Monday, September 12, 2022

Today's read... Astrid the Astronaut The Astronomically Grand Plan by Rie Neal


The Astronomically Grand Plan
by Rie Neal
Illustrated by Talitha Shipman
Chapter Book
112 pages
ages 6 to 10

In this first book of a brand new-chapter book series, a young girl is determined to be the first astronaut with hearing aids in space!

Astrid can’t wait for the school year to start so she can put her Astronomically Grand Plan into action! She and her best friend, Hallie, are going to be in their first year of Shooting Stars, a club dedicated to all things space. Astrid’s big sister has told her all about it, and this year, there is a big, wonderful prize: a trip to a real-life space camp!

But Astrid’s Grand Plan isn’t off to a great start: it turns out Hallie is more interested in the art club, Petite Picassos! And Astrid isn’t sure that her goal of exploring space will happen the same way without her BFF by her side. Can Astrid figure out a way to complete her mission?



Astronaut dreams mix with friendship and determination in a fun chapter book with a character, who promises so much more adventure to come.

Astrid and her best friend have grand plans to become astronauts, but without a single word, the best friend backs out and leaves Astrid to tackle the first year of the Shooting Stars club alone. Astrid feels like a lost asteroid but is still determined to be the best in the club and win a scholarship, although third graders are said never to win. Her hopes, though, quickly go into free-fall as she's faced with a new partner and can't seem to get a peep out of her, maybe, ex-bestie.

This is a fun tale about a girl, who has a dream and is ready to fight for it. It's very realistic as she joins the after-school space club and tries to solve the given puzzles...all which are realistic for the age group. She comes across as a very normal girl, who could be in any classroom. She does have difficulties hearing and wears as hearing aide, but that only makes her more interesting. It's by no means the main plot or aspect of the story, which made it come across extremely natural. Plus, it makes her dream that much more worth rooting for.

The story flows very smoothly and doesn't hold any boring moments. The problems never dig in overly deep, keeping it right at the intended age group's level. There are lovely illustrations peppered through the pages, which not only offer fun for readers but help bring across Astrid better. It's great for those readers, who have a good grip on words, but aren't ready to dive into even lower, middle grade reads quite yet.

Of course, there are messages of friendship, including finding new friends and accepting that interests change, but these slide right in with the rest of the tale. And there's the STEM aspect, too, with little bits of general information sprinkled in here and there. It's a great start to a new series and already has me excited to see where Astrid's journey will take her next. 

And here they are....

Rie Neal is a children’s book author who loves all things space. Growing up, she was often dragged on her grandfather’s unauthorized tours of NASA’s Ames Research Center, which she didn’t appreciate enough at the time. Eventually, though, she became a full-blown space fan, and began to write space-related books for kids. She also has a doctor of audiology degree from the University of Iowa and is nationally certified as an audiologist through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Today, she lives in the Silicon Valley with her husband and kids, where they drag people on (authorized) tours of the NASA Ames visitor center. Learn more about her books at or connect with her on Instagram (@RieNealWriter).

Talitha Shipman is a picture book illustrator from Indiana. Her favorite subjects to paint are wild kids and wild animals. Nature inspires Talitha’s painting, and she hopes her work encourages curiosity and creativity in children of all ages. Her books include the Sydney Taylor Honor recipient Everybody Says Shalom by Leslie Kimmelman, American Farm Bureau Recommended Read Applesauce Day by Lisa J. Amstutz, and 2019 IPPY Silver Medalist First Snow by Nancy Viau. Her debut author-illustrator picture book was Finding Beauty. Talitha lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her husband and their five-year-old wild child, Coral.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Cool career ambition.

Natalie Aguirre said...

This sounds like a great chapter book story. I wish I had someone to read it to.

Anonymous said...

Sounds ideal for young readers. Love the premise!