Home / Sun Devil Shelf Life / Just Right
illustration of child in neighborhood looking up at night sky while standing next to a telescope
January 2019
Macmillan / Roaring Brook

College or Unit:

Just Right

Searching for the Goldilocks Planet
Curtis Manley
Illustrated by: 
Jessica Lanan

Do you wonder if humans are the only beings who wonder if they are alone in the universe?

Our sun is a star. In the night sky are all kinds of stars, and orbiting those stars are planets like the ones in our own solar system. Some of those planets are too big to be habitable. Or too small. Too hot or too cold.

Planet Earth is not too big, not too small, not too hot, and not too cold. It’s just right — our very own Goldilocks planet. Are there other habitable planets besides Earth? Are they home to beings like us? How would we interact with them?

Follow a young girl as she explores these questions in this gorgeous book about the wondrous search for another Goldilocks planet.


Curtis Manley grew up building model rockets and reading science fiction about aliens and long trips to other star systems. He received his MS and PhD degrees in geology from ASU in 1986 and 1994, respectively. Manley lives near Seattle with his wife and their daughter, who was born in the year that the first exoplanet orbiting a Sun-like star was discovered.

Praise for this book

Manley’s writing swings gracefully between factual descriptions (“Earth orbits in our solar system’s ‘habitable zone’”) and more lyrical observations: “All stars twinkle, but some stars also seem to wink at us… as if saying, ‘I know a secret.’ ” … Richly informative prose and intimate yet expansive art show a child’s contagious enthusiasm for the book’s subject. Includes a timeline of astronomical discoveries and suggestions for further reading.

Publishers Weekly

Woven through the text are the twin narratives of the girl and her family's visit to the planetarium and its "Searching for Exoplanets" exhibition. The illustrations, suffused with glowing light, are dynamically varied ... An attractive and informative volume for young stargazers.

Kirkus Reviews