Cover image for First year letters
First year letters
Danneberg, Julie, 1958-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Watertown, Mass. : Charlesbridge Pub., [2003]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 cm
The children in Mrs. Sarah Jane Hartwell's class write letters to her.
General Note:
"A Whispering Coyote book."
Reading Level:
500 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.3 0.5 67311.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.8 2 Quiz: 33540 Guided reading level: L.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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In this sequel to FIRST DAY JITTERS, Sarah Jane Hartwell has gotten up her courage and has gone to teach school. And as every first year teacher knows, a classroom full of second graders can be alarmingly unpredictable.

The key to eventual success is the classroom post office Sarah Jane establishes. The letters the children write to Mrs. Hartwell are sympathetic ("I figured you might be a little scared, just like me"); informative ("…most kids don't eat cauliflower"); encouraging ("Yesterday was THE BEST!"); and apologetic ("I'm sorry about throwing up all over your shoes"). Even the custodian and the principal write to Sarah Jane.

Teachers and children alike will identify with Mrs. Hartwell as she navigates her first year. And many classes will be inspired to write letters about their own experiences.

Author Notes

Julie Danneberg is the author of several books for children, including FIRST DAY JITTERS, FIRST YEAR LETTERS, LAST DAY BLUES, COWBOY SLIM, and FAMILY REMINDERS. She lives in Denver, Colorado.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

K^-Gr. 3. There are lots of humor and probably a little truth in this hilarious account of a new teacher's first year, which is relayed in a series of classroom letters. On September ninth, Shannon, who has noticed Mrs. Hartwell's hand shaking when she puts her name on the blackboard, writes to her teacher, "that's when I figured you might be a little scared, just like me." Missives in generic type are interspersed with handwritten letters from Josh, a student whose spelling and handwriting noticeably improve throughout the year. Especially funny are students' observations about the principal: "When Mrs. Burton came into our class today, your face turned really red. I peeked to see what she was writing. I couldn't read a word! Did you know Mrs. Burton has very messy handwriting?" The funny illustrations show the class in glorious chaos, from dealing with an escaped class pet snake to the disarray after knocking over of a stuffed bison during a field trip to a natural history museum. Kids and teachers alike will appreciate this unusual take on the ups and downs of a school year. Diane Foote

Publisher's Weekly Review

Mrs. Harwell from First Day Jitters (1982) returns for another chaotic school year in First Year Letters by Julie Danneberg, illus. by Judy Love. The narrative consists of letters that the students write to their teacher (sent via the classroom post office), candidly commenting on a variety of incidents. Eddie apologizes for throwing up on her shoes; Margaret compliments the teacher for leaping over a railing "like a real track star" to straighten up a stuffed buffalo while on a museum field trip. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-In this animated follow-up to First Day Jitters (Charlesbridge, 2000), Danneberg and Love continue to pay tribute to the trials and tribulations of elementary school teachers through the experiences of Mrs. Sarah Jane Hartwell. Through short letters and notes written by her students and colleagues, readers learn of Sarah Jane's many classroom adventures, including field trips, a loose pet, fire alarms (complete with sprinklers and the arrival of firefighters), and drop-in visits from the principal. Although these messages hint at the events that take place throughout the school year, the lively and engaging illustrations, done in transparent dyes, really tell the story, incorporating humor through details attentive children will discover. The vibrant colors and animated faces bring the barely controlled chaos to life. Although it is a bit disconcerting that only one student hand writes his messages, children will appreciate that most of the notes are typed and easy to read, and will relate to and enjoy this book.-Piper L. Nyman, Fairfield/Suisun Community Library, Fairfield, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.