The Nine Planets by Franklyn M. Branley

One of the awesome gifts I got for Christmas this year from my in-laws was a copy of the The Nine Planets by Franklyn M. Branley. I’ve mentioned this book numerous times over the years on this blog. It is the book that turned me onto science back when I was a first-grader. I discovered the book in the library of McAfee Road School back in 1978. There was also a copy in the Franklin Township Public Library and I checked the book out repeatedly from that library, probably much to the annoyance of the librarian there.  (I like to think I’ve paid them back over the years, as that is one of two libraries to which I’ve donated money year after year.)  Now, 32 years later, I finally have my own copy of this wonderful book:


As I have said before, this is the book that first introduced me to science and the universe at large. If it wasn’t for this book, I may never have grown interested in science, may never have discovered science fiction and may never have become a science fiction writer. It installed in me the idea of scientific method and scientific discovery and taught me how to understand the universe in all of its glory through observation, experiment and reason. I found it amusing, therefore, to find the following label pasted into the very back of my new book (a former library book):


For those who can’t make out the somewhat blurry image, here is what it says:


Redwood Christian Schools does not necessarily endorse the content of this book from the standpoint of morals, philosophy, theology, or scientific hypothesis. We have searched diligently for the the best books that are available and we feel this is the best we could purchase at the time. We are grateful when others find better books and then pass the information on to us.

Redwood Christian Schools

It makes me wonder what my 6 year-old self would have made of this statement had it appeared when I checked the book out of the library. And I find it an ironic statement to appear in a book that taught me to understand and love science, astronomy, cosmology and the universe around me. Who knew at the time that I was reading a “dangerous” book.

I love that idea as much as I love my new book.


  1. I think that may have been the book that led to my five-year correspondence with Clyde Tombaugh. I’m trying to remember if I ever owned my own copy or if I, too, merely checked it out of the library several times.


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