ALWAYS LOOKING UP by Laura Gehl

ALWAYS LOOKING UP

Nancy Grace Roman, Astronomer
by , illustrated by and
Age Range: 5 - 7
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KIRKUS REVIEW

This biography for children tells the story of the astronomer who spearheaded the Hubble Space Telescope project.

When Nancy Grace Roman (1925–2018) was young, she loved the night sky, which was always the same, no matter where her father’s job took the family. She formed a school astronomy club and learned more about constellations, meteors, and planets. In high school, she “asked questions her physics teacher could not answer” and took an extra algebra class. Roman’s college professors tried to discourage her, as a woman, from studying science and math, but she excelled in her studies, continuing on to graduate school and becoming an astronomer. She observed stars, worked with radio telescopes, and gave astronomy lectures. Roman then joined the newly created NASA in 1959 as the first chief of astronomy, eventually becoming director of the Astronomical Data Center. Realizing that astronomers needed a telescope in space that wouldn’t be blocked by our atmosphere, Roman led a team of scientists on the Hubble Space Telescope project, testifying successfully before Congress on the need for funding. The Hubble, when finally built (and repaired in space), gave crystal-clear images of astronomical objects, earning Roman a nickname: the “Mother of Hubble.” An author’s note about Roman and a timeline of her life are included. Gehl (Baby Botanist, 2019, etc.), a prolific writer for children, explains the facts of Roman’s life in a compelling way. Information from the timeline, such as when Roman was born and what degrees she earned, could have been better integrated into the story for more context. However, Gehl clearly conveys her subject’s childhood excitement about the cosmos and her determination, “as fiery as a supernova,” to learn more and fire up others. The story of the Hubble itself is also well told, with marvelous descriptions accompanied by illustrations: “comets hurtling into Jupiter; dust storms on Mars; nebulae shaped like a butterfly, a crab, a tarantula.” The very appealing, nicely detailed images by Pigott (El Tucán y La Tortuga, 2019, etc.) and debut illustrator Oxton capture Roman’s character, as well as the magic of the night sky.

An inspiring book about an influential scientist and the allure of the stars. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-8075-0296-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Whitman
Program: Kirkus Indie
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