Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Universe According to Kids

By Cameron Crane


This month, Little Pickle Press decided to try something a little different to wrap up our space theme. We figured that since our goal was to teach children about space, it might be fun to let children tell us what they already know about it. Accordingly, I have spent the last few days interviewing and collecting answers from children between the ages of four and eight. Here is what they had to say:

What do you know about the Universe and Outer Space? What’s up there?

Alex (6 years old): “Lots of stars. I like the way they sparkle.”

Ryan (7 years old): “I know that there are seven planets…And I know there are a million thousand stars.”

Matthew (4 years old): “The planet earth. And I don’t know what’s up there. The planet of Universe? That’s it.”

Jack (Almost 8 years old): “Aliens? I think there’s the Sun and Mars and all the moons.”

Jacquelyn (6 years old): “My mom always says ‘Jacquelyn, you’re not the center of the Universe.’ The whole world is the center of the Universe.”

Katie (8 years old): “There’s the solar system. It goes around the Sun.”

Tell me more about the stars. Do you ever wish on a star? What about constellations?

Alex: “I know about constellations. Last night I found a unicorn and a tooth. I lost a tooth last night.”

Ryan: “I know that there are famous contents. No, not contents. What you said. And I only do shooting star wishes. At Echo Lake. There are lots of shooting stars there. What are shooting stars anyway?”

Jacquelyn: “The stars are some of my favorite things that are up there.”

Katie: “There’s so, so, so, so many stars. I like to find them all. I always find more than my sister.”

What about the Planets? What is your favorite planet?

Alex: “Mars is my favorite planet because it is really cool.”

Ryan: “I like Jupiter and Neptune. Is Jupiter the hot one? Actually I like the one with the rings.”

Jacquelyn:
“I pretty much like them all.”

Katie: “I like the one that’s blue mostly.”

And the moon?

Alex: “I like when it’s a full moon. Every full moon we get to stay up more late.”

Jack:
“We have about five moons.”

What about Aliens? Are they out there?

Alex: “There are aliens. They are in my ‘Learn About Space’ book on the Moon. And they are real pictures. They have green skin. Some have three eyes and some have two. There are also purple and pink. I think there are all different colors.”

Ryan: “Maybe on some planets, and I bet only a few people know. Like the people who discovered the planets. They are the only ones that know.”

Jacquelyn:
“Of course there are!”

Katie: “I don’t know because I’ve never seen an Alien up close. Maybe if I saw one up close, I’d know.”

Is there anything else I should know?

Jack: “I think that there are states. Like maybe how on Earth, you know we have states, like Japan? Like Japan and Europe and all those other states, but in Space.”

Ryan: “My birthday is on December 25.”

The Universe According to Kids

By Cameron Crane


This month, Little Pickle Press decided to try something a little different to wrap up our space theme. We figured that since our goal was to teach children about space, it might be fun to let children tell us what they already know about it. Accordingly, I have spent the last few days interviewing and collecting answers from children between the ages of four and eight. Here is what they had to say:

What do you know about the Universe and Outer Space? What’s up there?

Alex (6 years old): “Lots of stars. I like the way they sparkle.”

Ryan (7 years old): “I know that there are seven planets…And I know there are a million thousand stars.”

Matthew (4 years old): “The planet earth. And I don’t know what’s up there. The planet of Universe? That’s it.”

Jack (Almost 8 years old): “Aliens? I think there’s the Sun and Mars and all the moons.”

Jacquelyn (6 years old): “My mom always says ‘Jacquelyn, you’re not the center of the Universe.’ The whole world is the center of the Universe.”

Katie (8 years old): “There’s the solar system. It goes around the Sun.”

Tell me more about the stars. Do you ever wish on a star? What about constellations?

Alex: “I know about constellations. Last night I found a unicorn and a tooth. I lost a tooth last night.”

Ryan: “I know that there are famous contents. No, not contents. What you said. And I only do shooting star wishes. At Echo Lake. There are lots of shooting stars there. What are shooting stars anyway?”

Jacquelyn: “The stars are some of my favorite things that are up there.”

Katie: “There’s so, so, so, so many stars. I like to find them all. I always find more than my sister.”

What about the Planets? What is your favorite planet?

Alex: “Mars is my favorite planet because it is really cool.”

Ryan: “I like Jupiter and Neptune. Is Jupiter the hot one? Actually I like the one with the rings.”

Jacquelyn:
“I pretty much like them all.”

Katie: “I like the one that’s blue mostly.”

And the moon?

Alex: “I like when it’s a full moon. Every full moon we get to stay up more late.”

Jack:
“We have about five moons.”

What about Aliens? Are they out there?

Alex: “There are aliens. They are in my ‘Learn About Space’ book on the Moon. And they are real pictures. They have green skin. Some have three eyes and some have two. There are also purple and pink. I think there are all different colors.”

Ryan: “Maybe on some planets, and I bet only a few people know. Like the people who discovered the planets. They are the only ones that know.”

Jacquelyn:
“Of course there are!”

Katie: “I don’t know because I’ve never seen an Alien up close. Maybe if I saw one up close, I’d know.”

Is there anything else I should know?

Jack: “I think that there are states. Like maybe how on Earth, you know we have states, like Japan? Like Japan and Europe and all those other states, but in Space.”

Ryan: “My birthday is on December 25.”

Science Fiction Geek from the Beginning

By Alex J. Cavanaugh


It stands to reason that a science fiction writer would grow up loving the genre. My name is Alex, and I have been a certified Science Fiction Geek my entire life!

Of course, all ‘geeks’ around my age grew up devouring Star Trek, Lost in Space, The Twilight Zone, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers (I was in love with Erin Gray), The Six Million Dollar Man, and every other show that had the slight aroma of the fantastic. I spent a good deal of my formative years sitting in a darkened theater soaking up Star Wars, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Close Encounters and others. These films took me to places that had my imagination soaring.

Even the bad science fiction films had me at hello. Do you remember Ice Pirates, MetalStorm: The Destruction of Jared Syn, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and Krull? I do. I even recall one special Christmas Eve when my parents dropped my brother and I off at the theater to watch what we all thought was just an animated kid’s movie. Wrong! The movie was Fantastic Planet and the experience akin to a fever dream. Fortunately, I was too young to understand the story, but the weird images stayed with me.

My interest in science fiction continued through my reading material. A big fan of DC comics, I devoured all things JLA, Teen Titans, and The Legion of Superheroes. I also discovered Monster Magazine and was fascinated by Godzilla and other creature features. I know I’m showing my age here, but remember Dynamite magazine? They featured books for kids to order, and I still have my copy of a Buck Rogers seminal novel, now dog-eared and worn.

My imagination was sparked in my youth and I began creating my own space adventures. I wrote about new worlds, strange races, and heroes who would save the universe. I took inspiration from any source, and my interest spilled over into fantasy and D&D. Most of those stories and quests were lost over time—lucky for all of you.


One story survived, though. And almost thirty years later, I completely rewrote it as a tale of war, adventure, and friendship. Only the main two characters and the title survived. That story became my first published book, CassaStar. Next March, the sequel, CassaFire, will be released.

My point is that even children with the weirdest dreams and fantasies can find an outlet for their creativity. It has certainly found its place in my life. Sometimes, it’s good to be the science fiction geek!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and has worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games, and he covers those topics on his blog. His first book, CassaStar, was released last fall and is available in trade paperback and all eBook formats. The sequel, CassaFire, comes out next March.

http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/AlexJCavananugh

Science Fiction Geek from the Beginning

By Alex J. Cavanaugh


It stands to reason that a science fiction writer would grow up loving the genre. My name is Alex, and I have been a certified Science Fiction Geek my entire life!

Of course, all ‘geeks’ around my age grew up devouring Star Trek, Lost in Space, The Twilight Zone, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers (I was in love with Erin Gray), The Six Million Dollar Man, and every other show that had the slight aroma of the fantastic. I spent a good deal of my formative years sitting in a darkened theater soaking up Star Wars, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Close Encounters and others. These films took me to places that had my imagination soaring.

Even the bad science fiction films had me at hello. Do you remember Ice Pirates, MetalStorm: The Destruction of Jared Syn, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and Krull? I do. I even recall one special Christmas Eve when my parents dropped my brother and I off at the theater to watch what we all thought was just an animated kid’s movie. Wrong! The movie was Fantastic Planet and the experience akin to a fever dream. Fortunately, I was too young to understand the story, but the weird images stayed with me.

My interest in science fiction continued through my reading material. A big fan of DC comics, I devoured all things JLA, Teen Titans, and The Legion of Superheroes. I also discovered Monster Magazine and was fascinated by Godzilla and other creature features. I know I’m showing my age here, but remember Dynamite magazine? They featured books for kids to order, and I still have my copy of a Buck Rogers seminal novel, now dog-eared and worn.

My imagination was sparked in my youth and I began creating my own space adventures. I wrote about new worlds, strange races, and heroes who would save the universe. I took inspiration from any source, and my interest spilled over into fantasy and D&D. Most of those stories and quests were lost over time—lucky for all of you.


One story survived, though. And almost thirty years later, I completely rewrote it as a tale of war, adventure, and friendship. Only the main two characters and the title survived. That story became my first published book, CassaStar. Next March, the sequel, CassaFire, will be released.

My point is that even children with the weirdest dreams and fantasies can find an outlet for their creativity. It has certainly found its place in my life. Sometimes, it’s good to be the science fiction geek!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and has worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games, and he covers those topics on his blog. His first book, CassaStar, was released last fall and is available in trade paperback and all eBook formats. The sequel, CassaFire, comes out next March.

http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/AlexJCavananugh

Developing Our Youth

By Stephen Tremp


TV, Videos, and Books

There are many science-based shows on network and TV kids can watch. Dragonfly TV is a science education television series for children, broadcast on PBS. Crash! Bang! Splat! and Mythbusters are two more great ones. NOVA is another PBS program that gets children excited about science. Parents should know some content may be controversial and age appropriate.

For younger kids, the Magic School Bus by Scholastic is a wonderful children’s series about science. An eccentric schoolteacher, Ms. Valerie Frizzle, takes her class on wondrous educational field trips in a magical school bus that can drive them to locations like under the sea or into our solar system, as well as places here on good ol’ planet earth. You can watch clips for free on YouTube, rent DVDs from Netlflix, or take out DVDs and books from your local library. There are also Teachers and Parents sections on the website. Magic School Bus has been a kids’ favorite for years.

Websites

There are countless websites dedicated to developing our youth and promoting science as a way to accomplish this.

OLogy is a very popular site from the American Museum Natural History in New York City. Topics include anthropology, archeology, astronomy, biodiversity, climate change, and earth. They also have the Discovery Room that offers families, and especially children ages 5-12, an interactive gateway to the wonders of the Museum and a hands-on, behind-the scenes look at its science. Every major field of Museum science and research, from anthropology to zoology, is represented.

At Yahoo for Kids topics include Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Computers & Games, School & Homework, Science & Nature, Sports & Recreation.

Girlstart is a non-profit organization created to empower girls to excel in math, science, and technology. Girlstart offers a variety of educational formats designed for girls, adults, and families through after-school programs, workshop series, summer camps, Expanding Your Horizons, and free community events.

Science News for Kids offers information and resources on science topics of interest to young people. Topics include animals, pace and astronomy, the human body, game zone, environment, chemistry and materials, and earth. The website has a tab for teachers with links from resources to science fiction to a listing of recently published books that may be of interest to science and math teachers.

Easy Experiments

What could a parent want more than to have their kids conducting science experiments in the house!

Kids Science Experiments and Science Projects are full of fun, easy and exciting hands-on experiments that will help you answer a lot of questions asked by your children. These simple, safe and easy-to-follow science experiments and science projects can be achieved with everyday materials and recycled items found around your house. Help make learning fun and easy by trying some of these science experiments with your kid’s.

Barnes and Nobles and Borders Books and Music both have kids sections with books about easy science experiments with everyday household materials. I even saw an Idiots Guide to Science Fair Projects. Seriously.

Teach the Children Well is a collection of links to sites carefully selected by a teacher for students as well as their parents and teachers. was designed for elementary grades but many of the sites will also be of interest to older students.

Celebrities


Bill Nye the Science Guy
and Beakman’s World are fun sources of learning for kids (and adults), but are hard to find on TV. You can rent these shows from Netflix and most libraries have them as free rentals. Hundreds of clips can also be found on YouTube.

Steven Spangler
(often seen on the Ellen Degeneres Show) has a website for science toys, supplies, games, and cool science projects for children and teachers. He even has ideas for Spooky Halloween activities. Steve Spangler makes science fun and creative ways to get people engaged in their own learning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stephen Tremp is author of the action thriller Breakthrough. You can visit Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs, where Breakthrough is available for purchase and download to all eReaders.

Developing Our Youth

By Stephen Tremp


TV, Videos, and Books

There are many science-based shows on network and TV kids can watch. Dragonfly TV is a science education television series for children, broadcast on PBS. Crash! Bang! Splat! and Mythbusters are two more great ones. NOVA is another PBS program that gets children excited about science. Parents should know some content may be controversial and age appropriate.

For younger kids, the Magic School Bus by Scholastic is a wonderful children’s series about science. An eccentric schoolteacher, Ms. Valerie Frizzle, takes her class on wondrous educational field trips in a magical school bus that can drive them to locations like under the sea or into our solar system, as well as places here on good ol’ planet earth. You can watch clips for free on YouTube, rent DVDs from Netlflix, or take out DVDs and books from your local library. There are also Teachers and Parents sections on the website. Magic School Bus has been a kids’ favorite for years.

Websites

There are countless websites dedicated to developing our youth and promoting science as a way to accomplish this.

OLogy is a very popular site from the American Museum Natural History in New York City. Topics include anthropology, archeology, astronomy, biodiversity, climate change, and earth. They also have the Discovery Room that offers families, and especially children ages 5-12, an interactive gateway to the wonders of the Museum and a hands-on, behind-the scenes look at its science. Every major field of Museum science and research, from anthropology to zoology, is represented.

At Yahoo for Kids topics include Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Computers & Games, School & Homework, Science & Nature, Sports & Recreation.

Girlstart is a non-profit organization created to empower girls to excel in math, science, and technology. Girlstart offers a variety of educational formats designed for girls, adults, and families through after-school programs, workshop series, summer camps, Expanding Your Horizons, and free community events.

Science News for Kids offers information and resources on science topics of interest to young people. Topics include animals, pace and astronomy, the human body, game zone, environment, chemistry and materials, and earth. The website has a tab for teachers with links from resources to science fiction to a listing of recently published books that may be of interest to science and math teachers.

Easy Experiments

What could a parent want more than to have their kids conducting science experiments in the house!

Kids Science Experiments and Science Projects are full of fun, easy and exciting hands-on experiments that will help you answer a lot of questions asked by your children. These simple, safe and easy-to-follow science experiments and science projects can be achieved with everyday materials and recycled items found around your house. Help make learning fun and easy by trying some of these science experiments with your kid’s.

Barnes and Nobles and Borders Books and Music both have kids sections with books about easy science experiments with everyday household materials. I even saw an Idiots Guide to Science Fair Projects. Seriously.

Teach the Children Well is a collection of links to sites carefully selected by a teacher for students as well as their parents and teachers. was designed for elementary grades but many of the sites will also be of interest to older students.

Celebrities


Bill Nye the Science Guy
and Beakman’s World are fun sources of learning for kids (and adults), but are hard to find on TV. You can rent these shows from Netflix and most libraries have them as free rentals. Hundreds of clips can also be found on YouTube.

Steven Spangler
(often seen on the Ellen Degeneres Show) has a website for science toys, supplies, games, and cool science projects for children and teachers. He even has ideas for Spooky Halloween activities. Steve Spangler makes science fun and creative ways to get people engaged in their own learning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stephen Tremp is author of the action thriller Breakthrough. You can visit Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs, where Breakthrough is available for purchase and download to all eReaders.

The Future of Space Tourism

By Xavier Muldrow


Up until recently, astronauts have been the select group of people with the ability to travel into space and get a first-hand view of the solar system. They have had the unique opportunity to go where few humans have gone before. However, with the continuous advancement of commercial space travel, more people may be able to experience the amazing and breath-taking view of our planet from space. Space tourism is not a new idea, but each passing day it is becoming a more realistic one.

The company Virgin Galactic has been building a spaceship that will be able to take ordinary people, like you and me, into space. They are hoping to launch their first commercial flight within the next couple of years. For an estimated $200,000 a ticket, Virgin’s spaceship will be able to take 6 passengers at a time 100km above the Earth, which is officially considered to be ‘space’. Once the spaceship reaches 100km, the passengers will experience approximately 5 minutes of weightlessness before descending back down to Earth. This is an incredible feat in itself, but the truly amazing part is that they hope to be making at least 4 trips a day!


Although commercial flights will be open to everyone, you will not be able to just pack your bags the night before your trip and walk onto the spaceship. Passengers will first be required to undergo a three day training in the terminal to check their mental and physical fitness. Experts are expecting the majority of people to pass the tests.

Space tourism is truly becoming more of a reality every day. Growing up, I had a dream of one day becoming an astronaut and being able to travel through space and look down on the Earth. However, the qualifications for becoming an astronaut were not strengths of mine, and unfortunately over time my out-of-this-world dream gave way to more realistic aspirations. With the innovation of commercial space travel, that dream has started to light back up. Up-to-date about 500 people that have already traveled into space, and Virgin Galactic has stated that they hope to take thousands of people into space within the first couple years of business.

Although the first launch won’t be close to ready for at least another couple years, 400 tickets have already been booked in anticipation. If Virgin Galactic is able to successfully launch commercial spacecrafts, an entirely new industry sector will unfold. More companies will start to launch commercial space flights, meaning space travel will be within reach for even more people. It is my hope that over time the price of a ticket will decline, and I can finally see my dream come true. But the mere fact that one day I may be able to take that flight is enough for me right now.

The Future of Space Tourism

By Xavier Muldrow


Up until recently, astronauts have been the select group of people with the ability to travel into space and get a first-hand view of the solar system. They have had the unique opportunity to go where few humans have gone before. However, with the continuous advancement of commercial space travel, more people may be able to experience the amazing and breath-taking view of our planet from space. Space tourism is not a new idea, but each passing day it is becoming a more realistic one.

The company Virgin Galactic has been building a spaceship that will be able to take ordinary people, like you and me, into space. They are hoping to launch their first commercial flight within the next couple of years. For an estimated $200,000 a ticket, Virgin’s spaceship will be able to take 6 passengers at a time 100km above the Earth, which is officially considered to be ‘space’. Once the spaceship reaches 100km, the passengers will experience approximately 5 minutes of weightlessness before descending back down to Earth. This is an incredible feat in itself, but the truly amazing part is that they hope to be making at least 4 trips a day!


Although commercial flights will be open to everyone, you will not be able to just pack your bags the night before your trip and walk onto the spaceship. Passengers will first be required to undergo a three day training in the terminal to check their mental and physical fitness. Experts are expecting the majority of people to pass the tests.

Space tourism is truly becoming more of a reality every day. Growing up, I had a dream of one day becoming an astronaut and being able to travel through space and look down on the Earth. However, the qualifications for becoming an astronaut were not strengths of mine, and unfortunately over time my out-of-this-world dream gave way to more realistic aspirations. With the innovation of commercial space travel, that dream has started to light back up. Up-to-date about 500 people that have already traveled into space, and Virgin Galactic has stated that they hope to take thousands of people into space within the first couple years of business.

Although the first launch won’t be close to ready for at least another couple years, 400 tickets have already been booked in anticipation. If Virgin Galactic is able to successfully launch commercial spacecrafts, an entirely new industry sector will unfold. More companies will start to launch commercial space flights, meaning space travel will be within reach for even more people. It is my hope that over time the price of a ticket will decline, and I can finally see my dream come true. But the mere fact that one day I may be able to take that flight is enough for me right now.

Back to Basics: Science for All Ages!

By Robert Ade, Chabot Space & Science Center


I have to confess, I was never really interested in science as a student. Then, one might ask, how did I wind up working at a space and science center? The answer is simple—I was instantly inspired by what I saw through giant, historic telescopes. From my first gaze at the cosmos, I decided I wanted to start learning about astronomy and never stop. Like the old Hollies song says, “Just one look…that’s all it took!” Now, I happily get to share my excitement with others.

Recent studies indicate that a majority of our schools are not teaching science adequately. Reasons for this are numerous, but personally, I believe education must begin with inspiration. Being able to build inspiration is the best part of my job. I work at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California, where we have an observatory with world-class telescopes that are open to the public, free of charge. Every Friday and Saturday evening, weather permitting, the telescopes bring the wonders of the universe to students of all ages. My 9-year-old son recently looked at Saturn through a 128-year-old telescope and was immediately wowed. I began to wonder how many thousands of kids have had the same reaction over the years, looking through the same magnificent telescope.


Taking advantage of the longer summer days, Chabot Space & Science center gives us the opportunity to safely observe a nearby star¬—our dynamic Sun—without staying up past our bedtime. Our solar telescopes allow visitors to view prominences dancing off the Sun’s surface. Other instruments on our observatory deck let you observe the Sun and its Earth-sized sun spots, which are caused by magnetic storms on its surface. An additional exhibit displays mesmerizing high definition video of the solar flares blasting from the edge of our active Sun.


Our newer, down-to-earth exhibition allows visitors to become climate scientists at Bill Nye’s Climate Lab. At different stations, clean energy solutions are discovered using a customized Climate Scout ID badge. Bill Nye’s hilarious brand of science education explains how climate scientists use tools to study our planet and its changing atmosphere, and the Climate Lab uses positive messages to increase climate literacy¬—all with the lofty goal to change the world! With some inspiration, anyone can change the world through science—but how?

Ask questions. Talk to people. Visit a science center and start a conversation. Here’s something I like to teach kids (or adults!) who come into the Chabot Space & Science center: understand what a light-year is then teach it to someone else. Pass it along. Join or start a science club at your school or neighborhood. Open your mind and explore the possibilities of sharing science with the universe. Most importantly, make a decision to start learning and never stop.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Robert Ade is the Communications and Media Coordinator for Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California. A former network news producer, he’s opted for the slower pace of looking light-years into space and showing people amazing things through telescopes. The telescopes at Chabot Space & Science Center are open to the public every Friday and Saturday evening, weather permitting. For more information, visit www.ChabotSpace.org

Back to Basics: Science for All Ages!

By Robert Ade, Chabot Space & Science Center


I have to confess, I was never really interested in science as a student. Then, one might ask, how did I wind up working at a space and science center? The answer is simple—I was instantly inspired by what I saw through giant, historic telescopes. From my first gaze at the cosmos, I decided I wanted to start learning about astronomy and never stop. Like the old Hollies song says, “Just one look…that’s all it took!” Now, I happily get to share my excitement with others.

Recent studies indicate that a majority of our schools are not teaching science adequately. Reasons for this are numerous, but personally, I believe education must begin with inspiration. Being able to build inspiration is the best part of my job. I work at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California, where we have an observatory with world-class telescopes that are open to the public, free of charge. Every Friday and Saturday evening, weather permitting, the telescopes bring the wonders of the universe to students of all ages. My 9-year-old son recently looked at Saturn through a 128-year-old telescope and was immediately wowed. I began to wonder how many thousands of kids have had the same reaction over the years, looking through the same magnificent telescope.


Taking advantage of the longer summer days, Chabot Space & Science center gives us the opportunity to safely observe a nearby star¬—our dynamic Sun—without staying up past our bedtime. Our solar telescopes allow visitors to view prominences dancing off the Sun’s surface. Other instruments on our observatory deck let you observe the Sun and its Earth-sized sun spots, which are caused by magnetic storms on its surface. An additional exhibit displays mesmerizing high definition video of the solar flares blasting from the edge of our active Sun.


Our newer, down-to-earth exhibition allows visitors to become climate scientists at Bill Nye’s Climate Lab. At different stations, clean energy solutions are discovered using a customized Climate Scout ID badge. Bill Nye’s hilarious brand of science education explains how climate scientists use tools to study our planet and its changing atmosphere, and the Climate Lab uses positive messages to increase climate literacy¬—all with the lofty goal to change the world! With some inspiration, anyone can change the world through science—but how?

Ask questions. Talk to people. Visit a science center and start a conversation. Here’s something I like to teach kids (or adults!) who come into the Chabot Space & Science center: understand what a light-year is then teach it to someone else. Pass it along. Join or start a science club at your school or neighborhood. Open your mind and explore the possibilities of sharing science with the universe. Most importantly, make a decision to start learning and never stop.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Robert Ade is the Communications and Media Coordinator for Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California. A former network news producer, he’s opted for the slower pace of looking light-years into space and showing people amazing things through telescopes. The telescopes at Chabot Space & Science Center are open to the public every Friday and Saturday evening, weather permitting. For more information, visit www.ChabotSpace.org

What it Takes to Become an Astronaut

By Xavier Muldrow


“What do you want to be when you grow up?” If you ask a group of children this question, you will most likely hear dreams of becoming a policeman, a firefighter, or even a super hero.

Well, my answer used to be an astronaut. Growing up, I remember thinking that it was the coolest thing to be able to float around in a rocket ship, eat space food, and of course, walk on the moon. However, as I started getting older, I began to realize there were no astronaut training classes in school, and I really had no direction in figuring out how to become the amazing astronaut I wanted to be. Eventually, my lack of knowledge caused my dream to fade. So, I decided to research what it really takes to become an astronaut for those that want or ever wanted to become one.

There are three types of astronauts in the U.S. space program: commander/pilot, mission specialist, and payload specialist. The commander is in charge of the mission, the crew and the space shuttle. The pilot supports the commander in operating the ship and installing the satellites. The mission specialist works with the commander and pilot in shuttle operations, performs spacewalks and conducts experiments. The payload specialist performs any specialized duties the mission requires.

You must apply for one of these positions by filling out an application and going through one week of interviews, tests, and orientations. Every two years the best 100 candidates are selected by NASA. The basic requirements to qualify for candidacy are the following:

• U.S. citizenship
• Bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological sciences, physical sciences, or mathematics
• 3 years of related experience after obtaining the bachelor’s degree (a master’s degree equals one year of experience, and a doctorate equals three years).
• Passing a NASA space physical
• More than 1,000 hours experience as pilot-in-command of a jet aircraft
• Height of 58.5 to 76 inches (148.5 cm to 193 cm)

If selected, you will then undergo a two year training program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where you will take classes in basic science, technology, and space shuttle systems. You will also be trained in land and sea survival techniques, SCUBA, microgravity, high and low-pressure environments, and spacesuits. At the end of the two years, some of the candidates will be selected to become astronauts. If you are chosen as an astronaut, you will continue taking classes and training until you are selected for a flight, at which point you will start specific training for the mission at least 10 months prior to the big day of your launch.

As you can see, becoming an astronaut takes a lot of schooling and training, as well as dedication and a little luck. People work their entire lives for one launch. I’m sure that all that hard work pays off once you are in space looking back at Earth. It must truly be a remarkable experience, and it is no surprise that it takes a remarkable person to accomplish it. Making the dream of becoming an astronaut a reality takes a lot of perseverance, but it is not out of reach. If you or your child aspires to being an astronaut, you now know what it takes.

What it Takes to Become an Astronaut

By Xavier Muldrow


“What do you want to be when you grow up?” If you ask a group of children this question, you will most likely hear dreams of becoming a policeman, a firefighter, or even a super hero.

Well, my answer used to be an astronaut. Growing up, I remember thinking that it was the coolest thing to be able to float around in a rocket ship, eat space food, and of course, walk on the moon. However, as I started getting older, I began to realize there were no astronaut training classes in school, and I really had no direction in figuring out how to become the amazing astronaut I wanted to be. Eventually, my lack of knowledge caused my dream to fade. So, I decided to research what it really takes to become an astronaut for those that want or ever wanted to become one.

There are three types of astronauts in the U.S. space program: commander/pilot, mission specialist, and payload specialist. The commander is in charge of the mission, the crew and the space shuttle. The pilot supports the commander in operating the ship and installing the satellites. The mission specialist works with the commander and pilot in shuttle operations, performs spacewalks and conducts experiments. The payload specialist performs any specialized duties the mission requires.

You must apply for one of these positions by filling out an application and going through one week of interviews, tests, and orientations. Every two years the best 100 candidates are selected by NASA. The basic requirements to qualify for candidacy are the following:

• U.S. citizenship
• Bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological sciences, physical sciences, or mathematics
• 3 years of related experience after obtaining the bachelor’s degree (a master’s degree equals one year of experience, and a doctorate equals three years).
• Passing a NASA space physical
• More than 1,000 hours experience as pilot-in-command of a jet aircraft
• Height of 58.5 to 76 inches (148.5 cm to 193 cm)

If selected, you will then undergo a two year training program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where you will take classes in basic science, technology, and space shuttle systems. You will also be trained in land and sea survival techniques, SCUBA, microgravity, high and low-pressure environments, and spacesuits. At the end of the two years, some of the candidates will be selected to become astronauts. If you are chosen as an astronaut, you will continue taking classes and training until you are selected for a flight, at which point you will start specific training for the mission at least 10 months prior to the big day of your launch.

As you can see, becoming an astronaut takes a lot of schooling and training, as well as dedication and a little luck. People work their entire lives for one launch. I’m sure that all that hard work pays off once you are in space looking back at Earth. It must truly be a remarkable experience, and it is no surprise that it takes a remarkable person to accomplish it. Making the dream of becoming an astronaut a reality takes a lot of perseverance, but it is not out of reach. If you or your child aspires to being an astronaut, you now know what it takes.

Featured Customer of the Month: The Griffith Observatory

By Cameron Crane

“Man’s sense of values ought to be revised. If all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world!” – Griffith J. Griffith


If you have ever been to Los Angeles, California, you have most likely seen the Griffith Observatory, elegantly peaking over the edge of Mount Hollywood. The Griffith Observatory has become a popular attraction for travelers from all over, for its beautiful architecture and its compelling space and science exhibits. This month, as Little Pickle Press discusses the importance of space exploration, we honor the Griffith Observatory, not only as a cherished customer (they are our biggest seller of Sofia’s Dream!), but also for their dedication to making such an inspirational educational resource available to all.


The Griffith Observatory was donated to the City of Los Angeles in December of 1912, by Griffith Jenkins Griffith, who believed that looking to space gave mankind an enlightened perspective of the world around us. After studying at the Southern California Academy of Sciences, it became Griffith’s vision to make the study of astronomy and science accessible to anybody with an interest to learn. In accordance with Griffith’s will, admission for the Griffith Observatory has remained free to the public since it first opened in 1935.

Today, thanks to Griffith’s vision and those who worked to fulfill and maintain it, the newly-renovated Griffith Observatory remains a valuable resource for the City of Los Angeles and all who come to visit it. Next time you are in the area, we recommend taking a day with your family to explore their wonderful exhibit program, take a look through one of their amazing telescopes, have a bite to eat at the Café at the End of the Universe, and¬—of course¬—stop by The Stellar Emporium Gift Shop to pick up your copy of award-winning Sofia’s Dream!

General Information & Hours of Operation:

Griffith Observatory
2800 East Observatory Road
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Hours of Operation:
Weekdays (Tuesday-Friday): Open 12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Weekends (Saturday-Sunday): Open 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Mondays: Closed

Admission to Observatory building and grounds is free. There is a nominal charge to see shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium Theater.

For more information about the Griffith Observatory, click here.

Featured Customer of the Month: The Griffith Observatory

By Cameron Crane

“Man’s sense of values ought to be revised. If all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world!” – Griffith J. Griffith


If you have ever been to Los Angeles, California, you have most likely seen the Griffith Observatory, elegantly peaking over the edge of Mount Hollywood. The Griffith Observatory has become a popular attraction for travelers from all over, for its beautiful architecture and its compelling space and science exhibits. This month, as Little Pickle Press discusses the importance of space exploration, we honor the Griffith Observatory, not only as a cherished customer (they are our biggest seller of Sofia’s Dream!), but also for their dedication to making such an inspirational educational resource available to all.


The Griffith Observatory was donated to the City of Los Angeles in December of 1912, by Griffith Jenkins Griffith, who believed that looking to space gave mankind an enlightened perspective of the world around us. After studying at the Southern California Academy of Sciences, it became Griffith’s vision to make the study of astronomy and science accessible to anybody with an interest to learn. In accordance with Griffith’s will, admission for the Griffith Observatory has remained free to the public since it first opened in 1935.

Today, thanks to Griffith’s vision and those who worked to fulfill and maintain it, the newly-renovated Griffith Observatory remains a valuable resource for the City of Los Angeles and all who come to visit it. Next time you are in the area, we recommend taking a day with your family to explore their wonderful exhibit program, take a look through one of their amazing telescopes, have a bite to eat at the Café at the End of the Universe, and¬—of course¬—stop by The Stellar Emporium Gift Shop to pick up your copy of award-winning Sofia’s Dream!

General Information & Hours of Operation:

Griffith Observatory
2800 East Observatory Road
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Hours of Operation:
Weekdays (Tuesday-Friday): Open 12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Weekends (Saturday-Sunday): Open 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Mondays: Closed

Admission to Observatory building and grounds is free. There is a nominal charge to see shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium Theater.

For more information about the Griffith Observatory, click here.

One Man Launches the World Into Space

By Anthony J. Iorillo


In 1957, most people had black and white TVs. There were few channels to watch, and no way to get television across oceans. Just twelve years later, a man stepped on the moon, and the whole world could watch it live. This astonishing leap was the achievement of many people. But in my mind, no one stands taller than Sergei Korolev of the USSR, who stunned the world with Sputnik 1 on October 5, 1957.


At the time, I was at Caltech, huddled in a courtyard with classmates, when it zipped across the night sky. The satellite was too small to see. What we actually saw was the spent R7 rocket that launched it. R7’s designer, Korolev, was very anxious to be the first to orbit the Earth. Tired of waiting for a satellite from Moscow, he designed and built the 183-pound Sputnik 1 in four weeks. He gave it an elegant spherical shape and polished it to a high sheen, which he thought would show well later in museums. All it did was transmit a steady “beep”, but headlines the world over declared “RUSSIANS WON THE COMPETITION”. Buoyed by the acclaim, Korlev designed the 1,120-pound Sputnik 2. One month later, it was launched—this time with scientific instruments and a terrier named Laika, whose response, through the rigors of launch and weightlessness, would be useful for training future cosmonauts.


Meanwhile in the USA, our first attempts to orbit satellites, which weighed but a few pounds, failed. They were dubbed “KAPUTNIKS” by Pravda and “FLOPNIKS” at home. Finally, JPL succeeded with the thirty-pound Explorer 1 in January of 1958. With no rockets to match Korolev’s R7, we were off to a painfully slow start in the new “Space Race”.

Unrelenting, Korolev continued his pace of firsts. In October 1959, he launched Luna 3 and hit the moon. On April 12, 1961, he launched Yuri Gagarin into orbit. Both events drew raves worldwide, and our national psyche suffered. Could it be that Stalin’s tyranny had produced a technologically superior society with legions of educated-elite engineers and scientists working tirelessly to be dominant in space? We now know the answer is no, but back then, it wasn’t unthinkable. We knew precious little about what went on inside the USSR. And, certainly, no one would have imagined that such historic accomplishments relied so heavily upon the ability of one daring man. All we knew was that we were in a competition with a formidable opponent, and we seemed to be losing.


Korolev’s exploits were grand enough to motivate President Eisenhower to create NASA, and, later, President Kennedy to call for the Apollo moon landings. One brilliant Russian caused the world to focus its attention on space, and spurred the American juggernaut to action.

Sadly, Korolev didn’t live to finish the race or see the lunar landings. He had never been in good health. He had been a victim of intrigue in Stalin’s era, tortured and imprisoned in the Gulags. He died in 1966, at age 59, as a result of a botched operation. Until then, his identity was kept a state secret. He had worked in the shadows, known only as the Chief Designer. He never enjoyed public recognition, at home or abroad. And it took 30 more years for his role to become fully appreciated. He was an extraordinarily brilliant designer and leader who succeeded in spite of Stalin’s tyranny, and Soviet space efforts faltered with his passing.

Without his R7 masterpiece, and his creative ability to use it, the race into space would certainly have been far less spirited. And, arguably, mankind might still be looking forward to the day a man would alight the moon. The R7 is still in production, and has become the most used rocket in history. Even Americans buy them. Most importantly, we finally know his name. I like to think that somehow he knows all this.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Anthony J. Iorillo retired as President of Hughes Space and Communications Sector in 1994. He received a Hyland Patent Award in 1970, a NASA Spacecraft Design Award in 1971, and a Distinguished Alumnus Award from CALTECH in 1990. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1986, and named a Pioneer of National Reconnaissance in 2001.

One Man Launches the World Into Space

By Anthony J. Iorillo


In 1957, most people had black and white TVs. There were few channels to watch, and no way to get television across oceans. Just twelve years later, a man stepped on the moon, and the whole world could watch it live. This astonishing leap was the achievement of many people. But in my mind, no one stands taller than Sergei Korolev of the USSR, who stunned the world with Sputnik 1 on October 5, 1957.


At the time, I was at Caltech, huddled in a courtyard with classmates, when it zipped across the night sky. The satellite was too small to see. What we actually saw was the spent R7 rocket that launched it. R7’s designer, Korolev, was very anxious to be the first to orbit the Earth. Tired of waiting for a satellite from Moscow, he designed and built the 183-pound Sputnik 1 in four weeks. He gave it an elegant spherical shape and polished it to a high sheen, which he thought would show well later in museums. All it did was transmit a steady “beep”, but headlines the world over declared “RUSSIANS WON THE COMPETITION”. Buoyed by the acclaim, Korlev designed the 1,120-pound Sputnik 2. One month later, it was launched—this time with scientific instruments and a terrier named Laika, whose response, through the rigors of launch and weightlessness, would be useful for training future cosmonauts.


Meanwhile in the USA, our first attempts to orbit satellites, which weighed but a few pounds, failed. They were dubbed “KAPUTNIKS” by Pravda and “FLOPNIKS” at home. Finally, JPL succeeded with the thirty-pound Explorer 1 in January of 1958. With no rockets to match Korolev’s R7, we were off to a painfully slow start in the new “Space Race”.

Unrelenting, Korolev continued his pace of firsts. In October 1959, he launched Luna 3 and hit the moon. On April 12, 1961, he launched Yuri Gagarin into orbit. Both events drew raves worldwide, and our national psyche suffered. Could it be that Stalin’s tyranny had produced a technologically superior society with legions of educated-elite engineers and scientists working tirelessly to be dominant in space? We now know the answer is no, but back then, it wasn’t unthinkable. We knew precious little about what went on inside the USSR. And, certainly, no one would have imagined that such historic accomplishments relied so heavily upon the ability of one daring man. All we knew was that we were in a competition with a formidable opponent, and we seemed to be losing.


Korolev’s exploits were grand enough to motivate President Eisenhower to create NASA, and, later, President Kennedy to call for the Apollo moon landings. One brilliant Russian caused the world to focus its attention on space, and spurred the American juggernaut to action.

Sadly, Korolev didn’t live to finish the race or see the lunar landings. He had never been in good health. He had been a victim of intrigue in Stalin’s era, tortured and imprisoned in the Gulags. He died in 1966, at age 59, as a result of a botched operation. Until then, his identity was kept a state secret. He had worked in the shadows, known only as the Chief Designer. He never enjoyed public recognition, at home or abroad. And it took 30 more years for his role to become fully appreciated. He was an extraordinarily brilliant designer and leader who succeeded in spite of Stalin’s tyranny, and Soviet space efforts faltered with his passing.

Without his R7 masterpiece, and his creative ability to use it, the race into space would certainly have been far less spirited. And, arguably, mankind might still be looking forward to the day a man would alight the moon. The R7 is still in production, and has become the most used rocket in history. Even Americans buy them. Most importantly, we finally know his name. I like to think that somehow he knows all this.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Anthony J. Iorillo retired as President of Hughes Space and Communications Sector in 1994. He received a Hyland Patent Award in 1970, a NASA Spacecraft Design Award in 1971, and a Distinguished Alumnus Award from CALTECH in 1990. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1986, and named a Pioneer of National Reconnaissance in 2001.

Space: The Final Frontier?

By Joe Noriel
President, Petaluma Museum

“We chose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.” – John F. Kennedy


It was September 12, 1962 when President Kennedy gave his famous speech, and helped to inspire an entire generation to look beyond their earthly home and reach for the stars. As the Space Shuttle leaves Earth this year on its final mission, it’s more important than ever that we not forget Kennedy’s words and America’s commitment to the exploration of space.

The economic impact of the space shuttle program coming to an end is already being felt. Expected job losses at Boeing, NASA’s prime contractor for Space Shuttle operations, will pale in comparison to the estimated 7,000 jobs expected to be lost in the state of Florida and numerous other contracted employees throughout America. The United States, once the front runner in the exploration of space, now finds itself slowly losing the race. NASA’s budget is projected to drop by $103 million this year, and the President has recently announced plans to cancel NASA’s Constellation program, which would have sought to send astronauts back to the moon. With these recent developments, it has become clear that in the coming decades the challenge will fall on us as individuals to keep the dream alive, and to inspire and educate the new generation on the importance of space travel and the study of science.


The Petaluma Museum most recently had the honor of hosting a Smithsonian exhibition featuring deep space photography that included an amazing collection of meteorites on loan from the California Academy of Science. I must say it was heart-warming to see so many parents bringing their children to see the exhibition and very encouraging to see how much they enjoyed the presentation. With our schools suffering numerous cut backs due to a strained economy, and our educators being forced to eliminate valuable educational programs, I think it’s important for us all to instill in the younger generations an appreciation of space. As we reach out to Mars and the surrounding planets, let’s remember it will not be us who make these journeys but the younger generation. A child right now in elementary school most likely will be the first human visitor to Mars. We can’t wait for another inspirational speech from our leaders before we take action.

I believe the study of space can inspire not only a love of science but also can be a catalyst for creating more thoughtful people. As I watched the visiting children study the large images of the cosmos I could see them brimming with excitement, but more importantly they were asking thoughtful questions of their parents as they pondered the amazing beauty and complexity of space. What a wonderful gift to give them—the opportunity to step outside their media-saturated world and ponder their own place in the universe.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Joe Noriel is the President and chief curator at the Petaluma Historical Museum in California. Since becoming president, Mr. Noriel has helped the museum receive many awards including the Certificate of Appreciation from the Vietnam Veterans of America, State Congressional Recognition from the Office of Congressman Mark Leno, and the Jean Tourow Award from the Sonoma County Historical Society for the museum’s unique and memorable exhibits. Mr. Noriel also plays an active role in the community, and has established several local holidays including “Holocaust Memorial Day” and “Welcome Home Day”.

Space: The Final Frontier?

By Joe Noriel
President, Petaluma Museum

“We chose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.” – John F. Kennedy


It was September 12, 1962 when President Kennedy gave his famous speech, and helped to inspire an entire generation to look beyond their earthly home and reach for the stars. As the Space Shuttle leaves Earth this year on its final mission, it’s more important than ever that we not forget Kennedy’s words and America’s commitment to the exploration of space.

The economic impact of the space shuttle program coming to an end is already being felt. Expected job losses at Boeing, NASA’s prime contractor for Space Shuttle operations, will pale in comparison to the estimated 7,000 jobs expected to be lost in the state of Florida and numerous other contracted employees throughout America. The United States, once the front runner in the exploration of space, now finds itself slowly losing the race. NASA’s budget is projected to drop by $103 million this year, and the President has recently announced plans to cancel NASA’s Constellation program, which would have sought to send astronauts back to the moon. With these recent developments, it has become clear that in the coming decades the challenge will fall on us as individuals to keep the dream alive, and to inspire and educate the new generation on the importance of space travel and the study of science.


The Petaluma Museum most recently had the honor of hosting a Smithsonian exhibition featuring deep space photography that included an amazing collection of meteorites on loan from the California Academy of Science. I must say it was heart-warming to see so many parents bringing their children to see the exhibition and very encouraging to see how much they enjoyed the presentation. With our schools suffering numerous cut backs due to a strained economy, and our educators being forced to eliminate valuable educational programs, I think it’s important for us all to instill in the younger generations an appreciation of space. As we reach out to Mars and the surrounding planets, let’s remember it will not be us who make these journeys but the younger generation. A child right now in elementary school most likely will be the first human visitor to Mars. We can’t wait for another inspirational speech from our leaders before we take action.

I believe the study of space can inspire not only a love of science but also can be a catalyst for creating more thoughtful people. As I watched the visiting children study the large images of the cosmos I could see them brimming with excitement, but more importantly they were asking thoughtful questions of their parents as they pondered the amazing beauty and complexity of space. What a wonderful gift to give them—the opportunity to step outside their media-saturated world and ponder their own place in the universe.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Joe Noriel is the President and chief curator at the Petaluma Historical Museum in California. Since becoming president, Mr. Noriel has helped the museum receive many awards including the Certificate of Appreciation from the Vietnam Veterans of America, State Congressional Recognition from the Office of Congressman Mark Leno, and the Jean Tourow Award from the Sonoma County Historical Society for the museum’s unique and memorable exhibits. Mr. Noriel also plays an active role in the community, and has established several local holidays including “Holocaust Memorial Day” and “Welcome Home Day”.

Storytime with Land Wilson

By Cameron Crane


Storytime with Land Wilson

Sunday July 10, 2011 11:30 a.m.


Kepler’s Books & Magazines

1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, California 94025

Little Pickle Press is very excited to announce that tomorrow, Sunday July 10th, author Land Wilson will be reading from his award-winning book Sofia’s Dream at Kepler’s Books & Magazines in Menlo Park, California. Kepler’s is a wonderful independent bookstore with a rich history, known for its broad selection of books, community involvement, and distinguished author events. Join us tomorrow morning as they host “Storytime with Land Wilson”.

Sofia’s Dream is the lyrical and beautifully illustrated story of Sofia, who befriends the Moon and sets off on a magical voyage into space with him. On her journey, she sees our planet from the Moon’s point of view and is inspired to do whatever she can to protect the Earth and to encourage others to do the same. Sofia’s Dream is one of Little Pickle Press’ most cherished stories, and earned the Mom’s Choice Gold Award for children’s picture book. Watch the Little Pickle Press trailer for Sofia’s Dream here.


Land Wilson wrote Sofia’s Dream in an effort to educate today’s children- including his own- about our impact on the environment and how we can love and protect it. His passion for environmental stewardship has been recognized and appreciated by many, and he was recently featured in the Marin Independent Journal’s article “Mr. Land’s Earth Book”.

Tomorrow’s reading will be followed by a book signing. We look forward to seeing you and your little ones there!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We do author events! Interested in hosting one of our award-winning authors for a reading and/or book signing? Contact Katy Kenney at [email protected]

Storytime with Land Wilson

By Cameron Crane


Storytime with Land Wilson

Sunday July 10, 2011 11:30 a.m.


Kepler’s Books & Magazines

1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, California 94025

Little Pickle Press is very excited to announce that tomorrow, Sunday July 10th, author Land Wilson will be reading from his award-winning book Sofia’s Dream at Kepler’s Books & Magazines in Menlo Park, California. Kepler’s is a wonderful independent bookstore with a rich history, known for its broad selection of books, community involvement, and distinguished author events. Join us tomorrow morning as they host “Storytime with Land Wilson”.

Sofia’s Dream is the lyrical and beautifully illustrated story of Sofia, who befriends the Moon and sets off on a magical voyage into space with him. On her journey, she sees our planet from the Moon’s point of view and is inspired to do whatever she can to protect the Earth and to encourage others to do the same. Sofia’s Dream is one of Little Pickle Press’ most cherished stories, and earned the Mom’s Choice Gold Award for children’s picture book. Watch the Little Pickle Press trailer for Sofia’s Dream here.


Land Wilson wrote Sofia’s Dream in an effort to educate today’s children- including his own- about our impact on the environment and how we can love and protect it. His passion for environmental stewardship has been recognized and appreciated by many, and he was recently featured in the Marin Independent Journal’s article “Mr. Land’s Earth Book”.

Tomorrow’s reading will be followed by a book signing. We look forward to seeing you and your little ones there!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We do author events! Interested in hosting one of our award-winning authors for a reading and/or book signing? Contact Katy Kenney at [email protected]

The Thrill of the Lift

By Janice E. Voss, Veteran NASA Astronaut


Watching a Space Shuttle launch is an unceasingly awesome experience for me. I have seen a couple of dozen from the outside, and five from the inside. Both are spectacular. From the outside, you see the flame of the main engine ignition and exhaust clouds boiling around the base of the stack. If you’re close enough, when the sound finally reaches you several seconds later, you can actually feel the pressure of the sound waves beating on your chest. Then, the solid rocket motors light so brightly that it’s uncomfortable to watch the flame directly. The stack lifts out of the flame and billowing clouds. It is impossible not to be moved by the excited cheers of the crowd and amazed by what a truly dedicated and outstanding team has just achieved!

The experience from the inside is spectacular in a completely different way. On the inside, you are part of the team, and I found I didn’t really think about how it felt until after I landed and had the time to just enjoy. Astronauts train over and over for the launch count and ascent. They get a centrifuge run that simulates the acceleration they will feel, so they can be prepared for that. There’s a practice launch about 3 weeks before the real launch, so that they can step smoothly through the procedures come the real day. All the nervous excitement you might expect happened for me at the practice launch (there are even signs saying “Have a great flight”), so that my first launch felt completely familiar.


After astronauts are strapped into their seats (about 2 hours before liftoff time), there’s constant information flowing from the launch team over the ground communication system about how the launch count is going. There are activities involving the crew (pressure check when the hatch is closed, several communication checks over the different communication loops) just frequent enough to keep them focused on not making any mistakes. I find myself completely absorbed in thinking ahead to the next step. When the Solid Rocket Motors lit, I had time for a brief thought that I was very thankful that all my family and friends who had come to support me got to see a launch, and then I was focused back on my checklist.

An astronaut’s first view of the Earth is the perfect period on the launch experience. On my first flight, I launched on the middeck, which doesn’t have a window. My first time up to the flight deck, when there was a good view of the Earth, was just about the time we came over Kennedy Space Center on the first orbit. So, the first thing I saw was the launch complex and the causeway where all the people important to me were (stuck in traffic). I waved. I’d been around the world once, and my guests hadn’t even gotten home!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Janice Voss (Ph.D) is an American engineer and NASA astronaut from Rockford, Illinois. She received her Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1977, and continued on to earn her doctorate in aeronautics/astronautics from MIT in 1987. Since becoming an astronaut in July 1991, Dr. Voss has completed five successful space flights, serving aboard STS-57 in 1993, STS-63 in 1995, STS-83 and STS-94 in 1997, and STS-99 in 2000. Dr.Voss has also received many special honors, including four NASA Space Flight Medals (1993, 1995, 1997, 2000).