Monday, November 26th, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Join a fabulous group of readers who share their weekly reads from picture books to young adult novels by participating in Jen and Kellee’s meme. If you are looking for new book ideas, this is a fantastic place to start!

The reading and the blogging about my reading are guilty pleasures this week. I am supposed to be finishing report cards. The reports are coming along but the reading and celebrating cannot be sacrificed!

I read a lot of wonderful picture books this week. Most of them fit into one of two categories: sweet or humourous. And a few were neither or straddled both. This is how I categorized my top ten favourite picture books reads this week:

Picture books of the Sweet variety :

Spork written by Kyo Mclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault I am a big fan of Virginia Wolf written by this author/illustrator team but I had yet to read this earlier book. A lovely story about being meaningful when you are truly needed. Arsenault’s illustrations are as always, stunning.

Make a Wish Bear by Greg Foley Yes, this book does end on a kind of predictable note but all along the way it celebrates a bunch of “strategies” for making a wish come true. I am a sucker for wishing upon a star so I thought this book was pretty special.

Plantpet by Elise Primavera This book ranks up there as one of my all time favourite picture books. It was not a new read but an important “re-read”shared with my class. We savoured it and then we did some art (see below) to celebrate the wonder of Plantpet. I highlight how amazing this story is in this post. Plantpet enters Bertie’s life as a found little creature in a cage. When Plantpet’s digging seems to have no end, Bertie banishes him to a corner of the yard and soon finds himself all alone. When he recognizes how much he misses his friend, Bertie races to find him only to discover a withered little green being. The two revive their friendship in the most beautiful of ways.

Student art inspired by this story: Ode to Plantpet

Mine! written by Shutta Crum and illustrated by Patrice Barton This little book is almost wordless (so I am instantly a fan) . One word is used in a multitude of ways: “mine” Young siblings and a dog experience owning, sharing and exploring with some toys. A little love expressed happens along the way.

Books that tickle your Humour bones: 

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems This was a fantastic read aloud shared in my classroom this week. A twist on a classic tale that only Willems could deliver. My favourite comment from a student: “Why did the dinos want to eat Goldilocks so badly? I liked that Goldilocks.” This is a Goldilocks you really must meet.

Slightly Invisible by Lauren Child I really do like Lauren Child’s Charlie and Lola books. They are so much fun for children to read aloud to practice dialogue reading and expression and I love the sibling relationship: Lola’s spunk and Charlie’s patience. I particularly love Lola’s “imaginary” friend Soren Lorensen. So the fact that this character has a kind of key role in this story, makes me an instant fan.

A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid I had seen this title on a number of blogs and booklists earlier this year and finally bought my own copy. This is certainly a book to own. Petunia wants a pet. A pet skunk. And when her parents cannot be convinced, my, oh, my does she react. Off she stomps to live in the woods where she happens to meet a real skunk. Let’s just say real life experience has a way of being a powerful teacher . . .

I’m Bored  written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi I’m Bored” – oh such tedious words that parents and teachers dread. This story’s power is in the hugely large display of “I will prove I am NOT boring” that the main character shows to us.

Kids are boring.” Those are fighting words!

In between:

Won Ton (A Cat Tale Told in Haiku) written by Lee Wardlaw and illustrated by  Eugene Yelchin Such a cleverly told tale of a cat finding his way into the home and hearts of a family who adopts him. Funny moments of cat quirkiness alongside tender images of a cat and “his boy.”

Something else entirely and so worth a read: 

Each Kindness written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis Reminiscent of The Hundred Dresses this beautifully illustrated picture book’s power is in the questions it suggests: What does it mean to be kind? How do our actions impact others? What does it feel like to be left out and ignored? What happens when we run out of chances? Each kindness has a chance to matter if it is in fact offered. Powerful.

I also finally finished The Search for Wondla written and illustrated by Tony Diterlizzi as a read aloud with my children. We took quite a while to read this because we so frequently find picture books and non-fiction titles to share together. But every time we picked it up after a few nights off, we fell right back into this very unusual science fiction/fantasy title. Stunning artwork. Interesting story. Not necessarily the best book I’ve read in a while but certainly made for lots of great discussion with my children.

Upcoming book adventures?

I just started reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio to my own children! I loved this title when I read it and can’t wait to share it.

Last week I finished reading Clementine and the Family Meeting to my class and we just started Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm. I hope it will be a favourite for my students as it was for me!

The novel I am reading for myself is What Came from the Stars by Gary D Shmidt. Very intriguing so far.

24 thoughts on “Monday, November 26th, 2012

  1. You read some cute picture books-mine this week were all about Harriet Tubman since that’s what we had studied awhile back in 6th grade. I just LOVE the Clementine books!! She’s such a quirky character! Pay attention, Clementine!

    I need to check out What Came From the Stars. Have you read The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now by him? Loved them (especially Okay for Now!).

    Happy Reading!


    • I LOVED both of those Schmidt titles. I read Okay for Now first and just couldn’t fathom how amazingly well written it was. I am definitely a fan! And yes, Clementine is quite the character. My class adored this Clementine title!

  2. Plantpet looks fascinating! Are you planning on reading the second book in the WondLa series? Or was the book not good enough for you to continue on? That book always looked like it’ll be a treat to read.

  3. Spork?? Oh my word, I HAVE to find that one. I have also seen I’m Bored on lots of lists lately. I may need to check it out. Great books Carrie!

  4. You have some great books on this list. I missed Plantpet–will have to find that one. You will LOVE Wonder and Turtle in Paradise. Wonder, especially, goes with the themes of many of your picture books in this post. Have a good week!

  5. Wow-just wonderful books, Carrie, that always add to my wish list. I love all your books for the young ones, like Plantpet, & the art piece is really sweet. A teacher at my school collects wordless books & she had her students choose one & write the ‘words’ to go with each. It was such a fun project & so much learning in it. Each Kindness, too, is marvelous, a book everyone should have. Thank you for all the short reviews, too. I like hearing what you have to say!

  6. Thanks so much Linda. Plantpet is very special title and the art my students did was really lovely. They each wrote an important sentence describing something about the story as well and it is all up in a big display. I love the oral language building when we share wordless books – children seem to feel so free to share their thinking when the words aren’t there. They jump right in with their ideas and inferences.

    • My pleasure. Your illustrations for this book are so much fun! The cover is very appealing and then the rest of the story just gets better. I purchased it just from the great reviews I was seeing.

  7. I’m Bored looks intriguing and the published reviews are mixed. It will be next on my TBR pile. I agree with your pick of Mine! It’s one of my favorites, too.

  8. I can’t wait to check out Plantpet after your write up! I’m excited to pick up Each Kindness at the library this week after waiting for a long time in the hold line. So nice to see it consistently reviewed so highly. I SO enjoyed sharing Wonder with my own kids. Lots of great talking points along the way. I just book talked and delivered Turtle in Paradise to my daughter’s third grade class last week. I’m eager to hear their reactions to it.

    • Plantpet is such an amazing book. I hope it is still in print. My husband gave it to me years ago. I think my class is really going to like Turtle in Paradise. The whole diaper rash cure scenes made me laugh so much.

  9. Thanks for the great book suggestions! Have you read, “I’m Here” by Peter H. Reynolds? Very special book. Can’t wait to hear what you think of “Wonder”. At my kids’ school, everyone in the middle school read it and then R.J. Palacio came to speak. The kids loved the book – and meeting her!

    • I have read “I’m Here” – I am a big Peter H. Reynolds fan – although I think Ish is still my favourite of all! I have read Wonder earlier this year – the special part will be sharing it with my children. They are already begging me to read it tonight and we just started last night! How wonderful to have R.J. Palacio come to speak! So exciting!

  10. Hey there Carrie, as per usual I am happy to find myself right at home with these gorgeous titles you just shared. I borrowed Virginia Wolf from the library and fell in love with it. I can’t get over the psych elements subtly interwoven into the narrative (quite Kafka-esque really). While it does not fit our current bimonthly theme, I just know I’d feature this book, absolutely beautiful. I’m glad that it’s a Cybils contender. Will definitely look for Spork.

    I’ve heard a lot of great things about I’m Bored, and will look for this one in our libraries soon. I’m also a huge fan of Lauren Child and her postmodern fairy tales more than the Charlie and Lola series. Have you read her “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book?” – absolutely beautiful. I have a copy of Diterlizzi’s The Search for Wondla but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet, bought it a few years back. Still have not read my copy of The Spiderwick Chronicles as well. My ten year old daughter loved Wonder. 🙂

    • Myra Thank you so much for this lovely comment. I LOVED Spiderwick Chronicles Read it to my children starting when they were five. It was a favourite set of stories for us. I agree with you about Lauren Child and all of her other stories. She has a lot to her I think.

  11. Several of the books on your list were recent favorites at our house, too. My 3yo LOVES Lola and Charlie (which is just fine, because I enjoy reading them to her), and we also recently read I’m Bored and Mo Willems’ Goldilocks, both of which got lots of giggles.

    • Lots of giggles is lots of fun. My ten year old still giggles outright if a story is funny to him. It always gives the book extra points to me when I see that it appeals to him like that!

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