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)
A beautiful, vibrantly illustrated, poetic introduction to the planets! This small softbound book lends itself to multiple interdisciplinary approaches. The planets are introduced to the tune of “Over in the Meadow.” Scientific facts are provided in a short, concise manner. Tips from both the author and the illustrator provide activities that integrate science, art, and literature. A Great book!
— Missouri State Univ. Library Reviews – Joan Gentry (February 2009)
This beautifully illustrated informational book written to the tune of “Over the Meadow” is a wonderful way to introduce any child to the planets in our solar system. It is accurate and up-to-date regarding the recent decision made about Pluto being a “dwarf planet” and includes detailed information in the back to supplement the creatively written story.
By using descriptive words and rhyme to describe each planet, this book will provide children with a basic understanding of the solar system. As the book explores each planet, repetition and rhyme are used to create a flowing and cohesive text. These elements provide students with a chance to further their language development as they read. The planets are presented in order, teaching children which planets are the closest and furthest from the sun. Bright, vivid illustrations create an exciting and fascinating mood as each of the planets is described. A list of facts about the planets is provided at the end of the book, presenting children with into an interesting storyline, this book will interest students and provide them with basic knowledge about the planets and our solar system.
— Oneota Journal – Decorah Public Library (Fall 2008)
The illustrations really shine in this ode to the planets. Set to the Over in the Meadow rhyme, the Mother Sun talks to each of her planet children, along with other objects such as asteroids.
At the bottom of each page there is a brief explanation for the verse above. For example, she tells Earth to “tilt” and explains that”earth ’tilts’ while it goes around the sun each year. That causes seasons.”
Pluto is given attention, too: Up in outer space where the planets stay in line, Mother Sun asked a question, “Is small Pluto really nine?” “Pluto,” asked the Mother, “Why cant you stay in line?” “I am really very different, so Im not a planet nine.” Then it says “Tiny Pluto is so different that it is now called a “dwarf planet”.
. . . I gave this to a first (now second) grade girl with a great interest in space and she enjoyed it very much. Her mom said that she was able to read most of it on her own, so the writing was right on.
— New Jersey Youth Services – Richard Bryce (October 2008)
School is out. That means endless days of playing, swimming and, of course, reading!
Teachers know that the more students read during summer vacation – even if it is only one book (horrors!) – the easier the transition back into the classroom becomes once September rolls around.
Fortunately, there is no dearth of fascinating reading material to hold the interest of young readers of all ages.
Dawn Publications continues in its highly praised tradition of bringing children to a greater understanding and appreciation of all life and the universe with several new offerings.
. . . Another great release from Dawn is Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun by Marianne Berkes.
Ms. Berkes uses singsong and rhyme to teach about Mother Sun and the family of planets that make up our universe.
— The Westfield Leader – Marylou Moreno (July 10, 2008)
Two local talents combined forces to create a new and educational children’s book for ages 4 to 9 years old. Artist Janeen Mason of Port Salerno and author Marianne Berkes of Hobe Sound have produced Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun, which was recently published by Dawn Publications. Both women have written other children’s books, but this is the first time they have collaborted.
Berkes wrote the rhyming book to the tune of “Over in the Meadow” as children count the planets, learn their names and facts about them such as how Earth tilts on its axis while going around the Sun and that causes the season changes. Mason, who is known for her vibrant under-the-ocean illustrations, has created beautiful paintings of outer space and the planets.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in Manhattan, endorsed the book writing “If the Sun were a poet, then Going Around the Sun captures just what it would say to its beloved family of planets.”
“Did I ever think this would happen when I was a kid in City Island and my dad took us to the Planetarium . . .?” Berkes asked.
— Palm Beach Post (March 2008)
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a beautiful book with outstanding illustrations. Kids love it because there are lots of things to find on every page. Marianne cleaverly calls the sun, mother, and the planets her children as she rhythmically takes you on a journey through our solar system. Children will learn their numbers as they discover interesting facts about each planet. This book is an iParenting Media Award Winner!
There are four additional pages of information about our planets as well as teaching tips from Marianne and art tips from the illustrator. One suggestion is to create a play using the rhymes in the book. Children can remember the names and the order of the planets from the sun by memorizing a simple sentence. “My Very Educated Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas. Of course, that’s if you want to include Pluto which has been downgraded.
Here’s a great planetary art project:
The background of this book was created with a melted crayon project that you can duplicate in your classroom. Begin by sharpening crayons over a paper plate. Place the shavings between two sheets of wax paper and carefully set a warm iron on the wax paper for just an instant. The crayon will melt quickly between the two sheets of wax paper. When it cools, you can cut out shapes of the planets and tape them to a window or hang them from the ceiling with string.
— Educationtipster blogspot – Kathy Stemke (March 2009)
I thought Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun was a great book! I really liked that the author used a lot of rhyming in her writing. I love poetry and planets so this was a great book for me.
I read it to my sister and she liked it too. I told my Mom it would be a good book to have for our homeschooling classes about space. I learned a lot from this book. Did you know that Saturn has winds of over 1,000 miles an hour? I also found out that the Sun is a star! There is a part on most of the pages where there is a drawing with planets. Every time a new planet is added to the story it gets added to the drawing. It makes it super easy to see just how far each planet is from each other and from the sun.
If you like to learn about planets and enjoy reading you will like this book, Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun by Marianne Berkes.
— Reader Views Kids – Madeline McElroy (age 7) (July 2008)
“This book is about all of the planets. I like planets. We even just got new covers for our beds that have planets and rockets on them. In the book, there is a rhyme on every page about a different planet. Then at the bottom it says something about the planet like that the Earth tilts when it is going around the sun and that is what makes seasons. My favorite thing that I learned is that it is really windy on Saturn. They said the winds can be 1,000 miles an hour! There were a whole bunch of other things at the end too that told more about planets. I learned a lot in this book.”
Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun is a great resource for both children and adults. My son and I enjoyed the rhymes and the fun way in which the information was presented. I also really enjoyed reading the “Tips from the Illustrator” section and learning how she created the illustrations in the book using melted crayons. She also gives tips for making melted crayon/wax paper planets which we just may try to decorate my sons’ room with!
— Reader Views Kids -Cayden Aures (age 6) and Mom (November 2010)
Going Around the Sun combines good science with good fun to create a winning combination that is sure to entertain and to educate.
— Bruce Betts, Director of Projects, The Planetary Society (September 2007)