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Just the Right Size: Why Big Animals Are Big and Little Animals Are Little    by Nicola Davies & Neal Layton order for
Just the Right Size
by Nicola Davies
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

In comic books and superhero adventure films the characters use their special powers to fly across the sky, run up sheer walls and lift huge objects. These same larger than life action characters tackle giant monsters that tower over buildings and have equally outrageous powers.

It may be very exciting but it is still all rubbish and a 'complete load of nonsense', according to the author of this fascinating children's book. 'There are very strict rules that control what bodies can and can't do,' writes Nicola Davies. 'These rules keep creatures from getting too big, and because of them, the real superheroes are usually small - a lot smaller than humans.'

The rule Davies refers to is 'If you double the length of something, its surface area and cross section go up four times, while its volume and weight go up eight times!' Using what she calls the BTLT (Big Thing Little Thing) Rule, Davies shows why humans can't lift buses or flap their arms and fly. It also debunks the idea that spiders can grow as large as cars and King Kong could never exist (sorry Hollywood!)

Young readers ages seven and older will also discover why some insects can 'walk on water' and other small creatures, like the gecko, can scamper across the ceiling. Youngsters will also learn that the BTLT Rule applies to the inside as well as the outside of creatures. If you want to be big, you'll need lungs and a pretty good sized heart too.

If you are looking for a super creature, don't check at eye level or look up; peer down at the ground. Here's where you'll find the small rhinoceros beetle that can carry 850 times its own weight or the leaf-cutter ant that is less than 3/10 of an ounce yet can lift many times its own weight.

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