Ada and the Galaxies by Alan Lightman and Olga Pastuchiv

Ada and the Galaxies

Alan Lightman and Olga Pastuchiv, Authors

Susanna Chapman, Illustrator

MIT Kids Press/ Candlewick Press, Fiction, Sep 7, 2021

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Stargazing, Galaxies, Nature, Intergenerational

Opening: “Ada loves the stars. But in New York, the city lights make the night sky too bright to see the stars.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

There is so much for Ada to do while visiting her grandparents on an island in Maine, but no amount of beachcombing and kayaking during the day can take the place of looking at the bright and beautiful stars at night. She can hardly wait for the sun to set, but will a thick fog spoil her stargazing plans?

Why I like this book:

Renowned physicist Alan Lightman and Olga Pastuchiv have imaginatively created  Ada and the Galaxies, a delightful story about an eager young girl who can’t wait to gaze at the stars with her grandparents. The text flows nicely, giving Susanna Chapman’s breathtaking watercolor and layered photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope time to work their magic with readers. And, it’s a beautiful story depicting a loving relationship between a grandfather and his granddaughter.   

I love the authors’ pacing and the build up for Ada’s stargazing adventure with her grandparents. During the day she explores the island shoreline with Poobah and Ama and learns about the natural world around the Maine coastline. There are Osprey in a nest high in a tree feeding hungry babies, and low and high tides to learn about. Ada makes collects shells and moss with Ama and makes a fairy house on the beach.  

Ada explodes with curiosity and enthusiasm as she waits for the sky to turn dark. When fog rolls in, Pooba and Ada  pour over books with gorgeous pictures of stars and galaxies. Ada asks a lot of thoughtful questions. She wonders about life in other galaxies as Poobah talks about how “everything in the universe is made out of the same stuff.  It’s all part of nature.” What a wonderful tribute to the interconnectivity of life in the universe.

Resources/Activities: This book is perfect for home or school. On a clear night, take your children stargazing. Point out the prominent stars, like the North Star, the Big and Little Dippers and Venus. Encourage them to draw pictures of their adventure.

Alan Lightman has a PhD in theoretical physics and is the best-selling author of Einstein’s Dreams, amonth other books for adults. Ada and the Galaxies is his first book for children and was inspired by his granddaughter’s visits to Maine. Alan Lightman is a professor of practice of humanities at MIT and lives in Massachusetts.

Olga Pastuchiv is a children’s book author, painter, and commercial illustrator.  She paints things large and small, for murals and parade floats to illustrations for picture books. She is the creator of Minas and the Fish and the illustrator of Fables in a Modern Key by Pierre Coran and Riparia’s River by Michael J. Caduto. She lives in Maine.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.

 

Penny and Jelly: Slumber Under the Stars

Penny & Jelly9780544280052-276x300Penny & Jelly: Slumber Under the Stars

Maria Gianferrari, Author

Thyra Heder, Illustrator

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fiction, Jun. 14, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 4-7

Themes: Sleepover, Dogs, Stargazing, Creativity, Solutions, Friendships

Opening: “Hooray!” said Penny. “Tomorrow is Sleepover Under the Stars Night, Jelly!”

Synopsis: Penny is excited when she receives an invitation to a sleepover under the stars from the recreation center.  She calls her four best friends to see if they are attending. Penny begins to make a list of what she needs: sleeping bag, pillow, PJs, book and Jelly. Then Penny realizes that the invitation says “no pets allowed.” She comes up with an idea to make a  pretend Jelly — out of paper, yarn, fleece, vegetables, marshmallow, cotton balls and clay. But, her creation just isn’t her beloved Jelly. Penny must find a solution.

Why I like Penny & Jelly:

Maria Gianferrari has written a perfect summer read for children about a determined girl and her devoted dog.  Slumber parties and outdoor sleepovers are a summer tradition for children. I especially like that this slumber party is about stargazing, a great activity for children to learn about constellations. Penny is a fun-loving character full of heart, who sports mismatched socks with every page turn. She’s imaginative, curious, enjoys picking out star constellations, and is resourceful in finding a solution to her problem. Thyra Heder’s  warm watercolor illustrations are cheerful, expressive and eye-catching. The characters are diverse.  I love the book cover. Verdict: This captivating story will be a popular summer read with children and parents as it lends itself to many discussions. Visit Penny & Jelly at their website.

Maria Gianferrari is also the author of Penny & Jelly: The School Show.