Subscribe to The Horn Book

Review of Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet

Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet
by Curtis Manley; illus. by Jessica Lanan
Primary    Roaring Brook    48 pp.
1/19    978-1-250-15533-7    $18.99 

The ever-fascinating idea that there may be life on other planets drives this smart discussion of the major advances in astronomy that have led to the discovery of exoplanets (officially, “extrasolar planets”), along with the conditions that might be necessary to support life (the “just right” of the title). Manley sets up the science carefully and thoroughly, leading readers step by step through the ways in which astronomers have used tools such as telescopes to “see” the planets that orbit distant stars. Excellent analogies help readers grasp the techniques: “For a few stars that are close to Earth, large telescopes can actually see an exoplanet, but only if the glare from the star is blocked — like when you hide the Moon’s glow with your hand.” Lanan’s illustrations take the concepts to the next level; the choices of scale, color, and detail in her planetary landscapes make visible the text’s content. The clever use of a parallel narrative in the art, which features a young (brown-skinned) girl and her family as they visit a planetarium and bring home a telescope, situates the images of possible other worlds in that character’s imagination. On one dramatic double-page spread, where a single sentence in white stands out on a black background, readers are invited to test the limits of their own thinking about exoplanetary life: “Maybe it’s like nothing we can even imagine.” Back matter includes more on the science of detecting exoplanets, a brief bibliography, lists of relevant websites, and a “timeline of discovering our place in the universe.”

From the January/February 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford About Danielle J. Ford

Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

Share
Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind

*