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Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

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For every child who has ever looked up at the stars and asked, "What are they?" comes the story of a curious boy who never stopped wondering: Carl Sagan. When Carl Sagan was a young boy he went to the 1939 World's Fair and his life was changed forever. From that day on he never stopped marveling at the universe and seeking to understand it better. Star Stuff follows Carl fr For every child who has ever looked up at the stars and asked, "What are they?" comes the story of a curious boy who never stopped wondering: Carl Sagan. When Carl Sagan was a young boy he went to the 1939 World's Fair and his life was changed forever. From that day on he never stopped marveling at the universe and seeking to understand it better. Star Stuff follows Carl from his days star gazing from the bedroom window of his Brooklyn apartment, through his love of speculative science fiction novels, to his work as an internationally renowned scientist who worked on the Voyager missions exploring the farthest reaches of space. This book introduces the beloved man who brought the mystery of the cosmos into homes across America to a new generation of dreamers and star gazers.


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For every child who has ever looked up at the stars and asked, "What are they?" comes the story of a curious boy who never stopped wondering: Carl Sagan. When Carl Sagan was a young boy he went to the 1939 World's Fair and his life was changed forever. From that day on he never stopped marveling at the universe and seeking to understand it better. Star Stuff follows Carl fr For every child who has ever looked up at the stars and asked, "What are they?" comes the story of a curious boy who never stopped wondering: Carl Sagan. When Carl Sagan was a young boy he went to the 1939 World's Fair and his life was changed forever. From that day on he never stopped marveling at the universe and seeking to understand it better. Star Stuff follows Carl from his days star gazing from the bedroom window of his Brooklyn apartment, through his love of speculative science fiction novels, to his work as an internationally renowned scientist who worked on the Voyager missions exploring the farthest reaches of space. This book introduces the beloved man who brought the mystery of the cosmos into homes across America to a new generation of dreamers and star gazers.

30 review for Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

  1. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Darling

    So, so cute. It's so nice to see a book that gives you appropriate background for Carl Sagan's beginning interest in the cosmos, and takes a dreamy, wondering approach towards science rather than just relating facts and figures--so appropriate for the subject of the book! Loved the illustrations and thoughtful story, and I very much appreciated the additional notes included in the back, particularly the one about how Sagan inspired her to think differently about the universe. This is a book that So, so cute. It's so nice to see a book that gives you appropriate background for Carl Sagan's beginning interest in the cosmos, and takes a dreamy, wondering approach towards science rather than just relating facts and figures--so appropriate for the subject of the book! Loved the illustrations and thoughtful story, and I very much appreciated the additional notes included in the back, particularly the one about how Sagan inspired her to think differently about the universe. This is a book that is totally age appropriate for kids but can also be enjoyed by adults. Such a great gift for anyone who's a space enthusiast, too. An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    A.C. Paige

    I need to buy this for my future Grandkids in case it's not in print in 15 years.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maren Banwell

    Content Area: Cross curricular activity with ELA and science. I would pair the fiction book Toys in Space with the nonfiction book Star Stuff. I would read Toys in Space first in order to pre-teach some character traits of Carl Sagan. I would use a DLTA with this book. First, I would ask for predictions based on the title and the cover. The cover reminded me a lot of Toy Story. I would read until Wonderdoll had told the beginning of her story, then ask: What is a word you would use to describe W Content Area: Cross curricular activity with ELA and science. I would pair the fiction book Toys in Space with the nonfiction book Star Stuff. I would read Toys in Space first in order to pre-teach some character traits of Carl Sagan. I would use a DLTA with this book. First, I would ask for predictions based on the title and the cover. The cover reminded me a lot of Toy Story. I would read until Wonderdoll had told the beginning of her story, then ask: What is a word you would use to describe Wonderdoll? She is very creative, thoughtful, and has quite the imagination. I would write these on the board and ask students to watch for more examples of these behaviors either from Wonderdoll or any other character in the book. I would add to our list as we read or after we finished. The toys become very creative as they try to make Hoctopize feel better because he has beamed up thousands of Earth toys looking for his own lost toy, Cuddles, and they convinced him to return them to their owners. I would ask as the toys realize it is morning, but they want to know the end of Wonderdoll’s tale: What word would we use to describe how the toys are acting right now? They are being very curious and I would add that word to the board. Wonderdoll is again creative as she decides to end her story with Hoctopize finding Cuddles. Before reading Star Stuff, I would review the vocabulary words on the board – creative, thoughtful, imaginative, and curious and give students small sticky notes for text tagging. I would introduce the book Star Stuff and tell them that Carl Sagan had all of the qualities on the board. As they read, I would have them sticky note pages when Carl demonstrated those qualities. They should tag pages when he: imagined traveling into space, studied to become a doctor, gathered data from pictures in outer space, went on TV to share his knowledge, launched the Voyagers and decided to have message from Earth. For an after reading activity, I would ask them to share some of the pages they tagged and why as well as write about a time when they were any of the four qualities. I would give them sentence starters like: Once, when I was curious, it was because.... I think it would also be interesting to discuss what they think Carl Sagan’s greatest contribution was. Brey, M. (2012). Toys in space. New York, New York: Random House.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Krista the Krazy Kataloguer

    I found this book interesting but disappointing in its skimpiness of information. I realize that it was written for elementary children, but I did expect more about his life than was presented here. The author does say that her goal in writing this was to show "how a boy from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York, became one of the world's most beloved and recognized scientists" (p. 30, author's note), so that may explain the lack of other details about his life. I like Sisson's colorful illustrations I found this book interesting but disappointing in its skimpiness of information. I realize that it was written for elementary children, but I did expect more about his life than was presented here. The author does say that her goal in writing this was to show "how a boy from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York, became one of the world's most beloved and recognized scientists" (p. 30, author's note), so that may explain the lack of other details about his life. I like Sisson's colorful illustrations, and, though I've never seen a photo of Sagan as a child, I think her depiction of him must be pretty accurate. She summarized the contents of the record that was sent on the Voyager spacecraft in pictures rather than words, which was clever. I also like that some of the illustrations are end-wise up and fold out, such as in the page where Carl is in the library learning about stars, which opens up into a three-page high picture of Carl in the library with the starry heavens above. I guess I'll have to find a longer biography if I want to know more about Carl. Recommended for elementary school readers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    I love when biographies for kids are well-written, not overly simplistic, and offer interesting information. This picture book biography of Carl Sagan is all three. My 4-year old loved it. It held his attention, and taught him something. We looked up pictures of Carl Sagan after, and checked to see where Voyager has been.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    A great biography of young Carl Sagan and how he became fascinated with the Cosmos. Appealing and inspiring.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    I’ve said this before, but I LOVE a biography that can both give the reader a meaningful look into what makes the person interesting and special and do it in a condensed way so that it makes a great read aloud. I love a read aloud biography that makes you want to go find a more in depth biography on that person. This is one of those.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Seung Lee

    This was inspiring to me, but maybe less so for my son.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Racheal

    Really approachable. So many biographies for kids are wordy and boring, so it's always nice to find ones that are simple and have a bit of flare!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Ignasiak

    A nonfiction picture book about Carl Sagan? It's a no brainer! It's adjustable for younger audiences too, so it's great for storytime. I will definitely use this for units on space, stars, scientists, and STEAM.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pink STREAM

    This book is about a dreamer, believer, smart, and curious boy named Carl Sagan. He was very curious about the life in space. He spent his life studying space, stars, and planets. After all his effort he found out that the Earth and every living thing are made of star stuff. Amazing! So he asked himself “Could those ingredients have resulted in life somewhere else too.” Illustrations are very original. Different styles, different shapes, and different page designs are used. If you want to be a This book is about a dreamer, believer, smart, and curious boy named Carl Sagan. He was very curious about the life in space. He spent his life studying space, stars, and planets. After all his effort he found out that the Earth and every living thing are made of star stuff. Amazing! So he asked himself “Could those ingredients have resulted in life somewhere else too.” Illustrations are very original. Different styles, different shapes, and different page designs are used. If you want to be an astronaut, interested in space, love to learn about inspiring people, and read original books this book is written just for you! Never stop imagining, dreaming, and believing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    This is a picture book biography about Carl Sagan and how he got interested in the stars. It all started when he went to the 1939 World’s Fair and was inspired. He started researching stars and space and wondering about the universe around us. He got his doctorate and worked with other scientists to create machines that would investigate planets and take pictures of them. Then he went on television with his show Cosmos and told everyone about the universe and how we are all made from the same st This is a picture book biography about Carl Sagan and how he got interested in the stars. It all started when he went to the 1939 World’s Fair and was inspired. He started researching stars and space and wondering about the universe around us. He got his doctorate and worked with other scientists to create machines that would investigate planets and take pictures of them. Then he went on television with his show Cosmos and told everyone about the universe and how we are all made from the same stuff as the stars. This is an inspirational story of how a child who loved the stars turning into a man who taught a generation about them. Sisson keeps this book at the exactly right level for young readers. She does not dwell on Sagan’s time in college, but instead spends much more time on his childhood dreams and interests. She focuses too on his work as a scientist and then speaks very broadly about his time on television. I greatly appreciate that his work was not narrowed to just Cosmos, but instead it is celebrated as a part of what he accomplished in his life. The book ends with an Author’s Note and a bibliography and source notes that readers looking for more detailed information will find useful. In her illustrations, Sisson wisely incorporates elements of comic books with panels and speech bubbles. These give the book a great modern feel and help propel the story forward. Done in a friendly cartoon style, the illustrations make astronomy approachable and friendly for the reader. Children will be inspired to see a young person’s dream become their vocation in life. This picture book is a new way for Sagan to inspire people to learn about the stars. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Schmidt

    Possible Content Area Crossover: Science and learning about the stars and space Twin Text: Stars by Mary Lyn Ray. Publishing date: 2011. Star Stuff is a book about Carl Sagan's fascination about the stars ever since he was a little boy. He went to the world fair where he became very interested in the things that we couldn't touch but only see-stars which he called lightbulbs on long black wires. He was very curious so he started researching them and when he grew up, he became a doctor who eventual Possible Content Area Crossover: Science and learning about the stars and space Twin Text: Stars by Mary Lyn Ray. Publishing date: 2011. Star Stuff is a book about Carl Sagan's fascination about the stars ever since he was a little boy. He went to the world fair where he became very interested in the things that we couldn't touch but only see-stars which he called lightbulbs on long black wires. He was very curious so he started researching them and when he grew up, he became a doctor who eventually helped launch spacecraft into space to gather pictures and data about stars. Stars is a book about where we can find stars-everywhere. Whether it be in the sky at night or a star that might be on the calendar to mark a special day. Stars are everywhere and they can even make us feel better when we are having a bad day. All we have to do is look around and we will find one. Both of these books talk about stars, but in a different way. Star Stuff talks about stars solely in the solar sense, but Stars talks about stars that we can see all over the place. I think these books would be good to talk about in early primary grades to introduce what stars are, and then read the nonfiction to fill in some blanks about the stars in the sky. I think the webbing technique would be good to use for these two books. They could make a web of all of the different kinds of stars that the Stars book talks about. After they do that, I could read them Star Stuff and see if they could fill in some missing information about them.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Missy

    This beautifully illustrated book captures the magic of curiosity and placing the right book in the hands of a child. Carl Sagan, beloved scientist, astrophysicist, and host of the popular series Cosmos, was curious about the universe. He went to the World's Fair in Chicago and started to go to the library to study the universe. From here, he began to shape our knowledge of science and astronomy as we know it today. This book is a window into the way curiosity and imagination can open the doors This beautifully illustrated book captures the magic of curiosity and placing the right book in the hands of a child. Carl Sagan, beloved scientist, astrophysicist, and host of the popular series Cosmos, was curious about the universe. He went to the World's Fair in Chicago and started to go to the library to study the universe. From here, he began to shape our knowledge of science and astronomy as we know it today. This book is a window into the way curiosity and imagination can open the doors to our dreams and our very universe. This book has an incredibly profound personal connection to my own life and was my favorite children's book in this class

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    This is a wonderful, wonderful book! In every sense of the word. Here is what my friend, Jean, had to say about it, and I know for sure I couldn't say it better. "Excellent. Biography for really young children (preschool/early elementary) is rarely done well. This is done well. Lovely, appealing art work, storyline, sense of wonder and excitement conveyed. Notes on the last page flesh things out for the curious older reader."

  16. 4 out of 5

    June

    Well illustrated biography of scientist Carl Sagan. Panels, illustrations that require turning the book and that unfold help tell how Carl Sagan became curious about the cosmos, and shared his excitement via television. Maybe a 3.5, the ending seemed to fade for me, but I rounded up due to common core and STEM

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    The best part of this book was seeing my seven year old son's eyes light up when he realized that the star-smitten little boy in the book grew up to be a real scientist. It was as if he had a little aha moment. The rest of our family, including our four year old daughter, loved this beautiful book, too.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I love how the book opens by zooming in from outer space (galaxy to neighborhood to solar system to earth to city to street to apt). I also appreciate the shifts in format -- from horizontal to vertical, one even more so with a flap that opens. "The Earth and every living thing are made of star stuff." Wowie indeed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jillian Heise

    A fabulous book that tells the story of Carl Sagan and how we came to know much of what we do about outer space and our universe. The illustrations enhance the curiosity prevalent in Sagan's journey and provide a sense of wonderment to the topic.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura Salas

    One of my favorite picture books this year. Vary spare text, a dash of humor (wowie!), interesting art, and great back matter make this a fabulous introduction to Carl Sagan as well as a love note to imagination.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    Excellent. Biography for really young children (preschool/early elementary) is rarely done well. This is done well. Lovely, appealing art work, storyline, sense of wonder and excitement conveyed. Notes on the last page flesh things out for the curious older reader.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Holly Mueller

    Kids might be inspired to become a scientist, or at least pursue their passions, through this biography of Carl Sagan. Great illustrations!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Brooks

    Great book to learn about how Carl Sagan was mesmerized and curious about the cosmos and how it turned into a lifelong passion of his. Illustrations add to the story and a great read for all ages.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ame

    A simplified tale of wee Carl Sagan and his hopes to go to the stars. Lovely illustrations and encourages kids to aspire to high levels of dream-making.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Durbin

    On the first page, Stephanie Roth Sisson showcases just how ginormous the universe is, by visually presenting the Milky Way and our sun’s placement within it. Sisson sets the stage with a wide view point of our sun “in a neighborhood of starts,” to our planet Earth, to a smaller view of one place: Brooklyn, New York. This is where young readers are introduced to the main character Carl. Carl is a young boy who is curious and intrigued by the world around him. As he grows up, his initial feeling On the first page, Stephanie Roth Sisson showcases just how ginormous the universe is, by visually presenting the Milky Way and our sun’s placement within it. Sisson sets the stage with a wide view point of our sun “in a neighborhood of starts,” to our planet Earth, to a smaller view of one place: Brooklyn, New York. This is where young readers are introduced to the main character Carl. Carl is a young boy who is curious and intrigued by the world around him. As he grows up, his initial feeling of curiosity widens into a passion of his. Carl loves to research and find information out on the universe, and when he becomes an adult he ends up getting a career as a scientist! Carl’s geeky boyhood is repeated throughout the book, as he gets “goosebumps” when he thinks about what he learned about the stars, planets, and the beginning of life, as well as that, “the Earth and every living thing are made of star stuff.” Illustrations throughout the book help depict the Earths curvature by showing Carl standing no the sidewalk, and examples of Carls knowledge of space growing by showing a vertical foldout of him studying in the library, and as you unfold the page the universe above him expands much like his knowledge of the subject. Later in the story the reader is introduced to another character by the name of Sagan.As Sagan learns information and questions space, his knowledge about the topic expands in complexity. As this is happening, the pace of the literature accelerates as the reader embarks on Sagans journey along side him. I loved this book because I am a huge moon/astrology lover! I think this book would be so fun to read aloud and see what the children think and understand each step of the way as you read the story.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson, which retells a story about the time when Carl Sagan attended the 1939 New York World's Fair, which irrevocable changed his life and in return influenced a generation of dreamers and stargazers. Sisson's text is simplistic, straightforward, and quaint. It captures the curiosity and wonderment of young Carl Sagan really well. The illustrations are beautifully and co Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson, which retells a story about the time when Carl Sagan attended the 1939 New York World's Fair, which irrevocable changed his life and in return influenced a generation of dreamers and stargazers. Sisson's text is simplistic, straightforward, and quaint. It captures the curiosity and wonderment of young Carl Sagan really well. The illustrations are beautifully and colorful, which complements, depicts, and progresses the text rather well. It gives the overall story a dreamy and wistful sentiment of the entire book. The premise of the book is a mini-biographical story of the life of Carl Sagan. It follows Sagan from his days stargazing from the bedroom window of his Brooklyn apartment, to his life changing trip to the 1939 New York World's Fair, through his love of speculative science fiction novels, to his work as an internationally renowned scientist, who brought the universe to the masses and worked on The Voyager space missions to reach the farthest parts of space. All in all, Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos is a wonderful children's book that introduces the beloved man who brought the mystery of the cosmos into homes across the world to a new generation of dreamers and stargazers. Wowie!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mary Kay

    I purchased this book to use with NTSA's collection of Picture Perfect Stem lessons (using trade books to teach Science / Stem.) I've been collecting picture book non-fiction and biographies to add to my classroom collection. There was long a void of great biographies for children not quite ready to commit to a 200 page book. These are not necessarily "easy"reads, but they make great read aloud choices. This book chronicles the life of Carl Sagan and includes a lot of interesting history, along wit I purchased this book to use with NTSA's collection of Picture Perfect Stem lessons (using trade books to teach Science / Stem.) I've been collecting picture book non-fiction and biographies to add to my classroom collection. There was long a void of great biographies for children not quite ready to commit to a 200 page book. These are not necessarily "easy"reads, but they make great read aloud choices. This book chronicles the life of Carl Sagan and includes a lot of interesting history, along with some catch phrases that keep it moving for younger kids. (Love repetitive lines we can say together!) The pictures are VERY well done, but might be tough for a large crowd. A good bit of Carl's life, and certainly enough to understand who he is. If I have one complaint with picture book biographies (and it's honestly just my personal preference...) they never say where the person went to college. They skip from childhood to doctorate with the skip of a page, without so much as a mention of the years that might take. Intentional? One can only wonder. I always like to rate picture non-fiction on ... did I learn something? I most certainly did. Wowie! Is Carl Sagan an interesting guy.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Grace Brouse

    Carl was a curious boy, he thought about the world's outside of his apartment, outside of the city and outside of earth. He was curious about the galaxy and everything that was included in it like stars, other planets and more. One day, as Carl and his parents were listening to the radio they heard about the fair that was coming to town that explored all the possibilities of tomorrow. Carl was so excited about the fair that him and his parents explored all the activities apart of the fair like t Carl was a curious boy, he thought about the world's outside of his apartment, outside of the city and outside of earth. He was curious about the galaxy and everything that was included in it like stars, other planets and more. One day, as Carl and his parents were listening to the radio they heard about the fair that was coming to town that explored all the possibilities of tomorrow. Carl was so excited about the fair that him and his parents explored all the activities apart of the fair like the mechanical man, a time capsule and more. This made Carl even more interested in the worlds apart from earth, he went to the library and checked out a book about stars. Carl interest about start grew as he got older, eventually to become Dr. Carl Sagan having studied life and stars in college. He helped to learn more about the stars, but one day he came up with the idea of a time capsule for each space rocket. The time capsule carried music, greetings in each language and more in case someone came upon the rocket. I would recommend this book to anyone that needs inspiration. The message of the story could be that when you're inspired by something, keep going and follow through with your dreams.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brooke Loewen

    It is interesting to learn about what sparked interest in the authors and scientists we familiarize ourselves with today. Carl Sagan was enthralled with the idea of living in space, which is why he spent his life studying the planets, space, and stars. It was not until an extensive amount of research was conducted by Carl Sagan that he discovered our Earth, and all living things, are formed from star stuff. This idea sparked Sagan in thinking about where else life could exist. The illustrations It is interesting to learn about what sparked interest in the authors and scientists we familiarize ourselves with today. Carl Sagan was enthralled with the idea of living in space, which is why he spent his life studying the planets, space, and stars. It was not until an extensive amount of research was conducted by Carl Sagan that he discovered our Earth, and all living things, are formed from star stuff. This idea sparked Sagan in thinking about where else life could exist. The illustrations are interesting because they use different shape sizes and artistic style changes with each page. When I read this book, I immediately thought about my cousin who is autistic. He is fascinated with the galaxy and the idea of Big Bang. Learning about a man who was so fascinating was interesting to read. I thought that this would be a great book to show him because I think it would be inspiring. I would recommend this book to students in a 1st grade to 3rd grade. This in-depth biography is a must read!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    1. No award 2. Preschool - Grade 3 3. This is an informational and biography book about scientist Carl Sagan's interest and fascination on the solar system and beyond. Carl was a curious boy about everything that soon developed into a fascination with the stars, planets and his inspirational trip to the World's Fair in 1993. Since that trip, he took his fascination to the next level and went to the library and got a degree to learn more and more about the life outside of our universe. 4. I enjoyed 1. No award 2. Preschool - Grade 3 3. This is an informational and biography book about scientist Carl Sagan's interest and fascination on the solar system and beyond. Carl was a curious boy about everything that soon developed into a fascination with the stars, planets and his inspirational trip to the World's Fair in 1993. Since that trip, he took his fascination to the next level and went to the library and got a degree to learn more and more about the life outside of our universe. 4. I enjoyed reading this book about how scientist Carl Sagan contributed immensely to our galactic findings. This book was a combination learning about our solar system and Carl Sagan's life. The illustrations are very friendly and unique that would invite readers to read. 5. This book can be used in the classroom to teach about the solar system and Carl Sagan. Students can think about who they want be when they grow up and think about what is beyond Earth; aliens? more planets like the earth?

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