The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe

by Sandra Nickel (Author) Aimée Sicuro (Illustrator)

The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

An inspired biographical picture book about a female astronomer who makes huge discoveries about the mysteries of the night sky and changed the way we look at the universe

Vera Rubin was one of the astronomers who discovered and named dark matter, the thing that keeps the universe hanging together. Throughout her career she was never taken seriously as a scientist because she was one of the only female astronomers at that time, but she didn't let that stop her. She made groundbreaking and incredibly significant discoveries that scientists have only recently been able to really appreciate--and she changed the way that we look at the universe. A stunning portrait of a little-known trailblazer, The Stuff Between the Stars tells Vera's story and inspires the youngest readers who are just starting to look up at the stars.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-6--Vera Rubin (1928-2016), an American astronomer born in Philadelphia and the daughter of Jewish immigrants, broke new ground in the topic of dark matter. Nickel's picture book chronicles Rubin's journey, showcasing her childhood fascination with the stars, her perseverance to overcome sexism in the scientific community, and her discoveries that set the stage for ongoing research today. Sicuro's watercolor, ink, and charcoal illustrations depict the characters in mid-century clothing and allow the cosmos to soar. Readers will be inspired by the vastness of the universe as they learn about Rubin's discoveries. She is portrayed as a warm and loving mother and wife who marveled at the wonders of the night sky. As with many picture book biographies, the text emphasizes Rubin's strength of character rather than relaying in-depth details about every aspect of her life. An author's note and a time line provide more clarity. Further explanation about dark matter in the main text could have helped readers' comprehension. This title would work well in classroom lessons focused on astronomy topics, and it provides an excellent representation of women in science. VERDICT A strong addition to youth biography collections, especially where STEM fields are emphasized.--Kelly Jahng, South Park Elem. Sch., IL

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"A truly beautiful story of perseverance and passion."— "Booklist"
Sandra Nickel
Sandra Nickel is a former New York City lawyer who now lives with her family in Switzerland. She is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts with a master of fine arts in writing for children and young adults. Helena Perez Garcia is a Spanish illustrator whose work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, and books around the world. Her clients include Penguin Random House, The Body Shop, Tate Publishing, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She currently lives and works in Madrid.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
March 20, 2021

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