One week from today, March 6, ASTRONAUT ANNIE releases. After writing nonfiction for 20 years, this is my first fiction picture book. So it’s thrilling to see Annie launch into the world! It’s also fun to share my interest/background in space with readers. (Back in my engineering days I worked on rockets.)
Annie is clever, resourceful, and determined. But what I admire most about her is that she doesn’t let anything stop her from pursuing her dream. And that dream, as the title eludes, is out-of-this-world!
Annie is excited about the upcoming Career Day at school and invites her family to attend. But until then, she has to keep a big secret — Annie can’t share what she wants to be before the “big reveal” at Career Day. Of course, that doesn’t stop her nosy family from asking for clues. Annie gives each family member a different clue, and every one thinks she’s interested in a field he or she loves and gives Annie a gift to use in her Career Day costume.
Problem is, Annie’s dream is very different than her family’s ideas.
But clever Annie finds a way to use all their gifts in her Career Day costume to pursue her dream.
As with most stories, Annie’s journey to publication was rather long. Thankfully her story benefited from many revisions and improved along the way. It also tried various titles — Annie’s Big Secret, Annie’s Career Day, and Samara’s Surprise to name a few.
Then on one of my momentous birthdays ending in zero, an incredibly thoughtful friend (Ellen Hughes) “published” ASTRONAUT ANNIE complete with my children’s illustrations. Although the print run was small —1 hardback — it was very well received!
Years later, I met the fabulous Nicole Tadgell at ALA during signings for two books we’d created together, FRIENDS FOR FREEDOM and WITH BOOKS AND BRICKS. That day we chatted about many topics, including the need for more books with diverse characters in nonfiction and fiction stories. For some reason we also started talking about Astronaut Annie.
Fast forward — I sent the story to Tilbury House, they loved it, and they asked Nicole to illustrate the book. Fortunately, she agreed!
Nicole also kindly agreed to answer a few questions for PBB about her striking watercolor illustrations for ASTRONAUT ANNIE.
3. What did you enjoy most about illustrating this book?
4. Did you encounter any unique illustration challenges in this project?
Thank you, Nicole, for sharing your phenomenal talent with the book and your time for this interview!
I can’t think of a better way to end this post than to celebrate four ground-breaking women who achieved incredible firsts in space— Sally Ride, Mae Jemison, Peggy Whitson, and Kathryn Sullivan. These women are also featured in ASTRONAUT ANNIE’s back matter pages, along with more enriching STEM content to encourage young readers.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Book & Author Skype Visit Giveaway * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Enter to win an autographed copy of ASTRONAUT ANNIE by leaving a comment on this post.
Teachers can enter to win a free Skype Author Q & A session for their class by leaving their school name and grade in the comments.
Winners will be selected on release day— March 6th! (Though the book’s available for pre-order now.)
And check out Astronaut Annie’s book trailer.
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“A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories.” Kirkus
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I would love to add Astronaut Annie to our Girls with Grit Library! We love “Dangerous Jane” and “Out of School and Into Nature”! Thanks for the chance to win!
Thanks for stopping by Michelle! Your Girls with Grit Library is awesome. I’m going to meet your girls via Skype on March 13th, right?
I’ve read many of your books and own George Gershwin I look forward to reading Astronaut Annie as well.
You’re so sweet Sue. Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed some of my books. Annie is a fun one and I enjoyed getting a chance to do fiction.
This looks like a wonderful book! Going on the to-read list!
Thanks for stopping by Jennifer. I hope you enjoy Annie. She’s a smart, determined girl who I hope inspires other young readers.
Wow! Going to grab this one next week, Suzanne. It looks wonderful.
Thanks for you kind comments Traci. Annie was a lot of fun and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to work with Nicole Tadgell again. Hope our paths cross soon! It’s been too long.
Congratulations! Looks like a wonderfully fun story!
I appreciate you kind comments Elizabeth. Thanks for stopping by!
Oh, this looks fantastic. I have come to LOVE nonfiction picture books, and the art in this one looks particularly breathtaking.
The art is fantastic in this book. I love the brights colors and Nicole’s lovely watercolor illustrations. Thanks for stopping by!
Ooh, I look forward to reading this book!
I hope you enjoy it Debra! Thanks for visiting and reading the post.
Looking forward to adding this great title to our collection to go along with FRIENDS FOR FREEDOM and CLIMBING LINCOLN’S STEPS.
Aren’t you sweet to have those other books. I hope you enjoy Annie. Thanks for stopping by!
What a fantastic book! I can’t wait to read it and look at the wonderful illustrations! Nicole, I’m so sorry to hear about your spouse. I hope this book brings you joy as you go through so many life changes. Congratulations to both of you on work well done!
Thanks for your sweet comments Angie! It’s exciting to finally see Annie blasting off.
Great interview. Can’t wait to read this inspirational book!
I really enjoyed hearing some inside info. from Nicole too. I find early illustrator sketches fascinating. Thanks for stopping by
What a clever story and beautifully illustrated book! Thanks for sharing!
The illustrations are beautiful. I feel so fortunate Nicole signed on to the project. Thanks for stopping by!
How awesome! I’m writing about Peggy Whitson now…love this female astronauts!
How cool you’re writing about Peggy Whitson. She’s incredible. I bet you’re finding the research quite fascinating!
This looks fantastic, Nicole!
I agree, Nicole did an out-of-this-world job on the illustrations. Thanks for stopping in!
This looks like a perfect book for my granddaughter who loves space!
Aren’t you a sweet grandma! I think she would enjoy the book. The illustrations are gorgeous!
Great interview, and it’s fun to see the lifeline of the book’s creation. Should make other writers look through old files to find something to re-envision.
Exactly. I probably should have shared how long this book’s journey was. The first printing by my friend was 2003, so only 15 years! Thanks for stopping in!
Can’t wait to read this!
Thanks for stopping by the blog Rosemary. I hope you enjoy the book!
What a great giveaway — can’t wait fly with this book!
So glad you stopped by Lynne. Giveaways make book launches much more fun!
Yea for girls. Working together we can do anything to make this world a better best!
Oh Terry, you are so right! When women get together nothing can stop them. Thanks for stopping in!
It’s always fascinating to more about an artist’s process. Thank you for sharing this story! Can’t wait to read it!
oops – to learn more… 🙂
I also love to see how different illustrators do research, along with their their sketch and revision process. Thanks for stopping in!
Lovely interview! I am looking forward to reading this book and enjoying the wonderful illustrations.
Glad you enjoyed the interview Stacy. I hope you enjoy the book as the illustrations are truly wonderful. Thanks for stopping in!
I love the watercolor illustrations. I can’t wait to read/see the book in it’s entirety.
Watercolors lend to such vivid, lovely illustrations. Nicole’s work in this book is remarkable. Hope you enjoy the book.
This will be a wonderful gift for my granddaughter, who will turn 7 a week after the book’s release, & who is interested in making a career in astronomy! Love the illustrations.
What fun to have a granddaughter turning 7 soon. And how exciting she love astronomy! Go girls!
Suzanne, I can’t wait to read the story.
Hi Susan! Hope you enjoy it, and I’m so glad you stopped by again. I love hearing from you and hope your writing is going well!
I’m really looking forward to reading this book, and the illustrations are so beautiful and inviting. Great work!!
That a great word to describe the illustrations — inviting. Because they really are. I hope you enjoy the book and thanks for stopping in!
I love the combination of dream career and family love that propels this story. Can’t wait to read it!
We had a lot of fun with this well-meaning family who each had their own ideas for Annie. I also love how diplomatic Annie was able to use the gifts they gave in a clever way to pursue her own dream. Thanks for stopping in!
Thanks for sharing- I look forward to this, and the illustrations are beautiful! Added to my wish list!
The illustrations knocked my socks off. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the book!
Looking forward to reading this fun story Thank you the opportunity to win a copy.
So glad you stopped by Angela. It’s fun to celebrate a book launch with lots of enthusiastic book lovers!
Very interesting post! Astronauts are dear to my heart. I taught 25 years at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School.
How wonderful you were at Christa McAuliffe School for so many years. I imagine there teachers share a lot about the brave astronauts who risk everything on each mission. I’ve done a great deal of research for 2 upcoming books about the Apollo missions and it’s nothing short of amazing what these astronauts do! (I also worked on rockets back in my engineering days, and the technology behind that machinery is phenomenal as well.)
Looking forward to reading this one! Lovely illustrations and a “can-do” female main character!
Yes, Annie has great “can-do” spirit and unwavering determination as she pursues her goal. I hope she inspires many young readers to go after their dreams!
I enjoy reading about space topics and this young astronaut sounds fun to get to know. As a musician who plays many pieces by Gershwin I have to read your nonfiction book to learn more about the man.
Ooo, I’m a big space lover too! (Did you see the recent PBS specials about Mark Kelly’s year in space. It was awesome.) I hope you enjoy the Gershwin book. I learned a great deal about him during my research. He is fascinating!
Another new title. How exciting. I was at the library today looking for some of your books.
And the artwork looks stunning. Can’t wait to see this one in real life.
Aren’t you sweet to check out some of my books at the library! You are so right — Nicole’s artwork in this one is beyond stunning. Thanks for stopping in!
What a great interview! Congratulations, Suzanne and Nicole–the book looks really inspiring!
Glad you enjoyed the interview Linda. Thanks for your kind words!
I can’t wait to read this – love the subject matter & the illustrations!
The illustrations are fantastic. I hope you enjoy the story. Thanks for stopping in!
Annie is a might girl! I look forward to reading this book to my granddaughters [ages 7 & 9]. Thank you, Suzanne & Nicole.
Agreed, Annie is a very mighty girl. Have fun reading it with your sweet granddaughters.\!
What a perfect book to read for National Women’s month. I would love to share this book with my class. What a fantastic interview. Thank you for offering a giveaway.
Suzanne, this book looks excellent! And thanks for this glimpse into the illustration process, Nicole. Looks like a stunning book!
I’m always fascinated to see the illustrator’s process too. Nicole is wonderful!
Beautiful illustrations. I enjoyed seeing the process n steps she took to illustrate this story. Excellent interview.
I also found Nicole’s illustration process very interesting — and this is just a small part of it! So thankful she agreed to do the book. Thanks for stopping by!
Congrat’s Suzanne! This looks amazing and I love the premise. Also really appreciated seeing the background work from sketch to final with the artwork.
I also enjoyed seeing some of Nicole’s steps that I didn’t see in the sketches I was reviewing along the way. You illustrators work very hard!
Well, I’m completely intrigued and need to read this picture book!
And I agree with Mike Boldt–love that you did that with the sketches/final art!
It’s also so interesting to me to go back and revisit the steps on a book, since it happens over such a long time period. It’s always fun to compare sketches with final art. Thanks for stopping by!
Adding it to my list. I’m really enjoying fiction stories with back matter that expands the topic for kids. So helpful!
You know, I always put back matter in my nonfiction books (which is all my books until this one), so I didn’t even think about the fact that I was putting back matter with a fiction book. Huh. Guess it works! And guess I always have more to say. (My husband would agree with that statement!)
Just found out you’re coming to Woodview’s Reading Night!!! Soooo excited!!! (And of course LOVE all of your books, but I have a personal fav that is connected to my fav Prez.)
I’m looking forward to visiting Woodview and seeing you!
I love PBs with back matter. Looks like a great mentor text for writers like me. And Annie looks like a great role model for dream seekers.
I’m an old Trekkie who gobbles up any science fact and fiction book I get my hands on no matter what the age level, so I will definitely be checking this one out. Thanks for sharing its background story, Suzanne and Nicole.