"If one million kids climbed onto one another's shoulders, they would be taller than the tallest buildings, higher than the highest mountains, and farther up than airplanes can fly."
Author Schwartz, along with illustrator Steven Kellogg, bends over backward to help young readers conceptualize — and more importantly visualize — how much a million actually is. He engages the help of Marvelosissimo the Magician. Marvelosissimo magically stands a million children on each other's shoulders. He waves his wand to create a goldfish bowl for a million goldfish — and large enough for a whale. He conjures 100,000 stars spanning seven pages of the book: now just take this seven-page journey ten times.
Readers will be awestruck as a million begins to make sense. Now how much is a billion? No question is too difficult for Marvelosissimo. Waving his magic wand, he stacks a billion kids into a human tower reaching past the moon. A goldfish bowl for a billion goldfish would be as big as a stadium. Even the concept of a trillion is grappled with here with breathtaking finesse.
An author's note at the book's conclusion clearly explains in detail the different calculations used to imaginatively illustrate each numerical concept. In the case of the goldfish, Schwartz writes, "As a general rule, an aquarium should hold one gallon of water for every one-inch goldfish. That means that a million goldfish would require a million gallons of water," and so on. Written in part to combat what Schwartz sees as an increasing problem in innumeracy, Schwartz has written an important, accessible book that is a must for every classroom.