Jason Chin is an author and illustrator. His new book, The Universe in You, explores life under the microscope. He spoke with TFK Kid Reporter Sarayu Bhumula.
What inspired the book?
It started as a question: “How small is the smallest thing we know of?” That led to more questions. I started doing research. Out of that research came this book.
How did you do that research?
The concept of the book is that each time you turn a page, you see something smaller than what’s on the page before. It starts with small animals, then goes to the hairs on your body, and then to cells, and then inside of cells, and so on. The first thing I did was try to figure out what small things I’d put in the book. Then I investigated each one. Talking to researchers and scientists was an important part of my work.
What was your favorite part of the research?
I talked to a microscope technician at the University of Vermont. She took me on a tour of her lab. I really enjoyed that little field trip.
You did the artwork for the book. How did you start?
The final paintings are done with watercolor. But the pictures all start with something called a storyboard. It’s a series of thumbnail illustrations. (These are small, like a thumbnail.) I do a lot of storyboards, because I’m constantly revising the text.
Can you tell me what the title of the book means?
People are made of cells, just like every other living thing. There are just a handful of different kinds of particles that make up the entire universe. That means we’re all connected to the universe. It’s part of us. I hope readers will understand not only their connection to the universe but also how unique they are.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.