________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 12. . . .November 21, 2014


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

David J. Smith. Illustrated by Steve Adams.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2014.
40 pp., hardcover & eBook, $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-894786-34-8.

Subject Headings:
Astronomy-Juvenile literature.
World history-Juvenile literature.
Population-Juvenile literature.
Natural resources-Juvenile literature.
Natural history-Juvenile literature.

Kindergarten-grade 7 / Ages 5-12.

Review by Kristen Ferguson.

**** /4



How big is Earth or the Solar System or the Milky Way Galaxy? How old is our planet and when did the first animals and people appear on it? Some things are so huge or so old that it’s hard to wrap your mind around them. But what if we took these big, hard-to-imagine objects and events and compared them to things we can see, feel, and touch? Instantly we would see our world in a whole new way.


If you enjoyed David Smith’s previous books, If the World Were a Village, If America Were a Village, and This Child, Every Child, you are sure to love If… A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers. Smith masterfully explains large numbers and concepts by comparing them to objects with which children are familiar. Just as crucial to the text are Adams’ illustrations that bring the comparisons to life so children can visualize these numbers and big ideas. Topics in the book include space, time, continents, money, food, energy, population, and more.

internal art

If all the water on Earth were represented by 100 glasses….
*97 of the glasses would be filled with salt water from the oceans and some lakes
*3 of the glasses would contain fresh water. One of the glasses would represent all the
fresh water available to us. The rest of the fresh water is locked up in glaciers, frozen in the atmosphere or inaccessible deep underground.

     The best thing about If… is that it can be truly enjoyed by all ages. I personally found the book captivating and was fascinated by Smith’s explanations and with the concepts and Adam’s drawings. As I read, I thought, “Wow,” “Amazing,” “That is so cool!” For older readers, there are additional sidebars for more detail and information. Readers as young as age five will also enjoy the book and grasp the concepts with the help of a parent or an older child. If… is also an excellent resource for teachers as it easily fits into Mathematics, Social Studies, History, and Geography at different grade levels. If…A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers shows us a new way of looking at our world and is a “must buy” for home and school libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Dr. Kristen Ferguson teaches literacy education at the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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