Rooftop Astronomer

A Story about Maria Mitchell

From the Series Creative Minds Biographies

  • Interest Level: Grade 4 - Grade 8
  • Reading Level: Grade 5

It was a clear autumn night in 1847. Maria Mitchell stood on the roof of her parents’ house on the island of Nantucket, focusing her telescope on a faraway star. Suddenly she realized that the faint, blurry light wasn’t a star at all—it was a comet! Maria Mitchell’s discovery changed her life. She became famous as the first acknowledged woman astronomer in the United States. During her many travels, Maria came to realize that most women did not have the same opportunities as men. She thought that women should be encouraged to be anything they wanted to be. This was a lesson she taught her students as an astronomy professor at Vassar College and a message she stressed as the president of the Association for the Advancement of Women. From the rooftops of Nantucket to the great observatories of Europe, Stephanie Sammartino McPherson skillfully chronicles the life of this outstanding woman.

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Interest Level Grade 4 - Grade 8
Reading Level Grade 5
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Millbrook Press ™
Language English
Publication Date 2011-08-01
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS JNF007020, JNF007090, JNF007120
Dewey 520'.92
Graphics 1-color illustrations
Guided Reading Level S
ATOS Reading Level 6.4
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 49554
Accelerated Reader® Points 1.0
Features Bibliography/further reading, Index, Maps, Reviewed, Table of contents, and Teaching Guides

Author: Stephanie Sammartino McPherson

Stephanie Sammartino McPherson wrote her first children's story in college. She enjoyed the process so much that she's never stopped writing. A former teacher and freelance newspaper writer, she has written more than thirty books and numerous magazine stories. Her recent books include Hothouse Earth: The Climate Crisis and the Importance of Carbon Neutrality, winner of the Green Earth Book Award for young adult nonfiction, and Breakthrough: Katalin Karikó and the mRNA Vaccine. Stephanie and her husband, Richard, live in Virginia.

Illustrator: Hetty Mitchell

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

Creative Minds Biographies

Meet some of the world’s most creative minds! Written in story format, these episodic biographies give clear, straightforward accounts of historical figures’ lives. Each true story is accompanied by black-and-white illustrations. View available downloads →



“. . .personal, factual, and clearly written. Useful for collections needing biographies of independent-minded women.”

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