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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Dot to Dot in the Sky ; Stories in the Stars

Reviewed: March 12, 2004
By: Joan Hinz / illustrations by Chao Yu and Jue Wang
Publisher: Whitecap Books
64 pages, $16.95

In the days before the extreme light pollution that such a common feature of our urbanized existence it must have been more tempting to make stories out of the stars. These days, we can hardly see them, not to mention the fact that many of the brighter objects in the sky are man made satellites any way.

Be that as it may, there remains a fair amount if interest in constellations, not just the twelve that make up the Zodiac, but the 88 official dot-to-dot pictures that have been recognized by the International Astronomical Union since 1930.

Hinzís book follows the Greek pantheon of constellations, making this a northern hemisphere book. I understand that the southern hemisphere has its own way of looking at these things. The text does acknowledge variations of interpretation, indicating that other cultures have other images that they see in the sky. These are, however, the ones that have populated the Western imagination for centuries, so it is certainly legitimate to celebrate them in this way.

I like the organization of this book. While there is a star chart of all the major constellations at the back of the book, Hinz and her collaborators have concentrated on 15 which are more on less in the center of the sky, moving from one to the next so that you can see the relationships among them.

Each constellation is well illustrated and accompanied by the story that accounts for its origin. Sidebars provide extra information about stars, or about space in general. There is a checklist of all the constellations, a star map, a glossary and an index, making this a very useful primer on the subject. No reading level is indicated, but this is not a book for the very young. Middle grades would find it accessible, but it should still be of interest to older students.

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