Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei
Non-fiction Biography fiction
Ages 7 and up
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996, 0-374-37191-1
There was a time when people thought that the sun and planets revolved around the earth, a time when they thought that they were the center of the universe. Then a man came along who wondered if perhaps it was the earth that moved around the sun. This was Copernicus, a great thinker. However Copernicus did not air his theory. The world had to wait until a new "star" came along to show the great thinkers of his time that the earth was not, in fact, at the center of the universe.
This "star" was none other than Galileo Galilei, born in Pisa on February 15th, 1564. Galileo was the kind of young man who wanted to understand and improve on things. With a brilliant mind at his disposal there was little that Galileo was unable to do; he invented all sorts of useful tools such as the compound microscope and the first practical thermometer. He also determined that two falling objects would reach the ground at the same time irrespective of how big or small they were. This came to be called The Law of Falling Objects.
After building his own telescope, Galileo focused his energies on studying the night skies. It was then that he came to the conclusion that the Ptolemaic system was in fact incorrect and that the "contrary hypothesis" was true. He also studied the moon and the planets and he published his observations in a book called "The Starry Messenger." His book and his genius soon made Galileo famous all over the world.
Galileo's fame and influence unfortunately attracted the attention of the church which was much disturbed by his theories as they called the words of the bible into question. It was then that Galileo faced great hardship, a verdict of guilty by the Inquisition.
With simple text which gets to the heart of this remarkable story, Peter Sis has created an excellent picture 'biography' of one the world's greatest thinkers. His illustrations are detailed and quite unique, showing us the world that Galileo lived in and offering much information at the same time. This is a beautiful and thoughtful tribute to a great man.
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