Just a Second


What can happen in just a second,
a minute, or an hour?
How can we measure time?
The flap of a vulture’s wing.
A crocodile’s ...

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What can happen in just a second,
a minute, or an hour?
How can we measure time?
The flap of a vulture’s wing.
A crocodile’s heartbeat.
The weight of a baby blue whale.
The life of a mayfly.
These increments of time may sound a bit strange, but they are all fascinating ways in which we can think about time.
But what exactly is time?
In Just a Second, the award-winning author-illustrator Steve Jenkins brings forth unique ways to think about time beyond the hands we see every day on a ticking clock.
 This non-fiction picture book explores time and how we think about it in a different way - as a series of events in the natural world (some of them directly observable, others not) that take place in a given unit of time. Steve Jenkins' extraordinary illustrations will accompany this engaging look at time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Jenkins brings fresh perspective to the passage of time in a thought-provoking picture book that features his typically elegant cut-paper collages. With a particular focus on the natural world and mankind’s impact on it, Jenkins lists diverse events that occur in the space of a second, a minute, an hour, and so on. In one week, a ladybug eats more than 500 aphids, while each month “The world’s human population increases by about 6,556,000 people. (11,616,000 are born and 5,060,000 die).” Jenkins also covers “very quick” and “very slow” amounts of time: a fast ball reaches home plate in “less than 4/10 of a second,” while in one billion years, “Earth will be too hot to support life.” Back matter offers information about life spans, population growth, and Earth’s history. This subtly philosophical examination of time, scale, and the mechanics of life is all but certain to leave readers reconsidering the world and their place in it. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"This subtly philosophical examination of time, scale, and the mechanics of life is all but certain to leave readers reconsidering the world and their place in it."— Publishers Weekly, starred review "This is a fascinatingly different way to approach natural history as well as time..."— Bulletin

"Jenkins renders this package both eye-catching and mind boggling. Teachers will find good jumping-off points here for math, science, and history discussions."— School Library Journal, starred review

Children's Literature - Miranda McClain
How many times does a child's heart beat per minute? What about an adult, an elephant, a hamster, or a chilly crocodile? These are just a few of the facts presented in this fascinating book. Starting with the many things that can happen in a second, or even a fraction of a second, in the animal kingdom and the world at large, and gradually working through a minute, an hour, and up to a year, this book is jam packed with interesting facts kids will love. From the speed of a charging grizzly bear and the rate of deforestation to the life span of a great white shark, the reader comes away with an entirely new appreciation for how much can happen in a short period of time and the way we measure it. Whether used as part of a math unit on time increments, or as an accompaniment to a science lesson on animals or the environment, Jenkins' beautiful cut-paper illustrations are a wonderful way to get children thinking more about the world around them. Reviewer: Miranda McClain
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—This is an entertaining and thought-provoking book about units of time, which may not seem like particularly captivating material until one tries to imagine a bumblebee's wings beating 200 times per second or a person standing at the equator traveling 18 miles in one minute as Earth rotates. Pretty cool, huh? Jenkins's fascinating way of looking at time is bolstered by a wide variety of examples from nature and man, and while many are simply fun, others will give somber pause, like the average use of 19 gallons of fresh water per hour for every person on Earth or the use of 200 billion sheets of letter-size paper in one day. With his trademark torn- and cut-paper collages in rich earth tones, Jenkins renders this package both eye-catching and mind-boggling. Teachers will find good jumping-off points here for math, science, and history discussions. With this browser's delight around, it's a sure bet that more than one young reader will be spotted trying to count blinks per second. (That would be seven.)—Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR
Pamela Paul
Jenkins isn't here to lecture but to enlighten. With a dazzling array of science and nature facts on the order of Ripley's Believe It or Not, he succeeds in teaching children about time even as he's bound to pique their interest in a wide variety of behaviors, animal…human…and mechanical…the material is organized and arranged with care by Jenkins, whose meticulous cut-paper collage illustrations are detailed and yet unfussy.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618708963
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/25/2011
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 356,308
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 870L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Jenkins has written and illustrated over twenty picture books for young readers, including the Caldecott Honor–winning What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? His books have been called stunning, eyepopping, inventive, gorgeous, masterful, extraordinary, playful, irresistible, compelling, engaging, accessible, glorious, and informative. He lives in Colorado with his wife and frequent collaborator, Robin Page, and their children. To learn more about Steve and his books, visit www.stevejenkinsbooks.com.

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