Author Archives: aliciaklepeis

Summer Library Visits

What a summer it has been — it’s hard to believe that the month of July has come and gone. Kids in some parts of the country are already back to school! But many young readers are happily still in vacation mode. I’ve been able to meet lots of them at some of my summer reading events. Librarian Sara Knobel received a grant to bring me to four public libraries in Central New York in connection with my book Assassin Bug vs. Ogre-Faced Spider: When Cunning Hunters Collide.

Assassin Bug vs. Ogre-faced Spider cover

I shared this book aloud at all of the library events and also did some Q&A — with both the kids and the adults who brought them to these fantastic events. Garrett and Chris of Grey Biological brought some live bugs to share at some of these library visits. I gathered my courage and held a variety of creepy critters, including a vinegaroon, a Madagascan hissing cockroach (which hissed at me while running up my arm!), and even a large rose hair tarantula!

Holding a Madagascan hissing cockroach

Holding a Madagascan hissing cockroach

Holding a rose hair tarantula

Holding a rose hair tarantula

I also had a terrific time visiting the Red Jacket Community Library in Shortsville, NY. This visit was related to my multicultural picture book Francisco’s Kites. The kids in the audience and I had a great time making — and flying — kites, as well as eating kite-shaped cookies. (These childrens’ mom gave me permission to use this picture.)

Children making kites at Red Jacket Community Library

Children making kites at Red Jacket Community Library

Kite cookies at Red Jacket Community Library

Kite cookies at Red Jacket Community Library


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:

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)

Blossom Kite Festival

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

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival presented by Harris Teeter

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:


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!