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Review of A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars
by Seth Fishman; illus. by Isabel Greenberg
Primary    Greenwillow    40 pp.
9/17    978-0-06-245578-9    $17.99

“This entire world is filled with crazy numbers, built one on top of the other, making it whole and complete.” Fishman and Greenberg engagingly highlight the wondrousness of numbers and stars, as well as just about everything about our home planet. Fishman exchanges science writing’s traditional stiffness for a confiding tone (“The strange thing is that seven billion five hundred million humans weigh about the same as ten quadrillion ants”). Illustrator Greenberg, too, eschews the typical facts-foisting book’s physical correctness in her kinetic digital art: she presents kids who hoist the earth while stepping on a bathroom scale, fly around the world, and otherwise defy the laws of physics in order to illustrate the ideas presented. The book beautifully succeeds in its mission to convey to young readers the vastness of the numbers in our midst while reassuring them that, although each of us is one of billions of people roaming the earth today, “there’s only one of YOU. Right here, right now, reading this book.” A final illustration suggests a child reading aloud to a captive audience of pets and stuffed animals. An author’s note clarifies that the tallies in this book are only approximations, as the number of each thing being counted is always in flux:  “By the time you’re done reading this book, almost every single number in it will have changed.”

From the January/February 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Nell Beram

Nell Beram is coauthor of the young adult biography Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies (Amulet/Abrams), which made the 2014 Amelia Bloomer Project list and YALSA’s 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound list.

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