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Princeton author Anica Rissi inspires Lower School students and faculty to tell their own stories

Princeton author Anica Rissi inspires Lower School students and faculty to tell their own stories

By Jill Work and Aileen O'Shea
Lower School Media Specialist and Third Grade Teacher

On Monday, November 12, Princeton author Anica Mrose Rissi delighted students as the Lower School Visiting Author. Ms Rissi read her picture book, Teacher's Pet, to the Early Childhood students and shared a book from her series, Anna Banana to the Lower School. She told the students how she got started as a writer, and even shared her first "book," written in elementary school. She explained the writing process and how to come up with ideas for stories.

Kindergartener Emme brought a book she had written to share with Ms. Rissi, and they read through it together. Hadassah, a fourth grader, appreciated how Ms. Rissi used stories from her own childhood as inspiration for her books. First grader Emma loved the Anna Banana book she just finished reading. Emma has written true stories about her own experiences, but the author visit inspired to her to try writing fiction stories as well.

Other students became inspired to tell their own stories. During first grade library time later in the day, the students told stories to each other of how they got their names. Ms. Rissi even inspired some teachers to start writing. Mrs. Poch, the JK teacher, and Ms. Work, the lower school librarian, have agreed to become writing partners, and meet once a week after school to finally write the children's books that have been dancing in their heads for years. Click here for photos.

About Anica Rissa

Anica Mrose Rissi is the author of the Anna, Banana chapter-book series and The Teacher's Pet picture book. Ms. Rissi grew up on an island off the coast of Maine, where she read a lot of books and loved a lot of pets. She now tells and collects stories, makes up songs on her violin, and eats lots of cheese with her friends in Princeton, New Jersey, where she lives with her dog, Arugula. As a former book editor turned full-time writer, Anica has spoken with kids and adults across the country about all stages of the writing process. Find out more about Anica and her books (and watch the Anna, Banana video trailer!) at

The Anna, Banana series follows nine-year-old Anna as she navigates the ups and downs of elementary-school best friendship, with a little help from her wiener dog, Banana. The books "will appeal to fans of Clementine, Ivy and Bean, or dachshunds" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

The Teacher's Pet, illustrated by Zachariah OHora, is an "amusing classroom story" (New York Times Book Review) about a class pet that causes big trouble. It's "a guaranteed chuckle" (USA Today) for animal lovers of all ages.

About the Lower School Visiting Author Program

This is the second year of bringing a children's author to Stuart. Last year, Aileen O'Shea coordinated a visit from Doreen Cronin, author of Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type. The event was so successful that we decided to make it an annual event. Having an author visit inspires students in their own writing and helps them understand the process of writing and the importance of re-writing (and re-writing and re-writing). It allows them the opportunity to immerse themselves in the work of a given author, then find out from the author herself where she found inspiration. They have the chance to formulate and pose relevant questions to the authors. Since the authors so far have been female, this series also gives them tangible role models who fit our criteria for "women we admire."

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