Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Make a Model of the Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India, is one of the wonders of the world. Built between 1632 and 1643, the Taj Mahal commemorates the love between Shah Jahan and his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. You can read about the love story that inspired its construction and about how it was built in my book Taj Mahal, co-authored with Madeleine Comora and illustrated by Rahul Bhushan.
Click here to go to my website and scroll down to Children's Projects to print a pattern and directions to make a model of the Taj Mahal. This project works best if you can print the pattern on heavy paper or cardstock.
I visited the Taj Mahal when I went to India in February 2000.  Go to my travel blog The Intrepid Tourist and read the post for September 26, 2011, to learn about my trip.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Taj Mahal: A Collaboration

     In the spring of 2000, I went to India to do an author visit at the American Embassy School in New Delhi and was taken to see the Taj Mahal. Despite all the pictures I had seen of the Taj Mahal, I wasn’t prepared for the impact of its beauty as I stepped through the gate and saw it for the first time.  When I returned home, I met with my friend, Madeleine Comora, and proposed that we could write a book together. I knew that she was also interested in the story of the Taj Mahal and that she had recently been there with her husband Rahul Bushan.
    Madeleine and I spent about two years working on the manuscript until it reached the form that you see in the book. Then, during the editing process, we continued to make changes to coordinate the text as closely as possible to the illustrations.    As with all my nonfiction books, my favorite part of the writing process was the research for the book. I have always been fascinated by India, and learning more about the Mughal era gave me a deeper understanding of many of the places I visited when I was there.
     It always takes longer to collaborate with another author than to work on a project alone, but in an ideal collaboration, the combination of two people working on a project provides a product richer than either could do alone. In this case, I brought my nonfiction skills and publishing experience to the project and Madeleine brought her wonderful sense of poetry and connection to Indian culture through her husband Rahul. Each of us wrote sections of the story and then we went through the whole book together line by line, making changes to unify the tone and character of the manuscript.

     In addition to our personal experiences visiting the Taj Mahal and other monuments of the Moghul era, our research material for this book included historical documents, academic writings, books and articles about India, and talking with experts. We also asked experts on the Mughal history of India and on the history of the Taj Mahal to read the manuscript to check it for cultural and historical accuracy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CLC Fall Gala and Book Award

I was pleased to learn that my books, A Bald Eagle’s World, A Moose’s World, A Polar Bear’s World, and A Walrus’ World (from the Caroline Arnold’s Animals series published by PictureWindow Books) have been awarded The Best Written and Illustrated Suite of Nonfiction for Children by the Children’s Literature Council of Southern California.  I will receive the award at the CLC Gala, Saturday, November 5th.  The featured speaker at the luncheon was supposed to be Australian author, Mem Fox, author of Possum Magic and many other best-selling books but she has had to cancel.  Instead, the keynote speaker will be two-time Newbery winner, Lois Lowry.  I have heard her speak before and she is always outstanding.  The CLC (formerly known as SCCLCYP—Southern California Council on Literature for Children and Young People) is a non-profit organization that promotes greater interest in literature for children and young people and encourages excellence in the production and selection of books in that field. It will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year! The annual fall Gala honors southern California children’s book authors and illustrators.  Hope to see you there! 
The Gala will be from 12:30 to 4:00 pm, on Saturday, November 5th at the Romanesque Room, 50 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91105.  Go to the CLC website for information and to make reservations.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Illustration Exhibit at Morris Graves Museum of Art

Two of my cut paper illustrations, one from A Moose’s World and one from A Bald Eagle’s World are currently on exhibit at the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka, California, as part of the bi-annual Humboldt County Author Festival.  As part of the festival, select works from participating illustrators are on exhibit to demonstrate the processes of illustration in children’s literature.  The art exhibit will be on view from September 3 through October 30, Wednesday–Sunday, 12:00–5:00.  If you are going to be in Eureka during that time, please stop by and see the show! 
Along with 25 other authors and illustrators, I will be participating in the Author Festival, October 19-22, visiting schools, signing books at the library, and enjoying being with friends and book lovers in beautiful Humboldt County.  I always look forward to it.  For more information about the festival click here.