Wednesday, December 12, 2018

FOCAL Award Luncheon Honoring Author Uma Krishnaswami for Her Book STEP UP TO THE PLATE MARIA SINGH

Uma Krishnaswami, Author of Step Up to the Plate Maria Singh
Last Saturday was the 39th annual FOCAL Award Luncheon, held at the elegant Smereldi's Restaurant at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. (FOCAL–Friends of Children and Literature–is the support group of the Los Angeles Public Library Children’s Department.)
Uma Krishnaswami and Caroline Gill, FOCAL President
This year’s honoree was author Uma Krishnaswami for her middle grade novel Step Up to the Plate Maria Singh, about a young girl living in Yuba City, California, during World War II, who wants to play baseball on the school team.
Book sale table and committee member Meredith McGowan
Maria copes with the disapproval of her traditionalist Mexican mother and the many financial worries of her doting Punjabi father as she tries to fit in with the other students at her school. In her excellent speech accepting the FOCAL award, Uma Krishnaswami told us how she got the idea for this historical fiction story and the background of this little known culturally blended group in the Yuba City area of northern California.
Student winners of the essay contest: Rachel Hume, Christopher T. Redekopp, Olive R. Sanders. With Sandy Schuckett, Essay Judge Chair and Uma Krishnaswami
I always enjoy going to the FOCAL Award Luncheon. It is an opportunity to see friends, hear the student winners of the essay contest read their insightful essays about why they would like to meet the author, see the wonderful book theme centerpieces made by the art students of Ray Moszkowicz at Nobel Middle School and the puppets created by Jesse Kingsley and Moira Lael Macdonald, and, of course, to enjoy a delicious lunch.
Jesse Kingsley and his puppets of Maria Singh. One was given to the author and the other to the Children's Room at LAPL
For four years I served on the Award Committee and I know how hard it is to select just one book for the award.
Carol Raby, Chair of Award Committee
Nominees are books for children that take place in California or shed light on some aspect of California life or history. (For a list of past winners, click HERE.)
Renny Day, VP Correspondence, Membership, FOCAL Points Editor and Barbara Metzenbaum, Past President
I thank all the hard working members of the 2018 Award Committee for their excellent choice, the judges of the Essay Contest and the students and their parents and teachers for their enthusiasm for the book, and the members of the FOCAL Board for their support of the library and for putting on another excellent Award Luncheon.
Centerpiece depicting Maria playing baseball; made by students of Ray Moszkowicz at Noble Middle School

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS: Adding Value to My Books

When my books go into school libraries, I want to know--
  • Who will read them?
  • How will they fit into the curriculum?
  • What connections do they make to other kinds of learning?

Here are are few of my recent books and ways they can be used to enhance learning:

A Day and Night in the Rain Forest (PictureWindow Books, 2015)
Common Core Connections:Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Describe how the passage of time is shown throughout this book.
Key Ideas and Details: Explain the similarities and differences between diurnal and nocturnal animals in the rain forest.
Key Ideas and Details: Name three things that all animals in the rain forest need to survive.
Key Ideas and Details: Name three diurnal predators in the rain forest and their prey. Then name three nocturnal predators and their prey.

[Similar connections can be made with the other three titles in the Day and Night series--in the Desert, in the Forest, and on the Prairie.]

Living Fossils: Clues to the Past (Charlesbridge, 2016)
Curriculum Links:

Language Arts: comprehension strategy--compare and contrast, main idea/details strategy, cause and effect relationships
Science: Life science--animal adaptation and classification

Hatching Chicks in Room 6 (Charlesbridge, 2017)
Teaching Ideas:Sequencing: Understanding Chick Development and Text Structure
Life Cycles: Make a time line.
Eggs: Where do eggs come from?
Baby Animals: What do baby animals need?
Photo essays: How do pictures tell the story?

A Warmer World (Charlesbridge, 2012)
Common Core Curriculum Links:

Language Arts: genre--non-fiction informational text; new scientific vocabulary, comprehension strategy, cause and effect relationships
Science: Life science--animals and their environment, survival, adaptation, extinction. Environmental issues--global warming/climate change over time, pollution


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

CELEBRATING READING at Scholarship Prep in Santa Ana, CA

Reading Room at Scholarship Prep, Santa Ana, CA
Two weeks ago I visited Scholarship Prep school in Santa Ana, California, and gave two presentations, one to third graders and one to seventh graders. We met in the beautiful new reading room furnished by the Carson Scholars Fund. Every year, in November, the Fund celebrates with its partner schools a National Day of Reading in conjunction with American Education Week.
The Carson Scholars Fund is an educational non-profit organization that provides financial grants for schools to create leisure reading spaces for students in the belief that developing a love for reading at a young age is a key to success. At Scholarship Prep the reading room has comfy chairs, pillows, book cases and a beautiful mural echoing the sea life theme of the decorations.
I appreciated the students' enthusiasm for my presentation and their good questions. I hope that my visit will inspire their future reading and writing! Each classroom at Scholarship Prep has the name of a major university. The third graders were excited when I showed a picture of my childhood in Wisconsin, since their university is Wisconsin. I told the seventh graders that my cousin graduated from Northwestern University, their classroom name. Perhaps in a few years, some of the Scholarship Prep students will go to one of these universities.

Scholarship Prep School: "Reach Higher. Dream Bigger."
I thank Marcos Rodriguez, the California Expansion Coordinator of the Carson Scholars Fund for arranging my visit and Principal Dennise Allotey for welcoming me to the school. Reading has always been important to me, so I was pleased to be able to share my love of books and reading with the students at Scholarship Prep.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

BABY WHALE RESCUE: The True Story of J.J., now available as an E-Book

BABY WHALE RESCUE: The True Story of J.J., is now available as an E-Book on Amazon. It was originally published by Troll/Bridgewater Books in 1999 and is out of print. BABY WHALE RESCUE is illustrated with color photographs by Richard Hewett and photos from the Sea World of California Department of Photo Services. I am happy to have the book now available to new readers as an e-book. You can read it with a Kindle app on various devices (I use my iPad) or on your computer. 

The dramatic story was told on the evening news. Separated from her mother, a baby gray whale had been hopelessly stranded on a California beach. Fortunately, the whale was rescued and brought to SeaWorld of California in San Diego, where she was named J.J. and nursed back to health.

J.J. was the first baby gray whale to be raised in a marine park, and for months she was the park’s star attraction. But her caregivers knew that this gray whale would someday grow too large to live in captivity. Could J.J. be returned to the ocean–and learn to live on her own?

January 11, 2017 was the twentieth anniversary of J.J.’s rescue. It is considered one of the most successful rescue and rehabilitation stories in SeaWorld history.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

AUTHOR VISIT at ESPERANZA SCHOOL, Los Angeles, CA

Welcome sign in Mrs. Oasay's 4th Grade Class at Esperanza School
A week ago I had a terrific visit at Esperanza Elementary School in Los Angeles, California, with two groups of Mrs. Williams students in the library (3rd and 4th grades) and with Mrs. Oasay's 4th grade students in their classroom. I could tell that the students enjoyed meeting a "real live author" and I was glad to hear what they have been learning from reading my books. Each group had been reading one of my recent books in advance of my visit. Mrs. Williams' third graders had read Watching Desert Wildlife and the fourth graders had read Birds: Nature's Magnificent Flying Machines.
With teacher Elizabeth Williams in the library. A life-size cutout of P-22 peeks out behind us.
Mrs. Williams also shared the students' pollinators books that they are working on as they learn in the school's natural habitat garden. What a great project!
A book made by one of the students about plant pollinators
She also showed me the story boards the students made for P-22 Day. (P-22 is a mountain lion that lives in the Santa Monica Mountains.) I loved the illustrations and what they wrote. They had presented their story at the P-22 Day in Griffith Park in October.
With Mrs. Oasay in her classroom
Mrs. Oasay's class was a very enthusiastic audience and had a lot to share about what they were learning in my book Too Hot? Too Cold?. I loved their own Too Hot? Too Cold? books, done backwards and forwards.
My book Too Hot? Too Cold? and one of the student's books with facts about animal adaptations for keeping warm and keeping cool.
The board in front of Mrs. Oasay's room was filled with questions the students had prepared to ask me. They were great questions, ranging from "What inspired you to write about animals?" to "Did you have any challenges as a kid?" I didn't have time to answer all of them, but we had a great conversation.
I thank super Principal Brad Rumble for arranging my visit and making it possible.  During my visit, Assistant Principal Mrs. Lexus Lee took good care of me and made sure everything ran smoothly.

Friday, November 16, 2018

LOVE YOUR BOOKSTORE CHALLENGE

I just went to my favorite neighborhood bookstore, Children's Book World to participate in the national LoveYourBookstore Challenge. I bought two books: If Animals Celebrated Christmas by Ann Whitford Paul and Hanukkah Hamster by Michelle Markel. They will make perfect holiday gifts.
 
Love Your Bookstore is an industry-wide celebration of all brick-and-mortar bookstores across America. It's a way for book lovers of all sorts to share their love for their favorite local bookstore!

Bookstores are community centers and more than just selling books, they provide a place for people to connect with your books, with you, and with each other. Let's create a celebration of these amazing brick-and-mortar bookstores with all book-loving partners (authors, readers, publishers, booksellers, and more!) during this holiday season and beyond.


You have two more days to participate! Deadline is Sunday, November 18th. 
Go to your favorite bookstore and take a picture with your favorite book and post it on Twitter or Instagram.
Hooray for brick and mortar bookstores!
 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

PRINTS and CARDS–Perfect for Holiday Giving

Prints and Cards at my Etsy site
My prints and cards are still available from my Etsy site (www.etsy.com/shop/CarolineArnoldArt) and make an ideal gift for the holiday season. Each image is a high-quality giclee print of one of the cut-paper art illustrations from my Day and Night books or my Animal World series.
Take a look and check it out!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

CONNECTING CULTURES MOBILE MUSEUM Open House at RFK Community School, Los Angeles, CA

Connecting Cultures Mobile Museum (CCMM) display at RFK Community School, Los Angeles, CA
Last week I went to the annual Connecting Cultures Mobile Museum (CCMM) open house held in the library of the Robert F. Kennedy Community School near downtown Los Angeles, CA.  Hundreds of colorful items–clothing, hats, games, toys–displayed on panels and across table tops showed middle school students the multiple everyday connections we share with people from all over the world.
Everyday Connections was this year's theme (the focus rotates on a three-year cycle)
During the school day for the week the exhibits are up, students in grades six through eight come into the library to hear presentations from CCMM volunteers. They then have the opportunity to interact with the exhibits–trying on clothes, playing games, examining toys.
A sample of board games from around the world
Connecting Cultures Mobile Museum has a long history of working with Los Angeles-area schools, having started at Palms Middle School in West Los Angeles in 1995 and expanding to 24 schools by 2015. Since then, CCMM has enriched the cross-cultural education of more than 100,000 student visitors.
Valerie Lezin, founder of CCMM
Connecting Cultures Mobile Museum believes that exploring our shared human needs, values, and practices will lead to broadened world views. Through its educational programs and resources, CCMM develops awareness and acceptance of the diversity within our increasingly interconnected global communities.
Julia Goldman (right) with Open House visitors
I have been supporting CCMM for many years through participation in their fund raisers and donations of some of the many things I’ve collected in my years of travel. It is always a pleasure seeing them get a new life in the CCMM displays and to know they are helping to enrich students' lives.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

TWO MONKEYS by Peter Breugel

Two Monkeys by Pieter Breugel
When I was researching my book Monkey (Morrow Junior Books, 1993), I ran across this unusual painting by 16th Century Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder depicting two red-tailed macaques chained to a windowsill overlooking the harbor in Antwerp. My book, illustrated with photos by Richard Hewett, depicts the same species and follows the growth of a young macaque at the Los Angeles Zoo.
A friend just sent me the link to an article about the painting, which is currently on exhibit in Vienna. The panel is one of 28 paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (only 40 of his works are known to survive) on display in a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
No one knows what might have inspired Pieter Bruegel to choose the monkeys as his subject in this small painting or what they signify. However, the red-tailed macaques, native to the forests of west Africa, surely must have been as fascinating and exotic to the citizens of Antwerp as they are to visitors to the zoo today.
My book Monkey is out of print in hardcover but available as an ebook on Amazon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

CHILDREN'S BOOKS IN TAIWAN: Celebrating Reading

On my recent trip to Taiwan, I discovered this charming statue of a girl reading in the park adjacent to Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall in the capital city of Taipei. I love that she seems totally absorbed in her book and that reading is celebrated in this public place. Taiwan has one of the highest literacy rates in the world--98.7 percent. Besides learning to read and write Chinese, children begin learning English in first grade at school.
During my visit I stopped in at the large Eslite bookstore in Taipei and found a wide variety of books for children in both Chinese and English. I also found Chinese translations of many popular English language books, including one of my all-time favorites, The Little House, now celebrating its 75th anniversary.
And, to my surprise, I discovered that what I thought was strictly an American holiday--Halloween--is enthusiastically celebrated in Taiwan as well. As in America, children love to dress in scary costumes and go out trick or treating. The bookstore was full of Halloween themed books to help celebrate.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

California Condor Release at Vermilion Cliffs in Arizona

On September 22nd, National Public Lands Day, four condors were released by the Peregrine Fund atop the spectacular cliffs in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona. A friend was there and brought me a beautiful poster celebrating the event. She knew about my interest in condors from my book On the Brink of Extinction: The California Condor, which was written and published at the time of the first release of captive bred birds.The poster, now framed and hanging in my office, is a wonderful reminder of the success of the recovery program. Condors are still very endangered, but their numbers are increasing.
At the time I wrote On the Brink of Extinction (Harcourt, 1993) I worked with Michael Wallace, head of the Condor Recovery Program at the Los Angeles Zoo and whose photographs illustrate the book. Condors are now produced at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho, the Oregon Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, and San Diego Zoo Safari Park and then transported to release sites annually for release to the wild.
The historical California Condor population declined to just 22 individuals in the 1980s when the greater California Condor Recovery Program was initiated to save the species from extinction.  As of July 25, 2018 there were 85 condors in the wild in the rugged canyon country of northern Arizona and southern Utah and the total world population of endangered California Condors numbers nearly 500 individuals, with more than half flying in the wilds of Arizona, Utah, California, and Mexico.
The Arizona-Utah recovery effort is a cooperative program by federal, state, and private partners, including The Peregrine Fund, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management’s Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Grand Canyon and Zion national parks, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and Kaibab and Dixie national forests among many other supporting groups and individuals.
For more information about California Condors in Arizona:
http://www.peregrinefund.org/condor

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

METROPOLIS II by Chris Burden at LACMA–a Child’s Delight

On the first level of the Broad Museum of Contemporary Art at LACMA is a wonderful miniature city with buildings, roads, vehicles and more. Built by artist Chris Burden, Metropolis II it is a delight for adult and child alike. One can view the sculpture at eye level, or from a surrounding walkway above. On the day I visited I came between the scheduled action sessions, but even so, or perhaps because the vehicles were locked in place, it made the complexity and detail of the structures within the maze of tracks even more impressive.
The exhibit is ongoing and included with the general admission to the museum. It is well worth a stop if you are visiting LACMA.
Chris Burden's Metropolis II is an intense kinetic sculpture, modeled after a fast paced, frenetic modern city. Steel beams form an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of 18 roadways, including one six lane freeway, and HO scale train tracks. Miniature cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour; every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings. According to Burden, "The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars produce in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st century city."

See Metropolis II in action (no reservation required):
Fridays
11:30–12:30 pm; 1:30–2:30 pm; 3:30–4:30 pm; 5:30–6:30 pm
Saturdays and Sundays
10:30 am–11:30 am; 12:30–1:30 pm; 2:30–3:30 pm; 4:30–5:30 pm

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

BEDTIME STORY JAM, Author Visit at Westwood Charter School, Los Angeles, CA

Last Friday evening the children of Westwood Charter Elementary in Los Angeles, California, came to school dressed in their pajamas ready to listen to stories from me and thirteen other children’s book authors as part of the school's annual Bedtime Story Jam. In between sessions they ate milk and cookies and browsed for books at the book fair in the library.
This was my second time to participate in this fun celebration of reading. I had two groups of very enthusiastic children and their parents in my room. I showed slides, read my book Hatching Chicks in Room 6, talked about birds and eggs and feathers, and signed books.
I thank Karen Boyarsky, my volunteer room host, for helping me to set up and for making sure that everything ran smoothly. Karen is a retired librarian and we discovered that we had met many years ago at another author event. We also found out that we both have an interest in birds, especially the California condor!
I also thank Jenna Carlston and the Bedtime Story Jam committee for inviting me and organizing this festive event. Afterward they sponsored a reception on the library patio for the authors-- a wonderful chance to relax, chat with other authors and enjoy delicious food. And I thank Mrs. Nelson’s Book Fair Company for supplying my books for the event. I was pleased to see that so many had already been purchased by the night of the Story Jam.

During the course of the evening I saw several families I knew and enjoyed meeting many other students and parents. Westwood Charter is one of my neighborhood schools and it is always a pleasure to be part of a local event.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

CAROLINE ARNOLD E-BOOKS on AMAZON

I have recently updated my webpage listing of my e-books so you can find them all in one place. Take a look and click on the links!

All of my CURRENT BOOKS are available as e-books from the publisher and online at Amazon and other ebook platforms.

Many of my OUT-OF-PRINT books are getting a new life as ebooks. Most (42 titles) have been published by StarWalk Kids Media. An addition 9 titles have been published by me, Caroline Arnold Books. All the books have been redesigned with a contemporary look for today's readers and updated. They are available on Amazon as Kindle books and in some cases for Nooks and I-Readers.

Almost all of the books I’ve written for CHARLESBRIDGE including Hatching Chicks in Room 6 are available as e-books.
The 16 titles I’ve written and illustrated for PICTURE WINDOW BOOKS (Capstone), my Animal World and Day and Night series, are also available as e-books from the publisher.
Plus, you can find Your Skeletal System (Lerner) and The Geography Book: Activities for Exploring, Mapping, and Enjoying Your World (Wiley) as e-books on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

MEET CAROLINE ARNOLD, Feature Article in Cheviot Living Magazine

Several months ago I was interviewed for an article in my neighborhood magazine, Cheviot Living, by local resident Gabrielle Michel. (The neighborhood where I live in Los Angeles is called Cheviot Hills, inspired by the hills on the border of Scotland and England of the same name.) Gabrielle did a great job and I thank publisher and editor Joe Schneider for featuring my work and introducing it to my neighbors. I met Joe last spring in conjunction with the Cheviot Art Crawl, an annual event in which artists who live in the area open their studios to the public. I plan to participate in the Art Crawl next spring.

Here is the text of the article:


Meet Cheviot resident and artist Caroline Arnold! Caroline grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and spent most summers at a small camp in northern Wisconsin. It was there that she began to develop a love for nature and the outdoors (which would ultimately become her muse for her art pieces and environmentally-conscious children’s books, of which she’s written over 170 to date). Caroline attended Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, where she majored in art and also studied English literature. Following that, she attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, and received her M.A. in art in 1968.


Caroline began writing books for children more than twenty-five years ago when her own children were small. She illustrated a few books and then worked with photographer Richard Hewett for many years creating photo essays about animals. The books she illustrates today are inspired by her experience working with Richard. They read like true stories, following the lives of animals from birth to finding independence, and teach simple themes to children about growing up. The books have also been a major avenue to showcase Caroline’s art creations of paper cut-out shapes.



Says Caroline about her paper cut-outs: “I rely heavily on the outside edges of each piece of paper because it’s those lines that define the shapes of the objects. I use flat colors so I depend on contrasting hues and a layering process to create depth. Thicker art stock paper, when layered, gives a nice, although minute, three-dimensionality that really brings the animals to life and allows them to `pop’ off the page.”



Caroline has found that for animals that live underground or underwater, are active at night, or live in remote locations, often a drawing is better than a photograph for showing their behavior.



Says Caroline about her books: “[these books] are intended for kids in early elementary school so the pictures have to be big and bold, with a poster-effect, and fill both pages, so when a teacher reads to her class, the students can see the images clearly from the back of the room.” While the stories themselves are full of information and can be found in school libraries, they are also good for pleasure reading and are available at book retailers.



Caroline’s favorite aspect about her art is the fact that it’s so scalable: while intended as book illustration, it can also be framed or made into prints to hang on a wall. She’s also used these images to create great greeting cards.



Caroline’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited in numerous galleries and competitive shows. Caroline plans on making her Cheviot Art Crawl debut in 2019. She lives with her husband, Art (name not coincidentally on purpose), who sometimes helps with photography for her books. Their children are grown and flew the nest long ago.



To visit her works, see:


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

THE BIGGEST BELL IN CHINA, published in Touchdown (The School Magazine in Australia)

I am pleased to announce that my story The Biggest Bell in China has just been published in the September issue of Touchdown, one of the publications of The School Magazine in Australia. The subject of the story is the giant bell commissioned by the great Ming emperor Yongle, which now hangs in the Great Bell Temple in Beijing. More than twenty feet tall, the bell itself is impressive, but the story of how it was made and moved to the temple is fascinating as an example of Chinese ingenuity and provides insight into the importance of bells in Chinese culture and history. The Great Bell of Beijing is a type of bell called a chung. A chung has no clapper; instead, it sounds when it is struck on the outside with a wooden post or mallet.
My visit to the Bell Temple to see the Great Bell

I was inspired to write this story after I visited the Great Bell Temple on a trip to Beijing more than twenty years ago. You can read more about my visit to the Great Bell and see some of my photographs at my June 30, 2014 post at my travel blog, The Intrepid Tourist.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

ANASAZI BEAN SOUP and a Visit to Mesa Verde, Colorado

Caroline and her brothers at Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde, Colorado
When I was fourteen years old my family went on an extended summer camping trip from our home in Minnesota to southern California. One of the highlights along the way was a visit to Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. At that time, the campground was on top of the mesa, just a stone’s throw away from the visitor center and the ruins of Spruce Tree House. My brothers and I spent hours climbing the ladders and exploring the ruins. Inside the visitor center I loved peering at the dioramas with their tiny houses and people, and reading about the pottery, tools, and other items in the exhibit cases, trying to imagine what life was like when the Ancestral Puebloans had inhabited these mesas and canyons. In the evening, our family cooked our meal and ate it around the campfire, much as the Ancestral Puebloans must have done more than a thousand years ago.

Native Americans known as the Ancestral Puebloans [formerly called the Anasazi] lived at Mesa Verde between A.D. 550 and 1300. They left at a time when there was a long drought and never returned.  Their descendants are among the Native American people who live in the southwest today.
When I returned to Mesa Verde in 1990 with Richard Hewett to do the research and photography for our book, The Ancient Cliff Dwellers of Mesa Verde, I found the park just as fascinating as I had as a child.  The campground had been converted to a picnic area and as we ate our lunches there it brought back memories of my childhood visit.  Since then, many more ancient sites within the park had been discovered and excavated, and new research was offering new evidence to explain why the Ancestral Puebloans had abandoned their cliff side dwellings so suddenly.

One of my favorite parts of the park was a small garden plot near the visitor center where the park rangers were growing corn, squash, and beans, just as the Ancestral Puebloans had in prehistoric times.  I have always been fond of bean soup and I was delighted to discover in one of the gift shops a package of red beans with a recipe on the back for Anasazi bean soup. Although I doubt that the Ancestral Puebloans used ham hocks or lemon in their recipes, I can imagine that they might have put a chunk of deer meat and locally gathered flavorings into their beans as they cooked them over the fire.  In any case, as you eat this delicious soup, you can imagine that you are high on a Colorado mesa, gazing across the plain below.

Anasazi Bean Soup

1 package of red, pinto type, beans
2 quarts of water
1-2 ham hocks
Salt and pepper to taste
1 16 ounce can of tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
Juice of ½ lemon

Soak beans overnight.  Drain beans.  Add water, ham, salt and pepper.  Cook until beans are tender.  Add tomatoes, onion, garlic and chili powder and cook another half hour.  Add lemon juice before serving.  Enjoy!

The high elevation of Mesa Verde, which is about seven thousand feet above sea level, makes it slightly cooler in summer and wetter than the plain below.  Both the climate and rich soil made it a good place to grow crops.  Beans were added to the Anasazi diet during the period about A.D. 550-750, and were an important source of protein.  Anasazi beans were very much like today’s pinto beans.  The Anasazi ate them fresh and also dried them to be used later. [Page 25, The Ancient Cliff Dwellers of Mesa Verde by Caroline Arnold (Clarion Books, 1992)] Note: the term Ancestral Puebloan replaced Anasazi after my book was published.

Visit Mesa Verde: The National Park Service website for Mesa Verde has everything you need to know to plan a visit to the park including directions, maps, things to do, and links to information about camping and lodging.  There are also pages with downloadable activities for kids and for teachers.

This article was originally published in Stepping Into the Author's Kitchen by Sharron L. McElmeel (Libraries Unlimited)