Wednesday, May 22, 2019

HOW BUTTERFLIES SMELL WITH THEIR FEET, Nonfiction Minute by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

Painted Lady Butterfly
Did you know that butterflies can detect smells with their feet? A female butterfly will test the smell of a leaf to find out what kind it is before laying her eggs. She needs to find out if it is a type of leaf that the caterpillars will eat after the eggs hatch.
For a perfect explanation of how butterflies do this, check out children's book science writer Dorothy Patent's Nonfiction Minute (1/24/2019).
Painted Lady butterfly eggs are blue and about the size of a grain of salt. The butterflies prefer to lay them on thistle or hollyhock plants.
To learn about Painted Lady Butterflies and their life cycle, read my new book, BUTTERFLIES IN ROOM 6.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

AUTHOR VISIT IN ROOM 6, Haynes School, Los Angeles, CA

Releasing painted lady butterflies with students in Room 6
Yesterday I visited Mrs. Best and her students in Room 6 at Haynes School in Los Angeles. In March I had presented my new book BUTTERFLIES IN ROOM 6 to the whole school. This time I did a class visit.  Earlier this spring I had raised butterflies to take to my book signings to celebrate the publication of the book. Those butterflies laid eggs before I let them go, thus producing a second generation.
Painted Lady butterfly eggs, magnified. The actual size is about as big as a grain of salt.
By yesterday the new butterflies were ready to fly free. With the students in Room 6 I went out to the school garden and the children helped me let the butterflies go.
Butterflies drinking orange juice with their proboscises.
As I took the butterflies out of their netted enclosure, some sat for a few seconds on eager fingers. Then, whoosh, they flapped their wings and took off. Some flew over the fence and others landed on flowers in the garden.
Painted Lady butterfly resting near lantana flowers
After we went back inside I read my story THE TERRIBLE HODAG AND THE ANIMAL CATCHERS. Later, the students will create their own “mixed up animals.”
Reading THE TERRIBLE HODAG AND THE ANIMAL CATCHERS. The Hodag has the head of an ox, feet of a bear, back of a dinosaur and tail of an alligator.
We also talked about chickens and eggs and I shared my ostrich egg, comparing its size to a chicken egg. Sitting on a shelf at the front of the classroom was an incubator filled with chicken eggs. In about two weeks they will hatch. Meanwhile, the children can read my book HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6, about a previous kindergarten class that hatched eggs with Mrs. Best.
Incubator with chicken eggs
I always enjoy visiting Room 6 and seeing all the amazing science projects that Mrs. Best is doing with her students. I thank her for taking the photos during my visit.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


The March issue of School Library Journal has another excellent review of BUTTERFLIES IN ROOM 6.

PreS-Gr 2.  Arnold returns to the same classroom she observed in Hatching Chicks in Room 6 (Charlesbridge, 2017). This time she joins Mrs. Best and her kindergarten students as they follow the progress of painted lady butterflies from small blue eggs to adult insects. Photos document the steps required to care for the creatures during their journey from egg to larva to pupa to adult. The intent expressions on the children’s faces reveal their engagement with the process and their delight as they watch the butterflies prepare to fly away. The close-up photos, including the sequence of a butterfly’s emergence from the chrysalis, draw readers into the transformation. The clear, straightforward text is supplemented by facts supplied in small text boxes. A vocabulary list plus suggested books and websites enhance the information. VERDICT. A solid choice for most libraries, particularly those supporting hands-on science learning.
Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

CELEBRATING EARTH WEEK, Author Visit at Pilgrim School, Los Angeles, CA

Author Visit at Pilgrim School, Los Angeles, CA
Last week I visited Pilgrim School in Los Angeles, California, and presented to two enthusiastic groups of children--grades K through 2, and grades 3 through 5. I was pleased with their response to my program and good questions. With both groups I shared my new book Butterflies in Room 6, and showed them my cup of caterpillars. Many of the children recalled raising butterflies from caterpillars at school when they were in earlier grades.
Kathie Shorkey, Science Teacher, with butterfly art projects

My visit was initiated by science teacher Kathie Shorkey as part of her Earth Week celebration at the school. She showed me an art project she did with the first graders. Using found objects–ranging from sticks, to buttons, to pop-tabs from drink cans–they formed the shape of a butterfly on photo paper and then exposed the paper to the sun. The paper was then developed and the shape of the butterfly was revealed against a background of blue.
With Carole Koneff, Elementary School Librarian

I thank Kathie and Elementary School Librarian Carole Koneff for inviting me to Pilgrim and making all the arrangements for my presentation and for the book sale. Carole gets the prize for the most creative author introductions. She does them for all visiting authors and this is the second one she has done for me. I love the way she has included so many of my books--and made the lines rhyme!

By Carole Koneff
160 books or more have been researched and written down.
She's traveled far and wide and is often out of town.
Dinosaurs, Global Warming, Butterflies, Chicks,
Rain Forest, Easter Island, Things in Room 6,
Taj Mahal, Desert, Eagle, Warmer World,
Many facts and figures have gradually unfurled.
Skeletal, octopus, shockers, hot, cold,
Words from many titles of books that she has sold.
Wombat, Penguin, Zebra, Kangaroo,
Just a few of the animals she's written about for you.
She's retold a famous folk tale and has a story about worms,
A book about the sniffles that surely features germs.
It's her second trip to Pilgrim and we are glad she's back
To refresh our smarts on nonfiction and keep our brains on track.

Thank you Carole!  I also thank the Upper School Librarian Kris Williams for her help with my visit. I had a nice lunch with Carole and Kris before my talks. I had a great day at Pilgrim and enjoyed it very much!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

AUTHOR VISIT to WPC Preschool, Los Angeles, CA

Two weeks ago I made my annual visit to the Westwood Presbyterian Preschool in Los Angeles, California, making two presentations–one to the three-year-old classes and one to the four-year-old classes. With the three-year-olds I read A Zebra’s World and we went on a “Lion Hunt” together. I also read Wiggle and Waggle while one of the teachers wore my Wiggle and Waggle sock puppets and acted out the story as I read. With both groups of children I shared my new book, Butterflies in Room 6. In a week, they will be getting their own caterpillars and raising their own butterflies, just like the children in my book. Then they will let them go.
It has become a tradition that I always end my visit with the four-year-olds by reading The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers. Each time I come to the description of the Hodag, the children join me to chant that the Hodag has the “Head of an OX, Feet of a BEAR, Back of a DINOSAUR, and the Tail of an ALLIGATOR.” As the story ends, the children are all relieved to learn that the animal catchers go back to the city without the Hodag, and that the Hodag continues to live in the forest. “It is his home, and where he belongs.”

Friday, April 19, 2019

AUTHOR VISITS at ECOLE BILINGUE Lower School and Middle School, Berkeley, CA

Wiggle and Waggle art project at Ecole Bilingue, Berkeley, CA
In late March I spent two very enjoyable days at Ecole Bilingue, a bilingual French/English school in Berkeley, California.  (My presentations were in English.) My granddaughter Paige has attended Ecole Bilingue since preschool. I visited the school several times when she was in the Lower School, but this was my first time speaking at the Middle School.
My books on display at the EB Middle School library.
At the Middle School, I was in the school library with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. I talked about both my writing and illustration process, with a focus on my books for older readers such as Easter Island and Global Warming and the Dinosaurs.
My book about the platypus and the translation by students at EB
Many of the 8th grade students remembered the project they had done when they were in second grade, translating my book A Platypus' World into French. It became Le Monde de Ornithorynque. The students’ English teacher gave them cards to write down questions as I talked and we had a lively discussion at the end of each session. One student wanted to know if I was ever worried about running out of ideas. The answer is no! My problem is having the time to pursue all the ideas I have. Another student wanted to know how I have the patience to do all the cutting for my cut-paper illustrations.
With EB Middle School librarian Olga Popova
I thank Olga Popova, the Middle School librarian, for arranging my visit and making sure that everything was ready. My books were on display and there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers at the front of the room. Afterward, we had a lovely lunch together at the café across the street.
In the EB Lower School MPR
My second day at Ecole Bilingue as at the Lower School where I did presentations to all the grades except for 4th. My program varied by grade level, ranging from more interaction with the younger students–singing the Wiggle and Waggle song, going on a lion hunt–to more discussion of the writing process with the older students.
Wiggle and Waggle art projects by EB second graders
There was a wonderful display in the hallway of art made by the second graders. They had read Wiggle and Waggle and made stick puppets to go in their garden pictures. I was pleased that so many students had ordered books. During lunch and at the end of the day I autographed them. I thank the Lower School librarian, Sophie Lemeur, for arranging the book orders and schedule of the day and coordinating all the arrangements. It was a full day, but very satisfying. Many thanks to everyone at Ecole Bilingue for a wonderful visit!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

AUTHOR VISIT and DINOMITE BOOK FAIR at Wood Ranch Elementary, Simi Valley, CA

Every year the PTA at Wood Ranch Elementary school in Simi Valley, California, invites an author to present at the school in conjunction with the book fair held in early April. This year I was that author. I gave presentations in the MPR to three groups of students–4th and 5th graders, 2nd and 3rd graders, and lastly, the K-1 students. Everyone was enthusiastic and I was impressed by the excellent questions.
After being treated to a tasty lunch by the PTA, I stayed after school so that I could talk with parents and students at the book fair and autograph books. The book fair, operated by Scholastic, had ordered two of my books, Hatching Chicks in Room 6 and Living Fossils.
I enjoyed my day at Wood Ranch and thank the PTA for sponsoring my visit, especially book fair chair Ilse Blanda and all the other hard working committee members and volunteers, for  making sure that everything ran smoothly. I also thank Principal Kate Snowden, for helping with the technical set-up, and Kim Holden, the office manager, for coordinating the arrangements and setting up the schedule.