Big questions from little people (with all the answers from great minds)


Have your kids hit that stage yet where they ask tricky questions that you’re not sure how to answer. Questions like ‘why is the sky blue’, perhaps?

Before your child starts asking perplexing questions that you feel you need a doctorate in physics or philosophy to answer, get your hands on two titles compiled by Gemma Elwin HarrisBig Questions From Little People and Simple Answers from Great Minds and Does My Goldfish Know Who I Am?.

Harris spent years collecting questions from kids aged between four and twelve and then got them answers. Really, really good answers from some of today’s greatest scientists, philosophers and experts. For example, if you wanted to know if there were any undiscovered animals, you can be sure Sir David Attenborough would have the answer. Likewise, Bear Grylls is a good person to ask if it’s okay to eat a worm and Alain de Botton has some thoughts on how dreams are made –

“Dreams show us that we’re not quite the bosses of our own selves.”

Some of the questions are humorous, such as why is it funny when someone farts? Why does sweetcorn come out looking the same as when I ate it? And my favourite, why doesn’t my daddy ever win the lottery?  Others reveal the detail of the world, as seen through the eyes of children – why is space sparkly? Why doesn’t the Mona Lisa have eyebrows?

Junior philosophers might have wondered whether we should always be nice to mean people or whether numbers go on forever, however there are also lots of practical questions – seven-year-old Azaan asks how he can become a footballer (Lee Dixon, former Arsenal and England international soccer star has some pointers) and Anaya, age six, wants to know how the lady in the sat-nav knows where she’s going.

There’s an attempt to answer to my question (and my son’s) about the edge of the universe in Does My Goldfish Know Who I Am?. Particle physicist, Professor Brian Cox, provides some mind-blowing statistics (such as the fact that the universe contains three hundred and fifty billion large galaxies, each containing anything up to a trillion suns) however states that we are limited by what we can see – which happens to be an extensive ninety billion light years across. But beyond that? Professor Cox concedes that it may be “…infinitely big, which is impossible to imagine!”.

Big Questions From Little People and Simple Answers from Great Minds and Does My Goldfish Know Who I Am? are both available from Book Depository, with free delivery to Australia.


Katrina Whelen

Katrina studied planning and design, did the hard yards working in a big office building and then traded it all in for a relaxing (!) life at home with four children. She now fills her time with writing, completing a degree in genetics and taxiing her children around Melbourne to their various sporting commitments (not necessarily in that order).

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