BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Book Review: Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia

Title: Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia

Publisher: Holiday House

Author: D. Anne Love

Illustrator: Pam Paparone

ISBN: 0-8234-1621-6

Price: $16.95 US

Once upon a time, in ancient Alexandria, there lived a young girl named Hypatia. Daughter of the brilliant mathematician Theon, Hypatia proved to be quick with numbers herself. And not just numbers! As she grew into womanhood, Hypatia studied grammar and rhetoric, zoology and botany, astronomy and philosophy. So learned and well-respected was Hypatia that students traveled from all over the ancient world to study with her, listen to her lectures, and read her commentaries on the works of other great scientists and philosophers. Even today, fifteen hundred years later, she stands as a model of what a woman can accomplish if she sets her mind to it ....

I blame Galina Krasskova for this one. Hypatia of Alexandria is a personal hero of mine. She was an extraordinary woman who accomplished a great deal during her life -- a life which was cut tragically and violently short. So, when Galina mentioned a children's book about Hypatia, I immediately tracked down and bought a copy.

This is the book you want to give the budding scientist or mathematician or philosopher in your life. Or even the little girl who is starting to absorb all those subtle messages that "girls can't do this-or-that" or that her appearance is more important than her mind or what she does with it. Give that girl this book.

And, when she gets old enough to ask what became of Hypatia ... well, there are important lessons there, too, about tolerance, freedom, and righteous anger.

Highly recommended to fans of Heroines: Great Women Through the Ages by Rebecca Hazell; Dignifying Science: Stories About Women Scientists by Jimmy Ottoviani; and The Serpent Slayer: And Other Stories of Strong Women by Katrin Tchana and Trina Schart Hyman.


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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore Monday, 01 October 2012

    Very cool. Just watched "Agora" with R. Weisz and started to look for some fiction on her. Thanks for the lead. :D

  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan Monday, 01 October 2012

    @Hunter: the only two works of fiction of which I am aware are "Flow Down Like Silver" by Ki Longfellow; and "Hypatia, or New Foes with an Old Face" by Charles Kingsley. I haven't read either, so I can't offer an opinion of them. Has anyone else read them?

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