A Star Explodes: The Story of Supernova 1054

In A Star Explodes, James Gladstone and Yaara Eshet, the duo behind Journey Around the Sun, a picture book about Halley's Comet, capture the mysteries of the universe while also connecting across centuries the humans who study them. This picture book explores supernovas and nebulas and, in particular, Supernova 1054, which resulted in the Crab Nebula that stargazers can still see today.

Gladstone frames the book with humans past and present who gaze wonderingly at the sky. It opens in the year 1054: the light of a supernova mesmerizes the daughter of a Chinese astronomer, who calls the light a "guest star." It closes with present-day children staring at a van Gogh-esque night sky. In between, Gladstone explains how the blast of a huge star (a supernova) in space led to the light of Supernova 1054; how the Crab Nebula is the "starry remains" of that supernova so long ago; and how that nebula got its name.

The book's structure lyrically captures the mysteries of the vast universe while also linking those who marvel at them. Yaara Eshet's velvety, full-bleed illustrations feature landscapes with star-speckled skies in various shades of blue. She elegantly depicts the spread of a supernova in space over an 800-year timeline with a burst of light and color. In one smartly composed spread, she depicts people across the globe in the year 1054 marveling at "the guest star's shining gift of light." Gladstone closes by looking to the future and noting that the ever-scattering remains of supernovas "become part of new worlds and new life yet to be." --Julie Danielson, reviewer and copyeditor

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