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When Is a Planet Not a Planet?: The Story of Pluto
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When Is a Planet Not a Planet?: The Story of Pluto

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  156 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Space and planets are topics of endless fascination to kids and part of every grade-school curriculum. Yet because of the history-making reassignment of Pluto from “planet” to “dwarf planet” on August 24, 2006, all books on the solar system are now out of date.
Enter When is a Planet Not a Planet? The Story of Pluto by Elaine Scott, an esteemed writer of non-fiction
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published August 20th 2007 by Clarion Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  156 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Abby Johnson
In 2006 Pluto was "demoted" to a dwarf planet. This book starts in Ancient Greece and gives an overview of the history of astronomy, leading up to the fateful decision that Pluto is not a planet. Did you know that Pluto is not the first planet to be demoted? I had no idea. This book is great for kids in grades 3-6 and even for adults who want a clear, concise explanation with enough background information to shed understanding on the decision to "demote" Pluto. A glossary, index, and list of boo ...more
Apr 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
The title is a misnomer- Pluto is used as a backdrop to explore the history of astronomy. There is a great recounting of early astronomers and how scientific theories about the planets have changed over time, including up to the present day. A great, accessibly written title for showing kids how science isn't a static thing- there is still plenty of room for observation, discovery and argument.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenny Kruschke
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Quick 45 minute audio that has a brief history of our solar system and explanation of Pluto's status as a planet.
Jason Schultz
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Disclaimer - I listened to the audiobook. A great kids book on Pluto, the planets, and a basic explanation for why Pluto is no longer considered a full planet. Very quick read but full of fun facts and written in a way to keep a child entertained.
Kelly Whitt
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a nice book for kids about the planets and other objects in the solar system. Was a good read for me just to renew how to write for a nonscientific audience. It covered ideas such as gravity and rules for planets in an easy-to-understand way.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it liked it
A little dry- and the narrator of the audio book was not much help. The five year old stuck with the audiobook, but it was a long car ride and she was definitely restless at the end. Fair enough, 5 is not necessarily the intended audience. I was a little restless too.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Audio. Didn’t realize it was a kid’s book until I was already on the treadmill.
Sep 16, 2011 rated it liked it
In the story, When Is a Planet, Not a Planet? The Story of Pluto, Elaine Scott provides significant information about plants, outer space, and how we came to discover them. I liked the way she provided a background history of early Greek astrologists dating back to 1000 B.C. This emphasizes to the reader how long ago concepts and ideas about space began to form. Elaine Scott mentions a wide variety of early founders of science and how each contributed to our knowledge of science today. On page 1 ...more
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teaching-reading
This nonfiction text invites readers into a world of mystery and intrigue as it takes an in-depth look into the solar system, astronomical discoveries and some of the recent controversies. Most notably, is Pluto a planet or not!? Although the title reflects only a single story related to our solar system (that of Pluto being demoted to a dwarf planet), Elaine Scott introduces significant astronomical discovers about outer space and early scientific understanding. Illustrations in the book are bo ...more
Jan 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Both my 1st and 3rd grader have been learning about the solar system at school and have often listed off the planets in order. But I am always just itching to add, yes, but there used to be Pluto, too!! What happened to Pluto? I think I somehow missed the exact explanation for why Pluto is no longer a planet when they made that decision in 2006, so I was interested in this book when I saw it at the library. It gives a brief history of astronomy and is quite detailed in the science and definition ...more
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Adam and I listened to this on audiobook on a road trip. It was very enjoyable and, while written for perhaps a middle schooler or an advanced elementary schooler, educational. Scott does the listener/reader a great favor approaching Pluto from a scientific and historical context, bringing to light why it was once considered a planet, why science changed it's mind on the matter, and even how something very similar has happened before! Ever here of Ceres? Poor thing didn't get it's own set of nos ...more
This isn't usually my kind of topic, but I thought this was a great summary of all the scientific discoveries that have led to our planetary system today. I enjoyed learning about (or, in some cases remembering about) the discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo, the way our planets fit together and look in space, and of course, the dramatic demotion of everyone's favorite planet (when did astronomy get so dramatic?).
Children on the younger end of our spectrum who are interested in, or have t
Kelly Newton
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kimberly-s-books
Kimmy (6): It was awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

Mommy (not 6): I found this book to be very interesting and a great introduction to the story of planetary science and specifically to the story of Pluto. At the same time we read this as a family, I read "How I Killed Pluto" by Mike Brown as well as "The Pluto Files" by Neil deGrasse Tyson. It was fun to read a child-friendly book to my daughter as I read a more in-depth perspective myself. Kimmy now has a budding interest in science and has
Dec 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This was a great review of the up and down history of the 'planet' Pluto. I found it to be neither too simplistic as to be worthless nor too dense as to bore. I think the author did a tremendous job of slipping in definitions, explanations or pronunciations as needed to help children (or really any age reader unfamiliar with the topic) to understand the background. Plus, a child will definitely have learned something when they finish this book. A must have for young star gazers this is one of th ...more
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 544
Elaine Scott begins this book with an early historical chronology of the scientist who contributed to our discovery of the planets. But the main focus of this book is Pluto and how and why it got dethroned as a planet to a dwarf planet. The photos and paintings are beautifully vivid. The story of Pluto is a well-researched book lending its reading style and level ideally to 4th to 6th graders. It touches on historical components as well as the long time
Dec 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
If you flunked science class when you were eight, this should get you up to speed. If you are eight, pay attention! Otherwise you might have to read this book some day.

I guess I should say something good about this. It's very short, not really a book. It is informative. Most people will probably learn something new about Percival Lowell and the international governing body for the naming of extraterrestrial objects (or whatever its true name is). It is a slick audio production.
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, juvenile
What an amazing book. It has so much information and not just about Pluto. It tells us about the scientists past and present who studied and now study the skies. I used to be upset that Pluto was demoted but now that I understand what happened I don't feel so bad for our former smallest planet. It is actually now a dwarf planet and acts more like a comet than a planet. All kids, young and old, should read this book and gain knowledge about the objects that surround us.
Dec 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Excellent non-fiction book for 4th/5th/6th graders about why and how Pluto got demoted from its planet status. It gives a general overview of the history of astronomy without seeming boring and lifeless. Each small chapter highlights an event in astronomy which are all important to the explanation of why Pluto is not considered a planet anymore.
Josh Williams
this book talked about what it takes for a planet to be a planet. It talks about every planet separately. This would be a good book to teach kids about space and the planets. The picture in this book are real pictures.
Nov 23, 2009 rated it liked it
A nice, brief, junior-high-aged review of general astronomy and its history. As an adult, some of the definitions and repetitive "interesting fact" comments got a little annoying. I learned several things including the reality that Pluto is no longer a planet.
A very good, concise explanation of the solar system. Not exactly what I was expecting (which was a heavier focus on Pluto itself), but still a good book for kids interested in space (which is every kid, as far as I know).
Jun 17, 2010 rated it liked it
A cute little non-fiction book for kids on why Pluto is not a planet. The book walks readers through the history of planets and their discoveries until getting to the heart of the matter. Full of facts and an easy read, this is something that I think all kids would enjoy.
Oct 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
We listened to this great little book which discusses the history of studying planets, the old definition of a planet and the new definitions of bodies that orbit our Sun (and other suns). Very informative!
Sep 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It's rare to find a voice like this in shorter works of non-fiction for children. Elaine Scott had me from the first sentence to the last, and she had my eight-year-old son as well. I've never seen the scientific method explained so well.
short, sweet, and explains what the fuss was all about. Hail Pluto, so sorry you lost your place in the pantheon of planets!
Interesting information--but not the best audio book. I'm sure we missed diagrams and other helpful visuals!
Ⓛeah ✿εїз✾
Dec 21, 2010 rated it did not like it
read it for school but loved it =)
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: young astronomers
I was impressed with how clearly written this was and it was entertaing. It clearly defined concepts and had good images. I learned a lot about Pluto actually.
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Really answers the question "Why is Pluto (and other dwarf planets) not planets?" properly. I finally know a reason other than "It's a dwarf planet."
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