Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks. ~ Dr. Seuss







The Boy Who Loved Math

line The Boy Who Loved Math
By Deborah Heligman (Author), LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)

The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos

This is a picture book biography of the famous mathematician Paul Erdos. Heligman/Pham explore Erdos’ life and work around Math.

Paul Erdos was only four when he realized that he loved numbers. Paul played with numbers in his head almost all the time. As a child he would add them and subtract them. Once he subtracted a rather large number from a smaller number and realized that the answer was a negative number. And Paul thought that was super cool!

The Boy who Loved Math Negative Num

As a child Paul did not work well with rules. There were rules with his nanny and rules at school. Soon enough Paul’s mama realized that school was not the best fit for him. So she decided to stay home and coach him, along with a little help from the nanny.

And while Paul “played” and learned his numbers at home, his mother and nanny cut his meat, buttered his toast and got him dressed. This was perfect! Now Paul could think of numbers all day long!

Paul loved numbers! Most of all he loved Prime Numbers. They fascinated him. He worked on them for a long time. Soon Paul had to go to high school. And this time, he really liked it there. He found that he made many friends, people who loved numbers just as much as he did. And by the time he was 20, Paul became very famous for his skills and knowledge in math.

The Boy who Loved Math Prime Num

So Paul travelled the world. He showed other famous mathematicians what he knew about numbers. He solved many difficult problems and taught many new things. And while the famous Math Magician could do some very difficult math, he still needed his toast buttered, his meat cut and his laundry done!

The Boy who Loved Math is an excellent picture book biography. It is probably THE perfect picture book biography that I have read in a long time. Here is why:

Heligman draws the character of Paul Erdos in his full brilliance and eccentricity. While she describes him to be a genius, she does not hide the fact that Erdos had difficulty in doing simple things in life. At the same time, she helps guide the reader to how he survived and thrived despite his little shortcomings.

In doing so, Heligman sends a powerful message to young readers. That is ok to be different.

This book is also about Paul Erdos’ math. Through brilliant and well researched illustration work, Heligman and Pham demonstrate that Math can be fun and exciting. The picture book is filled with illustrations of numbers and games, sequences and puzzles. The end notes include a detailed description page by page of what Math nuggets one can “find” on each of the pages.

Finally, this book is a celebrations of a life which was complex and difficult to explain. Heligman and Pham worked as a team to create this wonderful memoir. Their big win was take Paul Erdos’ life and make it approachable and understood for the youngest of readers!

An achievement indeed!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


15 comments

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  1. I have never heard of this one. It sounds like a great book that makes a difficult to explain life easier to understand. The illustrations look awesome. Thanks for sharing. What a beautiful blog you have!

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    • reshamad

      I think so too Jess. It is impressive how the author was able to take a tough subject and turn it around to make it readable for this age group! thanks for stopping by Jess!
      -Reshama

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  2. What a great book! I will have to find it and read it to my 3rd graders, who are (unfortunately) a little wary of math. This might help in persuading them that math is cool. Thanks for the post!

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    • reshamad

      Oh I highly recommend it! I believe they will be fascinated by how Paul was totally taken by numbers! thanks for stopping by!
      -Reshama

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  3. Wow! We’re reading a similar sounding chapter book right now about another great mathematician, Carry on, Mr. Bowditch! I might try pairing them together to talk about great mathematicians. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday! Hope to see you again this week!
    Tina

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    • reshamad

      Thanks for the chapter book recommendation Tina. I must go look for it now Its a great idea to pair it and compare notes.. thanks for stopping by!
      -Reshama

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  4. We’re always looking for good non-fiction picture books. Thanks for sharing!

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    • reshamad

      I am glad you found this one. This book was also short listed for finalists on the Cybils award list for Non Fiction for this age group. Thanks for stopping by Emily,
      -Reshama

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  5. Keitha

    I have not heard of this book but it sounds great. I work with GT kids and many of them need to hear the message “It’s okay to be different”. I will have to find this book. Thanks for the review.

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    • reshamad

      I am glad you found this one! I love the many messages that are hidden in this book. definitely a book to read again and again! thanks for stopping by Keitha.
      -Reshama

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  6. ccarpinello

    This is one of our favorite topics. My husband is a math teacher. On my TBR list for our grandson. Thanks for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Cheryl, Hop Hostess

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    • reshamad

      Perfect! It would be such a great read aloud for your husband Cheryl
      -Reshama

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  7. I have to sneak in here and say thank you for loving the book, and completely getting what we tried to do! Thank you! — Deborah

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  8. reshamad

    Oh my Gosh! Thanks for stopping by Deborah We LOVED your book and I have to say my daughter went back to your book again and again. Non Fiction genre needs more books like this one.
    -Reshama

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