Caroline Arnold's Books

Home My Books Children's Projects School Visits / Teaching Awards About the Author
My Friend From Outer Space My Friend From Outer Space

"Sherry lives next door. She says she comes from outer space. I don't believe her." In this easy-read picture book story, Sherry tries to convince her best friend that she really is from outer space and takes her there in her homemade rocket. But do they really go to the Planet Tinbambam? Or is it just pretend? Story by Caroline Arnold with graphic illustrations by Paige Arnold in a brightly colored anime style. A perfect choice for beginning readers or to read aloud to younger children. The story is based on an earlier version of My Friend From Outer Space published in 1981 by Franklin Watts. The text of this new version has been substantially changed.

Illustration Notes

The new illustrations for My Friend from Outer Space by Paige Arnold were created in full color digitally on an ipad. The illustrations by Carol Nicklaus for the 1981 edition of My Friend from Outer Space were done with a method known as pre-separated art, by creating a separate drawing for each color of the printing plate--in this case, black, yellow and blue. In the printing process the images overlapped and created the complete picture. In 1981, many childrens books were illustrated in black and white or with limited color because of the expense of printing full color books. By the late 1980s, computers made it possible to separate colors digitally and print illustrations cheaply at full color.

Also available in Spanish as MI AMIGA DEL ESPACIO

Sherry dice que viene del espacio y trata de convencer a su major amiga, llevandola en su cohete hecho de una caja de carton a su planeta Timbamina. Es cierto que Sherry viene del espacio, o esta tratando de enganar a su amiga?

Traduccion por Thomas Scheaffer y Humberto Gutierrez-Rivas.

Available at Amazon


    Make a Cardboard Box Space Ship

    Turn an empty cardboard box into your own pretend space ship. What would you name your pretend planet?

    Create Your Own Outer Space Language

    Glug, flug, Tinbambam. How would you talk on your pretend planet?

Book notes

My Friend From Outer Space was my first published fiction book. (Its working title was The Planet Tinbambam but I changed the title at my editor's suggestion.) I got the idea for the story by listening to my own children and their friends play games in which they pretended that they were aliens. The trick, of course, was providing proof, and in my story I decided that the two girls would take a trip to outer space in a cardboard-box rocket ship.

After My Friend from Outer Space was published in 1981 I took it to my author visits at schools and read it aloud to the children. By the time I got to the third page you could hear a pin drop in the room as the children listened eagerly to find out what came next. Their favorite part was always the page where Sherry looks like an otherworldly monster. When I asked the audience at the end of the story if they thought the girls really went to outer space, a few hands always went up. When I asked who liked to pretend sometimes, all the hands were raised.

  • The 1981 edition of My Friend From Outer Space is out of print. A film strip and audio tape of the text, produced by Educational Enrichment Materials, Westport Communications Group Inc., 1981, accompanied the first edition of the book.
  • Reviews

    Amazon, July 30, 2023, 5 stars

    This is such a fun book! It perfectly captures that willing suspension of disbelief that kids are so good at, even if they start out as skeptics. Sherry, the heroine who declares she comes from outer space, confidently deals with all her friend's doubts and convinces him to join her in her rocket ship, which looks surprisingly like a large cardboard box stored in her garage. They blast off for a harrowing trip through outer space to Sherry’s planet and back again. Her friend, a bit shaken by the experience, declares himself a believer. Is he? Maybe. But I have the feeling he's not going to try it again. The illustrations are perfect for the story. Bright and colorful, partially laid out in comic book style, they keep the story moving in an exciting way. Never a dull moment in this book for young readers.Great book for young readers! Susan Meyers


    Illustrated with colorful anime style art by Paige Arnold, this graphic picture book is the rebirth of one of my first books for children, now rewritten and newly illustrated. Originally published by Franklin Watts, 1981, with illustrations by Carol Nicklaus, it has been long out of print.

    MY FRIEND FROM OUTER SPACE is an easy-read story about two little girls on a trip to outer space in a cardboard box rocket ship. It was my first published fiction book. In the early 1980s I took it to all my author visits at schools and it was by far my most popular book. I read it aloud to auditoriums full of children, and by the time I got to the third page, you could hear a pin drop in the room as they listened eagerly to find out what happened next. While most of them understood that the trip was pretend, there were always a few who wanted to believe that the girls really did go to outer space.

    MY FRIEND FROM OUTER SPACE WAS originally published by Franklin Watts in1981, with illustrations by Carol Nicklaus. After selling 10,000 copies, the book went out of print and the rights reverted to me. I tried to get the story republished, but had no luck. Time went by and I went on to other books. Many changes took place in the publishing world, especially in illustration. The original illustrations for MY FRIEND FROM OUTER SPACE by Carol Nicklaus, charming cartoon-like drawings with limited background color, now look old-fashioned. I knew that if the book were republished, it would need to be re-illustrated to appeal to present-day children.

    Another big change since 1981 has been the development of the computer and the possibility of self-publishing. I considered republishing MY FRIEND FROM OUTER SPACE myself . (In the course of turning some of my other out-of-print books into Kindle e-books I had already learned how to format book files on my computer (I use InDesign) and how to upload the files to publish the books on Amazon.) However, I still needed new illustrations for MY FRIEND FROM OUTER SPACE and my own illustration style, cut-paper art, wasn't suitable.

    Meanwhile, my granddaughter Paige was developing as an excellent artist. Her personal style, inspired by anime art, seemed perfect for the book. So, two years ago, in the summer before Paige’s junior year in high school, I asked her if she would be interested in drawing the illustrations for the book. She liked the idea and said yes, not realizing how much work it would be. The style of the new book would be a graphic picture book with dialogue in speech bubbles. I rewrote the text to fit the new format. Paige created the two characters for the book--Sherry and the narrator (who doesn't have a name in the story)--and I helped her develop a dummy. Paige did all the drawings for the book on her i-pad. The color choices and details in the drawings are all hers. Overall, my role in the book was writer, editor, art director, book designer, publisher.)

    During the next two years Paige worked on the book drawings when she could—between homework, swim practice and meets, piano lessons, college visits and college applications, and all the other activities of a busy teenager—and we met periodically on Zoom to discuss the progress of the book. Little by little the book came together, the final pieces not falling into place until after Paige's graduation from high school in June 2023.

    Finally, at the beginning of July we made one last check to make sure everything was in place. The book was finished! I uploaded the file to Amazon and clicked the button to publish. A day later an email came: "Congratulations! Your paperback "My Friend From Outer Space" is now published on Amazon!" We did it!

    After 42 years MY FRIEND FROM OUTER SPACE is available again, both as an ebook and a 32-page paperback. Paige and I are thrilled. Publishing a book never seems quite real until you can hold it in your hand and turn the pages. Paige is proud to be a published illustrator. I am so glad to see the book in print again. I look forward to reading it aloud to children at my upcoming author visits to schools.

    "Now do you believe I come from outer space?" asks Sherry.


    The end.