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.