By: Joey Benun
Illustrated by: Laura Watson
Publication Date: January 23, 2023
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: February 10, 2023
A monarch butterfly named Pebbles, with an insatiable curiosity for big numbers sets the stage for a wonderful story about very, very big numbers in Pebbles and the Biggest Number.
The story opens with Pebbles fluttering around his garden. He’s counting the flowers – one, two, three...but, gosh, the numbers are always the same. There must be bigger numbers somewhere, but where? Pebbles wonders what the biggest number is and then decides he should go on an adventure to find some really big numbers.
Pebbles flies away from his garden to explore and is thrilled when he comes upon a desert. Relaxing on the sand is a camel, and Pebbles excitedly asks him, “…what’s the biggest number you know?” The camel thinks for a moment and then responds with the number 27 million, which the camel explains is the temperature of the sun. Pebbles is fascinated by this fact and spends a little time learning about the desert. Then he’s off again, this time to a tropical rainforest.
The first inhabitant of the rainforest Pebbles meets is an electric eel. Pebbles ask the eel what the biggest number he knows is, and the eel tells the butterfly about the number 1 billion. He says that’s the number of volts of electricity in a lightning bolt. How cool! But what’s the biggest number? Pebbles will have to explore some more to find new friends, new numbers, and maybe that elusive biggest of all numbers.
There are a lot of number books on the market, most delivering a simple counting experience – and Pebbles and the Biggest Number is definitely not one of those. This book takes numbers to a whole new level, looking at very large numbers, numbers that many children are likely curious about, and numbers that they typically refer to with words such as “gajillion” and “katrillion” (and to the author’s credit, he does mention these made-up numbers). What really makes this book stand out is how things are explained. For every big number, there’s a “Number Note” that shows how many zeroes that number has, there are “Fun Facts” and “Did You Know?” facts about the various creatures Pebbles meets during his adventure, and “Science Spot” facts about things such as earthquakes, dolphins, and avalanches (Pebbles encounters all of these and more!). The increasingly large numbers are also explained visually for children who might learn better that way – “camels can drink around 500 cups of water in one sitting.” Finally, each number is presented in both the metric and imperial systems.
At the back is a dictionary of some of the more difficult words in the book, a great “Dig Deeper” two-page spread that explains large numbers with examples of how many grains of sand each number equals, as well as a website link for more information about big numbers. The artwork and design of this book was also given careful attention and everything comes together beautifully to offer children an outstanding numbers book. I highly recommend this book to all parents and suggest it find its way into libraries and school classrooms too. Kudos to author Joey Benun on his debut book!
Quill says: Pebbles and the Biggest Number is both fun and educational – it’s a story about large numbers that is delivered in a way that even the most “number challenged” child can understand. If I could recommend this book a nonillion times (check it out – a nonillion has 30 zeros!), I would!
For more information on Pebbles and the Biggest Number, please visit the website: www.biggestnumber.com