Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters

It has been such a pleasure to introduce my students to the Disgusting Critters series by Elise Gravel. These titles are written partly like a graphic or comic style early reader and partly as a nonfiction picture book. So far, there are four titles published including The Worm, The Fly, The Slug and The Rat. I think The Rat might be my favourite because I feel bravest when I read it. Oh how I despise rats . . .

The Rat: Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters

When I first read The Fly in the summer, I knew. I knew these books would be such a hit in my classroom. I had all kinds of ideas:

  • pair them with a more traditional nonfiction series to allow students to continue gathering facts
  • have pairs of students read through and list facts discovered (go on a “fact hunt”) and also list parts of the books that are included for other purposes like humour, story line, etc.
  • make lists of other disgusting critters that might need to have a book devoted to them

Day one and we started with Disgusting Critters.

Independent reading time included a lot of reading devotion to these books.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters

Then I thought . . . what if we made our own “fan art” and designed a Disgusting Critter book jacket? I used some of the terms on the back covers for students to answer for the “back” of their cover:

Special Talent:

Food preference:

Distinctive Trait:

Disgusting?

We drew pencil sketches. I made a photocopy. We added colour. One for our bulletin board and one for Elise Gravel. We had lots of interesting “critters” including snails, centipedes, ladybugs, lizards, lobsters and lots of spiders. And many more :-)

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters

We wrote Elise letters full of questions and things we wanted her to notice. Some favourite lines from different letters:

  • I drew the lice because I liked it. Lots of kids have lots of lice, so be careful.
  • Mine is a spider. Did you notice my spider’s eyelashes?
  • I love your art Elise.
  • I hate spiders but I like your art. Can you write about lizards and crabs?
  • I love how you mixed humour and nonfiction.
  • Is writing a book hard?

We wrote thoughtfully . . .

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters

We got some help editing for meaning and clarity:

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters

Lots of hard work and creativity by all to complete these projects. Some art, some writing, a little research and a bit of creative license.
Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters   I shared much of this with Elise along the way via twitter.

A package of “fan art” and letters is on route to her in Montreal!

So much buzz about these books. Nonfiction that is exciting and engaging? That leads to reading more nonfiction about certain creatures? More Disgusting Critters please Elise Gravel!!

NFPB 2014

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 111/65 complete!

Monday October 20th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

imwayr

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

I read a few  picture books and many early/young chapter books and graphics this week.

Any Questions by Marie-Louise Gay

What a beautiful picture book. It highlights the story telling process, the magic of children’s questions and the imaginative journey of a gifted author/illustrator into the land of stories. Once upon a time . . .  Marie-Louise Gay tells us that a story begins with a blank white page. But her pages are never blank and white – when they are gifted to us, lucky readers, they are full of whimsy, happy clutter and childhood. Layer upon layer for read through after read through with little readers. Always something to happen upon on each page even if you miss it the first time through.

Any Questions Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The book trailer is delightful – especially hearing Marie Louise-Gay‘s warm and animated voice. After meeting her on Saturday at the Vancouver Children’s Literature Round Table’s Breakfast, it is even more charming. I am thrilled to bring my signed copy of her book into school this week!

 signed Any Questions Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Of course, I also had to purchase the two Marie-Louise Gay books I didn’t have in our class collection.

When Stella was Very, Very Small by Marie-Louise Gay

All of the Stella titles feature Stella as a young girl but this title takes us back to her toddler days. She is, of course, charming, curious and cute as a bug.

When Stella was Very, Very Small Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

What are you Doing Sam? by Marie-Louise Gay

I particularly love the Sam titles – the interactions between Stella and Sam that begin with Sam are quite charming. In this book, Sam decides to teach his dog Fred some tricks. This is quite an interesting endeavour. Fred, as usual, has his own ideas.

 What are you doing Sam? Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Extraordinary Warren: A Super Chicken by Sarah Dillard

This was a wonderful find at the bookstore this weekend. Thanks to a donation to classroom libraries at my school, I got to go book shopping. My plan was to purchase more early chapter series and graphic titles for our class collection. This reads as part graphic, part early chapter. Filled with humour, adventure and interesting character interactions, I predict this will be a hit with many little readers in my room!

 A Super Chicken Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Baby Mouse: Monster Mash (#9) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

It is October. Halloween is approaching. Reading this title was only fitting. Love the layers to the story about friendship, peer pressure and bully behaviour.

Monster Mash Baby Mouse Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Picture Day (Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe #1) by Susan Nees

Another Branches series by Scholastic.  I wondered if this title was going to be a “pink” book considering the cover and all of the rosy hues. I was pleasantly surprised by the character development and character interactions in an early chapter book title full of busy illustrations. Missy’s friend Oscar has some creative ideas about saving Missy’s identity crisis on picture day when her mother stifles her creative fashion spirit.

Picture Day Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Class Pets (Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe #2) by Susan Nees

I tried out another title just to check consistency and I enjoyed this one too. Perfect level for beginning chapter book readiness. Lots of colourful photos, easy to connect to school settings/plot lines and lots of humour.

 Class Pets Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Monkey Me #1 Monkey Me and the Golden Monkey by Timothy Roland

This Branches series is a little more complex than the Missy titles – more text and less illustrations. Still, great for a young chapter book series. After eating a special banana at the museum, Clyde has the tendency to become a monkey (literally) for portions of every day. Sometimes more than once. Silly, humorous and full of adventure.

Monkey Me and the Golden Monkey Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also finished After Iris by Natasha Farrant

I so loved this book – I am a fan of the chaos, eccentricities and love in this Gadsby family. The parents? Yikes. The “au pair”/guardian? Fantastic. The sibling interactions? So true. Told through Blue’s film transcripts and diary entries, this is a must read middle grade novel. One of my #MustReadin2014 titles.

IrisUp next? I am still reading The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson - so happy with this title as I think both of my children will love it. Thinking of purchasing it as a futre family read aloud. We are big fans of fantasy. Still reading Okay for Now to my children- such a book to inspire discussion

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 65/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 471/650 books read (currently 48 books behind – not getting this much lower but keeping it under 50! I need a picture book blitz day or two or three)

#MustReadin2014: 21/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 111/65 complete

 

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

Oh, how I love my class! I love the talk, the writing, the words, the questions . . . All of it.

I celebrate this long and winding conversation with my students:

Me: “I’m so excited I’m going to see an author/illustrator this weekend!”

A student: “Do we know who it is?”

Me: Gives various clues

Eventually . . . .

Various students: “Marie-Louise Gay!”

Me: “Yes. I hope to get her new book signed at the author breakfast I am going to.”

A student: “Signed to us right?”

Me: “Of course.”

A student: “Do you know Elise Gravel or are we just writing to her?

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

Me: “We are getting to know her. She’ll know you better after we send our letters and fan art.”

A student: “Did you send them already?”

Me: “Well, we are still working on everything. I will send it this weekend when we finish.”

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

A student: “Why don’t you just tweet it all?”

Me: “I have sent her some photos. But, I think she will like getting the package in the mail.”

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

A student: “Do you know Katherine Applegate?

Me: “We know her work but no, I haven’t met her.”

A student: “Go meet her. You should. And tell her about how we love her books.”

Me: “I shared some of our letters in a blog post and tweeted it to her. So she knows we love them.”

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

A student: “But you are going to meet Kate DiCamillo right?

Another student: “Can we come?”

Me: “I am going to a conference in the spring and she will be speaking. I will get our copy of Flora & Ulysses signed.”

A student: “You forgot The Illuminated Adventures part”

A student: “And you just met Raina Telgemeier right?”

Me: “Yes, and she signed books to our class. People are reading them right now.”

Many students: “I am.” “And then me.” “I’m next!” “Me!”

A student: “So, who are you going to meet next? Someone we like right?”

:-)

I also celebrate this – – > The lovely Miriam who works with me created these sheets and plastered the room and the school. In our room, we were gifting these words to each other with messages. I received “wisdom” with a comment from one child, “You are always really smart to us.”

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

One of our little learners was inspired and made her own. We found it outside our room at the end of the day – taped up in the hallway.

Pass it on. 

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

Conversations about authors and illustrators. Book love. Words with weight. These things I celebrate.

Thank you also to Ruth Ayres, for the inspiration and her Celebration Link up that she hosts each week. I love how being a part of this #celebratelu community reminds us weekly to look for the positive and take some time for gratitude.

celebrate-link-up

Dear Ivan

Last year I read my class Katherine Applegate‘s The One and Only Ivan. We fell in love. Ivan’s words (via Katherine) and his story had such an impact. When I heard that there was a picture book to be published in the fall written by Katherine and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, I showed my students the book trailer. Well, . . .

“You have to buy that book!”

“Will you read it to us?”

“Even if we aren’t in your class?”

“Promise?!”

This year I have been able to keep 80% of the students I had last year – looping a Grade 2/3/4 into a 3/4. When Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas was released, I made a special trip to the bookstore. I read this gorgeous picture book to my students multiple times. We have certain lines memorized.

 Dear Ivan There's a Book for That

We then watched the video of Ivan in the shopping mall that I found on Mr. Schu’s blog.

Some of us cried. We read the story again. We started writing letters to Ivan. I showed the children a video of Ivan at Zoo Atlanta. We watched it more than once. We added to our letters.

Yes, we know that Ivan passed away in 2012. But Ivan has sat with us in our room. He has made us laugh and made us pause. We have sat in silences thinking. He has been our hero and we have wanted to protect him. His story has prompted discussions of animals in captivity, of human cruelty, of just “why?” Lots of conversations. Thanks To Katherine Applegate and all of those who have loved Ivan, we love Ivan too.

Writing to him felt like the right thing to do. Reading the letters later? Well, wow. It was certainly the right thing to do.

 Dear Ivan There's a Book for That

Portions of my students’ letters:

Ava writes:

Dear Ivan: I wish I could actually see you in real life and your silver back. I’m sorry that you spent 27 years in a shopping mall all alone.

Noella writes:

Dear Ivan: Were you sad in the shopping mall? Was your cage rusty? Were you sad for your sister? Were you happy in the zoo?

From Andrew:

Ivan, what did the zoo feel like? How much did you eat? What did you feel like when you first went to the zoo? How did it feel to be trapped in a cage? How dark was your cage? How did it feel to have no one to protect? How did it feel to be lonely?

From Rebecca:

Dear Ivan: I really liked your painting Ivan. I am so sorry for your sister. You were so smart Ivan. I am impressed of the things that you do. I am happy that you are in a zoo. I am happy for your freedom.

Jorja writes:

Dear Ivan: Your cage was grey and the jungle was green. There were other gorillas and you looked happy. You looked happy in the zoo too. You looked calm and relaxed. I was sad when you died.

From Kevin:

Dear Ivan: I know you’re gone but we still have your books. I felt sad when you were in the shopping mall because it was dark and there were no friends and no love. There should have been grass and gorillas to play.

Brian writes:

Dear Ivan: I feel really sad for you and I really want to see you face to face. When I miss you, I get really emotional and I hope you were happy when you were in the zoo. When you were in your cage you felt empty inside and you need compassion and love. I’m really sorry for your sister Tag. You looked all majestic with your big black coat at the zoo. You were looking at the world instead of people looking at you. I love you Ivan

From Gracie:

Dear Ivan: I didn’t realize how empty and alone it was in your cage until I watched the real video. I love art and I wanna be an artist. You’re the most interesting and fantastic artist I’ve ever seen. I hope you had a good life Ivan. When I watched you at the zoo, I was filled with joy. Here’s what I saw: You looking around like you were impressed with the world. I know that it is hard to read a gorilla’s emotions but I bet you were very happy. Did you think you wasted your life or did you know you were gonna live happy every after?

Even though this post doesn’t talk in detail about this gorgeous nonfiction picture book by Katherine Applegate and G. Brian Karas, I hope it calls to you (if you have yet to read it) to experience Ivan’s story. Then, of course, find someone to read it to. This story is meant to be shared.

NFPB 2014

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 111/65 complete!

Fall Update: #MustReadin2014

I have been sitting at 20/30 titles read on my #MustReadin2014 list for so long that I thought I had read nothing since the summer update in July. This morning I finished a book on the list which brings me to 21/30 titles read so I thought, hurrah! I can list one book. But then I realized I have actually read four novels from this list. Wow!

must read in 2014 challenge

What have I read since the beginning of July?

Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer  (Read July 5th, 2014) YA novel 4 stars

I am fully captivated by these Lunar Chronicles stories even though I never thought I was going to be. I read Cinder on a whim and was hooked. I particularly love how all of the characters from previous books still play starring roles in the ongoing storylines. Dramatic, suspenseful, interesting characters. Great YA fantasy!

 Cress Fall Update: #MustReadin2014 There's a Book for That

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner  (Read July 15th, 2014) YA novel 5 stars

Should have been just so sad but somehow this title was light and full of hope. Truly beautifully done -this is the YA fiction I want my daughter to read as a teen. Easily one of my favourite YA titles of 2014. I loved the vulnerability in the characters, the exploration of grief, the superb writing and of course, little Frankie Sky.

 The Summer of Letting Go Fall Update: #MustReadin2014 There's a Book for That

We were Liars by E. Lockhart (Read July 15th, 2014) YA novel 5 stars

Eerie. Haunting. Painful. Beautiful. Captures family dynamics – holding these messy aspects up in all of their raw and real glory. If you have read this book, you know, it isn’t possible to write details that aren’t spoilers.

 We Were Liars Fall Update: #MustReadin2014 There's a Book for That

After Iris by Natasha Farrant (Read October 13th, 2014) MG novel 5 stars

I so loved this book – I am a fan of the chaos, eccentricities and love in this Gadsby family. But whoa, these parents . . . I gave my children extra attentive hugs today in response!

 After Iris Fall Update: #MustReadin2014 There's a Book for That

How is your To Be Read list treating you? I am excited still to tackle the rest of my list while I still do other reading. However, I can already predict that I might not get to two titles on my list. One, because I just can’t lay hands on it. And the other? Every time I do pick it up from the library, I end up returning it unread. Hmm . . . But I won’t call it yet.

I think it is interesting that certain books call to us at certain times. Some of my #MustReadin2014 titles sit on my bookshelf staring at me and I keep passing them by and reach for other books. It’s not that I don’t want to read them. I just don’t want to read them now. And then the mood hits . . . :-)

If you have been participating in #MustReadin2014 and written an update post, link up below and share on twitter using the #MustReadin2014 hashtag! Please note that you need to click on the link below and it will take you to another page.

Want to know more about #MustReadin2014? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read lists.

Monday October 13th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

imwayr

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next :-)

I read some beautiful picture books this week, including many nonfiction titles:

Silence by Lemniscates (an illustration studio of artists and designers)

The perfect title to encourage us to embrace quiet and be mindful of what we hear and sense. I think this is an ideal book to inspire a walk outside to find a quiet spot to just be still and notice. A gorgeous title gifted to my classroom by the magical Kim Balke who does Expressive Art Therapy with many of my students.

Silence #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

Quest by Aaron Becker

I was so excited to open this book and just experience the imaginative journey that Becker captures on the page. The reader is pulled through each illustration, all the while attempting to absorb every tiny detail. So wonderful that this is a picture book (wonderfully wordless) so that it can be experienced again and again.

Quest #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Jenkins and Page always introduce us to the most unique creatures and impart the most interesting of facts. The perfect book to read a page or two at a time. The format is engaging – each animal is introduced with a mini letter/question and answer.

“Dear Pufferfish: You’ve got me worried – are you going to explode?”

“No, I won’t burst. I’ve inflated my body . . . “

Creature Features #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

The Rat by Elise Gravel

I think I might have heard this title shared between children about twenty times this week. There are many giggles about the yucky eating habits and its tail which serves a multitude of purposes.

The Rat #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

The Slug by Elise Gravel

More silly and more gross but lots to learn and ponder. My students adore this series. We are in the middle of some “fan art” to send to Elise Gravel :-)

the slug #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

I have continued reading a number of early/young chapter books as I am interested in introducing a number of new series to some of my readers just getting comfortable with chapter books.

Humphrey’s Tiny Tales: Really Wheely Racing Day by Betty G. Birney

I have some students reading the Humphrey series but for those not quite ready for a longer chapter book, this “Tiny Tales” series is perfect! Cute illustrations and larger text make it non-intimidating and attractive for readers growing their confidence.

Humphrey's  Really Wheely Racing Day #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

Mortimer Keene: Ghosts on the Loose by Tim Healey and Chris Mould

Okay, some really really gross ghosts are featured in another Mortimer Keene title. Rhymes, fantastically odd and creepy illustrations and an English school setting.

Ghosts on the Loose #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

Lulu Bell and the Moon Dragon by Belinda Murrell; illustrated by Serena Geddes

An Australian title featuring Lulu Bell and her best friend Molly who are preparing for the Moon festival that Molly’s Mom wants to share. I liked this young chapter book a lot – in a tiny story, many things of interest were happening: learning about the Moon festival, supporting a younger sibling finding a way to connect with friends and humpback whale sightings. Lots of illustrations and an interesting story line make this a series I would like to share in my room. I will be purchasing more titles in this series.

lulu bell and the moon dragon #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

I also read Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Family and sibling dynamics so fresh and honest. Humorous, amusing and believable. Everyone in my family read and enjoyed this title – my son, daughter and husband. Now we have Raina’s books being passed from person to person – all of us are big fans!

 Sisters #IMWAYR There's a Book for That Monday October 13th 2014

Up next? I am reading (and loving) After Iris by Natalie Farrant. After this? The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson 

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 65/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 461/650 books read (currently 46 books behind – slowly trying to get this down to 0 from that scary 54 number that is haunting me)

#MustReadin2014: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 111/65 complete

For anyone who shared a #MustReadin2014 list, the plan is to share an update (in whatever form and no matter what your progress) on Tuesday (October 14th). I will host here on this blog. Would love to hear what you have all been reading. I admit in advance, I have made little progress on my list since the last update. I have been reading, just other titles!

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom

This week we hosted four student teachers from Simon Fraser University – two on Tuesday and Wednesday and two more on Thursday and Friday. These visits were a part of a week of observations in a variety of classroom settings. I celebrate that my students were so open and welcoming and that we were all able to do some learning and reflecting together.

Always our room is a busy, full speed ahead place but at the end of the week, what was “learned”? I think we managed to pass on a few snippets of wisdom. I love that my students can be teachers. Miriam and I learn from them everyday. This week, I think they gave these SFU students lots to think about.

A few highlights:

Busy, active, exciting – these things need to happen everyday. But, so does calm. Things we do: quiet time, mindful breathing, gratitude circles, an afternoon walk and quiet, reflective play. It can be simple. Buttons, cardboard, markers = 10 minutes of magic.

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

Have a classroom full of books and lots of time to read them. Every day. Reading is quiet and solitary and social and joyous. Make time for all of it.

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

Great practice time for anything might involve “equipment” beyond a pencil. The handing out and collection of “stuff” needs to be well organized and logical. Let all of that process be smooth, and practice time can look like this.

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

Let students collaborate and communicate while they learn. Talk, support, ask questions. And then, celebrate!

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

Don’t be afraid to tackle subjects and things that are emotional. We shared a sad video connected to a picture book that we read this week: Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Yes, we had a few tears but we also had some great conversations. The resulting writing was powerful:

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

Invite others in to share their expertise. Our Let’s Talk Science volunteers visited Friday morning for their first visit of the year. We learned about the three states of matter and that when a solid becomes a gas, it is called sublimation. How? Well, there were lots of bubbles, coloured water and . . . dry ice! Fun and fully hands on.

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

The big tip here? Let the “experts” do their thing and the kids have fun and learn lots. The classroom teacher’s role? Support, management, enthusiasm. Help it all go smoothly so everyone wants to do it again!

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

And of course, always be prepared. Have everything you need. Be safe. Look like you mean it.

Celebration: Snippets of Wisdom There's a Book for That

There were some other tidbits I passed on – things about paper (and aversions to it), creative interpretations of the IRPs and the power of clicky shoes. But it was the students doing what they do best that allowed the most powerful “teaching” to happen. And this is what I celebrate this week!

celebrate-link-up

Thank you also to Ruth Ayres, for the inspiration and her Celebration Link up that she hosts each week. I love how being a part of this #celebratelu community reminds us weekly to look for the positive and take some time for gratitude.