Ads 468x60px

Thursday, September 6, 2018

National Geographic Explorer Academy Blog Tour

Check out the Explorer Academy Blog Tour with National Geographic and be sure to enter two amazing giveaways.One local to here for an Explorer Academy prize pack. The other over on their site for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. 

You've Been the Explorer Academy!

Welcome to Day #4 of the Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit on September 4th, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Trudi and the Explorer Academy team, as well as 10 chances to win a copy of Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret and swag!

Art Takes Us in a New Direction
by Eva Absher, VP of visual identity, National Geographic Kids

The Explorer Academy motto—To discover. To innovate. To protect—never seemed more relevant to me than when I prepared to do my part as the head of design for the seven-book fiction series. It was at once a challenge and an incredible opportunity to support the amazing fictionalized world author Trudi Trueit had created.  

To discover 
Characters! Campus! Classroom at sea! Where to begin? 

First, we had to get a sense of what kids would want. Through testing with our Nat Geo Kids focus groups, we found that kids DID want art, but not too much, so we had to find the right balance. 

Originally, we had planned for more art in Explorer Academy and bigger, more colorful spread openers. We wanted to do something dramatically different and very visual to make these books stand out in the fiction world. However, we started to realize that the more times we showed the characters, the less the kids could imagine those characters and places for themselves. Eventually we tested both versions (more art; less art) and let them choose! They all really liked seeing more art, but in their comments expressed a desire to let their imaginations do a little more of the heavy lifting. So, we scaled back on the degree of detail we showed and the number of illustrations. In the end, I actually prefer the design that is a bit more abstract and visually cleaner. Thanks, kids! 

Of course, a big part of the fun was working with the author to determine what key moments in the book to illustrate. One of the cool things about the series is the codebreaking element, so certain scenes required hidden clues for kids to discover. The talent search to make it all happen led us to discover two accomplished illustrators: Scott Plumbe, who did all the interior art and Antonio Javier Caparo, who produced the cover art. 

When I was first thinking of what the art could be for Explorer Academy, I wanted to make sure that we didn’t forget about National Geographic’s incredible history of beautiful photography and kids’ love of seeing real places and animals. So, I decided to combine photography and illustration to ground some of the imagery in our usual nonfiction world but with the fictionalized setting overlay. For example, when Cruz and Emmett are virtually charged by wildebeests in chapter six, I couldn’t help but think of the photos by Anup Shah ( and how amazing they are. You are caught up in the action as if you were at the feet of the next wildebeest in the stampede. We really thought kids would find this hybrid style compelling. I’m grateful to the photographers for allowing us to insert our characters into their photography. 

To protect
With Explorer Academy’s venture into fiction, it’s been fun to go outside the (yellow) box and push our creative boundaries. But the message of this series remains true to the real-world mission of our 130-year-old brand: to inspire people of all ages to explore and protect the planet and make the world a better place. 

We’d love to hear from readers! If you could request a painting of any Explorer Academy character, location, or scene what would it be? Reply to this blog or email us at


Blog Tour Schedule:

September 3rd — BookhoundsYA
September 4th — Kid Lit Frenzy
September 5th — Beach Bound Books
September 6th — Java John Z's
September 7th — YA and Kids Books Central

September 10thChristy's Cozy Corners

September 11th — Chat with Vera
September 12th — A Dream Within a Dream
September 13th — Book Briefs
September 14th — Jean Book Nerd

Calendar of Events

Join Explorer Academy author Trudi Trueit and National Geographic explorer and venomous snake researcher Zoltan Takacs as they discuss the book series and answer questions from readers. Trudi will sign copies of the book as well.

Friday, September 21, 2018: Greenwich

Hosted by the Greenwich Public School District
184 Hamilton Ave.
Greenwich, CT 06830
6:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 22, 2018: New York Launch Event

18 West 18th Street
New York City, NY
1 p.m.

Sunday, September 23, 2018: Chicago

1301 East 57th Street
Chicago, IL
3 p.m.

Monday, September 24, 2018: Chicago

123 West Jefferson Avenue
Naperville, IL
7 p.m.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018: Atlanta

133 East Court Square
Decatur, GA
6 p.m.

Thursday, September 27, 2018: Los Angeles

160 S. Westlake Blvd.
Thousand Oaks, CA
7 p.m.

Friday, September 28, 2018: Los Angeles

Newport Beach Library, in Conjunction with Whale of a Tale Children’s Bookshoppe
1000 Avocado Ave
Newport Beach, CA
4 p.m.

*Saturday, October 13, 2018: Seattle

15311 Main Street
Mill Creek, WA
2 p.m.

*Friday, October 19, 2018: Seattle

6504 20th Ave. NE
Seattle, WA
7 p.m.

* Please note, Zoltan Takacs will not attend this event.

“A fun, exciting and action-packed ride that kids will love.”  
—J.J. Abrams, director of Star Trek, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Lost and Alias

"Explorer  Academy  is  sure  to  awaken  readers’  inner  adventurer  and  curiosity  about  the  world  around  them."
—LeVar  Burton,  host  of  “Reading  Rainbow”and “LeVar  Burton  Reads”

Buy: National GeographicAmazon | Indiebound
Follow TrudiWebsite | Twitter | Facebook | Youtube

Follow National Geographic Kids: Website | Twitter | Books Twitter | Facebook | Youtube

Adventure, danger, and a thrilling global mission await 12-year-old Cruz Coronado as he joins an elite school for explorers.

Cruz leaves his tranquil home in Hawaii to join 23 talented kids from around the globe to train at the Explorer Academy with the world's leading scientists to become the next generation of great explorers. But for Cruz, there's more at stake. No sooner has he arrived at the Academy than he discovers that his family has a mysterious past with the organization that could jeopardize his future. In the midst of codebreaking and cool classes, new friends and augmented reality expeditions, Cruz must tackle the biggest question of all: Who is out to get him, and why?

Readers can get in on the excitement with puzzles and codes embedded throughout.  

About the Author: Author Trudi Trueit is a gifted storyteller for middle-grade audiences. She has written more than 100 books for young readers, both fiction and nonfiction, including The Sister Solution, Stealing Popular and the Secrets of a Lab Rat series. Trueit lives in Everett, Washington.


  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret, plus an Explorer Academy tote, stickers, folder, poster and pin!
  • US/Canada only. Ends 9/14/18 at 11:59pm EDT
Explorer Academy Swag Giveaway

One lucky family of four will embark on a spectacular ship-based adventure, just like the students at Explorer Academy. Experience the remarkable beauty of Alaska’s famed Inside Passage on this thrilling 8-day voyage, courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions. Get up close to icebergs and calving glaciers. See orcas and humpback whales, then listen to them with the ship's hydrophone. Visit Glacier Bay National Park, learn about Alaska’s rich Native American heritage, and pass islands teeming with wildlife, including brown bears, sea lions, sea otters, and perhaps the world's highest density of nesting bald eagles. Visit to see a detailed itinerary for Alaska's Inside Passage Cruise. Enter here!

*Read my Disclosure


  1. This looks really cool. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  2. I've always wanted to see Alaska so seeing Alaska's beauty would be what I like most about the trip.

  3. It would be awesome to see icebergs and glaciers up close!

  4. I think seeing the wildlife would be the most amazing part !!

  5. The beautiful scenery would be the best part!

  6. I would love to go to alaska and see the beautiful sights and sky

  7. I would love to take tons of photos if I won this trip. The scenery looks beautiful.

  8. i would love to see the animals in alaska

  9. Alaska cruise would be wonderful to see the animals from a far! When I get off port it would be nice to see a wild Moose. Never been before so first time for everything!

  10. I would love to go to Alaska and See the orcas and humpback whales

  11. I would love to see the wildlife and icebergs!

  12. I would love to see all the animals, especially the whales.

  13. i really want to see the penguins. i loved the movie happy feet and i think i could relate best to that.

  14. omg Alaska would be amazing. the wildlife!!

  15. Sea lions and sea otters!

  16. The world's highest density of nesting bald eagles.

  17. Alaska is on my bucket list! I would love to travel there someday!

  18. I like that you would get to see Alaska

  19. i like that we can get up close to the icebergs

  20. I am most looking forward to seeing the glaciers.

  21. Really cool experience! I am a National Geographics kind of person and grew up watching anything on that channel. I think this is cool for young kids and facilities