The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe

Abrams. Mar. 2021. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781419736261.
Gr 2-6–Vera Rubin (1928–2016), an American astronomer born in Philadelphia and the daughter of Jewish immigrants, broke new ground in the topic of dark matter. Nickel’s picture book chronicles Rubin’s journey, showcasing her childhood fascination with the stars, her perseverance to overcome sexism in the scientific community, and her discoveries that set the stage for ongoing research today. Sicuro’s watercolor, ink, and charcoal illustrations depict the characters in mid-century clothing and allow the cosmos to soar. Readers will be inspired by the vastness of the universe as they learn about Rubin’s discoveries. She is portrayed as a warm and loving mother and wife who marveled at the wonders of the night sky. As with many picture book biographies, the text emphasizes Rubin’s strength of character rather than relaying in-depth details about every aspect of her life. An author’s note and a time line provide more clarity. Further explanation about dark matter in the main text could have helped readers’ comprehension. This title would work well in classroom lessons focused on astronomy topics, and it provides an excellent representation of women in science.
VERDICT A strong addition to youth biography collections, especially where STEM fields are emphasized.

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