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What Miss Mitchell Saw

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Discover the amazing true story of Maria Mitchell, America’s first professional female astronomer. Every evening, from the time she was a child, Maria Mitchell stood on her rooftop with her telescope and swept the sky. And then one night she saw something unusual: a comet no one had ever seen before! Miss Mitchell’s extraordinary discovery made her famous the world over and Discover the amazing true story of Maria Mitchell, America’s first professional female astronomer. Every evening, from the time she was a child, Maria Mitchell stood on her rooftop with her telescope and swept the sky. And then one night she saw something unusual: a comet no one had ever seen before! Miss Mitchell’s extraordinary discovery made her famous the world over and paved the way for her to become America’s first professional female astronomer. Gorgeously illustrated by Diana Sudyka, this moving picture book about a girl from humble beginnings who became a star in the field of astronomy is sure to inspire budding scientists everywhere.


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Discover the amazing true story of Maria Mitchell, America’s first professional female astronomer. Every evening, from the time she was a child, Maria Mitchell stood on her rooftop with her telescope and swept the sky. And then one night she saw something unusual: a comet no one had ever seen before! Miss Mitchell’s extraordinary discovery made her famous the world over and Discover the amazing true story of Maria Mitchell, America’s first professional female astronomer. Every evening, from the time she was a child, Maria Mitchell stood on her rooftop with her telescope and swept the sky. And then one night she saw something unusual: a comet no one had ever seen before! Miss Mitchell’s extraordinary discovery made her famous the world over and paved the way for her to become America’s first professional female astronomer. Gorgeously illustrated by Diana Sudyka, this moving picture book about a girl from humble beginnings who became a star in the field of astronomy is sure to inspire budding scientists everywhere.

30 review for What Miss Mitchell Saw

  1. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    Maria Mitchell, America’s first professional female astronomer, is the subject of this fine picture book written by Hayley Barrett and illustrated by Diana Sudyka. In 1847, by using a telescope, she discovered a comet, now known as "Miss Mitchell's Comet." She learned science and astronomy from her father and other American astronomers, who supported her claim to the King of Denmark, who gave her a gold medal for her landmark discovery. A review from the always amazing Maria Popova: https://www.br Maria Mitchell, America’s first professional female astronomer, is the subject of this fine picture book written by Hayley Barrett and illustrated by Diana Sudyka. In 1847, by using a telescope, she discovered a comet, now known as "Miss Mitchell's Comet." She learned science and astronomy from her father and other American astronomers, who supported her claim to the King of Denmark, who gave her a gold medal for her landmark discovery. A review from the always amazing Maria Popova: https://www.brainpickings.org/2019/10... I paraphrase Popova here: The book ends with the motto on the medal: “Not in vain do we watch the setting and the rising of the stars” — a sentiment that echoes the dying words of the great astronomer Tycho Brahe, which Adrienne Rich incorporated into her tribute to Caroline Herschel, the world’s first professional woman astronomer: “Let me not seem to have lived in vain.” One of several recent and inspirational STEM-related picture books for girls on the history of science.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chinook

    I love everything about this book. The repetition of the names she knew, the language used being so challeging but worked out by context, the amazing illustrations, the story about how being steady and working consistently can pay off.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Haider

    Beautifully illustrated book about Maria Mitchell from Nantucket.. This non fiction picture book tells the story of Maria's life and her love of astronomy and the discovery she made.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amy Carter

    Wow, what an incredible story! The book focuses on Maria Mitchell’s life and the passion she has for astronomy. A very interesting read that I learnt a lot from including some great space vocabulary, which would be very exciting to read alongside the topic of space to teach children about the amazing things astronomers do. This book is very unique compared to some children’s books as it is more of a biographical story. The illustrations are also stunning and adds detail to the text. Love it!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    What Miss Mitchell Saw is a children's picture book written by Hayley Barrett and illustrated by Diana Sudyka. It is a biographical picture book of Maria Mitchell – an astronomer. Maria Mitchell was an American astronomer, who in 1847 by using a telescope and discovered a comet, which as a result became known as "Miss Mitchell's Comet". She won a gold medal prize for her discovery, which was presented to her by King Christian VIII of Denmark. Mitchell was the first American woman to work as a pro What Miss Mitchell Saw is a children's picture book written by Hayley Barrett and illustrated by Diana Sudyka. It is a biographical picture book of Maria Mitchell – an astronomer. Maria Mitchell was an American astronomer, who in 1847 by using a telescope and discovered a comet, which as a result became known as "Miss Mitchell's Comet". She won a gold medal prize for her discovery, which was presented to her by King Christian VIII of Denmark. Mitchell was the first American woman to work as a professional astronomer. Barrett's text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and informative. Barrett focuses on Mitchell's life up to the moment she discovered a comet, emphasizing her persistence and her environment. Additional notes on Mitchell's path-breaking career could be found in the backmatter. Sudyka's watercolor, ink, and gouache illustrations show stars gleaming from the ocean depths and inching up a woman's hem as Mitchell herself is swept aloft by their beauty and power. The premise of the book is rather straightforward. Born in 1818 to a family of Nantucket Quakers, Mitchell earned international renown for discovering a comet in 1847, winning the King of Denmark's gold medal and besting male claimants to the prize. The narrative tells the story of her birth to her discovery of a new comet. All in all, What Miss Mitchell Saw is a wonderful biographical picture book about the perseverance of Maria Mitchell – an astronomer.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura Brandon

    The most wonderful text! Both beautifully told and beautifully illustrated. One to definitely share with every class. A text I will certainly consider to be central to some thematic planning in the future.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I cannot be the only person bothered by "thee" where it should be "thou" all throughout this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    Beautiful illustrations and an engaging story. I was unfamiliar with Marie Mitchell, but am happy to learn about her as a role model for young scientists.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Wow, stunning illustrations. A worthy tribute to a lesser known woman in STEM!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris Morley

    Reading this book I instantly fell in love with it and I can’t wait to use it in the classroom. Based on the true life story of Maria Mitchell, a girl born in the 19th century who shared her fathers love and passion for astronomy. This book doesn’t follow a conventional adventure narrative that you might expect from a child’s picture book, instead opts to give you an insight into the life of Miss Mitchell as she grows up and develops her passion. This simple passion holds many interesting and ex Reading this book I instantly fell in love with it and I can’t wait to use it in the classroom. Based on the true life story of Maria Mitchell, a girl born in the 19th century who shared her fathers love and passion for astronomy. This book doesn’t follow a conventional adventure narrative that you might expect from a child’s picture book, instead opts to give you an insight into the life of Miss Mitchell as she grows up and develops her passion. This simple passion holds many interesting and exciting details that can inspire and excite children through a quite unique biographical story. The illustrations by Diana Sudyka have an charming and soothing aura to them that I simply love.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Becki Iverson

    Gorgeously illustrated children's book that I picked up from Brain Pickings and loved. The starry theme made this fun to read around Christmas-time and it's a surprisingly richly detailed story despite the short length. I had never heard of Miss Mitchell but can see a direct line from her to The Madame Curie Complex to Hidden Figures now that I have. If you're someone who likes learning about under-represented historic figures, astronomic history, and women's stories, this one is for you. Good f Gorgeously illustrated children's book that I picked up from Brain Pickings and loved. The starry theme made this fun to read around Christmas-time and it's a surprisingly richly detailed story despite the short length. I had never heard of Miss Mitchell but can see a direct line from her to The Madame Curie Complex to Hidden Figures now that I have. If you're someone who likes learning about under-represented historic figures, astronomic history, and women's stories, this one is for you. Good for a range of ages as the illustrations are beautiful and will captivate little eyes but the story is detailed enough to snare slightly older kids and keep them from getting bored. Loved this.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Charley Brown

    Maria's (Ma-rye-ah's) story is an important one for young children to read/hear. It is beautifully written and illustrated, creating an engaging piece of history. Maria had a passion, listened to her mentor, researched and studied more on her own, and spent most of her days pursuing her passion. She did so during a time when women were not featured on the front page. This biography shows that perseverance is worthwhile and hard work is enjoyable when you are invested in your work.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Perfect example of a great picture book biography. Interesting and engaging, narrative text that doesn't feel bogged down, succinct and interesting back matter. I loved the dreamy illustrations, too.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This story is written about Miss Maria Mitchell an astronomer who a comet that nobody had ever seen before and received a medal because of this discovery. The structure of this book takes you on a journey through her life showing her curious and adventurous nature. It talks of how her father taught her and inspired her love for space. She was a woman of detail as she could pick up names easily. You feel a sense of growth as you follow her through the book as she grows up and becomes an inspirati This story is written about Miss Maria Mitchell an astronomer who a comet that nobody had ever seen before and received a medal because of this discovery. The structure of this book takes you on a journey through her life showing her curious and adventurous nature. It talks of how her father taught her and inspired her love for space. She was a woman of detail as she could pick up names easily. You feel a sense of growth as you follow her through the book as she grows up and becomes an inspirational woman for her determination and passions. The story has an empowering message for women and young girls to aspire them to want to make something of themselves. It shows the importance of following your interests and the art of enjoying the small things in life. The book is a biography of sorts as it is written about Miss Maria Mitchells life and how she became an astronomer however it is written in a way like a picture book which makes it suitable and more inspiring for younger children. I like that upon reading the story you wouldn’t realise that it is actually about an astronomer until the end, leaving you to become more and more inspired as you read on. It has a simplicity to it that makes you intrigued by the little girl in the story. You also find yourself learning something new about someone you may not have known before. The illustrations throughout the book are also really lovely, they generally cover majority of the page and look painted, which also flows with the text. I personally do not have any dislikes about this this book as I find it a gripping picture book. However, on reflection from a child’s point of view it could been seen as lightly complicated as it mentions ‘big’ scientific words in which they may not be able to understand depending on the age of the child. I also feel that it would probably inspire females more than males at it is all about what a female astronomer has made of her life. Also, with the generation that we are in females are more keen to be noticed and respected as through history this hasn’t always been the case, this would also empower and inspire females more than males within the book. When she is looking at the stars in the book through her telescope the pages tend to become double page spread and the words flow through the sky as if they are part of the atmosphere. The illustrator has also used a range of bright colours to show Marias perception on her surroundings. Within the pages that are showing Maria looking at the stars, she is also in dark colours and at times has stars all over her insinuating that she is part of the stars. There is a lot of use of complex words to do with space which could spark questions with children who you read it too. Within a classroom I would be encouraged to use this book in KS2 potentially upper key stage two as within those years they begin to look at space in science so it would be a good book to use to link the topics between subjects. You could also go into further detail and do a fact file or find more information on Maria Mitchell or you could look at the scientific instruments that were mentioned through the book as the children may not have heard about this. Within their English lessons you could also use the book as different way of writing an inspiring story about a famous person of their choice, working on their biography writing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    Maria (pronounced ma - RYE - ah) Mitchell was born in 1818 in Nantucket, Massachusetts to a Quaker family. Her father, a teacher and amateur astronomer, showed Maria how to use a telescope and to sweep the sky as carefully as she would sweep a room. The author quotes Maria’s father as advising her: “Thee must wonder. Thee must watch closely. Then will thee see and know for thyself. Maria’s father also taught her to use other instruments, including the sextants and chronometers whalers used to help Maria (pronounced ma - RYE - ah) Mitchell was born in 1818 in Nantucket, Massachusetts to a Quaker family. Her father, a teacher and amateur astronomer, showed Maria how to use a telescope and to sweep the sky as carefully as she would sweep a room. The author quotes Maria’s father as advising her: “Thee must wonder. Thee must watch closely. Then will thee see and know for thyself. Maria’s father also taught her to use other instruments, including the sextants and chronometers whalers used to help them steer their ships off the Nantucket shores. Maria became a teacher, like her father, and a librarian, like her mother. She used the quiet time at the library to study advanced mathematics and celestial navigation. At night, she continued to sweep the stars. One evening, she found a comet, and she and her father rushed to publish the news; the King of Denmark had pledged a gold medal to any astronomer who discovered a new comet with a telescope. Maria, only 29, made the historic observation in 1847, and won the medal. It bore the motto: “Not in vain do we watch the setting and the rising of the stars.” (These were the dying words of the great astronomer Tycho Brahe). The author concludes: “Miss Mitchell saw a comet. The world saw her.” End matter includes more information about Maria Mitchell, such as the fact that she was the first woman astronomer employed by the U.S. government, the first professor hired at the newly founded Vassar College (though she had no college education of her own), the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a cofounder of the Association for the Advancement of Women. The author also notes that Maria was active in campaigning for both women’s rights and for abolition. She even refused to wear clothes made out of Southern cotton. She became quite well-known, and entertained prominent activists in her home, including Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth. Maria died in June 28, 1889 at the age of 70. An organization, the Maria Mitchell Association, was established in Nantucket to honor Mitchell’s work and to promote the sciences. It also operates an observatory named in her honor. Illustrator Diana Sudyka uses gouache, watercolor, and ink to depict Maria’s world as one filled with both the ocean swirls off the coast of Nantucket and the stars and planets in the night sky overhead. (This connection is a reflected in the text as well: “She marveled at the celestial phenomena that arched overhead like a whale’s sparkling splash.”) A variety of fonts help emphasize what was important to Maria. Evaluation: This welcome addition to picture book accounts of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) should have great appeal to its intended audience of 5-8 years. I especially loved the way Maria’s clothes are shown as sparkly and full of stars, which might convince girls fond of glitter and princesses that scientific endeavors are worth their consideration.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anneke Alnatour

    Thee shut up! My eldest said to my second daughter while reading the book. They loved the use of language and the story. It is definitely more geared towards older children, and the illustrations are fabulous, and so is the story telling. I truly enjoyed it and even found myself teary eyed in the end. I had never heard of Miss Mitchell, nor have we been to Nantucket, but if we ever decide to go, a visit to her house in order. A great role model for girls and women! Highly recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bookish

    Maria Mitchell swept the sky nightly with a telescope from the roof of her Nantucket home. In 1847, at the age of 29, Miss Mitchell was the first person in the world to spot a comet still known by her name. After winning her a Danish gold medal for her sighting, strong backmatter in this picture book explains that Miss Mitchell went on to a distinguished career as an astronomer and activist. Chalky illustrations on dark pages evoke the night sky, and simple language celebrating Miss Mitchell's ac Maria Mitchell swept the sky nightly with a telescope from the roof of her Nantucket home. In 1847, at the age of 29, Miss Mitchell was the first person in the world to spot a comet still known by her name. After winning her a Danish gold medal for her sighting, strong backmatter in this picture book explains that Miss Mitchell went on to a distinguished career as an astronomer and activist. Chalky illustrations on dark pages evoke the night sky, and simple language celebrating Miss Mitchell's accomplishments befit her Quaker upbringing and modesty.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erin Buhr

    A dreamy story about Maria Mitchell who discovered a comet. At a time when women were credited with little, Maria Mitchell was the first to spot a comet in 1847. It was named after her and she was awarded a gold medal from the King of Denmark. She was the first American astronomer to win the Danish medal and the first women to discover a telescopic comet. Her story is a gentle one but full of determination and curiosity. Her story is interesting and well written. I most enjoyed the illustrations A dreamy story about Maria Mitchell who discovered a comet. At a time when women were credited with little, Maria Mitchell was the first to spot a comet in 1847. It was named after her and she was awarded a gold medal from the King of Denmark. She was the first American astronomer to win the Danish medal and the first women to discover a telescopic comet. Her story is a gentle one but full of determination and curiosity. Her story is interesting and well written. I most enjoyed the illustrations and how they embraced you in the dark night sky atmosphere.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    A great lifehack is to read picture book biographies. There are so many interesting people, and let's be real..most of them I don't want to read 300 pages about every little detail of their life. Enter picture books...a 5 minute read where I'll usually learn something. And maybe it will lead to a deeper dive. But more than likely it will be an insight for me. "What Miss MItchell Saw" is just that. I wasn't familiar with Maria Mitchell - but a story of an early woman scientist is always inspiring. A great lifehack is to read picture book biographies. There are so many interesting people, and let's be real..most of them I don't want to read 300 pages about every little detail of their life. Enter picture books...a 5 minute read where I'll usually learn something. And maybe it will lead to a deeper dive. But more than likely it will be an insight for me. "What Miss MItchell Saw" is just that. I wasn't familiar with Maria Mitchell - but a story of an early woman scientist is always inspiring. A great inspiration biography for little astronomers everywhere.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marisa

    I didn’t expect to love this as much as I did! What a captivating and beautifully illustrated book! The story was inspiring and I enjoyed reading the more detailed timeline of Maria’s life and accomplishments that the author included at the end of the book (I always forget how much I admire what little I know about the Quakers.) The artwork was stunning and will likely be part of my collection that I want to display someday.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mathew

    If I could give 6 starts, I would. There is no point writing a review when Maria Popova has already written one (see below). What I will say is that no only is the book absolutely beautiful but is tells an incredibly empowering biographical story of the Victorian astronomer, Maria Mitchell. https://www.brainpickings.org/2019/10... If I could give 6 starts, I would. There is no point writing a review when Maria Popova has already written one (see below). What I will say is that no only is the book absolutely beautiful but is tells an incredibly empowering biographical story of the Victorian astronomer, Maria Mitchell. https://www.brainpickings.org/2019/10...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Francesca Lee

    This book tells the story of what Miss Mitchell sees through her telescope looking up to the stars. I found the book used lots of interesting words related to astronomy which offers opportunities for widening children's vocabulary. I liked how this booked adressed astronomy, I haven't come across many that involve this theme.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    "The more we see, the more we are capable of seeing."--Maria Mitchell -------------------- "...Thee must wonder. Thee must watch closely. Then will thee see and know for thyself." "...Not in vain do we watch the setting and the rising of the stars." ----from "What Miss Mitchell Saw" by Hayley Barrett

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gps

    an excellent non fiction book about science, and women discoverers. fantastic illustrations, text that drives the storyline, and the text and the illustrations work so well together. as Betsy Bird noted, " Beautifully rendered with excellent writing and a nice scientific twist." what a treasure this writer and illustrator have given us.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Beautiful illustrations and beautiful text tell a beautiful story worthy of inclusion in any book list featuring amazing contributions in STEM. While portraying wonderfully the life and career of an amazing individual woman in STEM, it is perhaps a little light on portraying STEM content and concepts in-depth.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    In this biography of astronomer Maria Mitchell, I loved how the stars invade every picture and occasionally entwine with Miss Mitchell's outline. The end notes about her life not covered in the text are excellent and worth covering with older kids

  27. 5 out of 5

    Caterina

    Girl power. Stars. Planets. Comets. History. Family. Humility. Art. Not only did I learn about Maria Mitchell and astronomy, I discovered that coffee company names Starbucks and Folgers are also those of whaling families. #picturebooksrock

  28. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Mairson

    Charming! A biography about a female astronomer who discovered a comet. Important for it's thoughtful illustration and inspiring account of a Quaker woman who pursued her career and education with passion. I "aww'd" out loud toward the end.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    A beautifully illustrated, inspiring introduction to how Maria Mitchell became the first American professional female astronomer.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jessie Otto

    Beautiful illustrations.

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