Jennifer Morgan: Books & Programs

Universe Story Trilogy

Cosmology for everyone, this is a story of the universe from the Big Bang to the formation of Earth, in the form of a letter written by the thirteen-billion-year-old universe itself to an Earthling.
The Universe continues with the story of Earth from the beginning of life up to the extinction of dinosaurs.
Covers the story of mammals from 65 million years ago to today, including the human story.

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BORN WITH A BANG:
The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story

Winner of Learning Magazine's Teachers Choice Award!

Topics covered:

Cosmology
Big Bang
Element formation
Star formation
Galaxies
Black Holes
Supernovas
Formation of Earth

Paperback $9.95 ISBN: 1-58469-032-1
Hardback $19.95 ISBN: 1-58469-033-X
Published by Dawn Publications (DawnPub.com)

Review by April Whitt in PLANETARIAN: JOURNAL OF THE INTERNATIONAL PLANETARIUM SOCIETY (June 2003)

You know that feeling you get sometimes, when you've been thinking about a problem, or puzzling over how to teach some concept, or some friend crosses your thoughts, and the next day that person telephones, or a colleague hands you an activity that matches that concept perfectly, or the answer to the problem pops into your head when you wake up that morning? I think it's called "synchronicity."

A few months ago, the Dome-L list server spun a thread about teaching evolution (or not, depending on your audience). And the next day, this book appeared in my mailbox. The accompanying press release says it best, "Storytelling science: 'Once upon a time' meets evolution." This gloriously illustrated, beautifully written book is a loving letter from the Universe to her Earhlings.

It traces the Universe's development from Big Bang, through particles and anti-particles, atoms, stars and supernovas, formation of heavier elements, and the beginnings of our solar system, ending with a young Earth. BORN WITH A BANG is the first in a trilogy. The next two volumes will trace the evolution of life from "tiny new living things" to dinosaurs, and then the rise of mammals, according to the press release.

The target audience for this book is listed as eight through twelve year olds. The actual age range is far wider. Each adult to whom I've shown the book has wanted to keep it; each child to whom I've read the book wants to hear it over again.

This is a large format paperback book. Each page of text features large type font (the better to read with aging eyes). Most pages have a time-line printed at the top, and reference to science concepts at the back of the book printed at the bottom. Facing each text page is a colorful painting full of details to discover. During my first read through, I was torn between turning pages to gobble up the story and lingering over lavish illustrations.

A summary of information, two pages of discoveries of Earthling scientists, a glossary and a page of resources round out this excellent introduction to cosmology. BORN WITH A BANG received the Teachers Choice Award, and the back cover is full of testimonials from prominent scientists.

Cultural historian Thomas Berry offers a suggestion at the end of the book. "We need to hear the story from our cradle days through all stages of our lives, for we refer to the Universe for our origin and ultimate destiny. It's time to reshape our think inside of this context. Indeed, our future depends upon it."

This is one book you'll want in your gift shop, your personal library, and your teacher resource center. You'll probably need several copies -- mine has already wandered away.
This picture of the infant universe, just 380,000 years after the Big Bang, was taken by WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe). Stars and galaxies formed out of the ripples that you see. Humans living today are the first ever to see a picture of our Universe shortly after the Big Bang. Pictures such as these and many recent discoveries about the origin of the Universe and evolution of life are reshaping our cosmology, or origin story.



"The Rivera Earthlings would like to thank you 13 billion times for visiting us last Friday to present three wonderful, interesting and enjoyable programs for over 400 students in grades K - 8. The students sat in rapt attention for the program. What a compliment to you!!! It's exciting to meet someone so enthused with writing books for young students."
-- Myra Epstein, Librarian, Rivera Elementary School, Trenton, New Jersey

Jennifer Morgan with Myra Epstein (left), librarian, after giving a program at Rivera Elementary School, Trenton, NJ