________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 14 . . . . March 7, 2008


Dot to Dot in the Sky: Stories of the Zodiac.

Joan Marie Galat. Illustrated by Lorna Bennett.
North Vancouver, BC: Whitecap Books, 2007.
68 pp., pbk., $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-55285-805-9.

Subject Heading:
Zodiac-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Rosemary Hollett.

**½/ 4


Since ancient times, people have looked up at the night sky and imagined they could see pictures in groups of stars, called constellations. More than four thousand years ago, the Babylonians divided part of the sky into the 12 constellations of the zodiac to show where the Sun, Moon and planets appear to travel when seen from Earth. The Greeks spread these symbols to many other cultures.

Dot to Dot in the Sky: Stories of the Zodiac is the fourth book in the “Dot to Dot in the Sky” series from writer Joan Marie Galat. In it, Galat blends ancient myths with today's knowledge of astronomy. She then ties in this exploration of the stars with the creation of astrology.

     The nonfiction book follows a format similar to others in the series. The introduction explains the difference between astronomy and astrology and a brief history of both. The author takes time to explain that astrology, although "an entertaining way to explore your personality," is not a science. Horoscopes can be fun to read, but of equal interest are the myths and legends that are associated with the constellations. It is here we find the adventures of ancient gods, animals, and heroes that are associated with each sign of the zodiac and that make up the crux of the book.

     This general introduction, comprising the first third of the book, is dense but interesting. For example, in the "Changing View of the Stars" section, the author explains that "astrologers who write horoscopes for newspapers base their predictions on star positions that are thousands of years out of date." This information leads to the fact that your zodiac sign is actually one earlier than that listed in the newspaper. A Scorpio sign is actually a Libra, etc. Remember that tomorrow morning as you read your paper!! This section is followed by a useful chart highlighting constellations, Chinese moon signs, old horoscope dates and new.

     Our zodiac personalities are presented in a one page chart that is quite general. Those hoping for a "horoscope book" will be disappointed here. It is also interesting to note that, even with the previous explanation of dates, the author has presented the sign characteristics as they would appear in the newspaper.

     The main body of the book is devoted to each sign of the zodiac. Each sign consists of the myth surrounding the constellation plus sidebars. There is also a star map and directions on finding the constellation in the sky at various times of year. One drawback here is that often the double page spread consists of the map of the previous sign on the left and the myth of the next sign on the right. It can be confusing as one tends to look for the constellation in the map next to that sign.

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     The illustrations accompanying each myth are full colour drawings and appropriate to the text. There are also plenty of photos and images to help you along in your sky travels. A glow-in-the-dark star map with instructions is a captivating addition. It really works! A glossary of sky vocabulary and index complete the book.

     Stories of the Zodiac contains fairly sophisticated material, and it is rather text heavy. For this reason, I hesitate to recommend it for the intended audience.

Recommended with reservations.

Rosemary Hollett is a teacher-librarian at St. Emile School in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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