Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Too Hot? Too Cold?: Top Picks from the Editors at Junior Library Guild

In today's School Library Journal, my book Too Hot? Too Cold? is featured in the article On the Radar:  Top Picks from the Editors at Junior Library Guild:  New Releases for Your Nonfiction Shelves by Deborah B. Ford.  She writes:

Good nonfiction titles rise to the top as librarians focus their content needs to meet the Common Core State Standards. New releases by our favorite authors and illustrators include an environmental bilingual poem, a picture-book biography, a fact-filled science title, and a narrative account of a bird’s 7,200 mile migration.

ARNOLD, Caroline. Too Hot? Too Cold?: Keeping Body Temperature Just Right. illus. by Annie Patterson.  Charlesbridge. 2013. ISBN 9781580892766. JLG Level: SCE : Science Nonfiction Elementary (Grades 2-6).
Written in a voice that speaks directly to the reader, Arnold’s text presents facts about body temperature. “You have a layer of fat under your skin. It is like a built-in blanket that helps protect your body and keep it warm.” The author introduces various behaviors that influence natural temperature, such as weather, clothing, and location. Glossary and author’s note provide supplemental nonfiction text features.

Other books included in the article are Sandra Markle's The Long, Long Journey:  The Godwit's Amazing Migration; Bill Martin Junior's I Love Our Earth/Amo Nuestra Tierra; and Kadir Nelson's Nelson Mandela.

Too Hot? Too Cold? is available from the Junior Library Guild.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

SNEEZES AND SNIFFLES –New Book for Grade 3 Reading Program

Your head hurts.  Your nose drips.  You can’t stop sneezing.  You have a cold!  My new little book, Sneezes and Sniffles, answers kids questions about colds and helps them practice their reading skills at the same time.  The book is part of the Fountas Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention (Grade 3) level RED, published by Heinemann. The cartoon-like illustrations, which are perfect for the book, are by Glin Dibly.

The Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention System (LLI) is a small-group, supplementary intervention designed for children who find reading and writing difficult. LLI is designed to bring children quickly up to grade-level competency.

LLI serves those students who need intensive support to achieve grade-level competency. These children are the lowest achieving children in the classroom who are not receiving another supplementary intervention. Each lesson in the LLI system also provides specific suggestions for supporting English language learners who are selected for the system.

LLI is the creation of reading experts Irene Fountas, at Lesley University, and Gay Su Pinnell, at Ohio State University.  In April, they gave a presentation at IRA in Chicago which I attended and I was impressed with the videos they showed that demonstrated how effective their system is in helping children learn to read and developing their confidence.  I am pleased that Sneezes and Sniffles is part of this successful program.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

FOCAL Award Luncheon: Joanne Rocklin and One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street

Joanne Rocklin autographing books at the FOCAL luncheon
Last Saturday, January 12th, was the luncheon to honor the winner of the FOCAL Award, presented annually to the author of a “book of merit featuring some aspect of California history and/or geography.”  What could be more central to the history of California than the orange?  This year’s winning book was One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street, an amazing middle-grade novel, beautifully written by Joanne Rocklin, who gave an inspiring talk about the origins of the book and its personal connection to the Valencia orange tree growing in her back yard when she lived in Los Angeles. (She recently moved to Oakland.)

Orange tree centerpiece
As always, the luncheon was a festive event with delicious food (we were at the Border Grill in downtown Los Angeles), a room full of teachers, librarians, friends, family and book lovers young and old, and tables decorated with charming centerpieces made by Ray Moszkowicz’s students at Palms Middle School.  The centerpieces featured the old Valencia orange tree in the book, which truly is the main character and the thread that connects the lives and stories of the other characters.  A child's swing, a dog, a traffic cone, and a birdhouse represent some key elements in the story.

Carol Onofrio and Joanne Rocklin
The luncheon program also included two young students reading their winning essays about the book and why they wanted to meet the author. (They got to sit at the author’s table during lunch.)  And as always, there was the presentation of a puppet made by Carol Onofrio of one of the characters in the book. She chose to depict Ms. Snoops (whose actual name was Ethel Finneymaker), a perfect choice as the character who had the longest history on Orange Street.  (Another copy of the puppet goes to the permanent collection on display at the library of puppets made through the years.)

Joanne with poster
I was pleased to be on the committee that selected this year’s award and couldn’t be happier with our choice.  I loved reading One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street. When you close the book you can practically smell the sweet perfume of orange blossoms and you feel as if you know each of the characters personally.  The book ends with the recipe for Ethel Finneymaker’s Ambrosia: “Slice your sweetest oranges. Layer dried coconut and sugar between them. Let the whole thing sit for a while, so all the tastes come together, infrangibly.  If you feel especially celebratory, add some whipped cream.  Enjoy!”  We were definitely feeling celebratory on Saturday.  It was a very special event honoring a very talented author who is also my friend.

FOCAL (Friends of Children and Libraries) is the support group of the Children’s Literature Department of the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL).  Caroline Gill, President of FOCAL, and the members of the FOCAL Board did a terrific job of organizing the luncheon, as they do every year.  Thank you! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

StarWalk Kids Review on SLJ EBook Toolkit

StarWalk Kids Media, which features nine of my books in its catalogue and will soon have more, received an extremely positive technical review (including a video walk-through) this week (January 9, 2013) from SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, the most influential U.S. publication for the institutional buying audience.
Teachers will appreciate the simple yet robust toolkit built into the StarWalk Reader, which includes the ability to highlight, add notes, zoom in or out, and jump to a page by either entering a page number or mousing over the bottom of the screen to reveal page thumbnails and selecting any of them. Educators and parents can also use StarWalk’s advanced search feature to browse the collection by Lexile level, alphabetic reading level, CC standards, and other criteria.
Here is the link to the whole article.
For more information about StarWalk Kids and to sign up for a free trial, visit www.StarWalkKids.com.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Starred Review for TOO HOT? TOO COLD?

I was thrilled to learn that my new book, TOO HOT? TOO COLD: Keeping Body Temperature Just Right, has just received a starred review in Kirkus (January 15, 2013).  I thank my editor and all the people at Charlesbridge for their careful attention in producing this book and to Annie Patterson for her beautiful watercolor illustrations.  The official publication of the book is February 1, 2013. Here's the review:

A fascinating and thorough look at how both animals and humans regulate their body temperatures.

Beginning with the difference between warmblooded and coldblooded species (the terms endothermic and ectothermic are introduced but not used), Arnold devotes spreads to such topics as muscle movements, sweating, the shrinking and expanding of blood vessels in the skin, fat, body coverings, and the size and shape of an animal. Behavior can also affect body temperature: animals or humans can seek/avoid the sun or a breeze, cool off or warm up with water, find shelter, or hibernate/estivate/migrate. The one misstep is a minor quibble, ­a sentence incorrectly states that “No animal can live if its body temperature falls below freezing.” The copyright page lists the illustrations as having been done in watercolor and Photoshop, but readers would be hard-pressed to see any evidence of digital artwork here. The spreads and spot illustrations have that blurry, batik quality of watercolors that lends itself so well to nature scenes, while the insets are well-delineated, allowing readers to understand the structures discussed in the text. Every animal is labeled, making this a great jumping-off point for further research into readers’ favorites. A glossary and author’s note round out the text.

A stellar addition to a rather empty shelf. (Nonfiction. 6-10)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Writing Process: Beginnings and Endings

    Beginnings: The beginning of your book creates the first impression.  If you don’t grab your reader’s attention on the opening page, it doesn’t matter what else you say. In the opening of your book, you want to make the reader eager to find out more.  At the same time you establish your tone, style and the level of complexity.  You are telling the reader what to expect.   There are many ways to start a book, but I like to set a dramatic scene that pulls the reader in and then tells what the book is going to be about.  Here’s the beginning of my book, El Nino, Stormy Weather for People and Wildlife:
    For nine straight days in January 1995 rain poured down on the usually sunny state of California, causing floods, mud slides, and power outages.  During the same period on the opposite coast flowers began to sprout, bears woke up from their winter naps, and people wore shorts as unusual springlike temperatures warmed the air.  Both of these atypical weather events were due to El Nino, a powerful tropical ocean current that periodically disrupts weather all over the globe.
     Endings: The final paragraph of the book is your opportunity to leave the reader with one last impression.  Endings are always hard to write, but in the same way that the opening of the book told the reader what to expect, the ending tells the reader what he or she just learned. In all my books I like to end with a thought that places the topic of the book in a larger context.   Here is the final sentence of El Nino:
   As scientists find out about El Nino, La Nina, and the Southern Oscillation, they are learning how ocean warming that begins in the tropical Pacific is one of the most important keys to understanding the earth’s weather.

   (El Nino: Stormy Weather for People and Wildlife (Clarion, 1996 and 2000) can be found in your library and online.)