The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney

illus. by Elizabeth Haidle. 40p. bibliog. Random/Schwartz & Wade. May 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524768317.
PreS-Gr 3—This nonfiction picture book chronicles the life story of 11-year-old Venetia Burney, an appreciator of Greek and Roman mythology who named the dwarf planet Pluto. Most pages are illustrated with delicately and precisely brushed inks in shades of gray. Yet with her red frocks, pink cheeks, and brown bob, Venetia stands out from her peers and family as the focal point of each moment. The story begins in England with Venetia and her classmates following their schoolteacher on a "planet walk." With their classroom representing the sun, the children count their steps as they walk further away from school, using round objects to mark the distance of each planet from their classroom blackboard. At home, Venetia asks her grandfather questions about the solar system. One morning Grandfather, a former librarian and brother of scientist Henry Madan, reads a newspaper announcement about the discovery of a new planet. Venetia knows that a planet so far away near Neptune must be icy and dark, and she thinks of the god Pluto, ruler of the underworld and brother of Neptune. Grandfather shares Venetia's idea with a friend at the Royal Astronomical Society, who in turn shares it with the astronomers in Arizona who made the discovery and have naming rights. In a unanimous vote, the name Pluto is chosen. End papers with labeled constellations in the night sky, an author's note about Venetia Burney, and a bibliography add interest to this thoughtful picture book biography.
VERDICT An engaging title; recommended for nonfiction collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing