Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: H. A. Rey
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
We all look up and see the stars regularly, and yet most of us know very little about the stars and the constellations they form. Author H.A. Rey discusses why knowing the constellations and being able to read the night sky is useful. All 88 constellations are shown in star charts, a few at a time, with accompanying explanations. While the main point of the book is to make constellations more accessible, Rey also includes a chapter that discusses the whys and hows of the night sky for more curious readers. in the chapter he explains why we see certain constellations during different seasons, parallels of declination, solar and sidereal days, and many other aspects of more advanced star gazing.
Rey's approach of helping readers to learn the constellations is unique. He draws the constellations so that they actually resemble the animal or character they are named for, unlike the modern geometric figures. The shapes and patterns can also be recognized in the sky, unlike the traditional pictures that show ornate figures that happen to have stars placed in seemingly random places within the drawing. He also uses the more accessible English names for the constellations, Lynx and Giraffe for example, instead of the Latin and Greek names. (Giraffe is much easier to say and remember than Camelopardalis.) Rey makes even difficult scientific concepts approachable to younger readers and has an engaging narrative that makes this book easy to read, understand, and enjoy. Every page has blue, black, and white illustrations which range from humorous cartoons to star charts that supplement the text. This is a terrific book for anyone interested in learning the constellations and is perfect to take star gazing with you.