Saturday, November 08, 2008

Who's Counting? A Million Dots by Andrew Clements

Look at the center of this page. Right at the very center.
Look carefully.
That's one dot.
One dot is not very many.
It's just one, and that's just one more than none

A journey to a million dots begins with a single spot. Andrew Clements' clever over sized nonfiction picture book starts small on its way to a million, but there is a lot of fun along the way for students who are fascinated by BIG NUMBERS.

In clever pixillated illustrations which begin totting up the count, Clements' A Million Dots totals up many a fanciful and fantastic fact using big numbers. On the way to one million, he starts relatively small:

A person must climb 1860 steps to the top of the Empire State Building.

It's 24,901 miles around the earth.

A sooty tern can fly 87,600 hours nonstop after it leaves the nest

But then, consider these number-crunching facts:

There were more than 500,000 cars junked in the U.S. in the past 16 days!

There are 615,000 different words explained in the Oxford English Dictionary!

An arctic tern flies more than 650,000 miles in a lifetime. (Terns really rock, apparently!)

There are 996,480 still pictures in the movies, E.T., Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Lion King, Forrest Gump, and Home Alone.

The millionth dot gets special treatment, appearing solo on the final page. Although Clements warns that it would take over eleven days to count all 1,000,000 of the dots which compose the illustrations in this book, some kids may want to try. But even if the prospective bean counters poop out before the task is completed, just trying to conceive of what goes into a million of anything is a mind-expanding experience.

Mike Reed's illustrations, composed of and superimposed upon, well, a million dots, work plenty of humor into showing the many fascinating facts. The far-flying tern is tricked out as a typical tourist, clutching maps, camera, luggage, and a passport under one wing, while an astronaut cow jumps the 238,857 miles over the moon. As an amazing and tempting browsing book, A Million Dots should take its place with David Schwartz' classic How Much Is a Million? 20th Anniversary Edition (Reading Rainbow Book). on anybody's math shelf.

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