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Jen Bryant - book author

Jen Bryant (Jennifer Fisher Bryant) writes picture books, novels and poems for readers of all ages. Her biographical picture book: A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, illustrated by Melissa Sweet,received a Caldecott Honor award and her historical novel in verse RINGSIDE 1925: Views from the Scopes Trial is an Oprah Recommended Book for ages 12 & up. Other titles include Pieces of Georgia (IRA Young Adult Choices Pick), The Trial (about the 1935 Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial), a 1960’s-era novel Kaleidoscope Eyes (a Jr. Library Guild selection), Georgia’s Bones, celebrating the creative vision of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, Music for the End of Time, based on a true story about WWII, and Abe’s Fish: A Boyhood Tale of Abraham Lincoln.

Jen has taught writing and Children’s Literature at West Chester University and Bryn Mawr College and gives lectures, workshops and school presentations throughout the year. She lives with husband, daughter and their Springer Spaniel in Chester County, PA.

Jen Bryant is the author of books: The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille, Pieces of Georgia, Kaleidoscope Eyes, The Trial, Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson, Ringside, 1925: Views from the Scopes Trial, The Fortune of Carmen Navarro

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Author Books

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Title
Description
01
For shy young Peter Mark Roget, books were the best companions -- and it wasn’t long before Peter began writing his own book. But he didn’t write stories; he wrote lists. Peter took his love for words and turned it to organizing ideas and finding exactly the right word to express just what he thought. His lists grew and grew, eventually turning into one of the most important reference books of all time.
02
As a child in the late 1800s, Horace Pippin loved to draw: He loved the feel of the charcoal as it slid across the floor. He loved looking at something in the room and making it come alive again in front of him. He drew pictures for his sisters, his classmates, his co-workers. Even during WWI, Horace filled his notebooks with drawings from the trenches . . . until he was shot. Upon his return home, Horace couldn't lift his right arm, and couldn't make any art. Slowly, with lots of practice, he regained use of his arm, until once again, he was able to paint--and paint, and paint! Soon, people—including the famous painter N. C. Wyeth—started noticing Horace's art, and before long, his paintings were displayed in galleries and museums across the country.
03
When he wrote poems, he felt as free as the Passaic River as it rushed to the falls. Willie’s notebooks filled up, one after another. Willie’s words gave him freedom and peace, but he also knew he needed to earn a living. So he went off to medical school and became a doctor -- one of the busiest men in town! Yet he never stopped writing poetry. In this picture book biography of William Carlos Williams, Jen Bryant’s engaging prose and Melissa Sweet’s stunning mixed-media illustrations celebrate the amazing man who found a way to earn a living and to honor his calling to be a poet.
04
An inspiring picture-book biography of Louis Braille—a blind boy so determined to read that he invented his own alphabet.
 
Louis Braille was just five years old when he lost his sight. He was a clever boy, determined to live like everyone else, and what he wanted more than anything was to be able to read.
 
Even at the school for the blind in Paris, there were no books for him.
 
And so he invented his own alphabet—a whole new system for writing that could be read by touch. A system so ingenious that it is still used by the blind community today.
 
Award-winning writer Jen Bryant tells Braille’s inspiring story with a lively and accessible text, filled with the sounds, the smells, and the touch of Louis’s world. Boris Kulikov’s inspired paintings help readers to understand what Louis lost, and what he was determined to gain back through books.
 
An author’s note and additional resources at the end of the book complement the simple story and offer more information for parents and teachers.
05
Like her mother, Georgia McCoy is an artist, but her dad looks away whenever he sees her with a sketchbook. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what it was like when her mother was still alive . . . when they were a family . . . when they were happy. But then a few days after her 13th birthday, Georgia receives an unexpected gift–a strange, formal letter, all typed up and signed anonymous–granting her free admission to the Brandywine River Museum for a whole year. And things begin to change.
An accessible novel in poems, Pieces of Georgia offers an endearing protagonist–an aspiring artist, a grieving daughter, a struggling student, a genuine friend–and the poignant story of a broken family coming together.
06
Will Lyza's 1968 summer mystery lead to . . . pirate treasure?

When Lyza helps her dad clean out her late grandfather's house, a mysterious surprise brightens the sad task. In Gramps's dusty attic, Lyza discovers three maps, carefully folded and stacked, bound by a single rubber band. On top, an envelope says For Lyza ONLY. What could this possibly be? It takes the help of her two best friends, Malcolm and Carolann, to figure out that the maps reveal three possible spots in their own New Jersey town where Captain Kidd (the Captain Kidd, seventeenth-century pirate) may have buried a treasure. Can three thirteen-year-olds actually conduct a secret treasure hunt? And what will they find?

In a tale inspired by a true story of buried treasure, Jen Bryant weaves an emotional and suspenseful novel in poems, all set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War during a pivotal year in U.S. history.
07
Imagine you are Bruno Richard Hauptmann, accused of murdering the son of the most famous man in America.

In a compelling, immediate voice, 12-year-old Katie Leigh Flynn takes us inside the courtroom of the most widely publicized criminal case of the 20th century: the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s baby son. And in doing so, she reveals the real-life figures of the trial—the accused, the lawyers, the grieving parents—and the many faces of justice.
08
A celebration of August Wilson’s journey from a child in Pittsburgh to one of America’s greatest playwrights
 
August Wilson (1945–2005) was a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who had a particular talent for capturing the authentic, everyday voice of black Americans. As a child, he read off the soup cans and cereal boxes, and when his mother brought him to the library, his whole world opened up. After facing intense prejudice at school from both students and some teachers, August dropped out. However, he continued reading and educating himself independently. He felt that if he could read about it, then he could teach himself anything and accomplish anything. Like many of his plays, Feed Your Mind is told in two acts, revealing how Wilson grew up to be one of the most influential American playwrights. The book includes an author’s note, a timeline of August Wilson’s life, a list of Wilson’s plays, and a bibliography.
09
The year is 1925, and the students of Dayton, Tennessee, are ready for a summer of fishing, swimming, some working, and drinking root beer floats at Robinson’s Drugstore. But when their science teacher, J. T. Scopes, is arrested for having taught Darwin’s theory of evolution in class, it seems it won’t be just any ordinary summer in Dayton.
As Scopes’ trial proceeds, the small town is faced with astonishing, nationwide publicity: reporters, lawyers, scientists, religious leaders, and tourists. But amidst the circus-like atmosphere is a threatening sense of tension–not only in the courtroom, but among even the strongest of friends. This compelling novel in poems chronicles a controversy with a profound impact on science and culture in America–and one that continues to this day.
10
Carmen Navarro rings up customers at the Quikmart, bored to tears. It’s a job, and she needs it. But Carmen’s true love is music: she dropped out of high school to sing with the Gypsy Lovers and land a recording contract, someday.

Just a few miles away, Ryan Sweeney hunches over his books, a studious cadet with his eye on West Point. There’s not a single girl at the Valley Forge Military Academy, and that’s fine by him.

But when Ryan, on a day pass from campus, spots Carmen, with her shining black hair and snake tattoo, his pulse quickens. Carmen, who normally rolls her eyes at the stiff Academy soldados, can tell this one is different. She slips him a note: “Come hear my band.” A romance begins, unlikely, passionate . . . and quickly imbalanced. In an enthralling narrative of obsessive love, the novel builds to a stunning close.

Inspired by the novella and opera Carmen, Jen Bryant creates a strong-minded and alluring heroine in this contemporary tale of tragic love.