Author Trudi Trueit Chats About the Latest Explorer Academy Book

The Explorer Academy book series brings a new twist with its latest addition, Explorer Academy Vela: The Sailor Cipher.

Author Trudi Trueit chatted with SL about the latest update, Scouting and what’s to come.

SL: What can you tell us about the Explorer Academy series?

T.T.: Explorer Academy is a fact-based fiction series inspired by the real explorers of National Geographic, featuring an international cast of middle-grade students. The kids travel the world on a ship — learning, exploring and undertaking daring missions to help preserve and protect our planet.

SL: How does Explorer Academy Vela: The Sailor Cipher fit in with the other Explorer Academy books?

T.T.: In the first series of seven books, the protagonist was 12-year-old Cruz Coronado, who was on a personal quest to recover a secret formula. Vela continues the experience!

It’s now year two at the academy; the students are older, and I get to tell a fresh story from another character’s point of view. For this series, the focus shifts to explorer Sailor York, one of Cruz’s best friends. Sailor is an incredible explorer and loyal friend, but she has a few surprises to launch the students’ next grand adventure!

SL: What makes The Sailor Cipher different from other books you’ve written?

T.T.: I’m a big weather and Earth science geek. I tend to gravitate toward writing realistic fact-based fiction, during which I get to research and include nonfiction elements.

While I certainly did that here, The Sailor Cipher contains a bit of the remarkable, too. This was a new twist for me, though I’ve wanted to do it for some time. The challenge was to find a balance and create a novel grounded in science yet with a dash of fantastical. This is also my first time writing a full-on adventure series with a female protagonist. Sailor is spirited, determined and brave, and writing her was such a joy.

SL: Does the book have any ties to Scouting?

T.T.: When I first started developing Explorer Academy, I pictured it as a “Scouts on the move” school. I wanted the students to learn about the world and themselves through exploration activities, sports and games like real Scouts do.

Explorers spend much time outdoors hiking, camping and learning survival skills. Also, teamwork, goal-setting, self-confidence, generosity, kindness — many of the traits that Scouts strive to uphold are the same characteristics I try to instill in the fictional students of the academy.

I think a Scout would fit right in at Explorer Academy.

SL: Finally, what topic do you plan to explore next?

T.T.: I haven’t entirely decided, but I’d like to do something that connects the past to the future, exploring how the world might look a few hundred years from now from a young person’s point of view. Explorer Academy is set about 40 years into the future, and it’s been fun creating new gadgets and gizmos for the explorers. The future is full of possibilities.


Class is back in session at Explorer Academy, and the team is already gearing up for another mission. Sailor’s older sister goes missing in Explorer Academy Vela: The Sailor Cipher. Despite self-doubt and a secret, Sailor bravely takes the lead to discover how her sister’s disappearance is linked to an illegal and deadly animal-trafficking ring.

(By Trudi Trueit. NatGeo Under the Stars, $10.99. Ages 8-12.

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