The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity: A Tale of the Genius Ramanujan
The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity: A Tale of the Genius Ramanujan

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Annotation: A young mathematical genius from India searches for the secrets hidden inside numbers — and for someone who understands ... more
Catalog Number: #215090
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Common Core/STEAM: STEAM STEAM
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 48
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 0-7636-9048-1 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-7960-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-7636-9048-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-7960-9
Dewey: 921
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
Srinivasa Ramanujan was a self-taught genius whose original insights into number theory still inspire mathematicians today.Ramanujan was born in 1887 into a Tamil family in South India. Before his birth, his grandmother dreamed that the goddess Namagiri "would write the thoughts of God on his tongue." As a young boy growing up in temple towns, Ramanujan hated traditional classrooms and often ran away from school, but he was captivated by numbers, big and small. Gorgeous watercolor spreads show how "numbers came whispering in dreams" and "would rush across the pages in circles and packs." He pondered complex ideas such as infinite series, number partitions, and primes; he entered high school at 10 and solved college-level problems at 15, but he couldn't focus on anything except math. He failed college and lived in poverty and isolation, still pursuing his research with mystical zeal, "trying to learn the thoughts of God." Eventually, his persistent attempts to find a kindred spirit paid off. Following Namagiri's promptings, he sailed away to share his work with the best mathematicians in England. Alznauer is a mathematician herself, and her loving tribute evokes Ramanujan's early years with rich and authentic detail, which Miyares' luminous compositions bring vividly to the page. All characters are Indian and have brown skin and hair.A fascinating story beautifully told. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)
Publishers Weekly
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.)
School Library Journal
Gr 46 This admiring picture book biography of Indian-born mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan (18871920) 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, NY
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Srinivasa Ramanujan was a self-taught genius whose original insights into number theory still inspire mathematicians today.Ramanujan was born in 1887 into a Tamil family in South India. Before his birth, his grandmother dreamed that the goddess Namagiri "would write the thoughts of God on his tongue." As a young boy growing up in temple towns, Ramanujan hated traditional classrooms and often ran away from school, but he was captivated by numbers, big and small. Gorgeous watercolor spreads show how "numbers came whispering in dreams" and "would rush across the pages in circles and packs." He pondered complex ideas such as infinite series, number partitions, and primes; he entered high school at 10 and solved college-level problems at 15, but he couldn't focus on anything except math. He failed college and lived in poverty and isolation, still pursuing his research with mystical zeal, "trying to learn the thoughts of God." Eventually, his persistent attempts to find a kindred spirit paid off. Following Namagiri's promptings, he sailed away to share his work with the best mathematicians in England. Alznauer is a mathematician herself, and her loving tribute evokes Ramanujan's early years with rich and authentic detail, which Miyares' luminous compositions bring vividly to the page. All characters are Indian and have brown skin and hair.A fascinating story beautifully told. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Born in South India, Ramanujan did not speak for three years, but when his grandfather counted out loud to him, the child found his voice and began asking questions. While arithmetic in school seemed rigid, rote, and unappealing, his mind soared with creative dreams about numbers. At 15, Ramanujan worked his way through a college math book and then began to fill notebooks with his ideas and theories. Later, he set off for Cambridge University to collaborate with a noted mathematician. The story ends with the comment that, 100 years later, people are still searching Ramanujan's notebooks "in wonderment." In an informative author's note, Alznauer recalls that as a child, she and her family visited Cambridge, and her father discovered Ramanujan's lost notebook. She also comments on India's ancient mathematical tradition, Ramanujan as a number theorist, and "the profound originality of his ideas." The perceptive text offers anecdotes that enable readers to see many sides of Ramanujan, portraying him as a genius who, driven to pursue his passion, produced work of lasting value. Miyares uses colored inks skillfully, creating vivid, imaginative scenes that help viewers envision Ramanujan's story and its setting. An illuminating picture-book biography of a fascinating, singular figure in the history of mathematics.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (2/1/20)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Kirkus Reviews (1/1/20)
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (1/1/20)
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: K-3

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.


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