Review of Friend of Numbers: The Life of Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan

Friend of Numbers: The Life of Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan Friend of Numbers: The Life of Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan
by Priya Narayanan; illus. by Satwik Gade
Primary, Intermediate    Eerdmans    40 pp.
10/23    9780802856081    $17.99

Born in 1887 in southern India, Srinivasa Ramanujan would, before his untimely death in 1920, become one of the most influential mathematicians of the twentieth century. In an admiring view of an extraordinary individual, Narayanan chronicles Ramanujan’s life: from curious young son of a clerk who sees numbers and patterns wherever he gazes, to his travels to Cambridge, England, where he impresses Europe’s greatest mathematicians with his novel approaches to numerical thinking, and finally to his illness-induced return to India and death. The clear and succinct text explains Ramanujan’s mathematical ideas in a thoroughly understandable manner. Gade’s vivid digital art displays Ramanujan’s unique mathematical daydreams for readers, helping them to begin to see the patterns that fascinated him. Numbers, patterns, graphs, and diagrams are scattered within most spreads, helping convey the idea that his mind never strayed from his obsession with numbers. Significant back matter (including an informative author’s note, a glossary, and an explanation of magic squares) allows Narayanan to fully flesh out Ramanujan’s continued importance to both the field of mathematics and the people of India.

From the November/December 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter is the school librarian at Fred A. Toomer Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia.

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