Title: Ramanujan: From Zero To Infinity (Great Minds at Work Series)
Author: Arundhati Venkatesh
Publisher: Duckbill – An imprint of Penguin Random House
Age group: 10 years+
Ramanujan – Unexpected and Funny
The many series from Duckbill – whether it is the “Dreamers” series or “Not My War” series, are just fantastic. Inspiring, informative and gently told stories, they put me in awe. When they announced “Great Minds at Work” and that too with Ramanujan, I was quite keen to get my hands at it. I loved numbers as a child (still do), and delighted in finding patterns in them. So a peek into the world of Ramanujan as a child was something I was certainly not going to miss.
Who knew Ramanujan loved puns? Who knew Ramanujan loved laughing at himself? It is these lesser known facts that make great minds seem almost like us, and human, and Arundhati Venkatesh does a great job of doing that.
The story traces the camaraderie and rivalry between six friends as they compete with various challenges their teachers set out for them. This includes Kicha who excels at catching mosquitoes and loves eating flowers, Saranga who has almost photographic memory, Pacha who is bossy and sometimes harsh, Jambu is strong and has a can-do attitude, Nachu is just the opposite—paranoid and worrier and Ramanju (as Ramanujan is fondly called) obsessive about numbers, and puzzles and riddles.
For me, Pacha was a delight to read. I loved his journey from “following orders” to a realisation that questioning is important. The story is replete with many riddles and Arundhati Venkatesh does a great job of bringing back some of the classic puzzles that we used to solve as kids. All chapter numbers are cute mathematical expressions that I loved solving and am sure the kids will too.
Illustrations by Priya Kurian! I am yet to see anything from her I have disliked. The cute little characters with their even cuter expressions were just delightful.
Writing a book like this is certainly not easy and requires for the author to tread the fine-line between turning a character to caricature or to fun. Ramanujan, as a child, as Arundhati imagined him, is cute, eccentric and lovable. Just like I’d imagined him to be. An afterword at the end of the book, was very informative and provided a lot of finer and not-so-well-known details of the person that was Ramanujan.
I look forward to the next book in the Great Minds at Work series and look forward to being inspired by their childhood.
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Disclaimer: Mandira is part of the #kbcReviewerSquad and received this book as a review copy from the publisher. She is the author of the award winning book Children of the Hidden Land.