Jeanne Bendick has a gift for making science, and scientists, lively. And she uses that gift, in this book, to present Galileo as a curious, interesting, normal person -- an excellent role model for little scientists!
What made Galileo so normal? Well, he had problems at school -- his father wanted him to study things that didn't interest him. He had money troubles trying to support his family, and he had to relocate for jobs. He got stuck in the middle of a power struggle. He had lots of houseguests, and even took in boarders. He liked to show off (a little). Kids can relate to all of that.
What made Galileo extraordinary is the way he never gave up. This book does a fine job demonstrating his pursuit of knowledge, his discoveries, and his inventions.
My biggest concern was how the book would treat the church vs. science conflict -- it is so often framed as "backwards, repressive church squashes free-thinking genius." Instead, that conflict is dealt with fairly and honestly. The church was the political power of the day, there were factions, and Galileo was aligned with a faction. The other faction used him as a flashpoint to pick apart the power of his faction, and he was stuck in the middle.
I think the most fascinating section of the book dealt with Galileo's telescope and how he used it to study the night skies. I liked the helpful warning on page 52: NEVER NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN...
Throughout the book, Ms. Bendick's illustrations are clear and to-the-point. The map on page 6 is very helpful through the whole book. This book brings science to life, and I can't rate it highly enough.