Monday, January 30, 2017

Celebrating ANGEL ISLAND: GATEWAY TO GOLD MOUNTAIN by Russell Freedman, Winner of the 2016 FOCAL Award

ANGEL ISLAND by Russell Freedman, 2016 FOCAL Award Winner, and Puppets by Jesse Kingsley
On Saturday, January 28, 2017, librarians, teachers, students, parents, and lovers of books for children met at the Border Grill in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate noted author Russell Freedman’s book Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain (Clarion Books, 2014), winner of the 2016 FOCAL Award. FOCAL (Friends of Children and Literature) is the support group of the Los Angeles Public Library’s Children’s Literature Department.

Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain tells the story of the immigration center on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, once called the “Ellis Island of the West”, that processed immigrants, mostly from China and Asia, between 1910 and 1940. It highlights a tumultuous time when immigration policies were used in discriminatory ways. The book gives the reader insight into the struggles and hopes of the people who passed through this center and to the efforts to preserve it as a historic site. Russell Freedman was unable to come to the luncheon, but in his stead, his editor, Dinah Stevenson, VP and Publisher at Clarion Books, came to accept the award.
Table centerpiece created by the students of art teacher Ray Moszkowicz at Nobel Middle School, LAUSD
As people arrived at the restaurant, a wonderful slide show of all the past FOCAL award winners, prepared by Mara Alpert of LAPL, played on a screen at the front of the room. Tables were decorated with incredibly detailed mini-sculptures portraying the themes of the book. They were made by art students at Nobel Middle School under the guidance of art teacher Ray Moszkowicz.
Student essay winners meet Dinah Stevenson, Editor of Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain
The program began with a welcome by Renny Day followed by a delicious lunch, beginning with my favorite, green corn tamales, and then main courses of our choice. I chose the torta but everything looked delicious! In addition to the “chef’s signature cookies” for dessert we also had fortune cookies, in keeping with the theme of the book.
Student essay winners Rokshana Bushra, Caleb Kim and Noah Kim introduced by Sandy Schuckett
After lunch we heard the student essay winners read their excellent essays telling why they liked the book and would like to meet the author. Then Sada Mozer, the FOCAL Award Committee Chair, introduced Dinah Stevenson, who accepted the award for Russell Freedman and read a letter from him telling us about his childhood in California and  how he got the idea for the book–from a suggestion by librarian Milly Lee–and his subsequent research. Dinah then told us about her experience working with Russell over the years. It was an excellent presentation!
Puppeteer Jesse Kingsley presenting puppet to Dinah Stevenson
Finally, Dinah was presented with a puppet depicting a Chinese immigrant dressed like many who came to Angel Island. The second puppet will become part of the collection of puppets at LAPL.

For many years I have admired the books of Russell Freedman, who, as Dinah said, has been called the “guru of nonfiction writing for children.” I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet him in person, but Dinah Stevenson’s presentation made me feel as if I had.
Award Committee Chair, Sada Mozer (right) with centerpiece depicting Angel Island
As a former FOCAL Award Committee member, I know how much work goes into selecting the book and planning the luncheon. Thanks to the Award Committee, the essay judges, the FOCAL Board, the Children’s Literature Department at LAPL, and everyone else who contributed, for another great luncheon!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Lollipops to Celebrate the Publication of Hatching Chicks in Room 6

Last Thursday I made a special visit to Haynes CES School to present my new book, Hatching Chicks in Room 6, to the school, and to celebrate its publication with Jennifer Best, her students who are in the book, and their families. The party was after school in her room, but earlier in the day I gave two assemblies in the auditorium to all grades where I presented the book and talked about the process of writing it. Even for students who didn't have Mrs. Best for kindergarten (she is one of three kindergarten teachers in the school) there was school-wide excitement about the book.

Welcome Banner in Auditorium
Mrs. Best hatches chicks every year. During the incubation and hatching process many students in other classes drop by her room to see the eggs and chicks and check their progress. During the assembly I gave a book to Mrs. Meade, the principal, who was very supportive of the project and will feature it at a district meeting in. March. I also donated a book to the school library.

Caroline, Mrs. Best, and students with their new books
The party began with a presentation of an autographed book to each child. I

also gave each child a postcard and a chick lollipop--they could choose a
yellow, pink, or blue chick. To my surprise, the pink and blue chicks were
just as popular as the yellow ones. (I ordered the lollipops on the
Chick cupcakes to celebrate
After the presentation and photographs it was time to eat. I
provided cupcakes decorated to look like chicks. (I bought the candy eyes
and beaks at a local cake decorating shop.) We also had some healthier
food--fruit, cheese, crackers and veggie sticks--and by the end of the party
all the food was completely gone. 

Mrs. Best sharing the book with some of her students
The children who are in the book are now in second grade. You can see in the
photos how much they have grown! They were thrilled to get the books and so
were their parents. Almost all the children who are in the book came to the party, even
several who had moved to other schools.

I am excited about promoting this book and pleased with all the good
reviews. I noticed on Amazon that it is number one in Hot New Releases
for Children's Science Experiment Books.
I thank Jennifer Best, her kindergarten students of 2014-15, their families, and everyone at Charlesbridge for helping to make this a great book!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

SCBWI Nonfiction Intensive, Oakland, CA: A great day with Two Authors and an Editor

Caroline Arnold, Alyssa Mito Pusey, and Pamela Turner, SCBWI Nonfiction Intensive Panel
Last Saturday, I was one of three speakers at the Nonfiction Intensive in Oakland sponsored by the SCBWI San Francisco North and East Bay Region, a day devoted to discussing the ins and outs of nonfiction writing for children. The program was in a workshop format with presentations and hands-on discussions and activities. Award-winning nonfiction author Pamela Turner was the other author speaker, and our mutual editor at Charlesbridge, Alyssa Mito Pusey, provided insights from an editorial viewpoint. The meeting was held in beautiful Preservation Park of Oakland, an enclave of Victorian houses rescued and restored and now used as a public resource for meetings and offices.
Entrance to Preservation Park
After a warm introduction by Co-Regional Advisor Collette Weil Parrinello, the first session was given by Pam who spoke on “The Nonfiction marketplace: Where does my manuscript belong?” It was followed by Alyssa’s talk, “Finding the Fit: Learn how to tailor a submission to a specific editor–and figure out if that editor is right for you.” My talk, which came after lunch, was titled “Creating Compelling Nonfiction for Young Readers–Let the Pictures Do the Work!”
Keely Parrack, Panel Moderator
The last session was a panel, coordinated by Co-Regional Advisor Keely Parrack, in which the three of us answered questions from the audience. The final question was “What is one thing you wished you had known when you started to write nonfiction books for children?” My answer was that I wished I had a better appreciation of the importance of the book title. Alyssa added that in today’s world a book’s subtitle is also especially important–something to ponder as we all work on future projects!
Collette Weil Parrinello Introducting Panel
The day ended with book autographing and a cupcake social. Books were offered for sale at lunchtime by Luan Stauss of Laurel Book Store. I was glad to be able to sign copies of my new book Hatching Chicks in Room 6 and my Habitat books. Pam signed her Scientists in the Field books and her new book Samurai Rising.
It was a full and rewarding day. During the day I was glad to have the opportunity to talk with a number of the writers who attended the intensive and I also enjoyed interacting with Pam, Alyssa and all the SCBWI volunteers who made everything run so smoothly. As Pam urged the participants, we need to campaign for more events by the SCBWI and other organizations that feature nonfiction. Clearly there is a strong interest among both writers and readers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

NEW BOOK! Hatching Chicks in Room 6, Official Publication Day

HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6, Text and Photos by Caroline Arnold (Charlesbridge, 2017)
TA-DAH! Today is the official publication day of HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6!
On May 12, 2014, I was invited to do an author visit to Haynes Center for Enriched Studies elementary school in West Hills, California, in honor of Amy Werner, a librarian who had worked for many years in schools in the area. After my presentation, Jennifer Best, a kindergarten teacher at Haynes, asked me if I had ever written a book about hatching chicks. Each spring, she brought eggs to her classroom and hatched chicks. But, she told me, she couldn’t find any books that were written at the right level for her kindergarten students. I said I hadn’t written any books about chickens, although I had written a number of books about other kinds of birds. I liked the idea of a book about hatching chicks, and a year later I was in Mrs. Best’s classroom learning about eggs and chicks and documenting the process with photos. HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6 is the result of that project.

I thank Jennifer Best and her students for sharing their chick hatching experience with me. The children’s enthusiasm was contagious as they learned about chickens and eggs and cared for the growing chicks. I am extremely grateful to Jennifer for her wealth of knowledge about hatching chicks in the classroom. I couldn’t have done the book without her. I also thank the children and their families for their cooperation throughout the process. The fourteen chicks who are the stars of the book are now adult chickens. It was a remarkable journey watching them hatch and grow.
I also thank my editor Alyssa Pusey for her careful editing of the text, art director Susan Sherman for the very attractive and readable design of the book, and all the staff of Charlesbridge for their contributions to the project.
HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6 is available as both a hardcover book and an ebook. For details click HERE.
For more about the book, go to the Hatching Chicks page at my website:

Saturday, January 7, 2017

School Library Journal Review of HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6

My new book HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6 will be published next week on January 10th and has already received a number of very positive advance reviews.The following review appeared in School Library Journal, December 2016

PreS-Gr 2– Through the excellent use of colorful up-close photos, Arnold captures the excitement of hatching chicks in a real kindergarten class. She documents the 21-day journey from incubation to birth, and growth to maturity; the science behind the process; and the delight and wonder of Mrs. Best’s diverse group of students. The classroom in which the project occurs will likely be familiar to many readers; projects and artwork adorn the walls standard school furniture makes up the room, etc. The energy of Mrs. Best’s students is palpable, and readers are invited to share in the spectacle and surprise of the first hatched chick. Asides provide additional information on the different parts of an egg, what chicken mash is, and more. A glossary explains unfamiliar terms, such as candling and wattle. Back matter offers further questions for readers to contemplate. VERDICT A first purchase for use as a read-aloud in science curricula on chickens and the life cycle. (Eva Elisabeth VonAncken, formerly at Trinity-Pawling School, Pawling, NY)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Booklist Review of HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6

My new book HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6 will be published next week on January 10th and has already received a number of very positive advance reviews.The following review appeared in Booklist, December 1, 2016

Readers are in for a treat as they join Mrs. Best and her kindergarten class for their egg-hatching project, aka the most adorable class project ever. Mrs. Best has brought a variety of chicken eggs–brown, white, speckled–from her backyard coop to an incubator in her classroom in order to teach her students about how chicks grow. The informative text is augmented by copious photo illustrations, including a diagram of the different parts of an egg, a demonstration of candling (placing a fertilized egg over a light to see inside it) and eventually the fluffy chicks themselves. The book documents how Mrs. Best’s diverse class counts down the 21 days until the eggs hatch, the hatching process, and the first month of the chicks’ lives, detailing their care and growth, and nesting quick facts in egg-shaped ovals throughout. Readers will come away with a good understanding of chickens origins and will likely want to rush off to hatch an egg of their own, but Arnold wisely cautions that chickens do not make good pets. (Julia Smith)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Publishers Weekly Review of HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6

My new book HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6 will be published next week on January 10th and has already received a number of very positive advance reviews.The following review appeared in Publishers Weekly, November 21, 2016

Through photographs and direct, unadorned writing, Arnold (Living Fossils) takes readers to a (real-life) kindergarten class in Los Angeles, where the teacher, Mrs Best, brings in eggs from the chickens she keeps at her home. As the children tend to the eggs, keeping track of the 21-day incubation cycle on a calendar, readers learn about the parts of an egg and how a chick develops inside. Finally, the eggs begin to hatch: “Little by little, the shell begins to crack. It is like unzipping a zipper.” Arnold’s photographs clearly show the children observing, feeding, and learning how to hold the chicks, which eventually return to Mrs. Best’s house. A glossary and answers to common questions (“When you eat an egg, are you eating a baby chick?” “Do chickens make good pets?”) conclude this up-close look at where chickens–and their eggs–come from. Ages 3-7.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


My new book HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6 will be published next week on January 10th and has already received a number of very positive advance reviews.
The following review appeared in Kirkus, November 15, 2016.

It’s a lucky kindergartner who gets to witness the miracle of life through the incubation of eggs.
Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Best raises chickens at home and is teaching her diverse group of students about chickens and eggs. In brilliant close-up photographs, readers see the students wide-eyed faces as they learn about incubation, the parts of the egg, the egg tooth, and everything else about the 21-day cycle of egg to chick. The easy-to-read narrative follows the days to hatching and the first weeks of life in the classroom. On many pages, the classroom story is supplemented by scientific information set in faux hand-written type in egg-shaped callouts. Teachers who are contemplating bringing eggs (and their eventual chicks) into the classroom will learn much here. Ample back matter will help to answer any additional chicken questions for the especially interested teacher or student, including some tricky ones. For example, she broaches the truth that only 50 to 80 percent of incubated eggs hatch, and she makes it clear that chicks are not good house pets. Arnold captures the joy and mystery of this familiar unit of study. (glossary, websites, bibliography) (Informational picture book, 4-8)