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The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure
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The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  5,239 ratings  ·  612 reviews
The international best-seller that makes mathematics a thrilling exploration

In twelve dreams, Robert, a boy who hates math, meets a Number Devil, who leads him to discover the amazing world of numbers: infinite numbers, prime numbers, Fibonacci numbers, numbers that magically appear in triangles, and numbers that expand without end. As we dream with him, we are taken furth
Paperback, 262 pages
Published May 1st 2000 by Metropolitan Books (first published 1997)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  5,239 ratings  ·  612 reviews

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Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children, year-2012
I love the idea of a novel that relies on and promotes interest in math, but the execution here just fell way short for me. The story itself - that a boy who hates math learns to like it through a series of dreams in which he interacts with a Number Devil - is a little thin and repetitive. But what I found bothered me the most were the explanations of the math concepts. I've seen some great nonfiction books that make math concepts interesting AND explain them in multiple ways for students who ca ...more
Lance Greenfield
Feb 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comfort-reads
This book makes maths fun, even for those little people who believe it to be a laborious trudge through treacle. In fact, that would describe Robert, the main character in this book. He has been struggling with maths for as long as he can remember. One night, he dreams that he meets a little devil, The Number Devil, who teaches him, as he sleeps, all sorts of useful tricks with numbers.

When you enjoy something, and gain immediate benefit, you obviously learn more.

My Dad made all aspects of mathe
David Madrigal
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was by far the most interesting book I have read in years. I found it really interesting as the concepts in mathematics were very interesting, yet explained in simple terms. (view spoiler) ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: children
Imagine that a math teacher wanted to write a children's book to show kids how cool math really was; but since it's a math teacher and not an English teacher doing the writing, all you end up with are math concepts written out in analogies similar to what you'd hear in a math classroom -- that's what this book is like. The story is about a boy named Robert who hates his math class and math teacher and by extension math in general. He falls asleep and over a series of twelve different dreams over ...more
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
Random math thinly disguised as a novel. I get what it's trying to do but it feels more like the kind of characters that kids' textbooks have to make the info more "fun." there isn't a plot here. But if it gets kid's reading about math then go go go. Plus, the illustrations are really cute.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
January 8, 2019 -
4 Stars
I read this with my grade six students. They figured out the problems as we went. The story/plot itself was kind of boring but I enjoyed the problems and the student solving them.
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fantasy, maths, 2015
Great book.

It talks about maths in a way that is as simple as 1+1=2.
I was way behind in maths going into high school, and I have learnt so much from this book in 1-2 months.
I learnt stuff like Fractions, Bonacci/Fibonacci numbers, Decimals, Factorial (Vroom!), Hopping numbers, Prima Donnas, and Triangle numbers.

My favorite was the "Hopping Numbers". I spent a good part of a day just writing them all down. I wrote down 55 hopping numbers, and the biggest one I did was 18,014,398,509,481,984, whic
Anne Hamilton
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
...But as he stood in front of his mirror in his pajamas, brushing his teeth, he felt something tickling his chest and looked down to see a tiny five-pointed star on a thin golden chain. He couldn't believe his eyes. This time his dream had come true! ...After he'd dressed, he took the chain off and stuck it in his pocket: he didn't want his mother asking silly questions. ...Where'd that star come from? she'd want to know the minute she saw it. Boys don't wear jewelry! ...How could he tell he
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What do you get when you cross Alice in Wonderland with a small, red, horned man obsessed with numbers? No, it isn't an arithmetic problem - it's a middle school math primer!
Robert, a boy who hates math and is frustrated because his teacher doesn't allow calculators, has strange dreams all the time. One night he dreams up a character called the Number Devil, who takes him away to a surreal world of numbers where Robert learns basic math concepts and a few handy shortcuts. After all, says the Num
Jose Moa
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mathematics, science
This book told as a 12 nights dream of a child with a mathematical devil is a serious attempt to prove that mathematics can be entertaining,interesting,beautiful and fun and not a boring,useless,ugly and hermetic subject.

It is aimed mainly to young teens,but is also enjoyable by adults that for some reason hate the maths or have a wrong concept of this field.

Is a tale where departing of elemental concepts as natural numbers,prime numbers,powers and square roots introduce more advanced concepts a
Kelly Jahng
Jun 18, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was a lot of fun. I'm a big fan of Flatland, so I enjoy anytime math can be turned into a story. This book doesn't have a ton of story, but just enough to make it a page turner. Robert's math teacher, Mr. Bockel doesn't seem to be a very inspiring educator, doing little else but assigning word problems while surreptitiously munching on pretzels. Robert thinks math is confusing and boring. All that changes when his dreams are visited by a strange genie-like character called The Number D ...more
Dany Hdz
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well, that was interestingly cute... like if you took math class in Wonderland or if you studied math on drugs, or something, but I cannot deny it was great.

Honestly, I don’t think this book will make you better at math, however it may help you understand some complex theoretical concepts, since it doesn’t focus in the applied mathematics, but rather in the pure theory behind them.

The narration is fantastic and creative, and in fact, pretty attractive. Besides, the pictures and dares really co
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I've been meaning to read this book for a long time, as it came highly recommended by both my kids. After reading it, I can see why. The author has written a loose structure of a novel in order to painlessly and seamlessly teach children some basic math concepts. Along the way, he makes math fun and interesting and accessible. (I actually happen to think math *is* fun and interesting and accessible, but I realize that not everyone does.)
The book is geared towards middle schoolers, but it works w
Circus Hufflepuff Unicycle Pig
Funny book about a number devil who meets a boy and converts him from a maths hater to a mathematician. My only bad thing is that it is maths but the story is funny.
Jason Hamilton
Mar 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book is a thinly veiled novelization of a few math problems. It's wrapped in a story about a boy with crazy dreams that begins dreaming about math and learning things from a number devil.

My impression was that the book got the formula all wrong. The story is nonsensical and tedious, so you're ready to get to the math. The math is then explained via conversation between the main character and the number devil, so you really have to reflect on the topics after each chapter to understand them.
Jun 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

If I was a child I would have loved this book, and I don't love maths. It was an intersting reading and I enjoeyed the things that you can learn while reading it. I think I'll recommend it to every kid (and not) who wants to read about math!
Jonathan Donihue
What a truly novel idea for a novel. Absolutely extraordinary!

Although this is a book written for a young audience, I, as a 49 year old college student, found it both entertaining and instructional. In addition to a great story, The Number Devil sports some wonderful illustrations and several imaginative crafts projects for the budding mathematician.

Whether you have a schoolchild or not, I would encourage you to pick up a copy of The Number Devil. You won't be sorry you did. 😈 😈 😈
Jun 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book made cry.....and not because it was heart wrenching. This book should go back to the hellhole where it came from. AVOID THIS BOOK AT ALL COSTS. When I bought this books, my family stopped loving me, my girlfriend turned gay, my fish died, and when I opened the yogurt lid, I threw away the yogurt instead of the lid because I was drunk on hatred for this book.
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommended to Sophia by: Caren
Interesting information, but I was annoyed by the wrong names for mathematical things. The author explained his reason for this at the end, but I think he could have kept closer to he facts. The book is meant to make non-maths lovers like maths. I think it tries but is still too complex in many parts to do this. I did find some interesting bits.
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
this is honestly just one of those perfect books—i love the writing as well as the illustrations. i also love math but even if you hate math this book will make you think about it a little differently
Shannon Rantala
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It was a really interesting book. I think students would enjoy reading it since it makes learning math sound fun and exciting.
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This book is like a maths textbook but make it a fictional story. Such a fun read believe it or not. Extremely interesting.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Amazing book. It teaches advanced mathematics in a way so children can understand. The pictures are really cute, too.
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Clearly a math book. I found myself skimming the math and hoping for a story. The math explanations were good and clear, I just got bored and distracted. Maybe better read alod with someone to work the math with.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a weird little book. It was originally written in German, and I’m wondering if we’re missing a lot in translation. The dialogue is very stilted. It’s lacking the charm one would expect in a book of this type.

This book is about a boy named Robert who hates math. He has dreams where he meets with a devil who calls himself a number devil. He teaches Robert about some of the more crazy and interesting things numbers do. The proper names for these math concepts are not used in the course of t
Sep 14, 2012 rated it liked it
This summer I decided to read the book The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. The story is about a boy named Robert who hates math because he finds it very boring at school. He keeps dreaming about being eaten by a giant fish or sliding down a never ending slide until one night he suddenly finds himself dreaming about meeting the Number Devil (Teplotaxl). During the twelve nights Robert finds himself learning different mathematical principles every night.
In the
Yuta .
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Count as 2 books (Review 3 and 4)

I have read the book "The Number Devil" because my grandpa sent it to me from Japan in Japanese translation. The book was amazing. This book made me like math and this is when I first understood radicals and other mathematic things. I will tell you that, by the time you finish this book, you will think "Oh, math is so cool!".


In the book, Math Devil teaches math to this boy named Robert (Who hate Math),many interesting facts about math, and the secret be
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed The Number Devil. I thought that it was a worthwhile book and if you are having trouble in math, it can really help you. I thought that the book was very good in its way of delivering the information. Robert, the main character, is always asleep when he is with the Number Devil and in his dream world, math is completely different from ours. One thing i didn't really like about the book is how they do not always use real math terms. They use words like coconuts and rutabagas and ...more
Aug 29, 2012 rated it liked it
A cute book that holds many of the same principals as Magic House of Numbers, but is written with a middle school/very late elementary school audience in mind.

Some great (and advanced) mathematical ideas are presented in here. These include some ideas as young as Russel's Paradox or Countable Infinities. Others are much older (Pascal's Triangle and Diagonal length of squares). All of this told in a quiet, simple manner akin to Daniel Quinn's Ishmael - though a little more entertaining than that
Jairo Guzman
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Enzensberger tells a story of Robert, a young boy with mediocre math skills, and his journey through the world of mathematics under the tutoring of the number devil, a black-bearded, irascible, red man. In Enzensberger's The number devil, the boy Robert is able to contact this devil through 12 dreams and learns that math isn’t that bad at all. The whole purpose of this book is to reveal to young people that mathematics is something worth exploring and not just a sadistic intellectual exercise ma ...more
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See also:
Cyrillic: Ханс Магнус Енценсбергер

Hans Magnus Enzensberger is a German author, poet, translator and editor. He has also written under the pseudonym Andreas Thalmayr.

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