Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Book #67: How Much is a Million? by David M. Schwartz, Illustrated by Steven Kellogg

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How many years would it take you to count to one million? One billion? One trillion? What if you wanted to find a goldfish bowl big enough to hold a million or a billion or a trillion gold fish? This humorous, but accurate book follows a group of kids and Marvelosissimo, the Mathematical Magician, to answers these questions.

The illustrations show energetic children amazed at the sights Marvelosissimo shows them. The pictures are full of movement, splashing whales, climbing children. I also love that the wizard and kids travel in a hot air balloon with their pets, a unicorn, 2 cats, and a dog! If you like Steven Kellogg's illustrations check out my blog on Is Your Mama a Llama?

The text is concise and full of alliteration, “How tremendous is a trillion?” And it shows Schwartz great enthusiastic for the subject. Using comparisons, the text makes these large numbers accessible. Schwartz also includes an author’s note at the end of the book, which explains the calculations he used.

The book is geared toward elementary school students, although it’s a nice book to have on the shelf for younger kids to browse through on their own. Use it at the beginning of a math lesson to introduce the concept of a million, a trillion, and a billion. Before you read the book, have the kids guess how long it would take to count to each number and write their guesses on the board. After you read the book, see which guesstimate was closest.

If you have a very large group and lots of time, see if you can collect a million paper clips, rubber bands, pencils or another small item. Scholastic provides an extension activity that compares populations of cities of over one million. In addition, the publisher provides a discussion guide for pre- and post-reading discussion.


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