Listening to the Stars: Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovers Pulsars
Listening to the Stars: Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovers Pulsars

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Series: She Made History   

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Annotation: A biography of the woman astrophysicist who discovered pulsars.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #256208
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Albert Whitman
Copyright Date: 2021
Edition Date: 2021
Illustrator: Badiu, Alexandra,
Pages: 1 volume
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-8075-4563-5 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-9194-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-8075-4563-8 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-9194-6
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2020032209
Dimensions: 26 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
School Library Journal Starred Review
PreS-Gr 3 Parachini's historical picture book spotlights the Irish astrophysicist Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (b. 1943), who discovered the first radio pulsars while she was a research assistant at the University of Cambridge. The narrative showcases how Burnell discovered her love for astronomy and overcame sexism. As a graduate student, Burnell was part of a team that built a radio telescope that took two years to finish. The telescope allowed the team to collect sound data from neutron stars. Her discovery was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1974. Sadly, only the male members of her research team received this award. In 2018, Burnell was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. She used the prize money of three million dollars to set up a fund for women who wanted to pursue physics. Badiu's vibrant illustrations feature a palette that utilizes shades of blue, brown, and pink and a mixture of neutral, secondary, and primary colors. The lively art complements the text, creating a sense of openness and balance in its use of stars as a driving thematic motif. This book could be read in a science unit that emphasizes the empowering message that everyone can study STEM fields. The back matter contains a glossary, an author's note, and a list of titles centered on women physicists and astrophysicists. VERDICT An inspiring picture book biography of an inquisitive girl who became a world-renowned scientist, told in accessible language. Kathia Ibacache, Univ. of Colorado Boulder
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
An Irishwoman and a radio telescope change astronomy forever.“Does the galaxy have a sound?” asks the first line of this elegant biography. “Is it loud and full of thunderous booms? Soft murmurings, whooshing whispers?” Though written in prose, the narrative has a poetic sensibility, building a suspenseful read-aloud from the events of Burnell’s life. First having to fight her way into “the boys’ class” in the 1950s so she could learn physics, then later working to mount acres upon acres of wires to help construct a telescope, the young Jocelyn depicted exudes curiosity and enthusiasm. A showstopper of a spread celebrates the radio telescope’s 1967 completion: Precise technical lines appear in silhouette against a dusky, ethereal sky. Text and pictures work together to explain how a pulsing sound wave comes from a neutron star—a discovery that Burnell made after analyzing “three miles of paper.” Well-chosen similes illuminate fundamental concepts, backed by Badiu’s rich, celestial blues and purples. Frank discussion of the sexism Burnell faced leads into a hopeful note about her efforts to support young women in astronomy. Backmatter provides plain-language scientific definitions, a contextualizing author’s note, and recommended reading on women in physics. Burnell is depicted as White, all of her colleagues and mentors appear to be White men, and just one of her students (circa 1974) has brown skin.As gorgeous as it is informative. (glossary, author’s note, recommended reading) (Picture book/biography. 4-10)
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews (2/1/21)
School Library Journal Starred Review (3/1/21)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: K-3

A biography of astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who helped build a radio telescope that contributed to her discovery of pulsars, a new type of star. Some scientists consider it the greatest astronomical discovery of the twentieth century. Despite this achievement, she was overlooked in favor of two male colleagues when the Nobel Prize for physics was awarded. Bell is still working and teaching today, recognized for her contribution.


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