Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, August 22, 2022

The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything by Laura Alary


The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything: The Story of Maria Mitchell.
Written by Laura Alary;
Illustrated by Ellen Rooney.
Kids Can Press. 2022

Maria Mitchell was a trailblazer. Born in 1818 on Nantucket Island, Maria was blessed to have parents, especially her father, an astronomer and mathematician, who encouraged her desire to learn. At night, he would spend hours on the roof showing Maria how to use a telescope, sextant, metronome, and chronometer. Because Maria could read and write, she kept all her learnings in her notebook.          

Once she was an adult needing a job, Maria started her own school, became a librarian, and spent loads of time reading (Books carried her to new places) and studied the stars. It was when the King of Denmark offered a prize to the first person to find a new comet, Maria watched, too. 

Finding the comet opened many doors for this curious young woman. The best, was being invited to be a professor at Vassar College for women in New York. Throughout her life, Maria encouraged girls/women to Question Everything!        

A notable scientist who was the first woman member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, this exciting biography of a woman of firsts will encourage readers to also follow their dreams. The message of Patience, Practice, and Persistence something we all can embrace on our lifelong journey of learning.

Included is an author’s note, and bibliography.         

The illustrations, rendered in collage, perfectly complement the text.           

When Maria attended the weekly Quaker Meetings, “she sat still, her swirling thoughts settled like tea leaves at the bottom of a cup. Then she could see clearly. She knew herself. She was a dreamer. A wonderer. A collector.”

If you haven’t already guessed when reading my other reviews,  I am a huge advocate of not confining informational picture books to a specific age range. I believe that all ages, particularly middle and high school students, will enjoy and benefit from being exposed to these books. 

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