Perfectly Perilous Math: Pizza Peril

If anyone knows how to make math fun, it’s Sean Connolly, who created 24 exciting problem-solving challenges in The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math. Don’t believe us? Try out this pizza-themed math problem from the book with your kids. It’s sure to enthrall even the most reluctant young mathematician.

The Challenge

It’s your first day of work at Catwalk magazine, a dream come true. You’re starting out as a lowly editorial assistant, but if you’re patient and enthusiastic, then maybe one day you’ll be flying off to Milan and Paris to check out the latest collections.

But that’s still a daydream. For the moment you’re the assistant to the glamorous Catwalk editor, Corey DiFerro—one of the toughest people in the business. People say that she chews up designers, photographers, receptionists—and probably editorial assistants—and spits them out. And you never did find out why the last editorial assistant at Catwalk lasted only one day.

You’re outside the main editorial office when the door opens and someone calls to you, “Ms. DiFerro wants you—now!”

Inside, there’s a group huddled around the main table. You recognize fashion designers, supermodels, two pop stars, photographers . . . and Corey DiFerro, looking you straight in the eye.

“Right. Do we have your attention? Look, we’re off on a photo shoot in half an hour and we need some lunch first. Pizza—it’s quick. Da Noi down on Seventh Avenue doesn’t deliver, so I want you to go out and get some for us. Plain cheese only. Now, how hungry is everyone? I’ll call your name and you tell my assistant how much you want.”

“Scala twins?”

“One slice each.”

“Art department?”

“Two pizzas.”


“Half a pizza.”

“Copy editors?”

“We’ll share one pizza.”


“Three slices.”

“Steve, our faithful driver?”

“One—one pizza, that is.”

“And I’ll have one slice,” says Ms. DiFerro. She hands you a roll of bills and sends you off, saying, “They only take cash. Don’t take too long.”

On the elevator down, you count out the cash—$90 exactly. Will that be enough? You don’t have any cash of your own in case you run short, and anyway, you don’t have time to stop for more money.

At Da Noi you’re standing on tiptoes to see over the other customers. Each pizza is cut into 12 slices—no exception. And the person ahead of you has just paid $36 for two pizzas. It’s your turn now. Will you have enough money—and will you have a job tomorrow?


You need to find out two things: how much each pizza costs and how many slices make up a pizza.

  • The first part is easy enough: You know how much someone paid for two pizzas.
  • The second part is simple—you know that Da Noi pizzas are cut into 12 equal slices.
  • Now you have to put together all of the slices that were ordered to figure out how many more whole pizzas you need.
  • Then add those “made up of slices” pizza(s) to the whole pizzas that others ordered to see how many you need overall.

Once you think you’ve figured it out, check your answer against the correct solution here!

About the Book

Math rocks! At least it does in the gifted hands of Sean Connolly, who blends middle school math with fantasy to create an exciting adventure in problem-solving. These word problems are perilous, do-or-die scenarios of blood-sucking vampires (How many months would it take a single vampire to completely take over a town of 500,000 people?), or a rowboat of 5 shipwrecked sailors with a single barrel of freshwater (How much can they drink, and for how long, before they go mad from thirst???). Each problem requires readers to dig deep into the tools they’re learning in school to figure out how to survive.

Kids will love solving these problems. Sean Connolly knows how to make tough subjects exciting and he brings that same intuitive understanding of what inspires and challenges kids’ curiosity to the 24 problems in The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math. These problems are as fun to read as they are challenging to solve. They test readers on fractions, algebra, geometry, probability, expressions and equations, and more.

Use geometry to fill in for the ship’s navigator and make it safely to the New World. Escape an evil Duke’s executioner by picking the right door—probability will save your neck.

Buy the Book
Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Workman

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