Writing

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CHILDREN’S ASTRONOMY AND SPACE BOOKS

I have written eleven books on astronomy and “space” for children, for a variety of publishers, and my tenth will be published in 2021. My first book, “Journey Into Space” was published by Viking Kestrel in 1988…

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This was quickly followed by my second book, “THE KINGFISHER FACTS AND RECORDS BOOK OF SPACE”…

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Since then I have had a total of nine books published, including these…

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My most recent book, “A CAT’S GUIDE TO THE NIGHT SKY” was published last year by Laurence King.

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With beautiful illustrations created by one of the UK’s most popular and accomplished artists, Brendan Kearney, “A Cat’s Guide To The Night Sky” is being published by Laurence King, and is a guide to the night sky and getting started in amateur astronomy with a unique twist: the book’s main character is a starry-eyed, stargazing cat called Felicity!

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“A Cat’s Guide To The Night Sky” was inspired during a trip to the Kielder Starcamp (”star camps” are special camping events, where amateur astronomers get together at a remote site to enjoy observing and photographing a night sky unspoiled by light pollution) in late 2016, when I briefly took my cat, Peggy – a rescue cat who had a very hard life before being adopted by my partner, Stella – outside to allow Stella to tidy their folding camper without interruption. Whilst holding Peggy in my arms I noticed she was looking at the night sky, eyes darting from constellation to constellation. A classic “light bulb moment” followed I wondered if cats were as fascinated by the night sky as humans. After all, they were often out all night, and from the tops of trees and tall buildings, often in very dark places, they would have a grandstand view of the night sky…

This idea became “A Cat’s Guide To The Night Sky”, a richly-illustrated, fun guide to the night sky, which explains to young readers how to identify stars, planets and constellations. There are star charts for each season, as well as advice on how to see the phases of the Moon, meteor showers and even the northern lights.

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The book’s guide is a fun, starry-eyed stargazing cat called Felicity. She is seen on every page, observing the stars and leaping across the night sky, and was, of course, inspired by and is a tribute to Peggy, who accompanied Stella and I on many astronomy expeditions before she died in 2017. In the book, Felicity strongly resembles Peggy – but with one striking and touching difference: Felicity has a tail, whereas Peggy’s tail was cut off when she was young.

The book is also a tribute to another cat – Felicette. Most people are familiar with the story of Laika, the first dog in space, but few know that in 1963 a French stray cat called Felicette became the first cat to go into space, so I decided to name the book’s narrator in her honour.

“A Cat’s Guide To The Night Sky” is a large format hardback aimed at young readers aged 7-11 and retails for £14.99. It has been published in 15 languages (so far!), including these…

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It is available from all major high street booksellers and online book retailers. You can read Amazon reviews here.

My latest book is “The Solar System”, published by Ladybird books…

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This book is very important to me because when I was a kid at junior school I used to hide in the library at break times and read the “space” books there, hiding behind a curtain until one of the teachers – or most often the Headmaster, Mr Hazzard, who encouraged my interest in science and space from the start and who I suspect knew I was hiding there all along – eventually came and made me go outside. Like many of my astro friends I used to love reading the Ladybird books about space and the night sky. They were (and still are) so colourful and easy to understand, perfect for a space mad kid just starting to learn about the universe and all the wonders in it. So, when I started writing my own astronomy books for kids, many years later, I dreamed of writing a Ladybird book about space, and hopefully helping the space mad kids of today – including any awkward, shy, bullied kids hiding in their school libraries at break times – to “get into” space…

Well, I did it, and I’m super-chuffed about that. I just wish my mum had been here to see it, and to be given her copy; she bought me at least one Ladybird space book when I was a kid, and she knew how much it meant to me when I was asked to write one of my own, but she passed away just over a week before my advance copies arrived. I think she’d have been very proud to see my name on it.

EDITING/CONSULTING WORK FOR PUBLISHERS

I have worked as an editor/consultant on dozens of astronomy and “space” books for a wide variety of publishers. Most of my work has been for USBORNE PUBLISHING. Since 1994 I have edited almost every astronomy book they have produced, including these…

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I have also worked as an editor/consultant for many other publishers, including Ladybird, Monkey Puzzle, Kingfisher, Viking Kestrel, Raintree Publishing, Templar and other publishing houses, working on books such as these…

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And the multi award winning…

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Recently I edited and acted as consultant on this book, written by Sky at Night presenter Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock for Buster Books…

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Most recently I was one of the contributors to this fantastic book published by Penguin. I edited and consulted on the section dedicated to space…

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As you can see, Jess approves..!

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I am currently working on several other astronomy books for various publishers. Details to follow..!

I have also written a book about Felicette, the first (and so far only) cat to have flown into space, and am in the process of trying to find an agent or publisher for it. It is very likely that I will end up self-publishing this book.

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MAGAZINES

I am a regular contributor to the official magazine of the long-running BBC TV series “The Sky At Night”. I have written several features for them in the past few months, and also write features for their very popular website.

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I am also a staff writer for the popular British magazine “All About Space”. I have had many features published in the magazine, and also write six columns/pages in each issue of the magazine, focussing on aspects of amateur astronomy and stargazing.

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I have also had features published in major magazines such as “Astronomy”, “Astronomy Now” and “Sky and Telescope”.

I also write a very popular “Skywatch” column for my local weekly newspaper, “The Westmorland Gazette”.

“ASTRO-POETRY”

When I’m not writing children’s astronomy books and magazine or newspaper articles, I enjoy writing “astro-poetry”, that’s poetry based on and inspired by astronomy- and spaceflight-related stories in the news, and by the universe we live in too.
Please click on the image below to see one of the astronomy-themed poems I wrote for National Poetry Writing Month in 2017…

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I’m very happy to be able to say that not only has my poetry been published in several astronomy magazines, but has also been featured on a number of official NASA websites (see Links below).
You can go to my poetry website by clicking on the following link:
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You can also find some of my poems on other websites by following these links…

2 responses

28 02 2012
loustow

Why do I not have Extreme Space Tourist yet? Off to buy I go!

16 05 2012
Ralph Withers

Hi Stuart,
I found you and your site through a Google search on your name. Your book Astronomy translated into Turkish at 5TL is available through a childrens magazine called “Bilim Cocuk” published here in Turkey. It is a brilliant magazine that would cost £5 a time in the UK but is 4TL here (£1.37). You are in good company here.
Anyway, we would like a copy in English as well as the Turkish translation we already have. I can’t see where to buy on your site?
Look forward gto hearing from you. Your enthusiam inspires.

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