cover image Caroline’s Comets: A True Story

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story

Emily Arnold McCully. Holiday House, $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-3664-4

McCully (Queen of the Diamond; Dare the Wind) again sets her sights on groundbreaking women with this picture-book biography of Victorian-era scientist Caroline Herschel, the first woman to discover a comet. Dynamic pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations reveal a diminutive yet determined Caroline, her growth stunted and her face scarred by childhood disease. From inauspicious beginnings as a housekeeper and stocking knitter for her family, Caroline goes on to live with her astronomer brother in England and make valuable contributions to the field. Caroline’s own words, appearing as italicized excerpts from her autobiography, enhance McCully’s straightforward narrative: “William made a small telescope for Caroline. He taught her math so she could calculate the positions of stars. I found I was to be trained... I was ‘to sweep for comets.’ Caroline always did what her brother asked.” Despite the social constraints placed on unmarried women in the 18th century, Caroline thrives and achieves, becoming one of the first professional female scientists. A bibliography, glossary, and timeline wrap up a tale of resolve and perseverance that’s sure to encourage curious readers. Ages 6–10. Agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (Feb.)