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The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure Paperback – 2 Jan 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; New edition edition (2 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862078289
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862078284
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,183,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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' The Irish Times"

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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 Verified Purchase
This book is amazing for kids who have a real natural interest in maths and want to consolidate their number understanding.

I'm a primary teacher and bought this for my library and most of the kids love the storyline and have enjoyed learning through it, and have asked lots of brilliant questions to further their understanding!
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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is very engaging book. My 8 year enjoys reading it. The author has done a good job of bringing various mathematical concepts together in an easily understood and memorable manner for the younger reader.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I already knew the book so knew I would be happy with it. I'm a teacher and wanted it for my grandson - he is 8 and I do think it is slightly old for him - there are some mathematical concepts he hasn't yet met. I think he will really appreciate it when he is nearer the top of primary school.
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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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