Wednesday, December 25, 2013

HOLIDAY READING: Celebrate With Books!

Some of my favorite Christmas picture books
What better way to prepare for Christmas than to read some of the special books that celebrate the themes of the season! My daughter's family gets out their collection of holiday children’s books each December when they unpack the decorations for the tree.  Their books include winter snow stories, Santa Claus tales, and retellings of the traditional nativity story. As we reread our favorites we enjoy each one all over again, and even though the grandchildren are growing older, no one ever outgrows the love of a good picture book. 
I send you good wishes for a  
Very Happy Holiday 
and a  
New Year filled with wonderful books! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Young Authors at LA’s Best Have Fun with WIGGLE AND WAGGLE

Recently, I spent an hour with enthusiastic young authors grades one through five at the South Region #10 school in Los Angeles.  The class was part of the LA’s Best after school program offered at many schools. I showed slides, had the children act out the first story in Wiggle and Waggle using my sock puppets, taught them the Wiggle and Waggle song, and then after the slides were finished, the children colored pictures of Wiggle and Waggle while I read the other four stories in the book.  I was impressed by how colorful the children made their drawings and how each one used their own creativity to make their drawings different.
LA’s Best works with California Readers to bring authors like me to the schools.  I have been participating in the program for several years and always enjoy my visits with young authors.
Note:  A printable pdf of the Wiggle and Waggle coloring page can be downloaded at the Charlesbridge website.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

FOCAL Award Luncheon, Honoring ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams Garcia

Luncheon table centerpiece for One Crazy Summer, depicting the palm tree next to Cecile's house in Oakland, her poetry, a replica of Delphine's Timex watch, a Chinese take-out box, and Miss Patty Cake, all arranged in the top of a suitcase.
Last Saturday, December 7, 2013, was the thirty-third annual celebration of the FOCAL Award of the Friends of Children and Literature, the support group of the children’s department at the Los Angeles Public Library.  The award this year was given to Rita Williams Garcia for her book One Crazy Summer.  It was a gala event, held at the Border Grill in downtown Los Angeles (across the street from the library), with great food, an inspiring talk by Rita, wonderful essays read by the student essay contest winners and the presentation of the puppet created by Carol Onofrio.  A revolving slide show created by Mara Alpert from the library reminded us of the winning books and their companion puppets from the past.  

Rita Williams Garcia
One Crazy Summer is a great book, Anita is an engaging speaker, the centerpieces, created by students of Ray Moszkowicz at Palms Middle School, and Carol Onofrio’s puppets were amazing as always, and the kids' winning essays were terrific. The contest winners sat at the head table with Rita and I loved how Rita interacted with them. They were truly thrilled to meet her.

Rita autographing a book and puppet
I thank all the people who helped make the luncheon possible–the FOCAL Board, headed by Caroline Gill; the essay judges, chaired by Sandy Schuckett; the awards committee, of which I was Chair; the library staff; and Ray Moszkowicz and his students at Palms Middle School. And above all I thank Rita Williams Garcia, who flew all the way to Los Angeles from her home in Queens, New York, for her gracious acceptance of the award.

For more about Rita’s book One Crazy Summer and this year’s FOCAL committee, see my posts for November 16, 2013 and July 10, 2013.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

PANDA Now at StarWalk Kids as an E-Book

This December the StarWalk Kids Media eBook collection is adding even more eBooks by their authors and illustrators. Here is a list of some of the new entries for the month of December 2013, including my book PANDA, illustrated with photographs by Richard Hewett. Included are some suggestions for using these books to meet Common Core State Standards. If you are already a subscriber to StarWalk Kids, these books are automatically added to your collection at no additional cost. If you are not a subscriber, click here to subscribe or to sign up for a free trial.

PANDA (by Caroline Arnold, photographs by Richard Hewett)
Panda offers children a fascinating and detailed portrait of this gentle forest dweller, illustrated with powerful photographs by Richard Hewett. The clear text introduces young readers to this native of the bamboo forests in central China's mountainous highlands and describes the giant panda's unique physical characteristics. It discusses how Pandas are raised in zoos as part of the worldwide effort to save the species from extinction.
Ages 7-10.  

My book Panda is paired with another book with the same title Panda by Carol Bonner.  Here are some terrific suggestions for how these two books can be used in the classroom.

For grades 4-6, compare two informative but very different books about the giant panda.
You might read Susan Bonners' book aloud, showing the beautiful illustrations. Ask students to work with a thinking partner to revisit the text and come up with the most important life events in the life of a panda. Be sure to have them specify evidence from the text to support their thinking.

Then have students identify one life event they would like to know more about. Use the photo illustrated eBook Panda by Caroline Arnold to search for more detail about that event. Students can choose two words from Arnold's book to reflect their thinking about this subject. Support their thinking with examples from the text. (eg: Adulthood: "solitary," and "bamboo." Pandas are usually very solitary animals that eat bamboo and other wild grasses. It is a good thing they prefer to be alone; otherwise there could be a shortage of food.)

Compare the styles of the two authors. Would students choose one Panda book over another? For what purposes? Why do they think each author chose her style of presentation? What reaction were the authors trying to get from their readers? 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I was thrilled to learn that my book, Too Hot? Too Cold? is on the recently announced NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) Outstanding Science Trade Books K-12, 2014.  The list of winning titles is now available on the web and will be published with fully annotated reviews in the March 2014 issue of NSTA’s K-12 journals.  Here’s what NSTA says about the list:

This year, science teachers and mentors have been challenged to meet the high expectations of the Framework for K–12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards. The Framework urges us to help learners “[build] progressively more sophisticated explanations of natural phenomena…” while NGSS provides a model for “gathering, describing, and using information about the natural and designed world(s).” In the development of curricula that meet these challenges, literature is an essential partner. “The NGSS are aligned with the CCSS [Common Core State Standards] to ensure a symbiotic pace of learning in all content areas.”