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Deborah Heiligman
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The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,782 Ratings  ·  286 Reviews
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 ar ...more
ebook, 48 pages
Published June 25th 2013 by Roaring Brook Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Jan 20, 2013 Betsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Make a beeline for your local library’s children’s biography section and learn firsthand the shocking truth about picture book bios of mathematical geniuses. Apparently there was only one and his name was Einstein. End of story. The world as we know it is not overflowing with picture book encapsulations of the lives of Sir Isaac Newton or Archimedes (though admittedly you could probably drum up a Leonardo da Vinci book or two if you were keen to try). But when it comes to folks alive in the 20th ...more
The subtitle of this book is "The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos"; it could as well be "an improbable topic for a picture book". So how does Deborah Heiligman manage to pull it off? This author of the awards-winning "Charles and Emma" has a unique talent for presenting biography, to all ages. She knows how to find a special "way in" to her subjects' lives, to find a story that hasn't been told before, and to give that story just the right structure and voice — creating a story that children or yo ...more
I love every single thing about this book - that Heiligman thought Erdős was an important subject, how she portrayed Erdős as original and thoughtful but not an odd misfit, the descriptive and informative writing, the mathematical and biographical information it conveys in a fun way, the incredibly detailed illustrations by LeUyen Pham, and the extensive author's and illustrator's notes at the end. I read the text in a very short time, but this is a book that I'm going to keep by my reading chai ...more

What I love most about The Boy Who Loved Math was that it really wasn’t about math. It’s about the boy. Paul Erdos was something, all right. A real “character.” Typically, I’ve come to think about the mathematically centric as people who are very logically minded, people who love rules. As you learn on the second page, Erdos was anything but.

We don’t get a tremendous amount of exposure to those who use math creatively. Most of our experience with math comes from math teachers, who are very ofte
Richie Partington
Richie's Picks: THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH: THE IMPROBABE LIFE OF PAUL ERDŐS by Deborah Heiligman and LeUyen Pham, ill, Roaring Brook, June 2013, 48p., ISBN: 978-1-5964-3307-6

"I'm gonna be your number one"
-- Blondie, "The Tide is High"

"So Paul kept counting...
And thinking about numbers. One day when he was 4, Paul asked a visitor when her birthday was. She told him.
"What year were you born? he asked.
"She told him.
"What time?
"She told him.
"Paul thought for a moment.
"Then he told her how many seconds
Aug 17, 2013 Dolly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: older children and parents reading with them
This is an entertaining and informative book about the life of Paul Erdős. I had never heard of him before, but I was fascinated by the title and I was excited to read a book about a mathematician with our girls. The narrative is well-crafted; it provides a comprehensive biographical sketch of his life and several interesting incidents that help to show his mind and his character.

The illustrations by LeUyen Pham are terrific. I love the way that she incorporates math problems and numbers throug
Kris Patrick
Like Hollywood, history has an A, B, C, and D-list. Trying to talk a kid into studying someone other than Walt Disney or Abe Lincoln for a biography project is the equivalent of talking them into taking the peas and carrots in the lunch line. Picture books about history's D-listers is a huge publishing trend, but they are a hard, hard sell to classroom teachers AND kids. I'm having a difficult time justifying these purchases when I'm given so little to spend.
Jan 18, 2015 Gloria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Who knew there were so many types of prime numbers? Not me! Fascinating and beautifully rendered account of the unusual life and mind of math genius Paul Erdös.
Ms. Burris
Feb 11, 2016 Ms. Burris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wow
This was a wonderful biography that really emphasizes the possibility of spending your life doing something that you love along the side of others. I enjoyed the content as well as the supporting illustrations. Paul's story was unlike any I've ever heard before! His heart for mathematics shown through his entire life long and his love for giving to those in need was kindly spoken of. This book could be beautifully integrated into mathematics classes in grades three through five. It would give a ...more
Aug 28, 2013 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: biography requests about grade 3-4
I made the mistake of reading Betsy Bird's wonderful review of this book and now I realize I didn't really read this book at all competently. I really should go back and reread it. But for now, here is my review.

Erdos was one strange guy. He was an only child whose immediate associates (Mom and kind of a governess) danced attendance on him. For crying out loud, the guy never tried to butter his own bread until age 20. That is not age two. That is two zero, twenty. He was more or less home schoo
Jul 10, 2013 Tasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Paul Erdos grew up loving math from a very young age. Growing up in Budapest, Hungary, Paul loved to think about numbers. Unfortunately, he didn’t love school with all of its rules, so he was homeschooled by Fraulein, his nanny, until he went to high school. Paul grew famous for his math but he still could not take care of himself and do his own laundry, cook his meals or even butter his own bread. So when at age 21 he was invited to go to England to work on his math, he was worried about whethe ...more
Nov 08, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul Erdos, a 20th Century mathematician of great renown. In a most general way his story is told, except for the fact that both of his parents were mathematics instructors, but his Father is curiously absent from the book except as a picture on a shelf despite the fact that he played a large part in Paul's life when he returned to the family after the war. The story is well told, and the man was certainly a strange character.

Here is where I have a problem, and really the only problem with the
Kim Robbins
Jul 06, 2013 Kim Robbins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! I don't believe I had ever heard of Paul Erdos before, but the book gave a very good description of this brilliant, eccentric man on a level that children can understand. The illustrations were fun, but also accurate depictions of what Mr. Erdos looked like. Today, mathematicians around the world delight in their "Erdos number" - a number assigned to them by how closely each one has worked with Paul Erdos.

Paul Erdos was a brilliant mathematician. At the age of 4 he could tell
I have always said I loved math, and finding this book was a wonderful thing to read. Although I have previously read about Paul Erdos, I loved hearing even more about him from Deborah Heiligman. Luckily for young children who love numbers and problems with numbers, Heiligman has written this book for them, including how he lived in his own way (he hated rules), but was so generous with his thoughts and work in the world of mathematical problem-solving. There is terrific back matter from both th ...more
Throughout his life Paul Erdos loved math and playing with numbers. Although his early school days were unpleasant, he found a niche in high school with others who enjoyed math just as much as he did. This biography describes how his obsession with math and perhaps his mother's taking care of all the little details in life for him, insured that he had little notion how to perform basic tasks such as doing his laundry or buttering his bread. Although I can't imagine living the particular life he ...more
Feb 19, 2016 Casandria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Charming and interesting! Definitely for older elementary kids.
Jun 07, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jacob, ellie, mom, dad
Jacob rates 4 stars, Ellie 2 stars, mom 3 stars
Jamie Sorenson
Subject: Math
Non-Fiction- "The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos"(Published June 25th 2013 by Roaring Brook Press (first published January 1st 2013)
"He could always depend on numbers to be there and behave in the same way. Numbers folowed rules. He didn't like rules in life, but he liked rules in numbers."

Fiction: "Rufus Goes to School" by Kim T. Griswell, Valeri Gorbachev (Illustrator), (Published August 6th 2013 by Sterling Children's Books (first published August 1st
Elizabeth Woodruff
Paul Erdos grew up in Budapest, Hungary. There was something special about this little boy, he loved math. He not only loved math. Math was his life. He couldn't do normal things like butter bread, or do his laundry. All he could do was Math. He decided school wasn't for him. He still got an education, but he had to do so at home. Paul couldn't sit still. He loved to move around and meet other people who loved math. When Paul was 20 he decided to travel the world to meet other math geniuses like ...more
Samantha Williamson
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos, by Deborah Heilingman is the story of an eccentric freelance Hungarian mathematician. Paul fell in love with numbers and math at a young age and that love lasted a lifetime. The book was beautifully illustrated. I thought the book was okay, maybe if I enjoyed math I would have liked the book more. I do have to say though, since I am unfamiliar with Paul Erdos, this book did peak my interest into doing my own research on him. Books that m ...more
Amy Paget
Jun 13, 2015 Amy Paget rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always think it’s a shame that more adults don’t read children’s’ books. I remember fondly the years where children’s literature filled both my working life as a children’s librarian and my home life as a parent. It was a great pleasure, then, for me to stumble on a list of best children’s’ books of the year, (, and browse and choose.

Here’s a great title that I would recommend to adults and children: The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös. Do you have
Renee Clark
I actually had never heard of this book or "Paul Erdos" before so I was interested to see what this was all about. Although he was very brilliant and knew so much about math, it was on a level that kids could understand. The book itself is a great introduction to math. I really like these illustrations and the way they work with the story. They are very detailed and are the perfect ratio to the words on each page. Heiligman did a good job with the structure and text of this story making it appea ...more
Carlos Gastelum
Heiligman, D., & Pham, L. (2013) The boy who loved math: the improbable life of paul erdos. New York, NY: Roaring Brook Press.

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos is a well written and colorfully illustrated children’s biography about Paul Erdos, a traveling mathematician who produced more documents than any other mathematician in the past. In the story the author Deborah Heiligman and illustrator Leuyen Pham combine math and numbers on each page to show how Paul becomes
Deena Lernor
Nov 18, 2014 Deena Lernor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman is about a young boy who becomes this amazing mathematician. Paul Erdos grew up teaching himself math at a young age. When Paul was enrolled in school things didn't go well and Paul then taught himself math until he was older. He was taken care of by his mother and Frauleen constantly making sure he was okay. When Paul was older he went the high school where he became known for his math skills. As he grew up he began ...more
Alexis Adelman
This book is all about Paul Erdos. It started with Paul as a young boy whose mother did everything for him. He didn't want to go to school, and all he wanted to do was math, and deal with numbers. Paul grew up with a nanny named Fraulein, he hated her, she had to many rules. As he got older he went to high school and loved that. He traveled the world and taught other people math, and invented new things. Paul grew older and still only wanted to do math, he wanted to die using numbers. Did Paul d ...more
Abigail Surmay
The Boy Who Loved Math: The improbable Life of Paul Erdos, is a picture book biography of the life of Paul Erdos.
Readers are introduced to Paul as a child, readers see how smart and genius he was at such a young age. Numbers became Paul's best friend, and readers see why. We see how he loves negative and prime numbers and how his mind worked when he thought about math. As Paul grows up readers see how he invented his own way to live. However, readers also get the feel that Paul never grew up. W
Brooke Snyder
Summary: This is the story of Paul Erdos the mathematician. He was extraordinary. Paul was always fascinated with numbers but he hated school. So, he decided he wanted to stay home and not go to school, and that’s just what he did. This biography depicts his life as a young child to an old man as he partakes in his mathematics journey. He traveled all over the world and learned as much as he could from other mathematicians. The text is lyrical in nature and can be catchy to children.

Personal Res
Sep 11, 2014 Vivian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This deserves to have been a Caldecott Winner. Shame on the selectors for not even including it in the Honor court. The illustrator included amazing extended material to help children become fascinated with numbers as was the subject of this picture biography of mathematician Paul Erdos.

Briefly, I learned that the number 1 is not a prime number and that the number 2 is a prime number--facts which I somehow missed in all my 18 years of schooling (K thru graduate school). I learned that this geniu
Cecelie Betz
Cecelie Betz

The Boy Who Loved Math

The Nonfiction story book The Boy Who Loved Math is a story of a boy named Paul who loved math and came up with prime numbers and many other math theories in his life time. Paul Erdos was a true mathematician with an interesting life that was shortly displayed in this book. The twin text I chose to put with this book is Snowboy 1,2,3 by Joe Wahman copyright January 2013. This book is a primary counting to ten and then counting backwards from ten book that is ju
Jun 16, 2014 Maureen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
1. Twin Text: Last to Finish: A Story about the Smartest Boy in Math Class By Barbara Esham (2008)

2. Rationale: I chose this book because obviously it discusses math just like 'The Boy Who Loved Math'. I would read these together because it talks about one character, Paul, loving math and he would only talk about numbers and see numbers. The other character, Max, thought he was no good at math because he was the last to finish his timed math test. I would discuss how everyone learn at their own
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Deborah Heiligman's second job was at the Scholastic News Explorer, the 4th grade classroom magazine. There discovered that she loved writing for children and she has never looked back.

After the birth of her two children she started to work as a freelancer. She has written 28 children's books as well as articles for numerous magazines including Ladies' Home Journal, Sesame Street Parents Guide, P
More about Deborah Heiligman...

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