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The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos Hardcover – June 25, 2013


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 8 years
  • Lexile Measure: 550L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 44 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (June 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596433078
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596433076
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.4 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Though eccentric mathematician Paul Erdos might seem an unusual subject for a picture book, his story makes for a memorable biography. Growing up in Hungary during WWI, Erdos tried school but chafed at the rules and convinced his mother that he should study at home. He was fascinated by numbers from an early age, and by the time he was 20, he was known as The Magician from Budapest. Unable to do common tasks such as cooking, laundry, or driving, he spent his adult life flying around the world, staying with other mathematicians, and working collaboratively on challenging math problems. Math is woven into the lively writing (Mama loved Paul to infinity. Paul loved Mama to 8, too!). The wonderfully vivid artwork, where ideas from the text are clarified, also uses decorative elements to support the idea that Erdos saw the world differently—numerically. Heiligman appends a lengthy note about writing the book, while Pham offers a more extensive note on creating the illustrations, in which she comments on the mathematical ideas and mathematicians depicted in the art. This excellent picture-book biography celebrates a man little known outside his field, but one well worth knowing. Grades K-3. --Carolyn Phelan

Review

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)

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)

Customer Reviews

My 10 year old and I LOVED this book.
spanakopita NJ
Every time we re-read the story, there's something different to love about it.
Mrs. Wang
My son likes math so this was a good book that was very interesting to him.
Night Owl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Wang on August 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
My 6 year old's first question was about the word "improbable." The story is about being different, following one's passion and using that passion to build friendships and collaborations. The book opens up all kinds of questions about geography, math and the injustice of telling kids to sit still. I like the fact that the book assumes all children are intelligent people. Every time we re-read the story, there's something different to love about it.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is worth having for the illustrations alone; the delightful drawings of Budapest in the early 20th Century are so colorful and gorgeous, they draw you right into a magical world. The story is equally magical; Paul Erdos at age of four could tell you the number of seconds you'd been alive, and do that calculation from your birth date right in his head. A prodigy. His life as a mathematician is fascinating stuff and this colorful book can encourage children to find the magic in mathematics. That advertisement for AT&T Wireless, with the kids sitting around a table, coming up with "Infinity Plus One" and then "Infinity TIMES Infinity"- POOF! will be even more fun after reading this book.

I can tell you from my own experience, a positive early experience with mathematics makes for a fearless, excited student. Even if your child isn't naturally a math whiz, creating an atmosphere of curiosity and wonder around numbers will make homework and learning an adventure. What would Paul Erdos do? He'd study his multiplication tables, that's what he'd do.

This story is one that you'll enjoy reading to your children and you will certainly will be hitting Wikipedia afterward to learn more about Paul Erdos.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Freedman on August 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The subtitle of this book is "The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos"; it could as well be "an improbable topic for a picture book". So how does Deborah Heiligman manage to pull it off? This author of the awards-winning "Charles and Emma" has a unique talent for presenting biography, to all ages. She knows how to find a special "way in" to her subjects' lives, to find a story that hasn't been told before, and to give that story just the right structure and voice -- creating a story that children or young adults will actually want to hear.

Text and illustrations (delightful, by LeUyen Pham) are spotted with numbers. The book begins, "Paul Erdos lived in Budapest, Hugary, with his Mama. Mama loved Paul to infinity. Paul loved Mama to ∞ too!" And so we enter the mind of a person with a passion for numbers. We learn about Paul's life, we learn about numbers, and we learn about creative obsession, which for me is the biggest take-away from this book. THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH is about "the kind of person" who "didn't like to follow rules. So he invented his own way to live."

"So he invented his own way to live." I like that.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By DM on June 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was lucky to get an advanced copy of this book and read it immediately to my 3 1/2 year old daughter (a little younger than the target demographic). There were certain concepts (about primes for instance) that she wasn't ready to grasp, but she loved the story of Erdos, and it genuinely got and kept her attention.

I'm from a mathematical discipline myself (physics, with an Erdos number of 5, as it turns out), but still learned a lot about Paul Erdos (and even more about his mathematics).

The illustrations are beautiful, and the storytelling is brisk. Strongly recommended for kids who are interested in math and science -- or who you _want_ to get interested in math and science.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Make a beeline for your local library's children's biography section and learn firsthand the shocking truth about picture book bios of mathematical geniuses. Apparently there was only one and his name was Einstein. End of story. The world as we know it is not overflowing with picture book encapsulations of the lives of Sir Isaac Newton or Archimedes (though admittedly you could probably drum up a Leonardo da Vinci book or two if you were keen to try). But when it comes to folks alive in the 20th century, Einstein is the beginning and the end of the story. You might be so foolish as to think there was a good reason for that fact. Maybe all the other mathematicians were dull. I mean, Einstein was a pretty interesting fella, what with his world-shattering theories and crazed mane. And true, the wild-haired physicist was fascinating in his own right, but if we're talking out-and-out interesting people, few can compare with the patron saint of contemporary mathematics, Paul Erdős. Prior to reading this book I would have doubted a person could conceivably make an engaging biography chock full to overflowing with mathematical concepts. Now I can only stare in amazement at a story that could conceivably make a kid wonder about how neat everything from Euler's map of Konigsburg to the Szekeres Snark is. This is one bio you do NOT want to miss. A stunner from start to finish.

For you see, there once was a boy who loved math. His name was Paul and he lived in Budapest, Hungary in 1913. As a child, Paul adored numbers, and theorems, and patterns, and tricky ideas like prime numbers. As he got older he grew to be the kind of guy who wanted to do math all the time! Paul was a great guy and a genius and folks loved having him over, but he was utterly incapable of taking care of himself.
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More About the Author

Deborah Heiligman is the author of close to 30 books for children and teens. Her most recent books are THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH: THE IMPROBABLE LIFE OF PAUL ERDOS and SNOW DOG, GO DOG. CHARLES AND EMMA: The Darwins' Leap of Faith was a National Book Award Finalist, A Printz Honor, the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction winner, and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. INTENTIONS, a YA novel, is an exploration of betrayal, love, faith, and the time in a kid's life when the black and white of childhood becomes the gray of adulthood. It's got religion, sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll. Also, it's funny. It was the recipient of the Sydney Taylor Award for Teen Readers.


Please see this article: http://www.brownalumnimagazine.com/content/view/3202/32/

and for more information: DeborahHeiligman.com

Deborah lives in New York City with her husband. Her sons drop by frequently. She and her husband have a Cairn terrier named Ketzie.


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