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Just the Right Size: Why Big Animals Are Big and Little Animals Are Little (Animal Science) Hardcover – July 28, 2009

7 customer reviews

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Dr. Seuss' Ultimate Horton Collection
Dr. Seuss' Ultimate Horton Collection
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–8—This unique title uses geometry to discuss the varying strengths and capabilities of different animals. In a chatty tone, Davies starts off by describing the strict rules that control what bodies can and cannot do. She goes on to explain how the strongest animals are much smaller than humans. "Some important features of bodies—like how much food and air they need—depend on volume and weight. Others—like the strength of muscles—depend on cross section or surface area." This is the basis for the BTLT (Big Thing, Little Thing) Rule: "If you DOUBLE the length of something, its surface area and cross section go up FOUR times, while its volume and weight go up EIGHT times!" BTLT is used throughout to explain why humans cannot fly, yet Arctic terns can travel 20,000 miles every year from pole to pole and back again. Humans cannot lift buses, but the rhinoceros beetle can lift 850 times its own weight. The author uses clear language and engaging examples throughout. Cartoon illustrations add humor and clarity to the book. A handy introduction to animal sizes.—Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI
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About the Author

Nicola Davies has written many award-winning books for children, including POOP, EXTREME ANIMALS, and WHAT'S EATING YOU?, as well as BIG BLUE WHALE, ONE TINY TURTLE, SURPRISING SHARKS, and BAT LOVES THE NIGHT. She lives in Somerset, England.

Neal Layton is the illustrator of POOP, EXTERME ANIMALS, and WHAT'S EATING YOU? He lives in Portsmouth, England.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1140L (What's this?)
  • Series: Animal Science
  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763639249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763639242
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 0.5 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,277,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Lowrance on March 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From the title I thought this would be a good book for my grandchildren but found it so poor I hope they never read it. Examples, "the biggest spider on Earth is only 12 inches long" (only is such a poor choice of wording for the biggest spider on Earth. Example: "the worlds biggest ape, the male gorilla is teeny compared to King Kong", assuming that the child knows who/what King Kong is. Exmple: a cartoon accompanying the caption "Rhinocerous beetles can carry 850 times their own weight" shows a beetle supporting a platter of a much smaller and therefore lighter beetles, completely at variance with one of the primary themes of the book. Example: page 48 states "Wildebeasts migrate 1800 miles a year, following the rains and fresh grass across East AFrica, --------
The accompanying cartoon shows a herd ofwildebeasts passing a sign saying "last fresh grass for 1800 miles" a contradiction of the text. And it gets worse.`
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Neal Layton, "Just the Right Size: Why Big Animals Are Big and Little Animals Are Little" is more than a witty, appealing children's bestiary with fascinating details about both tiny spiders and huge blue whales. It provides information and education about evolution and physics of zoology, plus a vital piece of data called the BTLT rule. Briefly stated, the Big Thing Little Thing Rule is: If you double the length of something, its surface area and cross section go up four times, while its volume and weight go up eight times! What this means in terms of living creatures is that some (humongous) monsters actually can't evolve or exist. This is because clearly while Big Things are going to need lots more (approximately 8 times as mich) air, water, food, space, etc. than Little Things, they are actually only 4 times stronger than the Little Things that they are 8 times bigger than! So the BTLT rule imposes a natural limit on the size bodies can be in the known universe. It also explains why, for example humans can't fly (with their arms or muscles) but birds can. "Just the Right Size" ends with a fascinating summary of why there is diversity of life. "To Obey the BTLT rule, living things evolved that weren't just different sizes ; but different shapes and patterns too. This has resulted in all sorts of bodies: bodies with one cell or millions, with bones or shells, with gills or lungs, with legs or no legs; bodies that can be 'superheroes' and bodies that can think about why they can't be. An ever-changing kaleidoscope of life, a glorious diversity of species, from the very tiniest to the most enormous - and all of them JUST THE RIGHT SIZE! (P. 58)." "Just the Right Size" is especially suitable and recommended for children ages 6-11. Its humorous cartoon illustrations and handy glossary make it a very user-friendly book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Emily Kissner on October 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Nicola Davies is one of my favorite authors. "Surprising Sharks" and "One Tiny Turtle" are in constant circulation in my fourth grade classroom. Davies has a way of making challenging ideas engaging and approachable.

This book takes on what seems like an abstract and uninteresting topic--the issue of animal size. But Davies manages to make it relevant. Why can't giant spiders exist? Why can't humans be superheroes who can lift up buses? Davies explains why using a "Big Thing/Little Thing" rule, or BTLT, which she refers to again and again. Her writing style interested both of my sons. While the 10 year old enjoyed the concept, my 4 year old was drawn to the cartoon-style pictures. And, I must admit, I was very relieved to read that my fear of giant spiders is unfounded--they simply can't exist. Whew!

For writing teachers, this book will be a great mentor text. There are so many good things going on--an interesting beginning, strong voice, cartoons to illustrate key concepts, and a conclusion that ties everything together. In the reading classroom, I see this book as an expository text that will be irresistible to kids who like graphic novels. Don't miss this one!
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Format: Paperback
Here are some of the interesting tidbits I learned from reading JUST THE RIGHT SIZE. A rhinoceros beetle can carry 850 times its own weight. Artic terns travel from the Artic to the Antarctic and back again each year. Male sperm whales are almost twice the size of female sperm whales. There are several other facts about animals and nature like those scattered throughout the book. However, the premise of the book is that creatures are all just the right size they are supposed to be. Using a geometric rule the author refers to as the BTLT rule (if you double the length of something, its surface area and cross section go up four times, while its volume and weight go up eight times!), JUST THE RIGHT SIZE attempts to explain why there can't be such things as giants, why humans can't fly, why people don't have superheroes, and why there can't be monster insects. The information in the book is accompanied with all kinds of illustrations and everything is presented in a format that is easy for children to understand and mentally digest.

I enjoy learning new things and memorizing facts about nature. I've also read previous books by the author that I've enjoyed. However, I was a little bit disappointed by JUST THE RIGHT SIZE. Though the information is presented in a way that children can understand, I didn't like how some of the information is presented. For instance, simple adjectives are overused (only, very, teeny, tiny, etc.) in many of the descriptions.

The major thing I didn't like about the book is that the information is presented in a dictatorial fashion. The BTLT "rule" is true most of the time, but not always. For example, the tallest man in history with irrefutable proof was the Alton Giant, Robert Waldow, who was 8'11.1" when he died.
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