Lifesize baby animals by Sophy Henn

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Imagine opening a page in a book and finding yourself staring into a lifesize eye of a baby blue whale. There's not much more of the whale on the page, but nevertheless, it gives an idea of its overall size.

From the tiny baby honey possum about the same size as a fullstop, young readers are taken to visit various animal babies all portrayed in the same scale so they understand the difference in size, inviting them to think about how they compare with these amazing creatures. From baby zebra seahorses that look like comma-sized squiggles on the page to the amazing four-page spread that is as tall as a baby elephant, young readers can compare themselves in all sorts of ways suggested by the text as well as learning the concepts of measurement and scale as they work out the dimensions of the adults using the book itself as their measuring tool.

This is one of three in this fascinating series which includes Dinosaurs (already published) and Deadly Animals (due April 2023), each of which is intriguing in itself but also an opportunity to show how the library can support the maths curriculum making them relevant to a much wider audience than early readers. Imagine a collaboration between older and younger students where they actually mapped the real sizes of creatures, first using the book's size as suggested, and then converting this to more formal measurements. As well as bringing the concept of scale to life in a meaningful way for the older students, they could compare the babies to the adult versions and determine which grows the greater amount both in proportion and percentage, and compare that to human growth. Younger students would have lots of fun consolidating the vocabulary of measurement beyond just comparing themselves to their peers, as well as mapping their own growth since birth or comparing the length of their bones or even trying to find an accurate way to measure around their head.

The value of books like this that go far beyond their intended purpose and audience, including building connections between children, cannot be underestimated. IMO, this a must-have.

Themes: Baby animals, Size.

Barbara Braxton