Roy A(rthur) Gallant Daphne Ann Hamilton - Essay

Daphne Ann Hamilton

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The author [of Fires in the Sky: The Birth and Death of Stars] investigates the characteristics and life cycle of stars by the time-honored technique of examining what we know about the nearest example, the Sun, and how we learned it, then applying that knowledge to distant stars. Unfortunately, the stellar characteristics are so compartmentalized that the effect is very jerky and awkward to read—an effect accentuated by the experiments provided for the reader. Alas for the hoped-for sense of involvement. The experiments themselves are often interesting and would provide some more advanced students with science fair projects; I did find the project on determining star distances to be rather confusingly explained. Gallant also (surprisingly) falls into the trap of being a bit too cute on occasion…. Not until about halfway through, when he drops the "example" style for straight narrative does the book come to life, and it does become quite interesting; however, it's a bit late. The overall effect is uneven and disappointing, despite the quantity of information included. Even so, the book would have some value in a collection needing a mid-level book on this particular subject. (pp. 21-2)

Daphne Ann Hamilton, "'Fires in the Sky: The Birth and Death of Stars'," in Appraisal (copyright © 1979 by the Children's Science Book Review Committee), Vol. 12, No. 2, Spring, 1979, pp. 21-2.