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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

iF...A Mind-Bending Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers, written by David J. Smith and illustrated by Steve Adams. Kids Can Press, 2014. $19.95 ages 9 and up

"iF all the food produced
around the world in one
year were represented by a
loaf of bread with 25 slices...
*11 slices of bread would
come from Asia
* 5 from South and Central
* 4 from Europe
*2 3/4 from North America
*2 1/4from Africa..."

I am like kids and have such a tough time contending with huge numbers. So, David Smith helps me in this second book that explores those things that may prove too difficult to comprehend. He tells his audience that the comparisons he makes can be surprising:

"But what if we took these big, hard-to-imagine objects and events and compared them to things we can see, feel and touch? Instantly, we'd see our world in a whole new way. That's what this book is about - it scales down, or shrinks, huge events, spaces and times to something you can understand."

By using scale to help his readers understand, he addresses the galaxy, the planets, the history of the earth, life on earth, events of the last 3000 years, inventions through time, inventions of the last 1000 years, the continents, water, species of living things, money, energy, life expectancy, population, food, your life. Big issues, indeed. His scaling down results in some truly astonishing comparisons that inspire thinking...and then more reading and thinking!

Steve Adams uses two-page spreads to bring the enormity of the idea being considered to an entertaining and equally informative format.

I'll leave you with this:

"iF all the wealth in the world -
about 223 trillion (223 000 000 000 000)
U. S. dollars - were represented by a pile
of 100 coins...

*the richest 1% of the world's population
would have 40 of the coins
*9% would have 45 coins
*40% would have 14 coins
*the poorest 50% - half the world's
population - would share just one coin."

In an accompanying map, it shows the coins divided by continents...North America, 32 coins; South America, 6 coins; Europe, 34 coins; Africa, 3 coins; Asia, 22 coins; and Oceania, 3 coins.

Should that give us pause?

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