Friday, November 8, 2019

What's Up? The Sky!

Today's themes are: space, stars, scientists

Always Looking Up: Nancy Grace Roman, Astronomer 
by Laura Gehl  ; illus by Louise Pigott and Alex Oxton
32 pages; ages  5-7
Albert Whitman & Company, 2019

Young Nancy Grace loved to look up at the endless night sky.

Her dad’s job kept the family moving from place to place, but Nancy knew it was the same night sky that extended across the country, no matter where they moved. Nancy loved the sky so much that, as a kid, she started an astronomy club. She and her friends mapped the stars. But Nancy wanted to learn more. She challenged the notion that science was a subject meant for men, and went on to college. As an astronomer she worked with radio telescopes, became NASAs chief of astronomy, and dreamed of building a telescope that could float above earth, capturing images of black holes and galaxies far, far away. Her work and vision – the Hubble telescope – is still orbiting above, sending gorgeous images from space to this day.

What I like about this book: I love the beautiful images of space that Hubble has been beaming to Earth over the past 29 years – nearly twice Hubble’s expected life-span. But I never thought about who had the vision for such a telescope. “Many people over many decades worked to make the Hubble Space Telescope a reality,” writes Laura Gehl. But Nancy Grace earned the nickname “Mother of Hubble”. And yes, there is indeed back matter: more about Nancy Grace in the author’s note and a timeline of her life.

One North Star: A Counting Book
by Phyllis Root; illus by Beckie Prange and Betsy Bowen
36 pages; ages 8-12
Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2016

Who lives here under one north star?

One by one, we meet the plants and animals that share the land beneath the star. Phyllis Root takes readers on a field trip through bog and marsh, along river and around lake, across prairie and into the woods, counting flora and fauna as we go. The woodcut and water illustrations by Beckie Prange and Betsy Bowen provide additional opportunities to explore diverse habitats and plants and animals living there.

What I like about this book: Each page introduces different species. For example, One moose… but on the next page it’s two bats and one hawk. By the end of the book we’ve met 55 different plants, birds, fish, insects, mammals, and herps. I also like that Root includes the reader in her book. “You live here, too,” she writes. “We all live together under one north star.” Nine pages of back matter provide further opportunity for curious young naturalists to explore each habitat and the wild things living there. And (very important) – how to locate the north star in the sky above you. I give this book a constellation’s worth of stars, and One Big North Star.

I confess that I, too, love watching stars. Those that remain in their proper constellations ... and those that fall from the sky (not really stars, but meteors). My mom would take us outside and tell us star stories, and I remain convinced there is a dragon in the sky – if only I can find it. So I truly enjoyed writing about things in space for the Super Science series (Rourke Educational Media). My book, Sky Spies, came out this fall.

Beyond the Books:

Look at the stars. All you need is a dark place and a thermos of hot cocoa – and a cloud-free sky. If you have binoculars, take ‘em along. A star chart helps – here’s one (you can change the location for where you’re watching – click on the wrench icon)

Who watches the stars with you? While you’re out gazing at the sky, keep your ears – and eyes (and possibly your nose) – open for clues about who else shares the stars with you.

Want your own telescope? Here’s directions on how to make one with a few items you might find around your home.

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. And we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies and ARCs provided by the publishers.

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