From an astrophysicist, the straight dope on stars and starry phenomena.
Kregenow responds to the popular nursery rhyme in the same metrical vein but with analytical precision: “Opaque ball of hot dense gas, / million times our planet’s mass, / looking small because you’re far, / I know exactly what you are.” Further verses clear the air about constellations (“at best / just a cosmic Rorschach test”), why stars twinkle, why they shine in different colors, how they can turn into neutron stars or black holes, and so on. Notes at the end, with small photos, offer further detail on these and other cosmic concepts. Saldaña sandwiches painted images of stars and star fields, planets, and dust clouds between views of two dark-haired beige-skinned children peering through a bedroom telescope at the night sky and using a printed guidebook to identify what they’re seeing, then falling asleep beneath a spray of stars projected by a night light. The technical vocabulary as well as the narrative’s coldly rational tone and blanket claims of certainty lay a heavy load on the original verse—but in the end the references to pulsars and supernovas, to billions of years and miles, and the uniqueness (so far) of our planet as a home for life amid the Milky Way’s “Quarter trillion stars” are less apt to quash the wondering than crank it up.
Nourishing fare for young stargazers who really, truly do “wonder what you are.” (Informational picture book. 6-9)