This week’s Word Wednesday features a delightful children’s book that encourages them to look upwards. Commencing with a walk on a busy street, The Skies Above My Eyes moves from street signs, office blocks, and window cleaners before soaring into the heavens, traveling up beyond the edges of the Solar System. From there we head before back to Earth and down to the ground, to a park somewhere, surrounded by butterflies.
What is The Skies Above My Eyes?
Created by Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer and the follow up to The Street Beneath My Feet, this book is a large format hardback picture book with a difference. Each of the pages of The Skies Above My Eyes unfolds into a giant perpendicular freeze measuring 2.5m tall. Unfortunately, you can’t stick it on your wall as it’s double-sided. As this means you get double the informative illustrated glory it is in no way a problem. The book is aimed at children aged around 6 upwards though younger children will enjoy it too, with an adult to help take them through it.
Every inch of the book’s pages are illustrated with text overlaying the picture all the way up. After reaching the top of an office block with a helipad on the roof, the book moves on to airplanes in the troposphere, and rockets blasting through the stratosphere into the mesosphere. As we extend into the sky, there is a rough scale up the left-hand side with each section of the atmosphere being marked with a dotted line. After “50km Mesosphere,” the Soyuz rocket continues its journey through a dotted line marked “85km Above Earth THE THERMOSPHERE STARTS HERE.”
At 100km we break through the Karman line and now we’re in space! This is only at the bottom of page 4. As we move towards the moon, past weather and spy satellites, the more astute amongst us will realize that the diagram is not to scale. Which is probably a good job, otherwise a print run of The Skies Above My Eyes would destroy a lot of trees. After passing the International Space Station, spacewalking astronauts and cosmonauts, and the Hubble telescope, we arrive at the Moon, which contains a big chunk of text about its genesis and exploration. We’re now 380,000km above Earth.
After the Moon we enter the Solar System, taking in each of the planets (and Pluto) before heading out beyond the Kuiper Belt. At the apex of the book, we take in star-life, white dwarfs, and the Milky Way galaxy. At this point, we hitch a ride back towards Earth on a comet. We travel back through the Solar System, this time ignoring the planets in favor of the Asteroid Belt and meteoroids.
At 10,000km above the Earth, we re-enter the exosphere where we’re dazzled by the Aurora Borealis and meteoroids burning up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. At 15km above the surface, we encounter huge cumulonimbus clouds and crashing thunder and flashes of lightning. When we hit 10km we meet Ruppell’s griffon vultures, flying higher than any other bird. As we descend further we find species after species of bird, before finding humans again in hot-air balloons and hang-gliders.
The mountain we’re on has a tree line and mountain goats, kestrel and owls. On the very last page, we are back lying on Terra Firma gazing up at bats and butterflies. Finally, on the inside back cover, there is a labeled diagram of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Why Read The Skies Above My Eyes?
Because it’s a lovely evocative early science book that teaches children about the world and universe above us. I would have loved this book as a child. It has a few bits of hard data (such distance from the Earth) but is predominantly just beautiful to look at. The fold-out nature of it too is extremely appealing to its target audience.
From a learning perspective, the text is very informative. The Moon section points out that the Moon is bright from reflected light, comets are frozen balls of ice and rock, and the surface of Mercury gets up to 430°C. Again, hard data, with cool pictures. Many adults will find out things they didn’t know when reading The Skies Above My Eyes. I know I did.
If the book lacks anything, it’s a section on positional astronomy. There is nothing about the constellations, which is perhaps a missed opportunity. Looking up into the “skies above our eyes” after dark with our children, we can’t see much of what’s described in the book, but we can see celestial configurations. But this absence is only a small gripe.
Overall, The Skies Above My Eyes is a super book to encourage younger children to think about what is going on above them. It’s beautifully illustrated and highly engaging. With the Holiday season just around the corner, it’s an ideal gift, that children will return to again and again, long after the gaudy plastic of the latest must-have toy has been long forgotten.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of The Skies Above My Eyes, you can do so, here in the US, and here, in the UK.
Did you enjoy this post? Please do check out my the rest of Word Wednesday reviews.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to write this review.