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Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? (Wells of Knowledge Science) Paperback – January 1, 1993


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Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? (Wells of Knowledge Science) + What's Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew? (Wells of Knowledge Science Series) + How Do You Lift a Lion? (Wells of Knowledge Science Series)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 6
  • Series: Wells of Knowledge Science
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807536563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807536568
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 7 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This raffish primer on the meaning of "big" delivers a healthy, age-appropriate jolt to common assumptions about proportion and numbers. Beginning with a blue whale's flukes ("the 'flipper' parts of the tail, all by themselves bigger than most of Earth's creatures"), Wells projects the relative sizes of Mount Everest (20 giant jars filled with 100 blue whales each), the earth, the un, the Milky Way, right out to the universe itself. Child-friendly watercolors show a bag of 100 planet earths dwarfed by the sun, and a crate of 100 "sun-sized oranges" inconsequential atop Antares, "a red supergiant star." Somewhat understandably, Wells's pictures and analogies wither as he tackles the magnitude of galaxies and the universe. To prevent readers from choking on these perceptual mouthfuls, valuable introductory and final notes suggest a relatively concrete scale: for instance, counting to a thousand takes about 12 minutes, counting to a million takes 3 weeks at 10 hours per day, but counting to a billion takes a lifetime. Ages 6-11.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-3-With its bright primary colors; cartoon illustrations; and readable, conversational text, this picture book will find a niche in most collections. Not a story as such, it begins on the title page with the question, "Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?" and answers it in a series of cumulative examples. Millions of blue whales placed into enormous jars and stacked up don't begin to compare to the colossal size of Mt. Everest, just as even 100 Mt. Everests piled up only make up a whisker on the face of the Earth. Taking this comparison to the outer limits of the imagination, Wells ends up with the biggest thing there is-the universe. Librarians and teachers could use this book to introduce units on size, measuring, or relativity. And it would be useful to demonstrate how to make beginning graphs in a fun, accessible way.
Jan Shephard Ross, Dixie Elementary Magnet School, Lexington, KY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Robert E. Wells (Robert Ernest Wells) was born in Pasadena, CA in 1940. In the 90s, he began to put words and pictures into the form of children's books, and now in the new century he continues to do so. In 1993 he wrote and illustrated his first book, "Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There is?". Other books include "What's Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew?" (Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children, 1996), "What's Faster Than a Speeding Cheetah?", and his latest book, "Why Do Elephants Need the Sun?". Many of his books have been translated into various other languages.

He and his wife Karen live just outside of Wenatchee, Washington.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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The kids really love this book.
Sara Rivers
It's a great way to involve children in the concept of estimating and they really get into guessing "how many" or trying to predict the very biggest thing there is.
RFN
The pictures were engaging, and the text was approachable for his understanding level.
WeeBeaks

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Darryl Nightingale on September 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Fantastic book, despite the nit-picking in one of the editorial reviews above.
This book really helps little kids come to grips with the idea of relative size. My preschool and kindergarten ESL students will founder when asked to understand/believe that a little patch of color on a globe is their country (Taiwan). Heck, kids this age don't even have much idea what a country is, let alone how big it is in relation to anything else. But this book sure set some lightbulbs to poppin' over kid's heads! That's how I measure the success of my classes and the materials I use in them, and by that measure, this book is a clear winner of the Darryl Award for Excellence in Children's Literature in the Field of Science and Mathematics!
The perfect book to partner with this book is the excellent Big Blue Whale by Nicola Davies (see my review of it). The focus Ms. Davies book is the whale itself. I found that using Ms. Davies' book before Mr. Wells' worked very well indeed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brooke on May 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is one of my favorite books. Every class I've ever used it with, from 1st grade up to 5th, has been fascinated. The illustrations are eye catching and perfectly correspond to the text. Literature should be intergrated across the curriculum. This book can help introduce lessons on big numbers and place value. It can also be used to tie into science lessons, with the size of the solar system or animal species. All elementary classrooms should have a copy of this book. It is both educational and interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By WeeBeaks on September 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
t is a slim little book, a nicely illustrated picture on each and every page, and an amount of text appropriate for a preschool attention span. It begins by showing the relative size of a blue whale to other common animals (elephant, lion). With that as a jump point, each page takes us progressively larger relative to the current topic, from whales, to mountains, to planets, to suns, stars, on and on until we reach the size of the galaxy. So a hard to grasp concept of a galaxy's size is broken down into bite-sized pieces. This is a perfect introduction to comparative sizes, concepts of millions and billions (great intro to that on the first page) and brief astronomy for a young child.

This is geared towards ages 4-8. Based on our experiences today, I would say that is pretty accurate. My younger, 5 now, and enjoyed it, getting a lot out of it but not grasping it 100%. The pictures were engaging, and the text was approachable for his understanding level. His attention stayed put through the book. My older son, 8 now, and enjoyed it as well, listening to me read it and then grabbing it for a second read on his own, completely grasping the content and staring in wonder. He has a much firmer grasp on just how unimaginatively big a galaxy is after this book. The astronomy of course was more of a review for him, but that is great too, as we are off to build on that for him later on with more in depth astronomy, while my younger son will stop here for now with just the intro...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By RFN on March 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have used this book with several grade levels effectively. I originally purchased the book to give my third grade social studies class in an inner city New York school a concept of how high Mt. Everest is when they were studying China. They became so fascinated that we postponed the Himalaya lesson and ended up reading to the end of the book. They loved it! There are so many ways this book can be used with a classroom. It's a great way to involve children in the concept of estimating and they really get into guessing "how many" or trying to predict the very biggest thing there is. School age children enjoy the challenge of seeing how long it takes to count to 100 and then guessing how long it might take to reach a larger number. The children began asking "how long" to count to millions and billions if you counted 24 hours a day, creating a teachable moment when I helped them use math skills to discover the answer, which led to a discussion about setting up counting 'tag teams', if counting that long was feasible...the educational oportunities are endless, especially if you let the children's curiosity and creative thinking lead the lesson. All this was just from the first page of the book! I plan to purchase more books by this author in the hope they are equally thought-provoking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By 4th grade teacher on March 16, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fourth graders find this book amazing when beginning a unit on the solar system. It helps them put the size of the Earth in perspective compared to the sun and other planets. I use an accompanying sheet that asks the children to number all of the objects from the book (a whale, the sun, etc..)in order according to size. Then they check their answers as I read the book aloud. It's a wonderful way to open the unit! Definitely get this book and try it!!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this book for my 4 year old and discovered that he is a little young for it. We get halfway through the book and I find that the concepts begin to go way over his head. When the book discusses size, they use a comparison by using objects by numbers. For example if you stack 100 Mt Everests on top of each other, they would look like a little hair from space. The numbers get big (like in the millions) and my 4 year old began to get lost (especially when they began discussing the size of stars and our galaxy). I loved this book. I learned stuff. It is fast paced and has great/clear illustrations.
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