Reviewer Conny Withay:Operating her own business in office management since 1991, Conny is an avid reader and volunteers with the elderly playing her designed The Write Word Game. A cum laude graduate with a degree in art living in the Pacific Northwest, she is married with two sons, two daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren.
Authors: Kenji Ishikawa, Kiyoshi Kawabata and Verte Corp.
Publisher: No Starch Press
“Kaguya-hime did not return to her home planet, but she continued to live happily on earth while talking about the universe with this knowledgeable villager,” the high school play ends in The Manga Guide to the Universe by Kenji Ishikawa, Kiyoshi Kawabata and Verte Corp.
With over two hundred and forty pages, this oversize paperback book is one of nine in a The Manga series and geared toward high school or maybe college age students with its theme of a cartoon running throughout the book. With no profanity but some slang, the book’s main section of cartoon drawings is done in black and white with eight pages of color photographs of different universe selections after the five page index at the end of the book.
To stimulate young-minded interest, the cartoon and majority of the book is about two Japanese girls and one well-endowed, scantily dressed American exchange student at Kouki High School in Japan. When the three girls in Drama Club want to write a play, their Japanese literature teacher tells them an old Japanese tale about Kaguya-hime, a princess who would marry whoever answered her riddle but no one could. Yamane, Kanna and Gloria seek out Kanna’s brother’s college astronomy professor to aid in writing a romantic science fiction production based on the old story but updating it to a princess from another planet, learning innocuously about our universe.
Intertwined in the cartoons are teachable lessons and a board game that are easy to understand by a high school student and include past astronomical discoveries questioning the earth being the center of the universe, the big bang theory without mentioning the possibility of a Creator, what it is like at the edge of the universe and how our universe is ever-expanding.
Besides the cartoons, there are pages of engaging dialogue between characters about our solar system, more technical data and charts about the planets and their moons, and the age of our universe along with possibilities of extraterrestrial beings.
In the end of the animated tome, the three vivacious and fun girls along with the professor successfully produce “Where is the Universe Going?” and are asked to do it at the local college.
Although some of the Japanese culture in the cartoon and some of the cartoon frames can be confusing to an American, the English version of this book with some translator‘s notes is a helpful addition in an entry level astronomy high school class.
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