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A Black Hole Is Not a Hole

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  493 ratings  ·  126 reviews
Get ready to S-T-R-E-T-C-H your mind!

What is a black hole? Where do they come from? How were they discovered? Can we visit one? Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano takes readers on a ride through the galaxies (ours, and others), answering these questions and many more about the phenomenon known as a black hole.

In lively and often humorous text, the book starts off with a thorough
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by Charlesbridge (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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It's not the only -- or even the primary -- criterion that I use when evaluating children's books, but I get a special thrill when I see a book and think "You know, I would really have enjoyed this book as a child." A Black Hole Is Not a Hole gave me that feeling, reminding me of the first time I picked up Our Universe or The Cartoon Guide to Physics, a pair of books that loom large in my memories of growing up.

Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano's book does an excellent job of taking a difficult conce
Recipient of the Orbis Pictus Award for informational nonfiction, A Black Hole is Not a Hole offers a reader-friendly introduction into a very complex scientific topic. Information is organized across eight chapters and several text features that vary the output of information to readers. The text begins by making simple comparisons and connections to familiar concepts like gravity and a whirlpool, stating that, while black holes have both of those features, their force of gravity and "pulling" ...more
Destinee Sutton
How many books about scientific concepts are funny and fun to read? Not too many, methinks. Carolyn Decristofano explains black holes via excellent analogies (a singularity is like a peanut with the mass of a trillion elephants!), thought experiments (imagine you approach the event horizon of a black hole and your foot stretches in front on you like a spaghetti noodle!), and great flow from one topic to the next (start with Newtonian gravity--that's pretty easy to get--and wait until the end to ...more
Abby Johnson
A conversational and humorous tone makes this book not only educational but appealing to read. Carolyn DeCristofano breaks down an overwhelming subject into easy-to-digest pieces and explains what black holes are, how they form, and how we discovered them. Extensive back matter includes an AWESOME author's note that tells how she researched the book and emphasizes the fact that ongoing scientific research means that science facts change often.

Highly recommended for young scientists! Pair it wit
Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's reviews on the blog typically feature two or three images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-
Did I just read, learn, and understand Einstein's theory of relativity from a children's book? Why yes, yes I did. Why can't college textbooks be like this? I may have been a physics major if learning had been this much fun.

FYI for parents out there concerned about the new Common Core Standards increased requirements for nonfiction in the classroom? If this book is any indication - kids are probably in for a treat.

(age range 10ish give or take, but obvs good for adults, too)
Suzanne Jordan
I like this book.... a lot. I'm not going to lie though; it is not the easiest book to read. It is well written and thorough and even has funny callouts that help you through some difficult spots. Several times, I felt like I was back in freshman year in Astronomy 101 struggling to make my brain understand the subject matter. However, I think I learned more by reading this book than I did in my whole semester of Astronomy 101 and enjoyed it much more. Once I committed to the book and plowed thro ...more
Liz B
I think it tackled a combination of too much and too little. It was just long enough to get into some really confusing science, while it still had a ha-ha-you're-just-a-kid tone. It didn't take the reader seriously enough to explain thoroughly. And I don't think it made enough use of metaphor as a way to understand.

Let me make a comparison. After I read Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95, I understood a LOT about a really unfamiliar topic. After reading this book, I know pr
DeCristofano, Carolyn Cinami; Carroll, Michael; A Black Hole is NOT a Hole, Charlebridge, 2012, Information book, 3rd - 8th, rate 4.5, lexile 900L

This book is about black holes and discusses the beginning discovers of gravity by Newton and goes into research that has seen been discovered. The author engages students by using kid friendly language to describe the size and complexity of black holes.

I rate this a 4.5. For students interested in space, and specifically black holes, this is a great b
Ann Cox
In this nonfiction book for older elementary aged children, DeCristofano tries to explain what a black hole is, since from the title, the reader can guess that she doesn't think its an actual hole. She walks the reader through the basics of black holes: how they are born, their anatomy, how they suck in anything that comes close to them, and how they were first discovered and are still being discovered. She uses a relaxed tone to make reading this book a fun experience. Her graphics and illustra ...more
Bianca Dugan-sherman
The fiction twin text I picked for this book is Beyond the Black Hole by Blake A. and Harpster Hoena. The fiction twin text is a graphic novel about travelling through a black hole and the characters are describing what is going on in the new universe. The nonfiction text provided definitions of a black hole and things that are in space and also provided facts about them. The fiction twin text describes what the new universe is where the nonfiction provides more of the information. Readers will ...more
Edward Sullivan
An excellent presentation and explanation of a complicated subject. Coversational, entertaining and informative with great illustrations.
A very basic introduction to the physics of black holes. I think I'd enjoy reading more books in a similar vein if this was a series. I think this was actually a very good audiobook production that could keep a kid interested. It's a little less than an hour and a half long and has different voices and nice spacey music, but I think the actual book is probably better for getting information that can be retained. I listened to this more than once and still, since physics doesn't really have a lot ...more
Tim Baumgartner
My wife reads so much she might finish another book by the time I finish this review (actually, she JUST DID as I was getting to the end of this LOL). So when my wife brought this book to my attention and explained it breaks this topic down most clearly, I was HIGHLY intrigued as she gave it 5 stars here on Goodreads. Now, let me tell you, for her, that is a HUGE, did I say HUGE, compliment. She read 350 books in 2013 from a variety of genres (she's the Media Center specialist, aka librarian) an ...more
A Black Hole is Not a Hole is a thrilling in content and language. It is a rare nonfiction book written for younger readers--although I believe it has wide appeal--that is exciting and accessible. A longtime astronomy enthusiast, I find the study of astronomy and its many amazing phenomena to be fascinating. Decristofano's book brings that excitement and wonder to life!

Although accessible to young readers in its explanations A Black Hole is Not a Hole does not 'dumb down' any scientific research
Lady Lioness
Found via the Stars so Far list.

I have long been an advocate of reading children's nonfiction books if an adult wants an introductory exploration of a topic. I learned a great deal from A Black Hole is Not a Hole and, indeed, it came perilously close to breaking my brain at one point. I took comfort from the box inset on page 57 and decided I would just stick with Newton's laws & let people smarter than I deal with Einstein's.

Not only is there a time line, glossary, and suggested additiona
Richie Partington
Richie’s Picks: A BLACK HOLE IS NOT A HOLE by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano and Michael Carroll, ill., Charlesbridge, February 2012, 80p., ISBN: 978-1-57091-783-7

“Wish I knew what you were looking for
Might have known what you would find”
-- Kilbey/Jansson, “Under the Milky Way”

“A black hole is nothing to look at. Literally. If you could somehow take a close-up picture of a black hole, it wouldn’t be one for the scrapbook. It would just be blank…and black.
“The blackness of black holes is peculiar: a
As posted on Outside of a Dog:

Past elementary school, when you could do silly things for your science fair and still get a ribbon, I was never much into science (outside of the occasional science fiction). My brother was the science fan in the family, and I just know that if he was eleven years old, he would love A Black Hole is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano.

If a Black Hole is not a hole, then what is it, exactly? DeCristofano attempts to explain this conundrum to kids in this very
I wish non-fiction was this good when I was a kid. And there is something to be said for adults learning from children's non-fiction. I was able to read this book cover-to-cover. Pretty good considering I never thought I was interested in black holes. That changed after reading the top seven questions you may have had about black holes on the inside cover.

So what was so great about this book? The author addresses the "hole" question of dark holes with humor and imagination right from the title.
Jim Erekson
So there's a clear trend in some of these complex topics toward the illustrated book, rather than the picturebook format. This is the former. Copious illustrations are fully complementary or corresponding to the text, with each picture intended to be an example of something discussed in the text. This is an interesting convention, because in 21st century literacy, we should be expecting to see the arrow turn the other way --shifting to the visual being the primary 'text' to read. It's more likel ...more
Barb Middleton
Not many writers can make astrophysics interesting. I've actually come across two articles on black holes in one week. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011 was the first, and to be honest, quite a bit of it whooshed over my head. I wished I had read this book first, I would have appreciated the other more, or at least understood what a singularity means in the world of black holes. The simplicity at which the author presents the material and then builds to more complex ideas is what ...more
From an informational stand point, by far the strongest text I've come across. Possibly ever. This book should be held up as the example for just how significant a role text formatting can enhance a non-fiction reading experience. The main passages on each page are as stylistically potent as the information it contains. This is quite the abstract topic matter, astrophysics. So, how do you make that accessible to a young audience? By connecting and relating to more concrete concepts. Each passage ...more
Becky B
Apr 25, 2013 Becky B rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to understand black holes & theory of relativity
This is probably the best written middle grade non-fiction science book I've ever read (and I've read quite a few, I taught science for several years). Someone needs to commission Ms. DecCristofano to write a science curriculum. She does an incredible job of making science understandable. She doesn't skimp on the scientific information, but she relates it by explaining it in relateable terms people ages 10-100 can understand regardless of their background. THEN she assigns that concept its scien ...more
Book 44 Bibliographic Citation:
DeCristofano, C. C. (2012). A black hole is not a hole. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

Age/Grade Level: (Ages 8-13, Grades 3–7)

The science of black holes is stretching, just like black holes themselves! We now know that black holes can tug, swirl, and that gravity always rules. This text shares much more; learn how black holes form, seek the invisible, and turn your thinking about space inside out.

Awards/Reviewing Sources:
Booklist starred (February 1, 2012 (V
“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

This was the mantra of an entire generation who looked to the stars as the next great adventure and discovery. The space race has died down a little bit, but we will never stop wondering what secrets are hidden out there beyond our atmosphere.

One of those secrets of space is the b
Aside from those with an extreme interest in astronomy, most people fall into the category who consider the science of the sun, moon, planets, stars and the surrounding universe mildly interesting, if often overwhelming. That is what makes A Black Hole Is NOT a Hole all the more successful. Though it is written at a level for older children to understand, this is an excellent introduction to deep space concepts for people of all ages.

Big scientific concepts such as matter, mind-boggling distance
Ashley Boris
"A Black Hole Is NOT a Hole" is a book about black holes in outer space. This book gives a nice overview of how black holes are formed, their character traits, and other interesting and important facts in the discovery of black holes. It discusses topics within black holes such as the different types that exist, who the first person was to discover them from Earth and the device that was created to find it, and what they look like. This book is interesting and would be a good introduction into t ...more
Wow! I wish there were such interesting informational texts around when I was in elementary school. DeCristofano marries deep concepts (a black hole, for instance!) with such friendly analogies as this: (not a direct quote) "Imaging you are playing hide-and-seek and suddenly you find a whole group of people you didn't even know were playing the game. That's how scientists felt when they discovered black holes."

She gives a solid introduction to the history of the science behind black holes (incl
Although I didn't love this book in the way that I loved Steven Hawking's Universe: The Cosmos Explained, by David Filkin, I did appreciate how DeCristofano deeply explores black holes in simple, snappy terms. She writes directly to the reader, and in her explanations of what we know about black holes, she sidesteps absolutes, questions, reveals scientific practices, and, most notably, champions the power of "thought experiments," guiding the reader to engage in Einstein's famous pastime. The te ...more
Interesting nonfiction title that presents a lot of facts in a (mostly) kid-friendly way. The majority of concepts were explained simply enough and the author used analogies and humor to reach the intended audience. I learned quite a bit through the text, though at times it was a struggle to stay engaged with the topic. My non-science oriented brain had trouble with some of the more abstract concepts, but overall the content was well explained.
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