7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #340: Featuring LeUyen Pham

h1 July 21st, 2013 by jules

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Raise your hand if you’ve seen Deborah Heiligman’s new picture book biography of Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdös, who died in the mid-’90s but remains a cult figure in the world of mathematics. I knew nothing about Erdös till I read this book, and what a good picture book it is. It’s called The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös, and it’s illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (Pictured above are some of LeUyen’s sketches of Erdös throughout his life.)

I wrote about it very recently here at Kirkus, so today I’m following up with some art and sketches from LeUyen. Part of what I wrote in that column is that into her sharp, colorful illustrations for this book, LeUyen incorporates a good deal of math — from harmonic primes on Page 1, floating through the white space, as young Paul chases after them, to prime numbers on the final spread, part of the very fabric of the buildings, just waiting for observant eyes to discover them. In between, we see theorems, equations, graphs, and much more, all waiting to be found on nearly every spread. Pham explains all the math and all the art in a very lengthy and informative illustrator’s note at the close of the book.

Here are some final spreads and early sketches. Enjoy.

Early sketches

Book’s opening spread: “Paul Erdös lived in Budapest, Hungary, with his mama.
Mama loved Paul to infinity. …”

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“…One day, when he was 4, Paul asked a visitor when her birthday was. She told him. What year were you born? he asked. She told him. What time? She told him. Paul thought for a moment. Then he told her how many seconds she had been alive. …”
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Early art/sketch phase: “‘I have no home,’ he declared.
‘The world is my home.'”

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Early art/sketch phase: “…Why did friends all over the world put up with him?
And take care of him? Call him Uncle Paul and love him?”

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Book’s final spread: “A long time ago there was a boy who loved math. Numbers were his best friends. He grew up to be the man who loved math. Numbers and people were his best friends. Paul Erdös had no problem with that.”
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THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH: THE IMPROBABLE LIFE OF PAUL ERDOS. Copyright © 2013 by Deborah Heiligman. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by LeUyen Pham. Published by Roaring Brook Press, New York. All images here used with permission of LeUyen Pham and the publisher.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Sam’s new CD (pictured left) arrived, and it is remarkably good.

2) I went to lovely East Tennessee at the end of the week to talk about the best picture books of the year thus far for the University of Tennessee’s Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature.

3) I saw some friends while I was there.

4) I got big hugs from my family when I returned.

5) I am very much enjoying Orange Is the New Black. It makes me laugh, cry, and think. And the acting. So good.

6) This wonderful chat with Leonard Marcus at Fine Books & Collections.

7) Last week I said I’ve had more work than normal this summer, yet I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Right now, I’m so close that my hand is reaching out and can feel the warmth of the light. I’m very near to having my normal work schedule back (or what passes for normal for me).

What are YOUR kicks this week?

22 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #340: Featuring LeUyen Pham”

  1. LeUyen’s work is lovely. I’m a fan of her previous work as well.
    I am also a fan of math, so I’ll be looking for this book.
    That’s right, I like math. I’m not afraid to admit it.
    Eastern Tennessee sounds lovely. I’ve only been to Memphis which is lovely but very hot and sticky.
    1. It’s about ten degrees cooler here than the rest of the state.
    2. Parks and Rec. Camp made the daycare situation go smoothly this week.
    3. The Civil Wars have a new album.
    4. I can throw myself into the nearby lake or ocean when it gets too hot.
    5. Binge watching Breaking Bad like a couple of addicts.
    6. Had my niece babysit for the first time for us. Win. Win.Win
    7. Good people in my life.
    Keep Cool my friends.

  2. I have seen and read so many wonderful things about this book. I’m hoping my visit to the library today will allow me to finally see a copy.

    Jules: I love Tennessee. I spent a couple of summers there attending storytelling classes in Jonesborough. Do you happen to have a list of the books you talked about? (hint, hint) Hugs from daughters—the best thing there is.

    Moira: It’s a blessing to have water nearby to cool off.

    My kicks:
    1. Air conditioning
    2. Cooler temperatures near the end of the week
    3. Water to keep my flowers and veggies from drying up
    4. Iced tea—lots of iced tea
    5. Hydrangeas are blooming
    6. Dog fur that smells like sunshine
    7. Strolls with Xena
    Have a wonderful week!

  3. Stopping by swiftly on my way to the Barnstable County Fair on Cape Cod.

    Here’s my attempt at a minimalist border ballad (which, I am told, fits perfectly with the melody for “Lucille” by Kenny Rogers):

    Young Jericho Gilder
    Was raised up a builder.
    For his wife
    When they married
    He made:
    A twelve-story tower
    (Which took him an hour)
    By untwisting
    Her bonny blond braid.

    And Jericho told her,
    “I’m hardly a soldier.
    I’ve no gift
    For bludgeoning blind.
    But I’ll build you a hovel
    With pick and a shovel
    From a brick
    And the quick
    Of my mind.”

    Old Jericho Gilder
    Was always a builder.
    To his wife
    When they parted
    He swore:
    “I will frame you a ladder,
    For nothing is sadder
    Than a box without locks
    Or a door.”

    © 2013 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

  4. Steven- I once worked the Barnstable County Fair, have fun.

  5. An intriguing book. Harmonic prime numbers? Wow. I love the art work and will see if the library has it.
    Jules, here’s a hand to pull you out of the tunnel of work. Enjoy the rest of the summer.
    Moira, I am on a Breaking Bad binge, too. Also like the Civil Wars.
    Margie, ice tea and dogs.
    Steven, the fair sounds fun.
    My kicks:
    1. Being at the coast with oldest grandgirl for four days.
    2. Daily walks with Buster.
    3. Lunch and writing critique group session.
    4. Planning to go to NCTE in Boston.
    5. Working on a grant proposal.
    6. Reading a Maisie Dobbs book.
    7. S’mores on the beach.
    Have a great week.

  6. Good morning, Imps! Happy Sunday to you!

    I enjoy LeUyen Pham’s work in other books, such as the
    Alvin Ho series. Bonus kudos for MATH.

    Jules: Enjoy the music! This week, both Matt Nathanson and Sara Bareilles released new albums, and they are both wonderful. I’ve had them on constant repeat all week.

    Moira: Yay math! I’m looking forward to the new album by The Civil Wars as well.

    Margie: Hello to your garden, and your Xena!

    Steven: Have fun at the fair!

    Jone: Good luck with the grant proposal.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Wrapped the film
    2 and 3) Auditioned for two different new musicals
    4) Rehearsals for the show that opens Friday!
    5) Timing is everything
    6) Music – see above re: new Matt Nathanson and Sara Bareilles albums
    7) Pushing through

  7. Hello, Kickers!

    This looks like such a nice book: rich, beautiful, and fun. Apparently like a lot of the Imps, I like math too. (Everybody always talks about the good old days. Phooey. Why didn’t they have books like this when I was a kid?!?)

    I like what Jone said about lending Jules a hand. I think we should all form a circle around the gaping hole in the ground which is Jules’s summer workload, and reach waaaaaay in… Or if she’s too far in for any one of us to reach, maybe we can form a chain.

    Yay! for Sam’s new album, which I have. not. got. (Yet.) Thanks too for the Orange/Black rec; I’ve been thinking about starting that. (But just watched the first ep of House of Cards so it will be a while. :))

    Lots of great kicks from everyone this week, as always. (And a lovely country waltz of a new poem from Steven.) Thanks so much, everyone, for always affirming the common sense, decency, and good humor of people I know.

    Kicks here:

    1. Have had fun participating in and following a Barbara Stanwyck blogathon this week, featuring close to FIFTY bloggers. Yowza. It’s still going on, so if you’re a Stanwyck fan get thee thataway.)
    2. Finished (I think!) a new story this week, the first in a long time.
    3. Also started a new blog series I’m excited about, the switch for which was flipped by a 7-Imp post (re: Gennady Spirin’s frogs) back in April.
    4. The music of Caitlin Rose.
    5. The Pooch finally got her car seat. Maybe now she’ll stop nagging us about how dismal and stuffy and confining her portable carrier is. (She’s a very eloqent nagger for somebody with a barking range of maybe three notes.)
    6. Anticipation of meeting with my audiologist this week about new hearing aids. Always fun researching in advance how technology has changed in the last 2-3 years.
    7. Anticipation, too, of pricing a new computer. Still not sure we’ll be able to afford it, but this one is 9-1/2 years old (more precisely, for you Paul Erdös types: 9.55890410959 years) and I’m something of a fantasist, so…

    Have a great week, all!

  8. Moira, glad you’re staying cool (both literally and figuratively). Also, I am very ready for the final eps of Breaking Bad.

    Margie, Jonesborough is so wonderful. I miss their storytelling festivals. Haven’t been to one in so long. If you’re ever in TN again, you know you gotta let me know, and I’ll try to drive to see you!

    Steven, now I have to look up the melody for “Lucille,” as I can’t remember it at all. Thanks for sharing the poem.

    Jone, oooh, when is NCTE? I want to go to one of those conferences one day. … So glad you enjoyed time with your granddaughter.

    Little Willow, break a leg on Friday!

    John: The chain idea makes me heart feel all happy and fluttery. Thanks, but I can already tell I’m close to the end! … As I told you earlier, I finished Orange Is the New Black and have been thinking about it a lot. Very good show, and I’m so ready for season two of House of Cards. … Love the idea for the blog series! So glad 7-Imp flipped the switch. … What’s a dog’s car seat look like? This is a new idea to me. … Good luck with the new computer. Your Erdös reference made me giggle.

  9. So this book looks mighty wonderful. I’ve been waiting for it, and your posting this week makes me all the more excited. Thanks so much.

    Jules – great kicks. And yes, I agree with Margie – could you, would you share the books you thought were among the best so far this year? Maybe you could send them to Lolly and Robin for the Calling Caldecott blog and they’d do a summer post.

    Good news about the light at the end of the tunnel! WHEN do you have time to watch TV or movies!!??

    Awesome kicks from everyone – I love coming here to read and be inspired. Steven so glad you slipped us another poem/ballad. Hope everyone is surviving the heat where ever you are. We were in Columbus and Cleveland OH and it was brutal!

    My Kicks:
    1. great family visit with my Hubby’s family this past week in VERY hot Ohio
    2. lots of salted caramel ice cream from Jeni’s in Columbus OH
    3. started ‘Show Me a Story’ by Leonard Marcus which I’ve been meaning to read since it came out
    4. doing a mini study of Kadir Nelson’s work – loving it!
    5. reading Kadir Nelson’s Mandela with my Little about 5 times a day (his choice!) this week and then finding out there is a movie about Nelson Mandela coming out in November.
    6. went to a lovely wedding last night – so happy for this couple

    Happy Art Week!

  10. Allison: I watch my TV shows late late late at night!

    I had salted caramel ice cream for dinner. No, really.

    Good topic for a mini study!

    I will email you and Margie the list I used! Promise.

  11. I kinda hate math. Maybe things would have been different if I had read great picture books like The Boy Who Loved Math as a child!

    My Kick of the Year: I was just inducted Chair of the Philippine Board on Books for Young People.

  12. Fly-by to cheer for TARIE! Congratulations!! 🙂


  14. Go, Tarie!

    Jules, this is the brand of dog car seat we got (although we actually got it at another site):

  15. Yes, my congrats to Tarie also! This is fantastic.

    Thanks Jules for the reply!

  16. Wow, John. I didn’t even know those EXISTED. (I’m now laughing at how ripped-up one for a cat would be.)

  17. Hello, Jules! It’s been awhile. I’ve missed reading others’ kicks, too. I’m heading off to guitar camp this next weekend, and won’t be able to check in then, but that is one big kick to share now. JES, please let us know about the new hearing aids. I saw some hearing aids in an article a few years ago where the approach was to combine art with technology. There was a beautiful hearing aid in the shape and pattern of a striped spiral shell. –F.

  18. Congrats Tarie!

  19. Farida, enjoy guitar camp!

    Did you all see that Emmaco HAD HER BABY?!!

  20. Jules, I want the list too. NCTE is in Boston.

  21. Just forwarded it to you, Jone!

  22. Hey Jules it’s good to be checking in and catching up after months. I love Pham’s work so ill definitely but this on the request list at the library. And I’d love to see your best books list too!

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