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Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei Paperback – September 1, 2000

4.1 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The story of Galileo is at once inspiring and troubling. The brilliant astronomer was a celebrated scientist who was showered with honors and patronage until his greatest discovery--that the earth circled the sun rather than the other way around--proved to be too much of a threat to prevailing orthodoxy. Peter Sis, author of the wonderful children's book Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus, tells Galileo's tale for children ages 8 and older. A brilliant and sophisticated illustrator and a sensitive storyteller, he traces Galileo's life from childhood to his final days as a prisoner of the church. (Click to see a sample spread. © 1996 by Peter Sis. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.) (Ages 8 and older) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Extraordinary pictures light up this tribute to Galileo, telling the story of his discoveries, rise to prominence and excoriation by the Church. Sis (Follow the Dream), an experienced and sophisticated chronicler of history's visionaries, outdoes himself with his illustrations. Detailed and delicate, ingeniously conceived, his paintings convey abstractions with an immediate impact. The artist expresses the simultaneous wonder and prevision of Galileo's celestial observations, for example, in a luminous multipaneled composition: in the center, Galileo trains his telescope on the moon; surrounding panels replicate Galileo's notes about and sketches of the lunar surface. Other paintings take inspiration from contemporaneous maps and treatises; still others borrow historical imagery to convey the loneliness of the censored scientist. Handwritten passages from Galileo's own works embellish the pages and supply information missing from the text. Even with the powerful art, however, this volume does not open up Galileo's story to the uninitiated: the brief text oversimplifies the issues, even for a picture book, and seems to presume the reader's awareness of the historical significance of Galileo's struggles. While the book's usefulness may be limited, its strengths are not: it is a book with deep if not broad appeal. Ages 6-up.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; Reprint edition (2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374470278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374470272
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.4 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Charles Flemming on September 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
While, as an artist, I appreciate artfully illustrated children's books (and this is one), I find myself swimming against the tide in evaluating Starry Messenger by Peter Sis. It doesn't really illuminate Galileo's life as much as use him as the launching point for an incredible artistic riff. While the illustrations are exquisite, they render the text (written on a very simple second grade level) almost superfluous. Indeed, half the text is in an almost unreadable "Handwriting" typeface, very small, sometimes twisted around. I kept wondering what second grader could even read the thing.
The content of the readable text is, from my perspective anyway, very simplistic, something you would read aloud to a preschooler. And it doesn't tell much about Galileo.
If you're looking for a good juvenile biography of Galileo, and not a coffee table book for children (or the Caldecott people!),I'd recommend Leonard Everett Fisher's much better written book on the same subject. Galileo deserves better than this.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although the illustrations are delightful and fun to explore I was disappointed with the book. I bought it to give to my 7 year old grand daughter and I have not givent it to her yet. I feel this is a book written for someone who already knows a lot about Gallileo. Those who already know a lot will enjoy the illustrations, those who need to learn will miss the message.
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Format: Hardcover
I've reviewed a fair amount of Peter Sis books in my day on Amazon.com, but this is the first book by Sis that I've come across that has so many negative/tepid reviews. Now, before I review a book I give its Amazon.com page a once-over to get a feel for what the public at large thinks about the story. Peter Sis is one of those authors who can write extraordinarily simple books for little children (like "Komodo", "Madlenka", or "Fire Truck") then turn around and do mind-bendingly complex picture books in the same breath (like, "Tibet: Through the Red Box", and "Tree of Life"). "Starry Messenger" was one of Sis' first forays into this combination of complex and simplistic together. As you can see, it wasn't wholly successful. Though still a visually eye-popping wonder and a tale that makes equal concessions to both young and old readers, the story sacrifices fact for simplification in ways that not everyone will enjoy. I believe that while this book is a necessary addition to any Galileo collection, it should certainly not be the ONLY book on that starry-eyed scientist available to your children.

Right from the get-go we are told that the whole notion of the earth moving around the sun is a bit new. People (and here we are shown a lovely Ptolemaic System of the universe) thought the planets, the moon, and the sun moved around the earth. There's a sudden and brief glimpse on the next page of The Copernican System, but the text tells us that Copernicus never published this idea and that, "it would take someone else to do that...". Enter, someone else. Someone else by the name of Galileo Galilei. Born on February 15, 1564 when Italy was just a quilt of city-states, little Galileo grew up with a healthy scientific curiosity.
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Format: Hardcover
This is my favorite picture book! It truly is perfect in every way! Reads aloud well and is great to read over and over again! I attached a magnifying glass with a ribbon to some copies in my class, so kids can study the intricate details in the magnificent illustrations and the (extra) tiny writing along the pages! PERFECT!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I use this book in my first grade classroom when teaching science. The kids love hearing the story of Galileo. It's informative yet told in a way that my kiddos can comprehend. The illustrations are an added plus.
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Format: Paperback
See full review @ The Indigo Quill: [...]

This is an educational book about one of the world's first astronomer's, Galileo Galilei. It can easily be used as a tool to teach your child (or children) and be interactive with little extras and things. There is also a Teacher's Guide available HERE.

I'll note that this is the Caldecott Winner for the year 1997. That being said, I didn't particularly enjoy this Children's book compared to others I've reviewed. I did not feel like the artwork and the text complimented each other very well, and the illustrations weren't fitting for the audience this book is intended for.

Although the artwork itself is beautiful and innovative, the scripting was extremely difficult to read and the pages are almost so busy that it's distracting and the eye cannot locate the focal point.

There were some parts where the text generally did not make sense (Particularly the final page). The wording was off and the illustrations were difficult to interpret.

I don't think this would be my first choice in teaching my child about Galileo. I think there are better picture books out there that I could find much more suited and well-rounded for a young audience. The idea of this book is nice, I just think it's unsuitable.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very nice book, excellent condition and it arrived at break neck speed! Perfect supplement for our chapter on ancient star gazers! No complaints what so ever! Thanks a bunch! Would definitely order from them again!
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