Changes Ahead: Slice of Life

Changes Ahead: Slice of Life There's a Book for That

I have called my little school on the downtown east side of Vancouver home for 21 years. A lifetime of sorts. Many little lives have been part of mine.

I am a bat with ancient wings folded close. Black and leathery. Full of secrets. Lined in wisdom. Shimmering with history. I can stretch these wings wide and story after story shines bright, each one a most important star. Stories of children. Of families. Of hope. Heartache. Trauma. Resilience. Inspiration.

My memories were gifted to me in hugs and giggles. Through whispers and shouts. Confided. Shared. Shouted. Hinted at. Memories visit me on a soft warm wind. They bring me smiles and worry. But mostly joy.

In this old brick building, I have learned thousands of lessons. I have had hundreds of teachers. I have been surrounded by wisdom and wonder. I have made many mistakes. All of it has landed me here, knowing that I have some of it figured out and much to still learn. I haven’t heard it all. I can still be surprised. I can still be stopped cold. I can still feel like I’m floating. It is harder and easier and easier and harder. I am safe in that. There is security in knowing that what I bring each day is enough in the land of never enough and so much need. Everyday, I give. Everyday, I get. It’s not about balance or equal shares. It’s about what it is.

In September, I will not walk through these halls I have long called home. I will be somewhere else. I will not be gone. It’s not moving on. It’s not leaving. It’s beginning somewhere new. The teacher I am was made here. All of it will follow me. All of it will guide me.

As I begin to say goodbye, I acknowledge this.

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

Monday May 2nd, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. Last week we did some buddy reading outside in the spring sunshine with the grade 3/4 class. It was delightful watching students so engaged in their books together.

 There's a Book for That  There's a Book for That  There's a Book for That

 There's a Book for That

For our #classroombookaday, we had a bit of a pet theme going on!

 There's a Book for That

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.

IMWAYR 2015

On the blog:

I have been a little absent from blogging. In two weeks, I just published this Slice of Life piece: I am every age

Books I enjoyed:

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by R. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell with illustrations by Rafael López

This is such an inspiring book based on actual events in San Diego – how a neighborhood can be changed and strengthened by art. Illustrator Rafael López is more than the illustrator here – he is the inspiration for the character of the muralist. I am so excited to share this title with my students – it was one I had to purchase.

Maybe Something Beautiful

The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi

A storm can make an eagerly anticipated beach day seem impossible. But storms roll in and storms roll out . . .

The Storm [Akiko Miyakoshi]

The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield

There is something especially charming and endearing about this title.

The Bear and the Piano

Fetch by Jorey Hurley

Hurley conveys so much with simple text and beautiful illustrations. A must have for dog lovers!

Fetch

 I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings with pictures by Shelagh McNicholas

I was excited to read this picture book about the real Jazz Jennings, trans teen and reality star. Very accessible for young children.

I-Am-Jazz-Jennings

On the Farm, At the Market by G. Brian Karas

From farm, to market, to table. Celebrates healthy eating and community.

On the Farm At the Market

Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock with illustrations by Gérard DuBois

This was a must have for my biography collection. A fantastic biography of photographer Dorothea Lange.

Dorothea's Eyes

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook by Leslie Connor

A beautiful middle grade read, a title that celebrates family, community, resilience and strength of character. I didn’t want this book to end. Perry is a very memorable character. I would love to read this title aloud with a class of students (Grade 3/4 and up)

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook by Leslie Connor

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 16/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 127/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 14/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 18/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 16/50 books read

Up next? I am reading Booked! by Kwame Alexander

I am every age: Slice of Life

I am every age: Slice of Life

It is April. Spring. My birthday month.

My students ask “How old are you really?” as if I might not tell them the truth.

The truth it seems no longer has a number. Not a really number. The years now get mixed up with memories and dreams and visions.

Really, I am every age.

I see a small child in the arms of her mother at school. She grabs my finger and smiles. For a moment, it is twelve years ago and I am weaving through the baby days. Park. Sidewalks. Nap time. Snuggles. Snack. Sidewalks. Park. Dinner. Then, I am a grandmother with my granddaughter in my future arms, being aware of the solid body, the sweet smell, the joy of the giggle.

Standing under fragrant lilac trees, I am twenty-five. I walk around various city neighbourhoods inhaling spring and wondering if one day, one neighbourhood will be mine. I am thirty-seven sitting in the afternoon sun under my own lilac tree, with pale lavender blooms. I watch my children drive toy trucks through the garden beds. I am seventy-two with time to collect and arrange blossoms in a vase placing it where I will notice it often as I move through my house in my daily routines.

I hang the laundry on the line on the first warm enough day I find. I am fourteen clipping my father’s work shirts to the line in the early morning air. Soon, I will collect them and iron them in the cool of the basement away from the summer sun that makes afternoons unbearable. I am forty hanging out still tiny socks wondering how my children are possibly old enough for school. I am old. Quiet and alert. I hang out tea towels in the early morning sun and listen for the cries from the hawks hoping they have nested again this year.

On my morning walk I smell the nearness of rain. I am eight running towards home, wondering if there will be a storm with lightening flashes to watch out the front windows. I am the mother of seven-year olds that I dropped to school without rain jackets. I watch the sky wondering if this rain will pass. I am forty-two sipping coffee in the beach house we rented, up before everyone, watching the water. I am seventy-one, sitting at the table noticing how the rain pulls the branches of our old pine tree further and further down. Everything looks so green in the rain.

How old am I really?

Old.

Young.

Wise.

Ignorant.

Worried.

Brave.

I am every age.

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

Monday April 18th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. This week it is all about reading a Jon Klassen favourite to your little brother during buddy reading!

Monday April 18th, 2016 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

For our #classroombookaday, we loved lots of books about community and home.

Monday April 18th, 2016 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

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.

IMWAYR 2015

On the blog:

Teeny Tiny Toady: Questions and Answers with author and illustrator

Diverse Children’s Books: Water in our World

Books I enjoyed:

Ida, Always written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso

This is a tender book about friendship and loss. Allows for conversations about preparing for a death and carrying on. A very special (fictional) story based on a real connection between two bears in New York’s Central Park Zoo.

Ida, Always Monday April 18th, 2016 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Teeny Tiny Toady written by Jill Esbaum and illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi

I featured this title this week with an interview with author and illustrator answering questions from my students. A sweet little rhyming book all about clever solutions, tiny sister power and love for family that conquers all! And peeking under the book jacket is a must!

 Teeny Tiny Toady Monday April 18th, 2016 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Anna Carries Water written by Olive Senior and illustrated by Laura James

Set in the Caribbean, this is the story of young Anna who strives to master the task of carrying water on her head. This story is beautifully illustrated and is, more than anything, a story of childhood: wanting to be grown up, wanting to be able to do what older siblings can do, wanting to face a fear.

Anna-Carries-Water Monday April 18th, 2016 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Beyond the Pond by Joseph Kuefler

I love the fantasy and imaginative elements of this story. One day Ernest D decides to explore the world beyond the pond . . .

Beyond the Pond Monday April 18th, 2016 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

 Mr Squirrel and the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser

It seems that the moon has landed on Mr. Squirrel’s tree. Or has it? It definitely seems to be the case and he has quite the time trying to be rid of it.

Mr Squirrel and the Moon Monday April 18th, 2016 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

One Day, The End Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and illustrated by Fred Koehler

Simply short stories full of images of all that happens in between. Perfect for Writer’s Workshop to talk about the importance of details, the power of illustrations, visual literacy, the large possibilities in small moments.

One Day, The End Monday April 18th, 2016 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Princess in Black (#2) and the Perfect Princess Party by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

I love nothing better than reading these titles aloud to my class. They love them! This one was lots and lots of fun!

The Princess in Black Monday April 18th, 2016 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

I can’t stop thinking about this book. One of the best books I have read. Ever. Sepetys just keeps getting better. This is some kind of historical fiction. Full of adventure, war time atrocities, human kindness and connection. It also tells the story of a real historical event that many of us know nothing about – the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the biggest and most tragic disaster in maritime history. Heartbreaking, compelling, an incredible read.

Salt to the sea Monday April 18th, 2016 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 15/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 115/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 13/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 16/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 14/50 books read

Up next? I am in the middle of All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook by Leslie Connor

Teeny Tiny Toady: Questions and Answers with Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamaguchi

Teeny Tiny Toady written by Jill Esbaum and illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi (Sterling Books 2016) features a teeny toad who was a big hero with my little readers!

Teeny is a tiny toad with seven older toad brothers and a Mom who has been snatched away from her and plunked into a bucket by human hands. How will Teeny save her Mom when she is so very . . . teeny? It turns out that small really is powerful in this sweet little rhyming book all about clever solutions, tiny sister power and love for family that conquers all!

Teeny Tiny Toady: Questions and Answers with Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamuguchi

My students loved listening to this book and adored revisiting its pages. Here they share some favourite scenes.

Teeny Tiny Toady: Questions and Answers with Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamuguchi Teeny Tiny Toady: Questions and Answers with Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamuguchi

We love to celebrate end pages and this title has some gorgeous ones! There is also a wonderful surprise under the book jacket! Take a peek.

Teeny Tiny Toady: Questions and Answers with Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamuguchi Teeny Tiny Toady: Questions and Answers with Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamuguchi

Here are my students questions for author Jill Esbaum. Her answers are in green. 

Where did you find all of those interesting words? Is it hard to rhyme text?

I’ve always liked finding words that are interesting or really expressive or fun to say. I also like words that sound like their meaning – like plop and flop and slop. And, writing in rhyme? That’s VERY hard – but it’s a fun kind of hard.

Do you brainstorm your ideas before?

I do brainstorm first. After I come up with a character who has a problem, I sit down with a pen and a big yellow pad and brainstorm things that might go wrong for my character. I want to find ways to make things WORSE for her before they get better. For me, the toughest part of writing a story is finding an ending that makes sense and is also a bit of a surprise for readers.

Did you want to write a book where a girl character was really brave and awesome?

I did! When I was a kid, boys were always coming to the rescue in stories. I wanted GIRLS to do the rescuing. (I also grew up with a big brother. Does that tell you anything?)

Why toads?

Sometimes, in the springtime, I find a teeny little toad in one of my flower beds. They’re soooo cute. But they’re also tiny and defenceless! I started wondering what it would be like to be the tiniest toad in a family of big, strong brothers. The story took off from there.

Do you like frogs or toads more?

Hmm. I just wrote a story with a frog character, so I don’t think I can pick. I like both!

We love to say the title Teeny Tiny Toady!

Thanks for the compliment that the title is fun to say! I think so, too! :)

Illustrator Keika Yamaguchi also answered some questions from my students! Her answers are in pink. 

Why did you decide to paint Teeny a little bit pink? (We liked it)

I needed Teeny to stand out in the book. Since I knew the book will have a lot of green color from the grass, I took the opposite color of green, which is red tweaked it by adding white to the color (that makes the color pink). I also knew that the brothers will be mostly brown so I made sure she has some hint of brown color. I combined those two colors, and that’s how I came up with her color!

How do you figure out how to show all of the feelings on a toad’s face?

I have to imagine myself in the place of each character when I draw them. So while I am imagining, I look at myself in the mirror and make faces or I look online to see how someone looks like when they feel a certain way. I need to make sure what I’m trying to say through the character’s expression, all readers can understand.

Did you study a lot about toads to make this book?

I mainly did research on the appearance and the size of the toads when I was coming up with the designs of the characters.

Do you like frogs or toads more?

I love them both:)

*Thanks to Josh at Sterling Books for a review copy!

Diverse Children’s Books: Water in our world

My students and I are currently learning more about water in our world. Beyond, how essential water is to life, we are talking about access to water and more specifically, children’s roles in gathering water in places in the world where water is scarce or doesn’t flow from indoor taps.

Here are two books we have read together in the past week:

Hope Springs written by Eric Walters and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (Tundra Books 2014)

Based on a true story of drought and water shortages in Kenya and what it takes to secure fresh water for a community. This book is about worry and fear. Kindness and forgiveness. In the back of the book are actual photos of the community and people that inspired the book.

Hope Springs Diverse Children's Books: Water in our world

Anna Carries Water written by Olive Senior and illustrated by Laura James (Tradewind Books 2014)

Set in the Caribbean, this is the story of young Anna who strives to master the task of carrying water on her head. Children related to the desire to learn a physical skill and had discussions about the need to have to fetch water every day instead of just turning on the faucet. This story is beautifully illustrated and is, more than anything, a story of childhood: wanting to be grown up, wanting to be able to do what older siblings can do, wanting to face a fear.

Anna-Carries-Water Diverse Children's Books: Water in our world

Diverse Children’s Books is a brand new book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

DiverseKidLit

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, May 7th and will continue on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The diverse post that received the most clicks from the last #diversekidlit is … Diverse Children’s Book Celebrating Cultural Traditions by Adrienne at Reading Power Gear. She shares seven great picture books focusing on different cultural traditions including Divali, Chinese New Year, and more!

Hosted By:

Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact Katie at 1logonaut (gmail).

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live? Click here to subscribe for notification emails.

If you want to share a favourite or recently read diverse title, please leave a comment with the link (current link up technical difficulties) and then head over to Katie’s blog to share your link on the link up. Happy reading!

Monday April 11th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week This week I am celebrating the Frog and Toad love! These girls are getting everyone in our class excited about reading Frog and Toad titles! The power of a reading community!

Monday April 11th, 2016 Monday April 11th, 2016

For our #classroombookaday, The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School led the way. Who wouldn’t want hair like this?

Monday April 11th, 2016

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.

IMWAYR 2015

On the blog:

Monday by Numbers for a Slice of Life

For Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: One Day on our Blue Planet . . . in the Antarctic

Must Read in 2016: Spring Update

Books I enjoyed:

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Simply the perfect mentor text for poetry writing. Enough said.

Daniel Finds a Poem Monday April 11th, 2016

The Night Gardener by the Fan brothers 

This is just a wow title. It has so much of what I love in a picture book – some surprises, a intergenerational connection, a sense of wonder, lots of creativity . . . Divine.

The Night Gardener Monday April 11th, 2016

I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien

What a wonderful title to communicate all of the confusion and nervous feelings of a student new to a classroom community from another country.

I'm New Here

Listen to Our World written by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Melissa Sweet’s illustrations are as usual, beautiful. Lyrical, poetic, repetitive text showcasing different animal habitats. Page orientation changes making this a wonderful read aloud.

Listen to Our World

One Day on our Blue Planet . . . In the Antarctic by Ella Bailey

I featured this lovely little book this week for nonfiction picture book Wednesday.

. . . in the Antarctic

 Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers

What a fantastic Toon tale! ideal for Writer’s Workshop!

Written and Drawn by Henrietta

 When I am Happiest by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson

The third young novel in this series. Exploring friendship, family and strong emotions.

When I am happiest

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 14/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 107/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 12/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 16/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 13/50 books read

Up next? I  am almost finished Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys Our family read aloud is Pax by Sara Pennypacker