Cynthia K. Ritter

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Sense of place

As in King and the Dragonflies, setting is a key part of these recent intermediate and middle-school realistic stories. In Some Places More than Others, Amara's twelfth birthday trip with her dad becomes a whirlwind of highs and lows as she's introduced to the rich history of African Americans in...

Harry for the holidays

Shoshana Flax: Old Potter fans never die, they just sit down at the Yule Ball.  Cindy and I spent the evening of Sunday, December 15th at the Middle East nightclub in Cambridge for the Boston edition of Harry and the Potters’ Yule Ball. (The Black Cat in Washington, DC, and...

Review of Home in the Woods

Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler; illus. by the author Primary    Paulsen/Penguin    40 pp.    g 10/19    978-0-399-16290-9    $17.99 When six-year-old Marvel, her seven siblings, and their newly widowed mother are forced to leave their farm and move into an abandoned tar-paper shack deep in the woods, it “doesn’t seem...

Review of Born to Draw Comics: The Story of Charles Schulz and the Creation of Peanuts

Born to Draw Comics: The Story of Charles Schulz and the Creation of Peanuts by Ginger Wadsworth; illus. by Craig Orback Primary    Ottaviano/Holt    40 pp. 9/19    978-1-250-17373-7    $18.99 From the time he was born, Charles Schulz’s (1922–2000) name was connected to comic strips, thanks to his uncle nicknaming him “Sparky”...

Contemplative seasonal picture books

The following picture books explore the warmth of relationships in seasonal settings. In Sydney Smith's Small in the City, an intrepid child on the move in the big, wintry city speaks directly to an unknown someone, dispensing advice and encouragement. With full-bleed spreads juxtaposed with ones featuring small vignettes, Smith...

Review of Queen of the Sea

Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis; illus. by the author Middle School    Walker U.S./Candlewick    396 pp. 5/19    978-1-5362-0498-8    $24.99 In a graphic novel loosely inspired by sixteenth-century British history “during the reigns of King Henry VIII and his daughters, Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I,” young Margaret has...

A Spooky Surprise

Happy Halloween! To help myself get into the festive holiday spirit on a recent trip to New York's picturesque Hudson Valley for a friend's wedding, I embraced the local literary love for a certain spooky tale: Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." The scene was set listening to the...

Review of The Language of Fire: Joan of Arc Reimagined

The Language of Fire: Joan of Arc Reimagined by Stephanie Hemphill High School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    495 pp. 6/19    978-0-06-249011-7    $17.99 In this engrossing first-person, present-tense verse novel, Hemphill (Your Own, Sylvia, rev. 3/07; Hideous Love, rev. 9/13) reimagines the fifteenth-century life of French martyr Joan of Arc. Readers follow...

Conference Report: 2019 Children's Literature Summer Institute at Simmons University: "Make Way"

This past weekend, Martha Parravano, Cynthia K. Ritter, and Shoshana Flax took turns attending “Make Way,” the 2019 Summer Children’s Literature Institute at Simmons University. Here are our (chronological) combined impressions from this weekend. Cindy: On Thursday night, Shoshana and I caught up over dinner with some of our Simmons...

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