Children’s Math Book Review – The Number Devil by Hans M Enzensberger

The Number Devil by Hans M. Enzensberger is an attractive and imaginative book for children that teaches math wonderfully and redefines the concept of “showing your work.” In fact, throughout the bulk of the book, children are led by Robert and his devilish guide–into some of the most beautiful sites of mathematical discovery.

Robert has a lot of common sense and gradually over the course of the book he becomes more and more “ready” for his encounters with his crazy mentor: The Number Devil. The design of the book is appealing to the eye, contains excellent illustrations, and the clear and colorful lines and fonts attract students all the more to a greater attraction to the positive world of mathematics.

“How Children Can See Math in Different Perspectives,” would be an excellent alternate title for the book. For example, looking at math today as a teacher, a big majority of students see math as impossible to accomplish.

After reading The Number Devil, I can conclude that the book gives the average math student options in how to look at a problem in many ways. rather than in one way. The author makes it quite clear that Robert hates math: “And besides, I hate everything that has to do with numbers” (Enzensberger 11).

Many people can relate to Robert and how he learns to enjoy math. Thus, by reading this book, a student can gain hope that math is not just learning one concept, but also by learning multiple ways to solve a mathematical problem.

The first mathematical concept recognized in the book was prima donnas. This idea reminds students of the concept of prime numbers. The recollection of prime numbers from students can be difficult. The way that The Number Devil explains this concept is by painting a picture that includes the numbers from two to fifty. The process of elimination includes deleting the odd numbers by way of seeing the prime numbers.

By giving a student a picture of what needs to be done, you have successfully led him through steps that need to take place, rather than rote memorization or doing it in their “head.”

A second mathematical concept explained in The Number Devil is Bonacci Numbers. These are not just your everyday ordinary numbers. They are special numbers that are everlasting. These numbers are irrational numbers too, in that they divide certain numbers by their neighbor, and the result is a pile of numbers that do not stop. For example: one, two, three, five, eight, thirteen, twenty one, and thirty four are a prime example of how the added number added to the second number equals the third number.


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