Kid Lit Village: THE STARS BECKONED

Hello Readers, Welcome to Kid Lit Village blog! This week we have this gorgeous book titled THE STARS BECKONED: Edward White’s Amazing Walk in Space by Candy Wellins, illustrated by Courtney Dawson. It is published by Philomel Books, April 20,2021.

A lyrical picture book biography of Edward White, the first American to walk in space–and an ode to the beauty and wonder of the stars that brought him there.

Edward White
loved the night,
lived where stars were big and bright.

The evening sky–
so wide, so high.
Made him wonder. Made him sigh.

Edward White was the first American astronaut to walk in space. But before his spacewalk, he was just a boy who loved the stars. As he grew up, he would look up at the night sky in wonder–he knew that, one day, he would visit the stars themselves. In this touching and poignant picture book biography, we see how Edward’s passion for the stars shaped the course of his life, and how he came to realize, even in the depths of space, what was ultimately most important to him–his family.

With backmatter containing photos and more information on Edward’s life, Candy Wellins and Courtney Dawson deliver a book that is as much a feast for readers’ eyes as the stars were for Edward’s.

And now I’d like to welcome, Author, Candy Wellins to the blog! Thanks for sharing this beautiful book with us.

author, Candy Wellins

We’d love to hear about the inspiration for your book.

Sure.  I was teaching a middle school science class on the US/Soviet Space Race.  We were discussing who some of the “first” astronauts were–first man and woman in space, first man on the moon, etc.  I knew the names of many of these people, but when a student asked who the first American to spacewalk was, I did not know.  I looked up the answer on the Internet where I found Edward White’s name along with a summary of his trip.  I learned Edward loved his spacewalk so much and was reluctant to reenter the ship even when NASA demanded he go back inside. When he finally reentered the capsule, he declared, “This is the saddest moment of my life.”  Immediately the bells in my picture book writing brain started ringing.  Here was a somewhat forgotten American hero and space pioneer expressing big emotions that all children could relate to feeling.  At that moment, I knew Edward’s story had to be told. 

That’s wonderful, Candy! There are so many heroes involved in space exploration and it is important to have books that share their accomplishments in a relatable way for children. 

Share a piece of advice for children’s writers.
Don’t get hung up on trends. By the time you write something, sell it and get it published, it will take years and the trend may be over. Instead, write the stories that you believe need to be told.  My next book is about a geoduck, the largest species of burrowing clams in the world.  Believe me, there was no great demand for geoduck stories when I sold it. 

What I love about your advice is it really frees us up as writers to explore the topics that matter most in our lives.


What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

Three things. 1. I hope readers will see that success does not happen overnight.  Sometimes we need to wonder and dream and work for years before we reach that payoff moment.  2. I also hope that kids see the value in following their passions.  Edward loved the stars as a young boy, but never dreamed of being an astronaut because such an occupation did not exist when he was a boy in the 1930s.  Who knows what jobs will exist for the children of today?  If they work hard and follow their interests, they’ll likely find success though.  3.  No matter who you are or how high you soar, the love of your family is always important.  

Sounds like you’ve managed to pack A LOT into one book…fabulous! I imagine it would have taken a fair bit of research and revision to get it to the publication stage…

Here’s a sneak peek into the interior pages of the book:

You’ll find Candy’s website here: www.candywellins.com

And she’s on Twitter… @candy_wellins.  

Thanks for joining us this week, Candy and we wish you the best as you launch this new book into the atmosphere! Readers, I hope you’ll continue to support the authors in the series with your social media shares, library requests and comments. If you have Goodreads, don’t hesitate to add Candy’s book to your to-read list!

If you’re curious about books by Cynthia Mackey and Paula Nasmith, please subscribe to my newsletter.

See you next week with another new book release an interview…hope you’ll join me here! Have a wonderful week.