A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman (review)
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Reviewed by
Fishman, Seth A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars; illus. by Isabel Greenberg. Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2017 [34p]
ISBN 978-0-06-245578-9 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 2-4

Author David M. Schwartz and illustrator Stephen Kellogg once had the market for huge numbers books cornered with their How Much Is a Million? (BCCB 7/85) [End Page 15] and companion titles. Now Fishman tackles the topic with a free-wheeling litany of mind bogglers, from the titular 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars, to Earth’s 7,500,000,000 human population, to its 10,000,000,000,000,000 ant population, to the 31,536,000 seconds it will take to turn a year older. The big numbers are expressed two ways wherever they appear—generally written in numerals in the main text and then set into a verbal expression near the bottom of the page. It’s a challenge to put comma-intensive numbers into words, and to assist in that endeavor, an author’s note breaks down that hundred billion trillion numeral into its component parts. The note also discusses the methods and challenges of estimation and the difficulty of counting populations precisely. Clearly this is a math teacher’s dream, and Greenberg’s imaginative cartoon spreads, in which characters bound tipsily through their milieux viewed from varying perspectives, will retain the interest of children about to exit primary school. It will also have appeal for dreamers who like to think big thoughts, and kids who enjoy mulling over Hosford’s Infinity and Me (BCCB 11/12) will have a ball.

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