Armando and the Blue Tarp School

Today I had the happy opportunity to have a delicious Thai lunch with my friends Judith Josephson and Edith Hope Fine. (I like for them to call me Helen-ith so I can be part of the -ith group.) We’re working together on an article for the summer issue of the California Reader, the journal of the California Reading Association.

Sometimes Edith and Judith are known as the "Grammar Patrol" for their books Nitty Gritty Grammar and More Nitty Gritty Grammar. They have written books together and individually. Their newest book, Armando and the Blue Tarp School (published by Lee & Low), is an inspiring literacy story and will be featured on the cover of the California Reader. I hope you'll visit their websites to learn more about them at,,, and (How’s that for lots of terrific literacy information?)

About Me

I’m the author of S is for S’Mores: A Camping Alphabet. I started researching the book when I was four years old—when I went on her first camping trip! Since that time, I have been on more than one hundred camping trips including backpacking down (and up!) the Grand Canyon, hiking to the top of Sierra Mountain passes, and canoeing down the Colorado River. I even met my husband Bob on a camping trip to Catalina Island.

I am also the author of E is for Enchantment: A New Mexico Alphabet (published by Sleeping Bear Press) illustrated by Neecy Twinem. I received a WILLA Literary Finalist award for the book from Women Writing the West. The book was named to the Land of Enchantment Booklist for 2006-2007 and selected by the New Mexico Library Association as their “Legislative Gift Book” for 2007.

I have been an educator for over 25 years as a coordinator of library media services, elementary teacher, media specialist, and as a teacher of children’s literature. I received my doctorate in Educational Administration from Northern Arizona University. I recently received an award from the California Reading Association for my contribution to literacy.

I am the editor of A Taste of Literacy (published by the California Reading Association). For this cookbook, I collected favorite recipes and literacy memories from 124 California children’s book authors and illustrators. My office is in my kitchen—maybe that’s why I edited a cookbook!

I’m a native San Diegan. My home is in Pacific Beach and I have a cabin in the San Diego mountains in Mount Laguna where I can hear coyotes serenade the moon. I enjoy watching raccoons, woodpeckers, wild turkey, deer, fox, and other wildlife outside my cabin’s windows.

When I’m not camping, hiking, and hanging out on Sail Bay in San Diego, you can find me reading, writing, watching movies, and planning my next travel adventure.

For more information, please visit my website at or e-mail me at Teacher guides for S is for S’mores and E is for Enchantment can be downloaded from