Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Star Stuff introduces kids to the "Wowie!" side of science with the story of how a young boy named Carl went to the 1939 World's Fair and got fascinated with the stars. In colorful, lively illustrations, author-illustrator Stephanie Roth Sisson shows the vastness of the cosmos and the determination of the kid who eventually became Dr. Carl Sagan to learn more about the universe. Some adults may find such essential Saganisms as "the Earth and every living thing are made up of star stuff" (as contrasted to, say, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon, and the liek) a bit cloying and gee-whizzy, but it's a formula that's gotten generations of kids intrigued with science. Aside from astronomy, the book offers plenty of opportunities for further investigation, including 20th-century history. There's also funny stuff, as when young Carl goes to the library in search of a book about stars, only to be presented with one about Hollywood celebrities.
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What's the Story?
In a corner of our galaxy known as Brooklyn, New York, a young boy grows up fascinated by the world around him. When he goes to the 1939 New York World's Fair, he sees such wonders as a mechanical man and a time capsule and becomes enthralled with the stars. When attempts to wish himself to Mars fail, he goes to the library to learn more. Eventually he becomes Dr. Carl Sagan, PBS cheerleader and popularizer of science in the 1980s and member of the team that sent the Voyager missions into space to communicate with whomever's out there.
Is It Any Good?
Stephanie Roth Sisson's brilliantly colored, appealing illustrations bring the subject to vivid life, whether it's the vastness of the universe or the features of Carl's neighborhood in Brooklyn. Most kids these days don't know about Carl Sagan and his 1980s PBS series, Cosmos, which is something Sisson, a big fan, sets out to fix in STAR STUFF, bringing Sagan's imaginative, cheerleading approach to science to a new generation.
Parents may want to be prepared for discussions the book might bring up, such as space travel and communication with people on other planets. And what, exactly, it means that everything is made of "star stuff."
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about whether there are people living on other planets and why the idea of sending them a message is so popular. If you could talk to people on other planets, what would you say?
Have you ever watched Carl Sagan's videos or Neil deGrasse Tyson's new version of his series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey? Do they make you want to learn more about science?
Do you think you'd like to travel in space? Where would you go? What do you think you'd see?
- Author: Stephanie Roth Sisson
- Illustrator: Stephanie Roth Sisson
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
- Publication date: October 14, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 4 - 8
- Number of pages: 40
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: August 19, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Thoughtful adaptation of Sagan novel; violence, peril.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Update of Sagan classic is smart, visually spectacular.
Superb illustrations, star theme make a great bedtime read.
For kids who love picture books and science
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