Star Stuff, Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

For today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection, I’m sharing one of my favorite biographies. Now three years old, it still stands as a primo example of a biography for kids.

Title: Star Stuff, Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos
Written and Illustrated by: Stephanie Roth Sisson
Roaring Brook Press, 2014, biographyIMG_1104
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Lexile: AD760
Themes/topics: space, universe,

In the Milky Way galaxy…
In a neighborhood of stars…
On the third planet from our sun…
In a big city…
In a small apartment…
Lived a boy named Carl.

Brief synopsis (from
For every child who has ever looked up at the stars and asked, “What are they?” comes the story of a curious boy who never stopped wondering: Carl Sagan.
When Carl Sagan was a young boy he went to the 1939 World’s Fair and his life was changed forever. From that day on he never stopped marveling at the universe and seeking to understand it better. Star Stuff follows Carl from his days star gazing from the bedroom window of his Brooklyn apartment, through his love of speculative science fiction novels, to his work as an internationally renowned scientist who worked on the Voyager missions exploring the farthest reaches of space. This book introduces the beloved man who brought the mystery of the cosmos into homes across America to a new generation of dreamers and star gazers.

Activities and Resources:
Teacher’s guide from Round Rock, TX 

The Planetary Society’s recommended books for kids on space – build a great unit to accommodate varied reading and skill levels

Compare and contrast multiple biographies. Children can work in small groups to compare and contrast two people.

Writing: Write about a topic you are interested in and how you might use this in your future.

Bio Cubes – one of my favorite genre activities for the reading classroom

Children’s writers –  choose a number of biographies to examine different formats and approaches.

Why I like this book:
Star Stuff is an amazingly great example of what a picture book biography should be. The text and illustrations work together to present enough information, but not too much; solid science, but not too complex; kid friendly text, but not talking down. The illustrations extend the text, providing details that incite curiosity and inspire questions. It’s creatively done and totally engaging.

Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent resources.

4 thoughts on “Star Stuff, Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

  1. I remember when Carl Sagan had his Cosmos series on TV. My family and I never missed an episode.The opening music was intensely beautiful. I read this book when it came out, but after reading your review, I’m looking forward to my next library visit so I can check it out and read it again.

    Liked by 1 person

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