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If: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers Hardcover – August 1, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—Following in the footsteps of his If America Were a Village (2009) and If the World Were a Village (2011, both Kids Can), Smith again scales down large concepts and numbers for young readers with a focus on worldly concepts. Topics ranging from our galaxy, solar system, world history, inventions, world population, and energy and food production are related to familiar everyday objects, so children can easily grasp the relationship between these big ideas. For instance: if all of Earth's water was represented by 100 drinking glasses, 97 glasses would be filled with salt water, while only three would be filled with fresh water. Only one of the three is accessible, as the remaining two would be found in glaciers, frozen in the atmosphere, or deep underground. Adams's beautiful illustrations, reminiscent of folk art, vividly portray the concepts but may occasionally lead to some confusion. When presenting world life expectancy as footprints in the sand, the illustration makes it seem as though North Americans live the longest at 78 years (with 78 footprints), but only when reading the side panel is it stated that residents of some countries would have 83 footprints. Furthermore, Smith's time lines are brief and may overlook events some find most relevant (for instance, he doesn't include the automobile on the time line of Inventions of the Last 1000 Years). An author's note provides suggestions for additional scale activities, and a list of useful books and websites can be found as well. Overall, the text serves as an excellent discussion starter and bridge to comprehending big concepts. A solid suggestion for fact-focused young readers.—Meaghan Darling, Plainsboro Public Library, NJ
" ... this is one of those books school-age children can happily page through many times, and even adults may find themselves taking a second and third whirl.―The New York Times
This would be a fun book to book-talk to children in grades two to six.―Resource Links
The text serves as an excellent discussion starter and bridge to comprehending big concepts. A solid suggestion for fact-focused young readers.―School Library Journal
The best thing about If... is that it can be truly enjoyed by all ages. ... If... is also an excellent resource for teachers as it easily fits into Mathematics, Social Studies, History, and Geography at different grade levels.―CM Magazine
Smith, who employed the same kind of imaginative scaling down of ideas in his popular 2002 book, If the World Were a Village, does a great job making nearly incomprehensible concepts less so.―Quill & Quire
If this book were a pizza, young readers would gobble down every slice---and demand more for dessert.―Kirkus Reviews
... this is absorbing and informative.―Booklist