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:

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):
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


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)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

AN OLD LIBRARY: Mission San Juan Capistrano, California

Library, Mission San Juan Capistrano
Two weeks ago, when my family was visiting in Los Angeles, we made a day trip to San Juan Capistrano in Orange County and visited the Mission. A historical site, it provides a glimpse into what life was like in the early days of California. I was interested to see that even then, books played an important role in the life of the Mission.
Bell in the central courtyard of the Mission
According to a survey in 1834, Mission San Juan Capistrano owned a total of 209 books. The books in the library were meant to help the padres in their conversion of the Native American communities. Through books like Ano Cristiano, the Juanenos became acquainted with the countless saints and the Catholic calendar. After years of working with the local people, Friar Geronimo Bosoana created an invaluable record of the traditions of the Acjacheman people in his own book, Chinigchinich.

The padres needed books to establish, manage, and lead the Mission. They also relied on them for spiritual training and as means of spending time. Today, much of what we know about the Mission has come from journals, books, research papers, and oral history. The books range in their condition and many of them need conservation. Collectively, they are a treasured element of the Mission’s museum collection.

Books in the library date from the 1770s to the 1900s. They are made from vellum, paper, ink and leather.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

SAVING THE PEREGRINE FALCON is now available as an E-Book

My book, SAVING THE PEREGRINE FALCON is now available as an e-book on Amazon Kindle. It was originally published by Carolrhoda Books in 1985 and is out of print. The cover has been redesigned but the text and full color photos inside are the same as in the original book. SAVING THE PEREGRINE FALCON is illustrated with color photographs by Richard Hewett.  I am happy to have SAVING THE PEREGRINE FALCON 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.

For centuries, the peregrine falcon was prized by kings and falconers, who used it to hunt. Bird lovers, too, have long admired the peregrine--which can reach speeds of 200 miles per hour as it dives for prey. Yet a few years ago, it was feared that soon there would be no more peregrines. Pollution of the environment with the poison DDT had interfered with the birds ability to reproduce. This book, illustrated with stunning close-up photos, chronicles the work of scientists at the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Laboratory to save the peregrine from extinction. The peregrine falcon was taken off the endangered species list in 1999 thanks to their efforts and those of other agencies.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

CATS: In from the Wild now Available as an e-Book

My book, CATS: In from the Wild is now available as an e-book on Amazon Kindle. It was originally published by Carolrhoda Books in 1993 and is out of print. The cover has been redesigned but the text and full color photos inside are the same as in the original book. CATS: In from the Wild is illustrated with color photographs by Richard Hewett. I am happy to have CATS: In from the Wild 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. 

Despite their 6,000-year association with humans, cats still retain elements of their wild ancestry and provide us with the opportunity to experience animal behavior up close. All cats, from the 800-pound tiger to an 8-pound house cat, exhibit similar behaviors. In Cats: In from the Wild you will learn about the domestic cat's history and the many types of cats that exist--both wild and domestic. Through full-color photographs you will get a close-up look at these fascinating animals.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A LITTLE FREE LIBRARY in My Neighborhood or Yours!

Note: This is a repost from July 2013. Since then, hundreds of more Little Free Libraries have sprung up all over and the one pictured above in my neighborhood continues to be well used. Do you have one in your neighborhood?

I was out for a walk around my West Los Angeles neighborhood the other day and discovered that one of my neighbors has put up a library box in front of their house.  It is full of books free for the taking. You can also contribute books to share with the community. I had heard about the free library movement, but this was the first time I had seen it near me.
The Little Free Library movement was started by a group of  builders, stewards, book donors, borrowers, neighbors and friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The mission of this movement as stated on the main website is:
  •     To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.
  •     To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity, and wisdom across generations
  •     To build more than 2,510 libraries around the world – more than Andrew Carnegie!
Inspired by this noble mission a group of people have begun to build a network of Little Free Libraries in the West Los Angeles area. If you are interested in becoming a librarian by building a little free library at your home, school or community center, please contact the Little Free Library for more information.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

KIDS ART ACTIVITY: Inspired by “Butterfly” Compositions by Mark Grotjahn at LACMA

Paintings by Mark Grotjahn at LACMA
An interesting contrast to the David Hockney portraits at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA is the exhibit in the adjacent gallery of “butterfly” or starburst compositions by Mark Grotjahn. (The actual name of the show is 50 Kitchens–see below.) The colorful paintings, all the same size and with a similar design, are mounted on stark white walls–as opposed to the pomegranate red walls of the Hockney show. Each of the Grotjahn paintings explores a different combination of colors. And when you get close you can see speckles of other colors peeking through.
Choosing favorite colors
On the Sunday afternoon that I visited, two groups of kids were doing activities related to the paintings. After choosing the paintings with their favorite colors, they gathered on the floor with paper, rulers and colored pencils to create their own butterfly designs. As you look at each painting the two halves are mirrors of each other, just like a pair of butterfly wings! It looked like a fun project–for kids or adults!
This painting is symmetrical on the horizontal axis; others are on the vertical axis.

The exhibit ends August 19, 2018.

Los Angeles-based artist Mark Grotjahn (b. 1968) has made “Butterfly” compositions since 2002, and the latest to come out of his studio is 50 Kitchens (2013–18), exhibited here for the first time. Conceived as one work, 50 Kitchens takes its inspiration from a single composition (in black and cream-colored pencil) that Grotjahn made to meet the dimensional specifications of a wall in his kitchen. The more than 50 subsequent chromatic drawings explore pairs of radiating colors (like Tuscan Red and Chartreuse, or Grass Green and Canary Yellow) and together create a prismatic display. The works allude to artists interested in color, light, and optics, such as Wassily Kandinsky and the Op art painters of the 1960s, and also incorporate residual traces of earlier drawings that have been seamlessly integrated into the new works.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

TRAPPED IN TAR: Fossils from the Ice Age NOW IN PAPERBACK at Amazon

Now available in a paperback edition on Amazon
My book TRAPPED IN TAR: Fossils From the Ice Age is now available as a paperback book on Amazon. It was originally published by Clarion Books in 1987 with black and white photos by Richard Hewett. In this new version, the text has been updated and is now illustrated with full color photos by Arthur and Caroline Arnold. I am happy to have TRAPPED IN TAR: Fossils From the Ice Age in print again and available to new readers. In the original version my children, Jennifer and Matt, were some of the models. They have now grown up and have children of their own. In the new book, my grandchildren, Alessandra, Lucas and Paige, are in some of the photos, taken on family trips to the tar pits and the George C. Page Museum. I am grateful for their cheerful cooperation! I also thank my son Matt and son-in-law Humberto for their photo contributions.
Arnold family and Columbian Mammoth at the George C. Page Museum
TRAPPED IN TAR: Fossils From the Ice Age is also available on Amazon as an e-book. You can read it with a Kindle app on various devices (I use my iPad) or on your computer.

Between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago, imperial mammoths, giant ground sloths, and sabertooth cats roamed across the continent of North America. Like the dinosaurs that lived millions of years ago, these Ice Age creatures are extinct today. Only their fossil bones remain.
During the Ice Age, over 400 different kinds of animals lived on the grassy plain that is now Los Angeles. Then, as now, pools of tar sometimes seeped to the surface of the earth. Unwary animals stepped into the sticky tar and were trapped. There they died. Gradually their bones sank to the bottom of the tar seep. In time, the tar penetrated the bones and preserved them.
This book tells the story of the Rancho La Brea fossils and examines the work of the paleontologists who excavate and study them at the George C. Page Museum of La Brea Discoveries in Los Angeles, California.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


David Hockney Portrait Exhibit at LACMA, Los Angeles, CA
"I think I've found something that I could go on with forever, because people are fascinating, they're mysterious really." David Hockney
Entrance to the exhibit with photo of Hockney at work in his studio
If you haven't seen the David Hockney show at LACMA, 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life, I highly recommend it. I went to see it on Sunday. At age 80, David Hockney is still going strong. The portraits are stunning and the red walls of the gallery are a perfect foil for the green and blue background of the paintings.
Julie Green
As I walked around I noticed a woman leading a tour. Then I looked at her dress and realized she was Julie Green, one of the people in the portraits!
Architect Frank Gehry
There are portraits of his studio assistants, massage therapist, housekeeper and cook. Others depict Hockney’s siblings, the children and grandchildren of his friends, and art dealers and prominent cultural figures in Los Angeles. All of the paintings are labeled with the sitter's name and dates of sitting.
Organized by the Royal Academy in conjunction with LACMA, the exhibition opened in London in 2016, then traveled to Venice, Italy; Bilboa, Spain; and Melbourne, Australia. The only U.S. stop is L.A., the city where the portraits were painted and where most of his subjects live.
The 83 paintings line the walls of two large galleries in the Broad Contemporary Art Museum
The series began in 2013 after David Hockney moved to Los Angeles from his home and studio in rural England.
Each person came to Hockney’s studio for two or three days and sat in the same chair on a small platform while Hockney painted. All of the figures are full length and the canvas size is the same for each portrait. The backgrounds are simple–flat color and just a suggestion of shadow on the floor. What comes across in each painting is the distinct personality of the sitter.
The one still life was painted on a day when one of his subjects had to postpone her session. So Hockney set up a bench with pieces of fruit in the same spot in his studio and painted it instead.   

If you haven’t seen this spectacular exhibit you need to go soon. It ends July 29, 2018.

David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life
April 15, 2018–July 29, 2018

Review in the LA Times by Barbara Isenberg

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

TRAPPED IN TAR: Fossils From the Ice Age is Now Available as an e-Book and Paperback

My book, TRAPPED IN TAR: Fossils From the Ice Age is now available as an e-book on Amazon Kindle. It was originally published by Clarion Books in 1987 and is out of print. That book was illustrated with black and white photos by Richard Hewett. In this new version, the text has been updated and is now illustrated with full color photos by Arthur and Caroline Arnold. I am happy to have TRAPPED IN TAR: Fossils From the Ice Age 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.

Update as of July 24, 2018: TRAPPED IN TAR: Fossils from the Ice Age is also available as a paperback on Amazon.

Between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago, imperial mammoths, giant ground sloths, and sabertooth cats roamed across the continent of North America. Like the dinosaurs that lived millions of years ago, these Ice Age creatures are extinct today. Only their fossil bones remain.
During the Ice Age, over 400 different kinds of animals lived on the grassy plain that is now Los Angeles. Then, as now, pools of tar sometimes seeped to the surface of the earth. Unwary animals stepped into the sticky tar and were trapped. There they died. Gradually their bones sank to the bottom of the tar seep. In time, the tar penetrated the bones and preserved them.
This book tells the story of the Rancho La Brea fossils and examines the work of the paleontologists who excavate and study them at the George C. Page Museum of La Brea Discoveries in Los Angeles, California.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

UCLA CLARK LIBRARY, Tea and Shaw in the Garden

UCLA William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
Last Sunday, my husband and I and several friends had a lovely afternoon in the garden of the UCLA William Andrews Clark Memorial Library enjoying a tasty afternoon tea as we listened to a lively reading by the Chalk Repertory Theatre of George Bernard Shaw's play Misalliance.
Cast of Misalliance (Chalk Repertory Theatre)
Before the play began we picked up our box of tea sandwiches and cup of tea (or lemonade) to enjoy under the shaded tent.
Tea sandwiches, strawberries and a scone
This was my first visit to the Clark Library, located in the West Adams district. The library is for researchers, but the beautiful 5 acre grounds, basically a park, are open to the public. The library, built in 1926, is a handsome brick structure modeled on other specialty libraries such as the Newberry Library in Chicago and the Morgan Library in New York. It is surrounded be spacious lawns, walkways, flower gardens and various nooks with sculptures and fountains.  I love the sundial "When the sun is not shining, I do this for fun."
Sundial sculpture by Eric Gill
The William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, which is administered by UCLA’s Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies, is located on a historic, five-acre property in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles. The rare book and manuscript library specializes in the study of England and the Continent from the Tudor period through the long eighteenth century. Other subject strengths include Oscar Wilde, book arts, and Montana and the West. The Clark is open to students, professors, and scholars throughout the world and serves as the research laboratory for a distinguished array of fellows working either in early modern studies or the fin-de-si├Ęcle world of Oscar Wilde.
East lawn of the library grounds
Tours can be arranged by appointment. My writer friends and I plan to make this an expedition sometime in the near future.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

READING TAKES YOU EVERYWHERE: Author Visit at Encino/Tarzana Library for Summer Reading Program

Encino/Tarzana Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library
Yesterday afternoon I spent a wonderful hour with kids and their parents at the Encino/Tarzana Public Library in Los Angeles giving a presentation as part of the LAPL summer reading program for kids. The theme this year is “Reading Takes You Everywhere” and my books are a perfect example of all the different places you can go when you read about animals. We started with a virtual trip to Africa as I read A Zebra’s World and we all did a Lion Hunt together. We then talked about birds and I measured the kids wingspans. The kids also helped me sing the Wiggle and Waggle song, along with my Wiggle and Waggle sock puppets.
With Star Volunteer, Masha. A STAR Volunteer Reader is a volunteer who reads books and tells stories with children at their local library. They serve as positive role models for children. They commit 2 hours per week for at least 6 months.
During my visit I enjoyed meeting Jennifer, the new head librarian, as well as one of the teen volunteers who helped with my program, and a devoted Star reading volunteer who works with kids at the library every week. I thank Shokoufeh Moghta, the children’s librarian, for inviting me to the library and organizing the event. From the enthusiastic participation of the kids and good questions at the end, I know the afternoon was enjoyed by all!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

OBSERVING OUR OWN NATURAL HISTORY at Esperanza Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA

The natural habitat garden at Esperanza Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA
On May 30, 12:55 pm three white-tailed swifts were soaring above the palo verde trees. They look like flying cigars with wings.
This careful description was posted by a student at Esperanza Elementary School in Los Angeles on the school bulletin board “Observing Our Own Natural History” after discovering the birds near the school. Every day, as the students spend time in the school's native plant garden, they are learning to be young scientists and how to look at things closely and observe pertinent details.
Students share information and observations on a bulletin board in the school hallway
A corner of the playground where a building once stood has been turned into a natural habitat–a garden filled with California native plants such as poppies, wild grasses, lupins, sage and more. It is home to birds, butterflies, spiders and a wide variety of insects. The school is in a neighborhood located very close to downtown Los Angeles. The garden provides a refreshing oasis in an otherwise totally urban environment.
A wild grape vine climbs over the garden fence. Skyscrapers loom in the background not far from the school.
When I visited Esperanza last week, a group of third graders working with teacher Elizabeth Williams gave me a tour of the garden. They excitedly pointed out the frothy spittlebug deposits on some of the plants, several spiders, lupins both in bloom and developing seed pods, and a pair of sparrows foraging for seeds–the male with his handsome black markings and the female a duller brown. Then they discovered a pair of house finches carrying nesting material to a nest site. Principal Brad Rumble, who has spearheaded the garden project, met us in the garden. He is an avid birdwatcher and his enthusiasm is contagious. He introduced me to a girl who had observed and identified a white-throated swift and then was excited to find it again in exhibits at the Natural History Museum when the class went on a field trip.
Teacher Elizabeth Williams and Principal Brad Rumble with students
Before we visited the garden, I talked with a group of third grade students in the library and shared the books in my Caroline Arnold’s Habitats series. They had great comments and questions! I plan to go back in the fall when school starts again to do an author visit with more of the students. I love it when kids get excited about the animals that I write about in my books, but I find it even more exciting to see kids learning about nature hands-on--by observing it themselves. The natural habitat garden at Esperanza is a great resource and a wonderful stimulus for learning.
For an excellent video about the Esperanza school garden produced by television station KCET for their Earth Focus series, click on this link: 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

NEW CHICKS: Author Visit with Campbell Hall Kindergarten Students, Los Angeles, CA

Day-old chicks in the Kindergarten classroom at Campbell Hall
When I first met librarian Linda Pechin at the CLCSC workshop two weeks ago and she told me that the kindergarten students at her school, Campbell Hall, were hatching chicks in their classrooms, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for an author visit. So Linda arranged it, and on Thursday last week I went to the school and had a wonderful time.
Caroline with Linda Pechin, Librarian at Campbell Hall
Both classrooms had incubated eggs so there were two sets of day old chicks peeping in their cages. The children had read my book HATCHING CHICKS IN ROOM 6 and we talked about how their process was similar to that described in the book. We also talked about how they know that chickens are birds–they have feathers and they lay eggs–and then I showed them my feather collection and measured their wingspans. I also shared my ostrich egg. Everyone was impressed that it takes 42 days for an ostrich egg to hatch–twice as long as a chicken egg. The visit ended with a story from my WIGGLE AND WAGGLE book and singing the gardening song. I then went to the library to autograph books.
I thank Linda Pechin and the kindergarten teachers and their students for a very enjoyable visit at Campbell Hall.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Project Book Bag: Building Personal Libraries at Kipp Raices Academy in CA

Book Bags Ready to be Distributed to Students
Every year just before summer break, Project Book Bag gives young students at Kipp Raices Academy, an elementary school in East Los Angeles, a bag full of grade appropriate books to bring home and call their own. Yesterday, I spent the morning helping volunteers distribute the bags of books to the children in their classrooms.
The children were SO excited to receive the books, finding many of their favorite series as well as new titles, both fiction and nonfiction. Seeing the smiles on their faces as they pulled the books out of the bags was a joy to watch.
This was the seventh year of this program. In past years I have donated books–both my own and from my collection–but this was the first time I had been there in person. A devoted group of volunteers collects the books (both used and new), cleans them if necessary, and sorts them by appropriate age levels. This year, a group of Boy Scouts helped as a service project. Henry, who is earning his Eagle Scout badge, was there to meet the students help deliver the books.
Thanking Henry for his service
The mission of Project Book Bag, a nonprofit, “is to make sure that all kids have books at home to keep them reading and help them find their interests. Research shows that children who do not have access to reading material over the summer experience "learning loss," causing them to fall behind their peers. The kids in the KIPP school(s) are already performing better than many other kids in their area and we want to insure that they keep their skills sharp when school is not in session.”
Some of the Project Book Bag volunteers
You can learn more about Project Book Bag at their Facebook Page.