Caroline's Comets: A True Story.
★ From Carolyn Phelan Booklist: "As a 10-year-old child in 1760, Caroline Herschel became ill, first with typhus, which stunted her growth, and then with smallpox, which scarred her face. Twelve years later, she left home to become housekeeper for her older brother William in England, where he taught music and studied the stars. Becoming his"assistant-astronomer," she helped him build a world-class telescope and recorded his observations and discoveries, which most notably included the planet Uranus. On her own, she discovered 14 nebulae and star clusters, two new galaxies, and in 1786, her first of eight comets. Receiving a salary from the king, she became well-known in her own right. McCully calls her "the first professional woman scientist." Most picture-book biographies record the significant events and achievements in their subjectsÕ lives, but this one goes a bit further. The concise text includes well-chosen details and quotes that help create a multifaceted personality on the page, while letting young readers know how limited the options were for an eighteenth-century woman and how close Herschel came to living her life in obscurity, knitting socks and scrubbing pans. The appealing illustrations-pen-and-ink drawings with watercolor washes-bring the historical settings to life. An engaging introduction to a notable woman in astronomy."
From Kirkus: "Look up at the stars... The long and eventful life of Caroline Herschel (1750-1848), a musician, astronomer, discoverer of comets, and involuntary servant in the English principality of Hanover (in modern-day Germany), is described here in straightforward, factual narrative, studded with interesting detail and relevant autobiographical snippets. Relegated to the position of her family's maid because of her sex and thought to have poor marriage prospects because of smallpox scars, Caroline had already accepted her lot when her brother whisked her off to England to embark on a unique opportunity-a singing career. His interest in astronomy soon became hers, and she became his assistant at his request. The two went on to great work, both together and separately, and though Caroline did not necessarily choose her assignments (her brother did), she eventually discovered nebulae, star clusters, galaxies, and-famously-eight comets. While tracing Herschel's life and development as a scientist, the text takes care to make mention of the limitations imposed on Herschel by her family and society while realistically portraying the frustrations and accomplishments of the first woman to be paid as a scientific researcher. McCully's watercolor-and-ink illustrations are true to form; appealing and evocative, closely tied to the text, with just the right amount of relevant detail. Notes, bibliography, glossary, and timeline are included in the backmatter. An inspiring tale of scientific discovery despite obstacles, with a feminist point of view. (Picture book/biography. 6-10) "