Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wiggle and Waggle: Reading, Writing, Math and Art

Wiggle and Waggle art project done by students at Parkside School, San Bernardino, CA
At one of my recent school visits, I went into a classroom and discovered that the children had used my book, Wiggle and Waggle, as inspiration for a whole host of activities. They had done art projects, writing projects, and used the story as inspiration for writing their own math problems.  Here's an example from a second grader:

One day Wiggle and Waggle were in the garden.  Wiggle dug and looped 847 tunnels.  Waggle slithered and dug 827 tunnels.  How many tunnels did Wiggle and Waggle dig all together.
847 + 827 = 1,674.  They dug 1, 674 tunnels.  Wiggle and Waggle had a busy day! 

And when the children were done with their projects, they all had a treat of "worms in dirt"!

For links to a recipe for "worms in the dirt" and other fun wormy activities, go to the Wiggle and Waggle page at my website and look in the section called "Children's Projects".

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Author Visits and Workshops in North Carolina

"Put the Stripes on the Zebra" by TDS Kindergarteners
Last week I had two very nice author visits in North Carolina.  On Monday I spoke to a group of enthusiastic fourth graders at McDougle School in Chapel Hill/Carrboro, who were just embarking on their non-fiction unit for the year.  In my presentation I emphasized how my process writing nonfiction books is very much like what they do when they write a story or a report.  On Tuesday I spent the day at the Triangle Day School in Durham giving presentations and workshops to Kindergarten through Sixth Grade.  Each of the four sessions included a project.  With the sixth graders, who are studying ancient cultures, the students divided into small groups and prepared lists of items for the "trash can archeology" activity, a kind of virtual dig.  The fourth and fifth graders created "mixed up animals", inspired by the Hodag in my book The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers and then used their animals as the main character of a short story.  The two groups of younger children made cut paper zebras.  I am always surprised how individual each zebra becomes, even though all the children start with the same materials.  Of course, in real life no two zebras have exactly the same stripes!  At the end of the day I got a tour of the school, which included a stop in the art room where the students were just completing their pictures of Babylonian art and a visit to the science lab where I saw three baby quail that had just hatched in the incubator.  I had a full and fun day and was impressed by all the great projects the kids were doing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

BOOK CHAT THURSDAY: Authors, Illustrators, Teachers and Librarians Discuss Books

Once a month, usually on a Thursday evening, I join a group of writers, illustrators, teachers and librarians that meets in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles to discuss children's books. Usually we talk about one picture book and one middle grade or YA novel.  This past month we discussed Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and Noah Webster and His Words by Jeri Ferris. After the meeting, Sandy Schuckett, a retired LAUSD librarian, summarizes our discussion. We have recently launched a blog called Book Chat Thursday with Sandy's reports of our thoughts about the books we have read.  (The posts are backdated for the last several years so you can see all the books we've read since 2007.) We'd love to have your comments too!
Our group enjoys eating as much as reading and our meetings always include a variety of delicious snacks.  A separate page on the blog lists some of the recipes we have enjoyed.  As time goes on, we will be adding more.
We have been meeting since 2007. The group was organized under the auspices of the Children's Literature Council of Southern California

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Last week I did an author visit at Monroe School in Long Beach, California, presenting to three enthusiastic groups of students--K-1, grades 2-3, and grades 4-5.  The day was organized by librarian Nina Wool, who I first met quite a few years ago when I visited another school in Long Beach. She had shared my books with the students before my visit, which always helps them get more out of my presentation.  At the end of the morning the PTA put on a delicious lunch for me and all the staff which we ate on tables outdoors, enjoying the beautiful sunshiny day.  It was a great day to celebrate books and reading!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We Love California Authors and Illustrators Luncheon: California Readers

On Saturday, the 23rd of February I attended the We Love California Authors and Illustrators annual luncheon, a gala affair sponsored by California Readers celebrating the connection between the creators of children’s books and schools and libraries.  It was held at the Castaway Restaurant in Burbank, with a spectacular view of the city on one side and the beautiful hills and golf course behind the restaurant. I always enjoy the luncheon because it is an opportunity to visit with teachers and librarians and other authors; to see the amazing displays by the winning schools showing how they have used books in the California Collection; and to hear inspiring talks, this year by Kendall Haven, winner of the Leo Politi Award, and award-winning authorTony Johnston, our keynote speaker.  I thank all the hard-working members of the California Readers board and luncheon committee for putting on such a successful event.

Raffle Basket of Caroline Arnold books
Before the luncheon a raffle was held to raise money for the organization.  Most raffle items were baskets of books, perfect for a classroom or school library.  I was pleased that one of the baskets featured my books and a polar bear print that I donated.  There were a number of other raffle items as well.  I was the lucky winner of a beautiful necklace!

One of the goals of California Readers is to promote author visits to schools in the Los Angeles area and I have done many such school visits over the years.  California Readers also partners with LA's Best to bring authors to speak to children participating in the after school young authors program.  I am currently involved in visiting several LA's Best schools and enjoying it very much.