An empowering, inspiring--and accessible!--nonfiction picture book about the eleven-year-old girl who actually named the newly discovered Pluto in 1930.
When Venetia Burney's grandfather reads aloud from the newspaper about a new discovery--a "ninth major planet" that has yet to be named--her eleven-year-old mind starts whirring. She is studying the planets in school and loves Roman mythology. "It might be called Pluto," she says, thinking of the dark underworld. Grandfather loves the idea and contacts his friend at London's Royal Astronomical Society, who writes to scientists at the Lowell Observatory in Massachusetts, where Pluto was discovered. After a vote, the scientists agree unanimously: Pluto is the perfect name for the dark, cold planet.
Here is a picture book perfect for STEM units and for all children--particularly girls--who have ever dreamed of becoming a scientist.
In 1930 Oxford, young Venetia Burney's curiosity about the planets is sparked when she and her classmates conduct a "planet walk" around their school, placing objects to represent the known planets ("a bead for Mars and an orange for Jupiter"). In Haidle's dusky art, Burney's red coat sets her apart from her classmates and the somber-colored cobblestone streets. When a ninth planet is discovered, Burney suggests to her grandfather, a former head librarian at the Oxford library, that it should be named for the Roman God Neptune's brother, Pluto, and he shares the name with a professor at the Royal Astronomical Society. The day before she turns 89, Burney views Pluto through a telescope for the first time: "there it is, that icy sphere spinning 3.67 billion miles from the sun, many paces past Neptune." McGinty's quiet story posits that any individual with a passionate interest can make a lasting contribution to the world. An author's note and bibliography conclude. Ages 4 8.