8.5in x 10.75in
4 to 9
“Awesome in the truest sense of the word, Stahl’s and Allen-Fletcher’s book beautifully inspires wonder and exploration, accessibly melds astrophysics and art, and powerfully expands minds and imaginations. It brings science and shape to what can be a mind-boggling concept and is simply astounding.”
— Andrew Medlar, Director of BookOps, New York Public Library & Brooklyn Public Library
"Suffused with awe, astrophysicist Stahl’s well-chosen words, tightly paired with Allen-Fletcher’s jewel-toned galactic pictures, aim to capture something of the mind-blowing scope of the big bang. Like the event itself, the story moves with dizzying speed from nothingness (“At first, the universe was small”) to somethingness (incomprehensible vastness whose one-second growth is represented by 43 zeroes). Stahl’s lyricism invites wonder—“It was a hot, messy,/ churning soup that cooled./ And fell together neatly” into galaxies—while guiding readers toward Earth (“a planet that’s just right”) and the enticing possibility of exoplanets, where (“on another planet that’s just right”) other beings may share this fundamental creation story. An author’s note delves into the underlying science."
The Big Bang Book
By Asa Stahl
Illustrated by Carly Allen-Fletcher
Moving out into the farthest reaches of space, then back home on Earth again, this is a picture book Carl Sagan would love, introducing the wonder of our pale blue dot to the youngest readers.
"An astrophysicist goes back to our cosmic origins: "Once upon a time, / we don't know.""Maybe it was dark. / Maybe there was nothing." Carefully distinguishing verifiable fact from informed speculation, Stahl ushers readers past the first second of the Big Bang through the transformation of plasma to matter, then the appearance of swirling galaxies and their stars and planets, and finally to a planet that's "just right" for "you. / And everyone else." In her suitably dramatic illustrations, Allen-Fletcher modulates from flat black pages to shimmering blasts of light and fiery stellar nurseries that give way to a misty blue Earth, with an indistinct figure in a dim bedroom scene hung with glow-in-the-dark stars—and, accompanying the author's suggestion that there may be more than one planet that's "just right," a pointy eared silhouette likewise looking up into a starlit sky. . . In an expansive afterword the author urges readers to ask big questions like "What am I?" and "Where am I?" because they "cut to the heart of how much we understand about the universe."A stately recap drawing on current physics and astronomy and appropriately cognizant of their limitations.”
"Stahl offers a contemplative yet informative examination of the Big Bang. With brief text and mixed-media illustration that are strategically shadowy or explosively bright, scientific knowledge is shared in direct conversation with readers. The narrative begins with a child wearing space-themed pajamas and gazing at the night sky, then delves into facts about galaxies and stars accompanied by artwork featuring whorls of colorful light. The story’s focus returns to the child in their bed (reading The Big Bang Book) accompanied by the text, “And on that planet is you. And everyone else.” The author, a doctoral student in astrophysics, ends the book with a note acknowledging the gaps in scientific knowledge while also sharing detailed mathematical and astronomical facts about the universe.
VERDICT In a crowded field of Earth-origin and evolution stories for children, this is well worth a look for its simple, but not vague, approach to the topic. Alongside Marion Dane Bauer’s and Ekua Holmes’s poetic The Stuff of Stars, it will awaken young readers’ curiosity."
— School Library Journal
“In The Big Bang Book, simple yet informative text and luminous illustrations recount major steps in the formation of the universe, providing an accessible and engaging introduction for children.”
— Christy Hale, award-winnning author of Water Land