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West Hartford Teen Publishes Math Book for Kids

Sophie Kudler with her recently-published "KenKen for Kids!" book. Courtesy photo

Hall High School student Sophie Kudler has published a book that teaches kids how to solve KenKen puzzles.

By Kristina Vakhman

When West Hartford teen Sophie Kudler saw that there was no math puzzle book for kids by the publisher she works with, she decided to step up and write it herself.

“I noticed that there wasn’t a book specifically written for children,” said Kudler, who is a junior at Hall High School. “I wanted to fill the void.”

Kudler’s book, “KenKen for Kids!”, teaches children how to solve KenKen puzzles, which are similar to sudoku but involve addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Narrated by KenKen’s mascot, LuLu the kangaroo, the book goes through the basics of tackling the puzzles.

“It’s a really fun way to learn more about math and improve your skills,” Kudler said, adding that adults can take advantage of the book to better their math fluency, too.

KenKen example. Courtesy image

Kudler said she’s always loved math and number puzzles, and that when her dad introduced her to KenKen, she was immediately hooked.

Kudler is so involved in KenKen that she placed in the top five in a 2019 KenKen competition in New York. She now also teaches KenKen to kids and adults alike, including recently at the West Hartford Senior Center.

“[Doing the puzzles] keeps the mind fit and sharp,” Kudler said.

She said she’s really interested in the brain and what exercises it — she wants to be a doctor or a researcher, and has even testified on an epilepsy bill in support of her younger sister, who has epilepsy.

Kudler has also put her problem-solving skills to use as a member of Hall’s team in the high school quiz bowl show “As Schools Match Wits.” Her innovative ideas have also had important impact on the community – she was an Innovation Challenge winner through Jewish Teen Learning Connection (JT Connect) for her suggestion to transform Tara’s Closet into a COVID-safe mobile operation.

And with everything going virtual because of the coronavirus, Kudler had the opportunity to co-teach KenKen at the National Museum of Math at New York City to over 140 people worldwide. She’s also working to schedule with schools to teach KenKen to students.

“It’s been a great COVID activity,” she said. “Even the program that I co-taught at the museum, that wouldn’t have been possible in person.”

Kudler’s book is available on Amazon. She said she hopes that people who buy it, whether they be children or adults, have a great time learning KenKen with it.

“My friends and other people at school have been very supportive,” she said.

“It makes math exciting and fun,” Kudler said. “It’s a great way to develop problem-solving skills and critical thinking.”

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