Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Paper Plate Zebra Mask
On one of my recent school author visits, the room where I was presenting was decorated with charming zebra masks made from paper plates. The project had been inspired by my book A Zebra’s World. I could see that the children had looked carefully at my illustrations to make the zebra’s  markings. They used black construction paper for the nose and mouth and the mane. Stripes on the face were added with black marker. Ears were cut from tan paper and glued to the back of the plate. Googly eyes were added for the final effect. Every zebra was different, just as they are in the wild. This is a fun project to do with younger elementary school students.

A Zebra's World, based on the 2006 book with the same title but now with a shorter text and sturdier pages, brings the story of a zebra's first year to younger readers. Follow the black and white stripes of the young zebra as she grows up in Africa. A readable and lively text provides a close-up look at these black and white animals in this "anything but black and white" book. Cut paper illustrations help tell the tales of these amazing animals and the world in which they live.This picture book follows a baby zebra from birth on the grasslands of Africa through the first year of its life. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

AUTHOR VISIT at the WPC Preschool, Los Angeles, CA

This morning I made my annual visit to the Westwood Presbyterian Preschool and had two lively sessions–the first with the three-year-olds, and the second with the four-year-old group. With the younger children we read Noisytime for Zoo Animals--complete with making the animal sounds, counted eggs and chicks in Who Has More? And Who Has Fewer?, sang the Wiggle and Waggle song, and went on a lion hunt after reading A Zebra’s World. With the older group, I shared my new book Living Fossils and showed them my nautilus shell and 50 million year old fish fossil. We then talked about birds and measured the students’ wingspans. We also discussed nocturnal and diurnal animals in my Day and Night books. The children will soon be making their own books. I shared with them how I make cut paper art for the illustrations in my books. As always, I finished by reading The Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers, a perennial favorite. I thank all the teachers, Heidi Rudd in the office, and director Sophie Robertson for helping to make this another successful visit!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Gardening Project: PLANTS NEED LEAVES

One of my first illustration assignments was for a book about gardening activities with children.  At that time, most books for children were illustrated with black and white art so I made pencil drawings.  Here is one of the activities.

Do plants need leaves? Here is a project that shows how leaves help plants to grow.

You will need:
lima bean seeds
container (such as an empty milk carton)

Plant several lima bean seeds in a container. Put the container in a warm location, and keep the soil moist. After the seeds have sprouted and the plants have developed their second set of leaves, thin to 3 plants, and remove 2 leaves from one plant, and all the leaves from another plant. Be sure to let one plant continue to grow naturally with all its leaves.  Observe the plants over the next few weeks and compare how they grow. Which one is the biggest?

From Children’s Gardens: A Field Guide for Teachers, Parents and Volunteers by Elizabeth Bremner and John Pusey, Illustrations by Caroline Arnold

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Celebrating STAR: Story Telling and Reading in the Los Angeles Public Libraries

Caroline and Jennifer Murphy, Children's Librarian, LAPL
Last Thursday I was honored to be the speaker at the annual Appreciation Brunch for the STAR Story Telling and Reading volunteers of the Los Angeles Public Libraries in the Central Southern and Western areas. More than fifty people filled the community room at the Palms-Rancho Park Branch for a delicious breakfast and celebration of another year of reading to children. In my talk, which I illustrated with PDF slides, I shared how events in my life have contributed to my books through the years and how reading to my children when they were young was always an important part of my day. Other parts of the program included a preview of the 2016 Summer Reading Program, a flannel board story, two wonderful story tellers, and giving out awards to volunteers with five, ten and twenty years of service. At the end, Diane Olivo-Posner, of Children’s Services, gave a report of recent library news. I thank Jennifer Murphy, children’s librarian at the Palms-Rancho Park Branch for inviting me to be part of the STAR celebration, gathering so many of my books for display, and for doing such an excellent job of organizing the event.
Table decorations; folded paper flowers were made by the children's librarians

STAR is made possible through the support of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.