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Review of Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

sisson_star stuff star2 Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos
by Stephanie Roth Sisson; illus. by the author
Primary   Roaring Brook   32 pp.
10/14   978-1-59643-960-3   $17.99

Beginning with the first page, Sisson showcases the magnitude of the universe, visually presenting the Milky Way and our sun’s place in it. Turn the page, and readers move from our sun “in a neighborhood of stars,” to our planet, to one place: Brooklyn, New York. There readers meet young Carl, curious about the world around him. As he grows, that general inquisitiveness settles into a passion and an adult craving to know more about stars and solar systems. “It gave Carl goose bumps to think about what he learned about the stars, planets, and the beginnings of life”; that “the Earth and every living thing are made of star stuff.” His repeated, geeky boyhood interjection of “Wowie!” exuberantly captures that continuing wonder and passion. Illustrations with shifting perspectives portray Carl standing on a sidewalk that mimics the Earth’s curvature or lying on the floor surrounded by space creatures from his imagination. A vertical foldout initially depicts Carl studying in a library; as the page opens (and Carl’s knowledge increases), the universe above him expands. Sisson takes her time introducing Sagan, but as he learns more and more and his questions increase in complexity, the pace of the narrative accelerates as readers accompany him on his intellectual journey. An author’s note, clarification and source notes, and a bibliography complete this out-of-this-world picture-book biography.

From the January/February 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Betty Carter

Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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