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

Last updated Monday, November 2, 2015

Author: David J. Smith
Illustrator: Steve Adams
Date of Publication: 2014
ISBN: 1894786343
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2015

Synopsis: "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'd see our world in a whole new way." So begins this endlessly intriguing guide to better understanding all those really big ideas and numbers children come across on a regular basis. Author David J. Smith has found clever devices to scale down everything from time lines (the history of Earth compressed into one year), to quantities (all the wealth in the world divided into one hundred coins), to size differences (the planets shown as different types of balls). Accompanying each description is a kid-friendly drawing by illustrator Steve Adams that visually reinforces the concept. By simply reducing everything to human scale, Smith has made the incomprehensible easier to grasp, and therefore more meaningful. The children who just love these kinds of fact-filled, knock-your-socks-off books will want to read this one from cover to cover. There is also a full page of resource information at the back of the book

Note to readers:
•  Page 4 explains the premise of the book.
•  You can skip around in the book. Refer to the contents page for this information.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What kinds of topics do you think are covered in the book?
•  Do you know of different ways to look at ideas or numbers?


•  Galaxies - large systems of stars
•  Universe - the whole world
•  Compressed - pressed into less space
•  Condensed - reduced in volume, area, length, or scope
•  Nuclear - powered by atomic energy

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Which is your favorite scale - down topic?
•  What was the most interesting thing you learned?
•  What topic would you like to see scaled down?

Craft ideas:
•  Have kids choose their favorite topic from the book and recreate that scale using construction paper, pipe cleaners, craft sticks, etc. or other available supplies.
•  Check out our Pinterest for craft suggestions! https://www.pinterest.com/readingtokids/november-2015-crafts/

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!