Review of Your Place in the Universe

Your Place in the Universe
by Jason Chin; illus. by the author
Primary, Intermediate    Porter/Holiday    40 pp.    g
9/20    978-0-8234-4623-0    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-0-8234-4878-4    $11.99

The relative sizes of objects can be endlessly fascinating to curious young minds. How many books tall is an eight-year-old? How many eight-year-olds standing on shoulders reach the height of an ostrich? What makes Chin’s (Grand Canyon, rev. 1/17; and others) new science picture book exceptional is how far he takes the concept. Beginning with a group of children and a telescope, the story proceeds through imagined scenarios (see: ostrich example above) to compare trees (from oaks to redwoods); buildings (the Eiffel Tower to the Burj Khalifa to the planned kilometer-high Jeddah Tower); objects in space. As we progress through the pages, the units of measurement grow from inches to feet and then miles, until we are measuring in millions of miles and finally light years, as readers discover our place in the Milky Way and beyond. Complex concepts (such as local galaxy groups and super clusters) are clearly defined throughout in simple captions elucidating Chin’s watercolor and gouache art. Maintaining accurate scale in the comparisons of earthbound objects throughout the first half of the book introduces the concept of relative size in an easy-to-understand way. When Chin moves out beyond Earth’s atmosphere, he takes greater and greater artistic license in his depictions of the inconceivable vastness of our galaxy and everything beyond. Extensive back matter delves deep into current understandings of the size, age, and complexity of the universe. Sources are listed along with child-friendly websites for further exploration of the big and small ideas presented in this out-of-this-world science picture book.

From the November/December 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter is the school librarian at Fred A. Toomer Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia.

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