What Miss Mitchell Saw
Hayley Barrett, illustrated by Diana Sudyka
(Simon & Schuster)– hardback
‘What Miss Mitchell Saw’ through her telescope earned her a prestigious award. As a child, Miss Mitchell was trusted ‘with tasks large and small’ until she was selected to help her father in his observatory. They gazed at the night sky with such wonder that they came to know planets, stars and ‘celestial phenomenon.’ ‘Maria swept the sky‘ tracking every whale bone pin prick of its movement and wonder.
The Nantucket harbour vessels depended upon Maria’s reliability and knowledge. Yet her gaze stretched so far as to meet a challenge from the King of Denmark. Who could be the first person to record the sighting of a new comet? Could news of Maria’s sighting of ‘a nameless patch of light, not far from Polaris‘ reach the the King ? It would take two days for a letter to leave Nantucket! Thereafter, it would travel across an ocean and through the hands of international astronomers to reach its goal.
Like The Spacesuit, this is an unknown historical gem of a story. ‘What Miss Mitchell Saw‘ resonates with wonder, achievement and discovery.