November 9 Birthday: Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker, mathematician & astronomer
Nov. 9, 1731-Oct. 9, 1806


Dear Benjamin Banneker by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Voyager, 1998)

Banneker, an 18th century  free African American was passionate about learning. Aside from excelling professionally in the fields of math and astronomy, he published an almanac and corresponded with Thomas Jefferson about slavery. Brian Pinkney’s hallmark style—scratchboard—illuminates this story.

Go to the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum in Baltimore to learn more about this multi-talented man.

March 26 Birthday: The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos

Paul Erdős, mathematician
March 26, 1913-September 20, 1996

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős by Deborah Heiligman Illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Roaring Brook, 2013)

Most people think of mathematicians as solitary, working away in isolation. And, it’s true, many of them do. But Paul Erdos never followed the usual path. At the age of four, he could ask you when you were born and then calculate the number of seconds you had been alive in his head. But he didn’t learn to butter his own bread until he turned twenty. Instead, he traveled around the world, from one mathematician to the next, collaborating on an astonishing number of publications. With a simple, lyrical text and richly layered illustrations, this is a beautiful introduction to the world of math and a fascinating look at the unique character traits that made “Uncle Paul” a great man.

 A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013 A New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2013