iF…: a mind-bending new way of looking at big ideas and numbers

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David J Smith (text),  Steve Adams (illustrations) iF…: A mind-bending new way of looking at big ideas and numbers,  New Frontier Publishing,  1 February 2015, $29.99(hbk),  40pp., ISBN 9781925059267

Originally published by Kids Can Press, this excellent picture book by two Canadian creators is well worth a look. What it attempts to do is to scale down some very large concepts to everyday objects to try to give young readers a sense of the proportions of these things and their component parts.

For example, the planets of our solar system are compared to each other in size by showing them as balls. Mercury is a ping-pong ball, Venus a tennis ball, Earth a baseball, Mars a golf ball, Jupiter a gym fitness ball etc. This particular comparison works extremely well, as does the double-page spread showing the amount of space on Earth taken up by each continent and the oceans and the global food supply described as a loaf of bread. Other comparisons also work well but perhaps the least successful are the pages where the objects are illustrated in a way which is less straightforward and where the eye does not necessarily follow the correct sequence.

The colours used are attractive and appealing, with different colour schemes on every opening. The objects used for comparison are instantly recognisable, although the jumbo pizza is rectangular, not round. The people are all shown stylistically with smiling expressions but most with Caucasian colouring and features.

The book begins with an introduction and ends with notes for parents and teachers, a list of sources used and another of websites. There is no conclusion or index.

Overall this book is engaging and different. While some of the concepts have been commonly used before, such as life on Earth shown as an hour on a watch, others give pause for thought and should result in lots of questions. Recommended.  Teacher’s Notes are available on the New Frontier website.

reviewed by Lynne Babbage

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