Welcome to #TheQuickSixInterview with Kathy Hoopmann and Josie Montano!
A Secret Society … in space! We’re intrigued!
Following their inventive first book in the series, Kathy Hoopmann and Josie Montano, together with the illustrations by Ann-Marie Finn, bring back their clever science team in The Secret Science Society in Space! (We interviewed them about Book 1 here, and read Kate’s review here). Science Fairs, rockets, animals in space, and DISASTER. Find out more about this fun and zany book with its bunch of loveable, diverse characters. Thanks for sharing your story, Kathy and Josie! 🙂
Kathy has written over twenty books for children and adults, including picture books, novels and nonfiction, with translations into as almost as many languages. All up she has around fifty of her books in different languages on her shelf. She has won, and been shortlisted for, numerous literary awards including the Children’s Book Council of Australia Award, the ALCS Educational Award (UK), the Living Now Award (US) and has four times been awarded a Nautilus Award (US) which is granted to ‘books that change the world’. Kathy is best known for her writing on neurodiversity, and her photo illustrated books, All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum, All Dogs Have ADHD, All Birds have Anxiety are bestsellers worldwide.
Josie’s an award-winning author with 24 years within the publishing industry, and more than sixty resources published in Australia, UK, Italy & USA. Writing under two pseudonyms – Montano, fiction and resources on Autism – Santomauro. Recipient of many literary awards and achievements including a residency with the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust and presenter with ‘Out of The Box’, QPAC. Josie identifies as an older female with disability (MS) from a culturally diverse background. She grew up in rural Australia within a strong Italian community, incorporating the serious and humorous experiences as a 1st generation Australian within her stories. Her play ‘The Great Escape, Italian Style’, trod the boards at the Gympie Rush Festival, now produced as an award-winning short film, ‘The Great Salami Breakout’. Josie’s interest in Autism began when son was diagnosed 30 years ago, this set the cogs turning to create resources to fill gaps. Josie’s a storyteller who strives to advocate and who celebrates diversity.
WHO wrote, illustrated and published this book?
WHAT is it about?
THE SECRET SCIENCE SOCIETY IN SPACE is a fun story about diversity and individuality and the joys of science. It follows the adventures of four students who are forced to work together to represent their school to produce a project for a science fair. Zane has ADHD, Bart is autistic, Kiki has anxiety and Mona is, well, Mona is Mona. After visiting a space exhibition, they are alarmed to discover that Laika, the first dog to orbit the Earth, was sent up in a rocket with no chance of return. They decide that their project would be to create a spaceship that could bring animals home safely. On the day, Zane not only sneaks in a real dog but has the brilliant idea of cooking a piece of steak for ‘space-smell’ authenticity. Naturally, this leads to DISASTER! The twist gets even bigger when it is revealed that Mona’s dad is a real live astronaut. Despite a comedy of errors, naturally, they win first prize. As they work together, the very diverse characters discover that they all have strengths and weaknesses and that to be the best team, they had to support each other in the difficult times and celebrate the good.
WHAT is your favourite part of this book?
Kathy: My favourite part was where Skylar jumps out of Kiki’s arms and runs around the earth model. Dog orbits the earth!
Josie: My favourite part is their Planetworld excursion and the Secret Science Society’s first-hand experiences and excitement.
WHEN did you begin writing this book?
We started dabbling with the idea back in 2017 when we presented a proposal to Wombat Books for a series based around four very different children forced to work together in a science club. The Secret Science Society’s Spectacular Experiment came out in 2019 and it was around then that we started work on book two. Luckily for us, the Queensland Museum had a special space-themed evening and we had an absolute ball gadding about with astronauts, pretend-flying real live rocket ships and making other people point and laugh as we moonwalked around in paper helmets.
WHEN is its release / launch date?
It will be released on 1st June with plenty of time for schools who are celebrating Science Week in August. Our launch date to be confirmed.
WHERE did the inspiration for this book come from?
We knew the theme would be based around space, however it wasn’t until we went to the space exhibition that we came up with the idea of making Laika, the first dog to go into space, central to the plot. It made sense that Kiki, our sensitive and anxious character would be upset to discover that Laika never returned from that trip. From there, it was logical that the Secret Science club would make a spaceship specifically to keep dogs safe in space. When we found out many astronauts notice that objects returning from space had a smokey smell, we let Zane, our character with ADHD, use his imagination and create his usual chaos. All lots of fun.
WHY is this book meaningful to you and how does the message resonate with readers?
With our combined understanding of mental and developmental diagnoses that have lots of letters (ASD, GAD, ADHD), we wanted to create a world where all children are included and accepted and valued for who they are. It is our hope that this aim will resonate with all readers, and especially with those with autism, anxiety and ADHD. All children will be able to see themselves through the characters on the page and also learn through their fun, exciting and unexpected experiences.
This book also allows the reader to have entertaining experiences whilst learning about Science.
HOW do you feel about the illustrations / cover design?
We are very pleased and comfortable with Ann-Marie’s illustrations again. She did an amazing job on the first book and brings our characters to life.
HOW do they convey the feeling or mood you envisioned?
Her simple line drawings capture all the expressions and body language of our characters in ways that words aren’t unable to.
HOW have you promoted this book and how can we find it?
We were thrilled when it had its international debut in March at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, where Josie was able to attend and represent us.
It will be distributed internationally and is available at all good book stores and online.
OTHER information or experiences you’d like to share?
We made a fun little video about our research for the book. You can see it on You tube below.
Thanks so much, Kathy and Josie! Love this to the moon and back! 🙂
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