Total Solar Eclipse: A Stellar Friendship Story helps early elementary kids and their grown-ups learn to safely watch the rare solar spectacle, while also teaching important social emotional lessons. The North American total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, will be even bigger than the one that passed through 14 states in 2017.
LINCOLN, Neb. March 29, 2023 – About a year from now, a North American total solar eclipse will captivate the nation and likely become the most-watched event in American history. A new picture book by a Nebraska-based team will teach viewers ages 4 to 8 and their grown-ups how to safely experience the sight of a lifetime through a story about celestial friendship.
Total Solar Eclipse: A Stellar Friendship Story, written by Jayme Sandberg and illustrated by Kathleen Gadeken, both of Lincoln, Nebraska, takes readers on a journey with Sun as the narrator.
The proud but forgetful center of our solar system is anxious about the upcoming total solar eclipse. Will Earthlings get hurt looking at it? What will they think when Sun’s dependable light suddenly vanishes in the middle of the day? How could Moon betray their stellar friendship?
Sun tries to calm its nerves with the help of Comet Delivery and sends letters to Earth and Moon. When totality finally arrives and Moon completely hides Sun from millions of Earthlings in its shadow, no one is more surprised than Sun to find that Moon helped it shine in a totally different way.
Readers can be among the first to secure an early, signed copy of Total Solar Eclipse: A Stellar Friendship Story by backing a Kickstarter campaign running now through April 20. The fundraising goal is $2,024—a nod to the upcoming event—and will enable the team to place their first print run and create some promotion materials.
“It’s a non-traditional launch, but that adds a little extra drama and excitement,” said Sandberg. “Kickstarter is increasing in popularity for helping bring promising literary projects to life.”
To those unfamiliar with the online crowdfunding platform, Sandberg emphasizes Kickstarter is not a charity. Supporters will receive rewards like signed first edition books based on the level they select, and every backer gets to be part of the book’s success once they meet their goal.
“We’re raising funds, but this isn’t a fundraiser. If we don’t reach our goal, we don’t see a penny,” Sandberg said.
Sandberg said they’re willing to bet on Total Solar Eclipse: A Stellar Friendship Story because the book is useful and relevant to millions of people. In addition to the total solar eclipse in 2024, the U.S. will experience an annular eclipse on October 14, 2023. During an annular eclipse, the moon covers the sun’s center making a “ring of fire" for certain viewers, but the sun never goes completely dark. Everyone in the contiguous United States will be able to see at least a partial solar eclipse on October 14, 2023 and April 8, 2024.
“Our book reinforces how to safely look at the sun during a solar eclipse and introduces new science concepts, which teachers, school systems, science centers, tourism organizations and others in the direct paths of these direct paths are hungry for,” said Sandberg. “At the same time, everyone can take away lessons in important social emotional skills including communication, teamwork and self awareness.”
The book has been a long time coming for Sandberg, who had the idea when she watched the 2017 total solar eclipse with her family in western Nebraska.
“I watched in Scottsbluff with a group of people including my young daughter,” said Sandberg. “Totality was truly incredible to see, but I realized some preparation would have been helpful as I was trying to explain to my highly distracted 3-year-old how and when to look at the sun and why we even wanted to.”
During those brief minutes of totality looking up at the sun’s corona, Sandberg came up with the storyline for a picture book to help young children and their grown-ups enjoy the unusual experience to the fullest.
“Like a lot of other people, I was Googling everything I could about total solar eclipses right after it was over and trying to figure out when I could see the next one,” she said. “I was surprised I couldn't find picture books on this subject for the pre-k and elementary age group. The need for it was so obvious.”
When Sandberg learned another super rare total solar eclipse was coming to the U.S. in April 2024, she had her goal.
"I recently shared a sneak peak of Total Solar Eclipse: A Stellar Friendship Story with an entire elementary school and the kids were so excited. They’ve been asking me every day if they can buy it yet,” said Gadeken. "I’ve loved bringing these familiar characters to life and creating a visual representation of the excitement and wonder that comes with witnessing a total solar eclipse. I hope children will enjoy the illustrations and ultimately remember to protect their eyes as they look to the skies."
Total Solar Eclipse: A Stellar Friendship Story is published by It’s All Stories LLC. It’s edited by Marsha Diane Arnold with book design by Michael Rohani. Science consultation was generously provided by the solar viewing experts at American Paper Optics and Dr. Julie Read.
About the Author
Jayme Sandberg is a storyteller who unexpectedly fell in love with total solar eclipses when one appeared in her backyard in 2017. This is her first children’s picture book. She’s a Wyoming native who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with her husband and two daughters.
About the Illustrator
Kathleen Gadeken has illustrated several picture books including George Meets his Match, and Abraham Lincoln and His Faithful Pup. Also the creative force behind TheColoringBookArtist.com, Kathleen has an extensive background in graphic design and elementary education. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with her husband and visits her grandchildren in Texas every chance she gets.
About the publisher
It’s All Stories LLC is a publishing house and communications company in Southeast Nebraska helping tell stories that matter.
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