Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure
Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company 2000
Night after night, Robert was having the same bad dream of sliding down black holes and big fish eating him. Then, one night he found himself sitting in a green meadow with tall grass, caterpillars and beetles all larger than life except for a little old man sitting on a spinach leaf trying to get his attention. The little man called himself the Number Devil and he was the host of Robert’s whimsical mathematical dream adventure. However, Robert hated math and anything to do with math. So, was one nightmare replaced with another one? The topics begin with the decimal system and end with factorials. For twelve nights, the number devil made sense of out math concepts Robert found hard to understand. Eventually, Robert was trying to outwit his new math mentor.
The twelve nights of dreams are the twelve chapters in the book filled with make believe, math tricks, math tips, and common sense perspectives
Features I like:
** I like that math is taught within the telling of a story.
** Index titled, Seek – and – Ye - Shall - Find List
consist of the dream words used to refer to math concepts as well as the official terms
**Three stories / dreams I liked:
1. I liked the story told to explain prime numbers as “prima donnas” and the trick to find them.
2. Infinite small and large numbers
To Be Desired:
I don’t care for the reference to a devil.
I would recommend this book for pleasure reading or to use as a teaching tool. There is also The Number Devil Game Software
available. However, the reviews indicate it works well with PC but not with Mac. The software follows the concepts in the book.