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The Boy Whose Head Was Filled With Stars: A Story About Edwin Hubble - Perfect Picture Book #PPBF

I love looking through pictures taken by the Hubble telescope. It's always amazed me that what seem to just be dots of light contain such beautiful treasures. Many even beyond imagination. So, I was really excited when I saw this book. I have to admit, like many of Isabelle's friends, I had very little knowledge about Edwin Hubble and "his" telescope. So, I am excited to be able to offer you a sneak peek at this wonderful nonfiction picture book biography which releases January 19, 2021.


The Boy Whose Head Was Filled With Stars: A Story about Edwin Hubble


Author: Isabelle Marinov


Illustrator: Deborah Marcero


Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books (2021)


Ages: 6-10


Nonfiction


Themes:

Stars, universe, astronomy, telescopes, passion, perseverance, investigation, and curiosity.


Synopsis:

This is the story of Edwin Hubble, a boy fascinated by the stars who surmounted many hurdles to follow his dreams of becoming an astronomer. Using the insights of great mathematicians and endlessly observing the sky, he succeeded in confirming two things that altered human life forever: that there are more galaxies than our own, and that the universe is always expanding. Hubble’s message to us is to find peace in the vastness of the mystery surrounding us, and to be curious. “We do now know why we are born into the world,” he said, “but we can try to find out what sort of world it is.”


Opening Lines:

Edwin was a curious boy.

He loved books and birds.


And he loved the stars.

At night, he liked to sit alone outside his home

in Marshfield, Missouri, looking up at the sky.


How many stars are in the sky?

How did the universe begin?

Where did it come from?


What I loved about this book:

The opening spread beautifully shows the interaction of the sparse text and creative illustrations within this delightful picture book. Instead of listing Edwin's family setting, location, and date in the text in a 'standard' biography format, the illustration includes tags under the family members, and a line "Mansfield, Missouri 1897." This intriguing provision of information integrated into the illustrations (instead of the text or a sidebar), continues throughout the book as we discover Edwin's curiosity about the stars, his father's rejection of astronomy as Edwin's profession, Edwin's first job as a teacher, his pursuit of his passion (upon his father's death), and the science behind his discoveries.

Text © Isabelle Marinov, 2020. Image © Deborah Marcero, 2020.


The questions in the opening - "How many stars are in the sky? How did the universe begin? Where did it come from?" - form a wonderful refrain that Deborah Marcero weaves throughout the illustrations all the way to the end, when they are 'wrapped' into Edwin's message to us to "[l]ook up at the stars." Also, note the cluster of stars that surround Edwin's head. These stars surround him, filling his head, until he finally starts working as an astronomer exploring their secrets through gigantic, powerful telescopes.

Text © Isabelle Marinov, 2020. Image © Deborah Marcero, 2020.


His first job as an astronomer was at Mount Wilson California Observatory (note how both micro & macro location information runs through the illustration). I love how Isabelle not only acknowledges the work of astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt but shows how Edwin used her formula for measuring distance in space to prove that the Andromeda Nebula could not be part of our Milky Way Galaxy. That our galaxy was "no more than a small dot in an unimaginably vast universe." And I adore Deborah's illustration of this vast, fascinating universe, with an impressive double gatefold and a creative "map" putting the Milky Way Galaxy and Earth into context (in the bottom left corner).

Text © Isabelle Marinov, 2020. Image © Deborah Marcero, 2020.


Edwin continued studying the stars, classifying the galaxies he located as - elliptical, spiral, barred, & irregular. Then he made a second big discovery - the universe was actually expanding. The galaxies were moving away from each other. After this, he helped build the huge Hale telescope for the Palomar Observatory in San Diego county and got to be the first to use it. Although Edwin died in 1953, in honor of his contributions to astronomy and our understanding of the universe, NASA named the first telescope in space - the Hubble Space Telescope.


The book ingeniously includes information about lunar eclipses, our solar system, geography, engineering design (in the diagrams of the telescopes), and stellar classification. The back matter contains notes from both the author and the illustrator concerning their experiences and challenges, as well as detailed explanations of Edwin's discoveries. This is a wonderful biography that is intriguing, not just because of its subject matter but because of the creative ways that the text and illustrations swirl together Edwin Hubble's curiosity, persistence, and scientific discoveries. Giving readers a taste of the intrigue and wonder that drew Edwin to search deep into the universe. A great book for every library and every kid (and adult) who marvels at the night sky.


Resources:

- look at some amazing images taken by the Hubble telescope (https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/multimedia/index.html)


- make your own star chart and see which stars and constellations you can find (https://kids.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Printable_Star_Charts)


- build your own telescope (easiest - https://www.highlights.com/parents/crafts/make-telescope) or (with used reading lenses - https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/nature/make-a-telescope/)


If you missed it, be sure to check out Monday's interview with Isabelle Marinov (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.

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