Journey Around the Sun:
The Story of Halley’s Comet

h1 March 25th, 2021 by jules


James Gladstone’s enchanting and informative Journey Around the Sun: The Story of Halley’s Comet (Owlkids, March 2021), illustrated by Yaara Eshet, may be the first picture book you read told from the point of view of Halley’s Comet.

“I have seen your past,” the book opens. “And I will see your future, the next time I take that sunlight journey.” Halley’s Comet speaks to readers, recounting the various ways that people throughout history have understood the celestial object. Gladstone and Eshet take us from the time of Aristotle to the space age — with many stops in between.

Aristotle thought comets were fires in the sky. Arab writings show that they considered it a planet with a tail. Is it a hairy or bushy star? A sword of flame? Before the modern age of science, it was unknown. “So often you see my light as a messenger of misfortune,” we read further, Gladstone noting that Chinese and German astronomers, ancient Babylonians, Italian artists, and more all observed and recorded the comet. But each time the coment returned (every 75 years or so), “no one knew it was me,” the comet tells us — that is, not until 1758 when Edmond Halley predicted its orbit. Then, during its 1910 return, new photographic cameras captured its flight. Better yet, in 1986 the Giotto probe flew within 370 miles of the comet.

The comet’s words to readers are presented in a larger type — with small type depicting information about how the comet was perceived during the time period in question. Eshet’s eloquent spreads capture the wonder of night skies, along with the period details of the historical eras covered in the book. Eshet packs a lot into these spreads — without visually overwhelming readers. One striking spread depicts the comet with a peacock’s tail. (At its 1456 return, we read, Italian astronomer Paolo Toscanelli thought the comet’s tail resembled a peacock’s.) The book’s visions of the future are particularly beguiling: In one closing spread, we see an astronaut in space, accompanied by their dog (in its own space suit of sorts), taking in the comet’s grandeur. In an opening spread, we see a family on what could be the Moon. They watch the comet, their spaceship tethered nearby.

Here are some spreads so that the book can do the talking. …


“Long ago, people looked up at me in wonder. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“Some people called me a hairy star. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“Now that you could predict my next bright return,
I became the star of a once-in-a-lifetime show. …”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“Then came the space age and Giotto — a spacecraft!
It came to see me at very close range.”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)



* * * * * * *

JOURNEY AROUND THE SUN: THE STORY OF HALLEY’S COMET. Text © 2021 James Gladstone. Illustrations © 2021 Yaara Eshet and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Owlkids Books.

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact Thanks.