Wednesday, December 30, 2015

FOCAL Award Luncheon, December 2015

Puppets by Jesse Kingsley, depicting Sylvia Mendez in the book Separate is Not Equal by Duncan Tonitiuh
On Saturday, December 12th, I attended the annual gala luncheon that honors the winner of the FOCAL Award. FOCAL (Friends of Children and Literature) is the support group of the children’s literature department of the Los Angeles Public Library. The award is presented annually to a children's book with California content. This year it went to Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight For Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh, published by Abrams, 2014.
FOCAL Luncheon book sale table with Storybook Puppets and Separate is Not Equal
Usually the author of the winning book gives a speech at the luncheon. This year, however, Duncan Tonatiuh was unable to attend. Instead, he sent a video of his acceptance, so we got to meet him virtually. His charming young daughter was also part of the video. And, while we were not able to meet the author, it was a special treat to be able to meet Sylvia Mendez, the subject of the book, who came to the luncheon. She was delightful and enjoyed interacting with all of the guests.
Sylvia Mendez

Every year at the luncheon, winners are presented with a unique puppet representing a character from their award-winning book.  Jesse Kingsley, the puppeteer, used Duncan’s illustrations as inspiration for his puppet of Sylvia.

For many years the puppets for the FOCAL winners were created by Carol Onofrio. Another special treat at this year’s luncheon was the wonderful new book with photographs of all Carol’s puppets and their stories. The book, Storybook Puppets, created by Carol Onofrio’s family as a memorial to her body of work, is available in the shop at the Central Library.

Also present at the awards luncheon were children who won the FOCAL essay contest, along with their teachers, and parents. Each of the children read their essay aloud and told about a favorite part of the book and why they would like to meet the author.

Many people contributed to the success of the luncheon: the officers of FOCAL; the hardworking FOCAL award committee, whose difficult job it is to choose a winner; LAPL children’s librarians; the middle school art students and their teacher, Ray Moscowicz, who created the wonderful centerpieces for the tables; and the parents and teachers who encouraged the students to write their wonderful essays. I always enjoy going to the luncheon and helping to celebrate the love for books and reading. Thanks to everyone for making it such a festive occasion!

For more about the book SEPARATE IS NEVER EQUAL go to my blog post for September 9, 2015.
Caroline Gill, President of FOCAL; Sandy Schuckett, Essay Contest Chair

Sunday, December 27, 2015

LA’s BEST Young Author’s Program at San Pascual School, Los Angeles

Two weeks ago I spent a delightful hour with a group of very enthusiastic young authors in kindergarten and first grade at San Pascual Elementary School in Los Angeles who are participating in the LA’s BEST after school young author program. They had just completed their “I Am...” books and were beginning to work on books about a person they admired. I read my book A Zebra’s World and we went on a “Lion Hunt.” I also read Wiggle and Waggle and then the students colored their own Wiggle and Waggle pictures using a creative mix of colors. At the end of the hour I read A Polar Bear’s World while  three students acted out the story wearing my polar bear masks. Finally, we had a question period and talked about our favorite animals. It was a fun afternoon!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


When I was nine years old, my drama club at the Northeast Neighborhood House in Minneapolis put on a play at the annual children's Christmas party called The Littlest Angel, based on a story written by Charles Tazewell. I recently searched for this book and found that it's message is as appropriate today as it was more than fifty years ago--that the best gift does not have to be expensive but must come from the heart. Here is a passage from the book:

And what was his gift to the blessed infant? Well, there was a butterfly with golden wings, captured one bright, summer day on the hills above Jerusalem and a sky-blue egg from a bird's nest in the olive tree that stood to shade his mother's kitchen door. Yes, and two white stones, found on a muddy river bank, where he and his friends had played like small, brown beavers, and, at the bottom of the box, a limp, tooth-marked leather strap, once worn as a collar by his mongrel dog, who had died as he had lived, in absolute love and infinite devotion.

Yes, it was the perfect gift.
In remembrance of this story, I wish all of you a
Happy Holiday
 and a 
Peaceful New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

LA’s BEST visit to Young Authors at Grant Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA

Coloring rain forest animals
Two weeks ago I spent an hour with a group of very enthusiastic young authors in kindergarten and first grade at Grant Elementary School in Los Angeles who are participating in the LA’s BEST after school young author program. I had a chance to see some of their “I Am...” books which they had just completed and their notebooks for a new project, “An ABC Christmas.” Each student read one sentence for me from the ABC book. For the letter “B” one student wrote, “I like Christmas bells.” Then I read to them from my books A Zebra’s World, Wiggle and Waggle, and A Day and Night in the Rain Forest. At the end of the hour the children colored their own pictures of a toucan and monkeys in the rain forest. I was pleased to see how excited they were about learning about animals. It was a fun and full afternoon.
Page from an "I Am...." book

Thursday, December 17, 2015

LA’s BEST Visit with Young Authors at Latona School, Los Angeles, CA

Last week on Tuesday I enjoyed an hour with a group of aspiring young authors in the LA’s BEST after school program at Latona Elementary School in Los Angeles, California. The students, kindergarten and first graders, responded enthusiastically to my presentation. I read to them from my books A Zebra’s World and Wiggle and Waggle and then they all had a chance to color their own versions of Wiggle and Waggle. I loved the variety of colors they used–from naturalistic to rainbow hues. At the end of the hour I read A Polar Bear’s World and the children acted out the story wearing polar bear masks. Soon they will be making their own books.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

HORNBOOK REVIEW of A Day and Night in the Desert and A Day and Night in the Rain Forest

The Hornbook includes this very nice review of A Day and Night in the Desert and A Day and Night in the Rain Forest in its Nonfiction Notes section, Natural History.

Arnold, Caroline A Day and Night in the Desert
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Capstone/Picture Window

Arnold, Caroline A Day and Night in the Rain Forest
Gr. K–3   24 pp.     Capstone/Picture Window

Caroline Arnold’s Habitats series. Double-page spreads feature vibrantly colored collage animals (not to scale) against appropriately colored backgrounds (browns for Desert; greens for Rain Forest). The engaging text describes animal behavior and survival mechanisms. A description of each habitat, a world map, “Fun Facts,” and two Common Core–aligned critical-thinking exercises are appended. Reading list. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Natural history; Deserts; Animals—Desert animals; Rainforests; Animals—Rainforest animals; Habitats; Environment—Ecology; Amazon River region

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Andrea Brown and Caroline
Last weekend I participated in the Children’s Writing Workshop, held at the Big Sur Lodge in Jules Pfeiffer State Park on beautiful Highway 1 on the California coast. It was my second time as a faculty member and I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know the other authors, agents and editors on the faculty as well as many of the writers attending the conference. The Big Sur Writing Workshops are for writers of picture books, early reader, middle grade and young adult fiction, courtesy of the Henry Miller Memorial Library and the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. As my agent Andrea Brown says, “It’s like writing boot camp, except there are no push-ups.” For more information about this and future workshops, click HERE.
View from my deck at the Big Sur Lodge

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

BOOK FAIR Author Visit at Hawthorne School, Beverly Hills, CA

With my books at the Hawthorne School Library Book Fair
One evening last week I gave a presentation to Kindergarten through third grade children and their families at Hawthorne Elementary School in Beverly Hills, California, in conjunction with their school Book Fair. Once a month the children come to school for an evening “Story Time” and listen to stories read by members of the community and many of them dress in their pajamas for the event. On the night I visited I could see that many of them were all ready for bed! We met in the cafeteria for my presentation, which included reading my books Wiggle and Waggle and A Zebra’s World. Then the children got a treat of milk and cookies before we all went to the library for the Book Fair and I autographed books. The Book Fair was put on by Mrs. Nelson’s Book Fair Company. It was a fun evening celebrating books and the joy of reading and I thank the parents who helped put it on and for sponsoring my visit.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

LA's BEST Young Authors at Bassett Elementary School

"I am....." books created by young authors at Bassett Elementary School in the LA's BEST program
Last Tuesday I spent a delightful hour with 22 enthusiastic writers grades K through 4 at Bassett Elementary School in Van Nuys, California, who are participating in the LA's BEST Young Authors after school program. The children shared their first project with me, their "I Am..." books about themselves, which they had just completed. Their second project, which they were just starting, is alphabet books. I shared my books with them and talked about how I get ideas and do research. Then I read my story The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers. The Hodag is a creature with the head of an ox, feet of a bear, back of a dinosaur, and tail of an alligator. For the final part of the hour the children created their own "mixed up" animals and drew pictures of them. I was impressed by their enthusiasm and creativity!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

LIVING FOSSILS: Clues to the Past, Review in Kirkus

My new book LIVING FOSSILS: Clues to the Past, due to be published February 2, 2016, has a great review in the December 1 issue of Kirkus!

Six creatures whose essential appearances haven't changed in millions of years provide an introduction to the idea of "living fossils." Scientist Charles Darwin introduced this phrase in 1859, and, though it's not scientifically accurate, it's a popular way to refer to animals that seem to have retained ancient features. Some have even reappeared, alive, after having disappeared in the fossil record. Arnold illustrates this with intriguing examples: coelacanths, horseshoe crabs, dragonflies, tuatara, chambered nautiluses, and Hula painted frogs. Her choices range widely across the animal kingdom and come from around the world. After introducing the concept with the coelacanth, she presents the other five, each with two double-page spreads: then and now. An accompanying narrative describes major features, when and where the species can be found, something about its behavior, and, usually, some natural threats. Further facts appear in the backmatter. The pleasing design offers a clear image of the animal stretching across the fold to a column of text. Inset boxes detail adaptations that have allowed each animal to survive. (In the case of the extremely endangered frog, the question becomes "Will They Survive?") Plant's realistic acrylic paintings show his subjects in their natural habitats and, sometimes, as fossils. School and public libraries whose copies of James Martin's Living Fossils (1997) have worn out will welcome this inviting new look at a popular subject, as will kids with an interest in paleontology and evolution. (timeline, glossary, resources) (Nonfiction. 7-10) 

Review Issue Date: December 1, 2015
Online Publish Date: November 17, 2015
Pages: 32
Price ( Hardcover ): $16.95
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-1-58089-691-7
Category: Picture Books

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Today is the first day of the new SCBWI Book Launch Party celebration! I have created a page to promote A DAY AND NIGHT IN THE RAIN FOREST and the other books in the Caroline Arnold's Habitats series. Take a look and leave a comment or check the like button!