Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: If: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David J. Smith

If the Solar System's planets were shrunk down to the size of sports balls, and Earth were the size of a baseball, what size would the other planets be? If your lifespan was represented by a pizza divided into twelve slices, how many slices would represent your time spent in school? These questions and more are explored in this innovative and visually appealing book about very big concepts made accessible when scaled down to kid-friendly size.
This book probably isn't typical bedtime reading for kids, but it's still worth a read, especially if your child likes science.

In If: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers, the measurement of things like money, continents, planets, species, history, etc. are scaled down or given an equivalent measurement or scale such that kids will find it easier to see how relatively big or small something is.

I thought this was a fascinating idea. While you may know in theory how big something is and that it's bigger or smaller than some other thing, you may not always grasp their relationship easily. Scaling them down and placing them in familiar situations may help you see the bigger picture.

I'm not sure what medium was used in rendering the illustrations, possibly digital, but it did look a little bit like paint with some areas showing scratches made with a different color.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the e-ARC. Publication date of If: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers is on August 1, 2014.


  1. It helps put things into perspective.
  2. Kids can learn a lot.
  3. It's something kids and parents can enjoy together.


  1. Some kids may find it boring. 

If the entire history of Earth from the very beginning were a two-hour DVD, humans would appear in the last second of the video. 

  1. Your kid likes science.
  2. Your child has a hard time visualizing how big planets are.
  3. You're looking for an educational children's book. 



Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.

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