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The Boy Who Loved Math- The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman (2014-05-03) Paperback – January 1, 1805
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It definitely promotes an interest in math. My three-year-old asked in the first reading what negative numbers were. I told her they were numbers that were less than zero. She then asked what numbers were less than negative numbers. She also asked what prime numbers were and why they were special (I didn't have a very good pre-K answer for that one). You don't get that sort of conversation with other children's books.
On the other hand, Paul Erdos himself was a pretty strange fellow, and the plot of his life doesn't make for obviously engaging children's reading. The part my three-year-old connected with the most was the part where Paul doesn't want to go to school because he doesn't want to be away from his mama, and he doesn't like rules. And the workaround that his mother comes up with is to homeschool him (lesson: if you hate rules and love your mama, she'll stay home with you all the time). That's not necessarily the sort of lesson you want your kid learning. My daughter also didn't connect with "Uncle Paul" as he grew up into a strange old man who couldn't even eat dinner without help from others. Having said that, she definitely likes the book and has asked for repeated readings (although she sometimes asks me to skip the parts where he's an old man).
So, five stars for making a math-y book that is engaging for kids, and three stars for the sometimes strange life lessons of Paul Erdos, for an average of four stars.
My daughter seemed ok with the passages indicating he was socially awkward and different. I thought that was fine since it shows that people can be different and experience the world in different ways. It probably also makes him interesting to a young reader. Overall 5 Stars because it is a successful adaptation of a biography for young readers and manages to show how a person could love numbers from an early age. Skip over the awkward bits.
The text is simple but delightful, and the story of a boy who doesn't like to sit still will surely sit well with restless children. The mathematics in the story is simple (prime numbers cannot be evenly divided) and well explained, with hints at deeper math drawn into the buildings (a diagramatic proof of R(3,3)=6), and detailed explanations provided at the end (yes, those are the harmonic primes!). This is an excellent book to spark a child's curiosity, no matter what her interests might be.