Sunday, April 26, 2015

Review: If...

If...: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and NumbersIf... A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David J. Smith; illustrated by Steve Adams.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The premise of this book is that you can understand huge concepts, like the whole of human history, by scaling them down to an image, like a tape measure. The author, who lives in British Columbia, takes facts about a variety of things and describes them this way. For example, if all the energy sources in the world were represented by 100 lightbulbs only 2 of them would be powered by hydroelectric power. The illustrations, by Steve Adams who lives in Montreal, are nicely done and are the key to grasping this visualizing method of grasping big numbers.
There were a few things that kept me from loving this book. Some of the illustrations weren't proportional--like the continents which were depicted as portions of the page, but the ones with larger % didn't have larger sections, they were different from each other, but not matching their proportions--which bothered me since the point is to present a visual depiction of the relative sizes. I also thought that the history pieces, inventions through time as a tape measure was one, were less helpful visualizations than the more proportional ones.
Overall I did like this book, and I thought the page about the relative size of the planets as sports balls (earth is a baseball, mars is a golf ball) was brilliant.

This counts toward the Canadian Book Challenge.

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