Wednesday, February 26, 2020

REBUILDING NATURAL HABITAT: A Visit to Esperanza School, Los Angeles

The garden at Esperanza School is part of the Schoolyard Habitat Program (supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Last week I returned to Esperanza School in Los Angeles (which I visit every year) to talk with the fourth graders in Mrs. Elizabeth Williams’ natural science class. They meet twice a week, both in the library, where I made my presentation, and in the school’s natural habitat garden. The students love to learn about animals and have been reading my books.
With teacher Elizabeth Williams in the school library
As I arrived at the school I was greeted by Principal Brad Rumble, who shared with me some of the many activities going on at the school. He is an enthusiastic bird watcher and passes on his love of birds to the students. In the hallway outside the main office is a bulletin board where students are recording their observations about red-tailed hawks, large birds that they often see soaring over the school playground.
Esperanza Elementary School is located at the edge of downtown Los Angeles
Several years ago Brad Rumble initiated the conversion of part of the school’s asphalt playground to a natural habitat garden area for plants native to southern California. I have visited the garden every year and seen the progress from scattered plants surrounded by dirt to a garden bursting with growth. As students visit the garden throughout the year they are learning to identify plants, insects and other wildlife, and observe the differences in growth during each season.
This was my first visit to the garden in spring. Bright blue lupins were blooming everywhere and hundreds of bees were buzzing around the blossoms collecting nectar and pollen. A few orange California poppies brightened one corner and numerous other spring flowers were also in bloom.
Thermometer and Rain Gauge
In one corner, a thermometer showed the temperature to be in the seventies, a warm day for February. Next to it, the rain gauge was empty. Although February is typically the rainiest month of the year, this year there has been almost no rain. A drip system and hose can be used to water the plants during dry periods.
I always enjoy my visits to Esperanza and seeing the evolution of the garden. This year I was delighted to see new garden areas that have been planted in the main courtyard of the school, with trees for shade and other native plants. With each new bit of natural space, the school is becoming a true oasis for wildlife in the heart of the city.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


I am pleased to have my article, LOST AND FOUND: WHERE ARE THE HULA PAINTED FROGS? published in the February 2020 issue of Touchdown Magazine, one of the publications of The School Magazine in Australia. It is the story of a rare species of frog found in Israel, once thought to be extinct. It was rediscovered in 2011.
I first learned about the Hula painted frog when I was doing research for my book LIVING FOSSILS: Clues to the Past. It turns out that the Hula painted frog's closest relative is an ancient frog known only from its fossil remains, and is thus a living fossil. I was intrigued by the story of its discovery and the connection to its ancient relatives.
I thank the editors of The School Magazine for publishing my story, and illustrator, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall, for her artwork that brings this tiny amphibian and its environment to life.

Sunday, February 16, 2020


I have recently updated my Etsy site. My prints and cards are still available ( and make an ideal gift or decoration for your home or classroom. Each image is a high-quality giclee print of one of the cut-paper art illustrations from my Day and Night books or my Animal World series.
Take a look and check it out!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020


Ten years ago I launched this blog, Caroline Arnold Art and Books, with the plan of putting up a new post once a week. (Almost always the posts go up on a Wednesday--some weeks there are two.) Originally the blog was meant to feature my cut-paper art illustrations that I was doing for my animal books. But I quickly expanded the blog to include all my books and my activities as an author and illustrator.
For me, this blog is a way to keep track of my book and art related activities, including school and library visits, publishing, reviews, activities for children and teachers, announcements of prizes and awards and more.  Since January 2010 I have posted more than 500 items that have been viewed by more than 200,000 visitors!
Thank you to all of you who have been following this blog either on Google or by email. I appreciate your support.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020


Star View Elementary School, Huntington Beach, CA
Yesterday, on a bright windy day, I visited a second school in Huntington Beach, California, as part of the annual Huntington Beach Author Festival, this time at Star View School. (They weren’t able to have me to come last week on the official day, so we scheduled it a week later.) I spoke to three groups of very enthusiastic students grades TK to Five, doing my usual program for each age group. As always, the kids enjoyed having their wingspans measured to find out what kind of bird they would be. And, as always, the third graders tended to be red-tailed hawks; it took two kids to be as wide as the wingspan of a bald eagle! All the kids were intrigued by my huge fossil mammoth tooth, which I show in connection with my book Trapped in Tar.
After lunch, I signed the books that had been ordered. I know the kids were eager to get their books after school. For those who didn’t buy books, they can always go to the library to read my books.
I thank teacher Sandy Wahrenbrock for coordinating my visit, organizing the book orders, and providing me with a delicious lunch. I also thank Andrea Van Holt in the office for taking care of the official details of my visit. I enjoyed my visit to Star View!
It's Authors Day at Star View!