We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2020 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.
While this picturebook biography is more about falling in love with the stars and the cosmos, there was a peripheral mention of astronomy-themed book reports that allowed me to insert it quite nicely to our current reading theme.
Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey Of Neil DeGrasse Tyson (Amazon | Book Depository)
Written by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer Illustrated by Frank Morrison
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers (2018)
ISBN: 0399550240 (ISBN13: 9780399550249)
Borrowed from Zayed Central Library. Book photos taken by me.
Whenever I discuss talent development and gifted behaviours to my undergraduate and graduate students, I often use the metaphor of falling in love to characterize the concept of flow. This is beautifully evident in this biography of Neil DeGrasse Tyson as he found himself fascinated by the cosmos and the universe at a fairly young age.
Becoming an astrophysicist, however, costs money. It is even more difficult for an African American boy who does not come from a rich family to support his passion and interest. Yet, he persevered.
He walked his neighbours’ pampered dogs and spent practically all his time in their rooftop perfecting his knowledge of the stars. Even something as simple as this can prove to be complicated for an African American boy like him. Some of the neighbours started feeling paranoid about this coloured boy with this huge contraption, out on the roof, and called the cops claiming suspicious behaviour. Yet, instead of feeling persecuted or sorry for himself and other people who are driven by fear, he took it as an opportunity to convince police officers about the beauty of the night skies. If one really thinks about it carefully, this could be how Neil DeGrasse Tyson started developing his persuasive skills and his eloquence in public speaking.
I also enjoyed reading about his evident love for dancing, wrestling, and baseball. His frequent book reports about astronomy prompted his teacher to refer him to a class being held at the Hayden Planetarium: Advanced Topics in Astronomy for Young People. Despite him being the youngest student in the class, he persevered – and the rest, as they say, is cosmos history.
This is a fascinating read about a young scientist who initially had odds stacked against him. However, his passion and thirst for learning came through, and this more than anything is what made this story shine even more. A definite must-have in your classroom or personal library.