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The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure Paperback – 1 Sep 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (1 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847080537
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847080530
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 1.7 x 22 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Young Robert's dreams have taken a decided turn for the weird. Instead of falling down holes and such, he's visiting a bizarre magical land of number tricks with the number devil as his host. Starting at one and adding zero and all the rest of the numbers, Robert and the number devil use giant furry calculators, piles of coconuts, and endlessly scrolling paper to introduce basic concepts of numeracy, from interesting number sequences to exponents to matrices. Author Hans Magnus Enzensberger's dry humour and sense of wonder will keep you and your kids entranced while you learn (shhh!) mathematical principles. Who could resist the little red guy who calls prime numbers "prima donnas", irrational numbers "unreasonable", and roots "rutabagas"? Not that the number devil is without his devilish qualities. He loses his temper when Robert looks for the easy way out of a number puzzle or dismisses maths as boring and useless. "What do you expect?" he asks. "I'm the number devil, not Santa Claus." (Ages 10 to adult) --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"* 'Enzensberger has made Pythagoras the new Harry Potter...explaining mathematical concepts in a clear and highly original way' Sunday Business Post * 'Hopefully, Mr Enzensberger's enterprising and imaginative book will play its part in rescuing some of Britain's children from a lifetime phobia of maths' Daily Mail * 'Children old enough to have encountered fractions and square roots will be fascinated by this book, as will their parents' Sunday Times * 'More attractive than a textbook, an adult and child could work through this together' Irish Times"

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Caspian Can Read on 22 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
I found this book just by chance and really believe that it's a treasure.

I got it for a student of mine who hates math. He's 12 years old, just like Robert in the story, really active, more interested in any computer game than anything having to have to do with school, generally doesn't understand a lot of mathematical concepts nor the need to study math.

We have begun to read the book together, chapter by chapter, each of us taking one of the parts - sometimes he's the devil and sometimes he's Robert, depending on the mood he's in. We have a lot of fun making up voices for the two characters, and he really pays attention and tries to follow the math concepts. We have a lot of fun screaming out the dialogue and bringing the scenes to life.

He's also fascinated by the illustrations which are captivating and original.

This boy, who would rather play soccer or video games than have anything to do with his studies, now asks to read the book, and is a bit more patient with his homework. I can't tell you what that means as a teacher - to have found something that works so well with a student. The original approach to basic math concepts is also a gem and he's being introduced to sophisticated math skills in a very nonchalant manner.

I strongly recommend trying the book and seeing if your child reacts well to it as well.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback
My 8 year old loves this - she has always had a knack for seeing patterns and methods in numbers. The book has a lot of humour and some good illustrations. However, it is only likely to appeal to a child (or adult) who revels in numbers; it could be useful for teaching or illustrating one or two concepts (e.g. Fibonacci sequences) to classrooms or individual kids who might otherwise struggle to grasp the concepts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. REED on 30 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback
This is the son of R. Reed here. At Primary School I found maths boring, pointless and uninteresting. This book is excellent for giving you the very basics of numbers, perfect as a first ever maths book of a future maths fan. Now in Year 9, I now enjoy maths lessons and am getting much better marks in my tests - all because this book stimulated my interest in the subject. It will not teach you about algebra or statistics, but it will give you the basics you need to eventually find maths enjoyable. This book can covert a very maths-anxious person into someone who finds maths interesting and, most importantly, fun.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By H. Price on 11 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
We were recommended this book for our son, who is gifted in maths and loves number problems and puzzles. I started reading it to him as a bedtime story a year or so ago and he would volunteer to go to bed just so we could get onto the next chapter! He's just finished re-reading it for himself and it remains a favourite.

It's quirky, introduces many mathematical concepts that I struggled to understand, and appeals to his sense of humour.

If you have a mathematically gifted young child, this book should have pride of place on his or her bookshelf.
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By Dr R TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Mar. 2015
Format: Paperback
A very creditable aim. What is unique is that Hans Magnus Enzensberger, b. 1929, is a German translator, editor, author and poet – but has no pretentions to being a mathematician. The book has been translated into American-English by Michael Henry Heim and is beautifully illustrated by Rotraut Susanne Berner.

Enzenberger seeks to demystify mathematics and to support and encourage children [I would judge aged 9 and over] who find difficulty in this area of study. His method is to focus on a boy, Robert, and a devil who are brought together through a series of dreams that uncover the mathematical relationships and ideas that surround them [and us].

There is a balance to be drawn between content and presentation, and the needs of each child will be different. However, I can envisage this book being very useful to parents who want to work with their children in advance of their mathematical studies so that difficulties can be identified at the earliest possible stage and appropriate remedial action undertaken. Its secondary aim is to instill in children an abiding interest in mathematical manipulations.

The weakness is that the very children who could most benefit are those least likely to have access to this book for economic or social reasons. If only children and parents who share problems with mathematics could work together and so reinforce one another’s progress. Since children will respond to different stories, there is an opportunity for schools and enlightened parents to supplement and complement these stories with others better suited to the requirements of each individual child.
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Format: Paperback
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 mathematics enjoyable for me from a very early age, almost from when I could walk and talk, by relating what we were seeing in the real world to mathematics in some way. He didn't label the principles as geometry, algebra, arithmetic, and so on. He just mde it all part of my world. Consquently, I never scored less than 90% in any maths test or exam in my life. I just enjoy maths as much as living.

The same holds for Robert, and for readers of this lovely little book.

My grandson was hating maths, and couldn't see the point. When I took him through the first chapter of The Number Devil, he could suddenly, and effortlessly, multiply 11 by 11, 1111 by 1111, 1111111 by 1111111 and so on. He also learned, through self motivation inspired by his "new trick" to multiply any number you could throw at him by eleven.

This may seem a small step, but you can believe me when I tell you that it was a massive step for Alfie. Furthermore, he couldn't wait to get to school the next day to show his new skills to his class-mates and his teacher.

That wasn't all. There was much more magic to be revealed in this great little book, and I would encourage anyone to share it with their children, even if they are already very numerate. It just gives them, and you, a new spin on an ancient subject.
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