Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some recent reads

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

NFPB 2014

While I am still in the middle of many nonfiction books, I am sharing a few recent reads here. These titles are heading into my classroom and I can’t wait for the right opportunity to share each of these engaging reads! I think each one of them needs to be part of the classroom or school library collection. So many rich learning opportunities . . .

The Same Moment Around the World by Clotilde Perrin (published 2014)

Simply – this book depicts a day in the life of the world. More complexly, it is a day in the world – all over the world – one page for each hour, beginning at 6 a.m. in Dakar, Senegal. Hour by hour, we see children in various places doing regular everyday things. But the settings are exotic and mysterious because so many may not be known to us. Children learn about time zones and gather a more complete understanding of what it means when we say that on the other side of the world people are going to sleep just as we are waking up. I am partial to books with interesting shapes – love that this title is tall and rectangular. Fantastic fold out map in the back to explore all of the places mentioned in the book.

 At the Same Moment Around the World #nfpb2014 There's a Book for That

How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge (published 2013)

Lita Judge’s illustrations are so rich. They inform. They amuse. And they delight. Each dinosaur featured here is drawn next to something that children already know to allow them to imagine the exact size of the dinosaur. For example, the velociraptor was only the size of a modern day dog. A leaellynasaura? Two feet tall and wintered near the South Pole. Not all dinosaurs were towering huge “monsters”! But some sure were gigantic!

How Big Were Dinosaurs? #nfpb2014 There's a Book for That

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen (published 2014)

I am very excited to share this as a read aloud. So excited that I just read it to my family over dinner – it needed an audience! More specifically, I needed some people to help me guess: what else could feathers be used for besides flight? We had a great time listing what we knew around the table and then reading to find out how many we got and how many we missed! Gorgeous illustrations – feels like you could pluck some of these feathers right off of the page. My daughter made a comment part way through about Stewart’s writing style.

“Each time, she gives an example to explain it more. I completely understand all of the different ways the feathers are used!”

Feathers Not Just for Flying #nfpb2014 There's a Book for That

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 titles.

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 50/65 complete!

Monday April 14th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?


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. One of the very best ways to discover what to read next!

I read some odd picture books, some that were not so great and some that were wonderful. Here are those that were wonderful:

The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

I love Santat’s style and this book is many shades of wonderful. A little “imaginary friend” goes in search of his person. What could be better? A book about connection and “meant to be”.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Maple by Lori Nichols 

A special book about a new sibling, the wonder of nature and the magic of trees – over time and through the seasons.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

A Rule is to Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy by John Steven and Jana Christy (John and Jana) 

Kind of wild and certainly eccentric. Certainly one that would benefit from being discussed. I can see some taking issue with certain pages like one that says: When someone says “Work!”, you say “Why?” But there are others that will win you over:

Speak your Mind!

Listen to the Tiniest Voice.

Go ahead and be Stompy.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Sisters & Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page 

I never fail to be fascinated when reading a Jenkins/Page title!

sisters and brothers  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop

How had I missed reading this book? Living in an enchanted forest, we find Red Knit Cap Girl and her friends. She wants to find a way to reach the moon and have it speak to her. A celebration of quiet, peace and honouring nature.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read

Super Lexi written by Emma Lesko and illustrated by Adam Winsor 

Author Emma Lesko “is passionate about neurodiversity – a movement that embraces rather than marginalizes diversity in neurological functioning (ADD, autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, etc.)” In Super Lexi, a chapter book ideal for primary/early intermediate students, Lesko delivers a well done story, an interesting character and important themes. Lexi experiences the world with some “differences” – she is very sensitive to noise, she reveals her emotions and feelings in some very interesting ways and she needs those around her to be understanding of her phobias and coping strategies. I loved the multiple examples of how Lexi’s parents, peers and teachers are able to give her space and time. I enjoyed Lexi’s voice – the look we get into her thinking and reasoning. Really, I am excited that adults might read this book and that it might impact their thinking about how we treat all children. Children are often much more flexible and accepting of diversity. This would be an amazing class read aloud in a primary room.

Favourite line of the book?

“Only it never would have happened if my grown-ups had just listened to me in the first place.”

An important reminder to be tuned into each child before everything else. Not all children will communicate in the same ways – but they are always showing us the truth.

Super Lexi #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

What’s next?

I am almost finished (and loving) Threatened by Eliot Schrefer.  I then plan to read Countdown by Deborah Wiles 

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 28/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 188/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 13/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 48/65 complete

Happy Reading to all of you! I will be without internet access next Monday so will share a #IMWAYR post again in 2 weeks.


Celebration: Best lines

celebrate link up

Celebration honoured. This is the loveliest of reasons to share. Join Ruth Ayres who shares a Celebration Link up on her blog each week.

This week I am celebrating how amusing and amazing my students are by sharing a few of the things that made me laugh or made me pause.

1. My class had the opportunity to go to the forest and participate in outdoor games with some high school students who are taking an outdoor education course. It was less than a 25 minute bus ride away but for some of my students, a completely “other” world. In our pre-trip discussions about what we might see, one child predicted elephants . . .

There was a mixture of fear

“I’m scared – of the dark, the prickles, the bugs, the dirt . . .”

And huge excitement:

“I’m ready for the trip! I packed my nopulars so I can see near and far.”

Nopulars (binoculars) do help with that! All children had an amazing time! Within seconds of sitting back on the bus, I heard, “Can we come back here?” multiple times.

Celebration: Best Lines There's a Book for That

2. As we continue to study the ocean and all of the amazing sea creatures that live in its waters, I have the chance to read aloud many fabulous nonfiction titles. Friday, we started reading Here Come the Humpbacks written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Jamie Hogan

Celebration: Best Lines There's a Book for That

One of my students was fascinated that whales are also mammals and that the baby whale rolls when it is born and breaks the umbilical cord attaching it to its mother. All morning she kept telling me:

“I really love talking about the hunchback whales.”


In the first few pages of the book, the author explains that the male humpbacks have scars on their skin from past competitions. This sparked an interesting conversation.

“What competition? Races?”

“No. They are competing for the girl whales.”

“Why do they have to have competitions? Isn’t there enough girls to go around?”

3. I found a book at the public library this weekend that I just had to bring in and share with my class: Wild by Emily Hughes

Wild - Celebration: Best Lines There's a Book for That

After reading the book aloud, I admitted that I really loved the book and wished I had a copy for our classroom. One child remarked:

“You really should buy it. Otherwise, you might go a little crazy.”

4. Right now we are reading the novel The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Celebration: Best Lines There's a Book for That

This is a seriously beautiful book to read aloud and there are many moments of silence where we just allow for space and thinking. If you know the story (as I know so many of us do), we are at the part when the baby elephant, Ruby has arrived. Students have needed to talk a lot about how the older elephant Stella has felt about the baby coming. When Stella announces that she can hear a baby elephant coming because she can hear her crying, Ivan tells her that she is just hoping. “No,” Stella says softly,”Not hoping. Not at all.” It took the children some time to get what this meant. Slowly, through discussion they recognized that Stella didn’t want a baby to come and experience the captivity that the animals at the Bg Top Mall experienced.

The next day, I knew it had really sunk in when we read this part:

“Relax, Stella,” I say. “It will be okay.”

“Ivan,” Stella says, it will never, ever be okay,” and I know enough to stop talking.

I paused. The class was quiet. One voice piped up

“Stella doesn’t want the baby to feel what they feel. . . to feel locked up and sad.”

We all continued to sit in silence for another few moments until another child prompted, “Okay, you can read now.”

This book’s magic is in these multiple moments of understanding and compassion that we quietly share.

I celebrate spending each day with children who make me smile – for so many reasons. What are you celebrating in your week?



Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: In “the middle of” books

I had grand plans to review a number of books for Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday. But I can’t. A lot if this is the fault of Alyson Beecher (of Kid Lit Frenzy). And, actually, the rest of the #nfpb2014 bloggers can be blamed as well.

I can’t review even one nonfiction book because I am in the middle of reading six of them.

And why?

Because there is just so much great nonfiction out there and I keep reading about more and more titles on all of the blogs participating in Alyson’s Nonfiction Picture Book challenge/celebration each week. So I buy a book. Or borrow a book. Then I start reading “just a few pages” (usually aloud to my children) and then, next thing I know, I have nonfiction titles half read all over the house.

What am I (often we) reading right now?

Sisters & Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page (published 2008)

I am a total Steve Jenkins fan but haven’t read this one yet. My son and I started reading some of these pages and were intrigued! Did you know that nine banded armadillos are always born as identical quadruplets? Perfect clones of each other. And Gould’s long-eared bats are almost always born as twins. Multiple births are particularly interesting in my house since my children are twins and their aunts (my sisters) are identical twins.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: In "the middle of" books

Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop (published 2009)

I am reading a few chapters of this Scientist in the Field book with my children every week. We are almost done. We have been as fascinated by the country of Mongolia as we have been with the elusive snow leopards. Amazing photographs by Bishop.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: In "the middle of" books

Big Blue Whale written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Nick Maland (published 1997)

I just bought this at the book store because I am reading everything ocean with my class. The next sea creature we are learning about is whales and . . . how I love Nicola Davies. I started reading this last night and want to finish it later tonight. Blue whales are the biggest creature to ever live on Earth! Majestic and amazing.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: In "the middle of" books

Flight of the HoneyBee by Raymond Huber and illustrated by Brian Lovelock (published 2013)

Bees have hairy eyeballs! My son and I are reading this together and keep marvelling at this fact!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: In "the middle of" books

The Animal Book: A Collection oft the Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest – and Most Surprising – Animals on Earth by Steve Jenkins (published 2013)

Slowly but surely, my children and I are enjoying this title together. So much to talk about and explore. It truly is a beautiful book to be on the family bookshelf.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: In "the middle of" books

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill (published 2014)

I had to own this book. Exploration. Adventure. Peril. Antarctica. That covers the subject but then there is the way this book is designed . . . Gorgeous. Simply gorgeous. I have hooked my children with just a few pages. And as a result  . . . another nonfiction read aloud on the go!

Shackleton's Journey Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: In "the middle of" books

Oh how I love nonfiction! There is nothing better than learning more about the world through a beautiful book.

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 titles.

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 47/65 complete! (this is no more than 2 weeks ago because I have so many titles on the go!)

Monday April 7th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?


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. One of the very best ways to discover what to read next!

The novels I finished:

My children and I were very excited to finish The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen. We listened to The False Prince on a family road trip and were instantly hooked on this series. I read both The Runaway King and The Shadow Throne aloud. There is something about Jaron’s way with the world that appealed to us in many ways. This is the ideal MG trilogy – highly entertaining and engrossing. Adventure. Intrigue. Battles and Heroes. And, an ending to celebrate! “Are you sure there isn’t a fourth book?” my daughter asked as soon as we were finished. Then she went on to tell me that there might be because I probably didn’t know. I will happily be wrong on this one!

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord

A definite 5 stars for me. I loved so many things about this MG title. The friendships. The interactions with family. The connection to nature and the loons. The many many choices that Lucy needs to make. Take a photograph or be in the moment. Tell the truth or a creative almost version. Tell a story or adhere to a wish. The last few chapters have many amazing lines. My favourite is uttered by Grandma Lilah:

“Don’t ever choose the people who don’t matter over the ones who do.”

Half a Chance  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up in novels? My children and I started Jinx’s Magic by Sage Blackwood – all of us had read Jinx individually and really loved the story. I am starting Threatened by Eliot Schrefer. I am very curious about this book – Endangered was a favourite.

I read quite a few picture books this week. Here are my favourites:

Wild by Emily Hughes

Love, love, love! The illustrations are just incredible. I love the feel of the paper and the way that each page is so deliciously detailed. The eyes on the main character are huge and expressive throughout. I love her mossy wild hair, her knit brows and her determined stance. Her ability to wreak havoc in her unhappiness is amazing – just as her joy radiates off the page when she is truly, wild and free. I must share this with my students and see what they think. I think I might have to buy this book. It is so wonderfully unique.

Wild  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Cub’s Big World written by Sarah L Thomson and illustrated by Joe Cepeda

A sweet little story about a young polar bear discovering his Arctic habitat.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Slightly Annoying Elephant written by David Walliams and illustrated by Tony Ross.

An elephant shows up to live at Sam’s house and all kinds of silliness begins. My students shared reviews here. Their consensus was that the elephant was more than slightly annoying!

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Children who Loved Books by Peter Carnavas

This books celebrates books in many ways: owning books, reading books, treasuring books and carting books home from the library. Books make everything fit. They connect and soothe. They are necessary.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Sitti’s Secrets written by Naomi Shihab Nye and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

I saw this book featured on Gathering Books blog and was able to find it at the public library. What appealed to me was a little girl getting to know her Grandmother even though they didn’t share a language in common. Many of my students don’t speak their first language fluently and find interesting ways of communicating with various relatives. There are many things I loved about this book. It celebrates that despite distance there are threads that connect us. Mona’s quick connection to her Grandmother rang so true. A beautiful book to share.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

A Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk Road by Bonnie Christensen

An appealing book on so many levels – the history, the geography, the adventure, the culture – wow. The story begins with one girl in China (ninth century China) who dreams of traveling The Silk Road trade route. Not able to travel even part of the way with her father, she asks him to bring a single pebble to send along the road to a child somewhere further along. The path of the pebble is incredible as it is passed from person to person finally ending up in Italy. My son read this book and found it fascinating – all of the old maps and interesting journey.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Time to Sleep Sheep the Sheep! by Mo Willems

A small little bit of humour near the end gives this book an edge beyond a simple bedtime book. Fun! Perfect for buddy reading with the Ks!

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 27/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 179/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 13/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 47/65 complete

Happy Reading to all of you!


Celebration: All is better with a little gold dust

celebrate link up

Celebration honoured. This is the loveliest of reasons to share. Join Ruth Ayres who shares a Celebration Link up on her blog each week.

I had a fantastic week back with my students. I think all of us were thrilled to be together again after a two week break, learning and sharing. I have many things to celebrate this week!

1. I loved all of the #MustReadin2014 spring updates shared by a wonderfully keen reading community. The Must Read phenomenon was born out of an attempt to gain some control over unruly TBR lists that grow and grow! Check out my update and links to update posts here. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo is one of my favourite books read so far from this list. Maybe even more special because I read it aloud to my children and we all loved it.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

2. I was thrilled to have a Nerdy Book Club post published this week. I saw a request from Colby Sharp for some retro review posts to be shared on twitter a few weeks ago. I have written some other Nerdy posts but never one in this category. I asked Colby if I could share something a little different instead of a review of one specific title. I wanted to go “retro” and look back at titles treasured with my children (now 11!) when they were preschool age. It was a nostalgic look back at books we adored. Read the post here.

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge  Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

3. I read the powerful picture book Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson illustrated by E.B.Lewis to my class this week.The reactions and comments were quite incredible. I think I might share some of their thinking and writing on our classroom blog. But the most interesting moment came with the ending. If you have read this book, you know that it ends with Chloe standing at the shore of the pond feeling a mix of regret, sadness and guilt. Her opportunity to offer kindness to Maya is gone. The story ends with these words:

“I watched the water ripple as the sun set through the maples and the chance of a kindness with Maya was becoming more and more forever gone.”

At first there was silence in the room and then one girl erupted, “What?! That’s terrible! It’s a terrible ending!” It’s not terrible. It’s just not happy so it’s confusing a bit,” someone else added. Another child piped up,”It makes you think about drama and saying sorry. It makes us think. It’s good.” As we were getting ready to move on to Reading Workshop, another child said, “I liked it. I have been waiting for a bad ending in a book. Not bad like not good but every ending shouldn’t be happy – that’s not how life is.” This little girl asked me to help her find a new novel and we kept talking about the story. I asked her if she wanted to put her thoughts into a reader’s statement (we have a huge wall of these posted on a bulletin board). She came up with something that I think is quite brilliant:

Readers can’t always expect a happy ending.

That books inspire discussions and thinking like this – this, I celebrate!

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

4. Ah . . . book love! My students were happy to be back to our classroom full of books. I sensed it on Monday morning when an instant hush fell upon the room when we started Reader’s Workshop. I did “book commercials” for new books all week and this generated lots of excitement.

I felt the book love when I saw “who reads it next” lists being created and stuck to new books.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

I felt it as I observed the wonderful engagement of one to one time with various adults who listen to children read and talk about stories and thinking with the students.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

I sensed it when listening to the the buzz around the book bins during buddy reading time with the K/1 class.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

Ah .  . . book love!

5. If you have hung in reading this very long Celebration post (it was a wonderful week!), here is the pot of gold :-) One of our students makes a lot of paper objects and sculptures all throughout the day. It helps him to focus and listen. We started thinking . . . Wouldn’t it be great to showcase some of his work? Wouldn’t it be better if it was spray painted gold? Absolutely! Here is the young artist at work, gold paint in action!

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

And here is the installation. Thank you to the amazing Miriam (the Support Worker who I get to work with every day!) for her huge role in displaying and advertising the “piece.” There are flyers pasted up all over the school! When this boy’s Mom came in to see this art and got hugely proud and teary, we all got teary. It was a moment.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

I celebrate all the many ways this is golden . . .

What are you celebrating this week?

Must Read Titles in 2014: Spring Update


My #MustReadin2014 list has 30 titles on it. As of today, I have read 13 of these books. Since I have read 26 novels so far in 2014, half of my reading has been from my #MustRead list. Sometimes these titles lead me off to read the rest of the series (after Legend I read Prodigy and Champion within weeks) or a sequel (after Better Nate than Ever, I read Five, Six, Seven, Nate!)

Here are the books I’ve read and the rating I gave them on Goodreads.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell  (Read January 3rd, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Legend by Marie Lu  (Read January 7th, 2014) Rating: 4/5

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick  (Read January 11th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Forgive me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (Read January 25th, 2014) Rating: 4/5

The Living by Matt de la Pena (Read January 31st, 2014) Rating: 4/5

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo  (Read February 15th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Listening for Lucca by Suzanne Lafleur (Read February 23rd, 2014) Rating: 4/5

Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy (Read March 6th, 2014) Rating: 4/5

Every Day After by Laura Golden  (Read March 6th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle (Read March 19th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech  (Read March 20th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Allegiant by Veronica Roth  (Read March 23rd, 2014) Rating: 2/5

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Read March 31st, 2014) Rating: 5/5

More details of my favourite 4 from this list:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

If you are no longer 18 years old, you might forget that fact while reading this book. All the vulnerability, fear, brutal soul searching and life lessons will come hurtling back at you as you experience the characters of Fangirl. Rainbow Rowell writes characters that are all about raw and true. Brilliant.

Fangirl #MustReadin2014 Spring Update There's a Book for That

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

I read this aloud to my children and we adored it. It is such a fantastic book to read aloud. We savoured the quirky, the hilarious and the eccentric. We smiled at the characters. We were lulled by the whimsy. And we were charmed by the brilliance of DiCamillo. 5 stars: all glowing and magical!

#MustReadin2014 Spring Update There's a Book for That

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle

Add me to the long list of readers who has been utterly charmed by the character Nate Foster. I loved his small town inexperience. His candor. His charm. The fact that he talks about his parent’s marriage problems, personal problems and parenting problems. I love that he talks about not knowing who he might like in the future and that he hasn’t got a gender all picked out yet. I love his friendship with his best friend. And then there is his audition. Okay, I basically just loved all of it. And I continued to love him in the sequel Five, Six, Seven, Nate! 

Better Nate than Ever #MustReadin2014 Spring Update There's a Book for That

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

I have had the pleasure of reading this entire trilogy to my children and this final book certainly did not disappoint. Adventure. Intrigue. Battles and Heroes. Everything a MG title needs to be fully engaging and engrossing! Highly recommend the entire trilogy if you haven’t read it yet.

 The Shadow Throne #MustReadin2014 Spring Update There's a Book for That

Some things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Matthew Quick is a must read author!
  • Dystopian series go downhill fast or remain exciting throughout. If on book 2 you have figured out which of these categories you are reading, remember this and either jump ship or keep reading.
  • There are so many Middle Grade titles to be excited about!
  • I am so glad I made this list because it has ensured that I have discovered some favourites!

How is your To Be Read list treating you?

If you have been participating in #MustReadin2014 and written an update post, please share using the #MustReadin2014 hashtag!

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