Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Washington, D.C.

I’ll be in Washington on Saturday, May 2, for signings at two of that city’s great institutions.

First, from 12:00 to 2:00 I’ll be at the National Air and Space Museum, signing Moonshot. That’s right, Air and Space! Sanctum sanctorum! I’m thrilled to be signing there. Details of the signing are here. Also, it’s Space Day at the museum. I would think that every day there is space day, but apparently Saturday is Space Day. Details of the day’s other events are here.

Then, from 3:00 to 3:30, I’ll be at renowned D.C. bookstore Politics & Prose. Details of that visit are here.

If you’re in D.C. and so inclined, I hope I’ll see you!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Poppy and Ereth

Books finished months and months apart from each other can sometimes be brought together by their publishing schedules and so now, hot on the heels of Moonshot, comes Poppy and Ereth, by Avi, released today.

The Poppy Stories series concludes with this book, which is a bittersweet thing for me. The series has kept me working with Avi, which has been a pleasure and privilege. It has meant the chance to return to characters and settings I enjoy, and to illustrate stories that I always find engaging and rewarding. And, it has kept some variety alive and kicking in my portfolio; I love pen and ink and watercolor, but it’s pleasing, also, sometimes to settle in with a pencil and follow the details. (In a folder somewhere I have the drawings I did for editor Richard Jackson when we were talking about whether the illustrations for the first Poppy should be done in pen-and-ink or pencil. I tried both, and the pencil just felt a better fit for the tone and setting of the story. I couldn’t have imagined that that decision would stay with me the way it has.)

Now a small caveat: the drawings here hit some bumps on the way to the printer. The map in the beginning of the book does not look as it should. The cover art was altered, so that Ereth’s teeth, which should be orange — strange as it might seem, porcupines have lurid, unattractive, and very orange teeth — are now pearly white. None of this made me feel very good. E-mails were exchanged. Future printings and editions will fix these and other small problems, which I do appreciate. Meanwhile, I don't steer you away from this edition. You might even consider first edition Poppy and Ereths to be collector’s items. They might make a pretty good investment. Eh? Maybe? Check with your financial advisor before making bulk purchases.

So, Poppy and Ereth, out today. It has tooth enamel issues but is a good story and a fitting conclusion to a series that means a lot to me. I hope you’ll pick it up and that you enjoy the book!

ADDENDUM: To see the original cover art — and Ereth in all his orange-toothed glory — click here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Today is the official publication date for Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11. The reviews, in order of appearance, are excerpted below:

Booklist (starred review):
“Forty years after NASA’s Apollo 11 mission first landed astronauts on the moon, this striking nonfiction picture book takes young readers along for the ride.... Written with quiet dignity and a minimum of fuss, the main text is beautifully illustrated with line-and-wash artwork that provides human interest, technological details, and some visually stunning scenes. The book’s large format offers plenty of scope for double-page illustrations, and Floca makes the most of it, using the sequential nature of picture books to set up the more dramatic scenes and give them human context.... A handsome, intelligent book with a jacket that’s well-nigh irresistible.”

School Library Journal (starred review):
“Large in trim size as well as topic, this stirring account retraces Apollo 11's historic mission in brief but precise detail, and also brilliantly captures the mighty scope and drama of the achievement.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review):
“A dizzying, masterful command of visual pacing combines with an acute sense of verbal rhythms to provide a glorious account of the Apollo 11 mission, one that stands as the must-buy in this crowded lunar season.... Floca’s language, in one of his longer texts, is equally gorgeous.... Humor lightly applied provides the necessary grounding touch to this larger-than-human endeavor without ever taking away its sense of moment. The front endpapers give detail-loving readers diagrams and a pictorial chronology; the back endpapers contain a brief history of NASA’s lunar program. Breathtaking, thrilling and perfect.”

And hot off the Internet is word that there will be a starred review in the May/June issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

All books are labors of love, but making Moonshot meant more to me — and asked more of me — than any work I’ve done so far. I am grateful for the support the book has received every step of the way from everyone at Atheneum, and I am proud, relieved, appreciative, and happy at the reception the book is receiving.

I hope you’ll find a copy somewhere and that you’ll enjoy it!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Color Me Lunar

Dear blog, where does the time go? Has it really been a month? Apparently yes, so here’s a quick post to announce that I’ve recently put a few Moonshot-themed coloring pages up on my website, here. I’m not sure how much use these coloring pages get, if any; if you or someone you love has ever put crayon to them, fire me an e-mail or, better, a scan, and let me know. In any case, it’s fun to think that someone somewhere might enjoy them sometime, and so there they are!

More about Moonshot tomorrow — the official publication date.