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You all ready for a math comic?!
Title: Solution Squad
Author(s): Jim McClain, Rose McClain, Serena Guerra
Publisher: Self Published (2017)
Age Rating: All Ages
I have known Jim McClain for a few years now, and every interaction I have with him and his Solution Squad world makes me like him even more. The thing about Jim is that he is passionate about his book, about kids, about learning, and about math. Does his passion border on obsession? Maybe, BUT most success stories have a foundation of a person turning a passion into obsession.
When our group of comic book teachers are looking to fill a much-needed STEM panel or person on the panel, Jim has been one of our go-to peeps. He’s been great at promoting STEM in the classroom, and a good chunk of Jim’s skill set and knowledge comes directly from his experience as a classroom teacher. Like many of us, Jim’s credibility comes as a direct result of him being in the classroom, helping kids learn.
His product, Solution Squad, is a math based comic that features a team of math-related superheroes that work through math problems in order to defeat situations and villains. The team consists of a number of diverse heroes that have powers related to the field of math. For example, Ashley Thermopolis A.K.A. Absolutia, has the ability to raise or lower temperature at will…above or below zero. And the team flies around on the “Coordinate Plane” (I know…the book is filled with puns; get ready) as they battle the forces of evil. The villains are pretty cool too! They have a classic Batman feel to them…
The hard cover book that has been Jim’s most recent release has a number of stories, some cool back matter with character origin pages, Solution Squad Cos-players, and even some prose story-telling in addition to the visual art. The book contains various cover and issue art from a number of great artists, and while most of the art is fairly simple and straight-forward, it’s solid, and the book does not feel plain due to the complex situations and story presented at each step of the way.
If I had one recommendation it would be that Jim go all-in on the math. There is a lot of math in this volume, but the people who are going to be reading this for math are going to want math. Jim, I say…more math! Will I understand all of it? No. I’m not a math guy, but people trying to read and learn about math will. And they’ll appreciate it. I totally dig that there’s a book out there dedicated to teaching kids math through comics, heck, I think all disciplines need to start going to the visual medium more than they do, and that’s why I want the next Solution Squad book to go all in on the math. I want math problems on almost every page no matter how small, big, simple, or complex. I want little puzzles like the prime number decipher later in the book all over the place. Little math Easter Eggs and tips to help us remember the quadratic formula (that’s a thing, right?)! This book is the appetizer, math foodies are going to want more, and I think Jim has worked really hard to let us know that he’s the chef to give it to us.
I fully support math comics in the classroom, and if your interest is peaked, go check out Jim McClain’s Solution Squad here.
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