Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei

Overview

"If they had seen what we see, they would have judged as we judge." -- Galileo Galilei

In every age there are courageous people who break with tradition to explore new ideas and challenge accepted truths. Galileo Galilei was just such a man--a genius--and the first to turn the telescope to the skies to map the heavens. In doing so, he offered objective evidence that the earth was not the fixed center of the universe but that it and all the other planets revolved around the sun. ...

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Overview

"If they had seen what we see, they would have judged as we judge." -- Galileo Galilei

In every age there are courageous people who break with tradition to explore new ideas and challenge accepted truths. Galileo Galilei was just such a man--a genius--and the first to turn the telescope to the skies to map the heavens. In doing so, he offered objective evidence that the earth was not the fixed center of the universe but that it and all the other planets revolved around the sun. Galileo kept careful notes and made beautiful drawings of all that he observed. Through his telescope he brought the starts down to earth for everyone to see.

By changing the way people saw the galaxy, Galileo was also changing the way they saw themselves and their place in the universe. This was very exciting, but to some to some it was deeply disturbing. Galileo has upset the harmonious view of heaven and earth that had been accepted since ancient times. He had turned the world upside down.

In this amazing new book, Peter Sís employs the artist's lens to give us an extraordinary view of the life of Galileo Galilei. Sís tells his story in language as simple as a fairy tale, in pictures as rich and tightly woven as a tapestry, and in Galileo's own words, written more than 350 years ago and still resonant with truth.

Starry Messenger is a 1997 Caldecott Honor Book.

Describes the life and work of the courageous man who changed the way people saw the galaxy, by offering objective evidence that the earth was not the fixed center of the universe.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
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.
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

Booklist Starred

An original. . .Sís celebrates the life, ideas, and genius of Galileo in a picture book that achieves a brilliance of its own.
The New York Times Book Review

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.
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

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.
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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374371913
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 10/31/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 36
  • Sales rank: 619,039
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.36 (w) x 12.16 (h) x 0.30 (d)

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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Reading Group Guide

Research Activities

n In the opening pages of Starry Messenger Peter

Sís shows the names of several men on a time line:

Eudoxus, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Aristarchus,

Archimedes, and Copernicus. Discuss with your

students what sources they would use to find out

more about these men. They could include nonfiction

books about these men, astronomy, and the ancient

world; the encyclopedia; the Internet; etc. Develop

the idea that since nonfiction books do not have to

be read from cover to cover or necessarily in the

order that the chapters are written, they should

consider any book that they think might have some

useful information. Talk about what questions your

students would want to answer.

For example: Were these men scientists or

philosophers? What discoveries did they make?

What is their connection to Galileo? Ask your

students to write down any information they find

fascinating. Your children can write reports, give

oral and visual presentations, or present their

research in the same manner Peter Sís uses in


Starry Messenger. Have them write a basic story about their subject, illustrate it, and then fill the

margins with the interesting information they

gathered in their research.

Standards:

Language Arts:

• Uses a variety of resource materials to gather

information for research topics

• Makes oral and visual presentations to the class

• Writes in response to literature

History:

• Knows how to interpret data presented in time lines

• Understands that specific individuals had a great

impact on history

• Understands that specific ideas had an impact on

history

Visual Arts:

• Uses visual structures and functions of art to

communicate ideas

n Use Starry Messenger as the center of an

exploration of the research process for your

students. Encourage them to discover their own

research methods and styles and to present their

findings in a variety of formats. This project will be

more about process than product. For example, a

research project on the history of baseball cards

may begin at a local card shop, or with a call to one

of the manufacturers of baseball cards, or by

searching the Internet for useful Web sites. (One of

the best ways to search the Internet is through the

Refdesk Web site www.refdesk.com)

What do your students wonder about? Have them

keep a journal (wonder book) of the things they

would like to know more about. When they need to

do a research report, they will have a ready-made

list of things they are interested in to choose from.

Ask your students to select a subject from their

wonder book that they are curious about. They

should then dig into their subject without specific

questions or goals in mind. Each bit of information

they learn should lead them to more questions,

more research.

Guide your students toward a variety of research

sources, including the library for books, magazines,

encyclopedias, and other media; museums; the

Internet; experts in the field.

As they read widely in their subject, have them

keep a research notebook in which they not only

compile the information they are gathering but also keep their growing list of questions, thoughts,

responses.

Give them time to practice information-gathering

skills such as careful reading of nonfiction; using

illustrations to help make sense of facts; connecting

what they learn to their own prior knowledge.

Remind them to test their understanding by

discussing their findings with fellow students,

parents, and you. Starry Messenger offers them

plenty of opportunities to exercise these skills.

As students feel ready to share what they've

learned, have each find his or her own format for

reporting. These can include oral reports; oral

reports supported with visuals (slides, pictures,

handouts); fiction writing that incorporates the

information; written reports; visual presentations

(posters, graphs, dioramas).

Whatever format they select, be sure they also

chronicle their research methods and the sources

they used. What worked best for them? What was

frustrating? When did they know they were ready

to begin their presentation?

Keep a classroom book, chart, or computer file of

the various methods your students tried.

Standards:

Language Arts:

• Uses a variety of resource materials to gather

information for research topics

• Gathers data for research topics from interviews

• Writes research reports

• Uses prior knowledge and experience to understand

and respond to new information

• Evaluates own and others' writing

• Organizes ideas for oral presentations

Visual Arts:

• Understands what makes various organizational

structures and functions effective in the

communication of ideas

Science Activity

n Galileo looked through his telescope and wrote

down everything he observed. Encourage your

students to be good observers. Remind them that

you observe the world with all of your senses.

Open the classroom door and a window in the

room. Have the class sit quietly for a few minutes

and then write down and describe all of the things

they observe (hear, see, smell, feel, and taste).

Make a chart and compare the results. Did they use

all of their senses? Which sense did they use most?

They should decide if they were good observers.

Standards:

Science:

• Understands the nature of scientific inquiry

• Knows that a scientist uses observations and collects

data

• Knows that different people may interpret the same set

of observations differently

• Keeps a written record or journal of all observations

Art Activity

n Peter Sís quotes a line from William Shakespeare

on the page announcing the birth of Galileo: "Be not

afraid of greatness: some are born great, some

achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust

upon them." Have your students look carefully at the

picture of all the babies sharing a nursery with

Galileo. It is easy to pick him out - perhaps Peter Sís

is telling us that Galileo is one who was born great.

The students should look carefully at the blankets in

which the babies are wrapped. Each one's future

profession is pictured. Have your students identify

as many of the professions as they can. They can

speculate and discuss which babies will achieve

greatness in those professions and which might have

greatness thrust upon them. Then ask the children

to draw their self-portraits as babies or bring in their

own baby photographs. Each picture should include

a caption indicating what the baby's future

profession may be. Then put all the photos/drawings

together to form your own class nursery picture.

Standards:

Language Arts:

• Writes and creates visual art in response to literature

Visual Arts:


• Knows how subject matter is used to communicate ideas

Cooperative Learning Activity

n Galileo was a man of principle. He chose to be

under house arrest for the rest of his life rather

than deny his belief in the Copernican system that

the earth revolved around the sun and the earth

was not the center of the universe. Have the class

pretend that Galileo time-warped from the past into

their classroom. They will have an exclusive

interview with him before he goes back in time.

What questions would they ask him? Divide the

class into small groups. Have the children

brainstorm and formulate questions and answers

based on what they have read. Have each group

write a script and perform a mock interview of

Galileo in the manner of "Meet the Press."

Standards:

Cooperative Learning:

• Contributes to the overall effort of a group

Language Arts:

• Contributes and plays a variety of roles in group

discussions

Theater Arts:

• Creates scripted scenes based on literature and history

• Interacts as an invented character in improvised and

scripted scenes

The Curriculum standards following each activity

apply to grades 4-6. They have been culled from a

variety of sources; among them are McRel, and the

state education departments of Texas, New Mexico,

Delaware, North Carolina, and Utah.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 10, 2011

    Read this book!

    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

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2000

    An elegant, beautiful biography

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2011

    Read this book

    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

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 3, 2011

    Starry Messenger 3301

    "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

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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