Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014 FOCAL AWARD: The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins

Written by H. Joseph Hopkins, Illustrated by Jill McElmurry
FOCAL (Friends of Children and Libraries, the support group of the Children’s programs of the Los Angeles Public Library) has chosen  The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins as the award winner for 2014. The award will be presented at a luncheon December 6, 2014. This beautifully written book chronicles the life of Kate Sessions, who led a campaign to plant trees in San Diego, California, thus turning the city from a seaside desert to a urban garden. Colorful illustrations by Jill McElmurry convey Kate Session’s passion for plants.
I have been a member of the FOCAL Award Committee for four years, this year (my final year) as the past chair. Books that are considered for this award must have a California connection, and I must say I always learn more about my state after reading the books nominated for each year. This book gave me a new perspective on the beautiful city of San Diego and on a determined woman who followed her dream.

Katherine Olivia Sessions was born on Nob Hill in San Francisco November 8, 1857. After graduation from high school in Oakland,she entered the University of California at Berkeley in 1877, where she studied science and graduated in 1881. Her horticultural career began after teaching briefly in San Diego where she accepted a position in 1884. As owner of a flower shop and a succession of nurseries in Coronado, City Park, Mission Hills and Pacific Beach, she became a central figure in California and national horticultural circles with her landscaping, plant introductions, and classes.
It is in Balboa Park that the legacy of Kate Sessions is most obvious. She leased land in what was then called "City Park" in 1892 for a nursery. For this privilege, she was to plant one hundred trees a year in the park and furnish three hundred more for planting throughout the city. In 1902 she was instrumental in the formation of the park Improvement Committee with her friends George Marston and Mary B. Coulston. Their work resulted in assuring the park's place in the life of the community. Kate Sessions died March 24, 1940. She has come to be called the "Mother of Balboa Park" and a bronze statue of her was erected there in 1998.

(Excerpted from the San Diego History Center)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

LLAMA is Now Available at StarWalk Kids

Llama offers youngsters a close-up view of these gentle, elegant-looking natives of the high Andean plateaus. They are used to transport goods in places where cars and trucks cannot go, and their wool is woven into beautiful, warm clothing.

My book, LLAMA, originally published by Morrow Junior Books, is now available as a digital book at StarWalk Kids and also soon at Amazon as a Kindle book. It is illustrated with captivating photos by Richard Hewett. I am thrilled to see this book available again.  Through the month of July you can read all of the books in the StarWalk Kids catalogue for free.  It is a great opportunity!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

SPONGE SPROUTER: Garden Activity for Young Children

One of my first illustration assignments was for a book about gardening activities with children.  At that time, most books for children were illustrated with black and white art so I made pencil drawings.  Here is one of the activities meant for younger children.  It would work well with pre-school or kindergarten children.

SPONGE SPROUTER
Squeeze most of the moisture out of a large wet sponge and attach a string to it as illustrated.  Have the children sprinkle alfalfa or cress seeds on the sponge and hang it in a sunny window. Lightly spray with water each day.

Materials needed: Large sponge, string, alfalfa or cress seeds.

From Children’s Gardens: A Field Guide for Teachers, Parents and Volunteers by Elizabeth Bremner and John Pusey, Illustrations by Caroline Arnold

Sunday, July 13, 2014

PTEROSAURS: Rulers of the Skies in the Dinosaur Age now available at StarWalk Kids

One hundred million years ago, the skies were filled with enormous flying reptiles. With wing spans up to nearly forty feet, pterosaurs were one of the dominant life forms on earth.  My book, PTEROSAURS: Rulers of the Skies in the Dinosaur Age, originally published by Clarion, is now available as a digital book at StarWalk Kids and also soon at Amazon as a Kindle book.  I am thrilled to see this book available again.  Through the month of July you can read all of the books in the StarWalk Kids catalogue for free.  It is a great opportunity!

BOOKLIST Review of Pterosaurs
Gr. 2-4. After tackling megalodon, feathered dinos, and woolly mammoths in three previous books, Arnold and Caple add another extinct creature to their repertoire. This solid overview of "the only reptiles ever capable of powered flight" covers pterosaurs' ancestry, their peculiar physiology, theories about their behavior, and major fossil discoveries, frequently making abstract facts concrete through vivid comparisons: "If your arms were built like the wings of a pterosaur, your little finger would be more than 3 feet (1 meter) long!" Descriptions of about 20 of the more than 100 different pterosaur species known today round out the text. Caple's neatly labeled watercolors emphasize clarity over drama, but her subjects' exotic physical oddities (hairy, batlike bodies; toucan-bright beaks; bulbous, gaudily colored crests) will draw kids into the diorama-like tableaus.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

CARROT PLANTER: Garden Activity for Young Children

One of my first illustration assignments was for a book about gardening activities with children.  At that time, most books for children were illustrated with black and white art so I made pencil drawings.  Here is one of the activities meant for younger children.  It would work well with pre-school or kindergarten children.

CARROT PLANTER
Cut off the top 2 inches of a large carrot and hollow out the center.  Poke 2 holes in the carrot top and attach string as illustrated.  Have the children fill the hollowed center with moist soil and plant alfalfa or cress seeds.

Materials needed: Carrot, string, soil, alfalfa or cress seeds.

From Children’s Gardens: A Field Guide for Teachers, Parents and Volunteers by Elizabeth Bremner and John Pusey, Illustrations by Caroline Arnold

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

SEED TOP-POPPER: Garden Activity for Young Children

One of my first illustration assignments was for a book about gardening activities with children.  At that time, most books for children were illustrated with black and white art so I made pencil drawings.  Here is one of the activities meant for younger children.  It would work well with pre-school or kindergarten children.

SEED TOP-POPPER
Have the children fill a plastic bottle or plastic film canister with pea or bean seeds.  Fill with water and put on the top.  The seeds will swell, and by the following day the pressure created will pop the top off the container.

Materials needed: Plastic bottle or film canister, pea or bean seeds.

From Children’s Gardens: A Field Guide for Teachers, Parents and Volunteers by Elizabeth Bremner and John Pusey, Illustrations by Caroline Arnold

Saturday, June 28, 2014

THREE OF MY DINOSAUR BOOKS Now at StarWalk Kids

Three more of my books have been added to the growing catalogue of books at StarWalk Kids Media.  They are:

Dinosaur Mountain: The 1909 discovery of bones protruding from a sandstone mountain in Utah led to the unearthing of other remains and proved to be one of the greatest fossil discoveries of the century. The site is still being excavated and is a continuing source of new information about dinosaurs.


Dinosaurs All Around:
On a visit to the workshop of dinosaur artists Stephen and Sylvia Czerkas, where a life-size dinosaur model is being constructed, the reader learns what dinosaurs really looked like, how we know how big they were, how they moved, and what color skin they may have had.



Dinosaurs Down Under:  A look at the unique fossils of prehistoric Australian creatures ranging from huge lizards to now extinct giant marsupials. The story follows the journey of a museum exhibit, on loan from Australia, as it is  is shipped, assembled, and displayed in a Los Angeles museum.

As always, I am delighted that these books are once again available, now for a new generation of kids.