Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 24, 2022

Book Giveaway: REACH FOR THE STARS by Emily Calandrelli

Today we have Emily Calandrelli and her picture book, REACH FOR THE STARS, illustrated by Honee Jang and published by Candlewick Press. It will hit bookstores on April 5th, but is now available for pre-order. Candlewick has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Emily and Honee.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


From Emmy-nominated science TV star and host of Netflix’s hit series Emily’s Wonder Lab Emily Calandrelli comes an inspirational message of love and positivity.

From the moment we are born, we reach out. We reach out for our loved ones, for new knowledge and experiences, and for our dreams!

Whether celebrating life’s joyous milestones, sharing words of encouragement, or observing the wonder of the world around us, this uplifting book will inspire readers of every age. A celebration of love and shared discovery, this book will encourage readers to reach for the stars!


I wrote Reach for the Stars after my daughter Rose was born as a way to put words to all of the intense postpartum emotions I was feeling. As a new mom, I was flooded with thoughts of her growing up, imagining what she would be like at every stage in life. I still remember sitting in bed, cry-typing this on my laptop in between her naps! This book will walk you through the various phases of a child’s life, detailing all of the things they’ll reach for (literally and figuratively) at each stage. As an aerospace engineer, it was also important to me to include all the things I hope I can teach my daughter about space and the universe – so of course, you’ll find some science in here, too. While I personally wrote this with my daughter in mind, I wanted this book to be universal to all caretaker-child relationships, so you’ll notice that the words in this book reflect that inclusivity. My hope is that this book resonates with and illustrates the love you feel for a child in your life and that it inspires them to reach for the stars.


Reach for the Stars offer came in the least expected time, but it could not have come in a better time in hindsight. Working on this book provided me with an insight into my art and a reflection on my own mother-daughter relationship. I am so happy to finally have it out in the world this spring!

I received the offer of Reach for the Stars in September 2020 from the editor, Julia Sooy. I was surprised for getting the offer so soon in my illustrator journey, in the first place, and was immediately charmed as I was reading the manuscript. The story is told by the mom in the span of her child’s growing years, from birth all the way to adulthood. Mom teaches the child everything she knows and gives everything she can until there is “nothing more to give”. It’s an endearing, heart-bursting message of consistent support and love that encourages the children to always be curious and reach for their dreams. Even before I accepted the offer I knew this story was what I wanted to translate visually—the beautiful heart of a mom.

It felt timely and appropriate that I explore this topic of the mother-daughter relationship now. When I received the offer, it had not been a year since I wrapped my New York life to start a new life with my husband in England, and start my illustration journey thereafter. But before I flew off, I decided to spend three months with my family who live in Alaska. This was before knowing that I would have to stay three more months due to the pandemic, but thanks to my patient husband, I was able to focus solely on my parents and cherish the family time in the extra time given to me.

As I was entering my marriage, I started to view my parents as two individuals without their title of parents, and thought about what they were doing at my age—and to my surprise, my mom and I were following a very similar path at our embarking 30’s; I was migrating to England when my mom flew to America to join my dad to start a family. I quit my job to become an illustrator in England, and she also took a break from her career to care for the family. I talked about this with mom, and this conversation enabled me to imagine my younger mom—what she might have felt, as a woman standing on a foreign ground when all she had no longer described her—and my mom to think in her mom’s(my grandmother’s) perspective— what it must have been like to let her daughter go off, after caring her child for half of her lifetime. We grew to appreciate and share the feelings in the three generations.

Having this experience, I thought hard about how to best depict this. Emily’s feelings shown in the text were so personal, yet so universal and I wanted to make sure the visuals were coming through. All I was thinking was “Let’s do the text justice”. I was hesitant to act as if I understand all that a mom would feel without being a mom, so I imagined the visual to be delivered from the child’s perspective; the best insight I could provide to this story. I pondered on what a child would like to do the most, what expressions and actions would they want in their loved ones, and what they would like to be exposed to when there’s a wonderful but big question of “What do you want to be when you grow up if you can be whatever you want?”

It was exciting to see that space and science was the main theme around the story too! I had so much fun researching the planets, the mechanism behind tide and refraction of light, robotics gadgets appropriate for teenagers, and much more. I wanted to expose the child in the book to all the things I could find, and in that way, I had an indirect motherly relationship with the character—what a fun experience it was!

Once the concept stage was done, the rest of the illustration process came as another set of interesting challenges. I was confronting new problems page after page, mostly because I was still learning how to work digitally in the beginning (I would make newbie mistakes like flattening the layers I wasn’t supposed to!). I was also not sure how much time I would need to finish a book, and everything that was happening was a learn-as-you-go experience. Fortunately, I was able to deliver the final art before the deadline, and I was definitely upgraded in my skills after I finished this book. After I submitted the first pass of the artwork, I reworked over half of the book to make it truly satisfying, and it was the best feeling to nail down what I attempted to achieve on my first try!


Emily Calandrelli is the host and co-executive producer of the hit Netflix series Emily’s Wonder Lab. Each episode features Emily and a group of kid-scientists as they learn about STEAM through experiments and fun activities. Emily is also an Executive Producer and Emmy nominated host of FOX’s Xploration Outer Space and was a correspondent on Netflix’s, Bill Nye Saves The World.

Emily, who was named to Adweek’s “11 Celebrities and Influencers Raising the Bar for Creativity in 2017”, is also an accomplished writer and speaker on the topics of space exploration, scientific literacy, and equality. Her chapter book series, The Ada Lace Adventures, centers around an eight-year-old girl with a knack for science, math, and solving mysteries with technology, The second book in the series, Ada Lace: Sees Red, was included in the National Science Teachers Association’s list of best STEM books for 2018. The third book, Ada Lace: Take Me To Your Leader, was part of the initiative from NASA and CASIS, Story Time from Space where the book was launched into space and read by an astronaut aboard the ISS to an audience of kids. The fifth and most recent book in the series, Ada Lace: and the Suspicious Artist which was released in February 2019.

Emily has given talks about the importance of science literacy, the benefits of space exploration, and the challenges for women in STEM careers for clients like Google, Pixar, MIT, Texas Instruments as well as dozens of K-12 schools across the nation. Her first two TEDx talks, “I Don’t Do Math” and “Space Exploration Is The Worst,” have garnered over one million views on YouTube.

Prior to her work in science communication, Emily attended West Virginia University, where she received a Bachelors of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering, and MIT where she received two Masters of Science degrees, one in Aeronautics and Astronautics and the other in Technology and Policy. Through her work, she wants to make science relatable, easy to understand and more exciting today than ever before in history.


Honee Jang (pronounced like “Han-E”) has been a visual storyteller since early childhood. Art has always been her first language and a primary bridge between her and the world, wherever she went. She was born in Massachusetts and raised in South Korea and different parts of America, before settling in New York to study illustration at Pratt Institute and become a picture book designer. As of 2020, she has now started another journey as an illustrator in England with her lovely husband.

Honee has an exceptional love for stories that help kids explore their emotions and surroundings better. She aims to convey the charm of it all under a careful examination of historical, cultural, and social aspects of the world. She is continuing to learn, unlearn, and challenge her creative habits to tell stories of all types.

Honee is represented by Christy Ewers at The CAT Agency. For US and Canada book illustration inquiries, please contact her at For all other inquiries, please email her at 

Thank you Emily and Honee for sharing your book and journeys with us. I love how you combined love for your daughter and your love with science and space. Honee’s illustrations make the whole book sparkle like stars above. Both the story and the illustrations are oozing with love. Congratulations on creating such a heartwarming book. Wishing you the best!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Looks super cute and inspiring!


  2. This sounds like a great book to share with students!


  3. What an encouraging message!


  4. A wonderful message for kids. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve shared:, and tweeted:
    I also follow daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, have a great weekend everyone!!


  5. This book is universal and the art makes me happy. I’m an email subscriber and shared:


  6. What a beautiful book! Congratulations!!


  7. So beautiful! Love it! Congratulations, Emily and Honee!

    I follow by email and I tweeted this post, Kathy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: