Pieces of Another World

The Planetary Society - October 2012

This is such a sweet story, by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Salima Alikhan. A child is woken from sleep in the middle of the night by a father who promises to show her the titular "pieces of another world." The child sees her own world at night for the first time, both her urban world (empty grocery store, busy all-night restaurant) and her natural world (nocturnal wildlife). Finally, she sees the promised other worlds, which you and I knew all along were meteors, but which may be a surprise to young kids being read this story. This book would be a super way to prepare kids for their first trip with you to watch a meteor shower.

National Space Society (NSS) - August 2006

Most parents and grandparents should enjoy reading this book to a young child, and they should be prepared to take them outside afterwards! The best time to read this book is in the summer before the August Perseids, so that a "party" can be planned. (My sources say the Leonids in November are not worth your time because the bulk of material is gone now.)...The illustrations were lovely watercolors with a dreamy quality that suited the story perfectly, though I couldn’t help but notice that the girl’s coat goes missing and then reappears, along with a cup losing its stripes...Pieces of Another World is a heart-warming story that will educate and excite children to watch the sky and encourage parents to observe with their children.
- Marianne Dyson

Book Talk

It is the middle of the night; a little girl is snug in her bed, sleeping soundly when she hears. "Wake up, Jody-bird." It's her father telling her to get dressed; they are going on an adventure. As they drive in their old blue pickup, Jody's dad tells her they are going to see some pieces of another world. Jody knows instinctively that this is a night she will always remember. She cranks the window down and lets the breeze lift her hair, the streets are empty and the town is quiet. Making this a truly fun evening, her dad buys her an ice cream cone before continuing on their adventure.

As they drive out of town they see a deer in the road, the deserted swimming hole, a lonely red fox, and an owl high up in a tree. Jody has never seen this dark and mysterious world before. But these things are not the pieces of another world her father was talking about.

Stopping the truck, her father gets out, drops the tailgate and boosts Jody up to the truck bed where they snuggle up in soft, fuzzy blankets. Pointing skyward, Jody's dad tells her to watch. Suddenly, a streak of white cuts through the sky, followed by another and then another. Those are meteors, her dad explains, tiny pieces of some distant world. As each white streak cuts across the sky Jody whispers, "Pieces of another world."

This beautifully illustrated book is more than a story about a little girl and her dad; it is also a learning tool. Several pages in the back of the book contain a "Creative Mind" and "Meteor Math" section, answering questions a child might ask after hearing the story. This is a perfect time for the parent and child to interact. There are instructions to help you organize the perfect meteor watching party as well as a recipe for comet cookies.
- Shirley Labusier

Macaroni Kid - January 2011

My son and I enjoyed this touching and enchanting story about a young girl and her dad on a night time adventure to watch a meteor shower. We loved hwo the story is described through a child's eyes and the amazement and the awe the child feels as she watches the meteor shower with her dad. It really is like watching tiny pieces of another world. I also love the activities at the end of the book such as the "Comet Cookies" and the "Five Steps to a Fantastic Meteor Watching Party." This story will entertain and educate all young children.

Science Books & Films Review - Summer 2006

The night sky with its twinkling stars and planets so far away has always been exciting to young children. When my two boys were little, we would love to lie outside at night on a blanket and stare up at the sky, watching the twinkling lights and trying to see the shapes of the different constellations. Pieces of Another World, by Mara Rockliff, takes the young child on a journey to see meteors or “shooting stars” in the night sky. The book is about a young girl whose father wakes her up in the middle of the night and tells her that he has a sight for her to see: “pieces of another world.” As they set out on their journey, she notices how different things look at night. She sees familiar stores that are dark, streets that are empty, the lake that she swims in and that is now quiet, and the woods with sounds of animals that come out at night. She and her Dad lie down on blankets in the flatbed of their truck as her Dad tells her to watch the sky. She soon sees a streak of white cut through the firmament. Her father then explains what a meteor is, how fast it travels, and how far away it is by comparing it to things that are familiar to her. As they watch more meteors, they notice that some are white, others look green or yellow, and some even explode at the end of their journey, like fireworks. The colorful illustrations by Salima Alikhan are large, well drawn and detailed. They give the reader a sense of being there looking at the night sky. The text is easy to read and explanations are geared to a young child’s comprehension level. The “Creative Minds” section in the back of the book contains fun facts, “Meteor Math,” five steps to a fantastic meteor-watching party, a recipe for Comet Cookies and a graphic of a comet’s orbit. This book is suitable to read to young children and could be used in the classroom as part of a science lesson on outer space.
Carol April, Gaithersburg MD


Jody’s dad wakes her late at night, but won’t say where they’re going. To see “pieces of another world” is her only clue. Not until their pick-up rattles into a dark forest clearing does she learn she’s there to see a meteor shower.

The suspense builds swiftly by repeating the signature phrase in different contexts until Jody pieces together what her father means. The text is set in white against the deep, purlply-blue hues of midnight speckled with stars. Alikhan’s watercolors are wet and lush, bleeding and washing into each other, as every picture seems to melt into the vast, starlit sky. Her small town in the wee hours is lonely and quiet, her forest thrums with unseen life. Astronomy activities in the back are worth letting older kids stay awake for.

National Center for the Study of Children's Literature, SDSU

Father and daughter share the late night adventure of a trip out of town to see ".some pieces from another world." The reader follows the daughter's excited anticipation of something wondrous revealed at night-something very special. What could the vision be? Shooting stars--showers of them! The father escorts his appreciative daughter into another world right here on earth-and subtly models a close, caring relationship.

Alikhan's watercolors brilliantly picture the story. Her owl, her deer, her skies are richly depicted, and a lovely dreamy painting of the child floating in the sky with the prancing stars ends the fine collaboration.
- A. Allison.

Powell' - Summer 2006

Pieces of Another World is the touching story of a father and child's nighttime excursion to watch a meteor shower as told through the eyes of the child who is in awe of the night world. The vivid descriptions make the readers feel as though they, too, are watching the tiny bits of other, distant worlds blazing into our own. The "Creative Minds" section includes a comet cookie edible craft and lots of teaching trivia to help children learn more about meteors, comets and asteroids. Written by Mara Rockliff, Illustrated by Salima Alikhan. Ages 5-9

Most of us are fortunate enough to have at least one spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime memory from our youth that crystalizes what childhood is about: A sense of deep awe at the wonders of the universe. For me, that moment came when I was about six. A white moth, mistaking the daisies on my green overalls for the real thing, flipped from flower to flower for a minute or two before fluttering off to -- I hoped -- greater success elsewhere. I remember not moving a muscle, hardly daring to breathe. I would never have put it this way at the time, of course, but it was as though my horizons abruptly expanded. I was suddenly a citizen of the world, interacting with it in a way I hadn't been before. There were a million exciting things out there for me to learn, and I was on my way.

As we get older, we typically grow cynical about a human's place in the world. We forget about chrysalises and the dozen different songs of a cardinal and how the first crocus looks in the snow. But then we become parents, and I have heard many a mom relate how it completely changed her perspective. Listening and watching our children carefully, we become aware, once again, of how the universe appears through a child's eyes. We resurrect our inner impulse to explore, to think up questions and find out the answers.

But as daily concerns of feeding and raising our nestlings get in the way, these concerns can fade. So we keep needing to be reminded to see the world as our kids do, not only so that we're paying attention to their needs, but so that we can keep alive the pleasure of discovery for ourselves as well. Books like Pieces of Another World not only awaken our children's imagination, but remind us of this most important aspect of parenthood.

Pieces of Another World (Arbordale Publishing, 2005) is the story of a father and daughter's late-night outing to watch a meteor shower. As the story unfolds, Jody has no idea of where they are going, only that she has been promised "pieces of another world." Her father brings her to an empty field far outside of town. After their eyes have acclimated to the darkness, they snuggle together in the back of their pickup truck. Jody learns how even the tiniest grains of outer-space debris can make their glowing mark on our nighttime sky.

Author Mara Rockliff's vivid prose is matched -- I might even say surpassed -- by Salima Alikhan's watercolor paintings, which evoke the beauty and quiet drama of a midnight trip to "another world." We experience Jody's amazement at how different familiar daytime places seem by moonlight. We taste the jimmies on her vanilla cone, we feel the softness of the blanket on which she lies in the back of their pickup truck. And, best of all from a brainy mom's perspective, we even learn a lot about meteors.

Rockliff could have chosen to have Jody's father answer Jody's questions metaphorically, with fanciful imagery about fairies or American Indian gods or angels. But instead, the author stuck to science. It was probably much more difficult to integrate actual information into her rich prose, but she did so seamlessly, in an accessible way that my 4- and 6-year-old daughters grasped on the first reading, and remembered afterward. I was impressed. And, in a departure from typical children's books, the book includes a bonus "Creative Minds" nonfiction section at the back, with facts about meteors, meteor showers, and comets, plus a fun "comet cookie" activity. I now know the difference between meteors, meteoroids, and meteorites -- which, as someone who strives to be as culturally and scientifically literate as possible, I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to relearn."
- Debra Ross.

Heartland Reviews

Young Jody is awakened by her dad late one night to see a piece of another world. As they drive together past familiar landmarks which appear different in appearance and purpose late at night. Jody wonders if this the other world until her dad parks his pickup in an empty field and they lie down together in the back and watch falling stars, better known as meteors, or pieces of another world.

In the back of the book are meteor facts and math and even a recipe for meteor cookies. We rated this book four hearts.
- Bob Spear, Publisher and Chief Reviewer. 

Horn Book Guide - Fall 2006

Jody’s father wakes her in the middle of the night to see not the ice-cream parlor nor the lake they drive by, but a meteor shower viewed from their truck bed. The lead-up feels extended, but careful observations and a warm tone are generally effective. Details about meteors and related activities are appended. Rating 4: Recommended, with minor flaws.

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database

Daddy has a surprise for daughter Jody when he takes her outside in the middle of the night to see pieces from another world.  Wonders abound for her when they visit the ice-cream store, drive on the dark country roads, and go to the lake to discover the “pieces.”  She has never experienced anything this late at night.  Her anticipation grows as she waits to discover what they will see.  Finally, gazing at the night sky from the back of their pick-up, they see meteors and capture the thrill of something from another world.  Simple, but informative text introduces readers and listeners to the basics of what a “shooting star” really is.  In addition, excellent end matter consists of ideas for creative minds, a math game, directions for holding a meteor watching party, a recipe for comet cookies, and a page about the orbit of comets.  Tantalizing, colorful illustrations add to the book’s appeal.  School classrooms and libraries will benefit from using this book as a supplement to science curriculum.  It is also a “good read” for any curious young students.  The publisher’s website offers links that give out more information about the topic of meteors.
- Nancy Garhan Attebury

Sky & Telescope Magazine, January 2006

Experience the thrill of seeing your first meteor again through the eyes of Jody-bird. In this beautifully illustrated book, a father takes his daughter to see her first-ever meteor shower. Along the way we learn a bit about the people and animals that come out after dark. Rockliff's book concludes with a recipe for comet cookies, fun facts about meteor showers, and tips for hosting your own meteor-watching party.
- David Tytell

NSTA Recommends (National Science Teacher Association)

Looking up at the night sky and catching a glimpse of a meteor streaking into the Earth’s atmosphere is a magical moment for anyone. The author of this book takes readers on a journey with a child and her father as he takes her out into the country to witness her first meteor shower---her experience with Pieces of Another World.

The author weaves scientific fact and information into the story with so little effort that readers hardly realize they are learning while reading this endearing story. An abundance of information is presented. Not only does the reader learn about meteor showers but also there is a valuable comparison of daytime to night activities; the activities of the different wildlife are shown in the illustrations.

The book closes with the characters understanding what a meteor shower is. If readers are left wondering, they can continue to read the "Creative Minds" page where they are given more facts about meteors and are challenged to some meteor math. The author goes on to give readers five steps to a "Fantastic Meteor Watching Party" and a website to check for the best nights to see a meteor shower.

This book would make a perfect book to start young minds on the road to inquiring about the night sky. Share this book with them, check the date for an upcoming shower, grab a blanket, and head out to the country. I’m sure you’ll make memories that will last forever! 
- Tonya Arnold, 4th grade teacher

Judith Nasse

Jody wonders why her daddy is waking her up in the middle of the night to go out with him. He only says, "I’ve got a sight for you to see." And, he smiles mysteriously. They drive to an empty field so quiet that they can see and hear the night animals. As they look up into the sky they see a meteor shower, pieces from another world!

The story is intimate, a never to be forgotten moment in a child’s life. Yet, it is also informative so that young readers can understand the nature of our sky and its meteors. Watercolor illustrations by Salima Alikhan add to the loveliness of the nighttime setting with a deep richness. Included with all the other information and activities in the back is a yummy recipe for Comet Cookies. This book is well done by author Mara Rockliff and is a must for young readers 3 – 8 years old, as well as for their parents and teachers.
- Judith Nasse

Washington Parent - Feb 2006

With lyrical writing and a hint of mystery, author Mara Rockliff invites young readers on a night journey with Jody and her father to discover Pieces of Another World (Arbordale, 2005, ages 3 to 8, $15.95). "What are these pieces?" Jody wonders as Daddy drives deeper into the country while "quiet blackness wrapped around [them] like a blanket." Along the way, Jody sees a curious fox, hears a screech owl and watches a huge buck melt into the darkness. Finally, Daddy points out a streak of white in the sky--a meteor as little as a pebble. He calls it a "'hey-there' from outer space--a tiny piece of some distant world." Graceful, dark-toned watercolors by Salima Alikhan reinforce the sense of magic to be found in the natural world. A "Creative Minds" educational component in the back includes additional information about meteors and tips on organizing your own meteor-watching party.
- Mary Quattlebaum

National Center for the Study of Children's Literature

Father and daughter share the late night adventure of a trip out of town to see ".some pieces from another world." The reader follows the daughter's excited anticipation of something wondrous revealed at night-something very special. What could the vision be? Shooting stars--showers of them! The father escorts his appreciative daughter into another world right here on earth-and subtly models a close, caring relationship.

Alikhan's watercolors brilliantly picture the story. Her owl, her deer, her skies are richly depicted, and a lovely dreamy painting of the child floating in the sky with the prancing stars ends the fine collaboration.
- A. Allison

Books to Borrow, Books to Buy

One night Jody's dad wakes her up in the middle of the night and tells her to put her shoes on because they are going out in their pickup truck to see something special - something that comes from another world.

Stretching blankets out in the back of the truck, they lay down and watch the stars. Then the magic begins as the first meteor shoots across the sky, followed by many more meteors, some even exploding like fireworks. The meteors are from outer space - tiny pieces from another world.

Nature, science, imagination, and a special time between a father and daughter are perfectly blended together to make this selection interesting and engaging while also offering a fun suggestion to explore the nighttime sky together.
- Kendal Rautzhan

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine - April 2007

Pieces of Another World is as heartwarming as it is beautiful. This title from Arbordale is chock full of gorgeous watercolor illustrations, wrapped in a hardcover, dust jacketed, 32-page book.

The story follows Jody and her Dad as they spend time together observing the stars in the night sky -- a simple story full of wonder and joy. Very sweet and interesting. As always, Arbordale books don't just tell a story. A section titled "For Creative Minds" includes a recipe for "Comet Cookies"; information on meteors, meteorites, and meteoroids; a diagram of a comet's orbit; and a "Meteor Math" exercise. You can find even more at the Arbordale website. Arbordale books are, yes, great hardcover storybooks and so much more.
- Lisa Barthuly