This week Caramel is talking about The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity, written by Amy Alznauer and illustrated by Daniel Miyares, the beautifully told and magically illustrated story of the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.
Sprinkles: So Caramel tell us about this book.
Caramel: You say that all the time!
S: I know, right? I do that because I think that is a good way to get you to start talking about the book. So?
C: Hmm, let me think a bit. This book is about a boy who went to school but his math is far more advanced than his classmates’.
S: So what does he do with that math?
C: He keeps on writing in a notebook, doing more and more math. And then he gets another notebook and writes in it.
S: So he is doing math almost compulsively. He seems like he cannot stop himself, right? He is driven to do math.
C: Yes. He sees numbers everywhere and then he opens up, divides, or cracks up the numbers to find more numbers in them.
S: Right! I liked the way the author put it (and this is also in the back cover of the book):
If Ramanujan could crack the number 1 open and find infinity, what secrets would he discover inside other numbers?
C: So why did he do math? Because he had to.
S: What do you mean? Is someone forcing him to do math?
C: No he wants to do it. And he cannot stop doing it. It’s almost compulsive.
S: That’s a big word for a little bunny Caramel!
C: I know. I do read a lot.
S: So the title of this book is The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity. This reminds me of the book with a similar title: The Man Who Knew Infinity, by Robert Kanigel. That book is also about Ramanujan, but it is not a beautifully illustrated book for kids like this one. And that book tells us about Ramanujan’s whole life while this one is more about him as a little boy when he was dreaming math and finding it all around him.
C: Oh that is interesting. I think I remember us watching a movie with that name.
S: You have a good memory!
C: Can we put in the trailer here?
S: Sure. Here we go.
S: So tell me more about this book. Do you like the pictures?
C: Yep. They are very detailed, and they are like they are from a dream. There are two pages where the boy is dancing around and jumping over numbers.
S: Yes, that page especially but the rest of the pictures are also dreamlike. The colors and the combination of images… But back to that page where Ramanujan is jumping around numbers: Can you imagine yourself jumping and flipping around numbers?
C: Of course! I like jumping! I’m a bunny!
S: That is true! Here is my last question: What does this book make you think about math?
C: Multiplication and division and addition, and numbers, and infinity.
S: Does it make you like them? Do you feel like you could enjoy playing around with numbers?
C: Yes, I already do! I like math!
S: That is great! Ok, this is a good time to wrap things up.
C: I want to rate this!
S: Ok. Give me three words that describe this book.
C: Detailed, mathematics, beautiful.
S: These are good descriptors for the book. I agree. I’d add “dream, infinity, imagination”. So what do we say to end this review?
C: Stay tuned for more book bunnies adventures!
3 thoughts on “Caramel reviews The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity by Amy Alznauer”
I first heard of Ramanujan from Caramel’s father years ago. Fascinating man! How was he able to do all that mathematics, without any formal training. I still remember the story about the taxicab with the number 1729, wonder if this story was in the book Caramel read.
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🙂 It is mentioned, at least in the notes in the back…
Ramanujan taught himself mathematics! Truly a genius. Imagine how much farther he could have gone with a formal education in mathematics.
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