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In 'ECLIPSE,' a little boy and his dad are starstruck

a man and his young son are wearing eclipse glasses and looking at the sky in wonder
Andy Rash
The author, Andy Rash, and his son during the 2017 total solar eclipse.

In a new children's book, Milwaukee author and illustrator Andy Rash brings the story of the adventure he shared with his 7-year-old son during the 2017 total solar eclipse.

During a total solar eclipse, the moon passes between the sun and Earth, blocking the bright face of the sun and revealing our star’s pearly-white atmosphere, called the corona. To see this, you’ve got to head to what’s called the path of totality. That’s the path the moon’s shadow takes across Earth’s surface. If you’re in the right place at the right time, for a brief moment, day becomes night.

August 21, 2017, was the last time a total solar eclipse happened in the United States. Six years ago, children’s book author and illustrator Andy Rash drove to Illinois to see it with his son. He shares that story in a new book, ECLIPSE.

The next total solar eclipse to cross North America takes place on April 8, 2024. Use this map to find where it's happening near you.

Rash, who also teaches illustration at MIAD, spoke with WUWM’s Lina Tran for Lake Effect.

This interview has been edited for clarity. 

Tell me about this book and where it began for you.

I went with my son to see the total eclipse in 2017, when he was just seven years old. It was just the two of us on this trip. We were so amazed by the whole experience that it never really left me. So I wrote a picture book. It stars me and my son and tells the story of viewing an eclipse, hoping that people will go out and try to see the eclipses that's coming up, especially the one in April.

As an author and artist, you're able to convey to people how great eclipses are and why they should go out of their way to see them. What was that experience like?

The one thing that made a huge difference was going to the path of totality. We just looked on a website to tell us where to go. I tried my best through my illustrations to try to convey [it.] It's a really fascinating, unusual experience. It looks very, very strange and extremely beautiful.

a book cover of a children's book shows two illustrated figures — a boy and his father — in eclipse glasses looking at the shadow of the moon. it says ECLIPSE by ANDY RASH.
Andy Rash
ECLIPSE tells the story of Andy Rash's trip to see the 2017 total solar eclipse with his son.

Something that's fun about this book is that you wrote it from your son's perspective. What was that like?

He actually wrote a project for school about this trip and that really inspired me. I thought the perspective of the son would be more engaging for kids. The anticipation that goes throughout the book is intended to mirror that [anticipation] as the sun approaches the moon, passes behind it, and then continues on.

I absolutely felt that. I love that it's framed around this countdown. It really captures the sense of anticipation that's so unique with eclipses, which is that we know exactly when and where it's going to happen, down to the second. But once it does, you totally lose yourself in all of these strange emotions that you didn't really know that you could feel about the sun.

It was really surprising. I thought I knew what I was going to experience. But the moment it was a total eclipse, and we took off our eclipse glasses — everyone was hooting and cheering. Crickets are chirping. It was a really fascinating experience.

In the U.S., we have another total solar eclipse coming up in April 2024. What I love about the end of your book is that your son, he's already looking forward to the next one. At the time, it must have sounded so far away, seven years away. There's this lovely illustration of you two together at presumably the next eclipse and he's taller than you, there's more gray in your hair. Reflect on the time that's passed.

When I drew that image, the intention was that it was going to be an eclipse much further in the distance. But since my son is 13, he is nearly as tall as me now. I was looking at that last illustration. And I was like, “Oh no, that’s already happened.”

We know that we are going to the path of totality. I'm going to bring the rest of my family this time because it's just not to be missed.

It's such a cool way to mark the passage of time on our planet, these crazy intersections of Earth, the sun and the moon.

It's an enormous clock! It's really amazing. I have maps in the front and the back of the book that show where the paths will be far into the future. We know where eclipses will be in the distant future already.

Imagine that you have a friend who is looking at this map for next year's eclipse and is like, “Oh, it seems like kind of a long drive and there'll probably be a lot of traffic.” What would you say to your friend to convince them it’s worth going?

I would say they're right. It's going to be a lot of traffic. Getting back took forever. There’s actually a page devoted to traffic in the book. But I think it's absolutely worth it. It was just a world-shaking experience for us. We still talk about it all the time, even outside the context of publishing this book this year.

Rash is reading and signing his book, ECLIPSE, at Boswell Book Company on Saturday, October 7 at 11 a.m.


Lina is a WUWM news reporter.
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