by Joseph D'Agnese, illustrated by John O'Brien
Henry Holt, 2010. 40 pgs. Biography.
Many grown-ups will have first heard of the Fibonacci sequence in connection with Dan Brown's bestselling The Da Vinci Code, but kids and their math-challenged elders will find a much less complex and lovelier introduction in D'Agnese's new book about the Italian boy who was so driven to distraction by numbers that everyone called him a blockhead. But Leonardo "Blockhead" Fibonacci codified for the Western world (the Hindus already had it figured out) the sequential constructions of nature. O'Brien's splendid illustrations soften one's math anxiety and give youngsters clear visualizations of Fibonacci's findings. Blockhead . . . is an excellent book for mathematically inclined youngsters and those who might wish to be. (If you think, like I did, that the term "blockhead" is a modern insult applied to ancient times, wrong again! It has been in use since the 1540s and I would guess their were plenty of blockheads in action even before then. I speak from experience.)