Most people think of mathematicians as solitary, working away in isolation. And, it's true, many of them do. But Paul Erdos never followed the usual path. At the age of four, he could ask you when you were born and then calculate the number of seconds you had been alive in his head. But he didn't learn to butter his own bread until he turned twenty. Instead, he traveled around the world, from one mathematician to the next, collaborating on an astonishing number of publications. With a simple, lyrical text and richly layered illustrations, this is a beautiful introduction to the world of math and a fascinating look at the unique character traits that made "Uncle Paul" a great man.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013 A New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of 2013
About the Author
Deborah Heiligman has written numerous books for young readers, including Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, a National Book Award finalist. She lives in New York City.
LeUyen Pham has illustrated dozens of books for kids, including God's Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore, and her own Big Sister, Little Sister.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Paul Erdös was not a typical youngster. At the age of four, he could ask you when you were born and then calculate the number of seconds you had been alive in his head, The irony? He didn't learn to butter his own bread until he was twenty. Paul was an eccentric boy growing up in Hungary during World War 1 and a math genius. He did not like to play by the rules and convinced his mom not to send him to school but to study at home. She allowed him to do so and she and imperious "Fräulein" dressed him and even tied his shoes every day. Also by the time he was 20 he was known as "The Magician from Budapest." Although he was unable to cook, do laundry or drive he spent his adult life flying around the world, visiting other mathematicians, and working collaboratively on very challenging math problems. Erdös truly saw the world through a mathematical lens. Heiligman and Pham cleverly incorporate mathematical references throughout the story. Other mathematicians were honoured to have him as a guest and talk math with him. Paul "thought about math whatever he was doing, wherever he was" and he grew into one of the world's top math geniuses. He did not want to settle down but to keep on his global math journey while others "did his laundry and cooked his food and cut open his grapefruit and paid his bills." The artwork is wonderful and rich. Each character is timeless and and each illustration is a puzzle to be solved. The author and illustrator have included notes which give further detail of this extraordinary man's life. Recommended for junior/middle school students I am sure this book will be greatly received by them.