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Martina Santos 26 (left) hosts Nieves Gomez as an exchange student from Madrid.
Meet Nieves Gomez
May 27, 2024

A captivating story of creativity and curiosity

Nina Heffron
Mr. Mena poses with his new book, “Mission to Mars: The Adventures of Astronaut Bo.”

Twenty-six years ago, Mr. Mena, visual arts and graphic design teacher, told a bedtime story to his little boys about an astronaut that met an amiable alien on Mars. Now his kids are almost thirty, and he decided to publish the story with beautiful acrylic illustrations. 

Acrylic paint was Mr. Mena’s medium of choice because it is a quick medium that allowed him to create twenty-nine images in a relatively short amount of time. The paintings in his book are vivid and have a warm feeling. Mr. Mena also told the story using rhymes. He wanted “Mission to Mars: the Adventures of Astronaut Bo” to sound similar to the lyrics of a song.

The astronaut, whose name is Bo, represents everybody, and his goal is to find new planets and meet new characters. While on Mars, Bo curiously explores the deep red planet. He finds an alien, and they develop a great friendship. Bo represents the part of us that is still like a child in some ways, our curiosity and kindness. Through Bo’s story, Mr. Mena encourages us to explore and treat everyone with open-mindness. 

Finding the time to write and illustrate a book while being a full-time teacher was not simple. Mr. Mena’s solution was to work on his book during his free time on the summer break.  After three summers of dedication and hard work, “Mission to Mars: the Adventures of Astronaut Bo” was ready to be published. He had started other books before, but never finished them because he did not feel committed enough about the story. Mr. Mena offers his advice to anyone who wants to write a book. “They have to have a passion. They have to be committed,” he said.

Now, he hopes his book will inspire kids to love reading. Eventually he wants to develop it into a series if children enjoy it, but “Mission to Mars: the Adventures of Astronaut Bo” is not only a children’s book. Mr. Mena believes everyone will love the masterful illustrations and heartwarming story of friendship.  

His book is now available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. If you purchase the book, consider stopping by room 104 to get your copy signed.


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About the Contributor
Nina Heffron
Nina Heffron, Staff Writer
Nina Heffron is a freshman at Carrollton. This is her first year writing for The Beat. While being a member of the basketball team, she also loves to paint in her free time.

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  • P

    Paola ConsuegraDec 25, 2023 at 9:35 am

    Amazing ❤️ I had no idea Mr. Mena!

  • J

    Jeremiah HeffronDec 12, 2023 at 2:53 pm

    Great job!

  • N

    Natalie AstigarragaDec 12, 2023 at 9:40 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this review. What a fantastic achievement, Mr. Mena!

  • C

    Carmelita CruzDec 11, 2023 at 10:26 am

    Beautiful write up Nina!!!