Jessica Lanan
Cover image of picture book 'Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet' featuring a girl with a telescope standing under a starry sky with a large saturn-like planet

Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet

Written by Curtis Manley & illustrated by Jessica Lanan
Roaring Brook/Macmillan Kids, 2019
ISBN: 1250155339

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. Could those planets have life like we do on Earth? 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 . . . .

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

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An American Library Association Notable book for 2020
A SCBWI Golden Kite Honor book
Named to the Bank Street College of Education Best Books list for 2020
A Chicago Public Library best informational book for young readers
A Junior Library Guild selection

The enthusiastic main character lightens what could be weighty scientific information, providing an entry point for newcomers. Lanan’s pleasing, watercolorlike artwork moves between expansive visions of outer space and panels that highlight key concepts. An ideal addition for libraries building or updating STEAM collections.

★ School Library Journal, Starred Review

Richly informative prose and intimate yet expansive art show a child’s contagious enthusiasm for the book’s subject.

Publishers Weekly

Lanan’s illustrations take the concepts to the next level; the choices of scale, color, and detail in her planetary landscapes make visible the text’s content. The clever use of a parallel narrative in the art, which features a young (brown-skinned) girl and her family as they visit a planetarium and bring home a telescope, situates the images of possible other worlds in that character’s imagination.

Horn Book

This is the best kind of science writing—a book that offers as many questions as answers. Aspiring astronomers will love it.


Lanan effectively balances the girl’s visual narrative with the heavier scientific exposition of the text. […] An attractive and informative volume for young stargazers.

Classroom Resources

Detail from illustration in 'Just Right' showing a girl standing with her hands on her hips on a miniature planet that would be much too small to be suitable for life.

STEAM Activites and Lessons

Author Curtis Manley and Curious City worked with librarians Suzanne Costner (2017 Aerospace Teacher of the Year) and Jennifer Beach (Certified Environmental Educator) to create free guided hands-on astronomy activities for educators and librarians. Click the button below to download then all, or explore the individual activities here.

Black and white sketch from 'Just Right' showing an early draft of the page where the family enters the museum.

Interview with Maria Marshall

An interview where I talk about inspirations behind the book and answer questions about the creative process.

JUST RIGHT Illustration Timelapse

Step into my studio and see how I made one of the final watercolor illustrations for JUST RIGHT.

JUST RIGHT Book Trailer

The original book trailer, with music and fancy animated illustrations.