Wednesday, September 20, 2017

FICTION versus NONFICTION: What Do Young Children Prefer?

One of my favorite writers, Melissa Stewart, has just published a terrific article on her blog, Celebrate Science, about the reading preferences of children in the primary grades. Not surprisingly, many, or in some cases, most, of the children prefer nonfiction, especially boys. She cites two studies that looked at children's book choices:
Correia, Marlene Ponte. “Fiction vs Informational Texts: Which Will Kindergartners Choose?”Young Children, 2011, p. 100-104. And,
Mohr, Kathleen A. J. “Children’s Choices for Recreational Reading: A Three-Part Investigation of Selection Preferences, Rationales, and Processes.” Journal of Literacy Research, 2006, p. 81-104.
It is great to see numbers supporting what a lot of teachers and librarians already know--that young children either prefer nonfiction (they want to find out more about the world we live in) or like it just as well as stories. Yet, there are too many adults who think that kids just want stories. Kids like both, and we need to make sure that they have the option to choose the books they prefer.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

BEDTIME STORY JAM: Westwood Charter School, Los Angeles, CA

At Westwood Charter School ready for my Story Jam Presentation
On Friday evening I was one of ten authors participating in the Bedtime Story Jam at Westwood Charter Elementary School, one of the schools in my neighborhood. It was the culmination of their week-long library Book Fair. (Books supplied my Mrs. Nelson’s Book Fair company.) Children came to school in their pajamas and enjoyed milk and cookies before spending two sessions with their chosen authors. In my room, children sat on the rug in the front and parents sat on chairs in the back. I gave a slide presentation, finishing with the reading of my book Hatching Chicks in Room 6. At the end, children had a chance to ask questions and have their books autographed. I found it to be a very enjoyable evening and I thank Jenna Carlston and her hard-working book fair committee for the good organization and promotion of the event. And I particularly thank my host for the evening, Sara Sadrieh, who helped me set up, introduced me and made sure that everything went smoothly. At the end, we all had a chance to relax together in the library patio. Thank you Westwood School!
Sara and Jenna, in their Westwood Story Jam T-shirts

Sunday, September 10, 2017

IMAGINE II, VIP Reception, dA Center for the Arts, Pomona, CA

At the IMAGINE II exhibit, underneath my art from A Day and Night in the Desert
On Saturday evening I attended the gala VIP reception for illustrators and librarians at the dA Center for the Arts in Pomona. As I arrived, the gallery was full of people looking at the illustrations on the wall, browsing books by the illustrators that were displayed on tables, munching appetizers, and getting ready for a presentation by local school children and later a puppet show.
Books by participating illustrators including my Day and Night Habitat series Lisze Bechtold's Buster the dog books
More than thirty Southern California children’s book illustrators are represented in the exhibit, but as I looked around the room, I couldn’t find the art that I had submitted. It turned out that it been tucked away after I delivered it and overlooked when the exhibit was hung. Luckily, the two pieces were found and are now hanging on the wall along with the other pieces of art. The show will be up until September 23. I encourage you to stop by and take a look.
Illustrators Joe Cepeda and Gina Capaldi
I thank Gina Capaldi of the SCBWI for all the hard work of putting the show together and to Margaret Aichele at the dA Center for the Arts for coordinating the exhibit. It was also great to see Judy Nelson of Mrs. Nelson's Books, who provided the books for sale at the event.
Lisze Bechtold and her illustrations
Where to see the exhibit (until September 23):
dA Center for the Arts
252 South Main Street
Pomona, CA 91766
Phone: 909-397-9716

Hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 12pm to 4pm (til 9pm on Thursday)
Judy Nelson with her door, autographed by dozens of children's book writers and illustrators

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Fifty Hands and Fifty Feet: Drawing Exercise

When I was in art school, our first homework assignment in life drawing class was to draw fifty hands. Then fifty feet. Besides the face, hands and feet are the most expressive parts of the human body, and learning to draw them well was a first step in successful figure drawing. My roommate and I posed for one another, drawing with our right hands and holding our left hands still for the other to draw. Our first attempts were a struggle, but by the time we reached fifty, we had gotten a lot better! Recently, I was cleaning out my attic and discovered some of my hand and feet drawings that I had saved. Here are a couple of them!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Oakland Public Library Teen Room

Last week I went with my eleven-year-old granddaughter to the Oakland Public Library so she could return her books and check out new ones. We arrived at the main door and then walked up the long stairway to the second floor and then down a long hallway past the history department to the teen room. Although I had been to the library numerous times before, I had always gone to the children’s room, which is on the lower level at a separate entrance. This was my first time upstairs in the teen room, a spacious high ceilinged room filled with large bookcases organized by book type–fantasy, romance, manga, adventure, etc.–radiating from a central lounging area with couches for reading and relaxing. Music was playing through loudspeakers–a contrast to the usual quiet associated with libraries--and on the walls were posters of local events of interest to teens. It was a room designed to be welcoming to teens and a place where they could relax, read and hang out–as a number were doing as we browsed the shelves selecting books. A while later we left with my granddaughter happily carrying a pile of new manga books (her current favorite) plus several hardback novels recommended by the helpful librarian. It was great day at the library and a new experience for me!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

AUSTRALIAN ANIMALS is Now a Kindle Book

My book, AUSTRALIAN ANIMALS is now available as an e-book on Amazon Kindle. It was originally published by HarperCollins in 2000 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. AUSTRALIAN ANIMALS is illustrated with pictures that I obtained through photo research from a variety of sources including my own collection. Many came from my several trips to Australia, including an extended stay in 1999 when my husband was there doing a research project. I am happy to have AUSTRALIAN 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.


"The continent of Australia is home to an extraordinary variety of wildlife. Tasmanian devil, koalas and echidnas make their homes in leafy forests and woodlands. Other animals, such as kangaroos and wombats, inhabit dry grasslands. Still more species, like the bilbies, live in the hot desert, while along the coast fairy penguins parade to their burrows in the sand. Young readers will discover how each animal--from dingo to glider, quoll to platypus--is able to adapt to its own special environment in the wild." (from the flap of the original book)


REVIEW
School Library Journal
Arnold divides her well-organized text into sections that cover the four diverse biomes that are found on the Australian continent and focuses on particular creatures that inhabit these areas. The two-paragraph text describing each of the 17 animals is encased in a beige block to set it off from the full-color photographic background. Striking, close-up photos complement the author's comments.

Friday, August 18, 2017

National Geographics and an Urban Native Plant Garden at Esperanza School in Los Angeles

A week ago my 43 years of National Geographic magazines found a new home! Mrs. Oasay, a wonderful 5th grade teacher at Esperanza Elementary School in Los Angeles, is going to use them with her students. For many years I used the National Geographics for my research and I'm thrilled they are now getting a new life! Thanks so much to Principal Brad Rumble for helping to arrange this!
With Mrs. Oasay, Brad Rumble and Student with my boxes of National Geographics
After I delivered my National Geographic magazines at Esperanza, Brad took me on a tour of the school including the beautiful renovated library and the amazing natural garden filled with native plants, birds and other wildlife.
Principle Brad Rumble in the Esperanza School Garden
Bees were buzzing and a pair of doves was foraging in the plants along the path. Brad told me that two species of hummingbirds have been observed feeding on the flowers and that many other species have been seen and recorded by the children. The garden is an oasis in the heart of the city and a place where students can have hands on interaction with the natural world. This living laboratory is a wonderful asset to the school and to the neighborhood.
To find out more about how the garden project has impacted the whole school and the surrounding neighborhood, read Brad Rumble's excellent article Planting the Seeds of Change.