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MARYAM’S MAGIC by Megan Reid


The Story of Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani

by Megan Reid ; illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-06-291596-2
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

The achievements of mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani—first woman and first Iranian to win the Fields Medal, the most important award in the field of mathematics—are celebrated in this new picture book.

Readers meet Maryam as a young girl, a storyteller and an avid reader—her favorite street was filled with bookstores. She was not, however, a fan of math until she discovered geometry, which made her feel like “every number held a story.” Reid delves into Maryam’s life, describing her studies and interests in high school and college in Iran, her pursuit of a graduate degree at Harvard University, her winning the Fields Medal in 2014, and her death in 2017, at the age of 40. She weaves in details such as Maryam’s native language, Farsi; her best friend, Roya; her daughter, Anahita; her secret battle with breast cancer. Jaleel’s soft cartoons pair well with Reid’s words, reinforcing that Maryam was not just a math genius, but someone who loved books and used stories to solve tough problems. When depicting her life in Iran, illustrations show Maryam wearing hijab according to custom; in the U.S. Maryam’s short hair is shown uncovered. An author’s note includes more information on the connections Reid felt with Maryam; a timeline and further reading round out the work. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 63.9% of actual size.)

Highlighting an important figure, this book also demonstrates that one can excel in more than one field.

(Picture book/biography. 5-8)