Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska soars above the usual, matter-of-fact mathematical explanation of the concept of infinity. Hosford doesn’t tell the reader the definitive answer of what infinity is, but instead gently shows how each person can search for his or her own answer.
Right off the bat there may be some adults who question the need for a picture book about such an abstract concept as infinity. Those adults probably don’t have children. I distinctly remember sitting eating lunch at the San Diego Zoo and desperately trying to answer my very young son’s questions about big numbers. I finally struck on using how many leaves were on a nearby tree and relating that to how many trees were on the surrounding hills. My son’s curiosity is definitely not unique. Did you know it was a nine-year-old boy who coined the term googol (for 1 with 100 zeros after it)? Yes, kids think about this kind of thing all the time. In fact, Kate Hosford got the idea for the book from the questions of her own sons at ages four and six.
The illustrations in the book are getting as much attention as the text, and rightly so. Pamela Paul of the New York Times says, “Swiatkowska’s Victorian-style drawings are vaguely reminiscent of Edward Gorey.” Shannon at Goodreads find the illustrations are “Beautiful art that makes me think of a slightly darker Sophie Blackall.” Actually Swiatkowska’s big-eyed, bow-lipped Uma stands on her own without the comparisons. Caldecott mentions are not out of line.
Infinity and Me is an amazing nonfiction picture book that brings a difficult abstract concept into focus for young children. Where they take it from there is, well, potentially infinite.
Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff has a another review.
Edit: And now there is a curriculum guide.
Reading level: Ages 5-10
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (October 1, 2012)
Copy was provided for review purposes.
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