Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Big and Little - Books in Which Size Matters

I love books that look at size and try to make the measurements concrete and understandable for kids (and adults). Here are a few of my favorites for looking at how large (or small) something really is.

I am CRAZY about the work done by Steve Jenkins. His size books are marvels, as are his comparative books. I can't say enough good things about them, so do check out these fantastic titles.

Actual Size, written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins - Do you want to go face-to-face (literally) with a Siberian tiger? How about an anteater's tongue? Would seeing a spider the size of a dinner plate frighten you? In this volume, Steve Jenkins turns his skills with paper toward illustrating entire animals or large features of others. Readers can not only place their hands against a gorilla's palm to see how it fits, but also compare themselves to a variety of other animals. The illustrated back matter depicts each animal (in full) and is accompanied by a description of the creature.

Prehistoric Actual Size, written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins - Following on the heels of Actual Size, this book features interesting aspects of prehistoric figures.

Big and Little, written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins - This book offers pairs of animals that are related but vastly different in size. 

How Big Is It?: A BIG Book All About BIGness, written by Ben Hillman - How big is a polar bear? You can read all about how heavy and how big the world's largest carnivore is, but until you see it standing on its hind legs towering over an NBA regulation basket, it's hard to really understand. The beauty of this book is that in answering the question "How big is it?", Hillman shows readers by juxtaposing the thing under consideration with an object more familiar. Comparisons include the Quetzalcoatlus (extinct flying reptile) with an F-18 Hornet fighter jet, the Arecibo Radio Telescope with the Eiffel Tower stretched across its diameter, California redwoods against the Brooklyn skyline, and more. (You can view some excerpts at Hillman's web site.)

Is It Larger? Is It Smaller? by Tana Hoban - No math collection is complete without the fabulous wordless books of Tana Hoban. Using stunning photographs, this book introduces young children to examples of big and small in the world around them.

Robert Wells has written and illustrated two wonderful books about size comparisons.

Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?, written and illustrated by Robert Wells - If you thought a blue whale was big, think again. Just the flukes of this creature are bigger than most other creatures on Earth. But how does the blue whale compare to other "big" things." How does it compare to Mount Everest? How does Mount Everest compare to the Earth? How does the Earth compare to the sun? Wells' illustrations show readers just how big some things in are universe really are.

What's Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew?, written and illustrated by Robert Wells - While a pygmy shrew can fit in your hand, there are still much smaller things in this world. Moving in the opposite direction of Is a Blue What the Biggest Thing There Is?, Wells introduces readers to increasingly smaller and smaller objects. After the shrew we see a ladybug, protozoa, molecules, atoms, and more.

A Pig is Big, written and illustrated by Douglas Florian - "What's big?" That's the question that opens this book. The pig on the cover asks the question and then compares himself to cows, cars, trucks, streets, the neighborhood, the city, the earth, and the universe. This text provides a nice study on relative size.

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