Wednesday, January 29, 2020


At the Huntington Beach Library
Yesterday was the 32nd annual Huntington Beach Author’s Festival in Huntington Beach, California, organized by the Friends of the Children’s Library (FOTCL) Author’s Festival Committee. Along with more than twenty other children’s book authors, I spent a day at a local school, followed by a reception at the Huntington Beach Library. I have been participating in this celebration of books and reading almost every year since it’s beginning.
Welcome signs made by the Student Council greeted me all over the school.
This year I visited Golden View Elementary School and was hosted by PTO parent LeJarie Noguchi, who did a wonderful job organizing my day and promoting my books to the children. I spoke to three groups of children, pre-K through fifth grade, in their meeting room called Toad Hall. All of my audiences were terrific–very enthusiastic and asking good questions. The PTO put on a delicious lunch, which was a time for me to meet and talk with the teachers.
The garden is a learning area.
A highlight of my visit to Golden View was a tour of The Farm, a two and a half acre outdoor education area with garden plots, animals, a pond and large grassy areas, and sheds for tools and other equipment.
Sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and geese are among the animals that live at The Farm
During my tour, led by Principal Lori Florgan, I saw an enthusiastic group of upper grade students busily taking care of the animals and working in the garden. What a wonderful way for students to do “hands-on” science–and be able to eat the vegetables they produce.
The lettuce is ready to harvest!
After lunch at Golden View and signing books purchased by students, I went to the library for the afternoon reception. Volunteers on the festival committee, dressed in red shirts, made sure everyone knew where to go and had everything they needed. Students who had won prizes for their stories were honored in the auditorium with their proud parents and teachers watching in the audience.
Signing books at my table at the afternoon reception at the Huntington Beach Library
This event would not go on except for the hard work and dedication of the Friends of the Children’s Library. For many years Gail Page has led the committee and I thank her for her dedication over all the years of the Festival. This year, under her guidance, the torch has passed to Larry Hersh, who did a terrific job of coordinating the many facets of the Festival. I always enjoy going to Huntington Beach and having the chance to see old friends and share my books with new readers.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Review of BUTTERFLIES IN ROOM 6 in Grinnell Magazine

I am pleased to have the following review of Butterflies in Room 6 in the Winter 2020 issue of Grinnell Magazine.
For children ages 4–8, Butterflies in Room 6 (Charlesbridge, 2019) by Caroline Scheaffer Arnold ’66 follows a kindergarten class as they raise butterflies — from a tiny egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, and finally to the emergence of the adult butterfly. The children’s enthusiasm was contagious as they learned about butterflies and had the thrill of releasing them outdoors and watching them fly into the neighborhood.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Herma Sue Silverstein, 1945--2019
I first met Herma in the spring of 1978 when we both took a class taught by noted children’s book author Eve Bunting in the UCLA Writer’s Program. Soon after Herma and I became writing partners and co-authored two books together. After that Herma went on to write many of her own books and I continued to write as well. In 1997 Herma graciously hosted a party for me at her house in Santa Monica celebrating my 100th book.
Herma and I always got together to celebrate our birthdays and were often joined by our friend and teacher Eve Bunting. Many of our gifts to one another had writing themes, or in Herma's case, a connection with her beloved pet dogs. One year Herma gave me what I thought was a rather unusual birthday gift–a small artificial pine tree to decorate the living room of my new house. During most of the year the tree sits in a corner, but at Christmastime I bring it out and decorate it with lights and ornaments. It will always remind me of all the good times I had with Herma.
A few years ago Herma moved from Santa Monica to Palm Desert and we met less often, but we still kept in touch. Every year I send a Christmas card to Herma. This year the card came back so I looked her up on the internet and discovered on her Facebook page that she had passed away on May 23, 2019. The announcement was made by her brother, who wrote that her illness was unexpected. He wrote that she went into hospital in early March and was in hospice care by mid-May. Herma was always so full of life. I loved her Texas accent and infectious laugh. I will miss her.
When I looked up Herma on the internet, the first thing that came up was her books, listed on Amazon. She will live on through her writing and in the memories of her family and many friends.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Science Magazine Review of Butterflies in Room 6

I was pleased to get this excellent review of Butterflies in Room 6 in the December 6, 2019 issue of Science Magazine in their article, Wishlist-worthy Books for Young Readers, a list of the finalists for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books.

Metamorphosis—of ugly ducklings into swans, of jellylike spawn into frogs, of caterpillars into butterflies—always seems miraculous. In this book on insect metamorphosis, Caroline Arnold tells the story of Mrs. Best, a kindergarten teacher who brings a tiny vial of butterfly eggs into her classroom. Her students supply a vivarium with special caterpillar food so they can watch the metamorphosis of the eggs into caterpillars, then pupae, and finally glorious adult painted ladies. The book takes the reader through the course of the children's project, with a series of fine photographs showing the details of each stage in the life cycle of the butterflies. The exciting anticipation of each transformation is summarized in carefully considered text and culminates, of course, with the day the exquisite adults emerge from the pupal case, unfurl, and stiffen their patterned wings. Beautiful close-up images let the readers examine details of the insects' anatomy and learn about butterfly biology.

Finally, a warm day arrives, and it is time to release the butterflies. The dazed insects first walk onto the children's hands before lifting off to disappear over the horizon. Fortunately, some hang around to appreciate the school garden's flowers.

It would have been good for Butterflies in Room 6 to say a little more about why insects are having such a tough time now, as well as more about their role in pollination and human food security. Still, it is an excellent book, sure to generate discussion and flights of imagination among humans who are similarly poised for big changes.
By Caroline Ash