cover image Your Place in the Universe

Your Place in the Universe

Jason Chin. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4623-0

This dizzyingly powerful exploration of comparative scale starts with an inclusive group of eight-year-old children who are “about five times as tall as this book, but only half as tall as... this ostrich,” which is itself “taller than two eight-year-olds standing on each other’s shoulders.” Page-turn cliffhangers build a pleasing buzz of suspense as Caldecott Honoree Chin (Grand Canyon) adroitly guides readers from ostriches to redwood trees, past skyscrapers and Mount Everest, through Earth’s layered atmosphere to the moon, and beyond the solar system to the edges of the observable universe. Brief asides offer crystalline explanations of supplemental information, including units of measurement from inches to light-years (“One foot is equal to 12 inches. Feet are useful for measuring things that are taller than humans, such as ostriches and giraffes”) and concepts such as orbits, the speed of light, and the limitations of human perception from one’s place in an enormous universe. Chin’s realistic watercolor and gouache illustrations render awestruck children and cosmic shimmer with inimitable skill, and a magnificent spread comparing Mount Everest’s mass to that of human-built structures is likely to draw gasps. Extensive back matter centers scale and astronomical concepts. Ages 4–8. [em](Sept.) [/em]