Children’s & Young Adult

Dr Sheila Kanani: Journey to the Blue Peter Book Awards 2020

19/11/2019

When I first met with the team at Nosy Crow I knew we would be on to something good with their proposed idea about a ‘space jobs’ book. I’d literally just written a careers booklet as part of my role as Education, Outreach and Diversity officer for the Royal Astronomical Society, and I was excited at the prospect of creating a picturebook with the same themes.

Physics, and the space industry, is often overlooked in terms of vocations and careers, not because the jobs don’t exists, but because people aren’t aware of the plethora of jobs available in space! In the UK alone, the government has been ploughing money into the space industry because they are aware that it is the future, so I was pleased to be able to showcase all the wonderful jobs available to you if space is your passion, like it is for me!

We were keen to tell the story of astronomy, and of course we had to include astronaut in a book about space jobs, but we also wanted to highlight that it wasn’t just about being an astronaut. There are so many different jobs out there and we wanted to show that space jobs could appeal to anyone from any background.

Working with Sol Linero was so much fun. Her illustrations were incredible and fitted the style of the book so well. We were keen to demonstrate that space is for everyone, and I think Sol reflected on that in her illustrations beautifully. I was particularly excited when she drew a figure that looked ‘just like me’ in the ‘planetary scientist’ section!

I was super excited to see the finished product, from the colourful drawings to the way the information had been styled and presented. I went mad when I saw the paperback version for the first time – there were stickers!! Everyone loves stickers.

I’ve had a lot of fun promoting the book, from Hay Festival to Edinburgh, to my local independent bookshop and local library. But I was gobsmacked to hear that the book had been longlisted, then shortlisted, for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2020!! Blue Peter is something I’ve grown up watching and I always wanted to be on an episode. So I was so chuffed last week when my name and my book was on the programme. Now all I have to do is win the award so I can get myself on there as well! I’d really love to win a Blue Peter badge!

Aside from the Blue Peter shortlist, I’ve started to really feel connected with the people who read the book, or have bought a copy for a family member or friend, partly from book signings and also from lovely messages on social media. I’m hoping that my book might inspire the next planetary scientist, space suit designer or space chef, and that when they look back they can see that the book was the turning point in their career!

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