This is an atypical algebra text that, unlike most, has been around for many years in the same edition. *Elementary Algebra* covers all concepts typical of a first-year algebra course, but it invites students to explore algebra concepts in a friendlier environment than other texts. Cartoons, comic strips (e.g., Broom Hilda, B.C., Wizard of Id, and Doonesbury), interesting and creative applications, puzzles, and even poetry capture the interest of students who struggle with abstract mathematics.

For example, a lesson on mixture problems opens with the story of Archimedes and the King of Syracuse’s golden crown that the king suspected was not really solid gold. Jacobs then sets up a volume and weight equation based on the problem.

In addition to stories and practical applications, Jacobs uses the rectangle-building concept throughout the text to demonstrate how concepts work. This is the same rectangle building idea used by *Math-U-See* and some other manipulative systems. While Jacobs’ book shows pictures and doesn’t require use of manipulatives, students can still use them if they are helpful. I think most students really benefit from this approach when they are learning to multiply and factor polynomials. (This last feature makes this text a particularly good one to use after Math-U-See’s Pre-Algebra level. If you don’t already have manipulatives, check out either the very inexpensive Algebra Tiles or Algebra Base 10 Kit from Nasco (www.enasco.com/math/).

The book is divided into seventeen chapters, with each chapter subdivided into a number of lessons. A summary and review section is at the end of each chapter. Four exercise sets are at the end of each lesson, with problems ranging from simple computation through word and application problems to challenging thought problems. Generally, you will choose two of these sets for students to work on. By assigning appropriate problems, you can use the text with students of varying capabilities. Answers to questions from one of the sets from each lesson are in the back of the student text so students can see if they are getting the correct answers. The instructor’s guide is the source for the rest of the answers. A test bank is also available.

You might be interested in using Ask Dr. Callahan Algebra DVD set that teaches Jacob's *Elementary Algebra*.

Note that a new edition of Jacob's *Elementary Algebra* should be available in 2016.