I’m thrilled to be welcoming Aimée Sicuro for Women’s History Month. Aimee is an illustrator, picture book maker, and surface pattern designer. But I know her best as the illustrator of The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe. I was over the moon and truly honored when I learned Aimée and I would be creating this book together.
Aimée was in a taxi, when she read an early manuscript—and immediately contacted her agent to accept the project. She felt a kinship to Vera, who like her, was dedicated to both her children and a career about which she was passionate. Aimée dove into researching Vera—despite struggling with science when she was growing up. She read Vera’s writings (no easy task, I can tell you), visited the Hayden Planetarium with her son, and scoured the internet for photographs of Vera. She researched for months.
When I received her first sketches I was astounded! Her work was strikingly beautiful. But it also had a depth of understanding. It was obvious that she had not only researched Vera and her work, she profoundly understood this mother-scientist and her momentous discovery that stunned the world.
“A truly beautiful story of perseverance and passion.”—BOOKLIST
Before Vera Rubin discovered most of the universe, she was a girl who loved the night sky. She watched the Big Dipper circle the North Star. And when her eyelids grew heavy, she dreamed not about what she had seen, but about what she had not seen. She dreamed about the mysteries between the stars.
As Vera grew older, she tried to uncover those mysteries. At her first conference, the male astronomers said her ideas were “outlandish.” They said they were “ridiculous.” Vera didn’t like their harsh words, pushing her away. So she started studying far away galaxies no one else was interested in. The youngest wheeled like pinwheels. The oldest spun with their arms closed tight. And every single one showed that between the stars, there is stuff we cannot see. Scientists before Vera had suspected this “dark matter” made up most of the universe. But no one had been able to show it was there. No one, until Vera.
The Stuff Between the Stars tells Vera’s incredible story, celebrates her brilliance, and shows how a girl’s never-ending love for the night sky changed the way we see our universe today.
Aimée Sicuro holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration from Columbus College of Art and Design. The Stuff Between the Stars is Aimée’s sixth picture book. Her first authored-illustrated project, If You Find a Leaf, uses real leaves to celebrate the fall season. It’s whimsical and charming and encourages children to see leaves in an entirely new way. I absolutely love it! Be sure to keep an eye out for it this July!
Let me turn things over to Aimée now. She’s spoiling us with an insider’s view into her process for making The Stuff Between the Stars–and also sharing her very own Quarantine Diaries that document her mom-artist life. Aimée joins us from Brooklyn, New York, where she lives with her two children and husband to tell us What Was On her…
First Sketch for The Stuff Between the Stars: The sketch stage is always so fun for me because I can be loose and experiment with different techniques.
Wall As She Worked: I did months of research for this book and still only scratched the surface of the incredible work that Vera was able to accomplish. She was truly remarkable for not only her persistence and dedication to her work but as a mentor for other young female astronomers.
Initial Cover Designs: These were the many sketches I submitted for the cover. They really wanted Vera as a little girl on the cover and outside. The window design and Vera walking through a spinning galaxy are still my favorites for the cover.
Palette of Colors: I worked with a lot of inks and of course lots of shades of blues and deep purples. It was also fun to incorporate some neon shades in the end pages and in the galaxy paintings.
Quarantine Diaries: This series started during the Quarantine and they helped make me feel like I was recording what this very disorienting time was like for parents and kids. This comic below was from April 2020. At that time I was trying to finish The Stuff Between the Stars at night and on the weekends.
Mother-Daughter Creations: My daughter loves to paint and her abstract shapes really inspire me. I started drawing on them a couple of years ago for fun and now it’s become a fun personal project for me. Someday I’d love to make it into a book somehow.
The first one below included a spelling and word exercise that my son had typed on my computer. It was like an unintentional poem. We were struggling so much with virtual learning that I wanted to include his words in this piece with an illustration of us together.
Mind: After the last two years, I’m just grateful that my kids are back in school full time, and I’m able to refocus on my work. There are a lot of unfinished ideas on my desk that I hope to finish!
Thank you so much, Aimée, for stopping by–and especially for creating all the astoundingly gorgeous artwork for The Stuff Between the Stars! Good luck with your unfinished ideas. You have a huge fan club (myself included) waiting to see what you bring us next!
To order The Stuff Between the Stars, click on the book below:
To preorder If You Find a Leaf, click on the book below:
If you would like to know more about me and my writing, please visit sandranickel.com.