William Paterson University graduate Jennifer Tiritilli Ranu ’85 loves her hometown of Paterson, New Jersey. Since retiring from the field of education after more than 35 years, she has found a new way to keep busy—right on her old stomping grounds. She recently published her third book, a youth book about Paterson, and currently serves at the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park as a Volunteer in Park (VIP) and storyteller to visitors from all over the world.
Ranu’s most recent book, Colorful Journey, is a fictional tale that shares the history of the first planned industrial city in America: Paterson. It is narrated by Sweety, a 10-year-old girl who navigates with her friends through some of the Silk City’s most iconic landmarks—including Morris Canal Bank, the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad tracks, and Lambert Castle in the Garret Mountain Reservation—pondering what the founders would think of the city’s changes.
Her previous books are Italians of Greater Paterson, with a foreward written by Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr., and SkateKey, an anthology of stories from adult Baby Boomers recalling childhood play of bygone days.
“I wanted to share the history of my hometown to a new generation of readers,” says Ranu, who lists twin granddaughters Giuliana and Karolina as co-authors on Colorful Journey. “This book illustrates what my childhood was like on Jersey Street and reminisces with others over similar experiences.”
Illustrations for Colorful Journey were created by William Paterson University sophomore Caleigh (Robyn) Snyder, a Dean’s List student majoring in digital marketing, and a family friend of Ranu’s.
“As an illustrator, I am passionate about translating people’s thoughts into art, and I am so thankful Jen trusted me enough to allow me to do that for her,” Snyder says. “I am hoping to continue with a career in art, illustration and animation,” she continues, adding that she feels “so blessed” to have had the opportunity to work on Colorful Journey as it is “the first step” to achieving her career dreams.
Colorful Journey is recommended for children ages 7 to 19, “and for their grandparents who like to reminisce about what life was like before cell phones, air conditioning, and clothes dryers were introduced in homes,” Ranu says.
The book is available via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
“I hope this book can not only be an inspiration to young kids who will be reading it, but also to my fellow college students who are looking for ways to insert themselves into their own industries,” Snyder says. “If you set your mind to it and put in the hard work, you can get anything done.”
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