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Tue, Oct. 15

Year-long mission leads to boon for beginning readers

At a special breakfast last week, Nancy Green unveiled the latest addition to the school's library ­ more than 350 books, most of them geared to beginning readers.

Green, who is the school's teacher librarian, served last year on the inaugural committee to select a book for young readers from pre-kindergarten through second grade for the first Theodor Geisel Award. Geisel is better-known to generations of readers as Dr. Seuss.

That award, like the better-known Newbery and Caldecott medals, is given for excellence in children's literature by the American Library Association.

The panel selected the winning book last month ­ "Henry Mudge and the Great Grandpas" by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Sucie Stevenson, published by Simon & Schuster.

"We were looking for books that beginning readers could work through themselves," Green said. "The winner rose to the top fairly quickly. The book had an outstanding message. It was a respectful, loving, kind book."

The four honor books were harder to pin down. In the end, the committee selected "Hi! Fly Guy" by Tedd Arnold and published by Cartwheel Books, an imprint of Scholastic; "A Splendid Friend Indeed" by Suzanne Bloom and published by Boyds Mills Press; "Cowboy Kate and Cocoa" by Erica Silverman, illustrated by Betsy Lewin and published by Harcourt; and "Amanda the Pig and the Really Hot Day" by Jean Van Leeuwen, illustrated by Ann Schweninger and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group.

To narrow down to the five books, however, was a year-long process with frequent visits from the UPS man. Green said each book required a 20-25 minute review. Last month, the committee met in San Antonio, Texas, to cast the final ballots.

Committee members got to keep the books, which, said Green, are a perfect addition for the Julie Sisson Memorial Collection.

Sisson, who was a first grade teacher here for 12 years, died in 2002.

Green said that her committee probably enjoyed a windfall of books because the award was new.

"The publishers were stabbing in the dark," she said. "They sent anything they thought might fit the criteria."

The books are a mix of fiction, non-fiction, picture books and story books. Based on list price, they would have cost $4,742.88 to purchase.

Not all are suitable for beginning readers, for example a lavishly illustrated book about the couple who fled Nazi Germany and brought the story of Curious George to America would appeal to older readers and even adults.

Green added that a few of the books weren't suitable for anyone. She pointed to a story of a bad and unrepentant rooster as an example.

The Julie Sisson Memorial Collection is on a shelf under the window at the far right side of the library as you enter.

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