Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei

Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei

5.0 3
by Peter Sís

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In language as simple as a fairy tale, pictures as rich and tightly woven as a tapestry, and in Galileo's own words written more then 350 years ago, Starry Messenger superbly unites innocence and intelligence, naivete' and sophistication, to fascinate children and adults alike. Peter Sis is winner of five New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year awards.


In language as simple as a fairy tale, pictures as rich and tightly woven as a tapestry, and in Galileo's own words written more then 350 years ago, Starry Messenger superbly unites innocence and intelligence, naivete' and sophistication, to fascinate children and adults alike. Peter Sis is winner of five New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year awards. Full-color illustrations.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Staff
Usung his dual talents as illustator and storyteller, Sis pays homage to Galileo, the great seventeenth-century mathmatician and astronomer. Sis's extaordinary maps and vistas of Renaissance times, together with artisically rendered quotes from the astronomer and other famous scholars, powerfully evoke Galileo's world.
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.
Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
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.

From the Publisher

“An original. . .Sís celebrates the life, ideas, and genius of Galileo in a picture book that achieves a brilliance of its own.” —Starred, Booklist

“Original and exquisite. . .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.” —The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

Square Fish
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
8.95(w) x 11.96(h) x 0.22(d)
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Peter Sís is an internationally acclaimed illustrator, author, and filmmaker. He was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and attended the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague and the Royal College of Art in London. Peter is a seven-time winner of The New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, a two-time Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honoree, and has won the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal twice. Peter's books, Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei, Tibet through the Red Box, and The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain were all named Caldecott Honor books by the American Library Association. The Wall was also awarded the Robert F. Sibert Medal.

In addition, Peter Sís is the first children's book illustrator to win the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. He was chosen to deliver the 2012 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture for the Association for Library Service to Children. Peter won the 2012 Hans Christian Anderson Award. This award is considered the most prestigious in international children's literature, given biennially by the International Board on Books for Young People.

Peter Sís lives in the New York City area with his wife and children.

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Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
CRC3301 More than 1 year ago
This book is great, and I would definitely recommend it for children to read. It has great facts, but is able to keep the reader's attention with amazing pictures of that era. I really enjoyed reading about Galileo Galilei and learning some new stuff about him that I didn't know before. This book has great information that children should enjoy learning about, and I believe after reading this book they will start looking for other books like it. If you have never read this before I recommend that you do, and you get it for your kids. CRC3301
Guest More than 1 year ago
With enough information to write a short report on Galileo, and enough beautiful illustrations to keep the most fidgety of readers engrossed, this book is truly a marvel. I got this book as a gift and was extremely impressed with the amount of information in a book 'for children.' Really worth the read if you are interested in Galileo and/or you enjoy the artwork and writing of Peter Sis.
JCRitchie More than 1 year ago
"Starry Messenger" Review Galileo is famous for all the discovery's he has made. This book takes a major discovery that Galileo made and turns it into a story for young kids. The pictures are bright and go along great with the story. It is inspiring for the children to see it is okay to be different. I enjoyed reading this book. As an adult, I still found it intriguing, and interesting. I loved the pictures and how it had facts written in small text through out the book. The book "Starry Messenger" by Petter Sis, is a magical and inspiring story, just as the star are in the night sky JCR 3301