Beyond: Discoveries from the Outer Reaches of Space takes readers on a profound journey beyond our solar system and explores the marvels of interstellar space. A wonder-filled poem and spectacular illustrations explore everything from dwarf planets and black holes to dark matter and brand-new stars.
Today author Miranda Paul joins us to discuss her inspiration for Beyond, the picture book’s unique format, and her favorite celestial body!
Why did you write this book as a poem/poems?
With poetry, the words are often fewer and so each one carries a lot of weight. This is similar to space. There’s a lot of dark, seemingly empty spaces, and it’s so vast. Each thing—a star, a nebula, a planet—is to be celebrated. Because there’s so much we still don’t know about space, I wanted to take the reader on an emotional journey just as much as a scientific one, sparking curiosity and awe. My readers today will be the explorers of tomorrow.
What is your favorite exoplanet?
Beyond shows you just a few other worlds. Imagining what life could be like on an exoplanet is exciting. Early on, my favorite exoplanet was Kepler-186f, because it was in a habitable zone, like Earth. But while researching Beyond, I came upon some super unusual exoplanets like HAT-P-7b where it may rain rubies and sapphires. I wouldn’t want to live there, to be sure, but I wouldn’t mind seeing some live footage!
What inspired you to write Beyond?
When I was in school, we learned about the Solar System, or most of it, but the learning stopped there—as though there was a boundary. Scientists have learned a tremendous amount about space in last couple of decades, however. With increasing technology, our understanding of the size of space and the intergalactic neighborhoods has deepened. I don’t know that school books have quite caught up yet, but I thought a fairly short picture book could be an accessible way to introduce children (and their parents) to the wonders of the world beyond and invite them to then check out more books on their favorite topic presented here.
What’s your favorite star, moon, or other celestial body?
Miranda. No, really! I share the same name with a moon on Uranus. It’s a fun way to introduce myself at parties. Nasa describes Miranda “like Frankenstein’s monster,” in that “it was pieced together from parts that didn’t quite merge properly.” As someone who has worked many different jobs and writes both fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books, I feel that way about myself sometimes!
This book has a preface—it starts before it actually starts. Why this unique format?
Most space books start with the sun and end with the outermost planets in the solar system. I wanted this book to focus on the stuff we don’t often learn about. So we fly by most of the solar system in the opening pages before the real book even begins. By the time we settle into page 1, we’ve already taken off and are quickly on the journey!
Praise for Beyond
“Hong’s digital artwork has an ethereal quality and flows from page to page . . . a beautiful introduction to primary units on space.”—Booklist
“[A] poetic trip into the universe and well beyond our solar system.”—School Library Journal
“each page is a beautiful swirl of color and depth—each page is worth framing.”— Kiss the Book
Explore deep space with your classroom using this free teaching guide.
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