a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Mouse and his Child (1967)
Russell Hoban

Not really a kids book (too violent and depressing) nor an adult book (about a toy mouse that goes on an adventure, with illustrations) this is nonetheless an interesting allegory for those so inclined. The mathematical content of the book is very small. Our mouse heros meet a muskrat who is clearly supposed to represent mathematicians. He solves his problem (to chop down a tree) by setting up a notation and writing (somewhat nonsensical) equations.

Thanks to Malcolm Rowley who wrote to remind me that the animal in question was the muskrat and that the muskrat was killed by his solution in the end. Malcolm also adds "It is a childrens book. At least, it's a book for my kids. They love it."

Contributed by Emily Cho

"I was looking for information on Hoban's The Mouse and His Child and stumbled across your site. An interesting concept, to link literature with mathematics. I've always thought that arts and sciences should never been viewed as separate concepts. I first read The Mouse and His Child this past school year, in a second year university-level children's literature course. It is now one of my all-time favourite stories, and I think it stands alongside Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) in its deepness and its philosophies. The Mouse and His Child is definitely a memorable book that can bring laughter and tears to many readers."

Contributed by M. Peter Engelbrite

In the "Last Visible Dog" theme, there is a can of dog food with a picture of a dog on it holding that same can, which has a dog holding a can, etc. This is referred to as embodying infinity, but it strikes me as a good illustration of convergent series.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to The Mouse and his Child
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Heroic Adventures of Hercules Amsterdam by Melissa Glenn Haber
  2. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster / Jules Feiffer (Illustrator)
  3. The Number Devil [Der Zahlenteufel] by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
  4. Jayden's Rescue by Vladimir Tumanov
  5. A Gebra Named Al by Wendy Isdell
  6. Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn
  7. Three Days in Karlikania by Vladimir Levshin
  8. Little Zero the Seafarer [Captain One's frigate] by Vladimir Levshin
  9. The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster
  10. Lost in Lexicon: An Adventure in Words and Numbers by Pendred Noyce
Ratings for The Mouse and his Child:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
1.78/5 (9 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.92/5 (12 votes)

GenreFantasy, Children's Literature, Young Adult,
MotifMath as Cold/Dry/Useless,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)