A young mathematical genius from India searches for the secrets hidden inside numbers -- and for someone who understands him -- in this gorgeous picture-book biography.
A mango . . . is just one thing. But if I chop it in two, then chop the half in two, and keep on chopping, I get more and more bits, on and on, endlessly, to an infinity I could never ever reach.
In 1887 in India, a boy named Ramanujan is born with a passion for numbers. He sees numbers in the squares of light pricking his thatched roof and in the beasts dancing on the temple tower. He writes mathematics with his finger in the sand, across the pages of his notebooks, and with chalk on the temple floor. "What is small?" he wonders. "What is big?" Head in the clouds, Ramanujan struggles in school -- but his mother knows that her son and his ideas have a purpose. As he grows up, Ramanujan reinvents much of modern mathematics, but where in the world could he find someone to understand what he has conceived?
Author Amy Alznauer gently introduces young readers to math concepts while Daniel Miyares's illustrations bring the wonder of Ramanujan's world to life in the inspiring real-life story of a boy who changed mathematics and science forever. Back matter includes a bibliography and an author's note recounting more of Ramanujan's life and accomplishments, as well as the author's father's remarkable discovery of Ramanujan's Lost Notebook.
Gr 4-6--This admiring picture book biography of Indian-born mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) opens with his early childhood. He liked to ponder complex questions about numbers, which his teachers were unequipped to answer. As he grew older, Ramanujan worked feverishly to find solutions, each leading to more questions and answers. His ideas evolved over time, and he developed unique formulas to solve them. In his early 20s, at the urging of colleagues and friends, Ramanujan wrote to mathematicians at Cambridge University about his theories. One last letter earned an invitation, and he sailed to Britain in 1914. He died at age 32, but his mathematical contributions live on. This engaging volume portrays the development of a brilliant, inquisitive mind and includes text inspired by the subject's own words. Students will learn terms in Tamil (definitions provided through context). While some concepts may confound the mathematically challenged, Ramanujan's resilience should motivate students to hold onto their passions. Oddly, his birth and death dates aren't given and are absent in the informative author's note. The lively, delicate ink drawings capture the sights, colors, and culture of India and, on some pages, depict numbers playfully cavorting, just as they tumbled in Ramanujan's brain. VERDICT Best for talented math students and others who enjoy exploring favorite subjects independently. Recommended for schools and large public collections; useful where STEM biographies are needed.--Carol Goldman, formerly at Queens Library, NYCopyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
In his small Indian village, the child Ramanujan asks: "What is small?... What is big?" He contemplates this problem in creative ways: "A mango is like an egg. It is just one thing. But if I chop it in two, then chop the half in two, and keep on chopping, I get more and more bits... to an infinity I could never ever reach. Yet when I put them back together, I still have just one mango." Alznauer deftly uses Ramanujan's ponderings to illustrate complex mathematical concepts, including prime numbers, partitions, and infinite sums. Despite his brilliance (or perhaps because of it), Ramanujan struggles: " 'I am like the first man in the world with no one to hear me speak, ' he thought." Eventually, his genius is recognized--and his work still sparks wonder among mathematicians today. Lush watercolors by Miyares capture the lyrical details of Ramanujan's world. Ages 5-9. (Apr.)Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.