Wednesday, June 22, 2016

THESE BOOKS ROCK: Review of LIVING FOSSILS by Sue Smith-Heavenrich

The following review of my book LIVING FOSSILS, Clues to the Past by Sue Smith-Heavenrich appeared in her column, "Alexander’s Library", in the summer 2016 Ithaca Child. I can tell that the reviewer has had a lifelong fascination with fossils, just as I have!

Sue Smith-Heavenrich writes:
My favorite book when I was a kid was my dad’s geology text. I spent hours poring over photos of fossils, losing myself in the geological time scale, sounding out “Carboniferous” and “Silurian”. So I’m always happy when I find great books about rocks for kids.

Living Fossils: Clues to the Past
    When you think of fossils, you might think of dinosaur bones or trilobites...something preserved in rock. Something prehistoric. Extinct. But what if some of those ancient creatures still lived among us? Would we recognize them?
    Caroline Arnold shows us six amazing creatures that closely resemble their ancient relatives–“living fossils”. Comparing “then” to “now” she shows where these creatures live, how they survived, and what their future looks like. Take, for example, horseshoe crabs. One hundred fifty million years ago, horseshoe crabs had hard shells and long tails. They crawled up on sandy beaches to search for worms and shellfish to eat. Not much has changed. If you visit the east coast on a warm summer night when the moon shines full, you’re likely to see hundreds of horseshoe crabs pull themselves up onto the beach. They’re digging nests and laying eggs, just like they did millions of years ago.
    You don’t need to travel to the beach to find living fossils; just head to a wetland or hayfield on a warm day and look for dragonflies. Those keen mosquito-devouring hunters are the great-great-great-.....great-grandchildren of dragonflies that lived 280 million years ago. Over the years things changed, like size. Back then dragonflies were larger–the size of a crow. (Charlesbridge, 2016; ages 7-10)


The other books reviewed in the same article are:
Explore Fossils! With 25 Great Projects by Candace L. Brown and Grace Brown (Nomad, 2016; ages 7-10)
Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals by Nancy Honovich (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2016; ages 7-12)
A Rock Can Be by Laurie Purdie Salas (Millbrook Press, 2015; ages 4-7)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Art Project: TORN PAPER PENGUINS

I am always delighted to find art projects inspired by my books. On a recent visit to Jennifer Best’s kindergarten class at Haynes School in Los Angeles, she showed me the cut paper penguin art the children had made after reading my book A Penguin’s World. The children had looked carefully at my illustration of a pair of penguins at their nest and then recreated their own versions with colored construction paper, doing an excellent job of matching the colors. In contrast to my art, which is cut with scissors, making a hard edge around each piece, the children tore the paper shapes, giving a wonderful soft edge to the pieces. The only pieces that were cut were the orange beaks and toes. The final works of art were then laminated. The best thing about this project is the individuality of each child’s art–no two pieces were alike and the penguins look wonderfully animated. Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing this project with me!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Free Library of Philadelphia’s CHILDREN’S LITERATURE RESEARCH COLLECTION

As I often do when I travel, I like to visit the local library and meet the children’s librarian. I also like to check the catalogue to find out if the library has any of my books–and invariably I find that they have at least one. On a recent visit to Philadelphia, I stopped by the children’s room in the Central branch of the  Free Library of Philadelphia. I had a delightful visit with Patti McLaughlin, head of the children’s department, who asked me to sign a few of my books that were on the shelves (the library has 60 of my titles listed in its catalogue!) and told me about the incredibly successful story hour held in the library every Monday and Wednesday which is attended by more than a hundred mothers and children. She also pointed out the series of beautiful N.C. Wyeth paintings that decorate the walls of the children’s room.

The paintings are part of the library's extensive Children’s Literature Research Collection. I was pleased to discover that the research collection also includes quite a few of my books. I returned two days later to meet Chris Brown, the curator of the collection, who had assembled a number of my books for me to sign. They marked various landmark points in my career, from my first published book, Five Nests, to my tall tale, The Terrible Hodag, and many of my books illustrated with photos by Richard Hewett including Dinosaur Mountain, our animal books published at Morrow Junior Books, and Saving the Peregrine Falcon, which I discovered has been one of Chris’ favorite books since he was child.

Later that afternoon I visited the Rare Book Department of the library, currently featuring an exhibit called Or Else: Cautionary Tales for Children, where I saw the dummy of one of MY all time favorite books, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. The Or Else exhibit goes to July 23, 2016. As it turned out, a staff member was giving tours of the Elkins library, which is part of the rare books department, and invited me to come along. The Elkins library reproduces the actual library of its donor (chairs, curtains, carpets, shelves, etc.) exactly as it was in his home, along with his huge Dickens collection and other books. These are just a few of the fascinating things you will find at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Author Visit, the Meredith School, Philadelphia, PA

Last week I had a wonderful visit with Jennifer Jutzi’s 1/2 class at the Meredith School, a public school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I shared my recent books, we talked about birds and measured the students’ wingspans, watched my slides, and finished by reading The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers. The children had read several of my books before my visit and I was impressed by their knowledge and good questions. I thank Jennifer Jutzi for allowing me to visit her class, and my good friend Esther Baker Tarpaga for helping to arrange the visit. Esther’s daughter Windega is a student in the class and was eager to show me the newly hatched chicks which were hopping around in their brood box. By this time next year the students will be able to read my new book coming out in 2017, Hatching Chicks in Room 6.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Adding Value to School Visits with Workshops: in the Spring 2016 SCBWI Bulletin

Thanks to Alexis O'Neill for including me in her article in the Spring 2016 SCBWI Bulletin in the article in her column The Truth About School Visits: Adding Value with Workshops. My cut paper animal workshop is one of eight terrific workshops described by authors Dandi Daley Mackall, Joan Bransfield Graham, Barney Saltzberg, Mary Ann Fraser, Joanne Rocklin, April Halprin Wayland, and Alexis O'Neill that can be done as a supplementary activity when doing author visits at schools.
This is a great resource for authors, illustrators, teachers and librarians!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Lasting Value of Author Visits

Author Visit at Taft School, Anaheim, CA 1996
I do many author visits in schools every year. I often wonder what the impact of my visit is on my audience. Recently, I received the following letter from a librarian, Elizabeth Fisher whose school I visited more than twenty years ago. The subject line of her email was: You impacted our lives and helped instill the love of reading in my students! I was delighted to find out that even today, students and teachers remember my visit. Elizabeth has graciously agreed to let me share her letter. I hope it will inspire many more author visits at more schools. Meeting a "real live" author is one of the best ways to promote reading and writing and get kids excited about books.

Hello Ms. Arnold,

The year was 1994. I was a first year teacher teaching a combo 5th and 6th grade class at Riverdale Elementary School in Anaheim, Ca. The school was in Orange Unified School District. Riverdale Elementary School has since closed.

Our Librarian had selected you and then enticed you to come to Riverdale Elementary School to be our Author of the Day. Our entire school was excited to be getting you as our guest. 


My students and I researched you. We read every bio we could find about you- normally on the book jackets of your books. We made large posters announcing you would be coming to Riverdale Elementary School. Students made individual posters to place in every classroom. The posters had your picture on it, the books you had written and the date you were coming to our school. Students painted signs welcoming you. They were placed on Riverdale Street for the community to see and they were posted all over our campus. We were excited. YOU were coming to our school!

I purchased every book you had written and my 5th and 6th grade students practiced reading your books. I taught the students how to teach the other classes all about Caroline Arnold the famous author. They learned how read a book to an audience, how to hold the book while reading to students, to share the pictures in the book and to emphasize the words that went with the pictures. Classes (100% of them!) signed up to have my students come to their class to present about you, our visiting author, and to read one of your books to the class. Riverdale Elementary School was pumped! Their favorite author was coming to the school and the students couldn't wait!

Your visit was a HUGE success! We LOVED, LOVED, LOVED you!

Over the years I have ran into teachers and students from Riverdale. Many of them have shared with me the memory of the day of your visit. They remember preparing for your visit and then getting to sit close to you as you read your own book to us.

Such a thrill it was to have your visit back in 1994 and to see it still has impact on their lives today. Oh, the power of a well written book is there, but even more so, the power of an author who takes the time to visit schools! You are amazing!

Elizabeth Fisher
Library Media Specialist

Canyon High School 
Anaheim, CA

Note: I dug in my boxes and found a photo that was published in the LA Times Orange County edition of my author visit to a school in the Orange USD. I thought it was from my visit to Riverdale but, as it turns out, it was taken two years later, in 1996, when I visited Taft School and the Times sent a reporter and photographer to do an article about the author festival. Even though it isn't from my visit to Riverdale, it shows the excitement of kids meeting a real live author at a neighboring school.

Why Author Visits Matter: A Teacher-Librarian's Love Letter. My friend and fellow author Alexis O'Neill contacted Elizabeth and got permission to post her letter on her website School Visit Experts.com. Thanks, Alexis, for spreading the word about the value and importance of author visits!


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Humboldt County Author's Festival 2015 Video Now on View

Last fall I was one of 25 authors who participated in the Humboldt County Children's Author Festival in Eureka, California, a wonderful four days of author visits to schools, an art exhibit, social events in the community, and a book signing at the library. This year a videographer made an eleven minute video highlighting the festival and the many ways that the author festival benefits the community. You can watch the video at https://vimeo.com/154735472 .
Enjoy!