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Ages: 4 to 9
Format: 32 pages – fully illustrated – 10 by 9
Paperback: ISBN 978-1-58469-100-6
Hardcover: ISBN 978-1-58469-099-3
Curriculum Components: Planets – Solar System • Counting • Science


2011-2012 Flordia Reading Assn. Children’s Book Award Nominee
2009 Mom’s Choice Award (Gold: Nature and Weather)
2008 iParenting Media Award
2008 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award (Bronze: Non-fiction Picture Book)

This book’s title gives readers a hint of the lyrical, literary method used to explain the roll, tilt, blow, spin, sparkle, and whirl of the objects found in our solar system. But don’t let the book’s simple style fool you as to the depth of its content. The brilliant pictures and well-chosen words describe the uniqueness of each planet. For example, Mercury “whirls” and Neptune “rolls.”

Although the book is designed for elementary students, the repetitive poetry and ease of learning both the tune and the words allow for extended classroom applications. Some of these activities are described by the author and illustrator, and there is additional information and a list of websites.

The illustrator got her idea from a group of elementary art students in Florida. No wonder it appeals to elementary children who love to study the planets! This creative book can be read during any class time, but is especially wonderful for music and science class, particularly if the science teacher can’t carry a tune.

— NSTA Recommends (Nat. Science Teacher’s Assoc.) Teri Cosentino (June 2008)

Modeled on “Over in the Meadow,” as were her Over in the Ocean (2004) and Over in the Jungle (2007, both Dawn), Berkes’s rhymed tour of the solar system is framed as a dialogue between Mother Sun and her satellites. The verses introduce very basic concepts along with each planet: “‘Tilt,’ said the Mother /’I tilt,’ said Three./So it tilted on its axis/And the seasons came to be.” Pluto and its fellow dwarf planets, along with some of the solar system’s smaller residents, also rate mention. The information is accurate, if not always well phrased (“Saturn really ‘blows’”) and is backed up at the end with two full spreads of additional planetary facts, plus further re-sources and pages of suggested classroom activities. Mason’s big, spattered, swirling starscapes were created with melted crayon and add loads of visual appeal to this astronomical primer.

— School Library Journal – John Peters, New York Public Library (June 2008)

"If the Sun were a poet, then Going Around the Sun captures just what it would say to its beloved family of planets."

— Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director
Hayden Planetarium, New York City

"Soon mornings will bustle with the packing of school lunch kits. A beloved picture book can’t squeeze into the brown bag along with the carrots. But these cleverly illustrated stories are vibrant and vividly told. A child can carry them along in the mind’s eye, to remember during the long day away from home.

. . . Take another look at those broken playroom crayons. They can create color-saturated museum-quality picture book art when the artist in question is childrens book illustrator Janeen Mason. In her new Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun, Mason and collaborator Marianne Berkes are up-to-date with their Pluto, Ceres and Eris facts, for a fun and reliable science read on a melted-crayon canvas."

— Tallahassee’s Family Forum Magazine – Jan Godown Annino (July/August 2008)

"In her new book, Going Around The Sun: Some Planetary Fun, Marianne Berkes has adapted this poem to introduce children to our solar system. Old Mother Toadie becomes Old Mother Sun, and she’s trying to get her planets in line. Each stanza of the poem is about one of the planets in the solar system, and underneath the stanza is a short fact about the featured planet.

Here’s Venus for example:

“Up in outer space
In our sky of pink and blue,
Venus shines a light so bright.
Here is planet number two.

‘Sparkle,’ said the Mother.
‘I sparkle,’ said Two.
So it shined a steady light
n our sky of pink and blue.

Venus ‘sparkles’ brilliantly, but it’s not a star, it’s a planet! ”

Pluto even gets a mention and a little chastising from Mother Sun for not staying in line, but it’s made clear that Pluto is no longer considered a planet, but a “dwarf planet.” This is nice because I haven’t seen any up-to-date books for kids that reflect this change.

Janeen Mason’s brilliant and detailed mixed-media illustrations are just as engaging as the text, from the the splendid illustration of Saturn and its rings to the picture of all of the planets lined up and drawn to scale at the end:

This is a great page with lots of learning opportunities. You could have children name the planets in order and introduce cardinal and ordinal numbers. I can also see this page being used to introduce comparisons, such as “Jupiter is the biggest planet”, and “Earth is bigger than Venus.” You could even have kids identify colors.

The end of the book gives more information about the solar system and the planet as well as additional ideas for supplemental activities and a list of resources from the author and illustrator.

This book would make an excellent addition to any elementary classroom or home library and would also make a great read aloud.

— The Well Read Child – Jill Tullo (April 2008)