If…A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers

Smith’s (If the World Were a Village) new nonfiction book scales down huge concepts into something visual and understandable. The first thing he tackles is space. “If the Milky Way galaxy were shrunk to the size of a dinner plate… our whole Solar System—the Sun and the planets—would be far smaller than this speck of dust, too small to see. The visible Universe, on the other hand, would be about the size of Belgium”. The author doesn’t pretend to have precise figures (The big numbers and data in this book are factual, as far as we know. But nobody knows exactly how old Earth is, or exactly how big the Universe is, or exactly how big Earth’s population is, or when the first animals appeared), but with his comparisons, we can understand just how large, far away, or numerous something immeasurable to the human eye really is. He compares the planets to various sports balls, and life on earth to the periods of time on a wristwatch. The events of the last 300 years are condensed down to dates on a calendar, and inventions through time are marked off on a 36 inch tape measure (at zero, people discover fire; and 35. 8, the wheel is invented). The author addresses the size of the continents, and the amount of water on earth. Human life is mentioned on the species of living things page and the population and human life expectancy page (they don’t differentiate between male and female). Because the author uses images children are familiar with (a loaf of bread, pizza, a light-bulb, coins, and glasses of water), they can comprehend the author’s message. When measuring, he uses percentages, numbers under 100, and fractions. However, abbreviations such as I CE and 1000 BCE are not defined. Each two page spread has a different layout and use of colour. When people are shown, they are both adults and children. Facts are presented in bullet points and fact boxes. Back material includes a note for parents and teachers; there are six activities that can be used at home or a classroom. A small bibliography of books, reports and websites are listed on the last page. This would be a fun book for children in grades two to six. To win a copy of this new book, be the fifth person to email an unusual fact to [email protected]