Infinity and Me
written by Kate Hosford; illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
2012 (Carolrhoda Books)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
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As kids, infinity would usually enter into our conversations when we were trying to top each other with an amount. I might say that I could put 3 pieces of bubble gum into my mouth and my friend would boast that he could put 4 into his mouth. The numbers would climb in our back and forth until someone said "infinity" and that settled it. You couldn't top infinity. We didn't have much of a clue about the concept of infinity except that it was the ultimate way to end an argument. Our understanding would have been greatly enhanced if we would have had a copy of Infinity and Me. It would have also saved us the pain of jamming ridiculous amounts of bubble gum into our mouths and looking like chipmunks on steroids.
In the beginning of this wonderful new picture book, Uma is sitting outside staring at the sky. She's too excited to sleep as she is the owner of a new pair of red shoes that are waiting to be shown off at school. The night sky takes her attention off of the shoes and on the notion of infinity. Uma wonders, "How many are the stars in the sky? A million? A billion?" It hits her that the number may be as big as infinity. From here, she goes on a quest to learn about infinity. Her friend Charlie suggests that infinity is a big number that just keeps growing and growing and can never be counted. Uma's best friend Samantha thinks of the symbol, the sideways figure 8, as a racetrack where you can drive around forever. Grandma thinks of a family that continues to grow and go on forever. Uma realizes that forever and infinity are intertwined. Forever seems like a really long time. Would she like to have recess forever? How about being eight forever or having a ice cream cone that could be licked for infinity? These are big questions. She also notices that no one has commented on her new red shoes. Fortunately, with her Grandma's help, Uma finds a solution to problems related to numbers and shoes.
Infinity and Me left me infinitely content. With this book, you get a kid friendly explanation of a deep concept inside a terrific story. As a teacher, I love how this text will be able to help students take their thinking to another level. I would ask, "What situations in your life might make you think of infinity?" Possible answers could include taking a standardized test or waiting in line at the grocery store. I've attended some weddings (not my own!) where I may have pondered infinity. Gabi Swiatkowska's excellent illustrations will definitely help students visualize the idea of infinity. It would be fun and challenging to create a booklet of drawings that illustrate each student's interpretation of infinity. To paraphrase a rather famous animated astronaut, Infinity and Me will take you beyond your expectations.