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

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,060 Ratings  ·  172 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)
Rating details
Sort: Default
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
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 Galileo himself would have appreciated), the accompanying text (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 more than two stars (and yes, those two stars are ONLY for the illustrations, and while I might feel a bit guilty abou ...more
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
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
Laura Verret
In this beautiful Caldecott Medal book, Peter Sis tells the legendary story of Galileo Galilei through small doses of text and a series of beautiful Renaissance-style full page illustrations.

The illustrations and maps do full credit to Starry Messenger’s status as a Newberry Medalist. And the text is well-written. However large portions of that text are printed in an elaborate cursive font that I as a twenty year old found a little complex and which I can only imagine would largely befuddle its
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 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
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
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
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.
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.
Jun 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: pb-biography
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
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
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
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
Clara Bowman-Jahn
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Why I love it: As the jacket says and it says it all, Sis has told us a story of a great man in ways that excel all previous stories. In the margins of the pictures he has told us Galileo’s own words and told another story in the text. The book is enjoyable for both the reader and the child being read to. And it passes the test of being read over and over. I was lucky enough to see and hear Peter Sis in our library once upon a time when he came for our One Community One Book festival on his book ...more
Stunningly rendered in painstaking artistic detail that allows the beauties of the skies and the stars that fascinated Galileo Galilei for most of his life, this picture book focuses mainly on the human side of this brilliant man. By the time is brought before the Pope because of his beliefs about astronomy and the Earth not being the center of the universe, readers can feel his despair at having the truth hidden. It's rather shocking to realize that three centuries would pass before the church ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • I, Galileo
  • The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins
  • The Desert Is Theirs
  • A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams
  • Harlem
  • Thy Friend, Obadiah
  • Rain Drop Splash
  • Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin
  • The Boy of the Three-Year Nap
  • Noah's Ark
  • Working Cotton
  • Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems
  • A Pocketful of Cricket
  • Just Me
  • Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas
  • A Child's Calendar
  • The Graphic Alphabet
  • The Faithful Friend
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
More about Peter Sís

Nonfiction Deals

  • Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany
    $15.99 $3.99
  • The Monster of Florence
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob
    $9.99 $1.99
  • April 1865 (P.S.)
    $11.74 $1.99
  • Jesus Is ______: Find a New Way to Be Human
    $7.99 $0.99
  • Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Lab 257
    $8.74 $1.99
  • How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Girl in the Woods: A Memoir
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Last Lecture
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
    $12.74 $1.99
  • Not Tonight, Honey: Wait 'Til I'm A Size 6
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology
    $12.99 $2.99
  • An Appetite For Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience
    $27.99 $2.99
  • Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Dakotas)
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Restless: Because You Were Made for More
    $7.49 $1.99
  • Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman
    $10.24 $1.99
  • The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions
    $16.99 $2.99
  • Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After
    $13.99 $3.99
  • Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Pukka: The Pup After Merle
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Buddhist Boot Camp
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Flour: A Baker's Collection of Spectacular Recipes
    $21.99 $3.99
  • The Longest Day: The Classic Epic of D-Day
    $12.99 $3.99
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Van Gogh
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Woman's Worth
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Do the Work
    $4.99 $1.49
  • The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century
    $4.99 $1.99
  • I Suck at Girls
    $10.74 $1.99
  • The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Peace Is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy Lives
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now--As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It
    $7.24 $1.99
  • The World's Last Night: And Other Essays
    $7.99 $1.99
  • A. Lincoln
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Life
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society
    $13.24 $2.99
  • Grace, Not Perfection (with Bonus Content): Celebrating Simplicity, Embracing Joy
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Promise and the Dream: The Untold Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. And Robert F. Kennedy
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Through the Eyes of a Lion: Facing Impossible Pain, Finding Incredible Power
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Why We Run: A Natural History
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple
    $12.99 $2.99