Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei

Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei

by Peter Sís


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"If they had seen what we see, they would have judged as we judge." — Galileo Galilei

In every age there are courageous people who break with tradition to explore new ideas and challenge accepted truths. Galileo Galilei was just such a man—a genius—and the first to turn the telescope to the skies to map the heavens. In doing so, he offered objective evidence that the earth was not the fixed center of the universe but that it and all the other planets revolved around the sun. Galileo kept careful notes and made beautiful drawings of all that he observed. Through his telescope he brought the starts down to earth for everyone to see.

By changing the way people saw the galaxy, Galileo was also changing the way they saw themselves and their place in the universe. This was very exciting, but to some to some it was deeply disturbing. Galileo has upset the harmonious view of heaven and earth that had been accepted since ancient times. He had turned the world upside down.

In this amazing new book, Peter Sís employs the artist's lens to give us an extraordinary view of the life of Galileo Galilei. Sís tells his story in language as simple as a fairy tale, in pictures as rich and tightly woven as a tapestry, and in Galileo's own words, written more than 350 years ago and still resonant with truth. This title has Common Core connections.

Starry Messenger is a 1997 Caldecott Honor Book.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374470272
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 09/01/2000
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 40
Sales rank: 98,941
Product dimensions: 8.97(w) x 12.07(h) x 0.14(d)
Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
Age Range: 6 - 10 Years

About the Author

Peter Sis recently received a Caldecott Honor for Tibet Through the Red Box. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

Reading Group Guide

Peter Sís's picture book biography of Galileo offers readers not only the story of Galileo's life but also a study of courage and conviction, insight into the development of science, a look into history, and an extraordinary example of how art and text can combine to communicate information. The book can be read on many levels. In grades 4–6, teachers can find connections to history, science, art, literature, writing, and a catalyst for a wide variety of research projects.

1. In the opening pages of Starry Messenger Peter Sís shows the names of several men on a time line: Eudoxus, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Aristarchus, Archimedes, and Copernicus. Discuss with your students what sources they would use to find out more about these men. They could include nonfiction books about these men, astronomy, and the ancient world; the encyclopedia; the Internet; etc. Develop the idea that since nonfiction books do not have to be read from cover to cover or necessarily in the order that the chapters are written, they should consider any book that they think might have some useful information. Talk about what questions your students would want to answer. For example: Were these men scientists or philosophers? What discoveries did they make? What is their connection to Galileo? Ask your students to write down any information they find fascinating. Your children can write reports, give oral and visual presentations, or present their research in the same manner Peter Sís uses in Starry Messenger. Have them write a basic story about their subject, illustrate it, and then fill the margins with the interesting information they gathered in their research.

2. Do your students know that in the same yearnthat Galileo was writing The Starry Messenger, the

British were settling the Jamestown Colony, or that when Galileo was giving lectures on comets, the first African slaves were brought to Virginia? Put Galileo in the context of what was happening in other countries of the world at the same time.Using events noted in the book and from other sources, create a time line. Place the life of Galileo above the line and events that occurred around the world below it.

3. In the year of Galileo's birth, 1564, Italy was not like it is today. It was a compilation of city-states. Using information provided in Starry Messenger and other sources, discuss the meaning of the citystate. Where was Pisa located? On a large outline map, locate and label each city-state. Make a chart that shows the city-state, the type of government it had, and what each called its ruler. Compare these systems to present-day governments. How is our country ruled? Are there countries that are still ruled as monarchies? How do these systems affect the lives of the people?

4. Galileo looked through his telescope and wrote down everything he observed. Encourage your students to be good observers. Remind them that you observe the world with all of your senses. Open the classroom door and a window in the room. Have the class sit quietly for a few minutes and then write down and describe all of the things they observe (hear, see, smell, feel, and taste). Make a chart and compare the results. Did they use all of their senses? Which sense did they use most? They should decide if they were good observers.

5. Peter Sís quotes a line from William Shakespeare on the page announcing the birth of Galileo: "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." Have your students look carefully at the picture of all the babies sharing a nursery with Galileo. It is easy to pick him out – perhaps Peter Sís is telling us that Galileo is one who was born great. The students should look carefully at the blankets in which the babies are wrapped. Each one's future profession is pictured. Have your students identify as many of the professions as they can. They can speculate and discuss which babies will achieve greatness in those professions and which might have greatness thrust upon them. Then ask the children to draw their self-portraits as babies or bring in their own baby photographs. Each picture should include a caption indicating what the baby's future profession may be. Then put all the photos/drawings together to form your own class nursery picture.

6. Galileo was a man of principle. He chose to be under house arrest for the rest of his life rather than deny his belief in the Copernican system that the earth revolved around the sun and the earth was not the center of the universe. Have the class pretend that Galileo time-warped from the past into their classroom. They will have an exclusive interview with him before he goes back in time. What questions would they ask him? Divide the class into small groups. Have the children brainstorm and formulate questions and answers based on what they have read. Have each group write a script and perform a mock interview of Galileo in the manner of "Meet the Press."

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Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
CRC3301 More than 1 year ago
This book is great, and I would definitely recommend it for children to read. It has great facts, but is able to keep the reader's attention with amazing pictures of that era. I really enjoyed reading about Galileo Galilei and learning some new stuff about him that I didn't know before. This book has great information that children should enjoy learning about, and I believe after reading this book they will start looking for other books like it. If you have never read this before I recommend that you do, and you get it for your kids. CRC3301
Guest More than 1 year ago
With enough information to write a short report on Galileo, and enough beautiful illustrations to keep the most fidgety of readers engrossed, this book is truly a marvel. I got this book as a gift and was extremely impressed with the amount of information in a book 'for children.' Really worth the read if you are interested in Galileo and/or you enjoy the artwork and writing of Peter Sis.
momma2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very simplistic writing coupled with greatly detailed drawings left us feeling gypped. This book was written to a much younger audience then the illustrations or even the subject would suggest. Thankfully this was a supplement to other reading about Galileo because we gleaned nothing from this book.
dreamer2000 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very nice pictures that hold true to Galileo, it is hard to read some of the writing. Very nice pictures that help show his work about the stars and the world moving around the sun.
tiburon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A dreamlike book that captures perfectly the starry eyed drreamer that was Galileo Galilei, the story traces his life from birth to death and is full of interesting facts and information. I found myself wanting to know more once the book was over.
hartlm03 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Starry Messenger is a biography of Galileo Galilei. This book does a good job explaining the extraordinary life of Galilei. However, the small print about the wording can be difficult to read. It wouldmost likely be too difficult for basic readers. The book does have artisticly detailed illustrations. Overall, this book had good information, but it may need to be read aloud to students because of the difficulty in the small print.
Orpgirl1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book by one of my favorite children's authors is a visual feast of intricate drawings and details on the life of Galileo Galilei. Sis incorporates primary and secondary sources in sharing sometimes very difficult to understand knowledge on the life of Galilei with fluid and detailed drawings. My personal favorite part of the book was incorporating the physical layout of the book into a visceral learning experience by moving the book in a circle to read the inscriptions, hunting for key characters in pictures, and the symbolism in his unique drawing elements. The author does an amazing job of incorporating Galileo's real writings into a fun and interactive book that can engage children's imaginations while also teaching them a good bit of science!
Smiler69 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another beautiful book by Sís, this time profiling physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher Galileo, who dared defy the long-held belief that the earth was the centre of the universe, and basing himself on observations through a telescope he had build and improved upon himself, proved that the earth actually orbited the sun. Filled with details about his life and times, from his birth in 1564 (the same year as Shakespeare's own birth and Michelangelo's death), with notes from his journals and his famous treatise from 1610, The Starry Messenger (Sidereus Nuncius), the first scientific treatise to be published based on observations made through a telescope, until his final days, which he spent under house arrest following an church inquisition which found him "vehemently suspect of heresy". Fans of Sís will love this, and it's a good starting point for those not yet familiar with his work.
paulsikora on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The science and history and art are impeccable, both clearly told and beautiful for children and resonant and beautiful for adults.
JCRitchie More than 1 year ago
"Starry Messenger" Review Galileo is famous for all the discovery's he has made. This book takes a major discovery that Galileo made and turns it into a story for young kids. The pictures are bright and go along great with the story. It is inspiring for the children to see it is okay to be different. I enjoyed reading this book. As an adult, I still found it intriguing, and interesting. I loved the pictures and how it had facts written in small text through out the book. The book "Starry Messenger" by Petter Sis, is a magical and inspiring story, just as the star are in the night sky JCR 3301