Today I had the pleasure of visiting Whitchurch Primary School in Hertfordshire. Super school librarian and award-winning book blogger, Jo Clarke (AKA Book Lover Jo) had invited along to read some of my books to their pupils alongside pupils from Long Parrish Primary (who bussed their way to Whitchurch). It was a full house and the pupils were so prepped and engaged that they practically read along with me. I read Please Mr Panda (I can't not read this book); we journeyed through the detailed visuals of When I Grow Up; we met the Monster in the Hood; and I taught everyone how to draw Mr Panda by only using shapes and letters. They especially enjoyed listening to Monster in the Hood. Bookstore, P&G Wells, kindly attended with a piles of books. Here are some photos from the day courtesy of Jo and Dave from P&G Wells. Oh and if you're not already familiar with Jo's Clarke's book blog, I recommend you go check it out: https://bookloverjo.wordpress.com/
Suffice to say, this book features the planets of our Solar System (and little Pluto), but if you look hard enough you might just find the following.
1. Sputnik 1 - The first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957, orbiting for three weeks before its batteries died.
2. Voyager 1 - A space probe launched by NASA on September 5, 1977 as art of the Voyager program to study the outer Solar System
3. Laika - Laika was a Soviet space dog who became one of the first animals in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth.
4. Lunar Rover - A lunar rover or Moon rover is a space exploration vehicle designed to move across the surface of the Moon.
5. Curiosity - Curiosity is a car-sized rover designed to explore Gale Crater on Mars as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission.
6. Face on Mars - The "Face on Mars" was photographed by the Viking 1 spacecraft as it made its way to the Red Planet. The image shows what seems to be a giant humanoid face, carved out of or even built onto the surface of Mars.
7. Crop Circle - Crop Circles are geometric patterns that appear mysteriously in crop fields. The term was first coined in the early 1980s by Colin Andrews. Although obscure natural causes or alien origins of crop circles are suggested by theorists, there is no scientific evidence for such explanations.
8. International Space Station - The International Space Station is a space station, or a habitable artificial satellite, in low Earth orbit.
9. The American Flag - NASA's Apollo 11 blasted to the moon on July 16, 1969. Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins were the astronauts on Apollo 11. Neil Armstrong became the first human to step on the moon. They both planted the U.S. flag there.
10. Mice on the Moon - The myth that the moon is made of cheese has been around for millennia. The best-known early citation dates to 1546, and can be found in The Proverbs of John Heywood (which can be read in its entirety here). The document is a compendium of some of the titular author’s most famous sayings, such as “the more, the merrier,” “a penny for your thoughts,” and “Rome was not built in a day.” At one point, he jokingly states “the moon is made of greene cheese” (in this context, “greene” refers to the food’s age rather than its color).
11. A subtle reference to a popular American science fiction television series and movie franchise.
12. Mr Panda - Mr Panda is from my ongoing 'Mr Panda' series. He also appears in The Queen's Handbag and The Queen's Present.
13. Another nod to a popular American science fiction television series from the 1960s (this time, in the text).
14. The Queen's Hat - The Queen's Hat appears four times in this book.
15. The Sneaky Swan - This thieving swan stars in The Queen's Handbag, but he also make a brief appearance in The Queen's Present, too.
16. Royal Guard and Police Officers - These characters are from The Queen's Hat and The Queen's Handbag, respectively.
17. Blip - Blip stars in her very own book called Unplugged, but she does manage to make a cameo in The Queen's Lift-off.
18. A Lizard - This lizard is from my book, Green Lizards Vs Red Rectangles.
19. The Alien Butler - The Alien Butler has replaced the Queen's actual butler in this book, as he follows the hoards of astronauts through space with a tray of tea.
20. An Elf - This elf is from The Queen's Present.
21. A Comet - An icy small Solar System body that, when passing close to the Sun, warms and begins to release gases, a process called outgassing.
22. The Asteroid Belt - The asteroid belt is the circumstellar disc in the Solar System located roughly between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter.
23. Contents from The Queen's Handbag including lipstick, perfume, a notepad, crossword puzzle, pen, a safety pin, compact mirror, spectacles, sweets and doggy treats for her corgi.
24. The Alien Queen and Space Corgi
25. Big Ben - Yes, Big Ben, a nod to the first book in The Queen Collection, is somewhere in this book.
Here's the cover and a little sneak peek at the insides!
For those that love spotting the butler in this series, you won't be disappointed! And just like the previous three, it's all about the landmarks; or in this case, the planets! There might even be a black hole and perhaps an alien or two (or two hundred). The hardback will publish first in the UK, Sept 7. And it just so happens that the UK paperback release in 2019 coincides with the 50th Moon Landing Anniversary.
Who knew The Queen's Hat would become a series? Below are the other three in the series, along with some inside illustrations. As you'll know, Part 1 was a hat chase across London, Part 2 was a swan chase across the UK, and Part 3 was globe trot for the perfect Christmas present, so it made perfect sense to take the Queen where no person (or Queen) has gone before!
All of my picture books are first published in the UK. Here are a couple of places you can preorder The Queen's Lift-off: Waterstones, Amazon. To see what's out in your country, check out the following links.
Buy in the States: Barnes and Noble, Amazon
Buy in Australia: Booktopia, Dymocks, Angus & Robertson
Buy in Canada, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Taiwan. For other countries, please visit your local or online bookstore.