When Is a Planet Not a Planet?: The Story of Pluto

Overview

Space and planets are topics of endless fascination to kids and part of every grade-school curriculum. Yet because of the history-making reassignment of Pluto from “planet” to “dwarf planet” on August 24, 2006, all books on the solar system are now out of date.
Enter When is a Planet Not a Planet? The Story of Pluto by Elaine Scott, an esteemed writer of non-fiction for children. Scott is the first to put the answer to the title question into terms simple enough for a very young...

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Overview

Space and planets are topics of endless fascination to kids and part of every grade-school curriculum. Yet because of the history-making reassignment of Pluto from “planet” to “dwarf planet” on August 24, 2006, all books on the solar system are now out of date.
Enter When is a Planet Not a Planet? The Story of Pluto by Elaine Scott, an esteemed writer of non-fiction for children. Scott is the first to put the answer to the title question into terms simple enough for a very young audience to understand, based upon the new definitions determined by the International Astronomical Union.
Well-researched and accompanied by large, awe-inspiring photographs and paintings, this exciting new book makes clear what astronomers have argued about for decades.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Through engaging and child-friendly language, Scott discusses the history ... behind the discovery of the nine planets.... A great resource." School Library Journal, Starred

"Beautifully designed.... A good choice for updating astronomy collections." Booklist, ALA

Illustrations include photographs of astronomers and outer space; artists' renderings of simulations, such as a protoplanetary disk forming around a star; and diagrams of various planetary features. A glossary, recommended readings and websites, and an index round out the book.
Horn Book

Horn Book

Color photos and diagrams are both attractive and informative, and slightly oversized fonts makes the subject seem less daunting.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"This is a great example to show students the power of research...an outstanding title." LMC January 2008 Library Media Connection

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Unless you have not been reading the papers, you know that there has been a major controversy about whether Pluto should be considered a full-fledged planet or reclassified as a dwarf-planet. In this book Scott recaps a lot of the history of astronomy, including some of the great names and their discoveries—Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler—and notes that until 1781 the theory was that only six planets made up our solar system. That changed with more contemporary astronomers such as Herschel, Piazzi, Galle, Lowell, Tombaugh, and the discovery of Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and the asteroid belt. About two-thirds of the way through the text, Scott mentions Pluto's problems—because of its distance from the sun scientist's did not expect to find that Pluto had a rocky core, its orbit is unlike the other planets both in its shape and plane, and Pluto is very small. Scott mentions Pluto's moon Charon, but according to Ken Croswell's Ten Worlds, Pluto has three moons. She does mention the discovery of Eris and the controversy about it. One of the really interesting chapters is entitled "What is a Planet?" Apparently astronomers around the world had never settled on a definition, but now there are three classes of objects that orbit the sun—planets, dwarf planets, and small solar system bodies. The pictures are excellent and the captions provide additional information, as does the glossary and the page for additional readings and web sites. The detailed index will assist students working on reports.
Kirkus Reviews
Joining the rush of revised views of the solar system for young readers that has been following in the wake of the International Astronomical Union's decision to redefine Pluto (and some other fellow wanderers) as "dwarf planets" rather than the full-fledged sort, this production shows several signs of haste, from a narrative that fails to note that Pluto has more than one moon to a chapter that opens with a full page, uncaptioned photo of a vague smear of light. Scott launches into a clear, simply phrased but standard and mostly off-topic history of astronomy and the discovery of our solar system. Aside from that blur, the accompanying space photos, diagrams, artists' conceptions and art reproductions are up to this author's and publisher's usual high quality, but as more focused, considered treatments of the topic are already available or likely to be coming soon, don't rush to buy this one. (index, reading list) (Nonfiction. 9-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618898329
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 8/20/2007
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 320,968
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 980L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Elaine Scott, a veteran nonfiction writer, is often praised for making complicated scientific concepts accessible for young readers. She is the author of When Is a Planet Not a Planet? The Story of Pluto, among many other books. She lives in Houston, Texas.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2007

    A reviewer

    Scott is one of the country's best non-fiction writers and this book clearly explains complex topics in a lively and compelling manner.The research is flawless and, although written for young people, adults will also appreciate discovering more about an interesting subject. This is the first book on the topic but Scott closely watched the scientific discussions, writing as they were debating the issues. I disagree with the Kirkus review, as do most of the other reviewers (see School Library Journal, Booklist, and the Horn Book). Science made simple without being simplistic.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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