"The story of Nic and Nellie is charming. Nic and her dog Nellie have gone away on Nic's first solo vacation to visit her grandparents in Maine. Nic's character moves from the anxiety of being away from familiar faces and places, to having a wonderful time and making new friends. What a great book for a child going on their own first camp or vacation trip! But, for me, it was the illustrations of Maine that hit home . . . I connected with her art on a deeply personal level. I think anyone who has a bit of the Maine coast lodged in their heart would do the same. If you think you're in that group, then go out and find a copy of Nic and Nellie. You won't regret it."
—Sarah Tuttle, Local Love: Books for Children in New England
"For any child who's off to sleepaway camp or who's ever felt homesick, this book deserves to be packed in their suitcase as a reminder of new adventure can be . . . A beautifully illustrated picture book that reminds us how fleeting summer can be, but how its adventures that take us out of our comfort zone can last a lifetime. "
— Pamela Brill, The Talking Walnut
"Like many classic children's books, Nic and Nellie is a story about learning from one's environment and growing up (but not growing up too much). Nic's summer ends up being the summer we all want to remember from our childhoods — a season of sunshine and berries, of play and love, of children and dogs, of bonfires and song and laughter . . . The Maine island on which Nic's grandparents live is achingly beautiful. For Nic and for readers, it becomes a place to be revisited often."
— Tinky Weisblat, The Greenfield Recorder
Nic and Nellie to be published in China
Toronto-based Transatlantic Literary Agency (TLA) represents Islandport titles in Europe and Asia. Amy Tompkins, at TLA, brokered the deal. The Chinese edition of the book is due out later this year.
Nic and Nellie, which won a Moonbeam Award Gold Medal for Best Picture Book, is about a girl and her beloved dog, Nellie. Nic is so excited about spending the entire summer on a small New England island with her grandparents that she counts down the days through winter and spring. But when the grand adventure finally begins, she finds tears and loneliness instead of joy and freedom. She and Nellie learn, over the course of the summer, that new places really aren't so scary, and that often friends can be found around every corner, even in old row boats, tidal ponds, and stinky mud flats.
Astrid Sheckels, who lives in Greenfield, Mass., says she cannot remember a time when she wasn't listening to, telling or illustrating stories. She grew up in western Massachusetts, in an artistic family. Homeschooling and private art instruction laid the foundation for her artistic education, which was formalized at Greenfield Community College. Astrid is a member of The Western Massachusetts Illustrators Guild and The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Sheckels has also published two other books with Islandport Press: the award-winning The Scallop Christmas (by Jane Freeberg, 2009) and the award-winning The Fish House Door (by Robert Baldwin, 2010). She is also the illustrator of Hope Somewhere in America, Black Cloud, and Tennessee Rose. Hector Fox and the Giant Quest, which is the first book of her original picture book series, Hector Fox and Friends, came out in 2016.
Astrid Sheckels' "Nic and Nellie" wins Moonbeam Book Award
Children's author and illustrator Astrid Sheckels' picture book, Nic and Nellie, about a young girl who spends the summer away from home for the first time, received the 2013 Moonbeam Children's Book Award for Best Picture Book - All Ages.
The Moonbeam Awards, presented by Jenkins Group and Independent Publisher Magazine, celebrates the year's best children's books, authors, and illustrators.
This is Sheckels' second Moonbeam award in the past three years. Along with author Robert Baldwin, she won a Gold Medal, Best Picture Book, for The Fish House Door in 2010. Sheckels also illustrated The Scallop Christmas, which received a 2009 Maine Lupine Honor Award for a picture book of outstanding merit.
All three of Sheckels' award-winning books were published by Islandport Press and are set along the coast of Maine and Massachusetts. Sheckels' gorgeous watercolor images wonderfully capture the look, feel, and spirit of Maine and help bring the stories to life. Nic and Nellie is her first book as both author and illustrator.
"Astrid is a special young talent," said Dean L. Lunt, publisher of Islandport Press. "We are excited for her and thrilled at the much-deserved recognition she is receiving. In today's world of books and publishing where there is a strong prejudice toward established creators or stars, it is not always easy for new authors and illustrators to break in or stand out."
Sheckels is a native of the small farming town of Hatfield, Massachusetts. She has been telling and illustrating stories since childhood. A talented artist who works primarily in watercolors, Sheckels has also won awards for her fine art, including the Archibald Macleish Prize for Art (2003) and the Medici Award in Visual Arts (2004). She lives and works in Greenfield, Mass.
The Moonbeam Children's Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to exemplary children's books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading. Awards are given in 36 categories covering a full range of subjects, styles, and age groups. To learn more about the award, visit www.moonbeamawards.com.