Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bringing the universe down to earth

One of the most striking nonfiction picture book covers in memory is for Manfish, written by my friend Jennifer Berne.

Jennifer recently mentioned that she’d heard a story on the radio about Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. DC Comics consulted him on determining the “real” location of Krypton, Superman’s home planet, and then wrote him into a Superman story on the topic.

I told her that I’d heard it, too, and had immediately contacted Tyson to propose a Superman speaking engagement. 

Turns out Jennifer had a connection to Tyson as well, dating back to 2005, before she was a published author. It relates to her now-upcoming nonfiction picture book about Albert Einstein. She’s graciously allowed me to share it:

After our exchange, she followed up with Tyson. As of this writing, she’s still waiting for a response, but in the meantime has received blurbs from acclaimed biographer Walter Isaacson and well-known astronomer Bob Berman, AKA “Skyman Bob.” (Isaacson’s request in exchange: a signed copy.)

I love a few things about this sequence of events.

First, that both Jennifer and I reached out to the same esteemed figure (albeit at different times and for different reasons).

Second, that Jennifer continues to pursue this with the hope that Tyson will make good on his kind offer; most anyone who has heard me present knows how highly I value initiative and confidence.

Third, that Tyson (and others) agreed to blurb based on quality alone. Jennifer was not a known quantity; she was not even published yet. This speaks highly of both Tyson and Jennifer.

As I see it, a blurb from someone so well-known is like a shooting star: special and hard to come by.

I predict that the cover of Jennifer’s Einstein book will boast no fewer than five notable names: Isaacson, Berman, Tyson, Einstein himself…and Berne.

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