"When you look toward the stars, do you ever wonder if anyone is looking back?" A girl gazes up at the sky, lost in thought. "Is Earth the only planet with intelligent life? Is it the only planet with life at all?" These questions, and many more, are explored in the pages of Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet.
Although "people believed that other worlds must exist" for "thousands of years," it wasn't until 1995 that astronomers found proof that "some other stars... have planets." Now they're asking whether any of these distant "exoplanets" can support life. Using telescopes and "special methods for looking at starlight," astronomers have "already found a few Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting within the habitable zones of their [own] stars." But they don't yet know if any of these planets can support the kind of life we have on Earth.
Curtis Manley's text explains its fairly sophisticated concepts--including big ideas like "what could we do" if we found evidence of "beings like ourselves"--in a clear, concise way. Jessica Lana's illustrations cleverly take this informative text and make it accessible to young readers. By following the girl and her family as they enjoy a day trip to the planetarium, Lana presents much of the book's scientific information as dynamic exhibits on view; her expansive double-page spreads bring the material to life, depicting molten cores, gaseous and rocky exoplanets and more behind and around the family. Endpapers and back matter further enrich the volume, which emphasizes the tantalizing mysteries that abound in the search for "a planet much like our own--a Goldilocks planet, a planet that's just right." --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI