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Can You Count to a Googol? (Wells of Knowledge Science Series) Paperback – January 1, 2000
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4-The author illustrates how our number system builds by powers of 10 and helps develop a concept of what those numbers mean. The initial illustrations are silly: a girl balances one banana on her nose; a monkey balances 10 bananas using limbs and tail; 100 eagles pull a basket of children through the sky. A more realistic sequence illustrates millions to billions. A large wooden crate is loaded with 1,000,000 dollar bills; 10 of these crates are loaded onto a flatbed trailer (10 x $1,000,000 or $10,000,000); 10 of the trailers are loaded onto a barge ($100,000,000); and a harbor is filled with 10 barges ($1,000,000,000). The author explains that a googol, the number with 100 zeros, is too big to illustrate. "If you counted every grain of sand on all the worlds' beaches, and every drop of water in all the oceans, that wouldn't even be CLOSE to a GOOGOL." Children are reminded that numbers go on forever by a rocket speeding off into space, accompanied by a trail of zeros. The switch from fanciful to factual in these examples is somewhat jarring, but the pen-and-acrylic cartoons do adequately illustrate the growing numbers. Though David M. Schwartz's How Much Is a Million? (Lothrop, 1985), with its consistent playful tone and imaginative number illustrations, is still a preferable choice, Wells's model of building numbers could be a useful addition.
Adele Greenlee, Bethel College, St. Paul, MN
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This counting book begins with 1 and moves up: 10, 100, 10,000, 100,000, and so on, building to the concept of a googol, the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeros. Some math teachers will object to the notion of adding zeros after a number, which Wells sometimes does, instead of multiplying by 10 or 1,000. Still, the simple, colorful ink-and-acrylic illustrations of 1,000 scoops of ice cream, 100,000 marshmallows, and 1,000,000 dollars will help children visualize big numbers represented by familiar objects. Like Wells' previous books, such as What's Smaller than a Pygmy Shrew? (1995), this picture book encourages young children to stretch their minds a bit. The last page offers a short history of the googol, including its naming by a 9-year-old boy. Good supplementary material for the math curriculum. Carolyn Phelan --This text refers to the Turtleback edition.
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