This nonfiction picture book explains the concept of the big bang in an accessible and creative way. Half of the book is an alliterative poem leaping from age to page that can read be as a stand-alone piece, with the alphabet a subtle presence providing an underlying structure. Opposite each poem page is a prose section extending the text of the poem, covering such topics as the continuing expansion of the universe, the formation of matter, the history of the big bang, early astronomy, and concepts such as density and types of light. The prose pages can read either alone or with the verse woven in. Some illustrations have additional captions.
A book that you can read so many ways is an amazing achievement and exemplifies the radical change in children’s literature theories put forth by library science professor Eliza T. Dresang in her book Radical Change: Books for Youth in a Digital Age (H.W. Wilson, 1999).
Michael Cooper’s vibrant illustrations add dazzle with images ranging from computer generated to photo-realism to painterly. The Hubble telescope and NASA are just two entities thanked for providing photographs. The text, in part thanks to the author and in part thanks to an art design team that listened, is diverse as well; shapely and colorful, with concrete poetry-like text stretching and growing.
A glossary and credits complete the text. Big Bang! could be used in science classrooms and English classrooms alike. The publisher helpfully includes lesson plans and suggestions for classroom use on their website. Hopefully, this is a first of many such innovative titles from Charlesbridge Press.
This review was originally published on the Hip Librarian’s Book Blog January 1, 2005.