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.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Sharing Hard Truths in Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults: CLCSC Spring Workshop

Last Saturday I attended an inspiring and informative workshop sponsored by the California Literature Council of Southern California called “Sharing Hard Truths in Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults.” We met at the Glendale Library. The workshop began with a warm welcome by Jennifer Driscoll, CLCSC President and introduction by Laurie Reese, CLCSC Spring Workshop Co-Chair followed by an excellent talk by nonfiction writer Ann Bausum, author of books such as March Against Fear, Freedom Riders, With Courage and Cloth, and many more. I loved hearing about her writing process and how she keeps the mountains of information she collects for each book organized. (Notecards!) It was a pleasure to meet Ann in person. Ann lives in Wisconsin. We had previously met via phone and email when we served on a committee together, but never in person. After Ann’s talk participants broke into “deep dive” discussion groups led by Michelle Markel, “At the Writer’s Desk”, Annette Goldsmith, “In the Library,” Ethan Bradbury, “In the Classroom,” and Madeline Bryant, “Between the Covers: The Look and Content of Contemporary Nonfiction.”
Most of the members of CLCSC are librarians. I enjoyed hearing their point of view about how to use books that face hard truths about topics such as race, human rights, and slavery with children in schools and libraries. These are topics that are often not covered adequately or at all in textbooks. It was a morning of good discussion, a delicious breakfast/brunch food from Porto's Restaurant to keep us fortified, and opportunities to see friends and share news.
Thanks to the CLCSC committee for organizing an excellent spring workshop!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Art Donation to the 2018 ABC/CBC Silent Art Auction at BookExpo

I have donated a giclee print of an illustration from my book A Wombat’s World to the 2018 ABC/CBC Silent Art Auction to Benefit ABFE and Every Child a Reader. The auction will be held May 30th in New York at the Javits South Concourse in conjunction with BookExpo. I am pleased to be able to contribute to this worthy cause.

ABC Children's Group (ABC), a program of the American Booksellers Association (ABA), is dedicated to growing and expanding the reach of children's books. ABC serves independent bookstores, authors, publishers, and illustrators, and develops unique education, events, and communications to further that purpose. ABA is a not-for-profit trade association devoted to meeting the needs of its core members-independently owned bookstores with storefront locations. It exists to protect and promote the interests of independent retail book businesses, as well as - through American Booksellers for Free Expression (ABFE) - to protect the First Amendment rights of every American.

Every Child a Reader is a 501(c)(3) literacy charity dedicated to inspiring a lifelong love of reading in children and teens across America. Every Child a Reader's three major national programs are: Children's Book Week, celebrating 99 years this April 30-May 6, 2018; the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards; and the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature program, in partnership with the Library of Congress. The 2018-2019 National Ambassador is Jacqueline Woodson.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

NEW CHICKS IN ROOM 6: A Classroom Visit

Four day old chicks. The thermometer monitors the temperature in the cage.
The children in Mrs. Best’s kindergarten class in Room 6 at Haynes School in Los Angeles have just hatched eggs, and now have five fluffy chicks cheeping in a cage in their classroom. Four of the chicks have brown markings. One is black. As the children waited for the eggs to hatch, they learned about chickens and eggs in my book Hatching Chicks in Room 6. That book follows a previous class as they went through the egg hatching process. This is a project that Mrs. Best does every year with her students.
Art projects done by the children. Some of the eggs they incubated had brown shells. Others were green.
Last week I went to visit the chicks and spend time with the children. I read some of my books and we talked about birds and eggs. I brought my ostrich egg to compare with the chicken eggs they had just hatched. The ostrich lays the largest egg of any bird. It is equivalent to two dozen chicken eggs and weighs three to five pounds! (My egg, which I bought a long time ago, has a hole in the end of the shell where the contents were taken out so it does not weigh so much.)
I learned about ostriches when I wrote about them in this book.
The incubation period for an ostrich egg is 42 days, twice a long as it takes a chicken egg to hatch.
Ostrich egg. It is the largest of all bird eggs.
The children and I also talked about birds that don’t fly, such as ostriches and penguins. Chickens can easily fly from the ground to their roosts. So, even though a lot of people think that chickens don’t fly, they do.
The chicks are already starting to grow wing feathers.
The chicks are growing fast. By the time school is out for the summer in a few weeks, the chicks will be ready to go to the henhouse, where they will finish growing up.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

SOUTH AMERICAN ANIMALS, Now Available as a Kindle Book

My book, SOUTH AMERICAN ANIMALS is now available as an e-book on Amazon Kindle. It was originally published by Morrow Junior Books in 1999 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. SOUTH AMERICAN ANIMALS is illustrated with pictures that I obtained through photo research from a variety of sources including my own collection. Many came from my trip to South America with my family, which included a visit to Patagonia where we saw penguins, guanacos, condors and all sorts of other wild animals. I am happy to have SOUTH AMERICAN ANIMALS 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.

"When a jaguar walks the forest floor, other animals get out of the way. This meat eater is the largest predator in South America. It can grow up to eight feet long. Jaguars hunt at night and can see well in the dark. They feed on alligators, tapirs, and other large forest animals."
Jaguars, monkeys, snakes, birds and many more species make their homes in the vast tropical forests of South America. Other animals, such as guanacos and bears, inhabit its craggy mountain peaks, while penguins and sea turtles migrate annually to is windswept coasts. Still other animals, including several varieties of deer and foxes, roam its open grasslands. This book, filled with twenty-five breathtaking photographs, highlights many of the most fascinating animals of South America.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

STORIES IN STONE: Rock Art Pictures by Early Americans is Now Available as an E-Book

My book, STORIES IN STONE: Rock Art Pictures by Early Americans is now available as an e-book on Amazon Kindle. It was originally published by Clarion Books in 1996 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. STORIES IN STONE: Rock Art Pictures by Early Americans is illustrated with beautiful color photographs by Richard Hewett.  I am happy to have STORIES IN STONE: Rock Art Pictures by Early Americans 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.

This visit to the canyons of the Coso Range in the California desert reveals thousands of ancient stone engravings of people, animals, and abstract symbols -- evidence of some of the earliest human life in North America. Rock art is one of the oldest known forms of human expression. The rock walls of the Coso Range contain the richest concentration of ancient rock in the Western Hemisphere. Native Americans used this site continuously for thousands of years and created a multitude of designs ranging from tiny figures to life-size human forms and from abstract patterns to clearly recognizable pictures of people and animals. This book provides an exploration into who made this beautiful and mysterious art and why, along with a glimpse of what life may have been like for some of the first people who lived in the high-desert mountains and valleys of western North America.
Human figures are the second most commonly drawn design in the Cosos

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Author Visit to the WPC Preschool, Los Angeles, CA

Last week I made my annual visit to the WPC Preschool in West Los Angeles, California. I first visited the group of three-year-olds where I read Noisytime for Zoo Animals (they helped me make the animal sounds), Who Has More? Who Has Fewer? (we counted the number of eggs backwards and foreward) and Wiggle and Waggle (they helped me sing the Wiggle and Waggle song.) In the four-year-old room we talked about birds and feathers and I measured their wingspans. Most of the children were as big as Cooper's hawks and it took four to be as big as a California condor! I then read Hatching Chicks and Room 6 and the first two stories of Wiggle and Waggle. I always enjoy my visits to the school and am impressed with the enthusiasm of the children, teachers and parents. Thanks to Director Sophie Robertson for a great day!