Brigette's Reviews > How Much Is a Million?

How Much Is a Million? by David M. Schwartz
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's review
Apr 14, 2012

really liked it
Read in April, 2012

I cannot for the life of me figure out why there is a unicorn in this book. There are aliens when the kids make a tower to Saturn’s rings, and I understand that, but the unicorn just seems completely out of place. Yes, Marvelosissimo is a “mathematical magician,” but I don’t think that requires the presence of a unicorn. It’s just baffling.
Besides that, this is a pretty straight-forward and entertaining book. The cover illustration is so busy, despite the white space that serves to highlight the title, that it suggests that readers will actually see one million things in answer to the question How Much is a Million? The title page gives a similar feeling: stars everywhere, fish bowls spilling, kids jumping around. There is a lot going on in these illustrations. The illustrations that are in with the text are not nearly as busy, but they are stylistically similar. Most of the illustrations are framed, with the occasional full-bleed. I think that in this particular book, the framing helps readers feel like they are seeing a small section of what is being portrayed, whereas a full-bleed illustration might lead to the impression that we are seeing the entire picture, which would be an inaccurate depiction of one million, one billion, or one trillion. My favorite part of this book was the seven-page illustration that showed 100,000 stars. The gray-blue background with all the tiny, perfectly-aligned stars and the hot air balloon flying through them does a remarkable job of mimicking the sky. Everything in this book suggests grandeur. The portrait orientation itself helps with an idea of something big, but adds to that the fact that the book is much bigger than the average picture book, and you’re sure there will be something huge happening. The font that was used also hints at large numbers and enormities, in general. It is all caps, which seems odd for a children’s book because children who read this book could easily be at the age when children are focusing on when to capitalize or not capitalize things, but understanding how the font affects how the book is read, or hints at themes makes the all caps font understandable.

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