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Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci
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Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  183 ratings  ·  63 reviews
As a young boy in medieval Italy, Leonardo Fibonacci thought about numbers day and night. He was such a daydreamer that people called him a blockhead.

When Leonardo grew up and traveled the world, he was inspired by the numbers used in different countries. Then he realized that many things in nature, from thenumber ofpetals on a flower to the spiral of a nautilus shell,seem...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Lisa Vegan
Jul 20, 2011 Lisa Vegan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: kids who like numbers & kids who don’t like or numbers; appreciators of nature
Recommended to Lisa by: Kathryn
This is the story of the famous Leonardo of Pisa, Leonardo Fibonacci, who is considered to be the greatest western Middle Ages mathematician. It’s also the story of how specific numbers are integral to Mother Nature’s overall design.

Both aspects of the story are fascinating.

The part about the boy/man is interesting because it shows that making a point of learning what most interests you can lead to great things, as well as being simply personally rewarding. I also like how it shows what a young...more
Kathryn
At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about the story of a long-dead mathematician, of whom very little is actually known, being told in the first person and with some vernacular such as "yuck!" and "This Leonardo is one smart cookie!" Nor that Fibonacci's nickname, Bigollo, translated often as "wonderer" or "traveler" but can also mean "idler, dreamer or lazy person" was turned into "Blockhead" (they seem different to me). But, on the whole, the story works well and conveys some challenging concep...more
Dolly
Apr 22, 2010 Dolly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
I saw this book in the Goodreads giveaways and when I read the summary, I really hoped I'd win a copy. Even though I knew it was a long shot, I was disappointed when I didn't win.

So when our local library displayed this book in the new books section, I was thrilled and I picked it up right away! It's a wonderful story of numbers and a boy's willingness to devote his energy to the thing he loved the most, despite the name-calling and teasing that it generated. And it shows how Leonardo Pisano Bo...more
Tracey Demario
“You can call me Blockhead. Everyone else does.” So begins the story of Leonardo of Pisa. This delightful biography is intended for elementary grades 3-5 (I). Leonardo loves numbers, but neither his teacher, nor his father appreciates his skills. By following the advice of his father’s friend Alfredo, however, Leonardo learns to embrace what makes him happiest and discovers the recurring number pattern found in nature. This pattern, found in plants, fruits and animals, is known as the “Fibonacci...more
Raina
I love this book! It reminds me a little of the Sir Cumference book about math. In picture book format, it follows the life of Leonardo Fibonacci in a way that is both engaging and easily understood. Even as an adult, it made me curious about how the Fibonacci Sequence. I loved learning about how the Fibonacci sequence of 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55... are numbers that occur in patterns throughout nature. The book illustrates ways Fibonacci found his recurring pattern.

Fibonacci, the man modern math...more
Janet
May 07, 2010 Janet rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: ecasl
If you have a "must have" shelf that you have created as an educator it must contain this book. What a well written and understandable story about math. I felt that I could finally understand something beyond the third grade. Graphics are great too!

This a somewaht biography of mathmatician Fibonacci The story was well paced and held my attention, details rich and able to use in so many other contentareas. This is a book that you must have in your collection. It can be used over and over again on...more
Nancy Votteler
One of the greatest Western mathematicians of all times, Leonardo Fibonacci was born in Pisa, Italy around 1170. Fibonacci was a whiz at math, in fact; he thought about numbers all of the time that he appeared to be daydreaming. While on a trip with his merchant father to a city in northern Africa, Fibonacci noticed merchants using a new numeral system borrowed from the Hindi in India, rather than the traditional Roman numerals. As an adult, Leonardo wrote a book about the Hindi-Arabic numbers,...more
Alyson
Attention math teachers- better get this and start up some lesson plans, aided by some suggestions for activities in the back! Very interesting about Fibonacci's life and his curiosity. The math concepts are clearly presented and the illustrations really contribute to the fun of the book.
Janet Frost
This was a very cute picture book about Fibonacci, one of the great minds in Math History. He discovered what we refer to as the Fibonacci pattern today. 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34........
It is a pattern he demonstrated could be found in the repeating patterns of the natural world. When they were middle-schoolers, my two sons were fascinated with fractals and the Fibonacci pattern.
This was another example of an incredibly complex topic being creatively explained for a young audience. I love these boo...more
Ruth Ann
I was impressed how a pretty difficult mathematical concept was presented in such clear, understandable way. I have no problem that the author chose to use the modern names of countries and altered the numerals so they looked familiar to the reader. I do think it would be important to remind students that much of the story is imagined as we really don't know that much about this man from the middle ages.

I think it was good to try to engage the reader by including a challenge to go back into the...more
Amy
The life of Fibonacci is fleshed out in this picture book biography. A medieval mathematician, Fibonacci discovered numerical patterns in nature. He also brought Arabic-Hindu numerals to Europe so that we don't have to figure out our budgets using Roman Numerals!

Much of the story is made up, but whether it's true or not, the overarching theme of self-doubt is something that anyone can understand. He is teased for his day-dreaming and doubts his talents in math. With the help of an imaginary fri...more
Linda
Sep 06, 2014 Linda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Linda by: Joseph D'Agnese
I love children's books. This one combines both. I met the author at Booktopia Asheville. He is the husband of (and sometimes co-writer with)Denise Kiernan The Girls of Atomic City  The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise KiernanI love math. I've known about Fibonacci's number for years. Now, I have a better explanation of its use in the world.
Shelli
What's great about this book, for a homeschooling parent like myself, is that it can be used to cover multiple subjects. Spending a day learning about Leonardo Fibonacci covers: math, science and history. I enjoyed all the history from this read, yet I didn’t feel it covered the math or science portion enough for my daughter to have a good understanding of the Fibonacci sequence. Next stop youtube!! There we found all the videos we needed to fully grasp the mathematical pattern and see that natu...more
Melanie
Do you remember back in Math class, hearing about Fibonacci Sequence? The name rung a bell with me when I heard that and was intrigued to see what this book was all about. The famous mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, the young student amazed by and mesmerized by numbers.. much to the chagrin of his family and elders who often referred to him as Blockhead. Little is known about the mathematician, but this tale by D'Agnese takes facts that were known and creates a wonderful biography style picture...more
Tessa Joy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Becky
Genre: Picture book – Biography and Concept book (Math – the “Fibonacci Sequence”)

Summary: Unless you are a mathematician, you probably have not heard of Leonardo Fibonacci. Within these pages lies the true tale of a young man from medieval Italy (1100’s) who daydreams constantly about numbers. His teachers and fellow students mistakenly label him “blockhead,” assuming he is not smart. How wrong they are! Constantly counting and thinking of numbers, he begins to see mathematical patterns in natu...more
Megan D. Neal
The author says in his note at the end of the book that "Little is known about the life of the mathematician called Leonardo Fibonacci. This story is based on the few things we do know--and a bit of make-believe."

The book tells the story of young Leonardo Fibonacci who spends a lot of time skylarking out of boredom and thinking about the numbers he sees in nature, much to the vexation of his teacher, who calls him a blockhead. His fellow students and the people of the town take up the refrain,...more
Kristin Hamley
Love this book. Story of a boy teased for daydreaming about math draws kids' attention, and then the latter half of the book explains the Fibonacci Sequence and the patterns of numbers in nature so beautifully. Gorgeous illustrations. Only criticism is that "Blockhead" does not actually sound like a great translation for Fibonacci's nickname, but that's an easy point to overlook in such a great book.
Melissa
I love this book! It reminds me a little of the Sir Cumference books about math. In picture book format, it follows the life of Leonardo Fibonacci in a way that is both engaging and easily understood. Even as an adult, it made me curious about how the Fibonacci Sequence is tied to nature.
As a teacher, this book would be fantastic in an elementary math program as it discusses the Fibonacci sequence, geometry, multiplication, and recognizing math in the world around us. There is even a section at...more
Steven
I found this book through First-Reads and entered to win a copy. When I didn't win, I requested it at the library. The book was fabulous. The author used the story of Fibonacci's life to give a short history of numbers and describe how he formulated the Fibonacci Sequence. The illustrator did a wonderful job in the book as the illustrations were very helpful in understanding the concepts of the Fibonacci Sequence. The suggested activities at the close of the book further reinforce the concepts o...more
Ms. Bernards
This was a story with potential, but I found myself disappointed. Fibonnaci the "Blockhead" who became a great mathematician is a story that is compelling, but the delivery of this aspect of the story was not. The biographical story-line feels like a distraction from what I really did find engaging - the story of Fibonacci creating his famous "sequence" of numbers and the amazing connections that this has to the natural world. I think that the real-world connections of mathematics in the lives o...more
S
This is a good addition to the math tradebook collection. I like the suggestions at the end of the book for students to do more with these interesting numbers.
Melissa
I was honored to win one of these from firstreads! This short story was engaging, the pictures creative and whimsical. I have never really been interested in math, but this book made numbers and nature more intriguing and understandable than usual. I did watch something on Nova that talked about Fibonacci (I think it was him), and that was rather interesting. It's not your typical mathematics, really, but the study of order in nature. I was disappointed to have "Mother Nature" credited, when I k...more
Naomi
There are four elements that make this retelling of Fibonacci's fascination with the numerical sequence that bears his name - and his carrying and insisting on using Hindu/Arabic numerals - really work. Fibonacci doubts, having been criticized a great deal; he has a friend who listens and encourages him to pursue his vocation (described by D'Agnese as what makes a person happy); he works through problems showing his sequence formula and the patterns they describe in compelling ways; the illustra...more
Anne Harlan
Maybe a picture book biography of Fibonacci is not appropriate. There's not enough meat in this one.
Meredith
One of the best picture book biographies I've read. Pair with 14 Fibs.
Isaac Reinelt
It's a great story for learning about early math!
Abby Johnson
This picture book, narrated in the first person, imagines the life of Leonardo Fibonacci, the medieval mathematician who promoted the use of Hindu/Arabic numerals and observed and wrote about the Fibonacci sequence. The illustrations pair nicely with the text and include many examples of the Fibonacci spiral. This is an accessible introduction to the mathematician.

More on the blog: http://www.abbythelibrarian.com/2010/...
Chris
A children's book that tells the story of the mathematician Fibonacci and the Fionacci Sequence, which is explained in a way that is very easy to understand. He was a child who loved numbers and was teased for this but he persists in his interest in learning about different number systems. The illustrations are beautiful and there are "treasure hunts" at the end to help look for things in the illustrations that further explain his Sequence.
Miranda
Very fun children's picture book on the lfe of Fibonacci. Discusses the idea of not fitting in, and how you can make your place in the world. Also introduces Fibonacci's sequence (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21...) and shows how these numbers are everywhere in the world and nature. Very fun book that uses an autobiography of a famous mathematician to bring some math and science into your child's life! :)
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Joseph D’Agnese has been published in Discover, Seed and Wired magazines. His work has twice been named to the Best American Science Writing anthology. His crime fiction has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Beat to a Pulp, and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (AHMM). In addition to his books for adults and children, he has published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Child, Saveur, Sport...more
More about Joseph D'Agnese...
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