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Bookshelf, April 13, 2008

By Julie Just

Some pictures are worth 1,000 words — like the image here of the “largest creature that ever flew,” Quetzalcoatlus, a Mesozoic reptile. In a book all about comparisons, the creature is pictured flying above an F-18 Hornet jet; each has a 40-foot wingspan. The author’s slightly goofy style (a spider measures “a disgusting 10 to 12 inches across”) suits the outlandish Photoshopped images, whether of a polar bear towering above a basketball net, or of that disgusting bird-eating spider, the Goliath — which covers a dinner plate. Good mind-bending fun.

What we’re reading in December 2007
An absolutely marvelous large format picture book that spans a wide range of ages from as young as 4 or 5 all the way up to 9 or 10. Each spread shows a composite photograph that give the reader an idea of the size of some really large things. A photo of a giant squid shows it perched on the lawn of a suburban house so you can really grasp the size. My favorite is the polar bear paired with the NBA game where the tall players don’t look quite so tall. Each photo is accompanied by extensive text that can be read (or summarized) for younger kids but will provide plenty of info the older ones.
Shelftalker: A Children’s Bookseller’s Blog, January 6, 2009
By Alison MorrisMy inarticulate six-word review of this book is this:
“This book is so freakin’ cool.” Yes, the title contains the word “HOW” but it qualifies for “WHAT” because its photocomposite illustrations allows readers to better conceptualize the idea of size, thereby answering for them the question, “What would X actually look like?” Imagine that X is a tsunami, for example. If I tell you a tsunami can be 1,720 feet high, you might look at me blankly. But if I show you the photo in this book in which a 1,720-foot tsunami towers over a city of tall buildings, you’ll get the idea. And wait’ll you see how easy it would be for a 12-foot-tall polar bear to sink a basket! So cool!
This is, appropriately enough, a big book about big things written with intelligence and humor and offering fascinating comparisons. The giant squid is presented first pictured against the backdrop of a fairly typical suburban home. The text notes that the biggest ever found was 55 feet, 2 inches long. After reading through interesting facts about the giant squid (Architeuthis dux), the student wanting to know more is advised to “Get in a submarine, bring a giant tub of calamari sauce, and go find one.” The format continues throughout the book. The illustrations are all eye-catching. The reticulated python is shown using an escalator and the Goliath Bird-eating Spider is pictured set on a dinner plate. “How big is a googol?” That question appears at the end of the book and the answer is as fact-filled and entertaining as the rest of the text. Kids will enjoy learning while reading this book. Reviewer: Carolyn Mott Ford
January/February 2008Just how big is a 33-foot-long python, or the 804-foot-long Hindenburg, or a 378-foot-tall redwood? Conversational text describes the size and other interesting attributes of these and nineteen other animals, objects, and places, but it’s the cleverly composed photos that will grab readers and keep them flipping pages. The python’s actual size becomes evident when, in a manipulated photo, the snake appears to be slithering down the stairs in a train station—its tail end looped around and riding up the escalator alongside the stairs. The immensity of the Hindenburg becomes apparent when shown flying above, and dwarfing, a Boeing 747, which is itself shown dwarfing the Wright brothers’ first plane. Redwoods improbably dotting the landscape of a Brooklyn neighborhood tower over apartment buildings, making the trees below look like small shrubs and the cars like toys. Readers will never again think of a polar bear without picturing one standing at a basketball net, nose above the rim; any mention of the Arecibo radio telescope will forever conjure up a picture of the Eiffel Tower on its side, resting across the giant dish. Learning about size perception has never been this much fun; readers of this book will agree that yes, size matters. j.m.b.
It is hard to imagine just how big (or small) something is from reading about it in a book. Even with a picture, it is hard to imagine without having something to compare it to. That is why I picked this book out for my daughter. It intrigued me and my daughter could not stop talking about it. What is special and different about the book How Big Is It?: A Big Book All About Bigness is that all of the items are compared to things that children see every day or have seen in their life. So they can get an idea of actually how big the items in the book are!The giant squid is first tackled. A huge picture of a giant squid is shown next to a large house. We learn that giant squid can grow to be 55.2 feet in length and have enormous eyes at 18 inches in diameter. Scientists had only seen the ones that died and washed up on shore until Japanese scientists encountered a live one in 2004. It got away but they did see how a live giant squid interacted on film. Olympus Mons is discussed next at 342 miles across and 15 miles high, it is a mountain on Mars. The picture shows it on top of Utah, and Utah is completely covered by it!The reticulated python is shown next, the picture has it laying on an escalator, it is 33 feet long. We learn that they live in Asia and eat monkeys, boar, and even people! The Quetzalcoatlus is shown above a fighter jet, it’s wingspan was 40 feet across. Fossils of this creature were found in Big Bend National Park. No one knows for sure if it glided or could actually fly. The Great Pyramid at Giza is pictured with subway cars. Eight subway cars fit up the side of the pyramid, it is now 449 feet high. Made up of 2,300,000 stone blocks, Mr. Khufu built this monument to himself, to place his body after he died. Next we learn about the Goliath Bird-eating Spider which we have read about in other books but had never seen one actual size before! The picture shows it on a dinner plate and it is 12 inches across. Bigger than my hand! This spider spits digestive juices at it’s prey and once this has softened it’s prey up, the spider slurps his meal up.

A Tsunami is shown towering above a city full of tall buildings. Rising to 1720 feet high, this page tells of a tsunami in Alaska and how a father and son survived it. I had no idea that polar bears stood 12 feet tall! This page shows a polar bear standing on a basketball court with the 6 foot tall basketball players! Wow, he is huge! The largest one that was recorded weighed 2209 pounds. Polar bears will hunt people for food. The rest of the large items in the book are Dragonfly of the Carboniferous, Ice Age Glacier, Airship, Dinosaur-killing asteroid, egg of the elephant bird, redwood, akula (shark) submarine, giraffe, arecibo radio telescope, diamond, valles marineris, 3 feet wide flower, eta carinae, and googol. Each is shown with a picture showing just how big each of them are–compared to something that children have seen or know how big it is. All giant items that seem impossible to believe just how big they actually are!

Each page is filled with interesting facts about very large items and a picture comparing it to something we already know the size of. The pictures either shows the item beside of something else to show the length, on top of something else to show the size, or standing beside of something else to show how tall it is. The airship is pictured above a Boeing 747 and the Wright Brothers’ first airplane. All are in color and very realistic! The giant copper colored squid looks like it is actually laying in the yard in front of the house! The Goliath Spider looks like you could actually reach out and touch him!

Between three and eight long paragraphs on half of the pages with very large illustrations on the facing pages. 47 pages in length, children will not only see examples of the size of the different items but also learn about each item.This book would interest children ages 4-101 years old. The pictures are a huge draw! 1st grade to 4th grade would learn something and be intrigued by this book!

What is so good about THIS product?

Interesting, compares the sizes of known items to the sizes of giant items, great illustrations

What is unique about this product?

Pictures show comparisons between items.

Is it worth the price?

Yes, interesting book for children’s bookshelf

There has to be some bad to this product, right?

None.

Any warnings people should be aware of?

None.

Final verdict:

Interesting book on some of the giant items in the world. 5 stars!

Best Books for Young Readers, 2007By Diana LutzMany objects of scientific interest are so very big (or so very small) that it’s difficult to grasp just how big (or small) they are. The giant squid, Architeuthis dux, can grow to fifty-five feet. But how long is fifty-five feet? To show his daughter Maizy, five years old at the time, Ben Hillman used photo-editing software to park a giant squid in their home’s driveway. That image inspired How Big Is It?, a book of startling composites. The two-mile-thick ice sheet that covered the northern hemisphere during the last ice age looms over the Chicago skyline, dwarfing the Sears Tower. The massive corpse flower, Rafflesia arnoldii, makes a surreal umbrella for two. Hillman’s witty images will stick in a child’s mind long after standard comparisons to the weight of an elephant or the height of the Empire State building are forgotten.