• It's a New Year

    Posted by Jane Ritter on 10/18/2015

    It's been quite awhile since i posted here, but a new year has begun and so has my blog! 

    All the first graders had the opportunity to see Kevin Henkes at Book Passage on September 30. He has a wonderful new picture book out called Waiting

    His talk was filled with childhood photos and he explained that he always knew he wanted to be an artist. With so many critically acclaimed books, it was an honor to have the opportunity to hear him speak. 

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  • Nonfiction Picture Books

    Posted by Jane Ritter on 5/23/2012
    Mrs. Harkness I love it when a new book order arrives! We just got a nice big one and it was filled with gems. I thought I would share some excellent new nonfiction picture books.
    Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter and illustrated by Melissa Sweet
    In 1934 Ruth Harkness inherited an expedition from her explorer husband to hunt for a panda in China. In those days, not many people in the world had ever seen a panda nor had many women set off on a trip into the wilderness of China. This is a beautifully illustrated book that enhances the true story of an incredible woman whose journey helped to change the way many Americans would think about animal conservation.
    cover Here Come the Girl Scouts by Shana Corey and illustrated by Hadley Hooper
    Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, this biography tells the story of its founder, Juliette Gordon Low. Low lived a life of adventure in the Victorian era and decided she wanted to make a difference in the world and so created the Girl Scouts. Lively illustrations and quotes from the first handbook celebrate the life of this lively woman whose organization has had such an impact on so many lives.
    cover Those Rebels, John & Tom by Barbara Kerley and illustrated by Edwin Gotheringham
    An entertaining and informative look at two of our Founding Fathers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Though wildly different in personality (John, an extrovert and Tom, contemplative), they were able to rally the nation to become independent. Fun cartoon-style art with lots of red, white, and blue, this is an energetic look at two men who played such an important role in our early history.
    cover Life in the Ocean by Claire A. Nivola
    Syliva Earle, renowned oceanographer, is the subject of this biography. Born in 1935, she was a botanist and biologist "long before she even knew what those words meant." After moving to Florida when she was 12, she "lost her heart to water" and began her life-long interest in exploring and protecting our oceans. A stunning book about an inspiring woman.

    Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Steven Salerno
    Did you know that in the 1930's there was a semi-pro baseball team made up of a family of brothers? They played for 22 years and were the longest running all-brother team in history. Lively, retro art paired with the amazing story make for a must-read for all (even if baseball isn't  your thing!).
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  • Lucky Us!

    Posted by Jane Ritter on 3/18/2012 3:00:00 PM

    On Friday, March 23, Park School students are in for a treat. Author Wendelin Van Draanen will be visiting! One of my favorite books ever is Flipped which Wendelin wrote in 2003 and has been popular ever since. It tells the story of Juli and Bryce who have been neighbors since they were in second grade. Chapters alternate between the 2 characters and readers will flip over this story. Her newest book is called The Running Dream which just won the Schneider Family Book Award ("honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience.." American Library Association).  Jessica lives to run but as a result of a car accident, loses her leg. This is a powerful story about hope, hard work and determination. Wendelin has also written a 4 book series called Shredderman which is perfect for grades 2-4. Wendelin is a dynamic speaker who will leave a lasting impression. All are welcome.

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  • Lovable Ivan

    Posted by Jane Ritter on 2/29/2012 9:00:00 PM

    cover  The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is a memorable story about Ivan, a gorilla who lives at the Big Top Mall where he's been for 27 years. Told completely from his snippets of thought, this is a story of friendship, hope and kindness. Ivan's friends are Stella, an elephant and Bob the Dog. When Stella dies, the mall owner brings Ruby, a baby elephant. At this point, Ivan knows he has to do something to save Ruby from his fate. Using his art, he generates an outpouring of concern for the animals at the mall. A touching, heartwarming story that you won't soon forget.  Read this with your kids for some thought-provoking discussions.
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  • Awards

    Posted by Jane Ritter on 1/25/2012 9:00:00 AM

    Sorry for the long delay in posting! I was busily reading books in anticipation of the announcement of the American Library Association's winners of the Caldecott Medal, the Newbery Medal and a whole host of other awards (this happened on 1/23). There is so much anticipation and there are predictions galore and yet the "big" day is always full of surprises.

    The Caldecott Award is given to "an artist of the most distinguished picture book for children" and there is a winner as well as some honor books. No one ever knows how many honor books there will be nor is there ever a list of finalists. It is a process that is top secret which adds to the anticipation and excitement. I love the books chosen this year:

    Caldecott Winner:
    Ball for Daisy   For a NPR article about this book, click here.

    Honor Books:

    Blackout Garden Green Me Jane


    The Newbery Award is given to the "author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The winner is Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos which I still need to read. The honor books are Breaking Stalin's Nose (which seemed to be a surprise to most bloggers and those who were making predictions) and Inside Out and Back Again. Of the three, I have only read Inside Out and Back Again (which also won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature). This is the first book of the author who moved from Vietnam to Alabama in 1975. It's told in verse and is a moving immigration story in which Ha, age 10, must come to terms with her new life filled with prejudice, fear, and the unfamiliar. The strength of her family shines through as Ha deals with a year of change. A great book for parents to read to their children to help children understand what it means to adapt and overcome formidable odds.

    Another award given is the Siebert Informational Book Medal which "honors the most distinguished informational book published in English in the preceding year for its significant contribution to Children's literature. I LOVE the book selected:


    If you are a fan of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, you ought to snap this up and read it. The author/illustrator is one of my favorites--her use of paper and her collages are spectacular. Not only that, it's a really interesting biography of Tony Sarg, the man who invented the giant balloons! Booklist magazine calls this book "a joyous piece of nonfiction that informs and delights in equal parts."

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  • More "Bests"

    Posted by Jane Ritter on 12/7/2011 9:05:00 AM

    As I mentioned in my last post, this is the time of the year when publications and blogs are coming out with their "best of the year" lists. Yesterday, The Horn Book, a monthly publication about books for children and young adults came out with their eagerly anticipated Fanfare list--their choices for the best of 2011. Here's the list: Horn Book Fanfare 2011

    School Library Journal always publishes the best of the year in the December issue. This list is surprising to me because there are very few intermediate books--there is a preponderance of young adult books.  It's still fun for me to read and you can see it here: School Library Journal Best of 2011

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  • Best of the Year List

    Posted by Jane Ritter on 12/5/2011 1:00:00 PM

    This is the time of the year when we see lots of "best of.." lists. I enjoy reading what people think are the best illustrated books, the best intermediate fiction, the best adult fiction...I mentioned on an earlier post that I contribute to School Library Journal's Adult Books 4 Teens blog. Here's the list of the best from books reviewed through part of October. I still have many on the list to read! 

    Best Adult Books 4 Teens

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  • Picture Book Perfection

    Posted by Jane Ritter on 11/15/2011 6:15:00 PM

    Every now and then I come across a picture book that is just so right, so powerful in its simplicity, and makes me smile. Such a book is Stars by Mary Lyn Ray and illustrated by Marla Frazee. The message on the front flap is "Stars are everywhere. Not just in the sky. Look..." So begins a celebration of stars both in the sky and star shapes all around us. This is an uplifting book that begs to be read over and over. I wouldn't be surprised to see this book on the Caldecott winners list come January when the awards are announced. Thanks to retiring board members Judy Sherman and Janet Miller for donating a copy to each elementary school. cover

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  • 25 Years Later

    Posted by Jane Ritter on 11/8/2011 10:00:00 PM

    A book that has held the interest of readers of all ages for 25 years is The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. It consists of intriguing illustrations with enigmatic captions. For years children have been inspired to create their own stories to explain the pictures. With this new book, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, 14 well-respected authors have come up their own story to explain the illustrations. Authors include Jon Scieszka, Stephen King, Lois Lowry, Kate DiCamillo and even Chris Van Allsburg. Some people have objected to the concept of this book, thinking that the whole point of the original was so people could make up their own stories. They still can! This would be a great gift and I am asking it to be available at the book fair. A HUGE plus is that Chris Van Allsburg will be at Book Passage on November 13 at 1:00.

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  • NPR News

    Posted by Jane Ritter on 11/2/2011 10:00:00 AM

     I just read about a new program for kids and reading, for ages 9+.  Sounds great. Here's the link I saw:


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