The Vast Wonder of the World

Biologist Ernest Everett Just

  • Interest Level: Grade 1 - Grade 4
  • Reading Level: Grade 3

“A must-purchase picture book biography of a figure sure to inspire awe and admiration among readers.”—School Library Journal (starred review)

Extraordinary illustrations and lyrical text present pioneering African American scientist Ernest Everett Just.

Ernest Everett Just was not like other scientists of his time. He saw the whole, where others saw only parts. He noticed details others failed to see. He persisted in his research despite the discrimination and limitations imposed on him as an African American. His keen observations of sea creatures revealed new insights about egg cells and the origins of life.

Through stunning illustrations and lyrical prose, this picture book presents the life and accomplishments of this long overlooked scientific pioneer.

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Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 4
Reading Level Grade 3
Genre Picture Books, Social Studies
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Narrative Nonfiction, Diverse Books: #OwnVoices, Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diverse Books: Social Justice, Diversity, SEL: A Self-Awareness, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning, STEM, STEM: Life Science/Health and Human Body
Copyright 2018
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Millbrook Press ™
Language English
Number of Pages 40
Publication Date 2018-11-01
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS JNF007090, JNF051050, JNF018010
Dewey 570.92 [B]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Lexile 890
Guided Reading Level R
ATOS Reading Level 5.2
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 198757
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Glossary, Original artwork, Reviewed, Starred Reviews, and Timeline

Author: Mélina Mangal

Mélina Mangal is a school library teacher and author of biographies and short stories for young people. She enjoys dancing, being in nature, and traveling with her family. Visit her at

Illustrator: Luisa Uribe

Luisa Uribe loves drawing, reading, and chasing her cat around the house. Her research about Ernest Everett Just took her on a journey from the pages of books all the way to Charleston, South Carolina, where Ernest spent his early life. She lives in Bogotá, Colombia.

What Makes a Picture Book Bio Stand Out?

by Carol Hinz, Associate Publisher of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books I love picture book biographies, both because of the fascinating range of people featured and because of the wide range of approaches authors use in writing them. Would I have known about Isatou Ceesay’s efforts… View →


  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, Winner, 2019
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2019
  • Children’s Book Committee at the Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature Best Children’s Books of the Year, Winner, 2019
  • Carter G. Woodson Book Award, Winner, 2019
  • Dilys Evans Founder's Award, Winner, 2018


Publishers Weekly

“[A] vivid, inspiring tribute to a noteworthy life.”—Publishers Weekly


“A picture book introducing an American scientist who should be more widely known.”—Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

“A beautiful palette of sea blues and greens, sand and coral colors surround Just in illustrations that highlight the importance of environment and family.”—Kirkus Reviews

School Library Journal

“A must-purchase picture book biography of a figure sure to inspire awe and admiration among readers.”—starred, School Library Journal