Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Million Reasons Why Andrew Clements is Awesome

And Mike Reed Isn't Too Bad Either

Since I had to type out a bunch of reviews of recent books for my Library Studies class, and it is the holiday season, I figure I'd share some of the better ones with you. (After translating them from HW speak.)

A Million Dots.

Written by Andrew Clements. Illustrated by Mike Reed. Published by Simon and Schuster. Copyright 2006. ISBN: 0689858248

The author of Frindle, The Report Card, and other favorites has a new book out this year, A Million Dots. This new book, however, is a picture book - and non-fiction to boot! Lucky for us, it turns out that Andrew Clements writes awesome books for kids of all ages.*

A Million Dots is a book with - you guessed it - a million little dots. Really, really, itsy bitsy, tiny, little dots. In order to help children understand scale and conceptualize just how big those really big numbers are, Clements, and artist Mike Reed, use all those tiny dots to count to one million.

The book begins by showing one dot about the size of a period, and then ten, and then a hundred tiny dots. The rest of the pages each have a couple thousand dots on them, so that by the time you get to the end of the book, you've looked at one million tiny dots.

Each page also features an odd and/or interesting fact (the distance from the earth to the moon in school buses or some such) and an accompanying retro style illustration. The illustrations are covered with a grid of tiny little dots and the effect is stunning rather than distracting. The dots make the illustrations look similar to the way grainy old photos do, thus the dots end up complementing and blending in with the pictures instead of detracting from them. To top it off, the dot corresponding to the number mentioned in the sentence is highlighted in the illustration by not only a slightly larger light colored circle, but often a cleverly placed star, or other relevant feature, as well.

(This would be as good a time as any to say that I'm putting my vote in for Reed to at least get a Caldecott Honor this year)

In short, A Million Dots is very cool and would make a great gift for any kid between the ages of 5 and 10.

*Yes, Clements has written pcture books before, and beginning readers as well, but (as far as I know) he's best known for his novels for children.

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