All About Nothing
Nina Sabnani
Nina Sabnani
age group: 
7+ yrs
Number of pages: 
mathematics zero ancient India
picture book, creative nonfiction


My seven year old son quizzed me as he worked his way through his mathematics homework, “Mama, who discovered numbers?”  Little did I know that the very next day I will be reading to him an energetic and vibrant book on the discovery of the magical number – zero.

This is a rare occasion where a book is an adaptation of a film.   Machu, a trader of precious stones is perpetually confused with numbers.  One day, a stranger from a far away land comes to Machu and buys bags full of diamonds.  Machu is now rich.  Numbers swirl around in his head.  “His brain whirred loudly inside him.....head buzzed furiously.”  Till he discovers the new number, "sifr, zipher, cipher, zero!"

The text and illustrations in the book progress in perfect harmony.  The ochre and vermilion colours of the background reflect the heightened energy pulsating in Machu. The hatched lines symbolise his inner confusion.  Kids will love the fact that Machu's children helped him along the process of discovery of the all important number.

My son also enjoyed the two little birds who present the titbits of information that explain non-English words, essential to the underlying concept.

A must for a mathematics teacher to integrate with the school curriculum.  It makes a great bedtime story, too!

Reviewed by Ruhi Gurjar


This book is selected by my daughter Anshika V

This book is not on the Reading List for this year's competition. But nevertheless, please do go ahead and get it for your child. It's an interesting book.