Welcome to Fall! And a new batch of book reviews, starting with this engaging interaction between grandparents and grandchild:
Ada loves the stars, but she lives in the city, where the night sky is ALWAYS washed out by light, so it’s a treat when she finally gets to visit her grandparents, Ama and Poobah, on an island in Maine.
But Ada arrives early in the day and must wait and wait and wait and wait for darkness.
Poobah ingeniously tells her that she must wait until a rock near the shore is covered by water. Then it will be night. (Lovely insertion of a little STEM info on how the tides change over time.)
So they distract themselves with the things you do in Maine. Observe ospreys nesting. Go kayaking. Make fairy houses along the shoreline with shells and moss.
Then Ada, like the peripatetic child she is, checks the rock again. It’s STILL not time!!!!
Haven’t we all been in the “entertaining a child” mode when they’re anxiously anticipating something that’s not going to happen for hours??? Haven’t we all BEEN that child?
Finally, it’s dark! But we are in Maine. And sometimes we can’t see the night sky because…..
FOG! Oh, woe! Will Ada ever get to see those glorious stars?
Poobah finds yet another way to entertain Ada, pulling out a book about the galaxies. At first, she’s not impressed, and is more intent on wiggling her way around the room, but slowly, the book’s images draw her attention, capture her imagination, and prepare her for when she is FINALLY! able to see the stars.
The watercolor art that accompanies this story shows us Ada’s wiggles, nighttime in the city, and the glorious landscape that is Maine all brilliantly. I feel the wiggles, the anticipation. I see a kind of yearning emanating from the dark bedroom in the city moving out into the never-dark NYC sky. And I see the Maine coastline awash in the sea and sun and all of the experiences (and artifacts) that nature has to offer.
And yes, I see Maine’s glorious spread of stars that includes the Milky Way! This book is an open invitation to look up and imagine. And then we can go find images from the Webb telescope and send our imaginations even further into the universe.
Make your own spiral galaxy with an astronomer from The Glasgow Science Center
Print out a star chart and head outside on a clear, dark night. See which constellations you can find.
Title: Ada and the Galaxies
Author: Alan Lightman and Olga Pastuchiv
Illustrator: Susanna Chapman
Publisher: Candlewick/MIT Kids Press, 2021
Themes: astronomy, Maine, patience
Ages: Elementary school
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.