Where Are the Constellations? by Stephanie Sabol

Where Are the Constellations? by Stephanie Sabol. Penguin Workshop, 2021. 9780593223734

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 2

Format: Paperback

What did you like about the book? An overview of some of the basic concepts of astronomy as well as the history of the science leads up to an exploration of the constellations.  In the first few chapters, famous scientists such as Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Galileo are introduced, and terms like galaxy and solar system are well-defined, before readers can delve into the myths and legends that gave rise to the naming of the constellations and see diagrams of them in the night sky.  While the primary focus is on the Greco-Roman tradition, the author does compare our Western names and stories of the stars with a few from the Southern Hemisphere and Asia.  

An overwhelming amount of information is presented in a dry, text-heavy style that is not very appealing.  Greek heroes like Perseus and Hercules feature prominently, and these stories as well as some others may encourage stargazers to seek out the mythology section in the library.  Back matter includes timelines, recommended further reading, and a color map of the constellations (which is not thoroughly labeled).

Anything you did not like about the book?  The title is a bit of a misnomer; constellations are a main focus but there is a great deal of other information to wade through  before the constellation families are introduced in Chapter 5.  An overwhelming amount of information is presented in a dry, text-heavy style that is not very appealing.  The standard format of the series is not really a good fit for this subject – the black and white illustrations and diagrams don’t do much to aid in comprehension, and the trademark text boxes (on subjects such as Stonehenge and light-years) might serve to make the book more confusing. As is often the case with books from this series, an index would be a very valuable addition.   

To whom would you recommend this book? Budding astronomers and mythology fans alike might enjoy reading the backstory of the constellations.  

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Nonfiction – Dewey #523.8

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: September 15, 2021

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