Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Black Hole is Not a Hole

A Black Hole is Not a Hole
by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano
illustrated by Michael Carroll
Charlesbridge, 2012
ISBN: 9781570917837
Gr. 3-6

The reviewer obtained a copy of the book from her school library.

A fifth grade teacher recently brought her class to the library to work on a research project. Students chose their own topics for research, and one boy decided to research black holes. Luckily I had recently purchased a copy of A Black Hole is Not a Hole. This is an amazing book for a number of reasons. The author explains a complex topic in an accessible manner for children. DeCristofano uses humor and a conversational style to describe black holes and to explain how they form. 

"A black hole's pull us the strongest pull in the entire universe. Nothing can out-tug a black hole. No army of tow trucks, no convoy of supersized earth haulers, no fleet of giant rocket engines. Not all of them combined." (p. 5)

The design of the book works well. Each chapter builds on the concept introduced in the previous chapter, and colorful illustrations and diagrams will help young readers understand new concepts. Carroll, an experienced space artist who has created works for NASA, used Adobe Photoshop and acrylics to illustrate stars in various states. Several telescope images are also placed in several places in the book.

Kids will love the illustration that shows what would happen if a child entered a "perfectly symmetrical, smallish, non-spinning black hole." A digitally enhanced photo shows a boy being stretched out as he's suck toward the center of the black hole. A speech bubble on the side of the page says, "That's a stretch."

My favorite part of the book is the author's note in which DeCristofano explains to readers why it's important for authors to list their sources. The heading on the page is "How Do You Know I Know?"

"Whenever you read nonfiction, it's a good idea to check and see what the author has to say about how he or she found out about the topic. It helps you figure out how reliable the information is." (p. 70)

DeCristofano goes on to share the process she used when researching the book. She cautions readers to be careful about the websites and to be sure the information is trustworthy. That's music to this librarian's ear. In addition to the author's note, readers will find a timeline, a glossary with photos, lists of print and online sources, and an index.

Some students in a Kindergarten class have expressed an interest in learning about black holes this year. I'm going to pass this book on to their teacher. Even though many of the concepts will be advanced for Kindergarten, many parts will answer the students' questions in a manner they will understand. Libraries looking for  nonfiction texts to meet the Common Core State Standards should add this to their collections. I hope the author and illustrator have more in the works.

Ms. Yingling Reads is hosting Nonfiction Monday today:


  1. I read A Black Hole is not a Hole and just loved it, even learned a few things I didn't know about black holes. I think it is a great book for kids. Hopefully your great review will inspire more people to get this book.

  2. That is a very good point about nonfiction sources!

    I also read a book about space today, very popular subject with my kindergartener!

  3. This sounds like a very interesting book indeed. Will check it out. I have a feeling my ten year old would still take to this one. :)