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When Is a Planet Not a Planet?: The Story of Pluto Hardcover – August 20, 2007

4 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Scott takes the 2006 downgrading of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet as a teachable moment for discussing questions such as how the number of planets has changed through the centuries, what can be called a planet, and how scientists come to conclusions—and occasionally change their minds. Following a section on early astronomy, a succinct, timely, and somewhat surprising account of planetary history begins with Herschel's 1781 discovery of the seventh planet, Uranus. Twenty years later, Piazzi found Ceres, which was considered the eighth planet. In 1846, Galle discovered Neptune, bringing the total to nine. When objects similar to Ceres were found in the same orbit, all (including Ceres) were placed in a new category: asteroids. In other words, even before the discovery of Pluto, there were once nine planets, but one of them was demoted. Beautifully designed, the book includes many well-captioned, color illustrations, from period portraits to NASA images to artist's conceptions. A glossary and lists of recommended books and Web sites are appended. A good choice for updating astronomy collections. Phelan, Carolyn


"Through engaging and child-friendly language, Scott discusses the history ... behind the discovery of the nine planets.... A great resource." School Library Journal, Starred

"Beautifully designed.... A good choice for updating astronomy collections." Booklist, ALA

Illustrations include photographs of astronomers and outer space; artists' renderings of simulations, such as a protoplanetary disk forming around a star; and diagrams of various planetary features. A glossary, recommended readings and websites, and an index round out the book.
Horn Book

Horn Book

Color photos and diagrams are both attractive and informative, and slightly oversized fonts makes the subject seem less daunting.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"This is a great example to show students the power of research...an outstanding title." LMC January 2008 Library Media Connection

Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 980L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books (August 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618898328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618898329
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #844,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Elaine Scott was born in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania, the middle child of three born to her father, George J. Watts, Jr., a banker and his wife, Ethel, a homemaker. Her father's career took the family to Texas in 1952 and there, with the exception of a brief stint in Nigeria, Elaine Scott has remained. Her books have appeared on numerous "Best Books" lists and have won various awards including the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award for Close Encounters With the Universe,and the Texas State Reading Association Literature Award for Young Children for When is a Planet Not a Planet? Her newest book, Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time, will be published in January, 2011. She is now at work on Buried Alive! The Story of the Chilean Miners, to be published by Clarion in 2012.

Elaine and her husband, Parker, make their home in Houston, Texas. When she isn't busy writing (which is rarely) she enjoys reading (of course,)teaching adults, visiting schools, and traveling with her husband, Parker--especially to Kauai, Hawaii,--or to Dallas to visit with their daughters, Cindy and Susan and the most outstanding grandchild in the world, Jackson Scott Beasley.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Elaine Scott is one of the best non-fiction writer's writing for kids today. She's a great storyteller, but her stories are true. This is the first post-Pluto demotion book to truly explain what happened to poor Pluto. But beyond that, Scott explains how scientists decide which of the celestial bodies is a planet and which are lesser pieces of turf. Especially great reading for boys (ages 8-14)!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book to supplement a nonfiction unit on the Solar System. The pictures were beautiful and the text informative.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is really about astrology, and scientists who study the solar system. I was looking for a book to explain to my preschooler why Pluto is no longer considered a planet. You have to read the whole book (and long explanations of a long list of astronomers from the 1500s to today)to get to the 3 pages that explain why scientists no longer consider it a planet.

This would be more suitable for a middle school child interested in the subject as a whole - it doesn't focus on Pluto.
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