The Boy Who Loved Math

The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos

This post joins other
Nonfiction Monday
kidlit blogs hosted today
by Jean Little Library
and joins It's Monday!
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(pub. 6.25.2013)  44 pages

A True Tale with 
A Cherry On Top

A uthor: Deborah Heiligman 
           and Illustrator: LeUyen Pham
haracter:  Paul Erdos - mathematician 

O verview from the back cover: 

      "There once was a boy named Paul who loved math. He spent his days calculating, counting and thinking about numbers.
       He couldn't tie his shoes or butter his own toast - sometimes the world just didn't seem like it was made for a boy who only thought about math all day long.
      This is the story of how Paul found his own way in the world by making friends and sharing his ideas, and how he grew to become one of the world's most famous an beloved mathematicians."
T antalizing taste: 

     "He was the kind of person to do math.  All of the time. And he still didn't like to follow rules.
     So he invented his own way to live.
     Here is what he did... He flew across the world, from Toronto to Australia. 'I have no home,' he declared. 'The world is my home.'
     And wherever he went, when he got there, the same thing would happen.
     A mathematician would meet him and take him home. The mathematician and Paul worked on math. Paul played with the mathematician' epsilons. That's what Paul called children, because an epsilon is a very small amount in math...
     Why did friends all over the world put up with him? And take care of him? Call him Uncle Paul and love him?
     Because Paul Erdos was a genius - and he shared his brain... and his money, too. Whatever money he had, he gave away. He gave money to poor people and he offered prize money for unsolved math problems.
     Paul said he never wanted to stop doing math. And he didn't."

and something more: 
     What a terrific book to entice kids to love math! 
     I was interested to read Deborah Heiligman's explanation in "A Note From the Author" as to why she wrote this book: "When I was a child I loved math as much as I loved reading the writing. But as I got older, I started to think that math was for other people not me. So how did I come to write a book about a brilliant and important mathematician? All the credit goes to my sons... Paul [Erdos] demonstrated that math could be fun and social. If he weren't already depicted as a saint on a church wall (in San Francisco), I'd lobby for it."  I'm heading to this Potrero Hill church to check out this artwork!
     I too have two sons who love math, and I can't wait to ask them if they know about Paul Erdos. And, I want to know if their math teachers ever mentioned if they had an "Erdos number."  Deborah explains the concept of the Erdos Number in The Boy Who Loved Math: " All over the world mathematicians still talk about and love Uncle Paul. Even people who never met him. They talk about their 'Erdos number. If you did math with Paul you get an Erdos number of 1. If you worked with someone who worked with Paul, your Erdos number is 2. People are so proud of their Erdos numbers." I laughed when I read Deborah's jacket flap bio: "While researching this book, Deborah was told she might receive a special Erdos number of 1.5. That would make her infinitely happy." And she would deserve it! 


Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

I love any book that opens our kids eyes to the joys of math. This one looks especially good!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Tara, Yes, it's a fun one with lots of math tucked into it. Thanks for stopping by!

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

I should get this for my 11 year old daughter who has this love-hate relationship going on with math. It's love currently, so that's a good thing. :) We need more books like this!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Myra! Glad to hear your daughter is liking math now ... key time for girls to keep liking math! Yes, I agree -- it's a terrific book!

Thanks for stopping by!