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Ladybug Launch

Inspired by a True Story of Chinitas in Space

Illustrated by Manuela Montoya

About The Book

Based on a true story, this out-of-this-world picture book follows the exciting scientific journey of a chica and a chinita with sky-high aspirations—perfect for fans of Mae Among the Stars and What Miss Mitchell Saw.

Natalia is a chica, an ambitious girl with dreams of becoming a scientist. Luna is a chinita, an adventurous ladybug that dreams of visiting the stars. But neither dream is easy to reach. Ladybugs are meant to munch on garden pests. And no one from Natalia’s family has ever been to college. Still, both Natalia and Luna want más.

Then Natalia’s all-girl class designs an experiment. If astronauts want to live in outer space, they’ll need to grow food. Could chinitas go along to keep the pests away? The girls are eager to find out, and Luna is hungry to help. If their theory is correct, it’s a project worthy of NASA itself—and the stuff all dreams are made of.

This inspiring picture book is based on the real story of Chilean high school girls who convinced NASA to send ladybugs to space!

About The Authors

Melissa Trempe has hiked a volcano and swum with sharks, but she has yet to travel to outer space. Like her coauthor, she had few resources growing up and is a first-generation college graduate. As an educator, she’s passionate about equality and helping children find their inner strength to achieve anything. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her wonderful husband, song-writing daughter, animal-loving son, and hole-digging husky. Visit her at

Natalia Ojeda grew up in a simple home in the southernmost country of the world: Chile. Her family had few resources, yet her faith, determination, and experience in the ladybug project helped her to overcome the odds and achieve her dream of becoming a doctor. She is a doctor in the Palliative Care Unit of San Juan de Dios Hospital in Santiago, Chile. As a mother of four girls, she wants to share her story of strength and hope with children around the world.

About The Illustrator

Manuela Montoya was born in Medellín, Colombia. She studied graphic design and advertising in her hometown and art direction in Barcelona, where she now lives. She loves working with gouache, colored pencils, ink, and digital media. Learn more at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (April 16, 2024)
  • Length: 48 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665930413
  • Ages: 4 - 8

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