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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just a Second, written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Houghton Mifflin, Thomas Allen & Son. 2011. $19.99 ages 8 and up

"The day is based on
the rising and setting of
the sun - the time it takes
Earth to make one rotation
on its axis. The day is the
original unit of timekeeping
in every human culture."

I have mentioned it previously, and will say it again...I cannot imagine living inside Steve Jenkins' incredibly inquistive and unconventional mind. I mean, he must ask himself the most amazing questions and when there is no easy answer, off he goes to find his own. Then, he shares his learning with his legion of fans....count me among them.

I am always excited to see that a new book by Mr. Jenkins has been published...he has written much of my favorite nonfiction. In this one, subtitled 'a different way to look at time', he separates it into one second, one minute, one hour, one day, one week, one month, one year and even very quick and very long. There is no point of time he doesn't consider.

Fascinating? Yes it is. I will give you a small taste for the information he shares with his readers:

"In one second...
A black mamba slithers a frightening 24 feet (7 meters).
A cheetah sprinting flat out...
and a sailfish swimming at top speed...
...both travel 100 feet (30 meters).
A very fast human can run 39 feet (12 meters)."

Does it make you want to test it yourself?  As I read I found myself whispering 'one Mississippi' and trying to imagine how each could do what they do in that one split second. Then, he moves on to a minute, and guess what?

"In One Minute...

A charging grizzly bear gallops one-half mile (805) meters.
A skydiver in free fall plunges two miles (3 1/4 kilometers).
People around the world drink the equivalent of 2,600,000 twelve-ounce soft drinks."

Good grief! I have only briefly touched on the many incredible things that happen within a measured time. I could go on and on, as I did when I was reading to a group of teacher-librarians last week.

As he does in most of his lively and informative books, the author adds even more in the back matter. This time he gives information about our universe's history, life spans, a timeline and population growth.  If you have curious students or inquisitive children and you want to challenge their thinking, this is the book for you!

It's interesting to think, as you read along, about all those things that are happening in the world while you are doing that may even give you pause to stop for a second, a minute, or an hour to savor the wealth of information he so willingly and ably shares.

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