Tuesday, November 26, 2013

ABFFE Holiday Art Auction: Illustration from A KILLER WHALE'S WORLD Helping Support Free Speech

Illustration for pages 8-9, A Killer Whale's World (PictureWindow Books, 2006)
A full-size print of an illustration from my book A Killer Whale's World will be one of more than 70 pieces of children's book art in the ABFFE Holiday Art Auction on eBay.

The auction launches on eBay on Tuesday, Nov. 26, at noon, Eastern Time. "We need help telling people about this wonderful source of holiday gifts,” ABFFE President Chris Finan said. "If you have a web site, you can connect directly to the auction using our new web badge. Or you can just tell a friend.”
The web badge can be copied from the ABFFE web site and connected to eBay using this link.  It is also available to American Booksellers Association members in the BookWeb DIY's Designs & Downloads.

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), is the bookseller's voice in the fight against censorship. The week-long eBay auction will feature work from the leading artists and illustrators working in book publishing today. More than 50 artists and illustrators contributed to last year's auction. "The Holiday Children's Art Auction will give people around the country a chance to purchase wonderful holiday gifts and support free speech," ABFFE President Chris Finan said.

The holiday auction is the online version of the children's art auction that is held during BookExpo America (BEA). Both auctions help support ABFFE's defense of the free speech rights of kids. The BEA auction will be held on May 28 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the River Pavilion of the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.

UPDATE from Chris Finan:
NEW YORK, NY, Dec. 5, 2013 - The Holiday Children's Book Art Auction that closed Tuesday hit a new high, raising more than $10,000 to help defend the free speech rights of kids.  Winning bidders walked away with 80 pieces by leading artists and illustrators.  "We are delighted by the success of this year's auction," Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), said.  "The holiday auction has grown rapidly since it was launched last year.  We are very grateful to the artists for their support."  ABFFE, the bookseller's voice in the fight against censorship, uses the proceeds of the auction to support the Kids' Right to Read Project, which assists people fighting book challenges in schools and libraries, and Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of the freedom to read. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Activities: Holiday Projects at Mrs. Saint Nick's, Ann Paul's New Blog for her New Book

Hand-made gifts are the best kind of presents. For some wonderful and easy-to-make holiday gifts go to the Mrs. Saint Nick, Countdown to a Stress-Free Christmas blog post for November 4th.  Learn how to make a decoupage box with colorful paper or how to knit a simple bookmark. The blog, created by Ann Paul to promote her charming and humorous book 'Twas the Late Night of Christmas, illustrated by Nancy Hayashi, will help you plan for the holidays. And you can get a preview of the book and some of Ann's Christmas crafts in this charming video by Jane Kaczmarek.

'Twas the Late Night of Christmas is available both as a paperback and e-book.
This delightful retelling of the classic poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas gives Mrs. Saint Nick a starring role and the recognition she deserves. Here's how the story begins:

'Twas the Late Night of Christmas and all through the house everyone was exhausted, even the mouse.
The children were whining. The house was a mess.
Mom slumped in despair from all of the stress.
This is the perfect gift for hassled parents overwhelmed by the crazy-making business of Christmas!
If you live in the LA area, Ann would love to have you join her at one of her signings in the coming weeks.  I'm planning to buy copies for all the moms (and dads) in my family!
Ann's upcoming appearances:
Friday, November 22nd  
6:00 p.m.
Reading & Book Signing
Barnes & Noble
Marina Del Rey, CA 

Saturday, November 23rd
5:30 p.m.
Reading, Signing and Sweets
Skylight Books
Los Angeles, CA

Saturday, November 30th
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Book Signing
Once Upon a Time Bookstore
Montrose, CA

Saturday, December 21st
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Book Signing
Los Angeles, CA 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The FOCAL Award Committee: We Have a Winner!

Being on the FOCAL Award committee is a little like being in a book club.  We read lots of books, talk about them–often with great passion–and then have the difficult task of choosing which one we like best. This year the winner is One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, a book full of memorable characters and universal themes, with a window onto a period of history–the turbulent 1960's and Black Panther movement–seen through the eyes of three spunky girls sent from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, for the summer. We are delighted with our choice and looking forward to meeting Rita Williams-Garcia at the Award Luncheon on December 7th at the Border Grill, downtown Los Angeles, across from the Public Library. Please join us! (See below for link to details about the luncheon.)

This year’s FOCAL Award committee consisted of myself, past chair Nancy Reich, FOCAL President Caroline Gill, and members Marcia Melkonian, Lisa Schloss, Barbara Stone, Annette Goldsmith, Rachel Kitzmann and Alexandra Stewart--representing school, public and university libraries, classroom teachers, and writers. Each year the committee is given the task of choosing from a list of nominees (this year there were eleven), that includes both fiction and nonfiction ranging from picture books to novels. It is not an easy job, as every book we review has elements that recommend it. To qualify, the book must exhibit high standards of excellence in literature for young people, literary and/or artistic merit, interest and readability, universality, and California enrichment content. One Crazy Summer certainly did.

One Crazy Summer is beautifully written. We care for eleven-year old Delphine, in charge of her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. The committee felt that readers will identify with them as they adjust to life in a new place and to a mother they are meeting for the first time. The story is fiction, but the setting is real--from the People’s Center next to the library, to the park where the rally takes place at the end of the book. We felt that the book is a good introduction for kids to learn what it was like to live as a Black American in the 1960's. Most importantly, though, the  book is simply a good story–a page turner.

Essay contest: Part of the FOCAL Award is an essay contest for kids about why they would like to meet the author. We think that readers of One Crazy Summer will find plenty to write about! Winners are invited to the luncheon and sit with the author. We hope to see you there too!

See www.focalonline.org for details about the luncheon and essay contest.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

FALL GALA: Children's Literature Council of Southern California (CLCSC)

Last Saturday, November 9th, I attended the 52nd annual Fall Gala of the Children's Literature Council of Southern California (formerly SCCLCYP) at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles.  As always, it was a delightful morning with a delicious breakfast and the chance to see friends, meet librarians and teachers, and to hear inspirational talks.  The featured speaker was Linda Sue Park, whose talk focused on her life as an author and how reading has been key to the development of the ideas for her books.  We heard how a poem led to her book The Third Gift and how a meeting with a Sudanese refugee inspired her book A Long Walk to Water and how that book has stimulated thousands of students to sponsor wells for villages in Sudan.  She also read to us her new book Xander's Panda Party, a charming story in verse with amazing art by Matt Phelan.
     The program also included awards to Carrie Arcos (Peggy Miller Award for Young Adult Literature), Betsy R. Rosenthal (Myra Cohn Livingston Poetry Award), Wes Troke (Inspiring Work of Historical Fiction), Jon Klassen (Excellence in Picture Book Artistry), Doug TenNapel (Groundbreaking Graphic Novel) and Allyn Johnston (Dorothy C. McKenzie Award).  Each of them, except for Jon Klassen and Doug TenNapel who couldn't be there) gave touching acceptance speeches.  Allyn's speech recounted the course of her career in publishing.  When she was at Harcourt she was the editor of three of my books, A Guide Dog Puppy Grows Up, On the Brink of Extinction, and Hawk Highway in the Sky.
     I thank Marjorie Arnett, the Gala Coordinator and the 2013 Awards Committee for a terrific program and a wonderful morning celebrating books for children.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


The Ventana Wildlife Society has recently posted a live video cam of a condor feeding site near Big Sur.  Carcasses are regularly provided so the large vultures can have safe, healthy food to eat.  When food is available, you may be able to see five or more of the enormous birds at the site hopping around the food or perched nearby.  Large numbered tags on their wings distinguish them from other vultures.  Links on the page take you to more videos, photos and information about condors.  You can also learn about condors in my book On the Brink of Extinction.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

LITERACY: PASSPORT TO THE WORLD, California Reading Association PDI at Sonoma State University

Caroline at the Signing Table
I just got back from the California Reading Association PDI at Sonoma State (November 1-2) where I gave a talk and did a book signing. It was a great event and I met many teachers and librarians--at my session, the signing table, at the author meet and greet, on the exhibit floor, and at the California Young Reader Medal dinner on Saturday night where Alma Flor Ada was the featured speaker.  My talk, Think Outside the Book, focused on links to Common Core and on projects and activities teachers and kids can do in the classroom to reinforce reading and enhance the content of the book.  In my handouts I included links to many projects, most of which can also be found on this blog and on my website.

Caroline with the Heinemann representative
I always enjoy going to CRA.  It was a full program and with so much going on, impossible to attend everything but I did as much as I could.  In the exhibit hall I had the chance to meet the rep for Heinemann, which publishes the Fountas Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention program.  My new book, Octopus, Escape Artist of the Sea, is part of that reading program.
Gretchen Woelfle

I want to thank Nancy Rogers-Zegarra and Lynn Gurnee and all the hardworking CRA committee members for all the organization of the conference.  I also want to thank Sandra Yoon for coordinating the author signing and making the colorful posters for our spots at the signing table.

Patricia Newman, Alexis O'Neill, Marsha Diane Arnold
The program included fifteen other children’s book authors and it is always fun to talk and compare notes.  Coincidentally, three of the other authors Alexis O’Neill, Gretchen Woelfle, and Jeri Ferris were once students in my writing class at UCLA.  Now they are all well known and prolific authors and we are colleagues.

Jeri Ferris
At the CYRM dinner numerous people received awards, including my good friend Jeri Ferris who was honored with the Armin Shulz Literacy Award for promoting social justice in her books.  The first place winners of the CRA student writing contest were invited to the dinner and read their essays aloud.  The youngest of the prize winners, a first grader, concluded his essay: “I like books because reading makes me happy.”  Reading makes me happy too.

Monday, November 4, 2013

FICTION OR NONFICTION: What's Best for Your Story? UCLA Extension Writer’s Program, March 1st, 2014

My Writer's Program T-shirt!
Enrollment for Winter Quarter classes in the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program opens November 4, 2013.  I will be teaching a one-day class on Saturday, March 1, 2014: Fiction or Nonfiction, What’s Best for Your Story?  The class will focus on writing for school age children ages 5 to 12.  I have been teaching in the Writer’s Program since 1981 and have the distinction of being in the program the longest of the current instructors!

Here’s a description of the class:
Shaping your idea and turning it into a book just right for your intended audience involves many choices. This workshop will cover both fiction and nonfiction techniques and how to use them to create a book for children that is both fun and informative and just right for the child and just right for you. From picture books to chapter books, we will discuss developing an idea into a framework for a book or article, choosing a point of view, writing lively prose, and conducting research. Special attention will be paid to organizing material; selling your story to trade, school, library, and magazine markets; and editing your work.
Go to the UCLA Extension website for information about enrolling.