NZ Book Month – The Biggest Number in the Universe

biggestnumberThe Biggest Number in the Universe, by Julie Leibrich, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird

A metaphysical book. Nesta wants a big number, so she goes to visit the mathematician next door. He is grumpy: he has just lost a very important number. Nesta helpfully suggests that it might be in the garden, but…

What a silly girl you are!
I don’t keep numbers in the garden.
I keep them in the kitchen.

“I’ve got numbers in bottles and numbers in jars
and a giant bowl for counting stars.
I don’t let my numbers out to play.
I don’t like my numbers running away!”

Eventually Nesta persuades the mathematician to lend her a number to take to school, but it is a slippery slinky number – 888,888,888 – and she loses it. But she makes it up with the mathematician, who teaches her a secret.

I’ll teach you how to count.
We’ll show them a thing or two,

If they boast their number’s the biggest,
just slowly repeat what they’ve said.
Then quietly whisper ‘…and ONE.’
And watch them scratch their head!

The biggest number in the whole wide world
is the perfect number one.
There’s only one perfect YOU in the world.
Without you, there’d be none.

Nesta and the magician sit outside, counting stars, and come up with a massive number.

“And ONE,” chimed Nesta.

My children got their first glimpse of infinity through this book.

The mathematician is suitably wild and shaggy. I don’t know any mathematicians, but he does remind me of a few philosophers I have met.


NZBMsmlI’m taking up Ele’s challenge, and blogging a book a day in October, which is New Zealand Book Month. All the books are by New Zealand authors.


2 comments on “NZ Book Month – The Biggest Number in the Universe

  1. […] at In A Strange Land has been reading The Biggest Number in the Universe by Julie Leibrich illustrated by Ross […]

  2. Ariane says:

    Sounds great, I remember trying to grapple with infinity with my then 4yr old. Fun times. 🙂

    Most mathematicians I know (quite a few as it turns out) are anything but wild and shaggy, although I have known at least one wild and shaggy philosopher. 🙂

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