Mazmatics Volume 1 is a self-published book from Wellington-based web designer Max Hermon and his sons Otto (9) and Angelo (6) that makes maths both practical and fun. There are plenty of jokes, and all three are talented illustrators. “It’s supposed to feel like a silly friend teaching you,” says Hermon.
Why did you write a maths book?
It’s so common to hear people say they never liked maths, or that they just weren’t cut out for numbers. As my kids grow up, I want them to have a more healthy relationship with maths than I remember growing up.
What is Mazmatics?
The first thing is a story and activity book with maths woven throughout the journey. It’s a guided meander down a potentially overwhelming road. It has a strong emphasis on giving kids a reason to practise maths at home, but in a way that feels safe and friendly. There is a lot of space to play and take a break.
How did you want it to feel?
I’ve tried to bring the lessons I’ve learnt from digital accessibility – things like typeface choice, keeping font sizes up, appropriate levels of contrast and avoiding dense blocks of information. But it wouldn’t be what it is without Otto and Angelo. When kids mention their favourite characters, the boys’ drawings are always on the list.
Why do we think maths isn’t fun?
The thing about learning is that it can make your brain feel funny and maths seems to do this more than other subjects for a lot of people. The key is to adjust the dial so you’re learning at the right level. If you jump in too deep, too soon, you might get the dreaded overwhelm that many of us think of when it comes to maths.
How do you make it fun?
The book is full of drawings for starters – it gives so much more for the kids’ eyes to focus on. Sometimes the characters offer encouragement. Sometimes they’re just there as company. I’ve tried hard to represent a bunch of different kids, cultures and abilities. And we don’t shy away from the poop emoji – my boys have always loved that one.
Mazmatics Vol. 1