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The Balladeers channeled Mulan, Gloria Gaynor, and Beyoncé as they entertained Middle and Upper School students at their annual morning assembly.

Literature and Art Merge in the Lower School Library

rows of open books

"I'm looking for imagination. All students have wonderful ideas, and I want the project to be inclusive," says Lower School Librarian Ann D'Innocenzo, describing her motivation to make bookplate drawings part of the library curriculum, rather than a project undertaken by a few students (which is how this 20-plus year tradition used to be handled). Today, every student in Kindergarten through Grade 5 is a participant, working on his or her drawing in the library during library classes—and, if more time is needed, during recess, conference period, or other free time.

What are these drawings used for? Sixteen of them are chosen as bookplates for "Wish Books," those that Mrs. D'Innocenzo would like to add to the Lower School Library and that members of the Pingry community donate to the library each fall. Before the drawings are ready for the judges' eyes*, they have to meet a few guidelines: the theme is reading, books, and library; all lines have to be drawn without a ruler; no numbers or words, except for "Pingry" or "P," used with meaning; and, if students draw a sun, it cannot wear sunglasses. As Mrs. D'Innocenzo summarizes it: Simple, Graphic, One Idea, Details.

At the time of judging, one drawing is selected from each grade, with occasional ties. Winners are honored with posters of their drawings, displayed during the Lower School's Book Fair; all of the drawings are scanned and exhibited the week of the fair; and the winning drawings become permanent additions to books—often prompting students to ask, "Whose bookplate was in that book?" Drawings are randomly chosen for the donated books, but, if students donate a book—or their siblings donate a book—they get their own drawing.

Perhaps the most exciting part is that, once a book has been donated and the drawing is added to the book, both the drawing and donor are permanently searchable in the library's catalog!

*The illustrious judges include Assistant Headmaster-Short Hills and Lower School Director Ted Corvino P '94, '97, '02, Assistant Lower School Director Dr. Sandy Lizaire-Duff P '25, art teachers Lindsay Baydin P '26, '29 and Russell Christian, music teacher Patty Finn, Library Assistant Mary Fuchs, School Nurse Paula Edell P '95, '99, and Mrs. D'Innocenzo.

Contact: Greg Waxberg '96, Communications Writer,