joan galat author photo


Although she started making books at the age of nine, Joan Marie Galat wasn’t published until she was 12 years old, when she became a paid weekly newspaper columnist. Today she is an internationally acclaimed author with more than 25 titles, and translations in eight languages. Published by National Geographic Kids, Scholastic, Owlkids, and others, Joan writes both fiction and nonfiction. She enjoys partnering facts and storytelling to engage young readers in science, engineering, and other STEM topics.

Before blasting into books, Joan studied biological sciences with a focus on ecology. Her plan was to write on the side while working in one of her favorite places—the outdoors! Employed as a park naturalist and forestry worker, Joan built up the skills she would later need as a writer. She conducted research, led nature hikes, wrote shows, and even performed. (Some will remember her appearance as a great horned owl.)

Unfortunately, Joan’s science jobs were seasonal. Fortunately, she managed to get hired at a radio station. What fun! She could ask people nosy questions and write news! She could announce! She could make up contests, play music, and write commercials! Joan’s radio stint ended with another kind of fun. It was the arrival of children…one, two, three! While parenting, she gathered credits as a freelance writer.

Writing magazine articles and producing stories for CBC Radio also provided good author training. In 2001, Joan’s first title—Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories in the Stars—became a Canadian national bestseller. Today, her career revolves around writing, editing, training, and public speaking. Book talks have taken Joan across Canada and to the USA, Australia, and South Korea. The opportunity to speak at a United Nations Environment Programme event, in Seoul, was a particular highlight.

As well as madly meeting book deadlines, Joan operates MoonDot Media, a communications business offering freelance writing, editing, and corporate training. Projects have included speechwriting, magazine editing, web writing, museum exhibit text, consulting, educational projects, and even a cartoon! You can find additional details by visiting Joan’s websites: and

– Dot to Dot in the Sky Literacy –

Author presentations that build
reading and writing skills, and
interest in STEM and STEAM topics

Joan’s focus on STEM and STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) offer a curriculum bonus that encourages students to explore their world. Audiences find it hard to resist the lure of constellations, exploding stars, and black holes, and the myths and legends early peoples and ancient cultures first told to explain the night sky.

Interest in the idea of “celebrating writing” builds when Joan reveals how she has “literally” launched several of her books in rockets and one beneath a weather balloon! Her fact-filled books and personal stories provide the perfect tie-in to sky science, weather, engineering, and other STEM and STEAM topics.

Joan makes it easier for students to picture themselves as writers when she shares her story of becoming a paid columnist at age 12. By the end of Joan’s talks, students will appreciate the idea that writing can be fun. They will know how to find the North Star, as well as a few constellations, and feel motivated to explore science and their own passions through books.

Dot to Dot in the Sky Literacy presentations fit the language arts, science, and social studies curriculums in various grades. Six astronauts including Chris Hadfield, Roberta Bondar, Julie Payette, and David Saint-Jacques, have read and endorsed Joan’s astronomy titles.

Curriculum BONUS: Joan’s Dot to Dot in the Sky Literacy presentations are perfect for grabbing the attention of all grades. They also fit the grade six and nine science curriculums.

Joan offers both in person and virtual presentations.

VIRTUAL PRESENTATIONS (up to three classroom logins)

  • Available for all grades
  • When scheduling, please allow 10-15 minutes between sessions.
  • First session hosts: please sign on 10 minutes early to test video/sound with Joan.


  • Free 30-minute virtual presentation with $200 direct-from-author book purchase.
    Contact Joan directly for details.

Virtual Fees

Up to three classroom logins/session

30 minute presentation: $150 (K-2 or Ask the Author: any grade)
45 minute presentation: $225 each or three for $650
60 minute writing workshop $250 each or three for $725


Half Day Presentations $550 (2 x 45 minutes) (up to 75 students/session)
Half Day Writing Workshops $600 (2 x 60 minutes) (up to two classes/session)

Full Day Presentations $800 (3 x 50 minutes) (up to 75 students/session)
Full Day Writing workshops $825 (3 x 60 minutes) (up to two classes/session)

(In person: up to 75 students/session)

Presentation Descriptions

Ask the Author
30 Minutes (any grade)
Joan explains how she came to be a published newspaper columnist at age 12, then invites questions about her books, writing, and the writing process.

Pictures in the Sky
30 minutes (K-2)

Students learn how to find the North Star, locate constellations, and discover myths/legends relating to the night sky. Joan also plays a game of “Picture Book: Fact or Fiction” and offers tips on how to become a stronger writer.

Curriculum links: scientific literacy, exploring culture/community, maintaining a sense of wonder about the world, reading/writing skills, exploring/appreciating science/environment relationships.

A Rat, A Rocket, and Science (Grades 3-8) – New in 2022
Discover how scientific facts and imagination mix, and what happens when a journal-keeping lab rat starts thinking about colonizing Mars. We’ll talk about research, misinformation, and correcting mistakes—both in writing and friendships—in this entertaining and informative session based on the STEM-themed middle grade novel: Mortimer: Rat Race to Space (DCB).

Curriculum links: writing process, creative thinking, story structure, scientific literacy, technologies used in space exploration, manned spacecraft, space stations, impacts of technology, wonder about the world, exploring/appreciating science, cause and effect, reading/writing skills.

Dot to Dot in the Sky (Grades 3-6)
Students learn how to find the North Star, locate constellations, and discover myths/legends relating to the night sky. Joan intrigues young writers with her story of becoming a paid columnist at age 12, builds interest in STEM topics, and promotes the idea that reading leads to new adventure.

Curriculum links: Indigenous peoples, light in our environment, latitude, scientific literacy, exploring culture/community, wonder about the world, reading/writing skills, exploring/appreciating science and environmental relationships.

The Northern Lights (Stories of the Aurora) (Grades 4-12)
Early cultures looked up at the same night sky we see today, seeking connections between what happened on Earth and what occurred overhead. They told stories to explain the shimmering northern lights and other night sky phenomena. Discover the science and legends of the lights.

Curriculum links: sky science, Indigenous peoples, ancient Greece, light in our environment, latitude, scientific literacy, exploring culture/community, wonder about the world, space exploration, exploring/appreciating science and environmental relationships, reading/writing skills.

Dark Matters – Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution (Grades 3-12)
Everyone deserves to see the night sky. Unfortunately, light pollution makes it hard to study the universe. It also negatively impacts wildlife. In a presentation partnering stories and science, Joan encourages students to explore the world. She also talks about writing and the importance of reading fact-based books.

Curriculum links: sky science, Indigenous peoples, ancient Greece, light in our environment, latitude, scientific literacy, exploring culture/community, wonder about the world, space exploration, exploring/analyzing/appreciating science/environmental relationships, connecting personal experience with new ideas, reading/writing skills.

Grades 7-12: Stories, Action, and Activism – New in 2023
In a presentation partnering stories, science, and activism, Joan encourages students to consider their concerns for the world and how writing can be used to encourage change. She encourages students to base their opinions on scientific evidence, read fact-based books, and master their writing skills to better raise awareness about the issues they care about. Based on The Story of Malala Yousafzai, Dark Matters–Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution, Too Much Trash: How Litter is Hurting Animals, and upcoming title: Make Your Mark, Make a Difference.

Password to Publishing (Grades 7-9)
Launched with celestial storytelling, this junior high presentation includes how Joan became a paid writer in grade eight. Joan discusses challenges of the writing life, using personal stories to show how she built her skills and how perseverance benefits anyone pursuing a dream. She also offers tips on writing and revising.

Curriculum links: communication, using effective language, creativity, expressing personal feelings and experiences, use of language to extend personal goals, sky science, scientific literacy, reading/writing skills.

Write Your Own Future (Grades 10-12)
Expanding on the junior high content described above, Joan discusses writing as a career, noting that most writing in adult life is fact-based. She shares her experience writing in different styles including speechwriting, websites, and radio commercials. Joan delivers the message that good writing is essential in all career fields, particularly with changing technology and competitive environments.

Curriculum links: communication, careers, using effective language, creativity, sky science, space exploration, science and technology, scientific literacy, reading/writing skills.


Workshop: Write Like a Rat – New in 2022
Mortimer, a journal-keeping lab rat on the International Space Station is determined to prove his species is best suited to colonizing Mars. He records the results in his journal, uses a secret code, and makes videos for his YouTube channel. Discover how you too can write like a rat. Based on Mortimer: Rat Race to Space (DCB).

View additional workshop descriptions on Joan’s website.


Mortimer—Rat Race To Space: Audio Book (Tantor Media, 2023)

Too Much Trash–How Litter is Hurting Animals (Orca, Spring 2023)

Mortimer–Rat Race To Space (DCB, 2022)

  • Nominated for the 2023/24 Red Cedar Book Award (A children’s choice award to be announced in 2024)
  • Silver medal, 2023 Reader’s Choice Awards (Connections eMagazine)

Absolute Expert–Space (National Geographic Kids, 2020)

The Story of Malala Yousafzai (Rockridge Press, 2020)

Stars (Scholastic USA, 2020)

Solve This! Wild and Wacky Challenges for the Genius Engineer in You (National Geographic Kids, 2018)

  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre–Best Books for Kids/Teens list, 2018
  • #1 New Release on Amazon: Children’s How Things Work–Books List, March/2018
  • Romanian, simplified Chinese translations

Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories in the Clouds–Weather, science, and mythology from around the world (Whitecap Books, 2018)

  • Skipping Stones Award, 2019
  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre–Best Books for Kids/Teens list, 2019

Dark Matters, Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution (Red Deer Press, 2017)

  • Bronze Moonbeam Award, Nonfiction, 2018
  • Finalist, Crystal Kite Award for Canada, (SCBWI), 2018
  • Finalist, Canadian Authors Association Exporting Alberta Award, 2018

Erupt! 100 Fun Facts About Volcanoes (National Geographic Kids, 2017)

Cats (National Geographic Kids, 2017)

  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre–Best Books for Kids/Teens list, 2018
  • Italian, Simplified Chinese, Polish, Korean/English translations

Be a Maker! Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Printmaking (Crabtree Publishing, 2017)

Cultural Traditions–Turkey (Crabtree Publishing, 2017)

Cultural Traditions–Ghana (Crabtree Publishing, 2017)

Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories of the Aurora (Whitecap Books, 2016)

  • Winner, Crystal Kite Award for Canada, SCBWI, 2017
  • Skipping Stones Award, 2017
  • Second Place, National Communications Award, Outdoor Writers of Canada, 2017
  • Honourable Mention, Canadian Authors Association Exporting Alberta Award, 2017
  • Shortlisted for the Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award in Atlantic Canada, 2017/18
  • Shortlisted for the Red Cedar Children’s Choice Book Award in British Columbia, 2017/18

Branching Out: How Trees are part of Your World (Owlkids, 2014)

  • Santa Monica Public Library Green Prize for Sustainable Literature Award, 2015
  • Honourable Mention–Canadian Authors Assoc., AB Branch, Exporting AB Award, 2014
  • Year’s Best Nonfiction Book List, Resource Links Magazine, 2014
  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre–Best Books for Kids/Teens list, 2015, starred review

Day Trips From Edmonton (Whitecap Books 2013, 2009)

  • Nine weeks on Edmonton Journal bestseller list; one week as number one.

Give Yourself a Pep Talk (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013)

The Discovery of Longitude (Pelican Publishing Company, 2012)

  • Writers Guild of Alberta R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature, 2013
  • Silver Moonbeam Award–Nonfiction Picture Book, 2013

Black Holes and Supernovas (Capstone Press, 2011)

Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories of the Zodiac (Whitecap Books, 2007)

  • Canadian Authors Association Exporting Alberta Award, 2007
  • Gold Moonbeam Award (science/activity category), 2008
  • Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award nomination, 2010
  • Semi-finalist Calgary Public Library Foundation Literary Awards
  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books for Kids/Teens
  • Edmonton Public School Board recommended title

Dr. Bufflehead Explores Energy (Scholastic Canada, 2006)

Dr. Bufflehead Explores Dirt (Scholastic Canada, 2006)

My Corner of the Globe (Parkland Conservation Farm, 2006)

Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories of the Moon (Whitecap Books, 2004)

  • Writers Guild of Alberta R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature
  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice selection
  • Edmonton Public School Board recommended title

Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories of the Planets (Whitecap Books, 2003)

  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice selection
  • Shortlisted for Rocky Mountain Book Award, 2004
  • Edmonton Public School Board recommended title

Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories in the Stars (Whitecap Books, 2001)

  • Canadian National Bestseller within six weeks of release
  • Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice selection
  • Edmonton Public School Board recommended title

Other Awards and Recognition

In 2018 Joan was awarded the Martha Weston Grant. This is awarded to one member Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), worldwide, who is changing genres.


“Looking up at the Moon has inspired explorers and dreamers for eons, floating as a beacon of endless mystery. It lured me into space. The largest Dot in the night sky is the Moon, and its facts and mysteries are beautifully connected in Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories of the Moon.”

Chris Hadfield, Astronaut

On Mortimer: Rat Race to Space: “An absolutely charming adventure. Fans of The Secret of NIMH will love this!” 

Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo award-winning author of Far-Seer

“This is an excellent book (Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories of the Planets). It’s very interesting to read about the mythological stories behind the names of the planets of our solar system, as well as the planetary facts. I appreciate that Joan Marie Galat is very careful in making the important distinction between the myths and the facts of what we know today. I believe that star gazers of all ages will be fascinated by these stories.”

Julie Payette, Astronaut

“As a Sagittarian, was I predestined to coach university archery and to be launched like an arrow into the sky? Mythology and astronomy will always connect ancient lives to ours and Dot to Dot in the Sky (Stories of the Zodiac) is a remarkable story of how and why.”

Roberta Bondar, Scientist, physician, astronaut, photographer

“Love, hate, jealousy, revenge — these are the basic elements of the original soap opera of the sky that plays out every night above our heads. Joan Marie Galat tell the colourful tales of mythological creatures seen among the stars by ancient skywatchers and adds the modern drama of exploding supernovae and alien planets found within the same constellations today. This stargazers’ companion (Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories of the Zodiac) brings the night sky to life with the full story of your zodiac sign.”

Bob MacDonald, host of CBC Radio's 'Quirks and Quarks'

“If I had heard your presentation when I was in school, I would have liked science.”

Darlene Hofer, librarian, Fort MacLeod Public Library

Many of our communities in Northern Alberta are small rural settings and when an author is brought in every student in the school attends. Joan frequently presented to a mixed age-range simultaneously. At one school, 80 students from K-6 were hosted together, and in the case of the home educators association, 35 grade 1-9 students were in the same group. She managed both opportunities effectively, spreading her attention and interaction across the audience.

One public library invited two schools that together packed in 75 grade six students. Joan kept their rapt attention for the hour. Joan also presented well to the younger audiences of K-4, and one young student commented afterwards, “That was a good one.” A librarian made this unsolicited, glowing remark, “I had the most favourable response that I have ever got from any author visit. The teachers raved about her.  Thank-you for bringing her.” A grade eight student later exclaimed “That was an hour?! That sure didn’t feel like a whole hour!” Such is the power of fascinating subjects and a good presenter.

K. Weibe, Peace Library System

“All the teachers were impressed with Joan’s relaxed approach in making what can be a very complex subject so fun and easy to understand. The grades one and two teachers were very excited at how engaged their students were while she told her stories. The Div II teachers were equally as enthusiastic in giving praise to her animated stories and tidbits of interesting facts, all the while maintaining the students’ interest from start to finish. We would not hesitate to have Joan come to our school again.”

RoseAnn Johnston, librarian, Fort Saskatchewan Elementary

Joan has mastered the art of the virtual visit! With a variety of storytelling, book trailers, videos, and audience participation, our students were engaged from start to finish. We can’t wait to explore the night sky and start telling our own stories! Thanks for the inspiration!

Lucas Hill, librarian

Thank you so much for your presentation yesterday, you had the kids buzzing to write afterwards!

Jennifer Jones, grade 4 teacher, Edmonton