Tuesday, July 8, 2014



It's that time of year! 
The California Reading Association 
is currently accepting books for their 
Eureka! Nonfiction Book Award. 
You have until September 1 to submit a book. 
Books need to be published in either 2012, 2013, or 2014. 
Email me at hfjames@san.rr.com if you'd like a submission form. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

California Reading Association's Eureka! Nonfiction Children's Book Award





The California Reading Association's 
Eureka! Nonfiction Children's Book Awards, 2013

Eureka Gold Awards

Bones Never Lie: How Forensics Helps Solve History’s Mysteries by Elizabeth MacLeod, Annick Press, 2013. Grades 5-8
A combination of science and thrilling whodunit, this fascinating book shows how forensics have helped solve some of the most perplexing mysteries of all time. 

Cool World Cooking: Fun and Tasty Recipes for Kids! by Lisa Wagner, Scarletta Junior Readers, 2013. Grades 3-6
Explore the world with these 50 delicious recipes while learning about food and culture from around the globe

Face Bug by J. Patrick Lewis, photographs by Frederic B. Siskind, illustrated by Kelly Murphy, Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, 2013. Grades 2-12
Poetry, science, and fabulous photography merge as you enter the Face Bug Museum and come away amazed by what you will learn about bugs. 

Girls Rebel! Amazing Tales of Women Who Broke the Mold by Heather E. Schwartz, Capstone, 2014. Grades 4-8
Through narrative stories, this collective biography explores females who fought for their beliefs, broke society’s rules, and forever changed the world. 

Great Bicycle Experiment: The Army’s Historic Black Bicycle Corps, 1896-97 by Kay Moore, Mountain Press Publishing, 2012. Grades 5-10
The true adventures of an elite company of twenty African American soldiers who in 1897 embarked on a 1900-mile trek across the country on bicycles. 

Stripes of All Types by Susan Stockdale, Peachtree Publishers, 2013. Grades K-2
A patterned parade of animals come to life in Stockdale’s stunning new book which explores animals that have stripes and the reasons they have them. 




Eureka Honor (Silver) Awards

10 Plants That Shook the World by Gillian Richardson, illustrated by Kim Rosen, Annick Press, 2013. Grades 4-7
Papyrus, pepper, cotton, and rubber are just some of the plants discussed in this book that created profound changes in the world . . . good and bad. 

The Animal Book: A Visual Encyclopedia of Life On Earth, by The Smithsonian and David Burnie. DK Publishing, 2013. Grades K-12
The ultimate visual encyclopedia of life on our planet, this resource presents more than 1500 photographs that introduce astonishing animals, plants, fungi, and microorganisms, all arranged according to how they are related to each other.

Animals Upside Down: A Pull, Pop, Lift & Learn Book by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page, Houghton Mifflin, 2013. Grades K-4
Yes! Nonfiction books can be pop-ups! This book looks at how and why animals turn upside down with a dazzling array of paper engineering. It also contains a two-page spread of expository text on each of the featured animals. 

Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013. Grades 1-5
The life of Kenichi “Zeni” Zenimura, who was later named the father of Japanese American baseball, offers an inspiring true story of hope and baseball from a little discussed segment of American history. 

Becoming Ben Franklin: How a Candle-Maker’s Son Helped Light the Flame of Liberty by Russell Freedman, Holiday House, 2013. Grades 5-12
This enthralling, illustrated biography of one of the most popular founding fathers, by Newbery Medal author, Russell Freedman, outlines the life of the distinguished statesman, author, and world famous scientist. 

Best Foot Forward: Exploring Feet, Flippers, and Claws by Ingo Arndt, Holiday House, 2013. Grades K-3
An intriguing close-up of an animal’s foot invites you to guess. Turn the page to find out if you’re right. Readers will discover that feet aren’t just for walking and the guessing game format makes learning about natural adaptation fun. 

The Boy In the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . On Schindler’s List by Leon Leyson, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013. Grades 4-9
Leon Leyson was only 10 years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. This is the only memoir published by a former Schindler’s List child. 

Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo by Nancy Bo Flood, photography by Jan Sonnenmair, Wordsong, 2013. Grades 2-7
Narrative poems give voice to the individual rodeo competitors, lively prose explains rodeo events, and photographs show off the riders, ropers, horses, and broncs in this close-up view of Navajo rodeo over the course of one action-packed day. 
Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale, Lee & Low Books, 2012. Grades K-4
This book pairs children building, concrete poetry, and notable structures from around the world to see how children’s constructions find expression in the dreams and works of innovative architects. 

Here Come the Girl Scouts! The Amazing All-true Story of Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure by Shana Corey, illustrated by Hadley Hooper, Scholastic Press, 2012. Grades K-3
The Girl Scouts have been in existence for 100 years and it’s all thanks to Juliette Gordon Low (aka Daisy) and her gumption. A picture book biography for every Girl Scout and those looking for picture book biographies on social activists. 

It Can't Be True! DK Publishing, 2013. K-12
This book is sure to wow readers with impressive facts about the world that are difficult to believe . . . but true! Packed full of astounding records, mind-boggling stats, and 200 jaw-dropping visuals, this fascinating resource explores a wide range of subjects. 

Jimmy the Joey: The True Story of an Amazing Koala Rescue by Deborah Lee Rose and Susan Kelly, photographs by Susan Kelly, National Geographic Kids, 2013. Grades K-3
This warm and inspirational photographic picture book is a compelling and uplifting true story, with a sweet message about coping with loss that draws attention to an important and threatened wild animal. 

Lincoln's Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin, Scholastic Press, 2013. Grades 5-12
The action in this true crime thriller alternates among the conspirators, the Secret Service on their trail, and the undercover double agent moving back and forth between the two groups. 

Nasreddine by Odile Weulersse, illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2013. Grades K-3
No matter what Nasreddine does, it always seems to meet someone’s disapproval, but his wise father has some very different advice for him. This clever folk tale introduces a new audience to this legendary character popular in stories told throughout the Middle East. 

The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb, Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic, 2013. Grades 7-12
Illustrated with photographs, this riveting true story is a Holocaust tale, a spy thriller, and a powerful account of justice sought and served. 

Noah Webster and His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris, illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch, Houghton Mifflin Books, 2012. Grades 1-6
We all know Noah Webster for his Dictionary, but what else did he do for our country? In this fascinating picture book biography, we learn how he helped keep our fledgling nation together—even before he wrote the first American dictionary. 

Noisy Bugs Sing-Along by John Himmelman, Dawn Publications, 2013. Grades K-4
Listen to the “buggy” concert happening in your yard or in fields and woods nearby. What insects are making those sounds? Learn who is making what sounds and why. Sing along with them! 

People Who Said No: Courage Against Oppression by Laura Scandiffio, Annick Press, 2012. Grades 4-8
Seven inspirational profiles feature people in history who, despite the dangers, followed their moral compass rather than obey rules made by government in power. Excellent resource for “Character Education.” 

The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara Elizabeth Walsh, illustrated by Layne Johnson, Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, 2012. Grades 2-4
When American soldiers entered World War I, Moina Belle Michael, a teacher from Georgia, knew she had to act. She worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers.

Potatoes On Rooftops: Farming in the City by Hadley Dyer, Annick Press, 2012. Grades 3-7 
Informative, colorful, and kid-friendly, this book introduces kids to the how and why of small scale urban farming. It’s the perfect book to get readers thinking about ways they can grow food in the city. 

Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette by Selene Castrovilla, illustrated by Drazen Kozjan, Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, 2012. Grades 3-5
The friendship between these two famous men helps build alliances between France and America. The author and illustrator relied on primary documents and consulted Lafayette and Washington experts to spotlight the beginning of this extraordinary bond. 

Ringtail: Miner’s Cat by Joyce Markovics, Bearport Publishing, 2013. Grades 1-4
Kids will go on a real-life adventure with biology professor David Wyatt as he tracks ringtails in an area of California called Sutter Buttes. 

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Friendship Troubles: Dealing With Frights, Being Left Out, and the Whole Popularity Thing by Patti Kelley Criswell, illustrated by Angela Martini, American Girl, 2013. Grades 3-7
When friendships are in trouble, here’s a self-help book of advice that is sure to help readers get through the tough times and help deal with friendship dilemmas.

The Year of Goodbyes by Debbie Levy, Disney Hyperion Books, 2010. Grades 5-12
The true story of a 12-year-old girl’s last year in Nazi Germany, 1938, told through free verse and actual entries from the girl’s autograph album. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013





Childrens Bookstore Staff Review


Welcoming a new baby into the family is an important life event for a grandparent. Seeing the new generation enter the world is a time of celebration and reflection. Author Helen Foster James captures the emotions and experience of becoming a grandparent, more specifically a grandmother, in a beautiful and heart-felt poem to a new grandchild from his or her grandma.

The poem begins at the moment when the grandma bunny meets the new baby; "The moment I saw you. I fell in love. Honey, my bunny, my sweet turtledove". Each page contains a new stanza and an illustration of grandma bunny and the new grandchild sharing loving and memorable moments together.

The story seems to culminate one the stanza: "I tickle your toes and you hold my hand. You are the reason I am called grand".

Petra Brown's whimsical illustrations bolster the poem and complete the emotional phrasing of the book. Her bunnies are expertly personified such that a reader can easily identify with his or her own experience as a grandchild or grandmother. The artworks is soothing and colorful. The illustrations work together, creating a feeling of warmth on the pages.

The book itself is published as a keepsake gift for a new grandchild. There is an inscription page at the front of the book. The end papers of the book consist of a page that contains the phrase: "A Special Letter to My Grandchild" at the top with space for a hand-written letter. The opposite end paper has space for a photograph of grandma and grandchild.

The opportunity for personalizing the book will be sure to stir loving memories of the grandmother-grandchild relationship. This is a beautiful book that is sure to become a treasured possession for many families.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Great Time at Warwick's Bookstore in La Jolla, California



I had the best time at Warwick's bookstore in La Jolla, California today. I was book signing with my buddy and co-author of "Paper Son: Lee's Journey to America," Virginia Shin-Mui Loh (aka Virginia Loh Hagan.) What an amazing group of supportive and creative people showed up to let us share our newest work. Patty Fares from Urban Safaris, my buddy Linda Kent from World Book, the amazing nonfiction writer Kathleen Krull, and a host of other talented folks including Joy Chu and Cindy Clevenger. It was such a treat for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all involved!

Hugs to all!

Friday, July 26, 2013






I'll be at Warwick's bookstore for a book signing on Sunday, July 28 at noon with the co-author of "Paper Son: Lee's Journey to America," Virginia Shin-Mui Loh (aka Virginia Loh Hagan).

"Grandma Loves You!" is fresh off the press! I just got my first copy yesterday and I'll have it at Warwick's. It's a great gift book for every grandmother. The book has special pages dedicated to pasting a photo of grandma and baby and a spot for grandma to write a letter to her grand baby.

We'll have both "Paper Son" and "Grandma Loves You!" at Warwick's.

Hope to see you at Warwick's!
7812 Girard Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037
858-454-0347

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Next Big Thing



What is the title of your work-in-progress?
My fresh-off-the-press book is Paper Son: Lee’s Journey to America (published May 1, 2013 by Sleeping Bear Press). It is co-written with another San Diegan, Virginia Shin-Mui Loh

I’m working on other manuscripts, but I can’t share much about them yet. Some are still in the beginning stages and I may never figure out how to finish them. On the other hand, I have finished manuscripts that I need to find a  publisher that’s just right for them. 

Where did the idea come from? 
The first time I ever heard of “paper sons” or “paper daughters” was when I read a book about Angel Island that was written by a friend of mine, Larry Dane Brimner. I was immediately fascinated by this important and forgotten piece of Californian and American history. But, it took a couple of years before I started writing and many years to complete.  

What genre does your book come under? 
It’s an historical fiction picture book. It’s beautifully illustrated by Wilson Ong

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?
The main character would be a talented Chinese American boy and he’d need to have heart and be brave, just like Lee. 

One sentence synopsis for your book? 
Lee leaves his family and China in search of a better life in America posing as a “paper son” in this Angel Island immigration story.  

Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? 
All six of my children’s books are published by Sleeping Bear Press, a fabulous publishing company. 

How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript? It was so long ago that I don’t remember! The most important writing event is to just get started with some words on paper and little by little the story gets completed. And, of course, I loved having Virginia co-write the manuscript with me. 

What other books would you compare to within your genre?
Milly Lee, a friend of mine who was on the California Young Reader Medal Committee with me for four years, wrote a book about Angel Island. Her book, Landed, is an historical fiction, picture book, but it’s not about a paper son. I like the idea that people who are interested in immigration stories might read and compare my story with Milly’s. Teachers are familiar with Ellis Island immigration stories, but Angel Island is just as important and those stories aren’t as familiar. 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?  
Larry Dane Brimner’s book about Angel Island was where I first read about paper sons. When Barbara McNally, my editor at Sleeping Bear Press, mentioned she was interested in hearing about some interesting stories set in California, I immediately thought of Angel Island and paper sons. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 
I guess I’d like to take this opportunity to mention that I have another picture book coming out in July, 2013. It’s a completely different type of book. It’s all sugar, gush, rhyme, and love and called Grandma Loves You! It's illustrated by Petra Brown. The books are as different as night and day, but I love both of them and hope readers will too! 




I'm tagging Carolyn Marsden (www.carolynmarsden.com