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[Nonfiction Wednesday] Maria Mitchell: The Woman Who Swept the Sky

Do you know who Maria Mitchell is? Find out about her in today's Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post!

Fats here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2019 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

What Miss Mitchell Saw

Written by Hayley Barrett
Illustrated by Diana Sudyka
Published by Beach Lane Books (2019)
ISBN-13: 9781481487597

Buy What Miss Mitchell Saw on Amazon | Book Depository

I don’t remember seeing this book when this came out in September. I found it while browsing through the nonfiction picture book display in the Children’s Department of our library. I like the color and design of the cover so I decided to take it home with me yesterday.

“The more we see, the more we are capable of seeing.”

– Maria Mitchell

What Miss Mitchell Saw tells the story of Maria (pronounced as “Ma-rye-ah”) Mitchell, an American astronomer, educator, and activist. Born in the island of Nantucket, Maria came to know her hometown very well. She knew the ships and the shopkeepers by name. With the help of her father, Maria learned how to use a telescope.

Image courtesy of Amazon.

Maria found herself captivated by the beauty of the night sky. It became a routine for Maria to “sweep the sky.” She knew everything by name – the stars, the planets, and celestial phenomena. Years later, Maria spent hours studying advanced mathematics and celestial navigation. In 1847, at the age of twenty-nine, Maria discovered a comet, which was later given the name “Miss Mitchell’s Comet.” Although not the first woman to discover a comet, she wast the first American astronomer to win the Danish Gold Medal for her discovery.

“Not in vain do we watch the setting and the rising of the stars.”

– Motto inscribed on the Danish Gold Medal

While I enjoyed reading the text and admired the illustrations in the book, I felt detached from the whole story of Maria Mitchell. It was a bit underwhelming for me. Nevertheless, I think What Miss Mitchell Saw is a great nonfiction picture book for children to read, and it certainly tells an inspiring story about a female trailblazer.

3 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Maria Mitchell: The Woman Who Swept the Sky

  1. It is interesting to read of those women long ago who continued with their passions, despite barriers. I understand about not connecting. Sometimes it must be hard to show that in these histories from long ago unless there are personal stories/letters, etc. Thanks, Fats!


  2. Interesting review. I find the subject matter fascinating, and also the fact that a 19th century woman was so passionately involved in astronomical discovery. You seldom read of such things. But I understand how dry storytelling can undercut reader interest.


  3. Pingback: Perfect Pairing – of Female Scientists | Wander, Ponder, Write

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