Literature Based Arithmetic

Arthur’s Funny Money

Arthur’s Funny Money

Lillian Hoban


Be prepared to have a pencil and a piece of paper as you read this story.  Arthur starts with only $3.78, and after buying supplies for his bike washing business and making a few business deals, he ends up with enough to get the t-shirt and cap he wanted.


Solve math problems to find out:

  • How much money does Arthur need for the new t-shirt and cap?  Subtract the amount of money in his piggy bank ($3.78) from the cost of the t-shirt and cap ($5.00).
  • Subtract the cost of the soap ($0.53) and Brillo ($0.27) from his the money in his piggy bank ($3.78).  How much money does he have now?


Solve to discover:

  • How much money does he have after Norman pays him ($0.42)?  Use total from end of Subtraction above.
  • How much money does he have after Wilma, Peter, and John pay him?  First, total their payments ($0.34 + $0.36 + $0.33).  Add this sum to the total he had after adding Norman’s payment (above).

More Subtraction

Subtract the total of the t-shirt and cap ($4.25) at the store from the total he now has from washing bikes (and other things).  How much does he have leftover after buying the t-shirt and cap?

Now subtract the cost of licorice twists ($0.05) one at a time from the leftover money to determine how many twists Arthur can buy.

Take it Further


Instead of doing the subtraction and addition like we did above, you could group amounts into Income and Expenses.  Income is all the money received from friends for washing.   Expense is the money that was used to buy supplies for washing.  Subtracting the Expense from the Income, you should be able to quickly see how much money was actually earned from Arthur’s business which is called the Profit.

Making Change

Adding the Profit to the money from the piggy bank should result in the amount of money Arthur brought into the store.  Subtracting the cost of the t-shirt and cap should result in the change he would receive after giving the saleslady all the money in his bag.