CAROLINE'S COMETS by Emily Arnold McCully


A True Story
Age Range: 6 - 10
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Look up at the stars….

The long and eventful life of Caroline Herschel (1750-1848), a musician, astronomer, discoverer of comets, and involuntary servant in the English principality of Hanover (in modern-day Germany), is described here in straightforward, factual narrative, studded with interesting detail and relevant autobiographical snippets. Relegated to the position of her family’s maid because of her sex and thought to have poor marriage prospects because of smallpox scars, Caroline had already accepted her lot when her brother whisked her off to England to embark on a unique opportunity—a singing career. His interest in astronomy soon became hers, and she became his assistant at his request. The two went on to great work, both together and separately, and though Caroline did not necessarily choose her assignments (her brother did), she eventually discovered nebulae, star clusters, galaxies, and—famously—eight comets. While tracing Herschel’s life and development as a scientist, the text takes care to make mention of the limitations imposed on Herschel by her family and society while realistically portraying the frustrations and accomplishments of the first woman to be paid as a scientific researcher. McCully’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations are true to form; appealing and evocative, closely tied to the text, with just the right amount of relevant detail. Notes, bibliography, glossary, and timeline are included in the backmatter.

An inspiring tale of scientific discovery despite obstacles, with a feminist point of view. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3664-4
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2017


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