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Presents for Santa


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About the Author

The majority of Marybeth Lorbiecki's books are award-winners. With more than twenty titles, Marybeth brings to her writing her experiences as a children's book editor, mom, teacher, marketing copywriter, journalist, youth worker, international Rotarian ambassador, graduate student in literature, and post graduate student in philosophy. (Someday she'll find a way to work in something about being a lens grinder, factory worker, bakery clerk, waitress, park landscape assistant, museum receptionist, etc.) Her themes often center on people's relationships--to each other and to the land.

Many of her books bring history alive for younger readers, tackling difficult topics: racism, guns, war, environmental challenges--yet they have a lighter side and a drama that allow younger readers to look at these issues with hope and courage.She has a compatriot in the arts in her husband, David Mataya--a designer, artist, and musician. They have three great kids--Nadja, Mirjana, and Dmitri. They live in Hudson, Wisconsin, where they enjoy the nearby rivers and woods.The writings of Marybeth Lorbiecki have earned numerous awards, including: Children's Choice List, New York Public Library Pick of the Lists, Storytellers World Award Chicago Tribune, Pick of the Lists IRA Best Books of the Year (starred), Notable Social Studies Trade Books, Bank Street College Children's Books of the Year, Independent Publishers Book Award, New York Public Library Notable Trade Book for Young People in Social Studies, in Literary Arts Pick of the Lists by the American Library Association, Living the Dream Award from Manhattan Country School, Benjamin Franklin Award, Publishers Marketing Association, Best of Show from Midwest Independent Publisher Association, Distinguished Service to History Award from the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Parents Choice Award, Boston Globe Pick of the Lists, ABA Kids' Pick of the ListsJunior Literary Guild, Minnesota Book Award in Biography and History, Science Books and Films List of Best Children's Books.


An African American nun challenges the beliefs of her second-grade students in this thought-provoking picture book set in the 1960s. When Sister Anne joins the faculty at the local Catholic school, Anna overhears her father whisper, "I don't know how a woman of her color is going to survive," and Anna wonders what she'll be like. On the first day of class, Sister Anne demonstrates her fun and unusual approaches to counting and storytelling. But the good times are brought to a halt when a note about Sister Anne's skin color lands on her desk. The teacher tells the class that she needs "some quiet time to think about this," and next day she finds a way to educate the children about racism. Lorbiecki (Just One Flick of a Finger) brings ever-relevant social issues into sharp focus through Anna's heartfelt, intimate narration. While the '60s setting is evident in Popp's (Princess Florecita and the Iron Shoes) historically accurate, gauzy pastels, the text's subtle tone and universal message are far-reaching and accessible to contemporary readers. And the warm, softly lit portraits of students at rapt attention as they listen to the serene Sister Anne add to this book's considerable emotional appeal. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Gr 1-3-A gifted and unique African-American teacher is just a little too unique for some of the students and parents in a parochial school in the 1960s. Seven-year-old Anna doesn't understand why her parents are concerned about the problems Sister Anne's color might cause until a paper airplane sails through the classroom with a poem on its wings. The teacher reads the poem aloud: "Roses are red,/Violets are blue./Don't let Sister Anne/get any black on you." Embracing the moment, the woman teaches her students about her heritage. Although a few children are pulled out of the class by their parents, those who stay have an unforgettable year. Based on the author's experience, the story has honesty and integrity and the two main characters are well crafted. The velvety pastel illustrations have the soft focus and pale palette of a distant memory coupled with exquisite detail. Popp's realistic renderings capture the period and are a perfect complement to a thoughtful text. Though ideally suited to introductory units on civil rights, there are many groups and individuals ready to share this gentle reminder.-Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA

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