Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

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

Pham, LeUyen (Illustrator)
Macmillan 2013. 44 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9781596433076 (hardcover)
9781466839526 (e-book)
Original language: English
Dewey: 510
Book type: Non-Fiction
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

character

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

The whimsical language of this story is well matched to its hero—Paul Erdős, math genius—given he was preoccupied with numbers to the near exclusion of everything else. Much number-related wordplay is included, and math concepts are seamlessly incorporated into the storyline: “Mama loved Paul to infinity. Paul loved Mama to ∞ too!” Children will be fascinated by Paul’s unique childhood, and how he develops an unusual adult lifestyle wherein friends and colleagues look after him, just the way Mama did.

The illustrations are quaint and funny. Cheerful colours portray fashions and settings across the years. Little Paul is carried on his nanny’s bicycle while numbers float from his head like butterflies. Chalk-like diagrams combine Paul’s mathematical concepts and real life, as his skill and reputation grow. The theme of friends and sharing is beautifully depicted in the final spreads: an elderly Paul among his network of fellow math-enthusiasts, surrounded by children against a backdrop of cities (and numbers) from around the world.

Included are a note from the author and a detailed note from the illustrator explaining the math diagrams in the images.

  •  

    Write your autobiography. Include miscellaneous facts and details about what makes you special. Share your life story with a peer.

  •  

    Research facts about your favourite number and create a poster to illustrate what you have learned.

  •  

    The author thanks googolplex in her acknowledgments. What is it? Research names and terms for other large numbers. Display the list and share what you have learned with another class.

  •  

    Create a fact sheet about Paul Erdős. Include his background, childhood, likes and dislikes, family, friends, personality and accomplishments.

  •  

    Create a timeline of key events in Erdős’ life.

  •  

    Describe something you feel passionate about. Explain why it is so special to you.

  •  

    Discuss the importance and benefits of sharing. What did Erdős share? What do you share with your classmates and family?

  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Mathematics
  • Science and Technology