The Squirrel That Watched the Stars: A new celestial picture book

I’m very happy to share my latest picture book project: The Squirrel That Watched the Stars! It’s written by astronomer Tom Kerss and it tells the story of a curious squirrel living in Greenwich Park, in London. One night as he’s wondering about the stars above him, and watching the astronomers hard at work in the old observatory, he receives a visit from none other than Cygnus the swan (of constellation fame!), who floats down from the sky to teach him about her world of stars. 

The opening spread, showing green Greenwich Park, with the old observatory, the squirrel’s big oak tree, and London skyline in the background

This was such a joy to illustrate, not only because it’s a lovely story and Tom is a great client, but also because I’ve always loved astronomy and I was able to draw lots of my favorite things! I’m sharing several of my fave illustrations from the book here. 

The squirrel gazing up at the stars
The squirrel in his tree, wondering about the stars while the pigeons and ring-necked parakeets of London snooze

I enjoyed creating the contrast between a fluffy, furry squirrel and an otherworldly, scintillating swan, not to mention using lots of twisted oak branches covered in leaves and acorns to frame elements and create the leafy green world of the squirrel’s home. 

When Cygnus appears in front of the squirrel, much to his surprise!
Cygnus introduces herself

I also had a lot of fun capturing the observatory and its green parkland setting, as well as the huge telescope that lives in the observatory. I have to admit that telescope was an interesting challenge as it’s housed in an antique, complicated iron framework that allows it to move and which I had to translate into a more simplified drawing.

Inside the observatory, the astronomers are hard at work
Cygnus explains how there are more stars than there are people, bicycles, cars or even hazelnuts!

This book really works well on two levels — First, it’s written all in verse, and the soothing rhythm of it paired with the nighttime subject make it the perfect bedtime story for kids. It also teaches some core concepts about the stars and our universe at a level that young future astronomers can appreciate. It even includes a star chart in the back of the book that tells you how to find Cygnus in the sky, and a Star School page that gives some more detailed information about the concepts the Squirrel learns in the book.

My favorite illustration in the book, where the squirrel and Cygnus imagine a nebula, the birthplace of stars!
Cygnus explains how our sun is a star, and every star is a sun
The squirrel says goodbye to Cygnus, who will always be in the sky along with her constellation friends
At the end of a long night, the squirrel goes to bed

If you’d like to pick up a copy, it can be ordered from Amazon US here and Amazon UK here. I really hope you enjoy it, and I’ll share another exciting aspect of this project in my next post. Thanks for reading, and thanks again to my client Tom who made this project so super to work on!

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