An exuberant and admiring portrait introduces the odd, marvelously nerdy, way cool Hungarian-born itinerant mathematical genius.
Heiligman’s joyful, warm account invites young listeners and readers to imagine a much-loved boy completely charmed by numbers. Paul Erdos was sweetly generous throughout his life with the central occupation of his great brain: solving mathematical problems. Unmoored from the usual ties of home and family once grown, he spent most of his career traveling the world to work with colleagues. Erdos was known for his ineptness at practical matters even as he was treasured, housed and fed by those with whom he collaborated in math. The polished, disarming text offers Pham free rein for lively illustration that captures Erdos’ childlike spirit. She uses a slightly retro palette and line to infuse Erdos’ boyhood surroundings with numbers and diagrams, conveying the idea that young Paul lived and breathed math. She populates his adulthood with his affectionate colleagues, even including a graph with Erdos at the center of several dozen of the great mathematical minds of the 20th century to illustrate the whimsical “Erdos number” concept. An extensive author’s note includes a bit more biographical information about Erdos and points to George Csicsery’s 1993 film N is a Number as well as to Heiligman’s website for links for further exploration. Pham’s illustrator’s note invites young readers to go page by page to learn about the kinds of numbers that captivated Erdos and to meet him among his cherished mathematicians.
Social learners and budding math lovers alike will find something awesome about this exceptional man. (Picture book/biography. 3-9)