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When the Sun Goes Dark Paperback – May 1, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Just in time for the August 21, 2017, total eclipse of the sun, an event that will be visible in the continental United States, this book clearly explains solar and lunar eclipses; partial, annular, and total eclipses; why our view of various constellations changes during the year; how to safely look at the sun; and more. The diagrams are clear and informative. However, this fascinating material is embedded in a mundane, unconvincing story with hollow dialogue ("I've heard of e-mail and e-books, but I didn't know what an e-clips was."). Grandma and Grandpa arrive for Diana's 12th birthday. What a coincidence! They have been traveling a great distance to see a solar eclipse. Soon after, they are transformed from doting grandparents into exceptionally able science teachers. Not only can they answer every question Diana and her brother raise, they also have all the necessary teaching props. The birthday party is completely forgotten, and there seem to be no parents around, either. Suffice it to say, the framing device isn't necessary. The subject is interesting enough on its own, and the authors are capable of explaining what eclipses are, why they occur, and how to view them without relying on a fictional narrative. VERDICT A purposeful addition to large science collections.—Myra Zarnowski, City University of New York
About the Author
Andrew Fraknoi, is an award-winning science educator who is known for his skill in interpreting astronomical discoveries and ideas in everyday language. In 2007, he was selected as Professor of the Year for the state of California by the Carnegie Endowment for Higher Education. For 14 years, Fraknoi served as the executive director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, an international scientific and educational organization founded in 1889. He was also editor of its popular-level magazine, Mercury, and started its newsletter for teachers, Universe in the Classroom. He founded and directed Project ASTRO, a program that trains and brings professional and amateur astronomers into 4th 9th grade classrooms (now in 12 regional sites throughout the U.S.). After retiring as executive director, he worked as senior educator for the Society, developing educational materials and leading workshops. Asteroid 4859 has been named Asteroid Fraknoi by the International Astronomical Union to honor his work in sharing the excitement of modern astronomy with students, teachers, and the public. Dennis Schatz is Senior Advisor at Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington. He is also Field Editor of a new Journal, Connected Science Learning, which highlights links between in-school and out-of-school learning. The journal is a joint effort of NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) and ASTC (Association of Science-Technology Centers). In addition, he is on the boards of NSTA and BSCS (Biological Sciences Curriculum Studies). A research solar astronomer prior to his career in science education, he worked at the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley, until he moved to Seattle in 1977. At Pacific Science Center he has held a broad range of positions, from Director of the Planetarium to Senior for Education. From August 2010 to February 2011, he was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, followed by four years as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF).
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Two things I didn't like, and really turned me off the book. I felt both of these commentaries were unnecessary to the narrative to the book, and pushed a negative attitude towards those family members mentioned. No educational book, should teach such disrespectful attitudes.
1) The fact that the grandmother "gave permission" to grandfather to join in and help teach. There was no reason for this to be mentioned at all, as it added nothing to the lessons being taught.
2) Multiple negative and "know it all" comments by the little girl, usually towards her brother. Again, there is no reason for these points to be made as it had nothing to do with the story being told. We are learning about eclipses, not life lessons here. Further, it made the girl come across very snotty and rude.