Totality by Jeffrey Bennett: A book about space written in verse that is immediately (or almost) relatable to kids? Carl Sagen would be proud! Jeffrey Bennett has done it again with another one of his children’s books about space!
Totality Book Review
Much like Bennett’s other books he’s written with Big Kid Science like Max Goes to the Moon, the book has two parts: the story and sidebars. As mentioned before, the story is written in heroic couplets. That is, pairs of lines that rhyme. When you hear a person who truly loves space and the universe and studying them, you often hear them talk about the poetry of the universe. Very few can find a way to write that poetry and even less can write that poetry in a way that it’s understandable to children. Even younger children could understand the verses with the illustrations, but I’ll talk more about that later.
Then there are the sidebars. The Big Kid Boxes, as they’re called. As with the other Big Kid Science books, they take what the story talks about on the page and then explains the science behind it. As they’re called, the Big Kid Boxes are certainly more suited to the bigger kids from upper elementary to middle school.
The reason that Bennett wrote this book now is because 2 solar eclipses will be viewable in the United States in 2023 and 2024. As the cover of the book states, 2 pairs of eclipse glasses are included for use when kids will be able to see the eclipse. A really cool touch.
The illustrations are stunning. They help readers see what the stages of the eclipse will look like in all their beauty. Equally important, they make visible the complex science behind the eclipse. After reading the book, any reader could explain why eclipses happen and what they look like thanks to the synergy between the text and illustrations.
Solar eclipses, it turns out, are not as uncommon as you think. They don’t happen very often in the same place or in their totality. With the immediacy of the subject with the total solar eclipses in the United States in 2023 and 2024, Totality is just the right book to get right now! Add in that it includes eclipse glasses, and this book is perfect! First grade, with support, through 5th grade will really enjoy this story the most.