A Picture Book Double Dip: Two Eye-Popping Non-Fiction Titles for Mini-Fleshlings of an Inquisitive Nature…


Morning all! Today I am bringing you a doubly delicious feast for the eyeballs as we dive into two non-fiction picture books that will have you and your mini-fleshling scratching your respective heads in wonder.  Let us commence!

ifIf: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David J. Smith and Steve Adams, does exactly what it says on the box (well, cover).  Each double page spread deals with a particular quantity or size that is difficult to conceptualise and with the aid of delightful and inspiring illustrations, puts things into metaphorical perspective.  The concepts include the size of the galaxy, the relative time span of various historical events, and relative wealth distribution across nations.  This is a nifty and engaging follow-on from Smith’s original masterpiece, If the World Were a Village.

Dip into it for…

…some fantastically fun representations of numbers and ideas that might otherwise make your head explode.  Although this book and its predecessor are ostensibly for middle grade children, there is plenty here for older readers to get their teeth into.  As well as the parts of the book that contain the “Wow! Isn’t that amazing!” sort of moments, such as the galaxy reduced to the size of sports balls, Smith has once again included information that invites reflection on the social and personal implications of seemingly objective statistics.  Information about wealth distribution and life expectancy by continent will prompt the more savvy young reader to ask why such things might be so.  Might I suggest that if you are a teacher of children in this age group (or even older ones!) this book will make a conversation-starting addition to your classroom library.

The illustrations are a major drawcard in this book too.  The formatting of the information, coupled with the bright, descriptive pictures make this a book that you want to pore over.  With information scattered across each double page spread, it’s also designed to be read with a friend.

Don’t dip if…

…you are a pedant.  Really, we know that by the time the book has been out for a few years the social statistics will be wrong, we get that Neptune isn’t EXACTLY the size of a soccer ball.  If you feel the uncontainable urge to inform us of these kind of annoying tidbits, then this book is not for you.  Begone, killjoy.

Overall Dip Factor

This is a must-read book in my opinion.  And if you haven’t read Smith’s earlier work, go read that too.  If you are a teacher, or the parent/carer/librarian/next-door-neighbour/creepy-book-giverer of a child aged 8 to 12 years, go and get this book and read it with them – then feel the neurons connecting. In both of your brains.  I would also recommend it for those who struggle to make conversation at dinner parties.

So what’s your favourite bizarre statistic or big number comparison?!

optical illusionsOptical Illusions: An Eye-Popping Extravaganza of Visual Tricks by Gianni A. Sarcone and Marie-Jo Waeber takes the reader on a mind-boggling journey through famous and not-so-famous visual trickery.  The book is divided into illusions based around shape, size and distance, colour and apparent motion and impossible figures, with an extra section at the end providing some cheeky tests which the reader can self-administer in the pursuit of personal enlightenment.  Each section contains a wide range of illusions paired with a small amount of information and some questions to try out.

Dip into it for…

…endless hours of fun! I would like you to picture yourself back in the classroom of your youth.  Upper primary sort of age.  Cast your mind back to the naughtiest kid in your class during silent reading time (it’s a boy, isn’t it?).  This is exactly the type of book that that kid would knock people over to grab off the shelf.

The information here is easy to read, easy to follow and yet hard to get your head around.  The illusions are simply laid out and interesting to gaze at and puzzle over even if you don’t bother to read the associated text. (Although I do recommend reading the text!!).  Again, this is the type of fun, engaging read that will have children and adults alike picking it up for a flip through.

The answers to all the puzzles are collected in a handy section at the back. Don’t cheat though. I’m watching.

Don’t dip if…

…you don’t have time to spare. You will get sucked into this book if you do pick it up, so make sure that you have time to devote to it.  Similarly, it may do to have a break while you are reading, because after a while your eyeballs might feel like they’re revolving of their own accord.  Particularly during the section on apparent movement.

I would also suggest that you probably shouldn’t bother dipping into this one unless  you get it in print.  While I got the overall feel of the book with a digital copy, I think the experience would have been a lot more enjoyable if I didn’t have to keep rejigging the zoom function and page view to keep certain images within view.

Overall Dip Factor

This is a thorough introduction to visual illusions and the ways that they have been used in art, design and architecture through the ages.  It is simple in format, but will no doubt provide endless entertainment for kids (and their adults) as they puzzle over the various images.

So what’s your favourite optical illusion?  Mine has to be…Labyrinth. The whole movie. But especially that David Bowie’s face is hidden in five places throughout the film, apparently.

So there we are – a bit of non-fiction fun for your dipping enjoyment. I received both titles in digital format from their respective publishers via Netgalley.

Until next time,


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9 thoughts on “A Picture Book Double Dip: Two Eye-Popping Non-Fiction Titles for Mini-Fleshlings of an Inquisitive Nature…

  1. Oh, wow, did you know he also wrote IF THE WORLD WERE A VILLAGE and IF AMERICA WERE A VILLAGE? And Sarcone also has other “illusion” books. Of course, the library doesn’t have these two! Maybe at the bookstore?


  2. Wow! Fun indeed!! any number past 3 is infinity to me. And my eyes don’t seem to function well when looking at those illusion books. But I find that humans LOVE them. Looks like both these books might produce a lot of oohhing and aahhing and laughter. I’ve put them on my want list! thanks!


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