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Look Up!: Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer Hardcover – February 19, 2013
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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)
Top Customer Reviews
It is a very short book given the content, so she was definitely at the top of the age range for the way the material is delivered. But my3 and 6 year old children enjoyed it too as she read it aloud to them.
There is a play based on the life of Henrietta Leavitt too, A Silent Sky. This book is a great introduction to her life before taking your child to that play. (This is how we used the book.)
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.
"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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My daughter is 5 years old and didn't want to sit and read it. I think she'll like it when she's a bit older.Published 18 months ago by sk227
Great book...got my daughter thinking about the stars and astronomy, and she loves that it is about a real girl.Published 19 months ago by Julie
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. Read morePublished on January 28, 2014 by Ka I