LITTLE ROCK, AR – December 13, 2016 — For 100 days in 2012, a Johnson jumping spider (Phiddipus johnsonii) circled Earth while aboard the International Space Station. She circled the Earth 1584 times, traveling about 41,580,000 miles. When author Darcy Pattison heard the story, she researched and wrote a children’s picture book, Nefertiti, the Spidernaut: How a Jumping Spider Learned to Hunt in Space, which had just been named a 2017 National Science Teacher’s Association Outstanding Science Trade Book.
Brochure here. (pdf)
The spider was included in the space mission because of an international YouTube competition, which asked youths worldwide to create a video suggesting an experiment for the International Space Station. Amr Mohammed of Alexandria, Egypt won the competition by proposing to send a jumping spider to space. Most spiders spin webs and passively wait for prey to be caught. Jumping spiders, however, actively hunt. When they see prey, they pounce! But what happens when a spider jumps in space? It will float. Amr hypothesized that the spider wouldn’t be able to hunt in the microgravity of the space station and would starve to death. In honor of his country, he named the spider Nefertiti.
The book tells the story of Nefertiti, the Johnson jumping spider, from her hatching through the exciting days of the experiment, and her final days at the Smithsonian Museum. Scientists tested her ability to survive the rigors of space, including extended periods of dark and cold. After passing those tests, she was loaded onto an unmanned rocket and sent to the International Space Station. Scientists stocked her habitat with fruit flies, and then videotaped her for two hours a day for two weeks. Astronaut Sunita Williams, Captain U.S. Navy said, “It was a suspense story for me as it happened.”
This is an astonishing story of change: through the dark and cold, in spite of being weightless and isolated, this incredible spider adapted and learned to hunt. Against all odds, she survived to return to Earth, where she had to re-adapt to Earth’s gravity. Nefertiti’s story of survival brings hope that we, too, can adapt to a changing world.
Pattison has won this prestigious recognition for her work before in 2015 for Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma (Mims House), and 2013 for Desert Baths (Arbordale). For more, see MimsHouse.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Children’s book author Darcy Pattison finds inspiration in writing about science and nature; three times her books have been honored as NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books. Her nature picture books include Nefertiti, the Spidernaut: How a Jumping Spider Learned to Hunt in Space (Mims House), a 2017 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book; Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub (Mims House), an NSTA 2015 Outstanding Science Trade Book; Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years (Mims House), a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly; Desert Baths (Arbordale), an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book 2013; and, Prairie Storms (Arbordale). Burn: Michael Faraday’s Candle (Mims House, Spring 2016) is a physical science book about how a candle burns, based on Michael Faraday’s famous 1848 juvenile Christmas lecture.
Other picture books include The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt), which received an Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature Honor Book award, starred reviews in BCCB and Kirkus, and has been published in a Houghton Mifflin textbook; Searching for Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt); 19 Girls and Me (Philomel); and 11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph: A Military Family Story (Mims House). Her series, The ALIEN, INC. CHAPTER BOOK SERIES includes Kell, the Alien; Kell and the Horse Apple Parade; Kell and the Giants; and Kell and the Detectives. She is also the author of middle grade novels and teaches nationally a Novel Revision Retreat. For more, see darcypattison.com/about
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
In her debut picture book, Columbian illustrator Valeria Tisnés, charms with her anatomically correct, yet exciting work. Her passion for accurate scientific illustrations is fueled by the textures and details she observes in nature and in animals.
ABOUT THE PUBLISHER
Established in 2008, Mims House publishes children’s picture books and novels, teacher resource books, or how-to-write books. Located in the historic Quapaw Quarter of Little Rock, AR, the publisher takes its name from the Victorian House where it resides; the homes in the historic district are named after families who lived there in 1890. Mims House is a member of the Independent Book Publisher’s Association and the Children’s Book Council. Our books are widely available through online, educational, and library distributors.