The book follows a mouse who wants nothing more than to travel to outer space. Kelly flew with mice on the space shuttle Endeavour in 2001; Mousetronaut is a partially true story about one adventurous mouse on board.
Payne was contacted by Pamela Wiseman from the publisher Simon and Schuster to do the illustrations for the book. Payne and Kelly connected over email with sketches and feedback to work out the story.
“As a kid I loved comics and the adventures you would read,” Payne said. “I wanted to bring a little of that into this book, while still maintaining evidence of how I draw in the final imagery.”
He completed 40 pages of illustrations for the book, including the front and back covers.
Payne has illustrated over a dozen children’s books, including Late for School by Steve Martin and The Remarkable Farkle Mcbride by John Lithgow.
His work has also graced the covers of publications including Time magazine, Readers Digest, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times Book Review and Sunday Magazine, MAD magazine, der Spiegel, U.S. News and World Report, The Atlantic Monthly, Texas Monthly, and Boys Life.
His artwork has been exhibited throughout the country including at the Cincinnati Art Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Society of Illustrators Museum of American Illustration, and the Selby Gallery at Ringling College of Art and Design.
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