Friend of Numbers: The Life of Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan

Eerdmans. (Incredible Lives for Young Readers). Oct. 2023. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780802856081.
Gr 3-6–Spanning two continents and adroitly packing cultural information into its text and imagery, this story of Srinivasa Ramanujan opens with his childhood in India and ends with his untimely death at the age of 32 in England. Ramanujan grew up in rural India, fascinated by the patterns that he saw in daily life, discovering the language of mathematics therein and dreaming of following his true heart’s goal of becoming a mathematician. Ramanujan grew up as a Brahmin in India and had to overcome barriers as he applied to study mathematics in England, took the leap to learn a new culture, and moved to Cambridge University to further his studies during the first world war. The story briefly mentions the difficulty Ramanujan had in assimilating into British culture, including the food, the cold weather, and being so far from India. The emotional depth of the story is shown through facial expressions done in brightly colored cartoon drawings with pen and ink. Interspersed with these drawings are visual representations of the mathematical concepts that fascinated Ramanujan. With roughly 50 words per page, the book uses Indian words for concepts and there is a glossary at the end to define terms, such as Brahmin. An afterword explains a few of Ramanujan’s mathematical discoveries, as well as his importance among those of Indian descent.
VERDICT A must-purchase for libraries, specifically for its handling of diversity and adversity among immigrants studying in higher education as well as its ability to show the childhood joy of discovering patterns and having that segue into higher mathematics.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing