Are You Ready for Space Travel?

Solar System Forecast
By Kelly Kizer Whitt
Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein

Solar System Forecast is full of surprises, from the crazy weather on Neptune, Venus and Pluto to the weather reported guiding you through your adventure in outer space.

Freezing temperatures, scorching heat and a storm bigger than planet Earth is just some of the wild weather you will encounter on your trip through our solar system! Get your fun facts along with your forecast for each major planet, as well as the weather on dwarf planet Pluto, and Saturn’s moon Titan. Any child with an interest in space is sure to love Solar System Forecast, and parents will love the educational “For Creative Minds” section in the back of the book. Get ready for some out of this world fun with Solar System Forecast!

 Here is a behind the scenes look into the illustrations of Solar System Forecast with Laurie Allen Klein.

Solar System Forecast was a difficult book to do because it wasn’t a traditional children’s book story.  Consisting of a series of weather reports from different moons and planets there wasn’t a central character to follow and each page described a different, unique weather condition – on a non-earth surface.  How, for example, do you illustrate “Spring” with no trees, flowers, grass, animals or even atmosphere to convey the image?

I immediately dove into research, looking up everything I could on meteorology and I found some amazing visual references of clouds and storms, but there was still the central difficulty of depicting any of this in an alien environment.  And speaking of aliens – the most fun, reader-friendly surprise was the fact that the weather reporter was a real, live Alien, but I couldn’t reveal that until the very last page so I couldn’t even use any obvious alien references in any of the other illustrations.  I was afraid it would just be pages of weird landscapes until the big finish at the end.

The only consistent link I had, that flowed through every page, was the weather report itself, and I immediately thought of The Weather Channel. Specifically all the modern technological ways one can get weather updates: TV, computer, laptop, iPad, smart phone, etc. so that became my visual theme.  Showing each report on some different type of technology (some, like the Jupiter hologram being more sci fi) and in a few places the book page itself IS the screen.

 The thing that brought it all together was the morning I noticed my husband getting ready for work.  It was still dark, and he was in his uniform, looking at The Weather Channel on TV, with his coffee cup in hand.  He was surrounded by this eerie blue glow and that’s when I thought of the astronaut on the first page, checking the weather before work – his coffee and Danish in hand, absurdly still having his helmet on and sealed.  It just made me laugh so I took that little hint of silliness into the rest of the book.”

Pay close attention to Laurie’s silliness the weather alien pops up on various pages throughout the book. Can you find him?

About the Author and Illustrator

Kelly Kizer Whitt (Solar System Forecast) has been an admirer of the universe since childhood. From the dark skies of her hometown of Sauk City, Wisconsin, she would gaze at the stars and wonder what was beyond them. Kelly majored in English and studied Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After college she spent three years in Nashville with her husband, Jeremy, before moving to the Milwaukee area. In 1998 she landed her dream job at Astronomy magazine, where she worked as copy editor, photo editor, and assistant editor. Kelly wrote the terrestrial planets section of The Collins Illustrated Encyclopedia of Space, published in 2001. She writes about space for the websites Suite101.com and AstronomyToday.com. She also has a weekly stargazing blog for the Sierra Club online. Besides writing about space, Kelly published a romance novel on Kindle in 2011 titled The Gathering Storm. Kelly’s hobbies include visiting the national parks, creating crossword puzzles, and reading. Kelly lives in Sussex, Wisconsin, with Jeremy, her son Kaden, her daughter Lucy, and their cat Perseus, named for the constellation.

Laurie Allen Klein has been a freelance artist for nearly 25 years. Over the last several years, she has worked as the on-staff artist for a marine park, where she does everything from painting life-size sea animal murals, to illustrating children’s activity books. As evident by the extras included in the art, she has combined her love and fascination with outer space (and science fiction) with children’s illustration in both Solar System Forecast and Meet the Planets. Laurie also illustrated Fur and Feathers, Where Should Turtle Be?, Little Skink’s Tail, and If a Dolphin Were a Fish for Sylvan Dell. Laurie lives in Florida. See more of her artwork at http://www.lauriekleinarts.com.

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