Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Penguin Coloring Page

Pair of Adelie Penguins at their Nest
One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons depicts a penguin colony in which several penguins are posing while another is snapping a photo.  The caption reads: “You didn’t have to spring for colored film!"  Penguins in Antarctica are definitely mostly a black and white picture, and color film would seem to be a waste. (This cartoon appeared before the advent of digital cameras.)  My challenge, when I was illustrating my book A Penguin’s World was to find ways to insert some color into my illustrations.  When I could, I silhouetted the birds against a blue sky or the deep blue of the ocean. The main other color in the book is the pink of the penguins’ beaks and pink feet.  When you color the picture above, see if you can think of any other ways to add color to the scene.
Go to my webpage for A Penguin's World to download the coloring page for the penguins.  You'll also find directions for making a paper bag penguin puppet.
You can also learn about penguins and how they have been impacted by climate change in my new book A Warmer World.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Book is a Present You Can Open Again and Again

What could be a better gift than a book?  A book is a present you can open again and again.  I like to give books to everyone on my list, trying to find just the right one for each person.  I hope you will find books under YOUR tree and that they will engross you, entertain you, and, perhaps, even surprise you.
I send you best wishes for a Happy Holiday Season filled with good cheer and the prospect of good reading throughout the New Year!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Settlement Houses and Holiday Popcorn Balls

My childhood, until the age of ten, was different from that of most children.  That was because my family lived in the settlement house, which my father directed, along with some of the other staff.  The settlement house was a community center, something like the YMCA.  You can read about settlement houses and their origin in the late 19th century in my book, Children of the Settlement Houses.  Settlement houses still exist, but it is no longer typical for staff to be in residence. 
      Holiday parties were always a high point of the year at settlement houses. They were a time when everyone from the neighborhood could enjoy being together. In the 1950's, when I was growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I always looked forward to the children's Christmas party at the Northeast Neighborhood House (now East Side Neighborhood Services) where we lived. The auditorium was filled with fragrant evergreens and colorful decorations. We played games, sang songs, and watched the drama club put on a play. One year I was an actor and played the part of the littlest angel! At the end of the party each child always received a small gift and a popcorn ball wrapped in colored paper. I still remember their sweet and crunchy taste. Here's how you can make your own popcorn balls.

      POPCORN BALLS: Put ½ stick of butter or margerine, 6 cups of miniature marshmallows, and one 3-ounce box flavored gelatin in a microwave safe bowl and melt in microwave oven. (About two minutes. Check and continue melting if necessary.) Stir to mix. Pour over 12 cups popcorn. ( Optional, add ½ to 1 cup salted peanuts) Stir gently until evenly coated; butter your hands and shape into balls. Wrap in plastic wrap to store. Makes 16-20 medium size popcorn balls.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sandpaper Camel Art Project

Knitted Creche from Chile
In scenes of the nativity at Christmas, the three wise men are typically shown riding on camels.  Here is a project that you can do making a picture of a camel on a piece of sandpaper.
Read about camels in my books African Animals or Camel and make a note sheet of what you have learned. Draw a picture of a camel on a piece of paper and cut it out. Trace the outline of the camel with a crayon onto a piece of very coarse sandpaper. Use crayons to fill in the outline and draw other desert plants and animals.  Place the sandpaper on a board or heavy piece of cardboard face up. Put a piece of wax paper on top of the sandpaper. Then put a piece of brown paper (shopping bag cut open) on top of the wax paper. Iron the sandpaper illustration with the heated iron so that some of the crayon beneath begins to melt into the sandpaper. The heat creates an unusual effect on the illustration. Cooled pictures may be hung for display. Students may post their note sheets beside the illustrations. (Adapted from Internet School Library Media Center) [You can look for African Animals (Morrow Junior Books, 1997) and Camel (Morrow Junior Books, 1992) in your library.]