I checked this book out of the library so often in grade school, wishing it could stay on my bookshelf. I traced the constellations, drew star charts, and taped the colored charts on my walls. Reading the names of the stars and constellations, I marveled at the strangeness of them: Procyon, Rigel, Aldebaran, Betelgeuse (a professor in my college astronomy class finally modeled the pronunciation of this star’s name … I’m not sure I believe him, though). When I read about Castor and Pollux, Perseus, Andromeda, and Hercules, I was inspired to hunt down books of myths to learn the legends behind these names.
Far more than the stars are present in the second edition of Mr. Rey’s book, which was first published in 1952 and updated in 2008. The sun and the planets are here, without Pluto, and the concise definitions for a major planet and minor planet are understandable. History is represented, for we learn how the constellations have been studied and regarded over time. We learn about the death of stars and the passing of seasons. Latitude can be determined by observing the stars. The magnitude and color stars, critical for astronomers, is explained in a way that fifth graders can grasp. In short, the book examines every aspect of the night sky, helping the reader contemplate the mysteries overhead.
Most memorable are the simple lines Mr. Rey uses to create drawings of the constellations that help us understand how they received their names and to find them in the night sky. And tell me, how many people can say they received a book endorsement from Albert Einstein?
With star charts and a delightful poster that doubles as the book’s cover (so you really must get your own copy and not check it out of the library), this is a scientific imagination sparker and a way to find magic in the stars.
— Vicki Palmquist
- Page 1 of 0