Wednesday, September 25, 2019

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

Banner displaying participating authors' books welcomed families to the Bedtime Story Jam
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 nine other children’s book authors as part of the school's annual Bedtime Story Jam. The goal of the event is promoting literacy and inspiring young story tellers and writers. In between sessions the children ate milk and cookies and browsed for books at the book fair in the library.
My presentation of Butterflies in Room 6 was in Room 4
This was my third 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 Butterflies in Room 6, shared my butterfly growing supplies and samples of butterfly eggs and chrysalises, and signed books.
My butterfly habitat, caterpillar container, and samples showing butterfly development
I thank Shelby, my volunteer room host, for helping me to set up, introducing me, and for making sure that everything ran smoothly. Shelby’s aunt, who I have known for many years at the library at Palms Middle School, was also there and it was great to catch up on library news.
A young helper is demonstrating my Monarch Butterfly hand puppet.
I also thank Angie Rowe and Patricia Maynard 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.
Bedtime Story Jam banner
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.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

SHADOWS ON A WALL: The Autobiographical Writings of Lester Lewis Scheaffer (edited by Caroline Arnold) now an ebook at Amazon

My father's memoir, SHADOWS ON A WALL: The Autobiographical Writings of Lester Lewis Scheaffer, is finally up at Amazon as an ebook. (I am the editor.) These are poems and essays about his family, growing up in Kenosha, Wisconsin in the 1920s and 1930s, and a few stories about his life as a settlement house worker. If you enjoyed reading his story, Celebration at Tea Lake (about the memorable family celebration of my parents' 13th wedding anniversary) that I recently posted at my travel blog (The Intrepid Tourist), you may enjoy reading his other stories too.
The title of the book comes from a quote by Wallace Stegner, saved by my father in a folder he called "food for thought."
I was reminded of a remark of Willa Cather's, that you can't paint sunlight, you can only paint what it does with shadows on a wall. If you examine a life, as Socrates has been so tediously advising us to do for so many centuries, do you really examine the life, or do you examine the shadows it casts on other lives? Entity or relationships? Objective reality or the vanishing point of a multiple perspective exercise? Prism or the rainbows it refracts? And what if you're the wall? What if you never cast a shadow or a rainbow of your own, but have only caught those cast by others?
Wallace Stegner, THE SPECTATOR BIRD, p. 162

My father passed away in 1994. Here is the editor's note I wrote when I published a paper copy of the book in 1996:

            My father, Les Scheaffer, began this project in the late 1980's after the completion of his book Lutie and Mercy Ann, A Story of the Lockridge-Gibson Family 1875-1918, an historical account of the lives of his maternal grandparents.  The new book was to be a collection of his writings about his own life--poems, essays and stories--that focused on his family, childhood, school and early social work experiences.  Some of the pieces had been written as part of a creative writing class at the College of Marin, others were occasional pieces and some were created specifically for this project.  Two of the stories are about Camp Bovey, perhaps the greatest achievement of his life.  He once wrote, “But if there was a contest I think I would win: Camp Bovey, seventeen summers!  That was my great luck and my great love.” 
            From the earliest years of his life my father was a saver and keeper of records.  Many of his writings include excerpts from diaries, letters and notebooks or were inspired by them.  In all the pieces in this book as well as his other creative writing he always had the support and encouragement of my mother who was his “in house” editor and critic.  Some of the later stories are about experiences they shared.
            Born in 1914 at the beginning of World War I, my father’s life encompassed the Great Depression, World War II, the Vietnam War and tumult of the 1960s, moving from the Midwest, to the East Coast, back to the Midwest and finally to California.
            When my father died on May 1, 1994, he had made the final corrections on most entries but he had not yet begun assembling the book.  That job has fallen to me.  Not knowing exactly how he planned to organize the book, I have chosen to arrange the pieces chronologically and by theme.  Although I have listed myself as editor, I have changed as little as possible.  I have made a few spelling and punctuation corrections and, in a few cases, I’ve changed some words for clarity.  As far as I could tell he had not yet selected a title for the book, so I borrowed Shadows on the Wall from the Wallace Stegner quotation that he had chosen to be part of the book under a category he called “Food for Thought.”  The “shadows” in this book are vivid and multifaceted and tell us a great deal about the man that was my father.  We are fortunate that my father had the desire to tell the stories of his life and that he had the gift of telling them so well.  This book is a portrait of what it was like to grow up in a small Midwestern city in the 1920's and 30's and a glimpse into the lives of settlement workers just before and during World War II.  But that is not why he wrote it.  He wrote this book “for the kids” so that we might know a little of what made him the person he was.  For that I am glad.
                                                            Caroline Scheaffer Arnold
                                                            October 1996

Sunday, September 15, 2019

LIVING FOSSILS now available in Paperback!

LIVING FOSSILS: Clues to the Past (Charlesbridge, 2016) is now available in paperback! Hurray! I'm glad to have a paperback edition that will help expand the audience for this book. The book is still available in hardcover and as a digital book (Kindle) as well.

Meet the coelacanth, horseshoe crab, dragonfly, tuatara, nautilus, and Hula painted frog. All are living fossils, or modern-day animals that very closely resemble their ancient relatives. Why have they changed so little over time, while other animals evolved or went extinct? Using contrasting "then" and "now" illustrations, veteran nonfiction writer Caroline Arnold alternates between a prehistoric creature in its native environment and its contemporary living-fossil counterpart.

Prizes and Awards

  • NYPL Recommends: New Nonfiction for Kids Bibliofile July 15, 2016
  • CRA Eureka Silver Award, 2016
  • Wednesday, September 11, 2019

    ARTS ALIVE! Children's Book Illustrations at the MORRIS GRAVES MUSEUM OF ART, Eureka, CA

    Illustration from A Day and Night in the Rain Forest, pp. 6-7
    Illustration from A Day and Night in the Rain Forest, pp. 8-9
    I am pleased to have two of my cut paper illustrations from my book A Day and Night in the Rain Forest currently on exhibit at the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka, California, as part of the bi-annual Humboldt County Author Festival
    Select works from participating illustrators, along with copies of their books, demonstrate the processes of illustration in children’s literature.  The art exhibit will be on view from September 7 through October 27, Wednesday–Sunday, 12:00–5:00. School groups can book tours for a personal look with one of the museum docents. Many thanks to Lucy Quinby on the Author Festival Committee and Jemima Harr, Executive Director-Curator of the Humboldt Arts Council, for organizing the exhibit. I am glad to have my work included in this exhibit. If you are going to be in Eureka during this time, please stop by and see the show! 
    Along with 25 other authors and illustrators, I will be participating in the Author Festival, October 16-19, 2019, visiting schools, signing books at the library, and enjoying being with friends and book lovers in beautiful Humboldt County.  I always look forward to it!  For more information about the festival click here.

    Wednesday, September 4, 2019

    ALEXANDER CALDER Art at SFMOMA: Mobiles, Stabiles and More

    Fish Bowl by Alexander Calder at SFMOMA
    Making a mobile is not only an exercise in creating visual balance, but actual physical balance of the various elements. The all-time master of the mobile is Alexander Calder. At the San Francisco Museum of Art a large room is dedicated to his work.
    I hadn’t been to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art since it was remodeled and expanded several years ago. I went recently to see the spectacular retrospective exhibit Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again (which ended September 2nd) but on my way to the Warhol exhibit I was side tracked in the large room where works of Alexander Calder were displayed.
    Mobiles by Alexander Calder
    Large mobiles hung from the ceiling, their colorful flat shapes seeming to float in mid-air as the wires slowly rotated. Outside on the rooftop patio were a number of Calder’s large stabiles, lurking like large beasts enjoying the sun. But my favorite was a small piece–a wire fish bowl, complete with a snail and its spiral shell inching up the side of the bowl. It was like a 3-D drawing, using black wire instead of a pencil.
    I once made a mobile in one of my art classes in college, using  found materials (tiny blocks of wood and other scraps I found at a construction site.) I discovered that it is not so easy to achieve the exact perfect balance  when hanging the various wires! Which makes me admire the beauty and execution of Calder’s work even more.
    Entrance to SFMOMA