Poetry Friday: New “Stargazing” picture book announcement!

Wow, what a busy week it has been! I’ve written a new poem for an upcoming anthology, I’ve had a new book list published at Shepherd.com (more on that below), and librarians across the country are taking advantage of a package of ocean-themed activities that my 2022 picture book marketing group and I have put together as a way to supplement CSLP’s summer reading program.

In the midst of all this, you can imagine my joy when I learned from my publisher that I can officially announce the awesome news that I have ANOTHER picture book coming out!!

The Thing to Remember about Stargazing – a book that has been nearly TEN years in the making – will be published by the incredible folks at Tilbury House (fingers crossed for the latter part of 2023), and the illustrator they’ve signed is none other than the amazingly talented, award-winning Italian artist, Sonia Possentini.

Sonia Maria Luce Possentini

If you are unfamiliar with Sonia’s work, you need to visit her website and check out some of her beautiful work. She’s had numerous art exhibitions in addition to her illustration work and I believe she will bring an elegant and pastoral tone to my book.

What is Stargazing about, you ask?

Well, it answers the question: what is the most important thing to remember about stargazing? Is it when to do it, who to do it with, what to look for? (Hint: It’s none of those!)

Written in a loose, lyrical narrative, it is my hope that Stargazing – with its unique blend of poetic text and science – encourages, entices, and enchants. And with Sonia’s illustrations, I’m sure it will!


So remember when I mentioned earlier that the book has been nearly ten years in the making? Well, Stargazing actually started off as a poem. Way back in 2014, the late poet, educator and anthologist Paul Janeczko asked me if I had any poems he might consider including in a poetry anthology of “how-to” poems he was putting together – which would eventually become his posthumously-published The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog (Candlewick, 2019).

One of the poems I sent Paul was a much shorter, slimmed-down version of Stargazing. He decided not to select it for his book, so I held onto it for a while and a few years later asked our mutual friend Rebecca Kai Dotlich what she thought of the poem. She liked it, but suggested it might be a bit too long for a children’s poem – perhaps, she said, either pare it down to make it shorter or flesh it out into a picture book manuscript.

Not really wanting to cut anything from what I’d written, I opted for the latter. I added, revised, tweaked, and polished – and eventually began submitting it. Twenty five rejections later, Tilbury House read it and immediately contacted me to ask if it was still available! (This is why I tell newcomers that you must, must, MUST keep subbing – if you believe in your story, don’t give up on it)

You can see now why I felt Poetry Friday was the perfect time and place to announce the official news; a poem that ahs become a picture book! I’ll be sharing more details over the next year and a half, of course – but I can’t tell you how excited I am for the world to finally see this book.

By the way, speaking of poetry, I have a new list at Shepherd.com – a website that allows you to find exactly the types of books you’re looking for, because the books are categorized into Top 5 lists created by authors themselves!

Looking for historical fiction books about World War 2? Science fiction books published in the last 2 years about cyborgs? All children’s books about robots for 8-year-olds?

This is how specific you can get with Shepherd.com – and not only is it great for book buyers, but I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot of traffic from authors and illustrators using it as a means of finding comp titles. I do hope you’ll check them out!

Since my new list features what I consider the best children’s poetry collections about animals, I thought I’d share one of my favorites poems from David Harrison’s A Place to Start a Family (Charlesbridge, 2018):

Click to enlarge. ©2018 Charlesbridge, all rights reserved

By the way, I say this is my “new” list because I have another list, as well: the best children’s poetry collections about nature, which you can find HERE. I’m hoping to create at least one more list of picture books, which I’ll share once it’s been created and posted.

If you’re an author or illustrator and would like to learn more about Shepherd, head to their website and read all about what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and the progress they’re making!

LIBRARIANS! Click the graphic to learn more about how you can receive TONS of free ocean-themed activities from my PB22Peekaboo partners and me – for use this summer, or beyond!

Since it’s Poetry Friday, there’s a lot more poetry awaiting you! Be sure to visit my friend Buffy Silverman’s blog for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!


Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!


Be sure to PRE-ORDER my upcoming new creative nonfiction picture book,
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BEING HUMAN (Beaming Books, Oct. 2022)!

Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of my latest picture book, I AM TODAY (POW! Kids Books),
or ANY of my books from my local independent bookstore!


I’m now a part of the BOOKROO family!

Create an account to add books to wishlists and be notified of special deals and dates…create custom collections…and discover and follow your favorite authors & illustrators!

Find out more about BOOKROO here!


I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.


Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the covers below to order!

Available now!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)


Thank you to everyone for your support!




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To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post once or twice a week – usually Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day) . Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookInstagramPinterest, and SoundCloud!

18 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: New “Stargazing” picture book announcement!

  1. Congratulations on the new book–great news, and good for you for turning your poem into a picture book! I got an email from those book list folks and didn’t respond. You’re inspiring me to rethink that!


  2. lindabaie

    I still have fond memories of ‘star-gazing’ at Lake Powell, a special sight! Congratulations on this new book, Matt, for your persistence, too!


    1. Thanks, Marcie. I haven’t sold a PB ms since last year, so I know all about rejection. In fact, as I mentioned to Rose, above, this book went through 25 rejections, as did ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME – which means that for just two books, I had to deal with FIFTY rejections. It can be hard keeping your head up, but in this business persistence and patience are your best friends.


  3. Elisabeth

    Congratulations on your forthcoming book, and the success of the one that came out recently! I appreciate your candor about the path to publication for your books – welcome reminders to us all that eventually the stories we’re passionate about can find their perfect homes!


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