Tuesday, January 15, 2019

KIRKUS REVIEW of Butterflies in Room 6

I am pleased to have another good review of my new book, Butterflies in Room 6, this time in Kirkus Reviews.

BUTTERFLIES IN ROOM 6:  See How They Grow
Author: Caroline Arnold
Photographer: Caroline Arnold

Review Issue Date: February 1, 2019
Online Publish Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher:Charlesbridge
Pages: 40
Price ( Hardcover ): $16.99
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-1-58089-894-2
Category: Informational

Arnold revisits Mrs. Best's elementary classroom (Hatching Chicks in Room 6, 2017) for this look at the life cycle of the painted lady butterfly. Arnold uses the class's study of butterflies to present readers with solid facts about these insects in both the main text and leaf-shaped fact boxes. Mrs. Best's butterfly eggs come in a tube (she must have purchased them, though this is not addressed). The entire life cycle is both pictured and described in the next spread. The close-ups of the eggs in their different stages of hatching are sure to fascinate. On release day, each child gets to hold a butterfly that has crawled onto their hand. Though this book focuses on butterflies in a classroom, families could easily use this information to safely raise butterflies at home (several tips are given about keeping the insects alive and free from injury). The back matter includes a page of answered questions about butterflies, a glossary, and a list of both online and text resources for finding further information. Arnold's photos are a highlight, combining candid shots of the diverse students and their white teacher with pics of the insects, both in captivity and in nature. Labeled close-ups bring readers into the classroom and teach butterfly anatomy. A solid look at the butterfly life cycle that will have students asking their own teachers to host caterpillars in their classrooms. (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Booklist Advance Review of BUTTERFLIES IN ROOM 6

I am delighted with this very positive review of my new book, Butterflies in Room 6, published by Booklist, the journal of the American Library Association. The official publication date of the book is March 12, 2019. Look for it in your bookstore!

Butterflies in Room 6
By Caroline Arnold. Illus. by the author
Mar. 2019. 40p. Charlesbridge, $16.99 (9781580898942). PreS–Gr. 3. 638

In this attractive science book, writer and photographer Arnold presents the life cycle of a butterfly as observed in a Los Angeles kindergarten classroom. The teacher brings tiny painted lady butterfly eggs to school and places them in a box with food. As the eggs hatch, the caterpillars crawl, eat, and climb to the top of their containers, where they enter the pupal stage within chrysalises. Transferred to a large netwalled enclosure, they begin to emerge eight days later as butterflies. Outdoors, each one crawls onto a child’s finger, rests, and then flies away. Arnold comments on each step of caring for the animals, as well as each stage of their life cycle. Along the way, she provides just enough information and detail for young children who want to know more. It’s enlightening to observe the butterflies' stages of life in the clear, color photos, but it’s also a pleasure to see the children’s reactions: curiosity, caution, rapt attention, surprise, excitement, and joy. An appended page answers pertinent questions. An amiable, eye-opening introduction to metamorphosis.
— Carolyn Phelan

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

THE PUZZLE OF BOOKS: How Writing a Book is Like Solving a Crossword Puzzle

    I am fond of doing crosswords.  Nothing is quite like the burst of satisfaction I get after filling in that last square to make the puzzle complete.  I particularly like the Sunday crosswords, which not only have a theme, but usually employ some sort of word play to “get” the theme related answers.  Writing a book is not unlike doing a crossword puzzle.  There is a topic or theme that threads its way through the manuscript, there is the network of clues used to create the skeleton, or support, for the theme, and often there is a twist, which creates the “aha” moment of discovering something new.
    Crossword puzzle creators are people who constantly play with words, assembling them into lists of potential theme clues, e.g. common phrases whose meaning changes with the addition or subtraction of a letter; famous names that can be turned into puns; switched word orders, and so on. When one of these lists gets long enough, they start making a puzzle. 
    In the same way, I collect piles of  information as I research a book.  Some of that information never gets used.  It may be off topic, for another age group, or it just may not fit.  Some of it may get saved for another book.  But when I think I have enough for my project, I take what I have and sort it into its various topics or chapters.  My next step is always an outline.  I plan my book page spread by page spread.  This provides me with the overall structure of my book, but nothing is ever set in stone.  As I work, the details of the plan may change, and I may rearrange parts if it makes sense to do so.   
    One thing I like about crossword puzzles is the symmetry of the grids.  The puzzle has to have a balanced overall pattern made by the black and white squares. Typically, one half of the puzzle is a mirror image of the other.  One of the challenges in creating theme answers must be finding pairs that have an equal number of letters so that they can be placed opposite one another on the grid. In the same way, the structure of a book has to be balanced.  It doesn’t have to be exactly symmetrical, but it needs to feel as if each part has relatively equal weight.  And just as there are many grids for the puzzle creator to choose from depending on the requirements of the theme answers, the structure of a book can take many forms as well.
    In solving crossword puzzles, everyone has their own technique.  I start in the upper left and work my way to the lower right.  One of my friends answers all the theme clues first and then fills in the other squares.  I would like to do this, but  generally I need a few hints, so I  wait until I’ve filled in enough squares with the regular clues to figure out the key to the week’s theme.  The puzzle title sometimes helps, usually involving another level of word play. 
    When I write my books, I work like my friend, and start with the main themes and gradually add the smaller details.  Just like solving a puzzle, the completion of the manuscript goes bit by bit, with periods when I surge forward, and other periods when I sit stumped, until I suddenly I see how a missing piece pulls everything together.
    I am sometimes asked when I do author visits at schools, “What is your favorite part of the writing process?”  My answer is always the same.  My favorite part of the writing process is when I am finished. Just as I breathe that sigh of satisfaction as I fill in the last square of a crossword puzzle, I have that same sense of accomplishment when the last word is written in the manuscript.  Then I know that everything is in its proper place and, hopefully, will cause my readers to say “Aha! I’ve learned something new.”

This article was originally published in the Summer 2008 issue of the SCBWI/LA Kite Tales magazine.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

SCIENTIFIC ILLUSTRATION IN THE 19TH CENTURY: The Animal Kingdom Illustrated by S.G. Goodrich

I love this drawing by S.G. Goodrich for the preface of his book, The Animal Kingdom Illustrated, published in 1867. The elephant doesn't look too thrilled about having his portrait painted! But perhaps S.G. Goodrich identified more with the owl as he worked to accurately portray the animal subjects of the book.
The rest of the 1400 drawings in the book are serious scientific illustrations, providing an exhaustive look at what was known about the animal world at that time. I came across the drawings in a box of old books when I cleaned out my attic. In the days before photographs, drawings like these were the only way that people learned about exotic animals except for those that they saw in zoos.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Every New Year’s Eve in Taiwan, Taipei 101, the tallest building in the country (and until recently the tallest in the world) is the center of an impressive fireworks display. When we were in Taipei in October, we went to the top for the view. As a souvenir we had our photo taken with a picture of the tower and the New Year's fireworks in the background.
Now it is the beginning of a new year. Wherever you celebrate I wish you a very

                              HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019!

Monday, December 24, 2018

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

I have a new ornament on my tree this year, a charming miniature library made for me by my friend and fellow children's book writer Caroline Hatton in a repurposed mint container just two inches square. The tiny books inside include my book Hatching Chicks in Room 6, Caroline's book Surprise Moon, and Ann Whitford Paul's book When Animals Say I Love You. It is reminder of the importance and joy of books and reading during the holidays and all the year through. As we celebrate this holiday season with its message of joy, hope, peace and goodwill, I send best wishes to all of you for a very
HAPPY HOLIDAYS
and a
JOYOUS NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Glendale Assistance League Author Visit at Keppel Elementary, Glendale, CA

Keppel Elementary School, Glendale, CA
Last Friday I was one of six authors visiting classrooms at Keppel Elementary School in Glendale, California. The day was sponsored and organized by the wonderful hard working volunteers of the Glendale Assistance League, a service organization that arranges four such events in the Glendale schools every year. My fellow authors at Keppel were Carter Higgins, Tim Egan, Alexis O’Neill, Joe Cepeda, and Julie Berry, each of us assigned to a different grades.
I spoke to students in kindergarten and first grade, going to four classrooms during the day. The week before our visit, the librarian had read my book Hatching Chicks in Room 6 to the classes I visited. During my visit the children were eager to share with me what they had learned and to ask questions. We also talked about other kinds of birds and I measured their wingspans. I also read part of my book Wiggle and Waggle and we all sang the Wiggle and Waggle song together. I also shared my book A Day and Night in the Desert and demonstrated how I create my cut paper art illustrations. At the end of the day I joined all of the authors in the cafeteria for the book sale and signing. It was a most enjoyable day!
I thank all the members of the Glendale Assistance League that make this program possible for the children of Glendale. I especially thank Karen Saunders for inviting me to be part of the visit to Keppel, to Linelle Vincenti for organizing the schedule of the day, to Margery, my partner for the day and who guided me around the school, to Debby Dow, the school librarian for her help, and to Maureen Palacios of Once Upon a Time bookstore in Glendale, for providing the books for the book sale.
I do many author days, but usually speak to large groups of children. It was a treat to be in the classroom with smaller groups and have the opportunity for a more personal interaction with the children. Thank you Glendale Assistance League for a wonderful Authors and Illustrators Day.
My books available for purchase and autographing