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

Deb­o­rah Heilig­man; LeUyen Pham, illus.
  • Review
By – May 28, 2014

This is a cre­ative pic­ture biog­ra­phy of not­ed math­e­mati­cian Paul Erdos, focus­ing on the world as Erdos saw it, a world of num­bers, filled with num­bers, defined by num­bers and com­plete­ly math­e­mat­i­cal in every sense. Hei- lig­man uses num­bers to delin­eate Paul’s life, giv­ing the read­er a fine sense of this unusu­al man who marched to his own beat but made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to our under­stand­ing of math­e­mat­i­cal con­cepts and meth­ods. Along with a cer­tain benign eccen­tric­i­ty and naiveté, car­ing and warmth shine through the author’s por­tray­al of Erdos. An exten­sive author’s note tells even more about him and dis­cuss­es his Jew­ish back­ground and the his­tor­i­cal events that unfold­ed dur­ing his life and times. The illus­tra­tions are equal­ly cre­ative and slight­ly off­beat and are very much in keep­ing with the unusu­al per­son­al­i­ty of the sub­ject. An exten­sive illustrator’s note expli­cates and expands upon many of the artis­tic choic­es the illus­tra­tor has employed. A light­heart­ed treat­ment of math­e­mat­ics, a sub­ject all too often regard­ed as heavy and off-putting by chil­dren, and a sim­ple biog­ra­phy of a fas­ci­nat­ing man, this book is a breath of fresh air and is rec­om­mend­ed for ages 3 – 9.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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