Ada and the Galaxies, by Alan Lightman & Olga Pastuchiv/Illustrated by Susanna Chapman, (Sept. 2021, MIT Kids Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536215618
Author and physicist Alan Lightman, together with author Olga Pastuchiv, create a story about stars, galaxies, and the natural world, perfect for stargazers and astronomy fans. Ada is a young girl visiting her grandparents, Ama and Poobah, in Maine. Ada is hoping to see a sky full of stars in Maine, because in New York, where she lives, too much light pollution keeps her from seeing the night sky in all its beauty. Ama and Poobah take Ada all around, showing her the beautiful nature that Maine offers, but Ada is singularly focused: when will it be dark enough to see the night sky? When nature decides to intervene, Poobah turns to his astronomy books and shows Ada incredible photos of galaxies, all photographed by the Hubble telescope. Fascinated, Ada and Poobah talk about galaxies, space, and what we’re all made of: space stuff. Using watercolor, digital artwork, and actual Hubble telescope photos, Ada and the Galaxies is a breathtaking look at our night skies, a warm story of a little girl enjoying her grandparents, and a story about the incredible wonder of nature. It takes readers from a small moment – finding a crab on a beach – and expands to the size of our universe. A wonderful story about life and everything in it, with lovely illustrations that also wrap readers in the smallest of moments – reading a book with a grandparent – growing it into a story about the night sky, filled with stars, and, ultimately, the universe and its galaxies. There are beautiful details here, like Ada and Poobah sharing a rocketship ride together; the artwork of the rocket appears over a photo of a crab-shaped galaxy, NGC 1300, and a bright red crab adorns the rocket. A word on seeing the night sky informs readers about some of the numbers behind our world, and confirms that the numbers Poobah uses in the book to describe the size and distance of galaxies is scientifically accurate. Read and display with The Stars Just Up the Street by Sue Soltis and Marion Dane Bauer’s The Stuff of Stars.
Ada and the Galaxies has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus. Visit the Hubble Telescope website for news, images, and video; you can also follow the Hubble on Twitter and on Instagram for photos and updates. Educator John Williams on Teachers Pay Teachers has Hubble Star Cards, downloadable for free, that you can share with your library and school kids.