Interview with Caroline Arnold

Do you have plans to keep chickens after learning about their care along with Room 6?
A number of years ago, before I moved to Los Angeles, I lived in the country with my family and we kept a flock of chickens. Watching the children in Room 6 care for their chickens reminded me of this experience. Now that I live in the city, it is not practical to keep chickens, so the answer is no, I do not have plans to keep chickens.

What do you think is the most valuable thing students learn from studying chickens in the classroom?
Among the many valuable lessons learned from hatching chicks in the classroom is being able to witness the life cycle process–from incubating the eggs, to seeing the shells break open, to watching the chicks grow from fluffy balls to fully feathered chickens. It is one thing to be told that chicks grow in eggs, but another to actually see an egg hatch with your own eyes.

How do you keep your research organized?
I have a box system to keep my research organized. Each book I write has its own box, which is where I put my notes, letters, brochures, print-outs from my computer, and anything else pertinent to the book. My digital photos are kept in folders in my computer.

What challenges did you face working with photos instead of your usual collage illustrations?
Every photographer will tell you that the two most difficult subjects are children and animals–because they don’t stay still and they don’t take direction! My secret was to take LOTS of pictures. The challenge of a book like this is that the story takes place in real time so I had to get the photos I needed as they happened. There was no going backwards. Photographs give an immediacy to the story and help make the reader feel part of the action.

If you don’t mind telling us, what’s next for you?
When I was in Mrs. Best’s classroom working on Hatching Chicks in Room 6, I noticed that the children were also learning about insects and the process of metamorphosis. It occurred to me that this could be the topic of another book. So the following year I was back in Room 6 learning about painted lady butterflies and how they grow from tiny eggs to beautiful adult butterflies. That book, Butterflies in Room 6, will be published in January 2019.

Thank you so much, Caroline, for your time!

Be sure to check out Caroline’s work over at her website or follow her on Twitter.