Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Books in Spanish Now at StarWalk Kids Media

As of October 1, 2015, books in Spanish are now available in the eBook collection at StarWalk Kids Media. They are designed to support English Language Learners in acquiring academic vocabulary in both English and Spanish, and to enable both English- and Spanish-speaking children to learn the same, Standards-aligned content together. The eBooks are narrated by native language speakers for both language groups, and primarily cover informational subjects such as science, biography, poetry and historical fiction, focused on grades K–3.
I am happy to say that two of my books are in this collection, Mother and Baby Zoo Animals, Mama y bebe animales del zoologico and The Terrible Hodag, El Terrible Hodag.
Students can quickly and easily find the English-language version of a book after they’ve read it in Spanish, because the book information page for each bilingual book offers both languages simultaneously, with buttons that allow a student to “Read in English” or “Leer en espaƱol” with a single click.

All these books are available with a StarWalk Kids Media streaming eBook subscription. If you are not yet a subscriber and would like a free trial, click here to learn how you can try these books for your classroom or library.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


A Day and Night in the Forest, original art for pages 2-3, exhibited at Morris Graves Museum, Eureka, CA
Every two years, in conjunction with the Humboldt County Author Festival, a special exhibit of original art from books by participating authors and illustrators is displayed in the youth gallery at the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka, California. The exhibit runs for two months before the festival so the general public and children in visiting school groups can become familiar with the work before the authors arrive.
Morris Graves Museum of Art, Eureka, CA
I am pleased to have my art included and this year I contributed two pieces from my book A Day and Night in the Forest. The festival, held this year from October 14-17, always begins with a reception at the museum. I always enjoy the show and the opportunity to see the work of the other illustrators--Bob Barner, David Biedrzycki, Bethanie Murguia and Kathleen Pelley. I thank Lucy Quinby, the school and author liaison for the festival, for making the arrangements, and Jemima Harr, curator at the Morris Graves, for coordinating the exhibit. It looked terrific! The exhibit dates are September 5th to October 25th.
You can read about my school visits during the author festival in my previous post and see some of the terrific cut paper art created by the students.
A Day and Night in the Forest, original art for pages 14-15 and 2-3

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

READING ACROSS THE UNIVERSE at the Humboldt County Author Festival, Eureka, CA

Signing books at the Humboldt County Library
Last week I participated once again in the wonderful Humboldt County Author’s Festival in Eureka, California. The theme this year was Reading Across the Universe. This was my fifth time at the author festival, and each time it gets better and better. For forty years the Author Festival Committee has been bringing authors–this year there were 23 of us--every two years for two days of visits to schools and a day of book signing at the beautiful Humboldt County Public Library. 
Authors at the Ingomar Club wearing our Across the Universe Bug-eye Glasses
In addition, there was a welcoming reception on Wednesday evening at the Morris Graves Museum of Art; a potluck dinner on Thursday evening with space ship table decorations made by local students and a wonderful dramatization of some of our stories by high school students; and on Friday evening a gala banquet, held this year at the Ingomar Club (the historic Carson Mansion) overlooking the harbor.
At North Coast Learning Academy
My first school visit was at North Coast Academy in Eureka where I spoke to three enthusiastic groups of children in grades kindergarten through grade eight. Before my visit the children had read a variety of my books (provided by the county library) and the wall of the room was decorated with wonderful artwork ranging from worms in the garden inspired by my book Wiggle and Waggle and paper plate zebra masks inspired by A Zebra’s World to drawings of sharks and the Taj Mahal. I was pleased with the good response to my presentations and the good questions. And I thank the parents and teachers for the delicious lunch!
At Kneeland School
My second day of school visits was at Kneeland School, reached by a beautiful drive up a winding road into the mountains above Eureka. Children have been attending this school since 1880! This year the 25 students range from kindergarten to seventh grade. I spent the first hour with the lower grades, where everyone had a chance to use my Wiggle and Waggle sock puppets to act out the story, and then, after recess, I presented to the upper grades. Everyone in the school had created cut paper art, inspired by my book A Day and Night in the Forest. Two people had even made porcupines–cutting out lots of quills! We all had a delicious lunch of homemade soup. 
"Worms in Dirt" dessert

Dessert, in keeping with the Wiggle and Waggle theme, was worms in dirt--actually brownie chunks with gummy worms. The students at Kneeland know a lot about real worms and have their very own worm bin. On a daily basis lunch scraps are contributed to the worm bin to be made into compost.
As always, I thoroughly enjoyed the author festival and thank the hard working committee for making it all possible. I also want to thank my drivers who ferried me around so expertly: Ann Wieland, who gave three of us a wonderful scenic tour of the coast on our way to the hotel from the airport; Stella Hawkins, who took me to North Coast Learning Academy on Thursday; and Byrd Lochtie, who drove me to Kneeland on Friday and then graciously took me for a visit to the Sequoia Park Zoo in the afternoon. I also thank Eureka Books who coordinated the Saturday book sale at the library. The Humboldt County Author’s Festival is truly a community effort and a very special event for everyone involved. Thank you all!
Across the Universe cakes for the Banquet

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

CLCSC Fall Gala with Guest Speaker David Weisner

Logo of the Children's Literature Council of Southern California
Last Saturday I attended the annual Fall Gala of the Children’s Literature Council of Southern California, held this year at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. After a delicious breakfast and conversation with librarians, teachers and other authors, we heard Caldecott Medal winner David Weisner’s inspirational talk about his books and the storytelling process. He told us that as a child he was always drawing. He shared pictures (saved by his mother) from when he was five and six years old–demonstrating that his art then was much like the art of any child. But as he continued to draw and practice he developed his skills and his own style. There were also excellent talks by this year’s award winners: Salina Yoon, for Excellence in a Picture Book; Joan Bransfield Graham, Myra Cohn Livingston Award; Susan Goldman Rubin, Notable Work of Nonfiction; Isabel Quintero, Peggy Miller Award for Young Adult Literature; and Maureen Palacios, Dorothy C. McKenzie Award. Thanks to all at the CLCSC committee members for all your hard work in putting on the gala! As always, it was a most enjoyable and rewarding morning.
With authors Barbara Foster Bietz and Alexis O'Neill at the CLCSC Gala

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hispanic Heritage Month: Great Books at StarWalk Kids Media

Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 - October 15 is the perfect time to check out the broad selection of eBooks at StarWalk Kids Media – picture books, nonfiction, poetry, biography, folktales and realistic fiction -- to enrich your students’ experience with Latino culture and history from Mexico, the Amazon Basin, and the American Southwest. Books range from Maria Molina and the Days of the Dead (Gr. 2-4) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez to my book for older readers, City of the Gods (Gr. 5-9) illustrated with photographs by Richard Hewett, that explores the ruins of the ancient metropolis and ceremonial complex of Teotihuacan (Mexico) and shows what life was like for the people who lived there more than a thousand years ago.

All these books are part of our StarWalk Kids Media streaming eBook subscription. If you are not yet a subscriber and would like a free trial, click here to learn how you can try these books for your classroom or library.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The 63rd Annual BREAKFAST WITH THE AUTHORS, Santa Barbara, CA

Mary Ann Fraser, James Burks, Joan Bransfield Graham, Greg Trine, Caroline Arnold, Rebecca Langston-George at the Breakfast With the Authors, Santa Barbara, CA, October 3, 2015
Last Saturday, October 3rd, I had the pleasure of participating once again in the Annual Breakfast with the Authors, hosted by the Santa Barbara County Office of Education. This was the 63rd anniversary of the breakfast–each year an opportunity for people who love books and reading to meet with authors and hear about their latest books and thoughts about writing while enjoying a delicious breakfast. Featured authors this year were myself, James Burks, Julie Dillemuth, Mary Ann Fraser, Rebecca Langston-George, Mel Gilden, Joan Bransfield Graham, Valerie Hobbs, Michelle Robin La, Sarah Lynn Scheerger, Greg Trine, Mark London Williams, and Lee Wardlaw. (We missed Lee, who couldn’t make it at the last minute.) 
In recent years, the authors have been given a topic to respond to in our short (3-5 minute) talks. This year, the question was: If you could write in any time period past or future, when would it be, and why? Answers varied from the Stone Age (when stories were written in pictures) to the 40's and 50's (when children’s books came into their own in the publishing world)  to the present (with the explosion of the digital age and all that means for research, writing and communicating with editors.)
I thank Rose Koller, Fred Borchers and everyone at the Office of Education for all the hard work of putting on the breakfast and to Chaucer’s Books for providing books for sale and autographing. I have been attending the Breakfast With the Authors since the 1980's when my first books were published, and it is always a highlight of my year and a great way to begin the school year.