Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

If...: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers

Smith, David J. (Author)
Adams, Steve (Illustrator)
Kids Can Press 2014. 40 pages
First published: 2014
ISBN: 9781894786348 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 500
Book type: Non-Fiction

Text Elements:

layout, multimodal, point of view, structures and features

Awards

Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction – Finalist – 2015
USBBY Outstanding International Books List – 2015
The Forest of Reading – The Silver Birch Express Award Nominee – 2016

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Possibly best described as a book about everything, If… moves from galaxies to history to current global statistics—from massive distances and epochs to quantitative analyses of present day resources.

While the topics show repeated examples of ratio and proportion, the material invites deep thinking—whether it’s the knowledge that our galaxy is one of 3000 visible galaxies, or that the poorer half of the world’s population collectively holds only 1% of the world’s wealth.

Stacks of dishes, a pile of coins, pizza slices and glasses of water express concepts such as multiples, percentages and fractions. Time ratios compress ages into a calendar year, month or day. Colourful painterly illustrations depict these constructs with a lighthearted warmth. The spread on global food consumption shows a giant loaf of bread with tiny human figures climbing or relaxing on it, with an unfortunate one caught between slices. The timeline of human invention shows a measuring tape splitting into countless strands at inch 36, the last tenth representing the inventions of the past 2000 years.

An endnote offers activities for further investigation of sizes and scales. This is a complex, thought-provoking read.

  •  

    The author talks about the importance of scale as a mathematical tool. Explain the definition of scale. Generate a list of different scales and their uses (e.g. musical scales, ratio, linear, Richter, Fahrenheit, etc.).

  •  

    In teams, create a scale that would represent the activities you are involved in on an ordinary school day. For what percentage of time are you engaged in each activity? What activities would you scale back or increase?

  •  

    List ways in which this book helps you understand the world. What did you learn that surprised you? Choose a Mind-Bending Fact from the book to share with the class. Display select facts throughout the school.

  •  Through think-alouds, review ways to read the double-page spreads. What types of information does the book include? What does each type have to offer?
  •  

    Choose a favourite situation and share it with a writing group. What message or big idea is the text conveying about that era, intention or resource? What are the different messages? Make notes in a reader-writer’s notebook or group anchor chart.

  •  Use a favourite situation as a guide for producing a multimodal information-based text that explores scale. Additional ideas can be found at the end of the text. Include time lines, matching scales and the earth apple page.
  •  

    Look at the pictures, and read the title and main paragraph (beginning with “If”) for each topic. Discuss how the concepts are scaled down. 

  •  

    In pairs, read a chapter and explain the information to another group. Make a class list of the most surprising and thought-provoking facts.

  •  

    Choose one of the methods to scale down something in your own life (e.g. a timeline of your life or the life of someone you know). 

  •  

    Complete one of the activities suggested on pages 38 and 39.

  •  Read page 6 about our galaxy. Observe the “if” format of the text. In pairs, select several other section titles and recreate an “if” text for these prior to reading.
  •  Choose a favourite page. Prepare (five) questions and record them to create short oral comprehension capsules for your classmates.
  •  Inspired by a model in the text, illustrate and document your life condensed into a 30-day calendar.
  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To solve problems
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Media Literacy
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Mathematics
  • Science and Technology
  • Social Sciences