Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano, author
Carolyn DeCristofano is filled with awe every time she peers into a deep, star-filled sky. She lives in Plympton, Massachusetts, with her husband. She has contributed to science exhibits and teacher resources for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Museum of Science (Boston), WGBH (Boston), and NASA.
Read more about Carolyn.
Michael Carroll, illustrator
Michael Carroll is an award-winning astronomical artist whose work has been featured in hundreds of magazines, including Time, National Geographic, Smithsonian, and Odyssey. His paintings have aired on TV’s NOVA and have even flown in space (one was aboard the MIR Space Station). Michael has done paintings for NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Russia’s Institute for Space Research. He lives with his family in Littleton, Colorado.
Read more about Michael.
- IRA Children's Book Award Notables
- Science Books & Films Best Books for Junior High and High School Readers 2005
A mix of astronomical photos and splashy, spread-filling painted star fields illustrate this double-stranded account of the universe's likely origin. DeCristofano alternates informal explanations with lines of an alphabetical poem, taking our universe from "An astronomical Big Bang/ Changed the crunched-up universe, causing the current cosmos" to "Yet the universe remains zipped up./ Will it ever reveal its ways?" simplifying basic concepts—describing the formation of matter, for instance, but not of space and time along with it—she chronicles each stage of the Big Bang, goes on to a quick history of observational astronomy, and the discovery that the universe is expanding, and then closes with the optimistic thought that we just might unzip those ways, one day. An energetic, animated alternative to Seymour Simon's more matter-of-fact Universe.
Big Bang! The Tongue-Tickling Tale of a Speck That Became Spectacular is a marvelous resource for teachers and children in the upper elementary and lower middle grades. The imaginative, colorful, and detailed illustrations make it particularly suitable for a teacher to read aloud, showing pictures along the way. Children will return to re-examine the illustrations and the concepts on their own.
The origin of the universe is a high level concept that is seldom covered in the middle school years. But the glimpses of far galaxies that have come from Hubble and other instruments have brought these issues into students' imaginations. So the comprehensible manner in which the author deals with high-level conceptual material makes this a valuable resource.
With the use of analogies that any child will understand, Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano deals with notions of singularity (packing a hundred Mount Everests, along with some Earths and Suns, into a backpack), the inflationary model (a giant sneeze), the beginning of the existence of matter (tiny hailstones), and expansion (several examples and illustrations of stretching).
The author makes it clear that different civilizations have wondered about origin of the universe throughout history, but that today we have the tools needed to investigate the idea scientifically rather than relying entirely on imagination and speculation. Children will learn about the evidence for the Big Bang through an introduction to forms of electromagnetic radiation other than visible light and how astronomers use these in their work. The information is current, featuring Hubble telescope images in addition to Michael Carroll’s stimulating illustrations, and a thorough glossary will provide a bridge toward further research for interested students.
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Page count: 32
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