Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Cat In Numberland, by Ivar Ekeland

I love this book! I wrote about it before, in my post on A Dozen Delectable Math Books, but it was out of print then. It has come back out, and I've just gotten two copies, one for my son's school, and one for a friend. I think I'll need to buy about 5 more copies for friends with kids, and one for my niece, who's 15 and enjoys math.

Here's what I wrote before:
The Cat in Numberland, by Ivar Ekeland (ages 5 to adult)
The cat who lives in the Hotel Infinity gets confused when the hotel is full, and the numbers are all able to move up one room to make room for zero. This story is charming enough to entertain young children, and deep enough to intrigue anyone.

David Hilbert, a mathematician interested in thinking carefully about how infinity works, and different sizes of infinities, first made up the basic story. Many others have embellished on it. In this version, Mr. and Mrs. Hilbert run the hotel, and with a little help, find rooms for all the guests who come to visit, even when the hotel is already full. Mr. Hilbert gets worried when the fractions show up (doesn't everyone?), and Zero helps him see a solution.

John O'Brien's illustrations are delightful.

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