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A standout, informative junior biography that celebrates the solar system and self-taught knowledge.

This absorbing short biography explores the life of Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered the dwarf planet Pluto.

Born to farmers in 1906, Tombaugh and his father and uncle used a Sears telescope to look at the stars in Illinois and Kansas. The budding astronomer, who eventually found Pluto while searching for an imagined “Planet X,” made a better telescope for himself with parts from a Buick automobile. He was eventually hired at the Lowell Observatory because “the observatory was looking for an amateur astronomer willing to work long hours for little pay” in the search for Planet X, which Percival Lowell, the observatory’s founder, was sure existed. Readers are treated to an edifying pastiche of information about the planets, pages from Tombaugh’s observation journals, photographs of Tombaugh and other astronomers, headlines from the New York Times announcing the discovery of Pluto, and much more. Budden ascribes some uncited dialogue to Tombaugh, often using expressions like “HA!” to illustrate his big laugh and sense of humor. The book sticks to the facts and includes plenty of primary sources to provide history and astronomy lovers with visuals, though it doesn’t provide much larger context for early Earthbound space exploration. Addendums provide a glossary, some information about Pluto’s terrain and demotion to dwarf, Tombaugh’s later life, a bibliography (which includes much first-person writing from the subject), and photo credits for all images.


Diane Phelps Budden in Sedona

In another lifetime Diane Phelps Budden had the pleasure of raising two kids and managing a small public library in Michigan. She bought all the books for the library, but her favorites were children’s picture books. Every night she read bedtime stories to her kids. Her best contribution to the small library was building the children’s collection to attract kids who had never used a public library. It was a gratifying experience that drove her author ambitions. She introduced local kids to Dr. Seuss books and other favorites at monthly story hours. Talking with children and nurturing their minds—seeing the rapt little faces glowing with curiosity and joy—is what drove her to write stories. Of course, life intervened and she went on to a marketing career for a Fortune 500 company that also helped her to develop and present workshops on a variety of topics related to self-publishing. (If you want more information on her capabilities and experience, fill out the contact form on this page.)
Diane’s first published children’s books were about ravens. She discovered them after moving to the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, where they are beloved backyard birds. Ravens are rascals as playful as toddlers, and talkative and smart as a parrot or dolphin. Watching them soar in pairs through the blue sky was inspiring. Fast forward to pandemic times and Diane learned about a man who had discovered planet Pluto in 1930 at Lowell Observatory near her home. Clyde W. Tombaugh’s perseverance and passion for astronomy helped him find Pluto. He is a great role model for kids and adults alike. It was a story that needed to be told: Needle in a Haystack: How Clyde W. Tombaugh Found an Awesome New World. 

When not writing and reading, Diane “makes art.” A former printmaker and sculptor, she has taken on the medium of oil pastels to paint her world. She travels frequently to learn more about how others live and think.
Finally, read to your kids every day. And read books for you too. Life is better with books!


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Upcoming Events

News and Events


Diane visits schools, libraries, and museums around Arizona to present book talks, story hours and workshops about self-publishing. Interested in hosting?

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