The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdosby Deborah Heiligman
Most people think of mathematicians as solitary, working away in isolation. And, it's true, many of them do. But Paul Erdos never followed the usual path. 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. But he didn't learn to butter his own bread until he turned twenty. Instead, he
Most people think of mathematicians as solitary, working away in isolation. And, it's true, many of them do. But Paul Erdos never followed the usual path. 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. But he didn't learn to butter his own bread until he turned twenty. Instead, he traveled around the world, from one mathematician to the next, collaborating on an astonishing number of publications. With a simple, lyrical text and richly layered illustrations, this is a beautiful introduction to the world of math and a fascinating look at the unique character traits that made "Uncle Paul" a great man.
The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman is a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013 and a New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of 2013.
“Erdos's unconventional brilliance shines through on every page, and extensive author and illustrator notes (including Pham's explanations of the mathematical concepts she works into each illustration) will delight readers with even a fraction of Erdos's interest in math.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“*An exuberant and admiring portrait introduces the odd, marvelously nerdy, way cool Hungarian-born itinerant mathematical genius.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“An infinitely creative and entertaining book.” The Horn Book
“Pair this with Don Brown's Odd Boy Out (BCCB 10/04) to compare genius eccentricities, or hand it to middle-grade lovers of math puzzles--opened to the notes.” BCCB
- Roaring Brook Press
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- Age Range:
- 5 - 8 Years
Meet the Author
Deborah Heiligman has written numerous books for young readers, including Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, a National Book Award finalist. She lives in New York City.
LeUyen Pham has illustrated dozens of books for kids, including God's Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore, and her own Big Sister, Little Sister.
Deborah Heiligman is the author of Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, a National Book Award finalist and winner of the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. She has written more than twenty books for children, most of them nonfiction. She graduated from Brown University, and started her writing career working for Scholastic News Explorer, the classroom magazine. She loved this job, but left when she had children and wanted to be home with them, and then she started writing her books. She is married to Jonathan Weiner, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for The Beak of the Finch.
LEUYEN PHAM worked in animation before turning to children’s books. She wrote and illustrated Big Sister, Little Sister and The Bear Who Wasn't There, and is the illustrator of numerous other picture books. Ms. Pham lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband.
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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.