Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Project: Book Fact Scavenger Hunt

Like many authors, I find that school and library visits are one of the best ways to promote my books. They also put me in touch with my audience and give me a chance to talk with teachers and librarians to find out how my books are being used in the classroom. The most successful visits are those where the children are familiar with my books before I come. Recently, I visited a school where the librarian had devised a clever project to encourage the children to read my books. It was a Book Fact Scavenger Hunt, created by one classroom and then played by another. To make the "clues" each child chose a book, found a fact and turned it into a question. Here are some samples:

In the book A Panda's World, how many countries outside of China have pandas in zoos?
In the book Ostriches and Other Flightless Birds, why do ostriches eat small pebbles?
In the book A Killer Whale's World, who is the leader of the pod?
In the book House Sparrows Everywhere, what do restaurants put on their roofs to discourage sparrows from roosting?
In the book Giraffe, how much does the giraffe's heart weigh?

The librarian then typed a list of all the questions, made several copies of the list in a copy machine, and cut the paper so each question was a separate slip of paper. All the questions were put into a paper bag. Children picked out one question at a time and competed to see who could answer the most questions during the library period. By the day of my author visit, the children at the school were experts in books by Caroline Arnold!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Leo Politi Award, California Readers

The Leo Politi Golden Author Award is presented by California Readers to the California author who has had the most books in the California Collections over time. This year, it will be given to Lisa Yount, at the annual "We love California authors and artists" luncheon on February 25, 2012.  Congratulations Lisa!

Leo Politi was the ultimate California writer and California illustrator.  His books, with their colorful depictions of children, animals, processions, and everyday life, capture the heart of Los Angeles. I actually once met Leo Politi, at a luncheon sponsored by what was then known as SCCLCYP, and is now CLC (Children's Literature Council of Southern California).  The luncheon that day was held in a ballroom at the Biltmore Hotel.  I had just published my very first book, an easy read story about birds, and I was feeling totally  intimidated by the roomful of other much more established authors.  We were seated two at each table, along with librarians and other guests, and it was my luck to be paired with Leo Politi, winner of the Caldecott and the author and illustrator of dozens of books.  Because of his fame, I expected him to be larger than life, but discovered that he was completely unassuming.  During the program I noticed that he was much more interested in drawing pictures than listening to speeches. One by one, he took the programs off the table, drew our portraits on the back of them, and then gave us the drawings.  When I realized what he was doing, I sat very still to make it easier for him to draw his picture of me.  I wish I could say that I still have the drawing, but I don’t.  It disappeared at some point when I cleaned out my files.  I do have the memory, though, and the lesson that all the time, all around us, there is always something interesting to see, to write about, to draw.

Held on the last Saturday in February, the "We love California Authors & Artists " luncheon honors California authors and artists, especially those chosen to be in the California Collections. It also includes the presentation of the Ed Pert Awards, the President's Award, the Bonnie O'Brian Award, and the Leo Politi Golden Author Award. The keynote speaker at the luncheon is always an author from a California Collection.  In 2008, I was honored to be the recipient of the Leo Politi Award. 
For more information about the luncheon go to

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hooray for Nonfiction!

      Several weeks ago I took part in a terrific day-long conference, SCBWI CA North/Central’s first ever Non-Fiction Intensive.   I was the keynote speaker and talked  to a sold-out crowd of 52 participants, all eager to learn about writing nonfiction for children.
      My talk, Nonfiction is NOT Dead! focused on crafting the non-fiction book to fit today's market, combining text, visuals, and extra material to make a complete package. Using my own books and other recently pubished nonfiction, I talked about taking an idea from a jumble of facts to a compelling book that kids will want to read.
      Other faculty featured Agent/Principal Abigail Samoun of Red Fox Literary Agency; and Carolyn Yoder, Senior Editor, Calkins Creek Books/Senior Editor, Highlights.
      Carolyn Yoder addressed the Fun of Researching, Writing, and Rewriting Nonfiction, including what she looks for when she meets a manuscript for the first time, the editor/author relationship, and the importance of original research, original writing, and most of all passion!
      Former editor, now Agent/Principal Abigail Samoun spoke about the New Picture Book Biography: What makes today's picture book biographies different from those published a decade or two ago? What will make your own biographical manuscript stand-out from the slush pile? She shared numerous contemporary picture book biographies, including For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart, which she edited at Tricycle and which has received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.
      The day also included a panel of three distinguished CA North/Central PAL nonfiction authors Jeri Chase Ferris, Connie Goldsmith and Lori Mortenson covering Where Do Ideas Come From?; Queries; Proposals; 5 Common Mistakes in Writing Nonfiction; Research and Images; and Biographies. They also created table displays of sample proposals, books, examples of original research, and artifacts.
      Jeri, Connie and Lori were key organizers of the event as well as C0-RA’s Patricia Newman, Erin Dealey, and Catherine Meyer ARA.  They all did a terrific job!  Everyone went home inspired and ready to get to work.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Project: Icebergs and Sea Level

Do you think melting icebergs raise the sea level?  Do this experiment and find out.
You will need:  a glass bowl, water, ruler, ice cubes
1.  Pour water into the bowl until it is about half full.  Use the ruler to measure the height of the water.
2.  Add the ice cubes.  Measure the water level again.  How much did it rise?  Each ice cube is like a tiny iceberg.
3.  Set the bowl in a warm place until all the ice is melted.  Measure the water level again.  What happened?  (Remember that water increases in volume when it freezes.)

   When a large piece of ice breaks off the edge of a glacier and falls into the ocean, a process called calving, the chunks of floating ice are called icebergs.  In the northern hemisphere, most icebergs break off glaciers in Greenland into the North Atlantic.  Icebergs also form off the coast of Alaska in the Pacific.  In the southern hemisphere, an iceberg the size of Rhode Island recently broke off from Antarctica.  Icebergs drift in the ocen currents until they melt.
   In recent years, the average air temperature of Earth has been going up, and the polar ice sheets have begun to melt.  If melting ice causes sea level to go up by even a few feet, the chance of flooding for coastal cities could increase.  Which cities in the United States could be affected by a sea level rise?

   Read more about icebergs and find other projects in The Geography Book:  Activities for Exploring, Mapping, and Enjoying Your World.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

NEW BOOK! A Warmer World

Hurrah! Today is the official publication day of my new book, A Warmer World: From Polar Bears to Butterflies, How Climate Change Affects Wildlife (Charlesbridge, 2012.)  With colorful, rich illustrations by Jamie Hogan, the book has turned out beautifully.  I want to thank my editors and the art department at Charlesbridge for their meticulous attention to detail to make this stunning book.  It is about an important topic that I think we all need to learn more about.   
Here’s the flap copy:   Over the past several decades, our world has been warming at a faster rate than ever before.  Winters are shorter.  Sea levels have risen.  Territories of predators and prey have shifted.  To survive in this new environment, animals everywhere have had to adapt–or face extinction. Informative and thought provoking, and complemented by Jamie Hogan’s rich collage illustrations, A Warmer World offers young readers a clear-eyed look at the effects of climate change on animals around the world.
Ask for A Warmer World in your nearest bookstore! Also available online!
A Warmer World received a nice review in the January 9, 2012  Publisher's Weekly.

Look at the following blog posts for activities related to the content of this book.
Icebergs and Sea Level 2/8/12
Penguin Coloring Page 12/28/11
Walrus Classroom Activities 7/27/11
Polar Bear Coloring Page 8/6/10