June 2016 — School Visits and Other Events

June has been a great month for writing, traveling, and school visits with kids of all ages. What I have been writing this month? I wrote a book about Israel that’s part of the Exploring World Cultures series published by Cavendish Square. Here’s some more info about that series:https://cavendishsq.com/series/Exploring-World-Cultures

I also worked on a book about beavers for young readers. Sometimes known as nature’s engineers, these creatures are hard workers. They create lodges that are tough for predators to invade. And they work in groups to build their dams and maintain their lodges.

Beaver photo

Another fun project I worked on was an article for National Geographic Kids. It’s about an animal called a pademelon. If you’ve never heard of one, don’t feel badly – -I hadn’t either. The adorable creatures that I was focusing on live on the island Tasmania in Australia. They are small marsupials. Want to see a Tasmanian pademelon?

Tasmanian pademelon

I also wrote a book for teens immigrating to the US. I’ll talk more about that book in an upcoming post…


On June 7, I had a wonderful day with the students and teachers at Hamilton Central School in Hamilton, NY. I met with small, grade-level groups ranging from kids in Pre-K to 5th grade. We talked about the writing process, why nonfiction is awesome, and even played a fun game “What’s In My Bag?”. With some classes, I also read my book Francisco’s Kites. Here’s one photo from the day:

Alicia HCS Visit 5th Grade 6-7-16

Talking to 5th graders about the writing process and why nonfiction is fun!


With the glorious weather that summer brings, sometimes you have to take a day off and just enjoy the sunshine! That’s exactly what I did…here’s a photo of a fantastic day off in Cooperstown, NY!



Enjoy the summer — I’ll be sure to post again in July!



Summer Preview — Part 1 (May and June)

It’s only mid-May and already there are loads of things on my writer’s calendar that I am excited about. I just found out that my book The World’s Strangest Foods was added to the Society Of Children’s Book Writers And Illustrators (SCBWI) Official Reading List for Summer 2016! They have recommended it for kids in grades 3-5.


Strange Foods book cover


Last week I had a great time visiting with kids in grades 3-6 at Virgil Elementary School in Cortland, NY. Librarian Katy Charles was kind enough to share some pictures from the event. The students were a wonderful audience and asked so many good questions. 

Talking about the fun of nonfiction

Talking about the fun of nonfiction

I am very excited about presenting next week to a group of librarians at the North Country School Library Systems Conference being held in Lake Placid on May 23. The subject of my presentation will be “Bringing the World to Young Readers.” I’m really looking forward to talking about the connections to geography and the world’s cultures through my magazine articles and books. There will even be some sneak peaks from books coming out this summer:

Brazil (Exploring World Cultures) book -- due out in August!

Brazil (Exploring World Cultures) book — due out in August!

I’ll also be doing an event related to my picture book Francisco’s Kites at the Red Jacket Community Library in Shortsville, NY on June 29. Here’s what their website says:

Book Reading & Discussion-Francisco’s Kites (Ages 7-11)

When: Wed, June 29, 1:00pm – 2:30pm
Description: Author Alicia Z. Klepeis will visit the library for a book reading & discussion of her book “Francisco’s Kites”. Children can also partake in a kite making craft. A yummy snack will be provided.
Francisco's Kites screenshot

Tune in again soon to see what else is happening — it should be a fantastic summer!


Washington, DC Trip — Blossom Kite Festival

I’ve just returned from a nine-day trip to our nation’s capital. It was a terrific mix of work and fun — but then again, when you write for kids, most of your work is fun! My weekend started out with the Blossom Kite Festival. While the weather was cold and rainy in the morning, the sun came out and the winds picked up, making it perfect for kite-flying. In between reading Francisco’s Kites to kids who came to the Jumpstart tent, I helped to judge the youth kite making competition. I learned more about the different designs of kites than I ever knew before. Some kids made a 6-sided kite known as rokoko kites, which flew beautifully!

Working with the wonderful crew from Jumpstart and George Washington University

Working with the wonderful crew from Jumpstart and George Washington University


The longest kite -- or string of kites -- flown at the very end of the Blossom Kite Festival!

The longest kite — or string of kites — flown at the very end of the Blossom Kite Festival!


Two Festivals In One Week!

One of the great things about being a writer is meeting new people and sharing my writing with them. I’m incredibly excited to be participating in two different events that are part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.

On Saturday, April 2, I will be taking part in the Blossom Kite Festival, held on the grounds of the Washington Monument. I will be reading my book Francisco’s Kites at the Jumpstart tent and also helping judge the national youth kite making competition. Should be fantastic!

Blossom Kite Festival (Photo taken from Travel Channel website)

Blossom Kite Festival (Photo taken from Travel Channel website)


On Saturday, April 9, I will participate in the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival. It will be held at multiple venues along DC’s Southwest Waterfront. I will be reading Francisco’s Kites, doing Q & A, and also helping kids make gliders along with the Goodwill Ambassadors. Sounds like a fantastic time!

Sign for Fireworks FestivalFireworks Festival sky view


School Visit in Marcellus

Last week I had the privilege of getting to visit the students and faculty of C.S. Driver Middle School in Marcellus. I had the most wonderful time talking to all of their nearly 700 students, in a variety of settings from presentations in their auditorium to meeting with small groups in the library to visiting some 5th grade classrooms. The kids were so well prepared for my visit and had tons of enthusiasm and curiosity about writing, travel, etc. It was a fantastic day from start to finish. I hope to return some time in the future!


Francisco’s Kites makes Tejas Star Reading List!

It’s always exciting when you see a book you’ve written arrive on your doorstep. And when that book is a picture book, it’s also thrilling to page through and discover the illustrator’s depiction of your story. I was delighted at how Gary Undercuffler brought my character Francisco to life.

Francisco's Kites screenshot

On Friday I found out that the Texas Library Association selected my book Francisco’s Kites to be on this year’s Tejas Star Reading List. According to the TXLA website, “The Tejas Star Reading List Task Force annually selects a recommended reading list of bilingual English/Spanish books or books written in Spanish from books published in the three years prior to the list being published. The list is prepared for use by children ages 5-12.”

Want to learn more?


Birds of the World article

Whether you’re a city person or a country dweller, birds keep us all company around the globe. During the two years when I lived in Australia, I was completely captivated by the birds — both in my backyard and in the botanical gardens I loved to visit. It never ceased to surprise me how sulfur-crested cockatoos or colorful galahs just flitted by all the time. So I wrote an article in The Old Schoolhouse magazine titled “Birds of the World: A Unit Study.” Whether you homeschool or not, there are lots of fun activities to try with kids of all ages. I’d love to hear from any of you who try some of them!


Goblins Book — Hot Off The Press!

From the goblins of medieval France to those of the Harry Potter books, people have been captivated by these mythical creatures for many centuries. Why are goblins associated with Halloween in some places but at Christmas in others? Some goblins, like the ones in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, are truly evil. But others seem to be more friendly, or at the very least helpful, to humans .


My new book Goblins came out this past week. It’s part of the Creatures of Fantasy series published by Cavendish Square. With colorful illustrations and creepy tales throughout, the book is geared toward readers in Grades 5-8. Want to learn more and see some sample pages? Check out this link:https://cavendishsq.com/title/Goblins


And in case you’d like to see a sneak peek of the cover, here it is:

Goblins cover


Goodbye, South Dakota….Hello, Trees and Trolls!

It’s no surprise that I often blog about the exciting, disgusting or quirky topics that I get to research and write about from month to month. I am almost wrapped up with a project I’ve been working on about South Dakota. I chose South Dakota from a number of places because I wanted to learn more about a place I didn’t know that much about. I was in South Dakota briefly as a 12-year-old, back in 1984. I visited Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park. Now, if only I could find the stellar pictures of a much younger me in striped knee socks and a bad 1980s hairdo. That would be fantastic and embarrassing! Anyway, I had no idea that South Dakota produced a lot of the nation’s sunflower seeds and would never have tried baking sunflower seed cookies if I hadn’t been working on this book. I also would not have known to add viewing the night sky in Badlands NP to my long bucket list. Look at the views in this picture by Wally Pacholka:

The rest of November and some of December will have me working on a middle school book about trolls and troll mythology and also a book for young readers about the differences between coniferous and deciduous trees. Both topics have more complexity than you might think at first glance. I’ll keep you posted on whatever I find out…Happy researching!


The Latino Author reviews Francisco’s Kites

It’s always great to get a positive review of our books. This one just came out on The Latino Author website:

 Francisco’s Kites


Francisco’s Kites – Las cometas de Francisco

By Alicia Z. Klepeis, Illustrations by Gary Undercuffler, Translation by Gabriela Baeza Ventura

Publisher: Piñata Books – Arte Público Press, Houston, Texas

This children’s book excellently captures the mood of a young boy who is missing his friends left behind in El Salvador. He is wishing he had a kite, but his mom can’t afford to buy him one. He decides to make one.

This decision takes him on a journey that is fun, exciting, and intriguing not to mention inventive and filled with ingenuity. You have to read the story to see what happens next, but I guarantee that your child will enjoy Francisco’s story.

This tale is a testament to what a child can do when they have that creative gene working. The book is written for children between the ages of 4 to 8, and it’s almost a guarantee that your child will want to build a kite once he or she reads this book. The story is cleverly done to provide entertainment and knowledge at the same time. Your child will learn how to be creative, how to be resourceful, how to be inventive, and get exposure to another language.

The illustrations are created with much thought in mind and it shows. In addition to the main plot, the author has interjected things from the Salvadoran culture so that it enhances the story and makes it more interesting. What a good way for a child to learn about a new culture!

Because the book is bilingual is an added plus. This is another great teaching tool for a parent or teacher.

Source: Book was provided by author for review. It was reviewed by Corina Martinez Chaudhry.