'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 18 September 2017

Review: Bureau of Weights and Measures

We measure many things: quantity, height, weight, distance, and much more.

But how do we measure emotions? Can they even be measured?

In Bureau of Weights and Measures, a father who is an engineer determines he will find out. The story is told by his son.

The father, Marcel, works at the Bureau of Weights and Measures, and spends his days checking that measurements are correct.

Marcel has great belief in the importance of his job, as does his son. Nothing would make sense if measurements were incorrect. Imagine how much confusion there would be if weights and measures got mixed up.

When the young boy one day arrives home from school unhappy, Marcel finds it difficult to come to terms with his son's sadness, which is hard to explain and 'very vague, approximate, imprecise!'

Marcel and his son decide to create new instruments to measure emotions. Smiles are measured in yippees and love is measured in kilopassions. Their shiverometer is made to measure fear.

But people who use the new instruments begin to rely on them and believe in them more than they do their own judgment. The instruments cause arguments, sulking, and complaints.

Worried they have changed people too much, they recall their instruments and find a way to create happiness for themselves and others.

Although the narrative of Bureau of Weights and Measures is primarily about emotions, the concept of measurement is strong throughout, with measurements even incorporated into the illustrations (e.g. the boy is labelled as weighing 23 kg or 3 st 9lb and the temperature outside as 9 degrees Celsius or 48 degrees Fahrenheit).

This story by Anne-Gaelle Balpe is a great way to start children thinking about emotions -- what they are, how they work and so on -- as well as mathematical concepts, through the explanation and examples of measurements. It has been wonderfully illustrated by Vincent Mahe in his colourful retro style.

Bureau of Weights and Measures is the English edition of the story which was first published in French as Le Bureau des Poids et des Mesures.

Title: Bureau of Weights and Measures
Author: Anne-Gaelle Balpe
Illustrator: Vincent Mahe
Publisher: Wilkins Farago, $ 24.99
Publication Date:  2017
Format: Hardcover
ISBN:  9780648009108
For ages: 6+
Type: Picture book