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The Picture Book Buzz

Little Leonard's Fascinating World of Astronomy - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

It's always so fun visiting observatories and planetariums and seeing the stars the lights of our cities hide. But the one star gazing moment I'll never forget was a trip to the San Juan Islands, in Washington. Lying in the cockpit of a small sailboat, I watched the moon rise, satellites zoom by, shooting stars (or perhaps falling space junk - but I think "shooting stars" are more romantic) whiz past, and so many stars sparkle against the deep lightless sky. Then, to top it all off, a pod of Orcas decided to play in the moonbeam - tail slapping and breaching! It was truly magical.

I was excited when they announced this new addition to the Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World series. And I am excited to bring you a sneak peek of this fun introduction to space and astronomy, which releases on September 7th.

Little Leonards' Fascinating World of Astronomy

Author: Sarafina Nance

Illustrator: Greg Paprocki

Publisher: Gibbs Smith Publisher (2021)

Ages: 4-8


Astronomy, space, and STEM,


Join author Sarafina Nance, a real-life astrophysicist and one of Forbes magazine "30 inspirational women," as she guides you through 22 fascinating pages of fun facts all about the universe. Get lost in captivating illustrations and text about that big wide-open space above us. Did you know that everything you can see, touch, taste, and smell is actually just a teeny tiny part of the Universe? Or that even though Earth has only 1 moon, Jupiter has 79 and Saturn has 82? Or did you know that there is a planet that’s made of diamond? Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of Astronomy joins the Little Leonardo Fascinating World of series, illustrated by Greg Paprocki.

Companion book to the Little Leonardo Fascinating World of series featuring basic concepts about what astronomers do and all things space.

Opening Lines:

ASTRONOMY is the science of studying the Universe.

The UNIVERSE is full of things we can see,

such as planets, moons, and stars, and things we can't see,

such as dark matter and dark energy.

What I LIKED about this book:

Collapsing a ton of information, conflicting beliefs, and the vastness of the universe into a picture book is quite a task. One that Sarafina Nance accomplishes, with the help of Greg Paprocki's fun, bright illustrations featuring a diverse cast of children and animals. I mean how can you not love an astronaut dog on a space walk with the kids? Or a monkey on the moon?

Text © Sarafina Nance, 2021. Image © Greg Paprocki, 2021.

Using a direct, no-nonsense voice, the text alternates between facts and features of the universe and a child's ordinary experiences. Such as juxtaposing our "cosmic neighborhood" with many of the habitats or "neighborhoods" on Earth. Or the small amount of light that we can see with the light the telescopes are showing us in the universe. Throughout, important vocabulary words, such as "ORBIT" or "HARBOR," are highlighted, and either defined within the text or later in the glossary.

Text © Sarafina Nance, 2021. Image © Greg Paprocki, 2021.

Packed full of information, this is a fun picture book which will be educational not just for kids but adults as well. How many knew there was a planet made of diamond? Or that some believe that stars might be alive? Ultimately, the book suggests that studying the universe "allows humans to ask important questions." Not answer the questions necessarily - but ask them. And asks the reader what their questions of the Universe will be.

Even though the illustrations are at times fanciful and a bit compressed (the space station with the planets next to it), which is understandable given the scope they are trying to get into 22 pages, I think this is a good addition to any early unit on space and the universe. Between the numerous scientific concepts and the detailed illustrations, this book has the potential to encourage numerous reads over a span of years and may nudge a child toward exploring more about science themselves.


- make puppets of yourself as an astronaut, your spaceship, a satellite, and even your favorite a planet (asteroid or black hole). (

- have you ever watched the night sky? What planets or constellations can you identify? Make star watching journal/list of all the things you've seen while watching the stars - satellites, shooting stars, meteoroids, the milky way, etc.

- have you ever been to an observatory or looked through a telescope? Make your own telescope and see what you can find in the sky (

- if you could visit anywhere in space, where would you go? Draw a picture or write a story of your journey.

If you missed it, be sure to check out Monday's interview with Sarafina Vance and Greg Paprocki (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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