Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Galileo’s Journal: 1609-1610

Galileo’s Journal: 1609-1610

Jeanne Pettenati
Illustrator:  Paolo Rui 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 9 to 12
Charlesbridge, 2006   ISBN: 978-1570918803

We are going to imagine what the great inventor and astronomer, Galileo Galilei, might have written had he kept a journal during the nine months from July of 1609 through March of 1610. During these highly productive months Galileo “made some of the most amazing discoveries in history.”

It all began when Galileo went to Venice to visit a friend of his. The friend told Galileo about how a Dutchman had invented something called a spyglass which made it possible for a person to see things far away with great clarity. All that was needed to make such a spyglass was a tube and some glass lenses.

Back at home in Padua Galileo set about making a spyglass and when his tool was complete he was able to see distant objects sixty times larger then with the naked eye. Galileo showed his spyglass to the senators in Venice who were very impressed with the instrument and saw how useful such a thing could be at sea and during times of war. Galileo was not satisfied however. He wanted to find more uses for his instrument.

Then one night Galileo looked at the moon through his latest and strongest spyglass and he was amazed to see that the moon was not smooth. Instead it was covered with mountains and valleys. Next he looked at Jupiter and he discovered that the planet was being circled by four moons. He further speculated that the Earth and other planets circled around the Sun and that the Earth was not, after all, at the center of the universe.

In this engaging and well written book the author has drawn on the writings of Galileo and others to create a picture of what Galileo’s life might have been like. Thanks to Galileo’s famous and controversial book “Starry Messenger,” we know a great deal about his methods of study and his experiments. These methods are touched on in this book and we are left with a very clear understanding of how special Galileo was.

At the back of the book the author provides her readers with a biography of Galileo and an “Author’s Note” which describes where she got her information and how she put it together to create the book.