Monday November 21st, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. This photo of students book shopping before school started was part of my Celebration post this week.

 Monday November 21st, 2016 There's a Book for That

We have continued to explore themes for our #classroombookaday titles. Suggestions for this theme included hope, faith, finding the beautiful and grappling with expectations.

 Monday November 21st, 2016 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.


On the blog:

Celebration: The Formula The secret to book love in the classroom. Although, IMWAYR community, I know you know this so very well.

Books I enjoyed:

Many of these titles will likely be part of my #MockCaldecott list this year! Very excited to be narrowing down my list.

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh

A gorgeous book – Tonatiuh gives us an interpretation of the Mexican legend how the volcanoes Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl came to be. So much additional information in the author’s note, glossary and bibliography.


Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Boris Kulikov

I had no idea that Louis Braille was so young when he invented braille. I also didn’t realize, as Bryant points out in the back matter, that so many inventors were teenage inventors. Amazing. This is not just a fascinating story that is beautifully illustrated, it is also full of a wealth of additional information in the final pages. One thing that broke my heart a little here was how much young Louis wanted to be able to read books on his own. Again, this speaks to the importance of access to literature for all kinds of readers.


Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph written by Roxane Orgill and illustrated by Francis Vallejo

I am blown away by this title and kind of have no words. These poems. This art. These small moments of a day captured in one incredible photograph. Nonfiction and poetry combine to tell the story of one day with a goal of one photograph – snapped by Art Kane in Harlem,1958. Would make a beautiful gift book. Trying to justify gifting it to myself.


Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

The art in this book is beyond, beyond. Absolutely stunning. An incredible biography made accessible to children. I particularly appreciated the back matter here. Information on Motifs and symbolism in Basquiat’s work is something I will certainly share with students when we explore this book. Steptoe’s author’s note is very important too. Especially this:

“Basquiat’s success seemed to me to begin an era of inclusion and diversity in fine arts where there had been little to none. This meant as a young African American artist coming up that my chances of having my voice heard and achieving mainstream success were majorly expanded.”


Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin by Matt Tavares

This is an interesting story of balancing acts and feats that are all kinds of incredible. First, not to be believed and then, seemingly not all that impressive. Except, they actually become more impressive. Jean François Gravelet who became the greatest tightrope walker in the world and acquired the name the Great Blondin was truly an incredible acrobat and performer. In 1859, he made his first walk across the falls and went on to make even more spectacular crossings. Crowds that at first had absolutely no faith in his abilities later seemed disinterested. This is a testament to public fickleness and has nothing to do with the accomplishments of the Great Blondin. Back matter reveals that in sixty five years as a rope walker,he was never injured. Pick up this book to get a peek at some of his incredible performances.


Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

Oh, this book. I had heard of this orchestra in the news in the last year and knew I had to own this book. There are so many reasons to share this story with children. It is a story of hope, of change, of perseverance, of the power of music and the beauty of community. A story of transformation.


Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

My class is Ben Hatke crazy. Like, madly, deeply obsessed. Graphic novels are read, reread and shared around the room. Julia’s House for Lost Creatures is never on the shelf as someone is always using it to draw the creatures located inside. “Hasn’t he done something else?” I am frequently asked. So finally, I got my act together and purchased this book. It is full of all kinds of fabulous Hatke-esque characters and its star – the Goblin, is one to root for. This will be loved, I know. Now, I just need to figure out how to introduce it to our classroom collection without some kind of stampede.


Big Bear Little Chair by Lizi Boyd

Lizi Boyd does the most amazing things with books – getting us to look at the page in new ways. This is part concept book about opposites, part story book and part work of art. There are so many ways this title could be used in the classroom.


Bjorn’s Gift by Sandy Brehl

I read an ARC of this engaging historical fiction title in the summer and forgot to share it. This is a sequel to Odin’s Promise which I haven’t read but found picking up this title and just beginning to be easy.

From Goodreads:

Set in Norway during World War II, Bjorn’s Gift continues the adventures of Mari, a young Norwegian
girl who faces growing hardships and dangers in her small village in a western fjord. German occupation troops and local Nazi supporters move closer to her family’s daily
life, and her classmate Leif becomes active in the Norwegian Nazi youth party. Mari struggles to live up to her brother Bjorn’s faith in her, as she becomes more involved in risky resistance activities, trusting only her
family and a few close friends.

I connected quickly with the character of Mari and loved her connection with her family. I love that Brehl chose to  look at this time in history and focused on this one family, and more specifically this one girl. Mari’s life becomes about daily difficult decisions and she must focus on protecting her family and trying to understand the actions of those around her. Living under Nazi occupation hits a small village hard. This novel asks the reader to imagine how absolutely everything is not the same during war times. Trust is fragile and invaluable at the same time. A wonderful historical fiction title.


Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick

This is the kind book I try to avoid when I hear about it. But it lures me at the same time. Picking it up is about being brave and open to all kinds of emotions. The vulnerability showcased hits too close to home. A Dad who has a stroke out of nowhere. His teen children and wife need to find a way to cope. I have teen children. I can’t even imagine something like this happening to us. This book immerses its reader in the experience pretty fully. It is hard. I was often weepy. But, Sonnenblick can take us to these sad and scary places and remind us of our strengths and the power of others to get us through. Highly recommended.


Reading Progress updates:

*Note: I am 50 books behind on my reading challenge this year. 50 books! This doesn’t usually happen. But then, it’s been quite a year. Moving and setting up a new classroom ate into my reading time for months. A saner person would embrace forgiveness and say, this year, I might not meet my challenge. Me? Not ready to throw in the towel yet. I have report cards to get through and then, I am determined to plow through and reach my goal! Which includes reading 19 novels still . . .

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 56/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 304/400 books read

Progress on challenge: 50 books behind! Yikes!

#MustReadin2016: 22/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 42/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 44/50 books read

Up Next? I am reading Little Man by Elizabeth Mann (look for this one!) and The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

Celebration: The formula

Th other morning, I had some students arrive at the door early.

“Can we come in?”

I had done all of my running around set up and was going to be in the room until the bell so I welcomed them in. They were fairly quiet but I still could listen in as I caught up on a little bit of marking. These girls were on a mission. A few of them recorded books they finished the night before in their Reading Workshop folders. Then they started talking books.

Celebration: The formula

“What genres do you need to read more?”

“Have you read any historical fiction titles?”

“I have read a lot of fantasy lately.”

Celebration: The formula

“I think I am going to add some more titles to my book box because I am almost finished my library book.”

“I love book shopping!”

“I haven’t read many humour titles.”

“I have read SO many graphics.”

Celebration: The formula

“Have you read this one?”

“Did you see S’s book box. It’s stuffed!”
“Oh, remember Ms. Gelson book talked this?!”

I have had some wonderful reading conferences this week. Our mini-lessons about navigating first chapters have gone well. The books I have book talked have been sought after and quickly disappeared. Things have often felt right.  All of this makes a difference. But sometimes, things don’t feel as right. Some of the lessons that seemed so relevant all of a sudden don’t when we are right in the middle of them. Conferences get interrupted. In those moments, during those weeks, I worry.

But watching these girls at the book shelves one morning this week, helped me remember that what is always working is the formula.

A room full of books + time to read them + daily efforts made to grow book love = a reading community with contagious reading joy.

This is how readers are made. This results in the conversations I witness and don’t start. This means that I can stand back and watch readers on their road to rich reading lives.

Money spent on books. Time shelving and organizing. Pages and pages read so I know what to recommend. Searching for diverse titles so that all kinds of lives and experiences can be found on our shelves.

All of this?

So worth it.


Important to celebrate.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.


Monday November 14th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. We had a shortened week last week due to a Curriculum Day and Remembrance Day. I was also home sick for 2 days. So, I was only in the room with students for one day. Instead of a reading photo, I have a math photo – but some of our book shelves are in the background so it has reading ambiance.


We have continued to explore themes for our #classroombookaday titles. This theme was all about exploring fears.


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.


On the blog (slowly beginning to post more often although I only seem to be getting to a IMWAYR post every 2 weeks):

Celebration: There are Books for All of Us

A Slice of Life post: Tracking Truth

Celebration: Vague Musings

Books I enjoyed:

The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

I echo what so many others say – oh, if this book had only existed when my children were small. It has so much going on! Each page is full of details and yet a very lovely story of one family unfolds throughout.


Steamboat School by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Ron Husband

Based on a true story of Reverend Meachum who ran a secret school in his church in St Louis Missouri until a new law passed that it was not legal to educate blacks. And so  . . .

Reverend John Berry Meachum decided to build a new school-a floating school in the Mississippi River, just outside the boundary of the unjust law. (from Goodreads)

What an important story of courage, persistence and the joy of education. Illustrations are incredible.


Almost a Full Moon by Hawksley Workman and illustrated by Jensine Eckwall

This is a picture book of Workman’s song coming to life. A midwinter gathering in the woods hosted by a small boy and his grandmother. Cozy and comfort


Lola Levine and the Ballet Scheme written by Monica Brown and illustrated by Angela Dominguez

What a fantastic series this is! If I return to teaching a primary classroom, this is a series I will want in my collection. When a new student Bella shows up in Lola’s classroom, the girls seem to be total opposites. Bella loves ballet. Lola is a dedicated soccer player. When conflict arises, the girls’ mothers hatch a “scheme” to help them learn about each other. Explores friendships and family in some wonderful ways.


Dream Jumper (Book One Nightmare Escape) by Greg Grunberg and Lucas Turnbloom

Can see this being a hit with kids. Hoping it isn’t going in the direction I think it’s going because that would be too predictable and too borrowed . . . One of those – I don’t really love it but students probably will titles.


Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Joe and Ravi seem to have very different lives. Ravi has just moved from India. Joe has been here for what seems forever. They share a few things in common – a relationship with a bully and the daily classroom and lunch room experiences of middle school. Alternately narrated by both characters, this book reminds us that it is challenging to fit in, find your way and be noticed for who you are for all middle school kids. Joe and Ravi are particularly endearing.


Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Whoa this book. Heavy. Seeped in drama, cruelty and history. It’s heavy – sits somewhere between a middle grade and young adult read. This is one of those titles that you don’t need to know a lot about to pick up – just that there is reason for all of the buzz. Absolutely gripping.


Making Friends with Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood

Set in small town Paris Junction, Arkansas in 1952, this title has all of the ingredients for a gentle, comforting historical fiction title while still managing to explore some heavier themes. Azalea and Billy become friends one summer when Azalea is dropped off to support the grandmother she hardly knows as she recovers from an injury. We learn about Billy’s experience as a Chinese American in the segregated south. We watch as Azalea’s independence and character develop. There are some pretty wonderful relationships here – I particularly love the grandmother/granddaughter dynamic.


Just My Luck (Zack Delacruz 2) by Jeff Anderson

Oh the middle school years – so full of social complications as kids try to figure it all out. Zack is particularly charming and perfectly flawed. This book is full of humour, mistakes and some pretty terrific characters.


Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schröder

Death is hard. Healing is complicated. Grief takes time. This title allows the reader to experience all of the complicated, the hard and the time through Wren and her mother’s experience after the death of Wren’s father. Wren is a pretty wonderful character – true to herself and beautifully honest. Highly, highly recommended.


Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 54/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 293/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 22/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 37/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 40/50 books read

Up next? I am reading Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick

Celebration: There Are Books for All of Us

I could say all kinds of things about the US election results. I feel all kinds of things. Fear. Shock. Worry. Pressure. Responsibility. While Trump truly is #notmypresident, a border does not separate us from humanity. I am devastated and afraid about what is happening in America for all of us. For those experiencing all of the horrible discrimination, hatred and fear in the U.S. right now and for the influence America has on the world. I worry for the American children who are worried. For the children and their families who have experienced discrimination and see it getting worse. I worry for our Canadian children who feel their own fear. What about here? Can that hate come here? Is it here already? How safe are we?

Safety feels turned on its head. Hatred feels like it got a green light. It’s early days. He’s not even the President. People are talking about feeling afraid to walk outside.

To quote Aaron Sorkin:  “Hate was given hope.”

Everything is wrong with that.

I am a mother. I am a teacher. I am a person who has spent her life advocating for children.

I am horrified.

Fear can freeze us. We need to release ourselves. Begin doing something to make a change.

Sometimes, this means something completely new. Yes, do those things. Speak up when before you didn’t. Don’t ignore what you might have in the past. Engage in the hard conversations. Be uncomfortable.

Sometimes, it is to repeat what we know. Don’t stop what you already do to make a difference. Continue. It is now even more important.

This is what I celebrate today. That despite my fear, I am not turning in circles helplessly. I know where to start.

It is in my classroom full of books.

I can walk back into my classroom Monday morning and talk about books. I can book talk. Read aloud. Provide hours every week for independent reading time.

Words reassure. They challenge our thinking. They shake things up. They soothe us and make us question the world that we know.

I celebrate that I am a reader. I know my books. I think in lists. I can reach out literally and find that book for that child. “Here is a book for you,” “There are books here for all of us.” “Read this. It’s a story you should know.”

I can offer this gift endlessly.

Stories do their magic thing. They touch us where we are most human. They remind us to think deeply. To feel in mighty ways.

Our children need this. Time and space to grapple with their questions and their worries. Stories to let them see the most in themselves and in others.

Our guidance.

A room full of books.

This I can do.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.


So often I focus on picture books as the place to begin. My students are always immersed in picture books. Please immerse yours!

Today my recommendations focus on chapter books for our intermediate students. Middle Grade novels. These are the titles I want to see in the hands of my Grade 4 and 5 readers and are actually on my shelves (or soon will be). I have read every one and recommend each of them. All of these books remind us, we have no time for judgement. We must make room for kind. We are all so very different and that’s what makes our world.

Read. Share. Talk. Over and over and over again.

Listed in no organized order. I just started typing.

George by Alex Gino


Ghost by Jason Reynolds


As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

As Brave as You

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks  and Gita Varadarajan


Making Friends with Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood


The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly


Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

Blackbird Fly

Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Nine, Ten- A September 11th Story

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Lily and Dunkin

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Full Cicada Moon

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai

Listen, Slowly

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lai


 Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish In A Tree

 Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate


 Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper

Stella by Starlight

 Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

Gracefully Grayson

 The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The War That Saved my Life 2

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Better Nate than Ever

Revolution by Deborah Wiles


El Deafo by CeCe Bell

El Deafo

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

brown girl dreaming

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

the red pencil

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

Glory Be

Crow by Barbara Wright


Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin


Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco 

Beholding Bee

The Misfits by James Howe

The Misfits

The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata 


Wonder by R.J.Palacio

wonder 12 for 2012

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

lions-of-little-rock 12 for 2012

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan


The Real Boy written by Anne Ursu

cover.The Real Boy - Front Jacket - 2-13

Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai


For many more titles, visit the We Need Diverse Books site. They are many resources and book lists featured there.


Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That We Need Diverse Books logo

The definition of diverse books on the We Need Diverse Books site is one that I always refer to:

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

From the Mission Statement on the We Need Diverse Books site.

Issue yourself or your students The Reading Without Walls Challenge from Gene Luen Yang who is America’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Number 1 seems particularly meaningful now: Read about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.


Tracking Truth: Slice of Life


I am processing the change of leaving one place for someplace new. Still. Here I am writing about it. Again. How long is this going to be necessary?

Until I find more clarity.

Until I no longer feel that this is not that.

Until it seems like I have nestled into a settled sort of feeling.

I am not even close.

Nowhere near. I have hidden from writing because it forces the most honesty. When the words start to come, the truth arrives. Steps out from around the corner. It stares me down, reminding me that it is always there and won’t be ignored. It insists on being told. It stands firm and strong. There is no going around. I need to walk right up to it and embrace what it shows me. Nothing is a surprise. It is my truth after all.

It is forceful. Unrelenting. It dares me to tell.

Truth recognizes its own power to move us through. It doesn’t protect or fuss. It doesn’t hold hands, soothe us with comfort words or do half the work.

It holds up the mirror, makes us stand up straight and look carefully.

“Talk,” it says. “There is no hiding or easing in. Just begin.”


There is a lot I miss. Relationships. Deep connections. Knowing what is next.

I miss feeling home. I miss being needed. Even the desperately needed that left little for me. Somehow, at the end of the day, I could always breathe again. I always found the energy to come back and do it all over.

I miss never doubting that what I did mattered. I didn’t need to fix it all. I just had to be willing to try. That counted in big ways.

“Imagine if I could just teach,” I used to think. But it’s always been the who and not the what in what we do that has meant anything to me. It’s still early days and I haven’t completely figured out who needs me how and if I know how to give that thing instead of another.

It used to be mostly about love and attention and care. Those things first. Never judging the crying or the upset or the wild and the wooly. Being consistent. Being there. Showing up. Being strong.

The things I need to do now, I needed to do then but it’s different. Plan. Teach. Organize. Somedays, there has been a lot of teaching.  A lot of learning. Amazing learning. Exciting engagement. But I feel alone when I turn around to share it. I love to celebrate at the end of each day. I miss having the adult in the room who has weathered the storm with me and who agrees the smooth stone we hold up is completely beautiful even though we stepped through a lot of muck to find it. The muck made the beautiful parts all the more special. That we saw the beauty and not the muck made us all the more human.

These days, there are not always storms. Sometimes though I am distracted by rocky edges. Sand that itches. Wind that turns me around.

Sometimes, I kind of need a fix. I find myself drawn to any available chaos. The child not managing in the hall. The melt downs. It’s not trauma I seek. Or wish on anyone. It’s the formula of the challenge of deep inner city schools.

Upset + making it through = reminders of how human we all are. Vulnerable, not perfect but trying our best for each other.

(Calm + care ) x multiple occurrences = immeasurable rewards

Those rewards nourished me for years and years.

It’s not about wanting to go back. I am truly gone. It is about recognizing what I miss. About trying to find new ways to give. It’s the giving that counted.

I feel richest when I give deeply and celebrate often. Lately, I have been feeling a little empty.

Truth sets a high bar. It reflects but it doesn’t tell. It shines but it doesn’t explain. It waits until we muddle about collecting the words, setting them down syllable by syllable willing them to tell the story of what we see. It won’t even nod its approval because we know when it’s right. When we can barely bare to say it without pulling it back or rushing to cover it up, then we know. We’ve laid it out. We’ve been brave.

I am still tracking truth.

Word by word, I find myself more on the road.

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.

Celebration: Vague Musings

Celebration: Vague Musings There's a Book for That

I feel particularly blessed that my new school has an Art and Discovery Studio. It also has an Artist in Residence who comes in twice a week to support the students in discovering the art in themselves and the beauty in their world. This studio is the vision of Maggie (the artist) and Colleen (a teacher at our school) and it is an absolute gift to all of us.

Attending the sessions with Maggie, I learn as my students learn. I learn by watching students work, listening to Maggie’s guiding words and observing the introspective quiet in really looking and appreciating.

Celebration: Vague Musings There's a Book for That

“What is beautiful to you?” “What do you notice?” “What story do you want to tell in your art?” These are the questions Maggie asks.

“Play.” “Let it be messy.” “Delight in what you might find.” “There is no right. There is no perfect.” These are the permissions she offers.

Celebration: Vague Musings There's a Book for That

I know I see beauty in the natural world. Colour, contrast, change intrigue me.

Celebration: Vague Musings There's a Book for That

I am influenced by the bold and bright of fall’s changing colours and the minute detail of the lines in a fading bloom.

Celebration: Vague Musings There's a Book for That

What story is inside? What truth? What consistency?

Here it is harder to see. Lines are blurry. We can’t rely on our senses. We must trust out gut. Learn to be still and focus on the parts that speak loudest. Dig deep through the superfluous distractions. Prepare to be both surprised and comforted by what is found.

Celebration: Vague Musings There's a Book for That

This week, I celebrate that I did go looking. That I think I found some things. Remembered them more than discovered. Felt reminded. Trusted in knowing.

In a new place, it is easy to forget who we are. It is tempting to doubt that it matters. Feeling misunderstood and a little lost and turned around happen quickly.

What is beautiful to you?

What do you notice?

What story do you want to tell?

These questions I hold close right now as I give myself time to know. Permission to be. License to struggle.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.


Monday October 31st, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. This week I snapped a photo of brothers visiting my room in the morning before school and reading together. It doesn’t get much cuter than this.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

We have continued to explore themes for our #classroombookaday titles. What theme do you see in these titles?

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

And these? Just in time for Halloween! (Sorry for the blurry image) #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I actually blogged this week! Sharing celebrations of my growing learning community here.

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.


Books I enjoyed:

Dreams of Freedom in Words and Pictures by Amnesty International

I love the possibilities this book offers us in our potential conversations about human rights and freedom. Beautiful, beautiful illustrations.


Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer with illustrations by Frann Preston-Ganon

An acorn is the beginning. A story of the Earth, environment, nature and the possibility of a tree. Such beautiful art.


The Water Princess by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

This might be my favourite title by this author/illustrator pairing. I wish it had existed when I was studying water and access to water with my class last year as it would have been a wonderful complement to the titles I shared with the students. The illustrations here are incredible.


The Storyteller by Evan Turk

Speaking of incredible illustrations – I don’t even have words. This will be part of my #MockCaldecott2017 list for sure. I am in absolute awe. Storytelling is the theme – told through stunning art, a visual journey and a tale that weaves into another tale into another . . .


 The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson

A fun early graphic series. These little school pets have some big personalities.


Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Impossible to put down. Impossible to not bemoan that the next title is not yet published. Impossible to not visit a myriad of emotions on every page. Absolutely one of my favourite middle grade titles of the year. Everything from Jason Reynolds is 5 glowing stars.


The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

This was gifted to me by my mother in law and I was waiting for the right mood to hit so I could sit and savour this little book. For those that love nature, who believe in the power of deep thought and introspection, who realize that life and health is some kind of miracle, this book is a must read. A rare adult read for me. So very special.


Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 48/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 283/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 22/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 37/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 33/50 books read

I am currently almost finished Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk