Big Bear and Little Fish

by Sandra Nickel & Il Sung Na (Lerner/Carolrhoda, September 6, 2022)

Friendship comes in all sizes. At the carnival, Bear wants to win a teddy bear as big as she is. Instead, she wins a fish. A very little fish. Bear doesn’t quite know what to do. But with the help of Fish, Bear learns that although she and Fish are different, they are also a little the same.

Gentle, accessible prose by Sandra Nickel is paired with richly textured illustrations by Il Sung Na in this sweet story about accepting others for who they are.

Can you imagine your book being honored for its “potential to transform children’s lives by inviting compassion, imagination, and wonder”? Well, it happened! Big Bear and Little Fish has been named a Charlotte Huck Award Recommended Book by the National Council of Teachers of English. Big Bear and Little Fish is also on KidLit TV! It was beautifully featured on one of its StoryMakers episodes. It’s still up on the KidLit TV website and you may view it at anytime HERE.

“A delightful tale of unexpected friendship.”—Kirkus

“An endearing and thought-provoking story that boosts self-confidence while promoting friendship, empathy, and new perspectives, Big Bear and Little Fish will become a quick favorite on home bookshelves, a go-to book for classrooms, and a must for school and public library collections.”–Celebrate Picture Books

Breaking Through the Clouds

The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson

by Sandra Nickel & Helena Perez Garcia (Abrams Books for Young Readers, March 8, 2022)

When Joanne Simpson was a girl, she sailed her boat beneath the puffy white clouds of Cape Cod. As a pilot, she flew her plane so high, its wings almost touched them. And when World War II began and Joanne moved to the University of Chicago, a professor asked her to teach Air Force officers about those very clouds and the weather-changing winds.

As soon as the war ended, Joanne decided to seriously study the clouds she had grown to love so much. Her professors told her to go home. They told her she was no longer needed. They told her, “No woman ever got a doctorate in meteorology. And no woman ever will.”

But Joanne was stubborn. She sold her boat. She flew her last flight. She saved her money so that she could study clouds. She worked so hard and discovered so much that—despite what the professors said—she received a doctorate in meteorology and changed everything we know about weather today.

Breaking Through the Clouds was named a 2023 Children’s Favorite by the Children’s Book Council and a Rise Honoree for 2023 by the American Library Association.

“An energetic, compassionate examination of a determined researcher who left her mark on the field of atmospheric sciences.” —Publishers Weekly

Breaking Through the Clouds is an American Library Association Rise Honoree for 2023.

The Stuff Between the Stars

How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe

by Sandra Nickel & Aimee Sicuro (Abrams Books for Young Readers, March 2, 2021)

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 is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, an American Library Association Rise Honoree for 2022, and the winner of a Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. It was named a Best Children’s Book of 2021 by Air and Space Magazine, a Best Children’s Book of the Year by the Bank Street College of Education, a Best STEM Book for K-12 for 2022 by The National Science Teaching Association and the Children’s Book Council, and a Mighty Girl 2021 Book of the Year. It is also nominated for the 2023 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award.

“A truly beautiful story of perseverance and passion.”BOOKLIST

“This engaging biography will appeal to budding scientists, particularly those with a penchant for sky searching.” —KIRKUS REVIEWS

Nacho’s Nachos

The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack

by Sandra Nickel & Oliver Dominguez (Lee & Low, August 11, 2020)

Nacho’s Nachos is the true story about how nachos were invented—about what happened when a regular customer asked Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya for something new, and there were no chefs in the kitchen.

2020 was the 80th Anniversary of the invention, and Oliver Dominguez’s illustrations transport us back to the border of the Rio Grande in 1940, when Nacho’s quick thinking resulted in a snack now eaten everywhere from Texas to Paris to Hong Kong!

Nacho’s Nachos is the winner of a Christopher Award, which recognizes works affirming the highest values of the human spirit. It was named as a finalist for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Golden Kite Award, a Best Picture Book of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews, a Best Children’s Book of the Year by the Bank Street College of Education, a Best Book for Kids of 2020 by the New York Public Library, a Delaware Diamond Title for 2021-2022, a Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Book Award Honoree by the California Reading Association, a Black-Eyed Susan Book Award Nominee for 2023-2024, a Grand Canyon Reader Award Nominee for 2024, and a Best Book of 2020 by the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature. It was also purchased for use in classrooms across New York City–the largest school district in the US. 

 “Nickel’s thorough research, including communications with the descendants of the principals, brings to life the man behind the world’s favorite cheesy bites. . . . Nickel’s homage to this congenial, hardworking man and his renowned snack is a celebration of ingenuity and kismet.” —KIRKUS REVIEWSstarred review 

“This tale of the humble origins of nachos, bolstered by vivid and period-specific illustrations, will whisk young readers away to a different time and place.” —BOOKLIST

“VERDICT A unique biography read-aloud title for younger kids.” —SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

“I have your book on display along with 17 other books related to the topic ‘Everyday Heroes.’ Everyone who looks at the display goes directly to your book, and only your book. I’ve had about 5 conversations about it just while sitting here at my desk.”—Mary Beth Romö, Librarian, St. George’s International School

Los nachos de Nacho

by Sandra Nickel & Oliver Dominguez (Lee & Low, October 17, 2023)

Presentamos a Ignacio (Nacho) Anaya. De niño le encantaba comer y cocinar. Cuando creció trabajó en restaurantes, incluyendo el Club Victoria, un sitio popular cercano a la frontera entre México y Estados Unidos.

En una tarde de 1940, una cliente asidua llegó con unas amigas. Quería una botana. Algo nuevo, algo especial. Nacho corrió a la cocina e improvisó con los ingredientes que tenía a la mano. En ese momento de inspiración, ¡Nacho hizo historia!

Aquí tienes la sabrosa y verdadera historia de un creativo chef mexicano y la exquisita botana que le encanta a comensales entusiastas de todo el mundo. Es tiempo de saborear Los nachos de Nacho.

Meet Ignacio (Nacho) Anaya. As a boy, he loved to eat and cook. When he grew up, he worked in restaurants, including the Victory Club, a popular eatery near the Mexico–United States border.

Late one afternoon in 1940, a regular customer stopped by with some friends. She wanted a snack–something new, something different. Nacho rushed to the kitchen and improvised with the ingredients on hand. In those inspired moments, Nacho made food history!

Here is the tasty and true tale of an inventive Mexican chef and his delectable snack that is loved by enthusiastic eaters around the world. It’s time to dig into Nacho’s Nachos.

Bear's Big Idea

by Sandra Nickel & Il Sung Na (Lerner/Carolrhoda, Fall 2024)

The True Ugly Duckling

How Hans Christian Andersen Became a Swan

by Sandra Nickel & Calvin Nicholls (Levine Querido, Spring 2025)


by Sandra Nickel & Aimee Sicuro (Candlewick Press, Spring, 2025)

Making Light Bloom

Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Lamps

by Sandra Nickel and Julie Paschkis (Peachtree, Summer 2025)

Title still in the works

by Sandra Nickel and Linda Washington (Abrams Books for Young Readers)