Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I SEE A STORY: The Art of Eric Carle at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Picture Book Art Exhibit at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia
Colorful caterpillars greeted me as I entered the High Museum of Art through the revolving doors and made my way downstairs to view I See a Story: the Art of Eric Carle, a fascinating exhibit of author/illustrator Eric Carle’s work. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a children’s classic, was published in 1969. The exhibit shows various factors in the creation of a lifetime of work since then. It is a delight for both adults and children.
The Very Long Train (a wordless picture book)
The art is hung low enough to be at eye level for most children and in the corner of the room there was a bin of Eric Carle’s books available for reading. Children could also play a “seek and see scavenger hunt” following a guide they could take home. For adults, and artists like me, it was fascinating to get a glimpse into Eric Carle’s working method. 
Sampling of art supplies
One display showed a sampling of papers, brushes and tubes of paint and another display had a photograph of him applying the paint to the paper with a broom to create unique patterns. 
Dummy page from Friends
I was particularly intrigued by samples of his artist’s dummies–the label noted that each book goes through many dummy stages.
Illustration from Have You Seen My Cat?
To date, Eric Carle has published 70 books for children, all illustrated with his signature style of art–cut paper collage created from pieces of colorful painted tissue paper. They are amazing. The exhibit at the High Museum of Art ended February 12th. You can see more art by Eric Carle at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hatching Chicks and Living Fossils at Kite Tales Blog

See my books this week at Kite Tales, the blog published for the SCBWI Tri-Regions of Southern California. The publication of Hatching Chicks in Room 6 is in the Toot Your Horn! section and Living Fossils, Clues to the Past is in the Great News section.
Thanks SCBWI!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Visit to Atlanta Fulton Public Library, Atlanta, GA

Entrance to the Children's Room, Atlanta Fulton Public Library, Central Branch
Last week, when I was in Georgia on a business trip with my husband, I stopped in at the Atlanta Fulton Public Library Central Branch, just around the corner from our hotel in downtown Atlanta.  I went downstairs to visit the Children’s Department and had a nice chat with Kevin Brown, the new children’s librarian and Michelle Bennett, Manager of Youth Services. I shared my new book Hatching Chicks in Room 6 with them. I was pleased to discover that they have 119 of my books in the library system and to hear about special programs, such as a weekly story hour, that bring children to the library. In the future, they told me, they are planning to increase partnerships with local schools in an effort to expand use of the library.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

HUNTINGTON BEACH AUTHORS FESTIVAL, Visit to Hawes School

Welcome Sign on the Hawes School Marquee
Once again I was pleased to participate in the Huntington Beach Authors Festival, which was held on Tuesday, January 31st in Huntington Beach, California. This was its 29th year and I have been part of the festival almost every year since it began.  In the morning I did an author visit at Hawes Elementary School where I gave four presentations to children in grades two through four. Librarian Jennifer Mulvania did a great job of organizing the day and preparing the students. She had read my book Wiggle and Waggle to every class so I got out my worm puppets and we had fun singing the Wiggle and Waggle song together.

At the Huntington Beach Library for the Afternoon Reception
And, as always, I enjoyed the afternoon reception at the Huntington Beach Library where I had the chance to sell my books and to meet children, parents and teachers from all the schools in Huntington Beach and to chat with the other authors. Many of the children who came were the winners of the writing and illustrating contest. I thank everyone on the Friends of the Library (FOTL) Festival Committee, especially Gail Page, Co-Chair, for all the hard work in preparing for and assisting at the Festival. It is wonderful to see this community event grow and get better over the years! Thank you!

Friday, February 3, 2017

AUTHOR-GO-ROUND, Santa Barbara: A Fun Week with Students, Teachers, Librarians

Reading The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers at my Author-Go-Round Station
A week ago I was one of four authors participating in the annual week long Author-Go-Round in Santa Barbara put on by the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO). This was the 47th year! It was more than thirty years since I last participated and it was just as much fun as I remembered.
Authors Lee Wardlaw, Eugene Yelchin, Kristen Kittscher and Me at the SBCEO Author-Go-Round
Each day about 125 students came to the Santa Barbara County Education Office on Cathedral Oaks Road and assembled in a large auditorium. After registering, the students did short writing activities and collected autographs from the authors in the booklets they had received. Each author had a special autograph page in the booklet as well as a page with “cool facts” and a list of recent books.
Writing Activity: One student's Mixed-Up Animal, inspired by my book The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers
There were four authors–Lee Wardlaw, Eugene Yelchin, Kristen Kittscher, and me-- and we each had our own corner to set up our "station". (I was the yellow station, decorated with yellow balloons and a yellow carousel horse.) The students then heard each of us make a short (15 min) presentation. After that they rotated around the room in smaller groups, spending 15 minutes at each station asking questions and interacting with the authors. Almost every group wanted to know what was my favorite animal and my favorite book. (I like them all!) At the end, students received prizes for the best writing activity. One activity was to create a mixed-up animal like the Hodag in my book The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers.
With our cut-out heads made by Fred Borchers
The students who attended were from all over Santa Barbara County. A limited number came from each school and in many cases they had competed to be selected. The kids were in grades 4-8.
Every year the planning committee at SBCEO works really hard to put the Author-Go-Round together and make sure that everything runs smoothly. I thank Matt Zuchowicz, Director of Educational Technology Services, Scott Spector, Coordinator of Innovation and Academic Events, and the Educational Technology Services staff, Fred Borchers, Doris Buchanan, Rose Koller, Homer Morro, and Kristen Walker for doing a fantastic job. For the students and teachers who come, it is a highlight of the year. For authors like me, it is an ideal opportunity to interact with the students, teachers and librarians who are reading my books at home and at school. THANK YOU!
With our souvenir T-Shirts!


Monday, January 30, 2017

Celebrating ANGEL ISLAND: GATEWAY TO GOLD MOUNTAIN by Russell Freedman, Winner of the 2016 FOCAL Award

ANGEL ISLAND by Russell Freedman, 2016 FOCAL Award Winner, and Puppets by Jesse Kingsley
On Saturday, January 28, 2017, librarians, teachers, students, parents, and lovers of books for children met at the Border Grill in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate noted author Russell Freedman’s book Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain (Clarion Books, 2014), winner of the 2016 FOCAL Award. FOCAL (Friends of Children and Literature) is the support group of the Los Angeles Public Library’s Children’s Literature Department.

Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain tells the story of the immigration center on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, once called the “Ellis Island of the West”, that processed immigrants, mostly from China and Asia, between 1910 and 1940. It highlights a tumultuous time when immigration policies were used in discriminatory ways. The book gives the reader insight into the struggles and hopes of the people who passed through this center and to the efforts to preserve it as a historic site. Russell Freedman was unable to come to the luncheon, but in his stead, his editor, Dinah Stevenson, VP and Publisher at Clarion Books, came to accept the award.
Table centerpiece created by the students of art teacher Ray Moszkowicz at Nobel Middle School, LAUSD
As people arrived at the restaurant, a wonderful slide show of all the past FOCAL award winners, prepared by Mara Alpert of LAPL, played on a screen at the front of the room. Tables were decorated with incredibly detailed mini-sculptures portraying the themes of the book. They were made by art students at Nobel Middle School under the guidance of art teacher Ray Moszkowicz.
Student essay winners meet Dinah Stevenson, Editor of Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain
The program began with a welcome by Renny Day followed by a delicious lunch, beginning with my favorite, green corn tamales, and then main courses of our choice. I chose the torta but everything looked delicious! In addition to the “chef’s signature cookies” for dessert we also had fortune cookies, in keeping with the theme of the book.
Student essay winners Rokshana Bushra, Caleb Kim and Noah Kim introduced by Sandy Schuckett
After lunch we heard the student essay winners read their excellent essays telling why they liked the book and would like to meet the author. Then Sada Mozer, the FOCAL Award Committee Chair, introduced Dinah Stevenson, who accepted the award for Russell Freedman and read a letter from him telling us about his childhood in California and  how he got the idea for the book–from a suggestion by librarian Milly Lee–and his subsequent research. Dinah then told us about her experience working with Russell over the years. It was an excellent presentation!
Puppeteer Jesse Kingsley presenting puppet to Dinah Stevenson
Finally, Dinah was presented with a puppet depicting a Chinese immigrant dressed like many who came to Angel Island. The second puppet will become part of the collection of puppets at LAPL.

For many years I have admired the books of Russell Freedman, who, as Dinah said, has been called the “guru of nonfiction writing for children.” I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet him in person, but Dinah Stevenson’s presentation made me feel as if I had.
Award Committee Chair, Sada Mozer (right) with centerpiece depicting Angel Island
As a former FOCAL Award Committee member, I know how much work goes into selecting the book and planning the luncheon. Thanks to the Award Committee, the essay judges, the FOCAL Board, the Children’s Literature Department at LAPL, and everyone else who contributed, for another great luncheon!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

PUBLICATION PARTY AT HAYNES SCHOOL for Hatching Chicks in Room 6


Lollipops to Celebrate the Publication of Hatching Chicks in Room 6

Last Thursday I made a special visit to Haynes CES School to present my new book, Hatching Chicks in Room 6, to the school, and to celebrate its publication with Jennifer Best, her students who are in the book, and their families. The party was after school in her room, but earlier in the day I gave two assemblies in the auditorium to all grades where I presented the book and talked about the process of writing it. Even for students who didn't have Mrs. Best for kindergarten (she is one of three kindergarten teachers in the school) there was school-wide excitement about the book.

Welcome Banner in Auditorium
Mrs. Best hatches chicks every year. During the incubation and hatching process many students in other classes drop by her room to see the eggs and chicks and check their progress. During the assembly I gave a book to Mrs. Meade, the principal, who was very supportive of the project and will feature it at a district meeting in. March. I also donated a book to the school library.

Caroline, Mrs. Best, and students with their new books
The party began with a presentation of an autographed book to each child. I

also gave each child a postcard and a chick lollipop--they could choose a
yellow, pink, or blue chick. To my surprise, the pink and blue chicks were
just as popular as the yellow ones. (I ordered the lollipops on the
internet.)
Chick cupcakes to celebrate
After the presentation and photographs it was time to eat. I
provided cupcakes decorated to look like chicks. (I bought the candy eyes
and beaks at a local cake decorating shop.) We also had some healthier
food--fruit, cheese, crackers and veggie sticks--and by the end of the party
all the food was completely gone. 

Mrs. Best sharing the book with some of her students
The children who are in the book are now in second grade. You can see in the
photos how much they have grown! They were thrilled to get the books and so
were their parents. Almost all the children who are in the book came to the party, even
several who had moved to other schools.

I am excited about promoting this book and pleased with all the good
reviews. I noticed on Amazon that it is number one in Hot New Releases
for Children's Science Experiment Books.
I thank Jennifer Best, her kindergarten students of 2014-15, their families, and everyone at Charlesbridge for helping to make this a great book!