Translated from Italian, this simple text with delicate, painted animal illustrations places a math concept into context.
Bossù answers her titular question by comparing big animals to smaller ones. To make one elephant, “you need 7 polar bears,” and to make one polar bear, “you need 4 lions.” Each spread introduces an animal smaller than the last, so the text follows a natural pattern from the elephant all the way down to a flea. After the text comes full circle, comparing elephants to fleas, Bossù challenges readers to guess “what is much, much, much bigger than both?” A wordless double-page spread of a whale’s flukes provides a hint and a pause before the final spread reveals that “You need / 7 elephants, 6 polar bears, 2 lions, 4 alligators, 9 penguins, 10 lemurs, and 1 flea to make a whale.” Repetition lends this book to sharing in storytime. Illustrations of animals dressed in costume, such as alligators with lion’s manes, add an element of whimsy and surprise to the otherwise simple and formulaic format. Brightly colored type makes the numerals stand out on the page. The periodic rebuslike replacement of animal names in the text with illustrations invites pre- and early readers to participate in sharing the book.
A brief but engaging introduction to size ratios for young learners. (Picture book. 2-6)