nonfiction nuggets…a head for numbers

the boy who loved math cover imageThe Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös, by Deborah Heiligman, pictures by LeUyen Pham

This is the story of a boy who loved math.
Not just loved math. Lived math. Lived for math.
His name was Paul Erdös and he became one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived.

Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1913, Paul marched to his own drumbeat from the get-go. He hated rules, but loved numbers. His genius shone through in the complex mental math calculations and explorations he relished at a very young age. In particular, Paul was fascinated by prime numbers. School — not so much.

Paul was certainly an uncommon fellow, world-famous for his math by the time he was a young man, but unable to butter his bread! His mind was continually absorbed in the elegance of mathematics. Despite his quirky ways, he was the boy who loved math illustration2 phamgenerous with his knowledge and his money. He was a kindhearted man who had such a way with people, that folks around the world love him still. Uncle Paul, they call him, and describe their relationship with him by an extraordinary, unique numbering system.

I am flabbergasted at how much enthusiasm Deborah Heiligman was able to channel through her work about this unusual, wonderful, singleminded genius. I am not a Girl Who Loves Math, so just the the boy who loved math illustration phamtitle of this book gave me second thoughts about opening it up. That was the last of my hesitations, however, because Deborah caught me up on page one and carried me into an acquaintance with Paul and his beloved numbers so that I was spellbound. Her lengthy Author’s Note is a beautifully-written addition to the book which you should definitely not miss.

Next, LeUyen Pham’s illustrations are not only supremely accessible, welcoming, engaging, but you simply cannot believe how much math she has packed into the pages. Stunning, really. If you just glance at them, you will notice digits and patterns and equations, but if you read her detailed explanations of what she has placed in these pieces you will be blown away. Math-lovers paul erdoswill be tickled pink, actually.

The book is suitable for ages 6 and up. I hope it is especially meaningful for those children whose unique minds set them apart from the pack. Adults who gravitate towards math will appreciate this just as much. New in 2013.

P.S. For a look at the incredible Ms. Pham’s seriously-delightful web site, head on over to LeUyen Pham Illustration