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Life on Earth - and Beyond: An Astrobiologist's Quest Hardcover – February 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge; New edition (February 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580891330
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580891332
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 7.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #542,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Astrobiologists look outward from the earth seeking evidence of life elsewhere in the universe. But, as this fascinating book shows, they also travel to places on Earth where extreme conditions may be similar to those on distant worlds. Turner follows astrobiologist Chris McKay as he looks for life in apparently hostile environments. He finds cyanobacteria and fungi on a sandstone cliff in Antarctica, collects microbes in Chile’s Atacama Desert, thaws out bacteria 3.5 million years old frozen in Siberian permafrost, and finds cyanobacteria in rocks of the Sahara Desert. Finally, McKay returns to Antarctica to melt a hole through 16 feet of ice, dives down 100 feet of frigid water, and studies the algae living at the bottom of a lake. Turner’s absorbing account gives enough detail to create vivid impressions of McKay’s explorations and enough background information to show what his findings imply. Occasional moments of amusement or amazement let readers share her evident enjoyment in McKay’s quest. Illustrated with many excellent color photos and other images, the book concludes with Turner’s note on her research, as well as lists of recommended books, movies, and Internet resources. This beautifully designed volume offers an eye-opening look at an astrobiologist in action. Grades 5-8. --Carolyn Phelan

About the Author

Pamela S. Turner is the author of HACHIKO: THE TRUE STORY OF A LOYAL DOG (Houghton Mifflin), and GORILLA DOCTORS: SAVING ENDANGERED GREAT APES (Houghton Mifflin), an ALA Notable book. She lives in Oakland, California.

More About the Author

My Background

I was very interested in books as a child. I still remember how hard I worked as a four-year-old at learning to write my name because my mother promised I could have a library card as soon as I could scrawl "PAMELA." When my parents made me turn my bedroom lights out at night, I would read by the tiny red light on the temperature control for my electric blanket. I grew up in Riverside--a rather hot part of Southern California. I was forced to sweat through many books, and not just because I was worried about the hero.

The first thing I can remember wanting to be is a children's author. I also loved animals. We had a dog and a big outdoor cage full of doves. My good friend, Jenny, lived on a dairy farm and it was critter heaven for me. We would jump her horses bareback over bales of hay and ride for miles in the hills.

When I was in college I spent a year in Nairobi, Kenya as an exchange student. I didn't know much about Africa before I left, but I knew it had lots of wildlife. I traveled throughout East and Central Africa and saw lions, elephants, gorillas, Cape buffalo, and many other animals. I met my future husband, Rob, in Kenya. He was also an exchange student. We both loved living in another country.

I have a B.A. in Social Science from the University of California, Irvine, and a Master of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley. I've worked as a legislative assistant for foreign affairs for a California congressman and as a international health consultant. Over the years Rob and I lived in Kenya, the Marshall Islands, South Africa, the Philippines, and Japan. We have three children, Travis (26), Kelsey (24), and Connor (21). Each of them was born in a different country.


How I Started Writing

My family and I lived in Japan for about six years, and my children all attended a local Japanese preschool. The Japanese mothers at the preschool told me the story of Hachiko. I thought it was a wonderful tale. When we returned to the U.S. I decided I wanted to be a writer, just like I'd planned to be when I was four.(Better late than never.) Hachiko is famous in Japan, and I thought his story would be a wonderful one to share with English-speaking children. HACHIKO was my first book. Since then I've written seven more (GORILLA DOCTORS, LIFE ON EARTH-AND BEYOND, A LIFE IN THE WILD, THE FROG SCIENTIST, PROWLING THE SEAS, PROJECT SEAHORSE, and THE DOLPHINS OF SHARK BAY). Another book is in the pipeline: SAMURAI RISING, to be published in 2016 by Charlesbridge.

On the Home Front

We now live in Oakland, California. I've written many science and nature articles for adults and for children. Besides reading and writing, I like to scuba dive and snow ski. I've been lucky enough to dive all over the world, including the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, the Pacific, and off California. I love diving because you can get closer to big animals underwater than anywhere else. Several years ago I began learning kendo (Japanese swordfighting) along with with youngest son, Connor. We are members of the Berkeley Kendo Dojo.

When I write I am ably kept company by my yellow labrador retriever, Manchee, and my son Connor's cockapoo, Tux. They sometimes respond to "sit." They always respond to "cookie." I also have a very obese Australian White's tree frog named Dumpy F. Lumpy who looks a lot like Jabba the Hut.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michele on June 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dr. Chris McKay works for NASA as an astrobiologist, someone who studies extreme environments on earth in an attempt to answer the long-asked question of whether life can exist elsewhere in our universe. This book follows his journey to some of the most lifeless areas of Earth. He searches for tiny microbes in Antarctica, Chile, Siberia, and the Sahara Desert. The underlying theory is that if life is able to survive in the coldest and driest areas of Earth, maybe there is life beyond our planet. The author does a great job at chronicling Dr. McKay's story and making the readers feel like they are along on the journey. The book is filled with colorful pictures of the places that the research team traveled, along with pictures and artist conceptions of Mars and other planets. I especially enjoyed the pictures that compared the surface of Mars to some areas on Earth. This book really got me thinking about whether is it possible that there is life elsewhere in our universe. There are so many science fiction stories about life on other planets, and it was refreshing to hear the case from a scientific standpoint where you can see that the idea is actually possible. There are no "little green men" in this book, only tiny microbes that could be living in places that we would never expect. This book is great for a science fiction fan who wants to learn more about life in our universe from a scientific and realistic standpoint.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I used this book as a sort of textbook for a GATE class I taught on astrobiology. If you're wondering what life might be like on other planets (and who isn't?), then this is the book for you.
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