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!

Monday, October 1, 2018

A family field trip suggestion & the Boston Book Festival

I was reminded today of the wonderful Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. It's a bit of a hike from Brookline (over an hour's drive) but it's worth the trip if you're out in that area for other activities like apple picking. Here's the link to the museum's website:

Right now the Carle Museum has an exhibit honoring the 50th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, an exhibit about picture book creators Leo and Diane Dillon and and exhibit on Paddington the bear, created by Michael Bond. Lots for kids of all ages to enjoy. They have a beautiful library dedicated to picture books of all types and a drop-in art studio where kids can create their own art.


Boston Book Festival

And don't forget the Boston Book Festival is coming up on Saturday, October 13! In addition to all the excellent authors of adult books, there are lots of esteemed children's and young adult authors who will be there. Here are just a few:
Brian Lies
Raul Colon
Melissa Stewart
Jonathan Auxier
Andrea Beaty
Jef Czekaj
Kate DiCamillo
Becky Albertalli

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Welcome back!

Welcome back to Lawrence! I hope you had a great summer!

I started the summer by attending the American Library Association conference in New Orleans thanks to a generous grant from the Brookline Education Foundation. Four Brookline librarians attended the conference and we had a great experience!

Image result for brookline education foundation

We met many authors and illustrators including Jason Reynolds, Sophie Blackall, Angie Thomas, and many more! The conference sessions gave us the opportunity to learn about books that will be published in the future, to learn about what inspired the authors to write, and to think deeply about the diversity of our collections. We met with leaders in our profession and had opportunities to think and talk together about our practice. What a great way to start the summer! 

I also did a lot of reading this summer, too! Some of my favorite titles for middle grade students include Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi, The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet, and Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cotrell Boyce. 

Picture books that I enjoyed include: Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall and The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson.

For our middle school students I would recommend The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes, and Fadeaway by Maura Ellen Stokes. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Summer Reading is here!

Each year the Brookline school librarians put together some suggestions of books for students to read in the summer. This year's list can be found here:

By Monday, June 11 I will have book-talked the new titles with each of the K-5 classes. Talk to your child about what they might enjoy reading this summer. I usually talk summer titles with the middle schoolers (grades 6 - 8) after my K-5 classes end-- so soon the upper grade students will also have been introduced to the titles on their lists.

I recommend thinking broadly about summer reading-- in addition to traditional books, students might listen to an audio book, read an e-book (the public library has lots of both formats that you can borrow for free), or read children's magazines like Cricket (a literary magazine) or Chop Chop (a cooking magazine). We also subscribe to Beanz which is all about coding for kids. This kind of reading may spur more enriching, engaging activities in your family's summer time together!

Please reach out to me at if you have questions about summer reading.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Anna Alter visits Lawrence K - 1 students!

We had a special author/ illustrator visit today with Anna Alter! The kindergarten and first grade students got to meet an author to learn how books are made and how much work goes in to creating the words and the art for a picture book.

Ms. Alter has written many picture books and now a series of short chapter books (Sprout Street Neighbors) and this is the second time she's visited Lawrence School. We read one of her picture books, Disappearing Desmond, in the library and students have also been borrowing her other books to bring home.

She told us all the parts of making a book and even showed us her brainstorming notebook and her early sketches. She was kind enough to demonstrate how she draws some of her characters--you can see two of the drawings on display outside the library!

Ms. Alter encouraged all students to start drawing and writing their story ideas--she's been a writer since she was their age!

Thanks to the PTO for funding this fun event!

Friday, April 6, 2018

MCBA school winner!

All the votes have been counted and the 5th and 6th graders chose The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley as our MA Children's Book Award Winner for Lawrence School. The winner for the state will be announced on Monday, April 9.

The book is a work of historical fiction about a young girl, Ada, who is living in London during World War II. She is living with a club foot that has never been corrected and is tormented by her mother who doesn't think Ada will amount to anything. Ada gets her chance to go with her brother, Jamie, to the safety of the English countryside, escaping her tyrannical mother and experiencing living outside the city for the first time. She and Jamie are placed with a reluctant guardian, Susan, who warms up to the children as they learn to trust her.

Our students have good taste in books: this book also was selected as a Newbery Honor book in 2016! The sequel, The War I Finally Won, was recently released for those who want to know what happened next! Both books are available in our school library.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Online resources

Students in grades K - 2 may find information they're looking for on It is an online nonfiction resource for primary grade students. Our students have used it for animal projects,  insects, biographies, and US symbols among other things. You can reach it through our library homepage.

Older students have been using PebbleGo Next (also available through our library homepage). Fourth graders use it for research on regions of the US and Native American tribes.

I've demonstrated the following databases for some fifth graders recently-- Biography in Context, World Book Student, and Encyclopedia Britannica. These subscriptions are all provided by the district because we can be confident that the information is reliable and is updated frequently. Check out our library homepage to see what's available. 

All of the above online resources can be used at home or at school. They are convenient and reliable resources to answer your students' questions!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Family reading ideas

I just found a blog that's part of The Horn Book, one of my go-to journals for the best in children's literature. The blog is called "family reading" and the link to it is here:

Blog entries on Family Reading seem to vary, but what they all have in common are suggestions for what you might read with your children around a variety of themes. A recent post was called "Stories that Build on a Common Humanity" and another was called "Picture Books about Jewish Women". Very interesting reading for all of us who are interested in promoting a love of reading in children!

I would also recommend the following for family reading (just some recent titles that come to mind):

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon-- Humorous fiction for all about Dory, a young girl with a great imagination!

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker-- Another funny girl who lives in Boston with her parents. Clementine is always in trouble because people say she doesn't pay attention to ANYTHING--but in her mind she actually pays attention to EVERYTHING! So much so that she misses the directions and frequently lands in the principal's office.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser -- I've mentioned this one before but I can't say enough about it! It a slightly more modern family story set in present-day Brooklyn. The family has been told they need to move from the apartment that they all know and love so well. The children set out to convince the grumpy landlord that he should keep them as tenants.

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell -- This book reminded me of Hatchet (by Gary Paulsen). Four children are in an airplane that goes down in the Amazon jungle. They need to figure out how to survive with piranhas and snakes surrounding them at every turn. An exciting adventure! The main characters are a variety of ages so I can imagine a family read-aloud of this title that everyone could enjoy.

Checked by Cynthia Kadohata -- A hockey story -- very well written. Puts you in the shoes of a young hockey player moving through the various levels of juvenile hockey. But it's also a story of a father and son and their Doberman who was diagnosed with cancer. Effective on multiple levels and not just for hockey fans!

The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor -- Realistic fiction about Mason who is bullied by his classmates and saddened by the loss of his one good friend. Lucky for Mason a new boy in school befriends him and they build themselves a fort in Mason's backyard. There's a nice dog story here, too. Probably best for grades 4 - 6.

Happy family reading!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Jarrett Krosoczka author visit

Our 2nd - 5th graders were treated to a special visit with author/ illustrator, Jarrett Krosoczka on January 30. Students learned his process for creating his popular series "Lunch Lady" and about how persistent he had to be to get his early picture books published. He showed us the first book he wrote and illustrated in 3rd grade and answered students' questions with enthusiasm.

We are so grateful to the BEF and, specifically, The Saker Fund, for funding and organizing this visit.

If you'd like MORE of Jarrett Krosoczka, he'll be at the Main Library in Brookline Village on Thursday, February 15th! He will be presenting a workshop to 75 students -- for more information, see the library's website:   Registration is required for this event and based on students' reaction to his visit, I'd say you should register early!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

K - 3 recent library lessons

Just an update on what we're doing in the library!

Kindergarten classes: we finished reading all of the McDuff books by Rosemary Wells and read a winter story of generosity called Rabbit's Gift. We've just started reading the very funny Bear and Mouse stories by Bonnie Becker--the first one is called A Visitor for Bear.

First Graders: We listened to the story Big Snow by Jonathan Bean and noticed the patterns in the words and in the illustrations. Several of the first grade classes are now borrowing two library books--a very exciting development!

Second Graders: We've read three pourquoi tales: How the Guinea Fowl Got Her Spots, How Chipmunk Got His Stripes and Coyote Places the Stars.  I try to coordinate reading these tales with the classroom teachers' study of folktales.

Third Graders: All third graders were taught to use the library online catalog in December. They have had a chance to practice their new skills and are off and running looking for the books they'd like. Now we're learning about the Caldecott Medal and Honor books which will be awarded mid February this year. We read "After the Fall" by Dan Santat which is thought to be a contender for this year's award. Next we will look at a whole range of other contenders and rank our favorites!