Journey Around the Sun: The Story of Halley’s Comet
written by James Gladstone
illustrated by Yaara Eshet
Owlkids Book, 2021
978-1-77147-371-2 (hc) $19.95
for Kindergarten to Grade 3
Non-fiction | Halley’s Comet | Earth History | Space History
Despite only appearing every 75 years, Halley’s Comet is the best-known comet in the universe. Narrated by the comet itself, this title captures its mystique as it speaks of all it has seen through centuries past and hints at the future. In a separate narrative, we learn how humankind, whether ancient astronomer, artist or general onlooker, perceived this mysterious object and how perceptions changed as knowledge and technology evolved. Enter Sir Edmund Halley (born 1656), who deduced from ancient records created by Babylonian and Chinese astronomers as far back as 240 BCE the nature of this object and accurately predicted its next appearance.
The book simultaneously provokes wonder regarding the grandeur of this phenomenon and the progression of man’s knowledge throughout history. Capturing ancient perceptions describing the comet as ‘hairy star,’ ‘sword of flame,’ and ‘messenger of misfortune,’ the book progresses to show how science increased our understanding of this phenomenon using fifteenth-century astrolabes, to twentieth-century photography, to space-probe Giotto that from 370 miles away could view its ice core.
The comet’s brief narrative in large clear print runs parallel to the descriptions of historical sightings, which appear in much smaller font. Watercolour illustrations across double pages reflect the comet as it appears against a starlit dark blue night-sky, while curious humans from various eras in colourful backgrounds gaze in wonder. End-notes provide general information about Halley’s Comet and a list of sources.
Best shared between generations, this attractive informational picture book will provoke curiosity and wonder about our amazing universe and its history.
—Aileen Wortley is a retired Children’s Librarian from Toronto.