ONE DAY A DOT Review: Scientifically Adorable

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ONE DAY A DOT: Written by Ian Lendler, Illustrated by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb
Art
Characterization
Plot

Summary

ONE DAY A DOT gives readers a beautiful and succinct introduction to some of science's heftier concepts. The art is impeccable; a real joy to read all around.

100 %

A Big Bang!

“One day a dot appeared. And it was so excited to be there that it burst.” From writer Ian Lendler and illustrators Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, ONE DAY A DOT is the most colorful, totally adorable guide to the Big Bang and the beginning of the universe that anyone could ask for. Lendler, Paroline, and Lamb put together a gorgeous picture book that is sure to delight every reader, especially those that are brand-spankin’ new to the world of science.

ONE DAY A DOT: THE STORY OF YOU, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING discusses existence from the moments before the big bang up to present day in a succinct, beautifully executed comic. The thematic use of dots comes back again and again. This is a classic picture book technique that is especially useful in books for younger readers, as it helps with memory. It’s also a great tactic when used in a read-aloud setting, because it gives listeners a chance to interact with the material that they’re hearing.

ONE DAY A DOT
Image courtesy of First Second Books.

At the same time, the use of the dots also allows the writer to really delve into some complex concepts. The book introduces the theories of the Big Bang and evolution like they’re everyday facts, simplified for younger readers to grasp. This is especially awesome because it introduces kids to science in a bright, fun, and carefree sort of way. Though the terminology is simplified, it never feels condescending. The concepts are enormous, but they’re broken down in a way that’s easy to digest (like a ball of light). It’s a wonderful introduction to some of the basic concepts of science.

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The Art of ONE DAY A DOT

The gorgeous art in this book helps lay the groundwork for those basic concepts. Oranges, yellows, and blues fill every page, with ample splash pages for emphasis. This isn’t the standard comic format, either; rather, it’s a picture book, which is fabulous for reading aloud or alone. The words are simple but not patronizing, and the art is big and bold and beautiful. Paroline and Lamb do a stand-up job on the artwork throughout, bringing extremely complex concepts to life on every page. The words and pictures work together on every page to create a flowing line through time and space, from then to now.

As the book carries on, things move from simple to complex. Paroline and Lamb illustrate this beautifully throughout, moving from simple circles for planets and cells to dinosaurs, all the way up to humans. The book puts emphasis on how life becomes less about “eat or be eaten” and more about learning and becoming smarter as the way to get ahead. This approach brings the book into the present, even including the reader into the last few pages of it, another classic picture book technique.  That interactivity is key to making a successful picture book.

ONE DAY A DOT
Image courtesy of First Second Books.

Diverse Readers Welcome

Most interestingly, at the end of the book lies a positive little surprise. Where the book says, “They had you,” the couple looks to be interracial, hinting that the baby in their arms (and therefore the character the reader should be identifying with) is of mixed race. With such a dearth of diversity in children’s literature, representation like this is always a step forward. Especially in a book emphasizing STEM, it’s great to see a child of color as the “main character.”

Curiosity Sparked

Though the art is wonderful, the real beauty of ONE DAY A DOT is the way it values intelligence. The book simplifies difficult concepts, but it caters to younger readers in a way that gives them agency. They can ask the questions; they can find the answers. Even though there are questions always out of reach (“Where did that first dot come from?”) readers are given the go-ahead to think about them, to continue to learn. This book answers some questions, yes, but it gets readers to ask even more. ONE DAY A DOT also emphasizes a change in those questions: instead of “what?” they become “how?”. It gives readers the tools to ask questions as scientists do.

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Final Thoughts on ONE DAY A DOT

ONE DAY A DOT is a simple depiction of core scientific concepts in a beautiful and succinct fashion. It gives younger readers the fuel to spark some curiosity in how things happen. It’s also a beautiful way to get one (or a whole handful) of younger readers interested in scientific theories like the Big Bang and evolution without being too overly science-y, with exceptionally beautiful art.

You can pick up ONE DAY A DOT here.

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