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11 Planets: A New View of the Solar System Hardcover – March 11, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–6—Though trailing the main rush of solar system updates that followed the International Astronomical Union's 2006 reclassification of the planets, this fluently written, handsomely designed tour makes a good choice for smaller and less-well-budgeted collections. Steering a typical itinerary, Aguilar begins with the Sun, visits each terrestrial planet, dwarf planet, and gas giant from Mercury to Eris, then closes with glimpses of other solar systems, plus a compressed set of comparative charts and useful Web sites. His grasp of classical mythology is not firm (Apollo was not "the mightiest of all the gods"), but his astronomical information is both accurate and expressed in lively ways: "A soda can dropped on the surface [of Venus] would be crushed by the atmospheric pressure. These thick clouds also work like windows in a car, trapping incoming sunlight." The author's big, bright digital paintings, supplemented by an occasional photo, offer a gallery of close-ups, group portraits, moons, comets, diagrammatic views, and cutaways that will attract casual browsers as well as budding astronomers and assignment-driven readers. Use as a replacement; it's past time to retire any title on your shelves that refers to "nine planets."—John Peters, New York Public Library
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From Booklist

Although the title sounds unorthodox, Aguilar uses the classification by the International Astronomical Union (which demoted Pluto to dwarf status in 2006). In addition to the eight full-fledged planets, the group of 11 includes the three dwarf planets, Ceres in the asteroid belt beyond Mars and Pluto, and Eris in the outlying Kuiper belt. The book offers a visually impressive tour of major objects in the solar system, whether one defines them as planets or not. A typical double-page presentation of a planet, moon, or other topic includes a dramatic full-page, color image, one or more smaller ones, as well as a paragraph of text and several informative captions. Fast facts, such as diameter and temperature range, appear on an appended chart, along with a glossary and a seemingly down-to-earth project that demonstrates the relative sizes and distances between objects in the solar system. An attractive and timely addition to astronomy collections. Grades 5-8. --Carolyn Phelan

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1090L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (March 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426302363
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426302367
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,241,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Internationally recognized author, lecturer, astronomy expert, naturalist and space artist, David's expertise lies in showing us the fascinating connections between the universe and ourselves.

He is the AWARD-WINNING author and illustrator of seven National Geographic books including: "ALIEN WORLDS"; "SPACE ENCYCLOPEDIA: A TOUR OF OUR SOLAR SYSTEM AND BEYOND"; "SUPER STARS!" and the popular "13 PLANETS", winner 2011 Eureka Gold Award. Smithsonian Books will publish his next three books beginning with "COSMIC CATASTROPHES" in 2015.

He has been featured on the BBC, History Channel's "UNIVERSE" Series, ABC News, Time magazine, US News, CNN, NY Times, USA Today, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, Astronomy, Scientific American, and NPR among many others.

David is the past Director of Public Affairs and Science Information at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; past Marketing Communications Director for Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation; past Director of the Fiske Planetarium and Science Center and the producer of the Science Discovery Program at University of Colorado Boulder; and former Marketing Director for PBS's Emmy-winning NOVA series, Evolution.

In 2015 he joined the New Horizons Spacecraft Team as part of NASA's "Mission to Pluto" to lead media communications on the Pluto flyby in July 2015.

As a Smithsonian Scholar Enrichment Lecturer and Harvard Alumni Association Travel Leader, he illustrates the dynamic connections between science and nature of the regions he visits - always fresh, always changing, always something vibrant and new!

In 2010, asteroid 1990DA was designated to honor his internationally recognized contributions to science education and public outreach. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the newly proposed Aspen Science Center; member IAAA (International Association of Astronomical Artists), and the AAS (American Astronomical Society). He has the added distinction of being a Grammy-nominated musician along with his former band on "Love is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970".

David and wife Shirley reside at their home and observatory under the very dark and starry skies outside Aspen, CO.

For more information please visit: and

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
5 star
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See all 8 customer reviews
The language is simple enough for a little kid to understand.
The book does an excellent job of giving the basic solar system layout in easily understood terms.
Robert Thorbury
My daughter had questions about the planets, I bought her this book and she loves it.
Michael D Mercer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robert Thorbury on March 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If a third-grader were to ask you how many planets there are in our solar system, how would you answer? Back before August of 2006, it would be pretty simple -- nine: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Ceres, which is found between Mars and Jupiter, was once considered a planet, but in 1850 was reclassified as an asteroid.

Growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I looked forward with excitement to the possibility that they would, some day, discover a tenth planet, way out there in the icy wastes beyond Pluto. In 2005, they announced just that -- the discovery of the body now known as Eris, just a tad bigger than Pluto, but three times farther away from the Sun.

And then, after lots of arguing back and forth, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in August of 2006 decided to lump Ceres, Pluto and Eris into a special new category of their own, the "dwarf planet". So now, you'd tell that third-grader that there are eight planets -- unless you include the dwarfs.

Basically, the scientists are still arguing about exactly what they mean by a "dwarf planet". Meanwhile, author David A. Aguilar, along with his publisher, National Geographic, made his own decision -- as shown in the newly released book "11 Planets: A New View of the Solar System". I first learned about it when National Geographic announced that a girl named Maryn Smith, of Montana, came up with a nifty new mnemonic for learning the 11 planets: "My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants". This appears at the very start of the new book.

Now, I'm a bit older than the target age group of ages 9 to 12, but enjoyed flipping through the pages.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By tita on June 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my daughter a few months ago when she turned 5, and she loves it. It has beautiful illustrations and only one page with info per planet (and sometimes another page for the planet's moons), so it's easy to read. The language is simple enough for a little kid to understand. It also talks about comets, Oort clouds and other solar systems. I like it so much that I've bought a few more for birthday presents.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Recently, modern astronomers came to a new consensus on how to view the solar system: the relatively tiny celestial body Pluto no longer qualifies as a planet, but is rather a "dwarf planet", and at least two more celestial bodies in our solar system (Ceres and Eris) deserve to be called "dwarf planets" as well. 11 Planets: A New View of the Solar System is an up-to-date look at the planets for inquisitive young minds, filled with fun facts about the eight planets, Pluto the dwarf planet, various planetary moons, Ceres and the asteroid belt, the Kuiper belt and Eris, and more. Illustrated with space photography as well as breathtaking artwork, 11 Planets is a simple yet fascinating look at the scientific wonders beyond Earth, highly recommended for children's library collections.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Collett on March 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful book I keep on my coffee table. I'm very happy with it.
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