Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A Million Dots

A Million Dots

Andrew Clements
Illustrator:  Mike Reed 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2006   ISBN: 978-0689858246

Have you ever thought about the number one million? It is an enormous number of course, we all know that. In fact it is so enormous that it is hard to image what such a number would look like in real life. Large numbers are like that, they are so huge that they are hard to picture. So let's start small. Let's start with one small dot. Now one is an easy number to visualize. So is ten. Even one hundred dots are not that many. Let's keep adding more and more dots until we end up with a million of them.

As we add more and more dots we are going to picture what the numbers in between one and one million might look like. For example imagine 24, 901 dots. Did you know one would have to travel 24,901 miles to go around the Earth at the Equator? What about 100,000 dots? Did you know that a sperm whale can weigh as much as 100,000 pounds? 200,000 is another large number. It would take 200,000 pennies to fill twenty-two one-gallon milk jugs. Now it is possible to "see" what 200,000 pennies might look like.

In this unique picture book readers will get a very real sense of what very large numbers mean in everyday life. Instead of just being numbers with lots of zeros they become butterflies, beetles, shoe boxes, milk cartons, chocolate bars and more. Children who have a fondness for facts and figures will love this book, no doubt reading aloud the facts that they learn to anyone who will listen to them.

Visually the book is quite stunning. Who would have thought that one million dots could be so dramatic and artistic. Mike Reed helps his readers actually see the numbers described in the text and he manages to do so with creativity and humor.