The Elephant Quilt

I’m currently working on a book about California, so I’m on the lookout for all things Californian. Imagine my delight when I found THE ELEPHANT QUILT: STITCH BY STITCH TO CALIFORNIA! by Susan Lowell (Melanie Kroupa Books, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008). Susan is the author of some of my other favorite books including THE THREE LITTLE JAVELINAS.

Lily Rose and her grandma stitch a quilt as they travel from Missouri to California by covered wagon in 1859. An Author’s Note supplies readers with the background for the idea of the book. (I’m a nut about Author’s Notes. Love them.) Every fourth grade teacher in California will want this book and everyone who studies westward movement will find this a helpful addition to their school or classroom library.

Those who love quilt books will want to add the book to their favorite quilt stories including SWEET CLARA AND THE FREEDOM QUILT by Deborah Hopkinson, THE QUILT STORY by Tony Johnston, The JOSEFINA STORY QUILT by Eleanor Coerr, THE PATCHWORK QUILT by Valerie Flournoy, THE KINDNESS QUILT by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, SAM JOHNSON AND THE BLUE RIBBON QUILT by Lisa Campbell Ernst, LUKA’S QUILT by Georgia Guba, THE KEEPING QUILT by Patricia Polacco . . . okay . . . you get the idea! (By the way, Patricia Polacco’s website ( is a favorite.)

I hope people find their way to this book . . . Whoop-De-Doo!

As for me, I enjoyed the morning at the swap meet and then took my mom to World Famous for brunch. (One of my favorite ocean-side restaurants.)

A Visit With San Pasqual’s Second Graders

Hooray for the second graders at San Pasqual School!

The picture is of the school library. It has a fire place and a “reading silo.” How cool is that?

I had a great day talking about writing (and telling camping knock-knock jokes) with the second grade students at San Pasqual School. Many thanks to the school’s librarian, Teri MacDonald, and the second grade teachers.

By the way, if you know a camping knock-knock joke, I’d love to hear from you. I need to add some more jokes to my repertoire!

California, Here I Come

I’m excited to report that I’m working on a book about California for Sleeping Bear Press. The details are being worked out right now, but it’s for their “The Reader Series.” This series is patterned after the popular nineteenth century McGuffey Readers which were traditionally used to teach life lessons and reading skills to young children.

I started collecting early readers or primers when I started teaching first grade. I’ve found McGuffey Readers in California antique malls and at old Vermont barn estate sales. I really love it when I find an old Dick and Jane reader, but that’s a whole other topic.

THE PENNSYLVANIA READER by Trinka Hakes Noble is one of the books in the series. You can learn more about this book and the series at

I’ll take this opportunity to tell you that you can find outstanding teachers’ guides for Sleeping Bear Press books at their website. They are available free-of-charge and downloadable from their website. This a fabulous resource for teachers and librarians.

As for me, I’m taking a little break from my writing for a few days. Yesterday I enjoyed lunch with six friends and today I’m visiting San Pasqual School’s second graders.

Celebrate the Day

Sometimes I find a book and think,”Wow! I love that idea . . . why didn’t I think of that?” MRS. MUDDLE’S HOLIDAYS by Laura F. Nielsen (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008) is a perfect example. People who know me know that I love wacky days to celebrate. My favorites?

August 10 National S’mores Day

August 30 Toasted Marshmallow Day

August 31 National Trail Mix Day

I’ll be busy in August celebrating. Can you guess why these might be some of my favorite wacky celebrations? A great website for finding holiday info is

Mrs. Muddle loves to celebrate holidays in style including “First Shower of April,” “First Robin Day,” and “Earthworm Appreciation Day.” Katie comes up with a special celebration for one of her own favorites . . . one that Mrs. Muddle hasn’t even thought of.

Release your inner holiday celebration and find something to celebrate today! As for me, yesterday I had lunch with two writing friends, Jean Ferris and Deborah Halverson. I think meeting with friends is always a celebration.

California Young Reader Medal

One of my happiest committee experiences was serving on the California Young Reader Medal committee. They were a great group of people and it’s a super program. The winners for 2007-2008 have been announced this month so visit and see the list of winners and the list of nominees for the 2008-2009 school year.

Congratulations to California author Neal Shusterman in the middle school category CYRM for THE SCHWA WAS HERE (Dutton Children’s Books, 2004).

ALA Is Coming to Anaheim!

Hooray! The American Library Association is headed to Anaheim in June and I’ll be there.

One of the highlights of the conference is the celebration of the children’s book award winners for 2007. Carmen Agra Deedy received the Pura Belpré Medal for her newest book: MARTINA THE BEAUTIFUL COCKROACH: A CUBAN FOLKTALE (Peachtree Publishers, 2007). Who would have thought I’d like a book that has a cockroach as its main character? But, I do. Martina’s grandmother gives her some shocking advice when she’s trying to find a husband . . . one with patience and understanding. (The book is also available in Spanish.) Visit to learn more about Carmen and this Cuban folktale.

The Belpré Medal honors a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose works best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. Find out more about the ALA children’s book awards at (click on awards).

See you in Anaheim!

Book of the Day!

I was just looking at one of my favorite blogs: (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) and noticed they have Kathleen Krull’s book, LIVES OF EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN: RULERS, REBELS (AND WHAT THE NEIGHBORS THOUGHT), as their “Book of the Day.” Hooray for Kathy! I’m having lunch with Kathy tomorrow and decided I’d make her book the “Book of the Day” on my blog too!

I.N.K. is a very cool website jam-packed with great information about children’s books by nonfiction children’s book authors. You’ll want ot check it out. And, of course, if you haven’t already . . . you’ll want to check out Kathy’s website at

Memorial Day Weekend

Bob and I celebrated our 21st anniversary on Sunday. We were at the cabin and drove to Lake Cuyamaca’s restaurant for brunch. Franz, the owner, treated us to a surprise cheesecake with candles and cued the accordion player to play “Anniversary Waltz.” What a lovely way to enjoy the day.

When we returned to the cabin I read WORDS IN A FRENCH LIFE: LESSONS IN LOVE AND LANGUAGE FROM THE SOUTH OF FRANCE. It’s been three years since we enjoyed Provence’s countryside, but the book swept me away to that glorious place.

Kristin Espinasse, the author, has a blog at

San Pasqual School Library

Last night I was at the San Pasqual School library as part of a fundraiser. The school had previously auctioned me off to the Stanley family! A big thank you to the Stanley family for their support of their school library.

My friend, Teri MacDonald, is the school’s librarian. Teri and I worked on FINDING THE WONDERS OF OUR WORLD, an article for BOOKLINKS. You can find a link to the article on my website. It was inspired by THE SEVEN WONDERS OF SASSAFRAS SPRINGS by Betty Birney. ( It’s one of my favorite books.

Squeeze the Moments!

Friday evening the Greater San Diego Reading Association held their annual Recognition Dinner. It was great fun to see many longtime friends and participate in the celebration. Several of my friends were recognized and it is such a joy to see their hard work and literacy contributions recognized.

It’s a beautiful sunny Sunday in San Diego and I’m grateful. I thought I’d post the image of SQUEEZE THE MOMENT by Karen O’Connor. Karen wrote for children, but now her focus is on inspirational writing and speaking. Years ago, I had the pleasure of taking her to many rural San Diego schools as part of the Meet the Author program. You can learn more about her at

Meet Paul Brewer

I love working on THE CALIFORNIA READER, the journal of the California Reading Association. Each quarterly issue I have a chance to feature a book by a California author or illustrator. The spring issue features the very talented writer and illustrator Paul Brewer and an "About the Cover" article describing his joke books.

Check out his website at to learn more about him, his books, and his school visits. You can learn more about the reading association at

Way to Go Larry!

A big shout of congratulations to my friend, Larry Dane Brimner. His book, WE ARE ONE: THE STORY OF BAYARD RUSTIN, has been selected as the 2008 Jane Addams Book Award and the 2008 Norman A. Sugarman Award for Biography. Way to go Larry!

The Sugarman Award is given biennially by the Cleveland Public Library to honor excellence in the field of biography for children. You can learn more about the award at the Cleveland Public Library’s website,

The Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards “are given annually to the children’s books published the preceding year that effectively promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence.”

Larry’s book introduced me to this fascinating African American leader. Visit his website at to learn more about Bayard.

Kern Reading Association's Young Author's Fair

Kern Reading Association's Young Author's Fair is amazing! It was my pleasure to be part of this fabulous literacy celebration. A big thank you to the Association and YAF committee for a job well done! I visited Quailwood School, Olive Drive Elementary, Eissler School, Casa Loma School, and Wayside Elementary. The students and staffs were wonderful with insightful questions.

On Saturday I was a part of their community event. My author friend, Larry Dane Brimner, took this photo of me with Phyllis, my host at Wayside Elementary!

Hooray for books!