Wednesday, November 15, 2017

CELEBRATING DIVERSITY: Connecting Cultures Mobile Museum, Los Angeles, CA

CCMM Spiritual Connections Display at RFK School Library, Los Angeles, CA
Last week I attended the annual open house of Connecting Cultures Mobile Museum (CCMM) at the Robert F. Kennedy School Library in Los Angeles.  CCMM is a program that brings rich displays of cultural objects from around the world to middle schools, with the goal of helping students understand the diversity in their own world so they can begin to appreciate themselves as participants in a global community.
Julia Goldman, CCMM Executive Director
Hundreds of objects are displayed (usually in the school library) with identifying signs color coded for each part of the world. Students are always delighted to find objects from their own country of origin. During the CCMM presentations, the students learn the stories behind some of the objects, their significance, and have the opportunity to handle some of them. The displays are organized around three themes: commercial, spiritual, and everyday connections.
Book and Puppets from India
The collection on display at the open house focused spiritual connections, with objects ranging from masks, books, clothing, and musical instruments that play a role in the various religions of the world. Among my favorites were the many masks on display, including one that I had donated.  Here are a few of the masks. Find out more about CCMM at their website.
African Masks
Spirit Wheel Mask, Alaska
Mask decorated with feathers, Brazil
Raven mask, Canada

Saturday, November 11, 2017


Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA
Last week, my daughter, Jennifer, was in Pittsburgh, and stopped in at the Carnegie Library. As she browsed the shelves she found several of my books. When I looked in the online catalogue, I was pleased to discover that the library has 125 of my books, 120 print books, and 5 e-books. I am always pleased to discover my books on the shelves of libraries knowing that through my books I am reaching the lives of children who check them out wanting to learn more about the world we live in.
Two of my books on the shelves of the library
The establishment of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was forecast in a letter, November 25, 1881, from Andrew Carnegie to the Mayor of Pittsburgh, in which Mr. Carnegie offered to donate $250,000 for a free library, provided the City would agree to provide the land and maintain the annual funding for library operations. After additional consideration, Mr. Carnegie increased his charter investment to $1 million to build and equip a Main Library and five neighborhood branches, with the City of Pittsburgh agreeing to provide $40,000 for their ongoing support.
Founding public libraries became a personal philanthropic mission for Mr. Carnegie. To him, libraries were vital, non-luxury assets to be supported by public dollars. When finished, Mr. Carnegie established more than 2,500 libraries around the world. (From the library website.)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Fall Gala of the CLCSC featuring Steve Sheinkin, Los Angeles, CA

A week ago I attended the annual celebration of children's book authors and illustrators by the Children's Literature Council of Southern Calfornia, held this year at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. As always it was a wonderful time see friends and to reconnect with teachers and librarians. After a delicious breakfast we proceeded to the auditorium to hear award winning author Steve Sheinkin give an inspiring keynote address followed by the presentation of awards.  This year's honorees are Jennifer Holm, Outstanding Work of Fiction, K.G. Campbell, Outstanding Picture Book, Nikki Grimes, Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Poetry, Nicola Yoon, Peggy Miller Award for Young Adult Literature, and Alyson Beecher and Alethea Allarey, Dorothy C. McKenzie Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Field of Children's Literature.
Thanks to the Fall Gala Committee and the Awards Committee for an excellent job!
At breakfast with LAPL librarian Marcia Melkonian

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Eureka! Honor Award from CRA for Hatching Chicks in Room 6

Good news! Hatching Chicks in Room 6 has been named a Eureka! Honor book by the California Reading Association. The Eureka! award is for outstanding nonfiction. I am delighted to be on the list, which will go to teachers and librarians all over the state. The winners were announced at the fall meeting of the CRA. Thanks to all on the Eureka committee!

Saturday, October 28, 2017


Theme art for "Reading in the Redwoods" at the Humboldt County Library, Eureka, CA
I am just home from the bi-annual Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival in Eureka, California, and it was as fabulous as ever. This was my sixth time to participate, and each time it gets better and better. The theme this year was Reading in the Redwoods.
The four day festival (October 18-21)  includes author visits to schools, a gala banquet, book signing at the library, and an exhibition of children’s book art at the Morris Graves Museum of Art. I had two pieces of original art from my book A Day and Night on the Prairie in the exhibit. On the opening day of the festival there is always a welcome reception for the authors and volunteers at the museum, a chance to meet the wonderful volunteers who organize the festival and to mingle with the other authors. This year there were 25 of us!
Artwork by students at Bridgeville School
Thursday and Friday are devoted to author visits in the schools and I had three wonderful school visits. The first was to Bridgeville School, a tiny (26 students grades K-8) school tucked in the hills of Humboldt County. I was greeted by students from the upper grades with a lovely poster and then did two presentations. Librarian Kathy Wolff had done a great job preparing the students. The wall of the library was decorated with student art inspired by my books. 
With librarian Sharron Jones at Hydesville School
I then went down the road to Hydesville School for a delicious lunch with the teachers and then two presentations in the multipurpose room where librarian Sharron Jones had made a lovely display of my books. My driver for the day was Ann Gunderson. (Ann grew up in Eureka and comes back every year to volunteer at the festival. It was great to spend time with her–several years ago I did an author visit at her school in Billings, Montana.)
Thursday evening at the festival is always a potluck dinner (yummy food provided by the many festival volunteers) followed by a Readers Theater performance by students from the arts high school in Arcata, who did a brilliant presentation of Kirby Larson’s book Hattie Big Sky. When they finished there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
Singing the Wiggle and Waggle song with K-2 students at Coastal Grove School
On Friday morning my driver, David Peterson, picked me up to take me to Coastal Grove School in Arcata where I did four presentations followed by lunch. Teacher Jenny Hales coordinated my visit and did a great job.
On Friday evening everyone gathered at Ingomar Club (the historic Carson mansion) for a gala dinner. Entertainment is from the authors–each of us gets three minutes at the podium--a challenge to decide what to say, but everyone manages to be very entertaining and different. In the end I did a reprise of the Wiggle and Waggle song, something I had done ten years ago at my very first banquet. As the second to last speaker I decided a sing-along was a good way to end.
With authors Nancy Coffelt and Linda Bourne at the library book signing
The final event of the Authors Festival is a book signing on Saturday at the beautiful county library. We all wear our festival t-shirts as we chat with visitors and autograph books.
I do many author events but nothing is quite like the Humboldt County festival. I can’t give enough thanks to all the people who put so many hours into planning and coordinating all the different moving parts. (The Festival website has a complete list of these amazing people and much more.) You all do a fantastic job! Thank you for making me a part of this unique and wonderful festival!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

AUTHOR FESTIVAL ILLUSTRATOR EXHIBIT, 2017, Morris Graves Museum of Art, Eureka, CA

Original cut-paper illustration from A Day and Night on the Prairie, 9:00 p.m.
The Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival in Eureka, California, brings together authors, illustrators and book lovers for a very busy and fun four days.  Held every two years in October, the festival  includes author visits to schools, a gala banquet, book signing at the library, and an exhibition of children’s book art at the Morris Graves Museum of Art. I have been participating since 2007. This year I sent two pieces of original art from my book A Day and Night on the Prairie.
Original cut-paper illustration from A Day and Night on the Prairie, 6:00 a.m.
Many thanks to Lucy Quimby, one of the many devoted volunteers who organize the festival, for making arrangements for the show and to Jemima Harr at the museum for hanging the art. Copies of the illustrated books are also on display.The show went up in September and continues to the end of October.
Books by participating illustrators
On the opening day of the festival there is a welcome reception for the authors and volunteers at the museum and I always enjoy the chance to view the show and get a close-up look at the art of my fellow illustrators.
Morris Graves Museum of Art, Eureka, California

Saturday, October 21, 2017

CELEBRATING LOCAL AUTHORS at the Mar Vista Library, Los Angeles, CA

Caroline Arnold and Susan Casey at the Mar Vista Library Local Author Celebration
Last Saturday, October 14th, I joined a dozen other authors at the Mar Vista Library in Los Angeles to celebrate the wealth of creative writers in our local community. (Although I don’t live in Mar Vista, I am only ten minutes away.) We sat with our books at tables in the library meeting room as people came by to chat and look at our books.
Eleanor "C-Pass" Jones and Gretchen Woelfle
Then. each of us had a turn to tell a little bit about ourselves and our lives as writers. We were a wonderfully diverse group ranging from children’s book authors, to comic book producers, to novelists, to poets, to biographers, cookbook and health writers, each with a fascinating and unique story to tell.
Verdel Flores, librarian, Mar Vista Public Library

I thank Verdel Flores, adult librarian at the Mar Vista Library for organizing this inaugural authors’ program. It was an honor and a pleasure to participate!
Authors at the celebration
Participating authors:
Adult books: Carol Davis, Melissa Guzzetta, Eleanor Jones, Lilly Padilla, Ramon Resa, M.D.
Young Adult books: Arthur J. Gonzalez, Jeremy Lasman
Children’s books: Caroline Arnold, Susan Casey, Aileen Leijten, Gretchen Woelfle
Publisher representatives: Monica Faulkner, Elyse Wietstock