Monday, February 9, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 296

Picture Book: Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

Author & Illustrator: Stephanie Roth Sisson

Summary: This story of astronomer Carl Sagan’s vocation and inspiration begins with his pivotal visit to the 1939 World’s Fair where he saw in an exhibit the possibilities of the “World of Tomorrow.” He became fascinated by the mysteries of space, and the stars in particular, which became the subject of his life’s work. Highlighted here is his work on these series of space explorer probes: the Mariner, the Voyager, and the Viking. His passion for teaching was made evident in his television show where he became famous and influenced future generations of astronomers. This story culminates in Dr. Sagan’s leadership in recording various versions of “hello” across Earth’s human languages, including some non-human animal sounds, for time capsules that were placed in the Voyager space crafts. These probes are still traveling through space with those messages.  

Hanna’s Comments: This story of a curious boy who never stopped wondering about space and the universe can be an inspiration for children who need more information from their faith than the inspiring poetry of the Holy Scriptures which is beautiful but not scientific. I believe God wants us to question the reasons for the ways of our universe and encourages our search for knowledge and creative approaches to science. I don’t see the poetry of the Psalms, for instance, as a contradiction to science. Instead I see those words as places to ground us in the beauty and mystery and then set us forth on journeys toward knowledge. Too often the tension between science and scripture is ignored in faith communities because it is difficult and uncomfortable subject matter. However, children do notice the contradictions and need to be guided as to how to reconcile the words they hear from the scriptures and the scientific lessons they learn in school. If their faith community doesn't guide them through these questions, they may later reject their faith.   

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Roaring Brook Press, 2014

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Not at present 

Formats other than Book: Tablet

PBT Category: Biography, Fresh off the Press

PBT Topics this Book connects with: abundance/bounty, America, aspirations/dreams, awe, beauty, call/calling/vocation, communication, contemplation, creation, creativity/imagination, ingenuity,  darkness/evening/night, discovery/invention, diversity, Earth/world, education/learning/school, the environment/nature, exploration, geography, heaven/sky, heroes, humanity, light/morning, mentors/teachers, mission, moon/space/stars/sun, mystery, passion, questioning/questions, searching, truth, wisdom, wonder

Scripture Connections: When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place (Psalm 8:3-4); and those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above (Daniel 12:3)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children in a faith community, private school, or homeschool situation when considering the issue of faith/scripture versus scientific inquiry. 

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