Byron saying, "You're not supposed to pull so hard!" it's easy to misread if you're skimming.

The numbers:

Starting 8th grade: 9

Halloweens in 8th grade: 6 (plus one in seventh)

Thanksgivings in 8th grade: 3

Winter holidays in 8th grade (that BSC members celebrate, not just reference): Christmas-3, Hanukkah-1, Kwanzaa-2

Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 3

Summers after 8th grade: 9

BSC Fights: 11

SMS Staff and Faculty: 62

Students (other than the BSC): 187: 118 8th graders (not including Amelia Freeman, who is deceased), 9 7th graders, 44 6th graders, 15 unspecified. Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation tells us that SMS has about 380 students.

Clients: 37 families

Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 123

Mary Anne-2


'B. said...

I picked up this book up for the first time last night and noticed the dedication you mentioned. I'm wondering if "Jessica Knott" is the same Jessica Knott who was murdered at age 9 in April 1996.

The reason I suspect this may be the case is because she lived in Altamonte, FL at the time of her death, and a search for "Liesl Flandermeyer" brings up numerous results for a woman in Florida by that name. While Jessica Knott certainly may be a not-uncommon name, Liesl Flandermeyer is a bit more out of the ordinary. I discovered an obituary for a Merle Edward Flandermeyer--also from Florida--listing a daughter named Liesl as well.

I checked the publication date, and "Stacey the Math Whiz" was published in February 1997, so that part also fits. There are no mentions in articles I found about Jessica's death of any friends being with her at the time of her abduction, so perhaps Jessica was a BSC fan and Liesl wrote to AMM after Jessica's death?

Just thought I'd share what I found with someone else who wondered about it.

SJSiff said...

You have much better search powers than I do. Thank you for the information.