Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Summer Reading 2020 Your Place in the Universe

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Jason Chin has created a book that leads readers from their own experiences (the size of other children, books, trees) outward to the edge of the observable universe. He explains units of measurement from inches to light years, and makes comparisons to help develop perspective. For instance, an eight-year-old child is about 5 times as tall as a copy of the book, but two children would not be as tall as an ostrich. Buildings, mountains, atmospheric layers, distances within the solar system...the scale expands like ripples on a pond.

The illustrations, as one would expect from Jason Chin, are beautiful and detailed. The spread showing Mount Everest captures the grandeur of the snowy peaks, but also includes the tiny silhouettes of the world's tallest buildings. Readers may have to look twice to even notice the Empire State Building or Burj Khalifa standing in the shadows of the mountain. And the illustration of the distance to the International Space Station shows all the atmospheric layers, complete with the Himalayas as a small ripple along the bottom of the scene. One detail I particularly appreciated is the diversity of the children shown and the fact that most of these stargazing youngsters are girls.

There are plenty of labels and small notes included on the pages, but the back matter is full of additional details about telescopes, the solar system, the universe and other topics mentioned in the text. There are also a list of selected sources, an author's note, and suggested websites. This book is an excellent way to introduce students to how our planet fits into the grand scheme of the universe and as a way to discuss different types of measurements for various scales of distance.

I read a review copy provided by the publisher through edelweiss.

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