Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei” as Want to Read:
Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,150 ratings  ·  191 reviews
"If they had seen what we see, they would have judged as we judge." -- Galileo Galilei

In every age there are courageous people who break with tradition to explore new ideas and challenge accepted truths. Galileo Galilei was just such a man--a genius--and the first to turn the telescope to the skies to map the heavens. In doing so, he offered objective evidence that the ear
Paperback, 40 pages
Published September 1st 2000 by Square Fish (first published January 1st 1996)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,150 ratings  ·  191 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
Very poetic with beautiful quotes and pictures to look at, Starry Messenger touches on Galileo's highs of his scientific mind, career and discovery as well as his dark demise under the persecution of the church for his thinking.

From an adult perspective, this book is rather a work of art then a bio of this brilliant man. Just a gentle intro for children to ask for more. Visually stunning, the quotes are a bit more difficult to comprehend by the intended audience, but they hold true and mostly p
Now as much as I enjoy (and even love) Peter Sis' glorious illustrations (they are bright, descriptive, detailed, and with a sense of the imaginative that I believe even Galileo himself would have appreciated), the accompanying text of Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei (well, actually it is more how the latter is presented, how it printed on the page) is simply much too vexing and frustrating for me to give Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei more than two stars (and yes, those two stars are ABSOL ...more
Wonderful art. It's a big book that give panoramic views of the sky. It also uses old maps and pictures they had to show the sky. It tells the simple story of Galileo and how he went about church doctrine to tell what he saw. He was declared a heretic for his work, but left to live in his home. It took the church 350 years to admit that he was right - which is sad.

There are his quotes around the book, but some of them are higgaldy piggaldy and it is difficult to read which annoyed me. Still it w
Apr 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: kid
We love quite a few Peter Sis books (I dare you to find a better little boy's book than FIRE TRUCK!), but Starry Messenger was not one of them. I had to do quite a bit of live-editing while reading this one to Toby (my fault -- I should have previewed it first). Weird cursive writing is abundant and hard to read. But perhaps making the script sigmoid and sideways made "The streets were open sewers. Diesease was common, and thousands died from typhus and from the bubonic plague," seem jaunty some ...more
Pretty, but not good. Too much writing to be a picture book and in fairly difficult to read script. And not enough writing to be a good science or biography book. And the level of the writing also doesn't fit well - too high and yet not enough. And then it is always interesting to see statements about who and how many thought the Sun revolved around the Earth rather than the Earth around the sun. The first line in the book held promise - "... most people thought the earth was the center of the u ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Sis' books are so promising and then they end up being so frustrating! What audience is he targeting? Has he read any of these with kids? I doubt that they'd learn much from this book. And why the tiny cursive type which travels in odd directions on a page? It's hard to read, and many kids aren't taught cursive.

I suppose if I knew more about Galileo, I'd get more out of the book. But is that the purpose?

Some of the pages are inviting, but much of the art is too obscure to mean much to a child (o
This book offers a fascinating look at the life and work of Galileo Galilei. It provides historical background information about the various theories of the universe, leading up to his discovery that the Earth was not indeed the center of it.

The illustrations are wonderful and the additional information and quotes that are artistically woven (sometimes in sprials) throughout the pages are good for deepening our understanding the man, his thoughts, and his tribulations with the church. They can
Apr 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Unlike most children's book illustrators, Sis favors subtle pastels and complex, detailed drawings over bold colors and images. There's always a lot going on in every image, if kids slow down enough to look at them. The level of illustrative detail makes this book best for one-on-one reading. The book can be read on two levels; short, simple biographical statements target younger children while small, cursive passages highlight book excerpts and quotes from Galileo. This handwritten text adds a ...more
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: caldecott
1997 Caldecott Honor - Favorite Illustration: The map of the Italian city-states. That was kind of fun to see how Italy was put together at the time of Galileo.
While I like the concept of this book, the layout itself is confusing a frustrating. I wish that a better font had been used, as the cursive is difficult to read at times. I wish that instead of the timeline being presented throughout the book in random shapes or sometimes as the border of the pictures itself, there was a timeline that ra
Katie Fitzgerald
The cursive font used as part of this book’s illustrations is nearly impossible to read, but if you can get past that, there is a lot to learn from the text and illustrations combined. Because the text and illustrations convey different levels of detail, kids can return to this book again and again as they age and take away something different each time. My favorite image in this one is of the courtyard where all the children play. It is reminiscent of Sendak’s drawings for Ruth Krauss’s books, ...more
While interesting and informative, this book is challenging to read. Much of the text is written in small cursive in interesting patterns (curves, spirals, etc.). It makes it interesting visually but challenging to read. I feel like I would need to practice it several times in order to be able to use it as a read aloud in my classroom...and even then, I would most likely need to hold the book toward me to read and then show the pictures rather than holding it so the pictures could be seen by stu ...more
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I wavered between 3 and 4 on this one. I love that it's about Galileo, but all the script in the art makes it a bit cluttered for my liking. It is a fine first book on Galileo. I think it should be in everyone's home library. Also, my understanding was that while the church pardoned him, they never actually admitted that he was right all along. Guess I need to pick up a biography of Galileo for adults and check it out (I'm going by my hazy memory of Carl Sagan's show Cosmos and goodness knows it ...more
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children, nonfiction
The illustrations are beautiful, and the inclusion of text from Galileo's journals, observations, etc, were interesting. However, most of the content is what I remember learning about Galileo in school, in no more detail. I was also frustrated by reading the parts of the text that were in the script font--the letters are tiny and close together, and the words form shapes on the page, causing me to turn the book in all different directions. Kind of cool, but it made reading it tedious for me.
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, graphic
I totally love this book.

I read his graphic autobiography in ed grad school but hadn't read any of his other stuff. Just ordered this with a specific student in mind, she is going to FLIP OUT when she sees it.

Beautiful art, lovely storytelling. Main text is big font and simple enough -- additional notes and observations in a decorative cursive on the sides (like built-in extensions for higher readers). So much to see.
Jun 03, 2015 rated it liked it
This was an interesting, brief biography of Galileo. I did not have the problem others had with reading the cursive script, but I was annoyed when it wound in a spiral, or was written in waves, instead of just in straight lines. These cursive bits added interesting information to the bio, but they would have been easier to read if they had been typed instead of handwritten. Possibly Sis was trying for a 17th-century look by using the cursive.
In this picture book biography, we learn about the life of Galileo. Sis places his discoveries in time by explaining previous beliefs about the solar system and shows the effect of Galileo's evidence of the sun as its center on the cultural/religious beliefs of the time. This is such a lovely book, but I wish the information written in the sidebars was more legible.
May 17, 2012 rated it liked it
A picture book bio about Galileo. Looks like a scrapbook with simple text on each page that tells Galileo's life story accompanied by cursive writing from his papers and art that illustrates key moments in his timeline. Well done.
Kimberly Kieffer
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully illustrated and written children's book. It includes important historical facts and dates and many lovely quotes. If you have little ones this is a much share.
Rosemary Sullivan
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
On the inside cover of the front and back of "Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei," there is a beautiful illustration by author Peter Sis. It shows an ancient Italian city at night, the battlements and spires of the buildings are saturated in a deep inky blue, with stars glimmering in the sky. The city itself is dark except for an arched window that glows yellow with light and inspiration. A small, distant figure appears to be peering through a telescope, which is pointed toward the heavens.

That f
Jimmy Reyes
Sep 30, 2014 rated it liked it
The story of Galileo, mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer has been told by Peter Sis in this book by capturing in quotes the philosopher's ideas and beliefs that are just as important today as they were hundreds of years ago. The details of the frame surrounding the illustrations are important in chronicling the settings, dates, and narration of what the reader is seeing. Ghastly drawings of grim reapers, devils, and half-human-like creatures makes you wonder if the images were derived fr ...more
Marla Bassetti
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 3-5-literature
Starry Messenger, a Caldecott Honor book, would be a great way to tie in science, history and literature. The concepts of theory as well as the underlying moral message of breaking out against traditional norms would make this a wonderful introduction to the challenges of science, discovery as well as critical thinking and how these elements have shaped our history. Galileo's discoveries and publications went against how people had viewed the universe with heaven and earth and the beliefs of the ...more
Mi Ngo
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
The story tells the life and accomplishments of Galileo, a philosopher and great astronomer that's been appreciated by many. I like that this book can educate children but I think the children would have to be 10 or older to understand. If a parent reads this to their 7 year old kid, the parent wouldn't be comfortable reading "Galileo was going to be punished. He went against the church." The kid would constantly question and the parents would have a hard time.

I wanted to give it a 3.5 but I ga
Katie Paciga
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Peter Sis documents the life of Galileo Galilei in this Caldecott Honor biography. He tells the complicated story of the astronomer and does a fantastic job of laying out the cultural/social/political/historical context that impacted Galileo's work. The illustrations are so detailed and are accompanied by additional information written in beautiful script that are truly pieces of art themselves. My favorite illustration is when Galileo is called to the Papal court to be tried for heresy. The cre ...more
Sep 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
This post-modern picture book tells the biography of Galileo Galilei twice at the same time. On each page there is text that is in simple language and easy for children to read and understand, and there is also text actually written in Galileo's own words written more than 350 years ago. .

This book is illustrated beautifully and in a way that relates back to Galileo's time. On the cover page, the illustrator positions Galileo in the middle of the page looking through a telescope out at night sk
Apr 17, 2016 added it
Shelves: biography
Starry Messenger, by Peter Sis he is the author, illustrator and filmmaker international.
A silver medal Caldecott Honor Book, is beautifully designed to tell the story of a man Galileo Galilei. Mr. Sis crafted his book and researched Galileo with Professors Galison and Biagioli both of Harvard University. Peter Sis uses text that easily read but also included a script using Galileo's own words written in perfect circles. Each page is a Tuscan mural with stars, mythical beasts, musicians, all sym
Sarah Sammis
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I chose Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei by Peter Sís for my astronomy materials for children ages 5 to 8 project. One of our requirements was to include a biography relevant to the topic. Starry Messenger was the most interesting of the books on hand that fit the project.

The title comes from the notebook Galileo Galilei kept for most of his life. He worked with then cutting edge technology, the telescope, to make observations supporting Copernicus's theory that the earth and planets revolve ar
Lis Ann - The Indigo Quill
See full review @ The Indigo Quill:

This is an educational book about one of the world's first astronomer's, Galileo Galilei. It can easily be used as a tool to teach your child (or children) and be interactive with little extras and things. There is also a Teacher's Guide available HERE.

I'll note that this is the Caldecott Winner for the year 1997. That being said, I didn't particularly enjoy this Children's book compared to others I've reviewed. I did
Shannon Connors
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
In his story-like biography, Peter Sis presents facts about Galileo interspersed with quotes and works from the scientist himself.

Most notably, Sis uses typography to separate his tale with the quotes and works of Galileo. His story of Galileo is portrayed with a simple typewriter-like font. On each page, quotes from Galileo, others from his time, or writings from various historical figures are presented in a cursive font that runs vertically, diagonally, and even in a circle. The change in font
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
1. Genre: Biography Junior Book

2. Summary: This book shows the life of Galileo, and his love and interest in the stars. This book shows his struggles with his theories and ideas.

3. Critique:
a) The book incorporates Galileo's words from his personal book called "Starry Messenger," in which he recorded his own observations. It also has interesting facts and perceptions of that time about him.

b) The biography doesn't contain many facts, but is written more in a story format. It is also writte
Natalie Zagara
Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I really liked this story of Galileo. Sometimes a person doesn't get to see how much of an effect they have had on people. A person's greatness is sometimes revealed too late. In this story, Galileo, a philosopher, teacher, and master of the stars, lives a life of triumph until he goes against the ideas of religion. He is kept away from society until his death, because of his beliefs. Hundreds of years after his death, he is verbally aquitted by people who claimed that his ideas that the Sun was ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Rain Drop Splash
  • I, Galileo
  • The Boy of the Three-Year Nap
  • Harlem
  • Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas
  • The Desert Is Theirs
  • The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins
  • The Faithful Friend
  • Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems
  • Just Me
  • Thy Friend, Obadiah
  • Working Cotton
  • My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World
  • Peter the Great
  • Ape in a Cape: An Alphabet of Odd Animals
  • Goggles!
  • Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin
  • The Story of Jumping Mouse
See similar books…
PETER SÍS is an internationally acclaimed illustrator, filmmaker, painter and author. Born in 1949 in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and grew up in Prague. He studied painting and filmmaking at the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague and the Royal College of Art in London. His animated work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. He came to America in 1982, and now lives in New York’s Hud ...more