Boston Sunday Globe
Starry Messenger is a glory and a marvel.
New York Times Book Review
The magic of Starry Messenger is how Mr. Sís manages to tell the relatively complicated story of Galileo in such a simple, straightforward way, accompanied by some of the most gorgeous illustrations imaginable.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Extraordinary pictures light up this tribute to Galileo, telling the story of his discoveries, rise to prominence and excoriation by the Church. Ss (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. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Kristin Harris
This is an exceptional book that documents the life of a great scientist who children usually don't meet until they are older. Galileo's story is told in a simple direct narrative, appropriate for very young children. Additional text gives greater detail, as well as excerpts of his writing, keeping the book informative for older children. Galileo suspected that the ideas of his time about the universe were wrong, but only made public his theories after he had devised a telescope and could prove them. His theories threatened the Catholic Church, and Galileo was ordered to stop believing what he had seen with his own eyes. A beautifully illustrated and designed book-an essential addition to any child's library.
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
I wish I could recommend author/illustrator Peter Sis' Starry Messenger, the life story of Galileo, with enthusiasm. It is a readable biography with interesting illustrations by Mr. Sis which spans Galileo's life, and beyond-he was declared a heretic in 1633 and pardoned only in 1992! Galileo was born in Pisa in 1564 and, unlike Leonardo Da Vinci, he was able to study mathematics and physics. He, too, was unusually curious and took steps to satisfy his curiosity. He developed the instrument we now call a telescope and determined that the sun, not the earth, is the center of our universe. His insistence on popularizing this notion in contravention of church doctrine led to his inquisition and house arrest. Mr. Sis tells Galileo's story succinctly. He illustrates it in two styles: whimsical and ornate. In addition to his use of conventional typography, Mr. Sis has laced his book with hard-to read cursive writing, much of it turned at unusual angles. This makes the volume a chore to read and adds little-actually subtracts much-from what might otherwise be a fine biography.
Known for his elegant picture books, famed illustrator Ss uses his artistry to detail the life of Galileo.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-6In Follow the Dream (Knopf, 1991), Ss depicted both the humanity and heroism of Christopher Columbus. In Starry Messenger, Ss turns his considerable talents to another infamous ItalianGalileo Galilei. He layers his telling so that young children or groups may focus on the short version printed in large type at the bottom of each page. Older readers will glean more from the quotes pulled from the astronomer's treatise (the work that inspired this title) and other primary sources, such as Inquisition documents. This second layer is printed in script and presented in a variety of decorative patterns (suggesting ideograms) to distinguish it. The sophisticated details of Ss's watercolor, pen, and rubber-stamp illustrations provide yet another dimension as well as ambiance. A master of symbol, the artist creates scenes that focus on the subject"a boy born with stars in his eyes"and shows how he shines against the darker aspects of his time. The aging scientist stands alone in a circle of yellow light, suggesting his identification with the heliocentrism for which he was being condemned, surrounded by a sea of red-clad Cardinals. The text is no less powerful: "He was tried in the Pope's court, and everyone could see that the stars had left his eyes." The pathos, the painstaking copies of Galileo's famous sketches of the heavens, and the attention to current scholarship make this book a fascinating find. Leonard Everett Fisher's Galileo (S & S, 1992) is a useful companion for a more straightforward approach.Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA
In the same vein as Sís's Follow the Dream (1991), this work, subtitled "Galileo Galilei," artfully introduces the fascinating life of Galileo to young readers.
Central to this portrait of Galileo's life is the refinement of the telescope for mapping the heavens, leading him to challenge the Ptolemaic belief that the earth was the center of the universe. Sís tells in broad, graceful strokes this extraordinary scientist's story. Augmenting the text are notes and quotes from Galileo's own writings, scrawled in calligraphic style, along with timelines and other chronologic events for more inquisitive readers. Drawing on classic cartography, mapped charts, and 17th-century symbols and images, Sís creates starlit, fresco-like paintings and detailed drawings rich with humor and visual clues. The author's take on his exceptional subject avoids the usual, eye-glazing list of accomplishments and gives readers Galileo himself who always had stars on his mind. A small ink illustration on the copyright page, of an open book with heart and mind taking flight, deserves special attention.