Wednesday, March 6, 2019

MA Children's Book Award Voting

MCBA Awards 2019:

Lawrence 5th and 6th graders (and a few fourth graders!) will be voting next week on their favorite of the MA Children's Book Award Nominees. We will know around the first week in April which book was chosen by students across the state. Here's the link to the list of nominees:

Here's the list of past winners going all the way back to 1976!

How many have you read? Students need to read at least five of the titles to vote.

DICE- Lawrence Reads Event coming soon:

Lawrence third, fourth and fifth graders will have the opportunity to read and discuss How Tia Lola Came to Stay in the next few months. The culminating event will be an evening discussion on Tuesday, May 14 at Lawrence School. Stay tuned for more details and registration in April.

Ms. Moriarty has been reading (a lot!): 

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden (horror; grades 4 - 8)

Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly (realistic; grades 4-6)

Strongheart by Candace Fleming (historical; grades 3 -5)

Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh (realistic; grades 5 -8)

The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu (fantasy; grades 4 - 6)

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan (realistic; grades 4 - 6)

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier (historical/ fantasy; grades 4 -6)

Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School by Julie Falatko (Humor; grades 2 - 5)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

2019 Caldecott/ Newbery / Coretta Scott King Award winners!

On January 28 the American Library Association handed out the awards for the best books in several categories. Third graders were anxiously awaiting this announcement!

The Caldecott Award for best illustrated book was given to Hello Lighthouse illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
The Rough Patch by Brian Lies
Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin

I am proud to say that through the generosity of our PTO we have hosted both Grace Lin and Brian Lies in recent years! Both are so deserving of this award!

The Newbery Award was given to the best chapter book of the year:

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

The Newbery Honor books include:

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

The Coretta Scott King book awards were given to the following books by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience:

A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield

The CSK Honor books include:
Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon

I have read Finding Langston and The Season of Styx Malone and would highly recommend both books. Excellent writing, engaging characters. I have A Few Red Drops and The Parker Inheritance also on my To Be Read list!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Picture book biographies that are worth a look

The current Ansel Adams exhibit at the MFA reminded me of a favorite picture book biography: Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams,  A Life in Nature by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and Christy Hale. The biography tells the reader of Adams' struggles as a traditional student which caused his parents to choose to homeschool him. He discovered photography, particularly outdoor photography, as a way to channel his energy. The book provides wonderful opportunities for discussion and for children of all ages to find something in common with this famous photographer. It gives hope to those who may find school challenging, too!

Girl Running by Annette Bay Pimentel, illustrated by Micha Archer is another picture book biography with a lesson in persistence embedded in it. It tells the story of Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. Despite a rule prohibiting women from running the race, Gibb chose to train herself for the challenge and slipped into the 1966 running of the Marathon. Readers will find illustrations of familiar places along the route and will note the names of many female runners who followed in Bobbi Gibb's footsteps at the end of the book.

The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life by Lois Ehlert is actually an autobiography of the children's book author/ illustrator. She gives us a glimpse into the ways she creates her beautiful collage illustrations and encourages students to start creating right now! This will be a first grade read aloud in the upcoming weeks after we've read several of Ehlert's picture books. Students like to get an inside look into the life of an author/ illustrator and this picture book is particularly engaging.

We also just added this beautiful narrative about Maria Merian to our collection-- The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman. Merian grew up in Germany in the 1600s and was fascinated by the insects she saw. She started drawing what she noticed about them and thanks to her careful and detailed illustrations, scientists were able to expand their knowledge of the life cycle of butterflies and other insects. It's incredible that at a time when women couldn't attend universities, Merian figured out a way to pursue her passion and even publish her illustrations! The illustrations in the book (which include some of Merian's scientific drawings) are numerous and beautiful to browse!

Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School by Janet Halfman and London Ladd profiles Granderson, an enslaved person, who learned to read and write alongside the children in her master's house. She then passed on these literacy lessons to other enslaved people at a time when it was illegal to teach slaves to read and write. She persisted in instructing others in secret until she was lawfully able to run a small school of her own. Her students went on to teach others and form their own schools--her lessons reached far beyond her secret school.

These are just a sampling of the excellent biographies that are being published for children of all ages.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

December update

MA Children's Book Award:

Our fifth and sixth graders will be participating in the Massachusetts Children's Book Award program. The fifth graders are already off and running, I will be presenting this program to the sixth grade ELA classes after the December break.

MCBA is run by a committee at Salem State University and provides a unique opportunity for our students: each year they get to select the book they would choose as the best of a group of 25 books. Fifth and sixth graders at Lawrence participated last year for the first time and selected The War That Saved My Life as their favorite. This was also chosen by kids across the state as their favorite!

This year, students are reading from a group of 25 books (found here: They must read at least 5 books in order to be eligible to vote this spring. The state winner will be announced in April 2019. This should give everyone plenty of time to read, read, read!

Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship

On Tuesday, December 11, our students had an opportunity to view a virtual author visit. Jessica Kensky, who was wounded during the Marathon bombing, has written a beautiful picture book about her recovery and her relationship with her service dog, Rescue. Here's the link if you'd like to see the presentation yourself: 

Pourquoi Tales for 2nd grade:

I have been reading pourquoi tales to 2nd graders lately. We've read How Guinea Fowl Got Her Spots and will be reading at least two additional tales that tell how or why something is the way it is in nature. Why does giraffe have a long neck? Why the sun lives in the sky? There are lots of tales like this from all different cultures. 

Kindergarten read-alouds:

So far this year kindergarten classes have been introduced to some classic picture book characters. We have read all of the Harry the Dirty Dog series by Gene Zion. We have also read all of the McDuff stories by Rosemary Wells. But we don't just read about dogs in the library! We read a tale of generosity called Rabbit's Gift retold by George Shannon. Next up are the books about bear and mouse by Bonny Becker which starts with A Visitor for Bear.

Please remember to visit our local bookstores -- The Children's Bookshop and Brookline Booksmith as you do your holiday shopping or stock up on titles for the winter break! Coolidge Corner library has now reopened, too! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Cranberry Contest Results!

Cranberry Contest:

Our 50th annual Cranberry Contest has come to an end! Winners were announced on the Monday before Thanksgiving and they include:

Grades K - 2 winner: Evan in KC
Grades 3 - 5 winner: Max in 3K
Grades 6 - 8 winner: Naomi in 7-2
Staff winner: Anu Advani, Math Specialist

The prize in each category was a book store gift card kindly donated once again by The Children's Bookshop and Brookline Booksmith. We are so lucky to have TWO independent bookstores within walking distance of our school! Please remember these wonderful shops as you head out to do some holiday shopping.

Special Exhibit at the MFA: 

If you haven't been to the Museum of Fine Arts lately, there's currently an exhibit of art from Winnie the Pooh, the classic children's book. The exhibit runs through January 6 and more information can be found here:
Adults are charged an admission fee, but it looks like children age 17 and under are free. And they even have a special "low sensory morning" on Saturday, December 8. Please see the link above for more information.

Ms. Moriarty has been reading: 

A few suggestions from my recent flurry of reading:

Don't Throw It to Mo by David Adler 
Mo is the smallest player on his football team, but just as he did with basketball and baseball he's going to turn his size into an advantage on the team! This early reader sports series has lately been a hit with first graders and won the Theodor Seuss Geisel award in 2016. 

Just Like Jackie by Lindsay Stoddard

Robinson Hart was named after her grandfather's hero, Jackie Robinson. She is constantly reminded to be "just like Jackie" and let insults and teasing roll off her back. But it's getting harder to ignore and on top of that she's now worried about her grandfather's memory. A touching story about a girl and her grandfather who get through some challenging times together with the help of friends at Robinson's school at at her grandfather's job. Grades 4 & up. 

Winterhouse by Ben Guterson

Elizabeth's evil aunt and uncle ship her off to a hotel called Winterhouse for the three weeks of her winter break. Although she's not sure what to expect, Elizabeth finds lots to keep her occupied when she arrives! The owner has peculiar habits, there's a mysterious book that seems to move when she concentrates on it, and there are some suspicious characters also staying for the winter. Elizabeth finds a friend in Freddy, another guest, and the two of them try to solve some of the puzzles of Winterhouse together. 
A sequel, Secrets of Winterhouse, will be released on December 31! Grades 4 & up. 

The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle by Christina Uss

Bicycle grows up in a convent where most of the occupants have taken a vow of silence. She decides to run away on her bicycle for some cross-country adventure when her guardians decide she needs to go to a special camp where friendship is guaranteed. Bicycle is sure that she knows how to make friends and can't imagine that this camp will be much fun. Her bicycle-racing hero will be speaking at a special "blessing of the bicycles" in California later in the summer so she makes San Francisco her destination and sets off. There is humor and adventure here with a fun and tireless heroine! Grades 3 & up. 

So many wonderful titles have been published lately. Please let me know if you need suggestions or if you have recommendations for our library! 

Monday, November 5, 2018

New Books and the annual cranberry contest!

We received lots of new books lately and they're ready for borrowing! Here are some highlights:

Roxie and the Hooligans at Buzzard's Roost by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

This is a sequel to an early chapter book called Roxie and the Hooligans. Roxie is a character full of spunk and humor. Her Uncle Dangerfoot has taken her on vacation to Buzzard's Roost, a seaside town with a mysterious beach house. Could any of the mysterious happenings be connected to her uncle's new top-secret invention? Luckily Roxie has read her uncle's guide to surviving all kinds of disasters so she's the one for the job when one of her "hooligans" is kidnapped! Adventure and humor abound in this illustrated chapter book.

Polly Diamond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers

Another illustrated chapter book, Polly Diamond and the Magic Book is the first in a new series.  Polly is given a blank journal before her new sibling arrives. She quickly finds that any hope she writes down in the journal comes true! She becomes invisible and turns her bedroom into an aquarium. This fantasy book is great for fans of Dory Fantasmagory, Mrs. Noodlekugle and Mercy Watson.

Spy School Goes South by Stuart Gibbs

Fourth and fifth graders have been waiting for his new book in the Spy School series by Stuart Gibbs. The main characters, Ben and Erica, have a chance to defeat SPYDER, their sworn enemy. But first they must conquer hungry crocodiles and rogue agents. They've been told not to contact SPYDER directly, but nothing goes according to plan. Lots of exciting twists and turns in this series that starts with Spy School.

Anthology of Amazing Women: Trailblazers Who Dared to Be Different by Sarah Lawrence

Read about all kinds of amazing women in this collective biography. The book divides the short biographies by their field: sports, politics, science, literature, and music, film and TV. Learn about everyone from Jane Austen to Oprah Winfrey in this collection of short biographical pieces. It may make you curious enough to seek out a longer book about some of the women.

Dig In: Twelve Easy Gardening Projects Using Kitchen Scraps by Kari A. Cornell

This nonfiction book does exactly what the title says: the authors describe and demonstrate in clear, engaging photos, how to do some easy gardening projects that use up your kitchen scraps and teach kids about growing things and being green. Grow a lemon tree from a single seed. Start with one sweet potato and end up with a whole pot of them. The authors also tell you how to cook the food you grow!


This year marks the 50th year that Lawrence School library has held its Cranberry Counting Contest!

There is a jar of cranberries in the library and students are encouraged to estimate how many cranberries they think are in the jar. The contest ends on Friday, November 16. Prizes will be awarded on the Monday before Thanksgiving to the participants who come closest to the actual number without going over it.

Thanks to the Children's Bookshop and the Brookline Booksmith for kindly (and repeatedly) donating the gift card prizes for the following categories!

Grades K - 2: Children's Bookshop gift card
Grades 3 - 5: Children's Bookshop gift card
Grades 6 - 8: Brookline Booksmith gift card
Teachers: Brookline Booksmith gift card

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Local author events

Students love to meet the authors and illustrators of their favorite books. The opportunity to ask your favorite author about their writing process, their characters, and what books they love to read is an experience not to be missed!

I recently found out about these events that your family might be interested in:

At Brookline Library 
Friday, October 19 at 3 pm

Author Vera Brosgol will be speaking in Hunneman Hall in the Brookline Village branch. Ms. Brosgol wrote and illustrated a graphic novel called Be Prepared about her experiences attending a Russian sleep-away camp when she was a child.

At Wellesley Books
Saturday, October 20 at 11 am
Author Rob Buyea who wrote the Mr. Terupt series will be speaking about his new book, The Perfect Secret. Students in fourth to sixth grade have found his books very engaging in recent years.

At Wellesley Books
Saturday, October 27 at 11 am
Story time with five excellent authors and illustrators! They will be reading and signing their books. Authors include: Josh Funk; Emilie Boon; Ioana Hobal; Nancy Tupper Ling; and Annie Cronin Romano. This is sure to be a lot of fun!

At Wellesley Books
Sunday, October 28 at 4pm 
A panel of middle-grade authors will be speaking and signing their books. Panelists include: Elly Swartz (who came to Lawrence School last year!); Sarah Jean Horwitz; Lauren Magaziner; Susan Tan; and Jarrett Lerner. Their topic is "The Middle Grade Years: How Books Help Readers Discover Who They are and Where They Fit". This is a great way to hear about lots of new titles all in one sitting!