Hardcover. Actual size of book: over 9" x 12"; nearly all photographs in full color. Color on every page.

An Up-To-Date Book on the Solar System

A Society of School Librarians International Honor Book

A Voice of Youth Advocates Honor Book

Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Now in its Second Printing

Includes a Full Chapter on Pluto

Includes a Full Chapter on Eris--the Newly Discovered World That's Three Times Farther Than Pluto and Bigger Than Pluto

Discusses the Controversy Over the Planethood of Pluto and Eris

Note: Eris was Formerly Known as "Xena" and 2003 UB313

Is Pluto a Planet? Download the free PDF file

Age Level: 9 and Up


Good Reviews: 16

Mixed Reviews: 1

Bad Reviews: 0

Read an Excerpt from TEN WORLDS (PDF file--allow one minute to download)!

Description--TEN WORLDS

Take a tour of the ten largest worlds that orbit the Sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and Eris.

The canyons of Mars . . . the volcanoes of Jupiter's moon Io . . . the glorious rings of Saturn . . . the icy plains of Pluto: these are just some of the places you'll discover when you tour the solar system. And in 2005, astronomers spotted a new world that's bigger than Pluto and billions of miles farther from the Sun, rekindling a dispute over whether Pluto is a planet.

Harvard-trained astronomer Ken Croswell is your guide to this realm of fantastic places, unsolved mysteries, and great controversies. In 2006, some astronomers voted that Pluto is not even a planet! But then other astronomers signed a petition protesting that vote. What do you think? Is Pluto a planet? This book gives you the science behind the great planet debate.

Ten Worlds explores the ten largest worlds that orbit the Sun:

Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. There's not much left except the core of a rocky world. What blasted away its outer layers?

Venus, the hottest planet. Under a blanket of clouds, the surface is hot enough to melt lead.

Earth, perhaps the strangest planet in the solar system. As far as we know, only this planet has beings that breathe, move, think--and even explore other worlds.

Mars, the planet most like Earth. It once had rivers, lakes, maybe even an ocean. Did it also harbor life?

Jupiter, the biggest planet. Its mighty gravity tortures its moons, turning Io into a world of active volcanoes and melting the ice on Europa to create an ocean that may teem with life.

Saturn, the ringed planet. Are its rings the wreckage of a wayward moon? Its huge moon Titan may hold secrets about the young Earth.

Uranus, the green world. Does it have diamonds? And why does it lie on its side?

Neptune, the blue world. Geysers on its icy moon Triton shoot material five miles high.

Pluto, an ice-covered world billions of miles from the Sun. Is Pluto the Sun's smallest planet--or is it not a planet at all?

Eris, the latest discovery. It's bigger than Pluto and three times farther from the Sun, but does it deserve to be called a planet?

"TEN WORLDS is a hit on all counts: it's engaging, well written, and--most importantly--accurate. I was most impressed with how up-to-date it is. All of the latest exciting scientific discoveries are included, along with the best of the new pictures."
--Dr. Michael E. Brown, discoverer of Eris.


The Solar System4
The Sun6
The Solar System's Birth50
Data Table: The Planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Eris)52
Data Table: The Seven Big Moons (Moon, Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, Titan, Triton)52
Data Table: The First Four Asteroids (Ceres, Pallas, Juno, Vesta)53
Extreme Planets54

Large, outstanding images--all are in color, unless noted by an asterisk:

Mars Surface (two-page spread)
Mars Topographic Map (two-page spread)
Asteroid Ida and Its Moon
Saturn (two-page spread)
Titan's Surface
Neptune's Great Dark Spot
Pluto and Charon
Comet Hyakutake
Interstellar Cloud

Good Reviews--TEN WORLDS

Publishers Weekly (starred review):

On the basis of its striking design and photographs, this handsome, large-format volume is well worthy of praise. And astronomer Croswell's concise yet conversational, information-packed text wins it sky-high accolades in the narrative sphere as well. As the author takes readers on an elucidating tour of the solar system--traveling outwards from the Sun--brilliantly colored photos of each planet and of their moons (mostly NASA shots) pop dramatically from a black background, while the text appears against pastel-toned panels. Croswell authoritatively explains the physical characteristics, temperature, and atmospheric makeup of the planets; tells how they were named; examines comets, meteors, and asteroids; and details the knowledge gleaned from spacecrafts' photographs and specific astronomers' discoveries. He confidently puts forth his own theories (he believes in the theory that an asteroid killed off the dinosaurs and allowed other forms of life to evolve, including humans). Timely references to recently launched spacecraft and their missions, and an intriguing look at "the tenth planet" (discovered in 2005, the planet takes 559 years to orbit the Sun), attest to the book's relevance. Colorful, accessible analogies abound: remarking that stars shine during the day as well as the night, yet are washed out by sunlight, Croswell notes, "In the same way, you can't hear a soft flute when a loud car goes by." Concluding with charts that handily round up statistics about the planets and their moons, this eye-opening book will feed kids' curiosity about the worlds beyond Earth.

The Observatory:

Ten Worlds is an engaging survey of the solar system for readers of all ages, combining the latest astronomical images (from, e.g., SOHO and Cassini) with a detailed overview of the Sun, planets, and major moons. The writing level is appropriate for young teenagers, but the scientific content is rich and will interest and surprise older readers too: e.g., "Sometimes people say the Sun is just an average star. But this claim is wrong. The Sun is actually far above average. Most stars give off much less light than the Sun."; or, "It probably rains methane on Titan, just as it rains water on Earth."

With his clear, accessible explanations, Croswell helps young readers grasp complex ideas and information, though some of the more advanced concepts (such as carbon dating or thermonuclear reactions) might have benefited from an accompanying picture or diagram. Croswell's inclusion of charts and discussions of asteroids, meteors, and star-forming clouds nicely provide a more textured vision of the solar system. Two pages are dedicated to the controversy regarding 2003 UB313 (Eris, "the tenth planet"), for which the book shows an artist's rendition. His discussion of the ambiguity in the definition of a planet is an excellent introduction to the complexities, conversations, and disagreements that crop up in the process of doing scientific research.

As a non-textbook resource, Ten Worlds does a wonderful job of introducing children to the solar system, and to the idea that science is not just about learning "facts," but a process of discovery for students and scientists alike. Almost everyone will learn something new from the book. The high picture quality makes Ten Worlds suitable even for toddlers, who will enjoy associating names with the colourful glossy images, if they do not manage to tear them first. Many budding young astronomers are sure to be inspired.
--A. Mahdavi

Chicago Tribune:

The subtitle ["Everything That Orbits the Sun"] defines the focus, and this book is so up-to-date that it covers the 2005 discovery of a body bigger than Pluto and three times farther from the sun, as well as the controversy as to whether it's a planet. The stunningly colored, large photographs of the ten worlds are accompanied by text that makes comparisons clear. Ken Croswell tries to answer the "why" questions young readers are sure to ask.
--Mary Harris Russell

Kirkus Reviews:

With breathtaking, beautifully reproduced images from NASA, astronomer Croswell introduces the newest version of our solar system. Double-page spreads, or more, are devoted to the general solar system, the Sun, each of the ten planets, comets, meteors, and the system's birth. The tone is informal, but the text includes a wealth of information, appropriate comparisons and good transitions; many words are defined in context. The backmatter includes charts comparing the ten planets, seven big moons, and first four asteroids, a list of planetary extremes, and an index but no glossary. Science writing for young readers often involves presenting generally accepted information as facts, but Croswell has taken some chances here. For instance, the International Astronomical Union will not even decide if 2003 UB313 is a planet until this summer. He does mention the controversy, but, except for the careful book title, treats its acceptance as established fact. Hindsight will show whether this and other choices were right or wrong. For now, teachers and middle-grade readers will welcome this informative visual feast.

Science News:

In 2005, for the first time in seventy-five years, astronomers discovered a new planet orbiting the Sun, suddenly making legions of solar system models obsolete. Croswell introduces young readers to this new world and the other nine planets and their moons. He includes science's latest discoveries. Readers learn that Neptune's moon Triton is the only large moon to orbit its planet clockwise, that Saturn is so light that it would float in water, and that Mars had water flowing over its surface billions of years ago. Except for the tenth planet, each planet's and moon's description is accompanied by bold, digitally reprocessed images. This brief book also includes sections on meteors, comets, and the solar system's birth. Charts detail statistics for the ten planets, seven big moons, and first four asteroids discovered.

Deseret Morning News:

This spectacular book brings the solar system up to date with the mysteries of the universe and the latest discoveries.
--Marilou Sorensen

The Wayne Independent:

Highlights for Children magazine has done it again! Their book publishing company, Boyds Mills Press, has come out with a fabulous book, Ten Worlds by Ken Croswell. This is said to be the first book published to include the "tenth planet," the discovery of which was announced last year. This distant world is far beyond Pluto, which has been hailed the ninth planet since being found in 1930. The Honesdale-based magazine and book company, whose publisher is Kent Brown, Jr., has long answered to the scientific curiosity of the minds of youngsters. Ten Worlds is full of huge color pictures of the amazing variety of planets in our solar system, as well as many moons, each one so unique.
--Peter Becker

Yellow Brick Road:

This look at the solar system includes the mysteries of the canyons, volcanoes, plains, and rings of the planets, including the new tenth planet.

TCS Daily:

Children have long been fascinated by space, but good children's books about space exploration and astronomy only show up once in a while. This new book provides a valuable guide to the celestial for kids of about ten years of age and higher. Ten Worlds: Everything That Orbits the Sun, by Ken Croswell, is an informative overview of the solar system, albeit one that makes a debatable assertion about the number of planets.

Ten Worlds provides a welter of facts about celestial bodies, coupled with spectacular imagery taken by space probes and telescopes. "I Eat Graham Crackers" is Croswell's suggestion for how to remember the order of orbits around Jupiter of its four largest moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Calisto, all of which were discovered by Galileo in 1610. Venus, the author notes, is bright enough to cast a shadow. Uranus is the only giant planet in the solar system that doesn't have a large moon. The south side of Mars is higher in altitude than the north side, Croswell observes, adding that nobody knows why.

The book accepts as "the tenth planet" an object that was discovered in early 2005 (from images taken in 2003) and which is known officially as 2003 UB313 (and unofficially as "Xena"). This object is larger than Pluto and has its own moon. However, as Croswell acknowledges, not all astronomers accept its status as a planet, or that of Pluto for that matter. The International Astronomical Union is expected to publish a formal definition of "planet" in September, determining how many objects in the solar system hold that status. At that point, the title of Ten Worlds will seem either prescient or awkward.
--Ken Silber

School Library Journal:

This oversize book has beautiful, full-color photographs of the planets, moons, and Sun in our solar system. Each planet's origin, geography, and history are discussed. The photographs, many of them encompassing an entire page, are of superior quality and set against a black backdrop. The text, done in a fairly large font set against color backgrounds, is easy to read. Students with little to no background in the subject will find this book enjoyable and easy to understand. This slim, authoritative volume has plenty of information for reports and may spark an interest in finding additional resources.
--Linda Wadleigh

Deakin Newsletter:

Croswell's Ten Worlds is an introduction to our solar system aimed at 8-12 year olds. The text is accessible and clear, introducing the readers to technical terms and offering understandable concrete comparisons. Descriptions of the compositions of each planet and major moons, their rotation, distance from the Sun, and possible appearance are enhanced by striking color photography. The whole is drawn together by a final description of the solar system's birth, as we believe it to have been.

This is an effective and engaging introduction for young people, one bound to lead them on to further exploration.
--Andrea Deakin

Friends of the Belmont Public Library:

Astronomer Ken Croswell presents our solar system in vivid color for children about ages 8 and up.

Croswell reviews the discovery, the history, the current state, and the composition of each of the ten major objects in our solar system, the Sun and the nine* planets. He compares their likenesses and their differences and he explains how they have come to be as they are. He also tells us about the moons of the planets as well as about asteroids, comets, meteors, and the newly discovered tenth planet, first observed in 2005.

Accompanying the colorful text are breathtaking photographs of all these worlds, recorded from space telescopes and probes.

Young people of any age or interest, and adults, too, will love these spectacular pictures. And those with a scientific bent will learn a lot about the nature of scientific measurement and discovery.

*Recently, poor Pluto has been degraded from a planet to a mere "dwarf" by the International Astronomical Union, this to the consternation of many of its own members, the entire community of astrologers of course, and in conflict with some pretty well known philosophers, too (see The Wall Street Journal Vol. CCXVIII No. 54 p. A8 "Wittgenstein, Aristotle, and Pluto.")

Inside Bay Area:

If your children are into planets, this is the book for them. Colorful, detailed photos are accompanied by intelligent and informative text.
--Kathleen Grant Geib

Teaching K-8:

A helpful title...Information about the universe is shown with charts, graphs and photographs.
--Sandy Meagher


It’s for kids nine and up, but Ken Croswell’s Ten Worlds: Everything that Orbits the Sun is still a coffee-table book, over-sized and loaded with gorgeous photos and paintings of planets and moons. What makes it kid stuff is surely its accessibility, a matter of length, simplicity of language, and price. It’s the first book to include the newly discovered tenth planet beyond Pluto, and its gentle introduction to the rest of the Solar System is entirely suitable for older readers who want to know a bit more. I don’t expect Analog readers are very likely to want this one for themselves. But Analog readers have kids and grandkids and friends, and though this is the December column, you’re reading it in plenty of time to buy this one as a gift.
--Tom Easton

Children's Literature:

Which planet is the hottest? Which planet formed from rocks crashing? What year will the spacecraft reach Pluto since its departure in 2006? These questions plus a lot more are answered in astronomer Croswell's vibrant, oversized book about all ten planets. That is right! You did not know there was a tenth planet discovered in 2005 much farther away than Pluto? Croswell even discusses comets, asteroids, and meteors. He discusses the entire solar system—the Sun and the planets and their moons. All scientific terms are explained for clear understanding. The pictures are descriptive and glossy, sure to capture your attention. The pages are black and the text is highlighted with vibrant colors. Each part of the solar system comes to life with the use of color and detail. The details are extraordinary, and there are some extras included such as a trivia list, graphs, and an index. There is a great deal to be learned here, and it is written in a language suitable for kids at a young age.
--Kelly Grebinoski

Mixed Reviews--TEN WORLDS


Author-astronomer Croswell, who has written extensively on space topics for adults, follows his children's-book debut, See the Stars (2000), with a striking, large-format overview of the solar system. In topical spreads illustrated with luminous, digitally retouched images, many taken on NASA missions, each of the ten planets orbiting our sun (the still-controversial tenth is an unnamed space object discovered in 2005) is considered in turn. Other entries cover the asteroid belt, meteors, and the birth of the solar system. Croswell's inconsistent writing is disappointing. For every lucid formulation, such as the description of an asteroid as a "leftover building block of a planet like Earth," there are instances of too-casual language ("What's really neat is [Mars'] color"), and the text-heavy appearance of many pages may put off less confident readers. However, the up-to-date information and majestic high-tech visuals on glossy black pages will give [another book] a run for its money. Appended tables of facts and figures provide additional fodder for the space obsessed.
--Jennifer Mattson

Read an Excerpt from TEN WORLDS (PDF file)!