How to Bake a Universe

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Pub Date 01 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 31 Jan 2022
W. W. Norton & Company, Norton Young Readers

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This whimsical and informed debut picture book takes a leaf from a cookbook to show readers how the universe came into being.

To bake a universe, you’ll need a heaping pile of nothing. That’s right, not a single thing!

Just make sure you have enough . . . Alec Carvlin breaks down the Big Bang into the steps of a recipe, from the formation of quarks and atoms (preheat your oven to Absolute Hot) to the compression of gases into stars and planets (just set your timer for 180 million years). Carvlin expertly balances mind-boggling facts with snappy storytelling, and Brian Biggs’s bold and contagiously cheerful illustrations bring the infinite down to the bite-sized. How to Bake a Universe is an accessible and playful authority on the formation of the universe and a heartfelt commentary on how to live in it.

About the Authors: Alec Carvlin is an author and designer who graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA in classical studies. How to Bake a Universe is his debut picture book. 

Brian Biggs is a children's book creator who has collaborated with authors like Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Katherine Applegate.

This whimsical and informed debut picture book takes a leaf from a cookbook to show readers how the universe came into being.

To bake a universe, you’ll need a heaping pile of nothing. That’s right...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781324004233
PRICE $18.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 9 members

Featured Reviews

I thought this was a really fun and playful picture book about how the universe was formed! I especially appreciated the longer descriptions and definitions after the story.

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I received an electronic ARC from W. W. Norton & Company through NetGalley.
Carvlin's text and Bigg's illustrations take readers through creating a universe by weaving facts with fun. We see a young chef prepare a "heaping pile of nothing" to start the process and then move through time with her as she waits for it to finish baking and then cooling to the right temperature. The brightly colored artwork captures the intense activity involved in such an incredible process.

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Plunk yourself down for this fantastical, quirky, fun read on quarks and the life of our universe in a kid-friendly creative setting. A perfect read while you're waiting for trays of treats to bake in the oven. Open kids' eyes to the wonders of science with this whimsical artwork and cleverly disguised scientific theories. Detailed notes on the science puns and allusions behind the text are given at the end of the book. Glossary and illustrated Big Bang timeline show the flow the time through the pages of the book. An informative and witty book that has extremely high reread-ability.

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How to Bake a Universe is a picture book simplification of the Big Bang theory. Using a baking analogy, the girl in the story attempts to make her own universe by following an outrageously silly recipe. The illustrations and coloring were amazing. There are a solid two pages of dense text at the end going into further detail of the concepts glossed over in the story, which will help answer the inevitable questions. It's a cute, imaginative way of illustrating the Big Bang theory.

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An amazingly fun book full up spunk, fun, creativity, and science. The illustrations are fun and engaging and go along perfectly with the story. Just enough of everything to keep any reader engaged. Use your imagination and learn how to make your very own universe that belongs to everyone. Love all the scientific facts added at the end to go deeper for kids and adults that want to know more.

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Thanks to Netgalley and WW Norton Publishing for the ARC of this!

This was super cute, informative and very good at keeping interest. There was just the right amount of text for a young child - I think my 5 year old would get a lot out of it, so the 6-8 years intended audience seems a good fit. The illustrations were really fun, and while it was mostly about science there was also kind of a lovely moral message about how the universe belongs to everyone. This will definitely be one I add to a unit study about The Big Bang and the universe.

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This is a fun and educational book with neat illustrations that my kids and I really enjoyed! It describes the formation of the universe in the style of a cookbook recipe. First you start with a whole lot of nothing; just make sure you have enough! The science is digestible and interspersed with light, fun humor like setting a timer for a few hundred million years, and ends on the fun, lighthearted note that we all share this universe, and it (and we) are perfect the way we are. Good book!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this advanced copy!

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