Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We Love California Authors and Illustrators Luncheon, 2014

Last Saturday I was at the annual We Love California Authors and Illustrators Luncheon celebrating 18 years since California Readers was founded.  Held at the Castaway Restaurant with a beautiful view of the surrounding hills (with hawks soaring on the updrafts of the warm sunny day), it was an enjoyable afternoon with authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, students and their parents, book sellers and book lovers, all enjoying lunch together and listening to a terrific keynote address by author Janet Tashjian. I sat at a table with four enthusiastic fourth graders and their parents from Vintage School, winners of last year's Ed Pert award.
In between courses, Martin Burton, our expert master of ceremonies, drew raffle tickets to find the lucky winners of the 21 baskets of books and goodies assembled by the luncheon committee. Also, Ann Stalcup accepted on behalf of Leo Politi Elementary School the display of Leo Politi books which will now be permanently kept at the school. The Ed Pert and Literacy Award presentations were made and President Karla Forbes handed over the reins to incoming President Heather Biggs.  As always, it was a fun and rewarding event celebrating the connection between authors, illustrators and schools.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Too Hot? Too Cold? Finalist for the AAAS/Suburu SB & F Prize

Page 28, Too Hot? Too Cold?, illust. by Annie Patterson
I was delighted to learn that my book Too Hot? Too Cold? Keeping Body Temperature Just Right was named a finalist for the AAAS/Suburu SB & F Prize in the picture book category. The AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books celebrates outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults. The prizes, meant to encourage the writing and publishing of high-quality science books for all age groups, are awarded in four categories: Children’s Science Picture Books, Middle Grades Nonfiction Science Books, Young Adult Science Book and Hands-on Science/Activity Book. To read about my book and the other two finalists, go to the AAAS Science Books and Films page.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Visit to Young Authors of LA’s Best

I recently had another successful visit with students in the LA’s Best Young Authors Program, this time at Maurice Sendak School in North Hollywood.  I was greeted with a colorful welcome poster made by the children in grades K-2 and could see that they clearly had enjoyed dipping their hands in bright paint to make the design.  I spoke first to the younger grades and shared with them A Zebra’s World, Wiggle and Waggle and Who Has More? Who Has Fewer?  Then, with the older children (grades 3-5) I presented my slides and talked about my life as a writer and how I get ideas.  As the children lined up to leave, I noticed that several of them were carrying musical instruments.  I am pleased to know that they are having so many opportunities to develop their talents and creativity.  Perhaps some of them will grow up to be writers or musicians someday!
My author visit to the LA's Best Young Authors Program was sponsored by California Readers.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"If I were a color I would be blue like the sky": LA'S BEST YOUNG WRITER'S PROGRAM

Coloring Wiggle and Waggle at LA's Best Young Writer's Program
“If I were a color I would be blue like the sky.” 
“If I were an animal I would be fast as a cheetah.”

When I recently visited the LA’s Best Young Writers at Anatola Elementary School I found these were some of the things they had written in their idea books.  I loved the fact that the students (grades 1-5) were learning comparisons and personifications.  Their idea books are preparation for their final project which will be books beginning “I Am...”as in "I am a dancer", "I am a good friend", "I am a brother". Each one will be personal and unique.
As I always do when I visit young writers, I gave a presentation of how I work as a writer and how I get ideas from my own life, just as they do .  Afterward, while I read my book Wiggle and Waggle, the children colored drawings of Wiggle and Waggle working in the garden. (Wiggle has googly eyes and Waggle wears glasses.)  I am always amazed when I do this project that even though all the children start with the same picture, each one turns out to be different and individual.
LA’s Best is an after school program in the Los Angeles Schools.  Author visits to the Young Writer’s workshops are sponsored by California Readers.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

AUTHOR FESTIVAL, Huntington Beach, California

Signing books at the Huntington Beach Library
On January 28th, I participated in the annual Author Festival in Huntington Beach, California along with twenty-one other authors. As always, it was a stimulating and exciting day.  In the morning we visited schools in the community and then convened at the public library for a gala afternoon reception.
Welcome banner at College View School
My school this year was College View, where I had three groups of very enthusiastic children.  The day was organized superbly by school librarian Leslie Selder who made sure that I had everything I needed. A wonderful banner greeted me at the entrance to the school.  During our lunch break we had a relaxing and a delicious meal at a local cafĂ© Deli-licious with principal Cathy Smith.
Arriving for the Author Festival Reception
The afternoon reception was a chance to chat with other participating authors and see their new books and to renew acquaintances from previous visits.  A bevy of volunteers wearing red shirts made sure that everyone was comfortable.  The afternoon featured the children who had written winning essays for the writing contest.  It was a treat to see the children in their dress-up clothes and looking so proud of their accomplishments.  There were many proud teachers, parents and grandparents as well!
I thank the Author Festival committee, the sponsors, and many volunteers for making this special day possible.
With fellow author Gretchen Woelfle at the library

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Primary Sources Key to Writing Nonfiction Books for Children

Using primary sources is more important than ever when writing for children.

Here is a list of government sites that maintain digital copies of primary sources.
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1. American Memory Collection:
2. Library of Congress Teacher’s Page:
3. Library of Congress Primary Source Sets
4. Professional Development Resources:
5. National Archives Docs Teach site:
6. National Archives Docs Teach site, by Historical Era:
7. Presidential Libraries:
8. The Smithsonian Education site:

According to the Indiana University Library, this is what constitutes a primary source:

A primary source provides direct or firsthand evidence about an event, object, person or work of art. Primary source materials can be written and non-written, the latter including sound, picture, and artifact. Examples of primary sources include:
  • personal correspondence and diaries
  • works of art and literature
  • speeches and oral histories
  • audio and video recordings
  • photographs and posters
  • newspaper ads and stories
  • laws and legislative hearings
  • census or demographic records
  • plant and animal specimens
  • coins and tools