Pluto's Secret: An Icy World's Tale of Discovery


People, children especially, have been baffled, bewildered, and even outraged by the fact that Pluto is no longer called a planet. Through whimsical artwork and an entertaining dialogue format, Pluto’s Secret explains the true story of this distant world, including its recent reclassification. Includes a glossary and bibliography.
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Pluto's Secret: An Icy World's Tale of Discovery (PagePerfect NOOK Book)

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People, children especially, have been baffled, bewildered, and even outraged by the fact that Pluto is no longer called a planet. Through whimsical artwork and an entertaining dialogue format, Pluto’s Secret explains the true story of this distant world, including its recent reclassification. Includes a glossary and bibliography.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Vicki Foote
Why is Pluto no longer called a planet? This book, published in association with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, explains in scientific but elementary terms how this change came about. Large illustrations help define the descriptions of the solar system and how astronomers, particularly one named Percival Lowell, search for a new planet beyond Neptune. Using a new telescopic camera, an astronomer finds what he labeled as the ninth planet that was eventually named Pluto. But they discover that Pluto does not stay in one place as the other planets do. They also find other objects in the same orbit as Pluto. Astronomers name this area where the new objects orbit "the Kuiper belt." They decide that they need to define what a planet actually is or is not and decide that Pluto is not really a planet since it is not alone in its orbit. Humorous drawings depict Pluto talking and smiling as the discoveries unfold. Several pages at the end of the book discuss "The People and Telescopes Behind the Story." A "Who's Who" gives information about each planet and the astronomers. There is a glossary and "A Note from the Museum." This text contains a good explanation of a complex theory and relates the information in an entertaining way. Younger children should be able to get a better idea of the concepts of outer space and the basics of astronomy. It would make a helpful resource for educational purposes. Reviewer: Vicki Foote
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Published in association with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, this whimsical look at what once was the smallest planet is more serious than the colorful cartoon illustrations and the text of Plutonian thoughts might lead readers to believe. The ninth planet from its discovery in 1930 to its demotion in 2006, Pluto has been revealing more of its "secrets" as technology improved, and is now considered a "dwarf planet" in the Kuiper belt. The informal text covers such events as the naming of this new object ("'Yuck!' thought the little world" at most of the suggestions). This chattiness makes for fun reading ("I'm not worried. Whatever you call me, I'm fine out here," said Pluto), but deftly imparts scientific knowledge about deep space investigation, the process of change due to new data, and the cooperative effort of astronomers to formalize such changes on a global level. The book provides a factual history of our faraway "dwarf," and on its companion icy worlds, and on the discovery of Kuiper-like bands around other stars. A more straightforward history of Pluto's discovery complete with some black-and-white photos, a who's who of people and astronomical objects, and suggested further readings and websites are appended. A "Note from the Museum" describes the convention and process whereby Pluto received its new designation. A lighthearted and informative presentation.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Is it a planet? A dwarf planet? What's up with that mysterious body that, even in our best telescopes, floats tantalizingly at the edge of visibility? Pairing a lighthearted narrative in a hand-lettered–style typeface with informally drawn cartoon illustrations, this lively tale of astronomical revelations begins with the search for "Planet X." It then sweeps past Pluto's first sighting by Clyde Tombaugh and its naming by 11-year-old Venetia Burney to the later discovery of more icy worlds--both in our solar system's Kuiper belt and orbiting other stars. Meanwhile, sailing along with a smug expression, the mottled orange planetoid is "busy dancing with its moons. / Cha-cha / Cha-cha-cha" and Kuiper buddies as it waits for Earth's astronomers to realize at last that it's different from the other planets ("BINGO!") and needs a new classification. Ceres inexplicably rates no entry in the gallery of dwarf planets, and the closing glossary isn't exactly stellar ("World: Any object in space"), but fans of Basher's postmodern science surveys will feel right at home with the buoyant mix of personification and hard fact. A rare chance to shine for the former ninth planet. (photos and additional detail, "Note from the Museum," suggested reading, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781419715266
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/17/2015
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 329,226
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret A. Weitekamp, PhD, curates the National Air and Space Museum’s Social and Cultural Dimensions of Spaceflight collection. David DeVorkin, PhD, is Senior Curator, History of Astronomy and the Space Sciences, at the museum. Diane Kidd is an award-winning illustrator of children’s books and is Early Childhood Manager at the museum.
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