A description of Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. The text discusses Mercury's distinguishing characteristics, its position in the solar system its composition and atmospheric conditions, its moons, and how scientists have learned about Mercury over time. Color photos and diagrams enhance understanding of the text.
The "Early Bird Astronomy" series introduces beginning astronomers to the planets in five chapters of simple text augmented by lots of pictures, many in bright colors on black backgrounds. Saturn, named for the Roman god of agriculture, is described and shown in the night sky. Chapter two places Saturn in our solar system with pictures and diagrams of its orbit, rotation (speedy), revolution, and comparative size (second largest). Another section shows pictures of the planet's swirling gases, storms, and bands of clouds; a frozen beard in Antarctica and a twirling young dancer with her skirt flying illustrate Saturn's frozen atmosphere and bulging middle. Kids will probably be most fascinated by Saturn's famous rings (shown in photos from the Cassini spacecraft), but surprised to find that the "ringed planet' also has about sixty moons, some of which look like rocky potatoes. Chapter five shows Galileo's first tentative drawing of Saturn and a later telescope of Christiaan Huygens, discoverer of the rings. Among photos from the spacecraft Pioneer, the Voyagers, Huygens, and Cassini, ones of the surface of Titan, Saturn's giant moon, are especially striking. Parents may find the page "On Sharing a Book" helpful. Includes a bibliography of books and websites, as well as a glossary and an index for young readers. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft