HOW BIG IS BIG? HOW FAR IS FAR? by Dorothee Soehlke-Lennert


by , translated by , illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 8
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In a spirit of free association, a Belgian illustrator pulls together assorted animals and objects natural or otherwise to demonstrate the subjective nature of height, weight, distance, speed, and strength.

Done in swathes of vivid, often imaginatively selected colors, the simple graphic-style illustrations are easy on the eye and supply a mildly retro vibe to the discourse. Many of the comparisons are likewise imaginative. A giraffe towers over the figure of a strutting socialite but looks small next to a T. Rex; if the sun were a soccer ball, the Earth would be a cherry on the opposite end of the pitch; a snow leopard (dark red, here, with blue and yellow highlights) can leap over a “lorry truck.” But none of the measurements comes with sources, and all are rounded off, incorrectly—a sandpiper’s “maximum speed” is much more than 5 mph—or just arbitrary estimates. Moreover, in the accompanying commentary, that “lorry truck” somehow becomes a “bus” by the end of the paragraph, and banal statements (“It’s more or less impossible to picture how big space is”) collide with awkward phrasing: “…we might think giraffes are intimidatingly tall, yet dinosaurs would be unimpressed as they are barely their height.” There is no front- or backmatter to lend even a pretext of organization to the largely arbitrarily ordered spreads.

Amusing as it is to learn that the queen of England’s crown “weighs 75 servings of cotton candy,” the overall concept is better served by systematic treatments, such as Lita Judge’s How Big Were Dinosaurs? (2013). (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-3-89955-732-9
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Little Gestalten
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2015


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