Wednesday, September 27, 2023

BEDTIME STORY JAM at Westwood Charter Elemenrary, Los Angeles, CA

At Bedtime Story Jam, Westwood School, Los Angeles, CA

With many thanks to parent Parisi Sooferi for inviting me to the annual Bedtime Story Jam last Friday at Westwood Charter School in Los Angeles. I was one of eleven authors at this popular event celebrating books and reading. Children came in their pajamas and had cookies and milk between sessions. It was great to be back and have the opportunity to share my books with the children and parents.

My room was packed and I got an enthusiastic response to my program. PLANTING A GARDEN IN ROOM 6 was my featured book (not to be confused with my room for the night, #3!) 

I also shared stories from WIGGLE AND WAGGLE and concluded with reading MY FRIEND FROM OUTER SPACE. Everyone clapped at the end! Thanks so much to all the volunteers for a great evening. And special thanks to volunteer Karen Boyarsky, who introduced me and helped everything run smoothly. Thanks also to Children's Book World for making my books available for purchase and to my friend Sherrill Kushner for helping me with book sales in my room at the school on Friday night.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023


My Friend From Outer Space: Detail of Quilt made by students and parents at Taft Primary School, Taft, California

One of the most treasured souvenirs of my many author visits to schools through the years is the book quilt made for me by the students and parents of Taft Primary School in Taft, California. One of my favorite squares features one of my most popular fiction books at the time, My Friend From Outer Space (Franklin Watts, 1981), a story inspired by the imaginative games of my own children. I love all the comets in the sky and the candy-striped space ship. (A new version of My Friend from Outer Space has just been published on Amazon in a graphic picture book style. Now children can enjoy this story again!)

Taft Primary School

Well in advance of my visit, students had read a variety of my books.  They then chose a topic or scene from one of the books and made their own drawings which were then transferred to fabric by some very hardworking parents and sewn into a quilt.
Scenes from the Winter Olympics
The visit was made almost thirty years ago, around 1985. I can tell because many of the drawings feature events from The Summer Olympics and The Winter Olympics, books that were published at the time of the 1984 Summer Olympics which were held in Los Angeles.

Some of the other quilt squares feature scenes from my book about giant sequoia trees, The Biggest Living Thing, which was illustrated with my own drawings and printed using pre-separated colors. Every time I get out the quilt, I am not only reminded of the books, but of my wonderful visit to Taft Primary and the tremendous love of books and reading promoted throughout the community.
Scene depicting a page in The Biggest Living Thing

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

PAPER PLATE DINOSAURS: Art and Writing Projects Make Books Come Alive

Paper Plate Dinosaurs 

In the good old days of my author visits to schools (the 1990s), everyone had read at least one of my books before my visit, and every classroom had done some kind of project inspired by a book. By the day of my visit the excitement was palpable and the hallways, auditorium, and library were filled with student projects—ranging from poems, songs and stories, to paintings, drawings and scale models. I always brought my camera. Recently, while cleaning out I found some of those photos.

Dinosaurs are always a favorite with kids and my book DINOSAURS ALL AROUND (Clarion, 1993) inspired many projects. Among my favorites are the paper plate dinosaurs made by first graders at D.H. White School.  I love how each dinosaur is individual with different colors and different backgrounds.

Dinosaurs All Around (Clarion, paperback 1997; hardback 1993.) Out of Print. Available digitally at Amazon.

Stephen Czerkas's dinosaur models, ranging from the largest carnivores to hatching babies, are widely exhibited in museums. This book is based on a traveling exhibit, "Dinosaurs: A Global View," organized by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and a visit to the artist's studio.

 Note: Many schools still do wonderful projects as preparation for my author visits and I am always impressed by the creativity of teachers and students. But there seems to be less time now in the school day for extra projects than there once was, and I don't see as many as I used to.

Thursday, September 7, 2023


I was pleased to be interviewed by journalist Deborah Kalb about my new book MY FRIEND FROM OUTER SPACE. She has posted it on her blog Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb this week. Deborah Kalb interviews a lot of authors and I am happy to join the list. It is always good to have more publicity! Thank you Deborah!

Here are the questions she asked me. Check out her blog for the answers!

1. A version of your book My Friend from Outer Space was initially published in 1981. How did this new graphic novel version of the book come about?
2. What are the main similarities and differences between the two versions?
3. What do you think Paige Arnold's illustrations add to the story?
4. What do you hope kids take away from the book?
5. What are you working on now?
6. Anything else we should know?

From Deborah Kalb's website:

Deborah Kalb is a freelance writer and editor. She spent about two decades working as a journalist in Washington, D.C., for news organizations including Gannett News Service, Congressional Quarterly, U.S. News & World Report, and The Hill, mostly covering Congress and politics. Her book blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, which she started in 2012, features hundreds of interviews she has conducted with a wide variety of authors.

Deborah's newest book is Off to Join the Circus.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

KEEPER OF THE LIGHT, Keystone to Reading Book Award, 2023-2024, Intermediate List

I was pleased to discover my book Keeper of the Light: Juliet fish Nichols Fights the San Francisco Fog on the Intermediate List of the Keystone to Reading Book Award, 2023-2024

Keeper of the Light: Juliet Fish Nichols Fights the San Francisco Fog by Caroline Arnold and Rachell Sumpter Inspired by the logs of a female light keeper who kept the light shining through the fog following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, this adventurous story captures an important piece of American history.

Many thanks to the Keystone State Reading Association (KRSA) for helping the children of Pennsylvania learn about Juliet Nichols, the intrepid lighthouse keeper on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay during the early 20th century. 

The KSRA is a statewide organization of people who are interested in reading instruction, literacy development, and the encouragement of life-long reading habits.

The award list notes authors and illustrators who are from Pennsylvania. I live in California, but I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, so at some level I am a Pennsylvania author too!

Juliet Fish Nichols

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

MY FRIEND FROM OUTER SPACE Now Available at my Etsy Site

You can now find my book MY FRIEND FROM OUTER SPACE at my ETSY SITE along with giclee prints of my cut-paper illustrations from some of my other books.

"Sherry lives next door. She says she comes from outer space. I don't believe her." In this easy-read picture book story, Sherry tries to convince her best friend that she really is from outer space and takes her there in her homemade rocket. But do they really go to the Planet Tinbambam? Or is it just pretend?

Rewritten and newly illustrated with colorful anime style art by Paige Arnold, this graphic picture book is the perfect choice for young readers to read alone or aloud to younger children.

Sample illustration.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

A SEA TURTLE'S JOURNEY in the August Issue of BLAST OFF (The School Magazine, Australia)

I am pleased to have my article A Sea Turtle's Journey republished in the August issue of BLAST OFF, one of the school magazines of the New South Wales Department of Education in Australia. This is the same article that was published in May 2019 in BLAST OFF. I am happy that it is available again for a new audience. The School Magazine is Australia’s most loved and longest running literary publication for children. BLAST OFF is intended for children ages 9-10.

Sea turtles live in tropical oceans all over the world. My article focuses on green sea turtles that live along the coasts of northern Australia. They migrate between their nesting beaches and their feeding grounds along the Australian coast and nearby islands.

Some turtles swim more than two thousand kilometers each way! (Green sea turtles can also be seen elsewhere in the Pacific, including on the beaches of Hawaii.)