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Look Up!: Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer Hardcover – February 19, 2013


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Look Up!: Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer + Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 + Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell (Christy Ottaviano Books)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (February 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416958193
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416958192
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 8.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When Henrietta Leavitt graduated from Radcliffe College in 1892, women were not seen as potential scientists. Still, she accepted a rather tedious job measuring the positions and sizes of stars in images photographed using the Harvard College Observatory telescope. Besides measuring and note-taking, she analyzed the records on certain stars that appeared to blink on and off. Her discovery that the time between blinks indicated both the star’s brightness and its distance from Earth led to the realization that the universe was much larger than previously thought. Focusing on the life of the mind, the text is contemplative and the illustrations are understated. In childhood, Leavitt is shown gazing at the night sky; as an adult, her most active endeavor is a sedate walk. The writing celebrates her achievement, though, and the lovely artwork, set outdoors at night or indoors by day, includes yellow, tan, and white elements that are luminous within the dimly lit scenes. A worthy picture book with informative back matter that will help children understand Leavitt’s challenging times as well as her achievement. Grades 2-4, --Carolyn Phelan

Review

Burleigh (George Bellows: Painter with a Punch!) investigates a woman astronomer who made a significant discovery in the 1900s when most women in her field “were human ‘computers.’ Their job was to record. And measure. And calculate. The women were expected to ‘work, not think.’ ” Henrietta Leavitt didn’t comply. Working at the Harvard College Observatory, she closely observed photographs of stars and uncovered a way to measure their true brightness, paving the way for others to measure even greater distances to the stars. Burleigh’s narrative is simultaneously succinct, descriptive, and appealing: “When she closed her eyes, she could still see the star dots, dancing across the inside of her eyelids.” Working in his familiar warm, glowing style, Colón (Annie and Helen) uses colored pencils and watercolors to create feathery-textured illustrations. Some images of Leavitt at work are rendered in muted beiges and greens, which make the night sky scenes shine all the brighter with their vivid royal blues and brilliant points of white light. An afterword about Leavitt and her discovery, glossary, bibliography, and other resources round out this attractive picture-book biography. Ages 4–8. (Publishers Weekly)

Burleigh introduces Henrietta Leavitt, a nineteenth-century woman determined to study astronomy at a time when “almost all astronomy teachers and students were men.” Although she graduated from college and secured a job in an observatory, Leavitt was confined to working with a group of other women doing calculations of star positions in photographs taken by male colleagues. Careful observations, however, led Leavitt to discover minute changes in the apparent brightness of certain stars over time, which in turn led to methods of determining how far a star is from Earth. This is a useful overview of a lesser-known scientific contributor, and Burleigh as usual writes with smooth clarity. ... A collection of end matter includes quotes about the stars, brief notes about Leavitt’s life and discoveries and about other early female astronomers, a glossary, and a compact list of websites and titles for more exploration. (Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books)

When Henrietta Leavitt graduated from Radcliffe College in 1892, women were not seen as potential
scientists. Still, she accepted a rather tedious job measuring the positions and sizes of stars in images
photographed using the Harvard College Observatory telescope. Besides measuring and note-taking, she
analyzed the records on certain stars that appeared to blink on and off. Her discovery that the time between
blinks indicated both the star’s brightness and its distance from Earth led to the realization that the
universe was much larger than previously thought. Focusing on the life of the mind, the text is
contemplative and the illustrations are understated. In childhood, Leavitt is shown gazing at the night sky;
as an adult, her most active endeavor is a sedate walk. Still, the writing celebrates her achievement, and the
lovely artwork, set outdoors at night or indoors by day, includes yellow, tan, and white elements that are
luminous within the dimly lit scenes. A worthy picture book with informative back matter that will help
children understand Leavitt’s challenging times as well as her achievement. (Booklist)

More About the Author

Over the past 35 years, I have published poems, reviews, essays, many filmstrips and videos, and more than 40 children's picture books.

Born and raised in Chicago, I graduated from DePauw University (Greencastle, Indiana) and later received an MA in humanities from the University of Chicago. I've published books for children since the early 1990s. My books - including numerous unpublished ones! - run a broad gamut, from stories geared for pre-schoolers to survival stories and biographies aimed at seven to eleven-year-olds. My work is wide-ranging because, basically, I'm a generalist by experience - and inclination!

In addition to writing, I paint regularly under the art name Burleigh Kronquist and have shown work in one-person and group shows in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere around the country.

Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on March 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Henrietta Swan Leavitt was one of the pioneering women of astronomy. This book is an excellent example of how education, perseverance and woman are able to accomplish their heart's desire.

Henrietta graduated from Radcliffe College and went on to work at the observatory at Harvard University. However, women were only used for paperwork and hardly allowed to touch the observatory's instruments. This story explains how she made a chart to measure the distances of stars; a real breakthrough in the science of astronomy.

The illustrations are lovely; the drawings capture Henrietta's likeness, although the star constellations are a bit murky. The text also mentions that her pay was 30 cents an hour. I wish when authors included this information, they would relate it to what it compared to in that time period - average yearly salary or what did a loaf of bread cost? There are 3 pages at the end, in more `adult' form giving quotes, more on Henrietta, some other women astronomers, glossary and internet sources.

Altogether this is a wonderful book suited for both girls and boys to read from 2nd or 3rd grade up. Younger ones would still enjoy looking and having the words read to them, the amount of text on each page will not cause them to lose their interest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
As the mother of an eight-year-old girl, I've been keen on introducing her to as many female role models in various fields, especially going back through history. Luckily, there are many interesting picture books and mini-biographies that do a credible job of introducing these female pioneers to young children without being too complex to understand.

"Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer" is a great introduction to this amazing lady who followed her interest, astronomy, back when there were no female astronomers. Leavitt's path took her to the Harvard College Observatory where she and many other women toiled away as "human computers". Their job was to count stars at 30 cents an hour! Not much by today's standards, but the work was important. This job was a mere stepping stone for Leavitt as she went on to make an important discovery which helped scientists calculate the distance of stars.

The illustrations by Raul Colon are lovely to look at, giving one the impression that the book opens up to the skies and the universe beyond. It captures the wonder of the stars and the universe and certainly fires up the imagination. The end of the book provides a glossary for reference and also resources which can be explored by parents and educators together with students.
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By K Ireson on January 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I very much like the story about Henrietta Leavitt and her love of the stars. I was not so keen on the art work which appeared dark to me. I would however recommend this book which is inspirational to any young girl or young man.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a gift and very well received by the youngster I got it for....particularly enjoyed the illustrations! Any books for young people that are inspiring for higher learning and curiosity are appreciated.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Such a nice book about a pioneering female astronomer. It is a great book to show young girls previous achievements by females in science, and to encourage them.
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