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Dark Matters: Nature's Reaction to Light Pollution Hardcover – July 30, 2017

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5–8—Combining science with storytelling, the author presents the case for less light and more darkness. Starting with her 13-year-old self, Galat communicates her early fascination with the night sky and the constellations. As time passes, her passion grows to include birds and then expands to all animals, most particularly those that thrive in darkness. As an adult biologist, she recounts memories of camping out under the stars, roasting hot dogs over a fire, and learning to drive on deserted roads. These impressions segue into factual accounts of the devastating effects of modern artificial lighting on birds, mammals, amphibians, insects, and plants. The cumulative effect can change the ecology of an area and even lead to extinctions. The pacing of the narrative is relaxed and the tone informal, but the science is thorough and grim. Much of the text is superimposed over blue pages filled with stars and is often difficult to read. Colorful photos of night skies, insects, and hatching sea turtles are tempered by images of dead birds and a roadkill raccoon. Readers may be inspired to create change, and Galat provides some very basic starting points (use outdoor lights with motion sensors, Google relevant search terms, etc.). VERDICT Middle school students interested in animals (especially nocturnal ones) and ecology will benefit from this blend of science and memoir.—Eva Elisabeth VonAncken, formerly at Trinity-Pawling School, NY


"Readers will likely be fascinated and horrified by just how extensive a toll light pollution takes on nocturnal animals. The tug-at-the-heartstrings text is accompanied by full-color photographs of animals, including a moose somberly staring at the camera and a raccoon who came out on the wrong end of a fight with a car. Text boxes and sidebars provide further information. . . This is a unique subject that might compel readers to flip the light switch at night."

"Galat writes in an approachable style, allowing the reader to accompany the narrator on a journey that reveals how light pollution affects several taxa, from bugs to birds to sea turtles. Along the way, Galat provides definition for key terms (e.g., natural light, wavelength). Plus, the book is full of beautiful photos highlighting the biology of animals and the extent of light pollution. Overall, this is a great book for the classroom and a jumping off point for students researching new areas of biology and ecology."
National Science Teachers Association

"Impressively 'kid friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, Dark Matters: Nature's Reaction to Light Pollution is very highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Nature & The Environment collections and supplemental studies reading lists."
Midwest Book Review

"Dark Matters is packed full from cover to cover with fascinating and unexpected facts and illustrations. . . Impressively 'kid friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, Dark Matters: Nature's Reaction to Light Pollution is very highly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library Nature & The Environment collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
The Environmental Shelf

"Told through the eyes of 13-year-old Joan who loves the outdoors, readers are introduced to the fragile animals that are impacted by the disappearing darkness. Joan's curiosity is contagious as she discovers the amazing night life of frogs and bats, turtles and fireflies, birds, plants, and more. Best of all, there are tips and suggestions on how young people can help reduce light pollution."
City Parent

"A great book packed with interesting facts and fun storytelling about the amazing night life of plants and animals. Young readers will also learn how they can help reduce light pollution."

"A fusion of memoir and science, Dark Matters tackles an often overlooked form of pollution. Between chronological flashbacks, which cover her early childhood interest in astronomy to choosing a career in ecology, the author explains why species like turtles, birds, insects, and even people need darkness."
Authors for Earth Day

"Galat blends storytelling and facts to explain the impact of light pollution, from sea turtles confused by beachfront lights, to insect populations that shrink because light impairs their ability to find food, to light-intensive commercial fishing that blinds marine life. She offers fascinating insights into sometimes complex topics like how light pollution interferes with the breakdown of chemicals that form smog.
Galat shares memories, such as when on a trip to the World Trade Center in New York she found an injured bird that smashed into a window — a symptom of light pollution's impact on migratory flight paths. . . Her memories are sweet and often poetic, blended with enough facts to make them relatable for readers young or old.
NAIT Techlife Today

"The light, amusing diary style of presentation is especially effective for the target audience. . . Photos chosen for the book are excellent. The starry night sky is used as the backdrop/theme for most pages — very effective to tie the book together. . . Dark Matters is an essential book for everyone to read. We may feel somewhat powerless about the scope of air and water pollution, but we can definitely act to reduce light pollution in our immediate surroundings. Share this book with young people to help them get the message.
Highly Recommended."
CM Magazine

"I remember as a child being amazed at the sight of my first real night sky, undiluted by man-made light! The exhilarating beauty, complexity and infinity of the Universe, right there before my eyes. But, as Joan Marie Galat explains in this book, there is more to light pollution than its effect on star-gazing... the whole world needs dark skies!"
David Saint-Jacques, Canadian astronaut

"A blend of fine storytelling and gripping facts, Dark Matters reveals the need for dark, along with its value to you and the world. A book to share—highly recommended."
David L. Crawford, Ph.D. (Astronomy) and International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) cofounder and former executive director

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Red Deer Press; 1st edition (July 30, 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 72 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0889955158
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0889955158
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 10 - 18 years
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 3 - 4
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.05 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 8 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 11 ratings

About the author

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Although she started making books at the age of nine, Joan Marie Galat wasn’t published until she was 12 years old, when she became a paid weekly newspaper columnist. Today she is the international award-winning author of more than 20 books in eight languages.

Joan shares her love of the stars in the Dot to Dot in the Sky series, which combines sky science with the ancient myths that give night sky objects their names. Her first book, Dot to Dot in the Sky - Stories in the Stars, became a best seller within six weeks of its release. Joan's National Geographic Kids title: Solve This! Wild and Wacky Challenges for the Genius Engineer in You, steers young readers into building their creativity through the engineering process.

Joan’s books for children explore engineering, astronomy, ancient myths and legends, light pollution, volcanoes, history, nature, wildlife, ecology, and other topics. Her work for adults include a travel guide and motivational title.

A prolific writer for all ages and relentless promoter of reading, Joan uses storytelling to connect with audiences. She offers presentations in person and via Skype. Career highlights have involved speaking at a United Nations Environment Programme event in South Korea; presenting at an international book fair in Seoul; touring in Australia; and presenting at schools and libraries across Canada.

Joan operates MoonDot Media, a communications business offering writing and editing solutions in broadcast, print, and multi-media. Freelance jobs have encompassed writing radio and video scripts, an Internet cartoon, magazine articles, exhibit text, speeches, annual reports, and other projects. She also provides consulting for writers on query letters, manuscripts, and the submission process. Visit or www.moondotmedia.come for additional information.


Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
11 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

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Top reviews from other countries

Shawn Nielsen
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good!
Reviewed in Canada on June 29, 2018
Richard Huziak
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great overview of how we need to spend more time ...
Reviewed in Canada on February 5, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read!
Reviewed in Canada on January 18, 2019