Review of The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey

The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey
by Jason Chin; illus. by the author
Primary, Intermediate    Porter/Holiday    40 pp.
12/22    9780823450701    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780823454310    $11.99

Chin follows his acclaimed Your Place in the Universe (rev. 11/20) with an equally stellar exploration of the tiniest components of matter conceptualized by science. The book opens with a brown-skinned child who uses a wheelchair visiting a Southwestern desert. The United States’ smallest bird, butterfly, and bee, in turn, alight on her finger, in close-ups that ultimately zoom in to a hair on that finger and put in motion a journey inward to the “building blocks” of biology and physical science. The expedition moves from skin cells to molecules, then to atoms, protons, and elementary particles. Each page-turn, ending in suspenseful sentence breaks (“But the cell nucleus is gigantic compared to… / …everything else inside the cell”), takes readers to the next step inward. Chin’s stunning watercolor and gouache illustrations, colorfully detailed and scientifically accurate, employ perspective to draw readers into observations of life and matter within the smallest possible spaces. The back matter adds details to the text’s brief definitions and delineates where the art departs from settled science (in color and spatial relationships). The main text ends philosophically: we are all made of “the same stuff as everything else in the universe,” and yet each of us is a “singular person, who can think and feel and discover… / …the universe within.”

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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