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The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos

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  • Posted January 29, 2014

    Paul Erdös was not a typical youngster.  At the age of four, he

    Paul Erdös was not a typical youngster.  At the age of four, he could ask you when you were born and then calculate the number of seconds you had been alive in his head,  The irony?  He didn't learn to butter his own bread until he was twenty. Paul was an eccentric boy growing up in Hungary during World War 1 and a math genius.  He did not like to play by the rules and convinced his mom not to send him to school but to study at home. She allowed him to do so and she and imperious "Fräulein" dressed him and even tied his shoes every day.  Also by the time he was 20 he was known as "The Magician from Budapest."  Although he was unable to cook, do laundry or drive he spent his adult life flying around the world, visiting other mathematicians, and working collaboratively on very challenging math problems. Erdös truly saw the world through a mathematical lens.  Heiligman and Pham cleverly incorporate mathematical references throughout the story.  Other mathematicians were honoured to have him as a guest and talk math with him.   Paul "thought about math whatever he was doing, wherever he was" and he grew into one of the world's top math geniuses.  He did not want to settle down but to keep on his global math journey while others "did his laundry and cooked his food and cut open his grapefruit and paid his bills." The artwork is wonderful and rich.  Each character is timeless and and each illustration is a puzzle to be solved. The author and illustrator have included notes which give further detail of this extraordinary man's life. Recommended for junior/middle school students I am sure this book will be greatly received by them.

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