cover image How to Bake a Universe

How to Bake a Universe

Alec Carvlin, illus. by Brian Biggs. Norton, $18.95 (56p) ISBN 978-1-324-00423-3

For Carvlin and Biggs, conjuring a universe is just like whipping up a recipe, only with a much longer prep time. Centering a paper-white chef, the creators launch a recipe that requires popping “a heaping pile of nothing” into an oven that’s set to “Super Duper Really Very Mega Hot.” After much waiting (“Set your timer for 180 million years”), the universe is done; now it just needs to cool for another 13.6 billion years. The metaphorical explanation may be hard to track for readers new to the concepts, but black line cartooning, punctuated by swirls of nonpareil colors, offers an enjoyable irreverence, and the mash-up of unabashedly nerdy kid humor and cooking tips is indeed tasty: to see if the universe is done yet, stick a toothpick “in the center of your universe. If gases come out, it needs more time. But if you pluck out a star, you’re all set!” An extensive afterword concludes. Ages 6–8. (Mar.)