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" 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  and illustrated by Harry Bliss.  See  Write a diary entry pretending you’re a gummi worm.  Look for Wiggle and Waggle (chapter book)by Caroline Arnold.  See  It is illustrated by Mary Peterson.  See  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   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!