In What Is a Shooting Star?, Isaac Asimov takes a close look at “shooting stars”—cosmic visitors that have intrigued and beguiled us for centuries.

This is the first book in the “Ask Isaac Asimov” series, the third and final series of juveniles Asimov worked on for Gareth-Stevens. The books in this series are, on the whole, of the same general type as the books in “Isaac Asimov’s Library of the Universe”: aimed at younger children, lots of pretty pictures, and lots of infoboxes and the like. The paper is high-quality and the bindings solid. Gareth-Stevens really did a good job of putting the books together, physically.

I do have one real gripe with this series, though, and that’s its price. Each book ran about US$17 new for about 20 pages of text and pretty pictures. It’s never come out in paperback, never come out omnibus form, never come out on CD-ROM, so the expensive hardbacks are the only choice if you want a copy. Nearly US$1 per page is rather more than one would like to spend for a book or have one’s local public library spend. (This outrageous price may have had an impact on the series relative lack of success, too.)

Other than that, it’s not bad. It’s aimed at a very young audience—something on the order of six- or seven-years-old, so it has little interest for me, although I wouldn’t actively object to rereading it. I’d definitely hand it or read it to a young child, however, without a moment’s hesitation—assuming, of course, that somebody else was paying for it.

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