On October 4, Smart Pop, an imprint of BenBella Books, is publishing two Star Trek board books, Star Trek: My First Book of Colors and Star Trek: My First Book of Space, under license from Paramount Consumer Products. For author Robb Pearlman, who came up with the idea for both books and wrote My First Book of Colors, this is just the beginning. He has four Star Trek books, with four publishers, coming out this year and another in January 2023.
My First Book of Colors introduces the very young to the multilayered hues of the franchise, along with icons from across the different Star Trek series. “It’s not just green, it’s a mysterious green hand, an iridescent jellyfish, a pinkish purplish quantum singularity,” Pearlman said.
He enlisted friend Erin Macdonald, an astrophysicist and science consultant for the Star Trek franchise, to write My First Book of Space. The book features illustrations of Star Trek ships set on NASA photography of space phenomena like a nebula or the sun. The ships and their position within the spatial photos tie back to specific episodes, a fun bonus for the fans. The combination of photos and illustrations also helps kids understand that “even though the Enterprise is real to us, it’s not really a working spaceship,” Pearlman said.
Together, the two books teach STEAM concepts to the youngest readers, with plenty of Easter eggs for adults.
Pearlman’s other Star Trek books in 2022 include The Star Trek Book of Friendship: You Have Been, and Always Shall Be, My Friend, written with Jordan Hoffman (Smart Pop, May). “I noticed that people who would never ordinarily meet will become lifelong friends because of Star Trek,” Pearlman said. “They start talking about episodes and it evolves into meaningful friendships.” The hardcover book celebrates friendships from all of the series and includes a forward from two of the actors in Star Trek: Voyager.
A picture book, Star Trek Discovery: Girl Who Made the Stars (Running Press Kids, Aug.), written by Brandon Schultz and adapted by Pearlman, is based on an episode of Star Trek: Short Treks, an anthology series that ran for two seasons starting in 2018, centered on the character Michael Burnham from Star Trek: Discovery. Star Trek: Trek the Halls (Little, Brown, Oct.) is a riff on the Christmas carol “Deck the Halls” for fans of all ages, starring characters from all the TV series as they sport their ugly Christmas sweaters.
Coming up in January is a middle-grade novel, Star Trek: Prodigy: Supernova, based on the Star Trek: Prodigy videogame, which is in turn based on the new animated series of the same name on Paramount+ and Nickelodeon. This marks Pearlman’s first foray into middle-grade fiction. “It’s very different from a board book,” he says. “I’m always interested in flexing my writers’ muscles, and I’m a huge fan of the show.
Pearlman describes himself as a pop culturalist. He has written more than 60 books for children and adults, including 10 Star Trek titles. His recent titles have been skewing toward true children’s books, albeit typically with plenty of content for the adult fans. But much of his work has been meant to appeal mostly to adults or to adults and kids equally, while housed in a children’s book format.
That is true of Pearlman’s first Star Trek book, Fun with Kirk and Spock (Cider Mill Press, 2014), a parody of Fun with Dick and Jane. “I was at a Comic Con and I realized there’s a huge overlap in the Venn diagram of the people who love children’s books and the people who love Star Trek and remember watching it with their families,” he said. “Fun with Kirk and Spock was really for adults, but it found a huge audience with people who were reading it with their kids.”
Other Star Trek titles by Pearlman over the years include the Where’s Waldo?-like Search for Spock: A Star Trek Book of Exploration (Cider Mill, 2017), Star Trek: Redshirt’s Little Book of Doom (Insight Editions, 2016); and Star Trek: Body by Starfleet: A Fitness Guide (Running Press, 2019).
Pearlman’s pop culture writing is not limited to Star Trek. His diverse list of titles ranges from The Office: A Day at Dunder Mifflin Elementary (Little, Brown, 2020), to Bob Ross and Peapod the Squirrel (Running Press Kids, 2019), to Rick & Morty: Book of Gadgets and Inventions (Running Press, 2019), to name just a few.
Pearlman has also had a parallel career in publishing, including a 14-year stay at Rizzoli, where he served as associate publisher for Universe books, calendars, and licensing. He has also had stints at Simon & Schuster, Disney Publishing Worldwide, and Smart Pop.