Radiolab, Obama, and an Out-of-This World Picture Book: Guest Post by David Zeltser + Book Trailer Reveal

Today we welcome author David Zeltser to discuss what inspired him to write his new picture book, The Universe Ate My Homework. Plus, watch the book trailer created by illustrator Ayesha L. Rubio and narrated by Radiolab‘s Robert Krulwich!

David Zeltser on The Universe Ate My Homework

Some stories are like black holes—their gravity is so strong that you just drop everything and fall in. In 2009, I was the hapless victim of one such beast, innocently known as the “DIY Universe” episode of the Radiolab podcast. You can listen to the full episode here.

After hearing Robert Krulwich interview the physicist Brian Greene about how one might create a parallel universe, I dropped everything and began to outline a story about a child who builds a universe of her own. This was the Big Bang for my latest picture book, The Universe Ate My Homework.

The Universe Ate My Homework cover

When I was a kid I was constantly asking questions about how the world worked. I eventually ended up majoring in physics. (The pinnacle of my college career was co-writing a paper with the Harvard physicist Howard Georgi, which I no longer understand, having forgotten quite a bit of math.)

Now I write fiction for kids, but my love of science continues to find its way into my work. My first novel, Lug: Dawn of the Ice Age, was partly a satire about the consequences of ignoring climate change. After the sequel came out, my publisher asked me if I could do a picture book that involved modern physics. Yes! I shot back, I already have an outline.

Later, I learned that I wasn’t the only one who had been sucked in by the “DIY Universe” story. After Radiolab co-host Robert Krulwich read my picture book he shared the following anecdote:

“When I was working on that Radiolab piece, doing the NPR version, Senator Barack Obama wandered into my NPR office, overheard me fussing around, playing Brian Greene bits out loud, sat down to talk about it and then, getting into it, he offered to help me edit it, which he then kinda sorta did, by having a real long conversation about my draft over lunch. A few months later, he began running for president. So to have had a cockamamie idea Brian Greene-ed, Barack Obama-ed and then David Zeltser-ed, I guess is a totally out-of-the-blue triple blessing.”

It may be a blessing but it’s not a coincidence. Some stories are just black holes, sucking in everyone around them!

The Universe Ate My Homework book trailer

Fortunately, Robert liked the book and generously lent his voice to the trailer (which was animated by the book’s multi-talented illustrator, Ayesha L. Rubio). I hope you’ll check out The Universe Ate My Homework at your local bookstore and enjoy the trailer here:

Learn more about The Universe Ate My Homework

“Don’t try this at home, just bring it home. The Universe Ate My Homework is totally safe (and delightful) to read.”—Robert Krulwich, NPR science journalist and co-host of Radiolab

“Even readers who don’t share Abby’s aversion to homework will be sucked in.”—Kirkus Reviews

Read Art Director Danielle Carnito’s blog post about seeing the first sketches of Abby from The Universe Ate My Homework.

The Universe Ate My Homework is available through lernerbooks.comBarnes & NobleAmazonIndieBound, and all major distributors.

Learn more about author David Zeltser

photo of The Universe Ate My Homework author David Zeltser

David Zeltser is the author of the novels Lug: Dawn of the Ice Age and Lug: Blast from the North, as well as the picture books Ninja Baby, Stinker, and The Universe Ate My Homework. He lives in Santa Cruz, California with his wife, daughter and a dog who will gladly eat your homework. Come visit David’s parallel universe at

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