Skip to main content
Trade Books For Courses Tradebooks for Courses

The Number Devil

A Mathematical Adventure

Hans Magnus Enzensberger; Illustrated by Rotraut Susanne Berner; Translated by Michael Heim

Holt Paperbacks

The Number Devil Download image

ISBN10: 0805062998
ISBN13: 9780805062991

Trade Paperback

264 Pages



Request Desk Copy
Request Exam Copy


Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

In twelve dreams, Robert, a boy who hates math, meets a sly, clever number devil, who leads him to discover the amazing world of numbers: infinite numbers, prime numbers, Fibonacci numbers, numbers that magically appear in triangles, and numbers that expand without end. As we dream with him, we are taken further and further into mathematical theory, where ideas eventually take flight, until once-unfamiliar or difficult mathematical theories and principles become crystal clear. Hans Magnus Enzensberger is a true polymath, the kind of superb intellectual who loves thinking and marshals all of his charm and wit to share his passions with the world. In The Number Devil, he brings together the surreal logic of Alice in Wonderland and the existential geometry of Flatland with the kind of math everyone would love, if only they had a number devil to teach them.


Praise for The Number Devil

"Charming and seductive . . . We might all learn more if we each had an Enzensbergian devil to beguile us into a dream [and] to give us a glimpse of the beauty and power of mathematics."—John Allen Paulos, The New York Review of Books

"Rare and glorious."—Michael Pakenham, The Baltimore Sun

"Adults who know a little about math will find this book as enlightening as younger readers will."—Martin Gardner, Los Angeles Times

"This is one devilishly good book for math fans and math phobes alike. It is exactly the book folks are always looking for, wringing their hands and saying, 'Why aren't there more books that show the fun and imaginative parts of math?' Well, here is that book—full of the dreamlike beauty and power of math in a form that most anyone can understand. Guaranteed to send you to Number Heaven/Number Hell (which, as every kid has always known, is one and the same)."—Jon Scieszka, author of The Math Curse

"Children and their parents will find this to be a devilishly clever and instructional romp through mathematical history and theory. Hans Magnus Enzensberger delights and informs in equal measure."—Peggy Kaye, author of Games for Math and Games for Learning

"Self-described math-phobe Robert begins having surreal dreams in which he encounters a number devil, who teaches him, just for starters, the crucial importance of zero and how to make all numbers out of ones. More difficult concepts are deliberately repeated in several dreams; occasional additional problems are provided for greater challenges. Infinitely more fun than the usual word problem assignment."—Horn Book

Reviews from Goodreads