Lichtman, Wendy 1946–

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Lichtman, Wendy 1946–


Born April 7, 1946, in Buffalo, NY; daughter of Irving and Lenore Lichtman; married Jeff Mandel (a physician), June 23, 1977; children: Lev Lichtman Mandel. Education: University of Michigan, B.A., 1966; California State University, Sonoma (now Sonoma State University), M.A., 1974.


Home—Berkeley, CA. E-mail—[email protected].


John F. Kennedy University, Orinda, CA, adjunct professor of psychology, beginning 1975; writer. Has tutored middle school students in mathematics.


Blew and the Death of the Mag, illustrated by Diane Mayers, Freestone Publishing (Albion, CA), 1975.

The Boy Who Wanted a Baby, illustrated by Vala Rae Williams, Feminist Press (Old Westbury, NY), 1982.

Telling Secrets, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1986.

Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Do the Math: The Writing on the Wall, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor to periodicals, including Washington Post, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Good Housekeeping.


Wendy Lichtman combines her expertise in the field of mathematics with her ability to write for young adults in her novels Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra, and Do the Math: The Writing on the Wall. Lichtman hopes that these novels will encourage students to embrace algebra through an immersion in its practical aspects. Both books are set in middle school, where the heroine, Tess, applies mathematical formulas to everything from her changing level of crush on a boy to her choice of a dress for the formal dance. Mainly Tess uses math to solve mysteries, including a suspicious suicide that may actually have been a murder. Lichtman "researched" her math novels by drawing upon her own past experiences, by working in the classroom with a local middle school teacher, and by helping individual students improve their algebra skills.

A Kirkus Reviews contributor suggested that Lichtman's math novels could help struggling middle schoolers to "appreciate the accessibility of arithmetic" through the author's "lucid descriptions and drawings." Laura Lutz, writing in School Library Journal, cited Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra for the "interesting premise" that mathematics can help bring control to troubling situations. Lutz also felt that Lichtman "skillfully captures the teenage voice."

Lichtman was inspired to write her math novels after reading about the work of Dr. Robert Moses, an educator who emphasizes the importance of acquiring math skills at an early age. On she explained that she uses her books to reach out to readers who are unenthusiastic about mathematics. "Thirteen-year-old kids are too old and too cool to say that they feel hopeless about their skills—they just say that they hate the subject," she noted. "The more I hung out with these students, the more I understood that my job in writing … was to try to get under their ‘I hate math’ radar."



Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 1986, review of Telling Secrets, p. 188; September, 2007, Cindy Welch, review of Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra, p. 35.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2007, review of Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra.

Publishers Weekly, June 27, 1986, review of Telling Secrets, p. 94.

School Library Journal, September, 1986, Susan F. Marcus, review of Telling Secrets, p. 144; December, 2007, Laura Lutz, review of Do The Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra, p. 134.

Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 1986, review of Telling Secrets, p. 146.


Wendy Lichtman Home Page, (September 8, 2008).

Education Oasis, (September 8, 2008), "Math as Metaphor: A Conversation with Author Wendy Lichtman.", (September 8, 2008), Wendy Lichtman, "Math and Fiction? Math and Social Change?"