Caroline’s Comets: A True Story — 19 Comments

  1. The addition of Caroline Herschel’s memoirs and correspondence make this book unique. It would have been nice if the defined words available in the back were denoted somehow. It is good that words like scullery and orrery are in the back because the context of the words won’t help kids. I understand the way of life during this book but I didn’t like how Caroline did whatever her brother wanted, was his maid, his assistant, cleaned equipment and did accounting and then the last two paragraphs were about how great Caroline was. It should have shown her as a smarter, stronger person; even in those times, she was more than just looking for someone to take care of her. Caroline was working and was a scientist and it could be said that her brother’s success directly ties to his sister. All of this is more than just a quick mention at the end of the story.

  2. In the Girl Power theme of books that is going strong now, I would have to say this is a good book. But, here it comes, but-I would use it as a read aloud and accompany it with another book about her. I googled it, there are others, not a lot but some. She was definitely not the chosen child as her brother was and her parents were not stellar in their treatment of her, neither was William. But, she persevered and stood up for herself when she insisted on being paid appropriately for her work. I would use this with the students when we do our Wax Museum on Famous People. I would like to see what more students could find about her. ****

  3. I enjoyed this story of a young girl who overcame challenges and a tough start to her life to work hard and achieve her dreams. I also think William may have taken advantage of her, but I still think her life with him was better than her life would have been left with her family. I think the story shows how a girl would have been treated in that era, but she didn’t let the dictates of society limit her goals. I thought it was interesting and inspiring.

  4. The explanation to children of a timeline-especially a person of historical significance from 1786- would be important (Timeline in back with more info. too). Along with the importance of the text in italics and its meaning to the reader by the author. This is a book-even though a picture book-should be picked up multiple times as a reader as to have all the info. And facts read and re-read. A joy to read, even as an adult. So much to learn. 4 stars.

  5. I will definitely use this in my 3rd grade classroom. We do a biography mid-year, and there are very few decent biographies about important women in book form, compared with those available about men. I appreciate the way her difficulties were presented. We were made aware of some of her struggles, but in a way 8-9 year old children could understand. Hardship was a way of life for most people living at that time in history. It still is that way for many in the world today. Children can be guided to compare her life experiences with their own. They can be guided to an understanding of life as it is for many children in the world today. As teachers, we can plant seeds of empathy to inspire children to recognize the privilege of education and the responsibility this privilege affords to build a better world for all. This book is an excellent springboard for gifted and talented students to do further research. Topics for expansion include vocabulary, such as “postwagen, “map study, monarchy, astronomy, America compared to Europe in 1772, and historical maps of this era. 5 stars

  6. I do enjoy stories of women in history that paved new paths; however, as many others have commented, this wasn’t a feel good story. It shows the challenges that women faced and overcame, but I’m not sure that it’s appropriate for young students. I do not think I’d use it in my classroom.
    3 stars

  7. I would use this book to talk about biographies. I think the audience might need quite a bit of background building… in astronomy and the role of women in history. This story makes me wonder at the roles of other “players” in so many stories of invention, discovery, and events. What IS the “rest of the story?” 3 stars

  8. Poor Caroline! This was definitely not a “feel good” story. She was treated horribly during her early life — her parents wouldn’t let her leave until her brother paid for a housekeeper to replace her?!?! Jeez. Then, when she was rescued her lived in the shadow of her brother. I wasn’t sure whether William was a hero for “rescuing” her or a heel for keeping her in his background. The book did show that Caroline came into her own and was awarded many things woman at the time wouldn’t have.
    I don’t think I would use this particular book in my classroom, but might be interested in seeing the story in a different format.

  9. I enjoyed reading about Caroline and her accomplishments as the first woman to discover a comet. I am amazed how she was able to overcome seemingly obstacles and become the king’s scientist. I would use this book in my classroom. We will be focusing on historical figures this school year.I rate it a 4.

  10. I enjoyed this book a lot and think kids would too. I always enjoy hearing stories of women doing amazing things and rising above the beliefs and “norms” of their time period. I also appreciated that Caroline didn’t live the so called “normal” life of her era and instead forged her own path. I think this is a great book for STEM curriculum or personal reading enjoyment as well. 5/5 stars

  11. I have mixed feelings about this book and definitely would not read it to my 2nd graders. I’m sure it is a true story, but Caroline was really taken advantage of and gave up her life to help William. It is true that she was able to pursue her passion for astronomy, but at a great cost to her self-esteem and pride. William takes all the credit until she herself discovers a comet. Explaining all of this would best be done with older students that could read and understand that period of history and the role of women.

    • I agree. I kept thinking “Poor Caroline.” It seemed like she never really had a life of her own. She did fantastic things, but it wasn’t a “feel good” story.

  12. I think one way this could be used is to look at how Caroline was treated in comparison to her brother…while we are still working on equity today, our situation has definitely improved compared to the era Caroline lived in. I wish it would have been clearer that the parts of the book that were in italics were ALL quotes from her autobiography, so readers truly knew that they were reading Caroline’s own words.
    I wouldn’t go out of my way to share this book with students, but I could see making some connections when my third grade students visit the planetarium and learn about the stars. I also think the information about them inventing/creating a large telescope could tie in nicely to the grade three unit on stars.
    2 stars.

  13. While I was hoping to use this book in Science or History, I find it would be more useful as a social skills book. Students would see how even though Caroline had a tough childhood, she was determined to reach her dream. I would probably preread this book and pick out certain sentences to read out loud and leave the rest for students to read during free read time. I give this book 3 stars.

  14. I was disappointed with this story. For much of it I felt it glorified William’s accomplishments more than Caroline’s scientific knowledge. It touched on the strong bond between siblings, but also depicted a family who treated their child as a housekeeper, due to physical scaring from disease! How awful. It may send a negative message to some children. If you are not visually attractive you will be rejected.
    On a positive side Caroline persevered, followed a childhood passion, and made many scientific discoveries in the field of astronomy.
    I would focus on that aspect if I used this book with students. **

    • I agree. I didn’t know whether to applaud William for taking Caroline to England or yell at him for seemingly keeping her under his thumb.

  15. I was so hopeful for this book. I love sharing with students the seemingly forgotten contributions that women have made in STEM fields. But this story seemed sadder then empowering for women scientists. I was bothered by Caroline’s lonely existence, but what really bothered me was that because of her height and face she first was her own families housekeeper/maid and then her brother. I was annoyed that family “grudgingly let her go with her brother.” I found it difficult to believe her brother “loved” her the best when he made her his housekeeper, note-taker, while she cared for any of his needs– by doing whatever he asked and even spoon feeding him from the illustrations! I know the time was different then, and it was incredible that King George paid her in the end, but I think the way the author and illustrator presented this book weakens Caroline’s character rather than strengthen it. I feel that there is a message that if you are not beautiful, you don’t have value. Too many girls are struggling with trying to obtain the perfect body as portrayed in social media that this book could do unintended damage. I would not add this to my classroom library.

  16. I enjoyed this book, but I also thought it was very sad. Two tragedies in the beginning of her life made for her to have a lonely life. I know this is a true story, but it was hard to read. I’m not sure I would like to read this book outloud to a class. I think it is important to tell stories about what women have accomplished and how hard women of lives women used to have. I really think this would be a hard book to read to kids at this level and see hear about this women who seemed alone and no one truly cared for her because what small pox did to her height and her face.
    I would rate this book 3 stars

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