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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Of Numbers and Stars

Of Numbers and Stars
The Story of Hypatia
by D. Anne Love
illustrated by Pam Paparone


Women in Mathematics in Roman Egypt circa 400 AD. There were probably just a handful of them. Notable of them was Hypatia of Alexandria, daughter of mathematician Theon Alexandricus.

Of Numbers and Stars tells the story of one of the brilliant women of that period in history when women had very few rights, let alone the privilege to get an education.

Hypatia (High-pay-shah) had an insatiable thirst for learning, practicing and persevering till she gained mastery over that which she is learning, be it horse-back-riding, spear-fishing, boat-rowing, or poetry, mathematics, philosophy.

It is not often that a children's picture book biography manages to engage and motivate the child while presenting the illustrious life in a concise and accessible form. Most successful books in this genre seem to have a common thread: begin at the beginning - share the birth story of the protagonist, the formative years, and let the young reader connect with her/him before they willingly proceed to learn about the rich and full life.

Introduced to Hypatia as a little girl who was keen on learning whatever was taught to her, and excelling in it through diligence and dedication, certainly kindled the 7-yo's interest, eager to know how she turned out as a grown-up.

Students from far and wide came to study under her masterly guidance. "Through her extraordinary roles as scholar, philosopher, writer, and teacher, she became a symbol of learned women for centuries to come."

The text is rich with description, yet crisp and fascinating, not tedious or bland. The illustrations are gorgeous, striking a wonderful balance with the story, highlighting the period in history while keeping the focus on the narration.

Author's Note section shares that Hypatia's death was the result of a tragic and intentional attack on her. Although little is known first hand about her life, research has unearthed enough about her life to indicate what an amazing and brilliant scholar she was.

[The post written for Saffron Tree's CROCUS 2012 event]

[image source: amazon.com]

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