What do you do when you’re a self-described “fierce fan” of famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson? Write a children’s book about him, of course.
That’s what husband-and-wife duo Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer did with Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil deGrasse Tyson (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018), a new picture book that tells the real-life story of a young boy who gazed at the stars one night and never stopped looking up since then.
Lushly illustrated by Frank Morrison in a painterly, realistic style, Starstruck follows deGrasse Tyson as he barrels toward adulthood with the goal of unlocking the secrets of the universe. There’s young Neil, eyes agog on his first trip to the Hayden Planetarium. There he is again, a smidge older, walking his neighbors’ dogs in the rain to earn money to buy fancy—and then fancier still—telescopes. Now, he’s a teenager, camping under a glittering firmament in the Mojave Desert. One scene shows him tramping through the snow in Ithaca with astronomer Carl Sagan, who is trying to persuade him to choose Cornell over Harvard. Another one places him back at the Hayden Planetarium, this time as its director, fielding a flurry of hate mail for revoking Pluto’s status as a planet in the solar system display, six years before the International Astronomical Union concurred with his assessment.