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Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci 1 Edition
Contributor(s): D'Agnese, Joseph, O'Brien, John (Illustrator)

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ISBN: 0805063056     ISBN-13: 9780805063059
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
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Binding Type: School And Library - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: March 2010

Annotation: Through prose suitable for young readers, explores the life of Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, whose daydreaming as a young child led him to discover patterns in nature and the natural sequence that bears his name. By the illustrator of Did Dinosaurs Eat Pizza?
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Mathematicians; Italy; Biography; Juvenile literature.
Fibonacci numbers; Juvenile literature.
Sequences (Mathematics); Juvenile literature.
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Science & Technology
- Juvenile Nonfiction | Mathematics
Dewey: 510.92
LCCN: 2009005264
Lexile Measure: 570
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 4-6, Age 9-11
Book type: Juvenile Non-Fiction
Physical Information: 11.25" H x 8.75" W x 0.50" (0.96 lbs) 40 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 136583
Reading Level: 3.7   Interest Level: Lower Grades   Point Value: 0.5
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q49498
Reading Level: 2.3   Interest Level: Grades K-2   Point Value: 2.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s):

Joseph D'Agnese is a writer and journalist who lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Though he writes about the Middle Ages, he considers himself a Renaissance man.

John O'Brien is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and has illustrated many popular children's books, including Did Dinosaurs Eat Pizza and This is Baseball.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall)
D'Agnese presents an engaging, kid-friendly look at Leonardo Fibonacci and his eponymous numerical sequence. In Pisa, Italy, in 1178, a young Leonardo daydreams about "the glory of numbers." But his mathematical musings lead to trouble. O'Brien's illustrations are textured with swirls and spirals--a whimsical homage to the man who discovered, as he believed, "the numbers Mother Nature uses to order the universe." Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #3)
Bigollo ("idler, dreamer, or lazy person") -- or, as biographer D'Agnese translates it, "blockhead" -- was the nickname of medieval mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci (see preceding review). It's a curious historical detail that D'Agnese teases out in this engaging, kid-friendly look at Fibonacci and his eponymous numerical sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13...). In Pisa, Italy, in 1178, a young Leonardo daydreams about "the glory of numbers." But his mathematical musings lead to trouble. "There will be no thinking in this classroom -- only working! You're nothing but an absent-minded, lazy dreamer, you...you BLOCKHEAD!" his teacher yells. Leonardo's classmates repeat the nickname, and he hears it yet again when he nearly collides with a stone block in a churchyard. Determined to save his "idiot" son's reputation -- and his own -- Leonardo's merchant father takes him on a business trip to Africa. During his travels, the merchant-in-training continues to study "what makes [him] happiest": numbers. The book has some clever tongue-in-cheek humor, and D'Agnese does readers a favor by clearly explaining Fibonacci's breeding rabbits scenario, though his description of Fibonacci's work with spirals could have benefited from a bit more detail. Throughout the book, O'Brien's illustrations are textured with swirls and spirals -- a whimsical homage to the man who discovered, as he believed, "the numbers Mother Nature uses to order the universe." Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2010 February #4)

Math lover or not, readers should succumb to the charms of this highly entertaining biography of medieval mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci. "You can call me Blockhead. Everyone else does," opens the lighthearted narrative. As an adult, he works out a math problem that involves reproducing rabbits and discovers a pattern that repeats itself in nature, which becomes the sequence of numbers that now bears his name. Hence, his obsession is vindicated: "All my life people had called me Blockhead because I daydreamed about numbers. But how could that be bad? Mother Nature loved numbers too!" D'Agnese's colloquial tone (King Frederick II calls Fibonacci a "smart cookie") lures readers into the story and even invites them to ferret out patterns in the illustrations. Atop dappled backgrounds, O'Brien's delicate swirls and hatch marks echo the mathematical patterns—another graceful connection between math and the real world in which children live. Ages 6–9. (Apr.)

[Page 64]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2010 March)

Gr 2–5—Leonardo does his math problems so quickly that he has plenty of time to look out the window and count other things in nature. His teacher, however, chastises him for daydreaming and the other students call him a "blockhead." Only his father's advisor, Alfredo, understands that Leonardo has a fascination with numbers, a love that will eventually help him become the "greatest Western mathematician in the Middle Ages." As an adult, Fibonacci imagines the figure of Alfredo continuing to help him refine his theories. Although the book is presented as a biography, the author states that "little is known about the life of…Leonardo Fibonacci" and no sources are listed. Entertaining in the vein of the "You Wouldn't Want to Be" series, this lighthearted introduction to Fibonacci's ideas will inspire young math lovers and perhaps point them toward more scholarly explorations. The illustrations have a medieval look to them but without any stiffness or fussiness. They include many touches of humor and are well suited to the story. Painted with a broad pointillist style detailed with pen and ink, the pictures incorporate many visual references to Fibonacci's work, such as swirling features suggestive of the spiral, a key element in the mathematician's theories of nature.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

[Page 138]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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