Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Holiday Cookies: Artistic and Delicious! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Sugar cookies ready to go into the oven
A favorite activity of the holiday season is baking cookies.  A tradition at our house has always been making sugar cookies–cut out with the cookie cutters passed down from one generation to the next and decorated with sprinkles, colored sugar, cinnamon candies and whatever else is available. This is a perfect activity to do with my grandchildren–each one has his or her own style of decorating!  And then, after all the cookies are baked, everyone enjoys eating them.

Sugar Cookies

3 cups flour
1 cup shortening (or half butter, half shortening)
2 eggs beaten with 1 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons milk
1 scant teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cut shortening into flour with pie blender.  Add remaining ingredients which have been beaten together.  Mix well.  Chill overnight.  Roll out and cut shapes.  Place on greased cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 375 degrees 8-10 minutes.

This was originally my grandmother Grandma Dorothy Scheaffer’s cookie recipe.  It is also known as Aunt Dea’s sugar cookies.  She used to make the cookies with lard.  They were a special treat made when we visited our cousins in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Writing Process: One Idea Leads to Another

I frequently discover ideas for a new books as I am working on other projects.  What is mentioned as a passing fact in one book later turns out to be the main theme of another project.  For instance, in my book, The Ancient Cliff Dwellers of Mesa Verde, I wrote a short section about petroglyphs, or rock art.  I was fascinated both by the stone images that had been carved into the rock and by the fact that they have endured for hundreds of years.  A few years later, as I was leafing through a publication that I receive as part of my membership in a local museum, I learned of a rock art site in the California desert where thousands of petroglyphs lined the canyon walls.   I arranged a visit and discovered the subject for a new book, Stories in Stone: Rock Art Pictures by Ancient Americans.   Of course, the book wasn’t just about petroglyphs, but the stone images provided me with  a theme that allowed me to discuss the people who made them, how they did it, and what the symbols may represent.
(Both The Ancient Cliff Dwellers of Mesa Verde and Stories in Stone are out of print.  You can look for them in your library.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


On one of my school visits, I went into the library and found it festooned with paper chains.  When I looked closer, I saw that each link had the name of a book and the name of a child written on it.  The chains were a clever way of keeping track of all the books the children had read during the year.

Here's how you can make your own literacy chain:
  • Cut strips of paper 1 inch wide and 8 ½ inches long.  When you finish reading a book, write the name of the book on a strip of paper.  Glue or tape the ends of the strip together to make a circle.  Do this with every book you read, connecting the circles to make a chain.  This is a good class or family project. You can use the chains to decorate a bulletin board, your room, the library, or at holiday time.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Author of the Month at UNABRIDGED

 Check out the Charlesbridge Publishing blog, Unabridged, where I am the Author of the Month for December!  I write about the background for my upcoming book Too Hot? Too Cold? and offer three cool activities that kids can do as extensions of the book:
  • Hot Rocks
  • Making a Wingspan Tape
  • Cooling Thermometers. 
You can also see a photo of me and my brothers in the snow taken when I was ten years old.  My mother wrote on the back of the picture that the temperature that day was minus 14 degrees!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A WARMER WORLD, NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book

I was delighted to learn that A Warmer World is on the National Science Teachers Association Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 for 2013.  It is an honor to be on this select list and a reward for all the hard work by my editors and everyone at Charlesbridge.  Thank you!

The OSTB list now includes a wider range of books than ever before.  NSTA says: "Our vision of what we call science has broadened. The practices we use to explore the natural world and to create new products now include mathematics and engineering. We also recognize the importance of the arts, history, and human perspectives in these explorations. Science is not just one “way of knowing,” but many."

Here is a link to the list and the entry for A Warmer World:
A Warmer World. Caroline Arnold. Charlesbridge.
Beautiful book with two levels: story line and facts about an important current issue and its effect on animals.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Art Auction and Banned Books Week

Boxing Kangaroos from A Kangaroo's World, pages 18-19
Update December 4:
Chris Finan reports a that over $7,500 has been raised in the holiday auction—a 50 per cent increase over last year.  It was clearly a very successful event!  I'm happy that I could be part of it.

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) is holding a children’s art auction on eBay in support of the freedom to read.
The auction begins on eBay at noon, November 27 Eastern Standard Time, and will run through Dec. 3.  The auction homepage is http://myworld.ebay.com/abffe
I have contributed a giclee print from my book A Kangaroo’s World.  The art contributed to the auction doesn’t just raise money for ABFFE and the defense of the free speech rights of young readers--it also helps draw attention to Banned Books Week, held annually in September, which is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. ABFFE President Chris Finan says, “The Holiday Children’s Art Auction gives the public a rare opportunity to bid on art from some of the book industry’s leading artists and illustrators.  At the same time, they will be supporting the free speech rights of kids.”  ABFFE is a co-founder of the Kids’ Right to Read Project and a sponsor of Banned Books Week.
Check out the site and help contribute to this good cause!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Young Authors at LA's Best

Card made by Young Authors at Knox School
I recently visited three schools in Los Angeles to talk to children in the Young Authors Club program which is part of the LA's Best after school enrichment program.  Through the year, the children are learning about writing and illustrating and making their own books.  It was a delight to talk with them and share my creative process and to have them share their writing projects with me.

I Am Strong by student at Wilshire Crest School

The students begin by making books about themselves.  Of course, this guarantees that everyone has plenty to write about and that each book will be original!  Some of their titles included I Am Strong, I Am Pretty, I Am Mommy's Girl, I Am Happy and I Am Smart.  And every one had wonderful original illustrations too!

The author visits to LA's Best Young Authors clubs are funded by Target and coordinated through California Readers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cards for the Holidays at My Etsy Site

Need cards for the holidays?  To send?  To give as gifts? I continue to sell cards and prints based on the illustrations from my animal books at my Etsy site.  I have expanded my card collection and am now offering cards in a rectangular format, which allows me to show more of the image from my illustrations. Check out my site and see what’s new!  www.etsy.com/shop/CarolineArnoldArt

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Playful Wild Goats: Writing Activity

"The two baby goats scampered across the rocky wall, their tiny feet clinging to the rough stone surface."  That's the beginning of my book WILD GOAT, now available as a digital book in the StarWalk Kids collection and at Amazon.  Visit Seymour Simon's Science Blog for more about the book and the opportunity to do a short writing activity.  Seymour posts a new activity each week on Wednesday.
Note: This exercise is designed to use in support of CCSS Reading/Informational Standard #6: Distinguish between information provided by pictures or other illustrations and information provided by the words in a text.
Review from SLJ of the 1990 print edition of WILD GOAT:  A beautiful, comprehensive text describes wild goats worldwide: history, life cycle, how they differ from other animals, and conservation efforts. The photos are touching, capturing the character and magnificence of these animals; the story is further personalized by focusing on two young Nubian ibex goats at the Los Angeles Zoo. ... The text is clearly written with exquisite photographs [by Richard Hewett.] 

Monday, November 5, 2012

CLC Fall Gala: Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann Featured Speakers

Last Saturday I attended the Children's Literature Council of Southern California (CLC) 51st Fall Gala at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles.  This annual event honors Southern California authors and illustrators, presents awards, and features a keynote address.  This year's keynote speakers were the talented team of Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann, who gave a lively, humorous and informative presentation of their creative and collaborative process for Oh, No! a picture book about a tiger and animals that have fallen into a hole. Their talk included pictures of their various pets and some amazing animal photos from a family trip to Borneo that inspired the book.  After the program I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet both Eric and Candace and have Candace sign my copy of Amelia Lost, winner of this year's SCBWI Golden Kite award for nonfiction.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Going "Batty": Activity

Bats have an amazing sense of hearing and can detect sounds far above the range of human hearing.  These high pitched sounds are called ultrasounds.  Even more amazing, bats use the echoes of their own sounds to navigate as they fly.  This ability is called echolocation.  Bats can direct their cries very precisely, in the same way that you can point a flashlight to shine a narrow beam of light.  They send out streams of high-pitched sounds and listen for echoes bouncing off objects around them.  It is like having a built-in radar system that uses sound instead of radio waves to “see” objects.  By listening to these echoes they can learn about the texture and shape of an object as well as its size and location.  They may even be able to tell which insects are good to eat and which are not.

Demonstrating how big ears help bats hear well (photo by Richard Hewett)
One thing that helps a bat hear well is its big ears.  Large ears capture more sounds than small ears.  Here is an activity you can do to demonstrate how this works.  Cup your hands around your ears with your palm facing forward.  Listen to the sounds around you.  Do they seem louder?  Take you hands away and notice the difference.  In the picture above I was in a museum. I was pretending to be a bat.  When I listened with the huge bat ears I could hear a pin drop on the other side of the room!
Note from a friend in Ireland about the origins of Halloween:  As millions of children and adults participate in the fun of Halloween tonight, many will not be aware of its ancient Celtic roots in the Samhain festival. In Celtic Ireland about 2000 years ago, Samhain was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter) http://www.newgrange.com/samhain.htm

Thursday, October 25, 2012

PEN Literary Awards Festival: Meeting Matthew Kirby, author of Icefall

In my September 5th post I wrote about Icefall, by Matthew Kirby, winner of the PEN award for Children's/Young Adult Literature.  On Monday, October 22nd, I attended the awards dinner and had the honor of meeting Matthew Kirby in person, who had flown to Los Angeles from his home in Idaho to accept the award. He told me that the germ of the idea for the book came in a dream, then followed by an enormous amount of research into Viking life in Norway. You can read about PEN and the Awards Festival held on October 22nd at the Beverly Hills Hotel at the INK blog in the October 24th post by Gretchen Woelfle, finalist for her book All the World's a Stage: A Novel in Five Acts.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Educator Reception at Barnes and Noble: Meeting Teachers and Librarians

At Educator Reception, Barnes and Noble, Valencia, CA with Laurisa Reyes and Greg Trine
On Saturday, October 13th, I participated in an Educator Reception at the Valencia Barnes and Noble where I enjoyed meeting teachers from the Valencia and Santa Clarita area and had the opportunity to talk about my books and my author visits to schools.   I want to thank the Joelle Beigel, the Community Relations coordinator at Barnes and Noble for hosting the event, and author Candace Ryan (Moo Hoo, Ribbit Rabbit, and Animal House), the SCBWI PAL coordinator in our area, for helping to organize the author panel.  Other authors who were there were Greg Trine who writes the Melvin Beederman Superhero series, Laurisa White Reyes, with her new novel Rock of Ivanore, Janet Squires, author of the picture book The Gingerbread Cowboy, and Scott M. Fischer, author of the popular Scary School books.  We each made a short presentation and then answered questions from the audience.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New Life for OP Books at StarWalk Kids Media

At StarWalk Reader, the child can choose the reading mode--Read to Me, Let Me Read, or Auto Play
I was delighted by the launch of StarWalk Kids Media Digital Library last week and to see many of my out-of-print books getting a new life. Nine of my books are currently in the catalog and more will be added in the coming year. The books have been redesigned with a contemporary look for today's readers and can be used in a variety of ways–to read alone, to listen to, or on auto-play.

All of the StarWalk Kids titles will also available on Amazon as Kindle books.  You can search by title on Amazon or link directly from the StarWalk Kids catalog.

StarWalk Kids Media was co-founded by children's science author Seymour Simon and Liz Nealon, the former Creative Director of Sesame Street.  I have known Seymour for many years, since the days when we both published at Morrow Junior Books. The catalog of StarWalk Kids includes books by Seymour Simon as well as by David Adler, Stephanie Calmenson, Joanna Cole, Doug Cushman, Diane deGroat, Johanna Hurwitz, Kathryn Lasky, Stan Mack, Doreen Rappaport, Hudson Talbott, Laura Vaccaro Seeger and more.  Read more about StarWalk Kids Media in this excellent article in School Library Journal.

The books are available via the browser-based StarWalk Reader, which works on most devices, including desktop and laptop computers, tablets, smartphones, and interactive whiteboards. It’s anytime access—students with an account can log in from home or anywhere they have an Internet connection. And multiple users, whole classes, can read the same title simultaneously.

Designed for classroom use, the books accommodate note taking and highlighting. Educators can search for books by author, title, keyword, subject, Lexile level, alphabetic reading level, and Common Core (CC) State Standards links. An especially handy feature for younger users is the ability to navigate by thumbnail images of each page, which appear along the bottom of the Reader. “Teaching Links” match each title to relevant CC standards and provide suggested activities.

Caroline Arnold titles now available at StarWalk Kids:
  • Sun Fun
  • Playtime for Zoo Animals
  • Mealtime for Zoo Animals
  • Splashtime for Zoo Animals
  • Noisytime for Zoo Animals
  • Sleepytime for Zoo Animals
  • Mother and Baby Zoo Animal
  • Wild Goat
  • Tule Elk

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Easter Island: Captions Add Information

Perhaps the most exotic site I’ve ever visited is Easter Island in the South Pacific, where I went to photograph and research my book, Easter Island: Giant Stone Statues Tell of a Rich and Tragic Past. Although I had read about the giant statues and the people who made them a thousand years ago, nothing prepared me for standing in the ancient quarry amid dozens of half carved statues that never made it to their seaside platforms or climbing to the top of the cliff where the birdman rituals were once performed. My personal experience on Easter Island was important for bringing a sense of immediacy to my book, but the cost of time and travel meant that I could only spend a short time there. After I got home I needed to do extensive museum and library research as well. It took me a year to collect everything I needed and when I was ready to write I had a box bursting with notes, brochures, books, tapes, and other research materials. My book was for children ages ten and up so I knew I was limited to a manuscript of about 5000 words. Several months later, after distilling the mass of material I had collected to its essential points, the manuscript was ready to turn in to my editor.

The agony of being a nonfiction writer is that the space allotted for text in the book is never enough for all that wonderful information that was discovered in the research. This is particularly true when writing for children since the text and page length of the book are relatively short. Even if I were able to include every detail, I don’t want to overwhelm the reader by providing more than he or she wants to know. But there are several ways I supplement the information included in the main text and enrich the overall impact of the book: through captions, sidebars, charts, maps, time lines, projects, list of further resources, author notes and acknowledgments.

Since most books for children are widely illustrated, there are ample opportunities to add information through captions. Minimally the caption needs to identify the illustration and show how it ties into the text, but often there is room to elaborate. For instance, in my book Easter Island, a scenic photo showing several cultivated fields has the following caption: View from the crater Puna Pau. Now, as in ancient times, much of Easter Island’s land is tilled for agriculture. (Captions are almost always written in the present tense) Throughout the book I used captions not only to add information but to tie the photos and text together to create a more unified presentation.

Note:  You can read more about Easter Island at my October 1, 2012 post on my travel blog The Intrepid Tourist.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


My friend Alfred Zerfas offered to make a video promo of my book, A Warmer World: From Polar Bears to Butterflies How Climate Change Affects Wildlife. He's Australian, so the narration (which he did himself) is with an Australian accent. The video is short but, I think, quite effective and provides great close-ups of Jamie Hogan's beautiful art. I have put it on YouTube.
With thanks to Fred for helping to spread the word about the book!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

JOYS OF NONFICTION: A Retrospective on the Children’s Book Guild Award Winners

An engraved glass cube is given to each awardee
In 2005, I was honored to receive the Nonfiction Award from the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, D.C., which celebrates an author’s body of work.  It is one of the few children’s book awards designated specifically for a nonfiction author.  Kem Knapp Sawyer, a member of the Guild, recently interviewed award recipients of the past twelve years and has written a wonderful article highlighting the joys, challenges, surprises, and rewards of being a nonfiction writer for children.  It is called Cleopatra and the Man-Eating Tigers:  A Retrospective on Past Winners of The Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award. In my conversation with Kem, here are some of the questions she asked:

How did you feel about receiving this award? What do you like most about what you do? What is one of the most memorable (or surprising) experiences you've encountered while doing research? What is special about writing books about science (and animals) for children? If you had to choose a favorite book (that you wrote) what would it be? What is one of your favorite books for children (that you did NOT write)? What's the best part about writing a non-fiction book? The worst part? What tips do you have for non-fiction writers?

Find out how I and other authors answered these and other questions by reading Kem’s article at the Children’s Book Guild website. 

Here a few quotes from the article:
Caroline Arnold enjoys starting a book project because it gives her “an excuse to ask questions.” She also likes nearing the end: “When you know it’s ready to go out and have someone else read it, there’s a tremendous feeling of satisfaction. The book takes on a life of its own.”
Peter Sis, the Guild award winner in 2012, had a very difficult time naming a favorite book—like most writers I interviewed. As Diane Stanley points out, “authors generally pour their hearts and souls into every book they do.” Or, as Caroline Arnold explains, “Every book is like a baby. How do you love one child better than another? You love them all for different reasons.”

Receiving the CBG Award, 2005
The Children’s Book Guild Award is presented by the Award Committee chair and a representative of the Washington Post at an annual luncheon now held in the spring. (It used to be in the fall.) Award winners that Kem interviewed and wrote about in her article are: Peter Sis, Kathleen Krull, Sy Montgomery, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Doreen Rappaport, Sneed B. Collard III, Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, Steven Jenkins, George Ancona, Diane Stanley, and Laurence Pringle.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Project: Teotihuacan Mask

Paper mask inspired by stone mask found at Teotihuacan
Not far from Mexico City, lie the ruins of another great city, Teotihuacan, the center of an ancient Mexican culture that developed 2,000 years ago (long before the Aztecs) on the high plateau of central Mexico.  A rich and diverse culture thrived at Teotihuacan.  The remains of stone and adobe buildings show where people lived, worked, and worshiped.  Sculptures, carvings, and multicolored paintings help us to learn about their beliefs and customs.  Pottery, tools, baskets, jewelry, and other items tell us about their daily lives.  One of the most beautiful treasures discovered at Teotihuacan is a stone mask, encrusted with turquoise, red shell, mother of pearl, and obsidian.
Teotihuacan Mask, Photo by R. Hewett
When I visited Vintage Science Magnet School recently in Los Angeles, I learned that a fifth grade class had read my book City of the Gods: Mexico’s Ancient City of Teotihuacan, illustrated with photos by Richard Hewett.  Then, using a photo of the mask as a guide, they had created their own work of art using pieces of colored paper to reproduce the mask shown in the book.  It is a stunning piece of art and helps call to mind the glory of this ancient culture.

My book is out of print, but you can look for it in your library. (Teotihuacan is pronounced Tay-oh-tee-wha-KAHN.) And, perhaps, you can make your own version of the beautiful mask in the book!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Junior Library Guild Selection: TOO HOT? TOO COLD?

I just learned that my new book Too Hot? Too Cold? has been selected for the Junior Library Guild fall 2012 list. The Junior Library Guild designation is unique in that it is typically awarded so early–often in advance of publication.  Subscribers to the JLG can order books and have them delivered shortly after publication.  Of the more than 3,000 books submitted to the JLG every year, fewer than twenty percent are selected. I am delighted to have my book on the list!

Too Hot? Too Cold? Keeping Body Temperature Just Right, illustrated with beautiful watercolor paintings by Annie Patterson, will be published in February 2013 by Charlesbridge. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

ICEFALL by Matthew Kirby, Winner of the PEN Award

Update Oct 24, 2012:  Read about PEN and the Award Festival held on October 22nd at the Beverly Hills Hotel at the INK blog in the October 24th post by Gretchen Woelfle, finalist for her book All the World's a Stage: A Novel in Five Acts.

September 5, 2012
I was honored this year to be one of the judges for the 2012 PEN Center USA Literary Awards for Children's Literature.  With the other judges, writers Jamie Lee and Rene Saldana, we had the enviable and challenging job of selecting one winner and three finalists from many wonderful books.  The winner is Icefall by Matthew Kirby, a powerful and suspensful novel set in Viking times on an icy fjord in Norway.  I'd like to share Rene Saldana's commentary on this book and the reasons it made it to the top of our list:

One English/Language Arts teacher in deep South Texas always offers up the following challenge to her students at the beginning of the school year, aimed specifically at reluctant readers: “Give a book, any book, at least 10%; if a book is 200 pages long, read at least the first 20 pages before making the very important decision to put a book aside.” She believes that a good writer will do what it takes to build up enough interest in that first 10% so that a reader will know to keep going or to return the book to the library and check out another. Matthew J. Kirby’s Icefall is a book that will appeal to a reader, even a reluctant one, well before the opening 10%. This Viking saga runs 324 pages in length, but by page 5, Kirby has already sucked the reader in: the kingdom is at war, and the king’s children, including Harald who is in line for the throne, are hiding in a fjord which is quickly freezing over and provisions are running low. By page 20, a boat arrives, “a drekar, a dragon-headed longship. A ship of war.” To make things worse, it is “an army of bears and wolves” that disembarks, berserkers, the king’s “personal guard,” who terrify Solveig, our narrator. But she is a storyteller in the making, a would-be skald who must become “the poet of the living past, bearer of our ancestors’ history, their tales of sacrifice and valor,” a responsibility oftentimes as burdensome as leading the kingdom into war. It is through this storytelling that Solveig must distinguish herself, but can she learn the craft while certain destruction surrounds her?
Among the various reasons the judges chose Icefall as this year’s winner, Caroline Arnold stated that because “even though the story is set long ago, the basic human problems are universal.” And, indeed, young adolescent readers will identify with Solveig in many ways. For one, she suffers from middle-child syndrome. As a result, she goes through life unnoticed; she feels she’s taken for granted by everyone. Her older sister, Asa, is the beautiful one, and Solveig has nothing of value to offer those around her. To further complicate her already confusing situation, Solveig begins to feel stirrings for members of the opposite sex. René Saldaña, Jr., felt that “this is a writer’s book.” In it, Kirby describes what it takes to become a storyteller. For instance, storytelling is both “exhilarating and terrifying,” but nevertheless, a writer’s task is to write. Jamie Lee was impressed that the story could read like a mystery novel and yet hold the lyrical quality of the writing throughout.  
With so much going for this story, it is no surprise, then, that all three judges in this category voted for Icefall.

Congratulations to Matthew Kirby for his wonderful book, Icefall! Congratulations also to the three finalists:  Trent Reedy: Words in the Dust (Arthur A. Levine Books)
Allen Say: Drawing From Memory (Scholastic Press)
Gretchen Woelfle: All the World’s a Stage: A Novel in Five Acts (Holiday House)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New Book! YOUR SKELETAL SYSTEM, Revised and Updated

The skeletal system is made up of about two hundred and six bones.  But what exactly is a bone? And how do bones help your body function?  Explore the skeletal system in my new book.

Your Skeletal System is an updated and reillustrated version of my earlier book, The Skeletal System, that was published in the Lerner Earlybird series. (It was also available in Spanish as El Sistema Oseo.)  The new version is part of a series How Does Your Body Work? in the Lerner Searchlight series.  It is also available digitally as a Lerner Interactive Book.  Your Skeletal System is available from the Junior Library Guild.

Your Skeletal System is perfect as the inspiration for art and science projects, especially in October in preparation for Halloween.  Here are some active skeletons, created by students several years ago at  Myers School in Salem, Oregon.  I love the way they appear to dance, leap, wave, and look alive.

Update July 12, 2016: For an excellent study guide for all systems of the body, with lots of links, go to this site at ACLS Online.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Illustrator Ethan Long's "Hand Birds"

Last week I had the opportunity to meet Ethan Long, the talented illustrator of Ann Paul’s Iguana books (Tortuga in Trouble, Count on Culebra, Fiesta Fiasco, Manana Iguana) and many others.  It was fun to compare notes about today’s children’s book world and hear about his many projects.  Ethan lives in Florida but was spending several weeks in Los Angeles, working and promoting his new books.  When I visited his website I discovered the report of his visit to Pages Books in Manhatten Beach and the simple but brilliant art project he did there with the kids, turning outlines of their hands into lively birds.  The thumb became the bird’s head and the splayed out fingers the wings and tail. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Project: Paper Plate Animals

Paper plates may have been invented for eating, but they make great beginnings for art projects of all kinds.  In my school visits I have seen many creative use of paper plates to make animals.  Here are a few examples:
  • You can use just one plate to make a head or body.  
  • You can use a combination of large and small plates to make a whole animal.  
  • You can add features by either drawing or painting on the plates, or by decorating them with cut-out pieces of paper or other materials such as yarn or cotton balls.  

          Let your imagination be your guide!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Can You Roar Like a Lion? Noisytime for Zoo Animals Activity

What kind of noises do animals make?  A lion roars.  A cheetah snarls.  An elephant rumbles.  A sea lion barks.  Each animal “talks” in its very own way.

Learn about animal sounds in Noisytime for Zoo Animals.  I love to read this book when I visit preschool and kindergarten classes.  I ask the children to help me make the animal sounds.  Their favorite is imitating the way a monkey chatters.

Noisytime for Zoo Animals is one of six books in a series about how zoo animals eat, sleep, play, bathe, have babies, and make noise. This easy-to-read book is written for children in preschool to first grade with just one sentence and a photo on each page spread.  Other books in this series are: Mother and Baby Zoo Animals, Mealtime for Zoo Animals, Playtime for Zoo Animals, Sleepytime for Zoo Animals and Splashtime for Zoo Animals. They are all out of print, but you can look for them in your library, online as a used book, or as an ebook on Amazon.

All books in the Zoo Animal series are now available at StarWalk KidsMedia your digital library solution..

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cooking Up Reading: Mealtime for Zoo Animals

What do zoo animals eat? They eat some of the same foods you do. They eat other things too. Young orangutans love to munch on raw broccoli. Here is a broccoli salad you can eat.

Broccoli Salad

You will need:
Large bowl
Small bowl
Large spoon
6 cups broccoli florets
8 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup raisins
1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1 small jar of bacon bits

In the large bowl, toss together broccoli, green onions, sunflower seeds, raisins, and bacon bits.
In the small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar. Toss with vegetables to coat. Cover and chill. Eat with you fingers, just like an orangutan!

Mealtime for Zoo Animals is one of six books in a series about how zoo animals eat, sleep, play, bathe, have babies, and make noise.  These easy to read books are written for children in preschool to first grade with just one sentence and a photo on each page spread.

Other books in this series are: Mother and Baby Zoo Animals, Noisytime for Zoo Animals, Playtime for Zoo Animals, Sleepytime for Zoo Animals and Splashtime for Zoo Animals They are all out of print, but you can look for them in your library and they will soon be available online as e-books.

From Kirkus Reviews
It's chow time in the Zoo Animals series, and every one of the animals has a different dinner menu. Since mealtime is one of the biggest draws for young zoo visitors, these full-color photographs of the creatures eating will be a hit. While a rhinoceros clips the lawn like ``a giant living lawn mower,'' an elephant scoops up different fruits (peels included) to make a fruit salad in its mouth. A sentence or two accompanies every photograph, while the simple index helps emerging readers locate pictures of their favorite animals. It makes for a perfect visual outing on those days when the zoo is closed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Project: Curly-Cue Snakes

     Several years ago I did a school visit and went into a kindergarten class.  Suspended from the ceiling were all sorts of paper snakes, each with a different decoration.  I discovered that they were the result of a family homework assignment.  The pattern for the snake had been sent home with each child.  Then each member of the child’s family had been asked to contribute to the decoration of the snake.  I was amazed at the variety of ways that the snakes had been decorated.  The photo above is from a visit to another school where the children created their wonderful, multi-colored snakes in class.
      Here’s how you can make your own curly-cue snake.
You can download the pattern for the snake here.
     1.  Decorate the body of the snake.  You can make it realistic or imaginary.
     2.  Cut out the snake on the black lines.
     3.  Punch a hole at the dot in the middle.  Tie a thread or string at the hole.
     4.  Hang up your snake from the ceiling or a doorway and watch it twirl.
This project is good for children in the primary grades.
     You can learn about snakes in my books Snake, African Animals, Australian Animals, South American Animals and Watching Desert Wildlife.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Puzzle of Books in Tiny Lights

I love to do crossword puzzles.  I love the way the words fit together to complete the pattern of the puzzle grid. I love figuring out the puns and wordplay that lead to the correct answers. I love learning new words and making connections that I hadn't thought of before. In many ways, writing a book is similar to the process of solving a crossword puzzle.  Several years ago I wrote a short article about this for the SCBWI-LA chapter for their newsletter, Kite Tales.  When I mentioned this to my friend Susan Bono, editor of Tiny Lights, a journal of personal narrative, she asked if she could share this in the section of the magazine called Guiding Lights.  It has been posted this week  If you like to do crossword puzzles, or even if you don't, you can find out about my book writing process by reading the article.
Tiny Lights is a wonderful resource for writers and readers.  And, you can stay connected to the Tiny Lights online community via a monthly email which includes information about the monthly Searchlights & Signal Flares column, quarterly Flash in the Pan postings, and the annual essay contest, classes, services, and more! News & Notes makes for good reading and great writing. It’s monthly, spam-free and free. Go to the subscribe section at the Tiny Lights website to sign up.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wiggle and Waggle and Gummi Worm Day

Gummi Worm Pudding and "Bug Juice"
I just learned from new blogger Linda Andersen at "A Writer's Playground" www.lindamartinandersen.wordpress.com that July 15 is GUMMI WORM DAY!  Here are her suggestions of ways you can celebrate:

 Gummi Worm Day:  (Eat gummi worms while reading books about worms such as Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin at http://www.doreencronin.com/www.doreencronin.com/Home.html  and illustrated by Harry Bliss.  See http://www.harrybliss.com/main_content.html  Write a diary entry pretending you’re a gummi worm.  Look for Wiggle and Waggle (chapter book)by Caroline Arnold.  See www.carolinearnold.com  It is illustrated by Mary Peterson.  See http://www.marypeterson.com/  Check out the worm facts in the back of the book.

Hooray for worms! They help plants grow big and strong.

You can make your own Worm Party with Gummi worms and chocolate pudding. (You can download the directions for planning a worm party at www.carolinearnold.com.)   Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

ALA in Anaheim, Book Signing and More

Caroline and Donna Spurlock in the Charlesbridge Booth
A week ago I was at the ALA (American Library Association) convention in Anaheim where I saw friends, browsed new books in the hundreds of booths, listened to several sessions, and best of all, had a chance to meet and interact with librarians.  I also signed A Warmer World in the Charlesbridge booth.  People seemed to be very interested in climate change and when my new book from Charlesbridge, Too Hot? Too Cold?, comes out next year the two books will be perfect companions.

William Kamkwamba
My signing overlapped with the Nonfiction Book Blast so I didn't get to hear all of it, but I was able to hear a number of the ten minute "blasts" including Ginger Wadsworth telling about her new book, The First Girl Scout, about Girl Scout founder Juliet Low. (I was a Girl Scout and so was my daughter and granddaughter, and I remember learning about Juliet Low when I was growing up.) In the session Teens Making a Difference I heard the wonderfully inspirational talk by William Kamkwamba from Malawi who changed his village's life and the future of his family by building a windmill, the story which is told in the book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. Hearing him speak brought back memories of the three months I spent in East Africa in the 1970's.

Author and friend Lisa Yee, and "Peeps"
As I said to a friend, going to ALA for an author is like a child being let loose in a candy store--there are so many new books, new ideas, people to meet and talk to, old friends to catch up with, that it is hard to fit everything in. It was a great conference and will provide inspiration to last the whole year!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jamie Hogan's Illustrations from A WARMER WORLD at the University of Southern Maine

Golden Toad, Illustration by Jamie Hogan for A WARMER WORLD
Illustrations from A Warmer World will be included in “Tell Me a Story: A World of Wonders,” an exhibit of children’s book illustrations by Maine artists at the Atrium Gallery, University of Southern Maine, Lewiston-Auburn College from June 22 - August 3, 2012. http://usm.maine.edu/atriumgallery

When Boston children's book publisher Charlesbridge Publishing called to ask Peaks Island, Maine, illustrator Jamie Hogan to illustrate another book for them, she didn't know how much it would focus her attention on global warming. Taking up her pastels to depict writer Caroline Arnold's text about the effect of warming on the world's animals made her reconsider her responsibilities as an artist and a citizen.

“It changed my radar,” she said.

Hogan's first task in illustrating A Warmer World: From Polar Bears to Butterflies, How Climate Change Affects Wildlife (Ages 8-13) was to draw the golden toad, a creature that used to inhabit the cloud forests of Costa Rica. When the weather became too warm in the region, the pools where its eggs hatched dried up and the species was lost.

"I have never drawn dinosaurs, but here I had to depict a similar animal lost to us forever," said Jamie Hogan. "I found photos of them in my clipping file. Just in recent decades, the last golden toad vanished. I was oblivious, as was most of the world. Things are disappearing in our lifetimes.”

The golden toad is just one of several species spotlighted in A Warmer World, a thought-provoking and informative account of how global climate change has affected wildlife over the past several decades. Species by species, acclaimed nonfiction children's author Caroline Arnold describes how warmer weather alters ecosystems, forcing animals to adapt or risk extinction.

Charlesbridge Publishing suggested the book could be laid out like a nature journal, with the text appearing on torn pieces of notebook paper.

"I hunted down various notebooks and tags. Each animal is labeled with an actual tag collaged over the drawing. Somehow the journal theme helped me see myself as more involved in the reporting of global warming, as if I were in the field taking down these notes or drawing beside the author Caroline Arnold in Costa Rica or on the polar icecap. I wanted kids to pick up a tactile sense of participation, too—that they, too, could study these effects, and their attention could lead to change."

Instead of a traditional marketing approach, Jamie considered how a young reader or classroom teacher would feel after reading the book. Would they want to do something to prevent further warming? All the websites she reviewed advocated reusing and recycling, crucially important tasks. She thought readers might also want to voice their concern for the featured animals and for global warming. Hogan created a website to support the book (www.awarmerworld.com), which allows young citizens to send electronic postcards that say they are "worried about a warmer world" and provides links to Congresspersons' email addresses.

"Some see global warming as no more than a fluctuation in our environment and suggest that kids need not care about the effects, but it’s their world. Improving our stewardship of the planet can only help.”

Jamie Hogan and her fellow Peaks Islanders live almost on a small planet of their own. Trash must be carted off island, and many things are reused, repaired, and even incorporated into artwork by the island's many creators. People walk, bike, and share rides every day to keep car use low on the island.

"Surrounded by a bay full of creatures we see (the brief bobbing head of a seal) and those that we do not makes us aware we are part of the environment, not distanced from it. When you take the ferry to town, you recognize we are simply all on the same boat."

A Warmer World: From Polar Bears to Butterflies, How Climate Change Affects Wildlife may help young readers become young citizens who see humans and animals as "all on the same boat."
Nesty Nook for Reading at the Atrium Gallery

Jamie Hogan's Website:
Jamie Hogan's Blog:

With thanks to Kirsten Cappy for this terrific piece about Jamie and news of the exhibit in Maine.  I love the giant nest where children can read books at the Tell Me a Story: World of Wonders exhibit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Podcast: Interview for ReadWriteThink with Emily Manning

In April, when I was at the IRA conference in Chicago, I was interviewed by Emily Manning of ReadWriteThink, Chatting About Books.  The interview focuses on my new book A Warmer World (Charlesbridge) but also discusses Global Warming and the Dinosaurs,  A Bald Eagle's World, Birds: Nature’s Magnificent Flying Machines, and Dinosaurs with Feathers.  A podcast of the interview was posted on May 16.  It is number 45, World of Animals.  The post also includes some terrific resources for kids, teachers and parents.
Questions that Emily asked me:
1.  An interesting fact that you give in your books is that “in the last century the average world temperature has risen more than one degree Fahrenheit.”  Even though this seems like a small amount, can you talk about the big impact it is having on wildlife?
2.  Another interesting point that you make is that while animals can move to new locations, plants don’t have that option.  How are plants adapting to the warming climate?
3.  What was something that you found out through your research of this book that you didn’t know before?
4.  What is one thing that a family can do this week that will help make a difference?
5.  You have written many books about animals.  What are some of your favorite animals that you have written about?

    It was a pleasure to chat with Emily.  You can listen to my answers to her questions and find links to her many other chats with authors at www.readwritethink.org/chattingaboutbooks .
Emily Manning has a master's degree in reading education from the University of North Texas. She taught in the primary grades for several years before taking a reading intervention position that focused on working with struggling readers in grades 3rd-5th. In 2006, Emily Manning began teaching reading education classes in an adjunct capacity at Texas Woman's University. And most recently, she has taken a position as an Instructional Specialist at Lee Elementary in Denton, Texas.Emily is a member of the ReadWriteThink.org Advisory Board. She also belongs to several professional organizations including the International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English.

ReadWriteThink is sponsored by the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Project: Finger-Painted Animals

Hand-printed and finger-printed animals
A week ago I did an author visit at Fullbright Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles.  When I arrived, I found the auditorium filled with wonderful art inspired by my books, ranging from dioramas of African wildlife and zoo maps to camouflaged tigers and polar bears to a butterfly tree.  The curtains on the stage were decorated with a menagerie of animals–zebras, giraffes, an elephant, a chimpanzee swinging from a branch–all cut out and finger-painted by the pre-K students at the school.  The children had made the zebra’s stripes by dipping their fingers in black paint and drawing lines across the zebra’s body with their fingers.  The spots on the small giraffes were fingerprints of brown paint.  The large giraffe’s spots were created with hand prints.  All of the animals had manes made of glued on strips of yarn.  Glued-on googly eyes completed the creatures.  I was delighted to see the individuality in the animals and the creative use of materials–letting the children use their fingers as “brushes”.  While many of my books lend themselves to projects for older children, here is an excellent example of how my books can be used with younger children as well.
I thank Najma Hussain, the librarian at Fullbright, for introducing the students and teachers to my books, for preparing them for my visit, and  for organizing the day.  It was a successful and fun day for everyone!