Maria Russo reviews two non-fiction picture books for the New York Times:
The World of Microbes
By Nicola Davies
Illustrated by Emily Sutton
40 pages. Candlewick. $15.99. (Picture book; ages 5 to 8)
IF . . .
A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers
By David J. Smith
Illustrated by Steve Adams
39 pp. Kids Can Press. $18.95. (Picture book; ages 7 and up)
If you want to find the wildly creative people now, I’m told, look in fields that have to do with science, math and technology. They say these days, that’s where an imagination can really fly. I’ve been skeptical. Growing up as a creative type, I experienced a plummeting sensation just catching a whiff of formaldehyde outside the science lab, or hearing the word “cosine,” which to me had a sinister ring. I couldn’t see science and math as anything other than earthbound and rote, and yet all too often, confusingly abstract.Two new picture books may make me a believer. Both aim to help children comprehend proportion and scale — or, as I am now inspired to put it, the vastness and majesty of the universe. They do so with playfulness and visual style, obliterating distinctions between a “creative” and a “fact-based” storybook. Both these books pulled me into their worlds as magically as any fictional narrative might.