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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Hacket

Cover Reveal: THE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT STARGAZING

Happy Memorial Day weekend readers! I can think of no better way to kick off this long weekend than with some book love in the form of a cover reveal! I first connected with author and poet Matt Forrest Esenwine back in 2021 when he visited the blog with his book with Charles Ghigna, ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME.


Now Matt is back with the cover reveal of his forthcoming book, THE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT STARGAZING (Tilbury House), which is gorgeously illustrated by Sonia Possentini and is set to hit shelves on October 3, 2023.


So let's not keep you waiting. Scroll on down to get your first glimpse of THE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT STARGAZING and to learn a little bit about how it came to be.








Isn't it just perfect?! The expressions of awe, wonder, and joy on the children's faces. The hues of blue and starlit reflections. The constellation lettering. So well done!


Now that we have had the chance to enjoy the cover, let's jump into a little conversation with Matt to learn more about THE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT STARGAZING.



AH: Welcome Matt! Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share this beautiful book that you and Sonia have created together. Would you mind telling our readers a little about the book?


MFE: Thanks, Andrew! It’s a very lyrical, loose narrative about the joy of looking at the stars and being in the moment. It’s neither fiction nor nonfiction, but somewhere in-between - it’s more of a poetic guide, so to speak. In the book, I share with the reader all the things that are important to remember about stargazing - when in fact, none of them are really all that important! There’s only one truly important rule to remember about stargazing, which the reader learns at the end.


AH: This sounds like a perfect story to excite and motivate kids and families to get outside and appreciate the beauty we have above us.


Now I know this is a cover reveal and not our typical feature, but I just can't help myself. Would you mind sharing the backstory behind THE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT STARGAZING? How did this story come to be?


MFE: There are actually two backstories! The first is the inspiration, which came from a visit by four nephews and nieces. Their family lives just outside of Boston and with all the city lights they had rarely seen the stars in the night sky. We, on the other hand, live a little over an hour away in the New Hampshire woods, so when they were visiting us one summer weekend they walked outside and were mesmerized when they looked up! I pointed out some of the constellations and stars, and they were genuinely fascinated. So I knew then I needed to write something to encourage more young people to get outside and find a spot where they can enjoy stargazing.


The second backstory is how the book actually came to be, which is a lesson in the importance of learning to rewrite/revise/recycle. I had originally used this inspiration to write a poem titled “A Beginner’s Guide to Stargazing” for the late Paul Janeczko’s anthology, “The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and other How-to Poems” from Candlewick. But he ended up not taking it and passed away before I ever had a chance to ask him about it.


I happened to be chatting with a mutual friend of ours, poet/author Rebecca Kai Dotlich, and asked her if she had any thoughts on why Paul might not have accepted it. She really liked the poem and said she couldn’t imagine - but suggested that perhaps I might shave it down (it was a bit long for an anthology) and resubmit it elsewhere or flesh it out a bit and begin subbing it as a picture book. I didn’t really want to cut anything so I opted for the latter suggestion and turned it into a picture book manuscript!


One of the editors to whom I submitted it was Naomi Krueger at Beaming Books, who published my picture book “Once Upon Another Time,” which I co-authored with Charles “Father Goose ®” Ghigna. Although Naomi really liked the manuscript she didn’t feel it was a right fit for the company, but told me she had been wanting to publish a book that introduced concepts like empathy, compassion, and forgiveness - and asked if I’d be willing to write a “Beginner’s Guide to Being Human,” as long as I was willing to change the title of my stargazing book. I’d never been asked by an editor to write a specific book before, so I said, sure!


She ended up picking up “Beginner’s Guide to Being Human,” which came out Oct. 2022, and I changed the title of my stargazing manuscript to “The Thing to Remember about Stargazing” and continued submitting it elsewhere. Eventually, after 25 total rejections, Jonathan Eaton at Tilbury House contacted me asking if it was still available, and we signed the contract! As I mentioned earlier, this is an important lesson: a poem that never made it into the anthology for which I wrote it ended up spawning not one, but TWO different books. Neither of these books would have existed, had Paul not rejected it! Talk about unanswered prayers, huh?


AH: What an amazing backstory. And who knew we would get two for the price of one?! Your story is a great reminder to all creators that we never know where or how opportunities will present themselves.


Thank you so much for letting me help spread the word about THE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT STARGAZING and for giving us all the inside scoop on how it came to be.



THE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT STARGAZING by Matt Forrest Esenwine with illustrations by Sonia Possentini is available for preorder at the links below.


MainStreet BookEnds (for personally-signed copies)



Thank you readers for taking the time to learn about THE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT STARGAZING. Please consider giving our two creators a follow on social media to ensure you don't miss a thing about their book or any of their other creative endeavors.


Matt's Socials



Sonia's Socials



And if you want another glimpse into what people are saying about this book, you can check it out in Betsy Bird's preview in SLJ. https://afuse8production.slj.com/2023/05/17/ellen-myrick-publisher-preview-fall-2023-winter-2024-part-three-sleeping-bear-press-soaring-kite-books-tapioca-stories-tiger-tales-tilbury-house/


 

MATT FORREST ESENWINE


Matt Forrest Esenwine had spent a good part of his life writing and publishing poetry for various national journals and anthologies like the Donald Hall tribute, Except for Love (Encircle, 2019). Then his debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Astra Young Readers, 2017), received a Kirkus starred review and was included in Encyclopedia Brittanica’s list of “11 Children’s Books That Inspire Imagination!”


Matt now has nearly a dozen books to his credit including Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2021), co-authored with Charles “Father Goose” Ghigna, and I Am Today (POW! Kids Bokos, 2022). His children’s poetry can be found in anthologies like The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015) and Construction People (Wordsong, 2020). Connect with Matt and order personally-signed books at MattForrest.com.


 

SONIA LUCE POSSENTINI


Sonia Maria Luce Possentini is an award-winning illustrator who was born in Canossa, Reggio Emilia, Italy. Growing up, her parents encouraged her to explore the arts and as a family support all types of freedom of expressions. Sonia studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna with a degree in Art History and became a painter and illustrator. She is currently a professor of illustration at the International School of Comics in Reggio Emilia, Italia. She is a huge fan of Léon Spilliaert, the Belgian painter. She sometimes imagines herself meeting Spilliaert on the beach of Treport, where they talk about the tides and the amazing light that they can capture while painting together. When not illustrating, Sonia loves to spend time in the kitchen cooking and exploring new ingredients. She also enjoys her garden, pruning her peonies and roses. When she can, she enjoys traveling to Brittany and Normandy in Northern France for the lovely beaches where her dogs Mia and Nina (2 abandoned puppies) can really run and chase each other. Sonia adores her dogs and rarely parts with them. Her inspiration comes from nature and the noble creatures who she meets in her travels. She loves to observe all living things and give voices to the ones who does not have the power of speech.

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7 Comments


hayleyrdiep
May 29, 2023

It looks like a beautiful book!

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Abby Mumford
Abby Mumford
May 29, 2023

I can't wait to read this one! Matt is such an inspiration in perseverance and believing in yourself and always saying yes!

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Steena Hernandez
Steena Hernandez
May 28, 2023

Love this cover that is full of wonder and joy! Congrats Matt and Sonia, and I can’t wait to read it!

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Matt Forrest Esenwine
Matt Forrest Esenwine
May 28, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much, Steena!

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Matt Forrest Esenwine
Matt Forrest Esenwine
May 27, 2023

Thanks so much for hosting the cover reveal, my friend! I truly appreciate it!

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seschipper
May 27, 2023

Thanks for sharing this Backstory! I will certainly be adding this to PB my collection! :)

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Matt Forrest Esenwine
Matt Forrest Esenwine
May 27, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much!


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