Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season

It’s December – the time to think about gifting books! How I love to help with shopping lists! Making a picture book list to give is one of my favourite holiday traditions. I started with 12 in 2013 and moved to 20 in 2014.  In 2015 and 2016, I bumped the list to 25. Once again, I am happy once again to celebrate 25 incredible titles for 2017! Looking to buy a special picture book (or books) for someone in particular? Here is a beautiful selection to consider.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

My criteria? Is it a book that can be shared multiple times? Does it inspire creativity, thinking, inspiration? Does it make its readers think differently? Does it celebrate something important? Does it freeze time? Is it a book that brings joy? Or does it simply make you laugh? Our world needs more laughter!

With those questions in mind, here is my list:

Listed alphabetically by author.

The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

So a duck and a mouse take up residence in the belly of a wolf. Only Barnett and Klassen could pull this off. We all need a little wonderful wackiness in our lives.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Why Am I Me? written by Paige Britt and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

I loved this lyrical, beautiful book full of questions and musings about self, identity and the wider world.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell

Nearly wordless. All about important things. Kindness. Trust. Simplicity.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

A completely endearing title about one little boy’s route to being brave.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

An allegorical tale that will make you giggle and nod vigorously and leap up and shout in agreement. Our voices cannot be silenced. Oh, this book is timely. Cannot recommend it enough.

the-rooster-who-would-not-be-quiet Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Windows by Julia Denos and illustrated E.B. Goodale

I could read this book endlessly. It is so calm and quiet and the little details are exquisite.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

You Don’t Want a Unicorn! by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Liz Climo

So, so very funny. Who could have guessed that a pet unicorn could be so problematic? You might never look at cupcakes the same way again!

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Milo and Georgie written by Bree Galbraith and illustrated by Josée Bisaillon

Moving is hard. Kids are quirky. It isn’t always easy to embrace change. Or maybe it is , , , This book celebrates adjusting to the new however we might approach things. Charming.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for ThatLittle Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin

This wordless title won my heart. Graphic panels. Sweet characters. Generosity and kindness. What more could you want in a picture book?

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins

Oh so clever! A very chatty conversation in the middle of a wordless book. A.k.a. a really hopeful wordless book interrupted by many words. Hilarious!

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

If I Had a Little Dream written by Nina Laden and illustrated by Melissa Castrillo

A celebration of possibilities from a child’s perspective. Beautiful.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

This is How We Do it: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World by Matt Lamothe

What do you eat for dinner? What is school like?  What is your daily routine? What do you do for fun? How do you help your family? These details define us and unite us. They make us realize how we all have similar routines even though things in our day can be vastly different. Based on the lives of seven real children from around the world.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Lines by Suzy Lee

This book is beautifully brilliant. Wordless and full of complete surprises and incredible movements (exquisitely implied).

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

This book begins with an eye that was drawn too large. Where it ends up? Oh my! A creative and inspiring journey.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Things to Do by Elaine Magliaro and illustrated by Catia Chien

This title should ideally inspire endless poetry writing and will definitely help you see the world with a little more wonder. Gorgeous all around.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs written by Carol Murray and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

So much fun – lots of creepy and not so creepy crawlies flit, skitter and wander across these pages. Lots of information and delightful poems to share.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Now by Antoinette Portis

Being in the moment has never been celebrated with such lovely wonder and beauty.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

If You Were the Moon written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Jaime Kim

What would you do if you were the moon? A poem travels line by line, page by page on one side of each two page spread and on the other, more information about the moon. Incredible illustrations by Jaime Kim.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back up Again by Dan Santat

Find yourself completely surprised. This book. In awe.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Another Way to Climb a Tree written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Oh this book. Sweet. Inspiring. Creative. A perfect mix of text and illustrations.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Danielle Daniel 

Sparse words, gorgeous illustrations and a message of strength.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires

Perseverance and risk taking are a journey. Love the way they are depicted here.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Can an Aardvark Bark? written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Created by nonfiction royalty, this book is a winner! Animal sounds. And many other cool things you might have wondered.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Accident! by Andrea Tsurumi

This story is an absolute adventure. It’s all in the details and such details! Lola the armadillo spills orange liquid all over a white chair in a cart wheeling mishap. It is viewed as an absolute disaster! The end of the world! The end of everything! As she escapes her own mess, she runs into many other catastrophes. In the end, some important resolutions are explored. A book to get lost in.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams

A nonfiction title exploring ecosystems and the importance of keeping oceans healthy. Children will develop an understanding of food chains and how living creatures are interconnected in specific environments.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Happy Reading. Happy Shopping. Happy Giving.

 

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017

Picture book 10 for 10 is here! This is one of the best days of the year to increase your knowledge of amazing picture books. It may also be a tad expensive . . . You’ve been warned!

This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning. Thanks to both of them for the work they do to promote this wonderful day of picture book sharing!

This is my sixth year participating in this event. In 2012, I shared ten beloved titles. In 2013, I went with a theme: Connections across the generations. In 2014, I shared ten “go to” titles on various themes like generosity, courage and forgiveness. In 2015. I highlighted favourite historical fiction titles. Last year I chose books that may inspire philosophical discussion

This year’s theme is the theme I chose for #classroombookaday with my Grade 4 and 5 class during the last week of school. I told them I was going to read books that were beautifully quirky and that I wanted to be sure I shared with them before our year together ended. Beautifully quirky is a great category. These books lead to awe and wonder. Questions and discussions. And many rereads.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

These books are wonderfully odd. My kind of odd. I hope your kind of odd. Books that leave you thinking. That awe you with the wild and the beautiful and the unexpected or unexplained.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (2014)

This book will always be about the shouting audience. “No! They missed it again!” “Oh my God!” “Seriously?!” This book is all about theories. Digging in, around and but never really out is highly satisfying.

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket with illustrations by Lisa Brown (2017)

This book really is about a goldfish ghost who travels around in search of a place to belong. Quietly clever and speaks to some important themes: the cycle of life, belonging and companionship.

Goldfish Ghost Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for ThatNot Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima (2017)

Kelp was born in the ocean and raised by narwhals. Something has always seemed not quite right. Then one night, he discovers unicorns. Is this the answer to everything? Or just some things. Who we are, where we belong, how big all of this can be. Lovely little book.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken (2017)

This book begins with an eye that was drawn too large. Where it ends up? Oh my! A creative and inspiring journey.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

The Snurtch written by Sean Ferrell with illustrations by Charles Santoso (2016)

Well, if we all have a Snurtch – and I suppose we do – I would hope that mine is this cute. A charming story that reminds us of all the emotions and moods inside of us. Because, oh yes, it isn’t all happy happy joy joy.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

The Day I Became a Bird by Ingrid Chabbert and Guridi (2016)

I am utterly enamoured by the illustrations in this book about a boy willing to be a bird to attract the attention of the girl he swoons over.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis  (2016)

Invented language. Over the top stunning illustrations. This book invites the reader to climb inside and help tell the story over and over again.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

The Liszits written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Júlia Sardà (2016)

I use the word quirky every time I pick this book up. It is absolutely captivating. The story. The lists. The illustrations. I can’t share this with anyone without reading them the entire book and then we both just sit back in awe. Inspired.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Papa’s Mechanical Fish written by Candace Fleming with illustrations by Boris Kulikov (2013)

Creativity. Focus. Absurdity. Inventiveness. The language is fun. The entire family is involved and Papa models the curiosity and persistence of an inventor. This book is “almost true” based on the life of Lodner Phillips who really did build The Whitefish, an actual functioning submarine.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Bug in a Vacuum by Melanie Watt (2015)

Who better to introduce children to the stages of grief than a bug swallowed up in a vacuum? Right? Huh? Love this book! Students do too.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Follow along on twitter using the #pb10for10 hashtag. All posts will be linked on the Google Community Site for Picture Book 10 for 10

pb-10-for-10What titles would make your beautifully quirky list? 

Happy picture book reading!  

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Picture Books about Love

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, a meme created by The Broke and Bookish.

This week’s theme? All about Romance – I am going to take liberties with this theme and stretch it and shape it to be all about love. Love as in romantic love or connection love. Deep friendship. True devotion. Care, concern, warmth.

10-picture-books-about-love

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage written by Selina Alko and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

A nonfiction title about Richard and Mildred Loving whose marriage and love were questioned because of their race. A story of determination, persistence and the power of love and family.

The Case for Loving- The Fight for Interracial Marriage

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato

Love, love, love, love! Love because it’s love, not because it is celebrated in any particular way.

WormLoves Worm

Pete and Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

This book celebrates love in the happiest and most joyful of ways. But it doesn’t scrimp on the realities of love: loss, pain, frustration, forgiveness, sacrifice. Love is all of it and this book delivers. It takes you on a journey sailing through a myriad of emotions and delivers you on the other side, changed. Better. Brighter. Exhausted.

I often tell people that yes, I have a picture book favourite even though I LOVE many books. This is it. This one here. How I adore this book!

pete-and-pickles

The Day I Became a Bird by Ingrid Chabbert and Guridi

I am utterly enamoured by the illustrations in this book about a boy willing to be a bird to attract the attention of the girl he swoons over.

the-day-i-became-a-bird

Hunwick’s Egg written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Pamela Lofts

Hunwick’s egg never hatched although it provided him with companionship, faith and an important secret. Yes, he realized his egg was not an egg at all but a perfectly shaped stone and he loved it all the more.

Hunwick's Egg

Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon

Pancakes. Jacques Cousteau. Jazz tunes. The joy and the solitude of New York city. Finding someone who gets you and shares your quirky tastes. It all comes together in this delightful story.

herman-and-rosie-900x1024

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

A sweet tender story of loving and letting go.

Ida, Always

Pierre in Love written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Petra Mathers. 

A beautiful picture book about being in love and being brave enough to admit it.

pierre in love

Bear in Love written by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

Finally bear and bunny meet, convinced they have each found the perfect friend. For bear it is a cute little bear and bunny thinks he was found a lovely big strong bunny. Confusion aside, the two friends sit together and chat and sing as the sun goes down. A feel good book that made us all smile!

bear in love

City Dog Country Frog written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon J Muth

Willems’ simple text, pictures and words tell the tender story of  friendship, the passage of time, young curiosity and calm wisdom.

City-dog

Which book would you add to the list?

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

The “after” of our Mock Caldecott has been just as rich as the reading, voting and analysis process. It is with much joy that I continue to celebrate here.

This will be a celebration mostly revealed through tweets and images.

After our voting, of course we had to share.

And sharing led to an amazing experience – an opportunity to Skype with Aaron Becker!

Students were beyond excited as we were serious, serious fans.

We visited Aaron’s website and watched videos and book trailers about his books. Students prepared questions and began art projects. I shared them all with Aaron!

The morning of our Skype call began like this:

Many students arrived very early (“So we won’t even be a little bit late!”) They invited others (siblings, students from other classes) into our room to explore Aaron’s books. One determined boy in Grade 6 showed up at ten after 9 announcing that he would be spending the morning with us to meet Aaron Becker. “I am going to be a librarian, I can’t miss this opportunity,” he explained. How can you say no to that? 🙂

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

These girls came in an hour early and got started on Aaron Becker art.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

We pulled our room apart to set up chairs for the Skype.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Trying out various seats.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

I don’t think I can possibly capture how incredible the Skype experience was for my students. We had various questions prepared but we didn’t need them – Aaron somehow managed to just have a conversation with us. He was curious about where the students and their families were from and we shared that many of us (or our parents) are from the Philippines, China, Vietnam and Korea. Aaron wanted to know about the languages students spoke. He shared stories of his art, his travels and his process. He told us about what he is currently working on and shared more stories from the trilogy. He held a room full of children (and adults) absolutely spellbound.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Maybe this exchange will sum it all up:

A few hours after the Skype this happened-

J: “Ms. Gelson, thank you.”

Me: “For what?”

J: “For reading us Journey and Quest and Return. If you didn’t read them to us, then we wouldn’t have loved them and then you wouldn’t have told Aaron Becker that we loved them. So he wouldn’t have wanted to Skype with us. And . . . well that was one of the best things of my life.”

Me: speechless, mushy mess

After the Skype, we took all of that excitement and pulled out our books and found a place to read.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

But the buzz of all things Aaron Becker continued throughout the day.

Aaron Becker’s response was very special. He wrote: “Imagination is strong” in Tagalog. My students from the Philippines were so touched!

In the afternoon, students reflected on the Skype experience. Here are some highlights:

  • I was surprised to see Aaron Becker’s room and how big his printer is! I wish that I could be an author and have a room like that!
  • I can’t believe he told us the back story of the King. Wow, we are so lucky.
  • I like when he told us secrets from the books and showed us cool maps.
  • I love how his books make us think so much. I learned about the girl’s feelings and how Aaron Becker showed her loneliness. He told us that it’s our time to use our imagination because we are special at our age.
  • There are surprises in all of the books. Now I want to study them more. I love his stories that he told us.
  • He was pretty smart to make a model of the book Journey so the publishers would know how great that book is!
  • Aaron Becker told us that we have a lot of imagination at this age because we are not at the age for all of the boring responsibilities. This made us feel really special.
  • Seeing Aaron Becker was very amazing. It’s not everyday that you get to Skype with an author or illustrator like him. I will never forget it!

We then decided that we should continue to celebrate all of these books we love so much. We got to work on persuasive letters to the Caldecott Committee either congratulating them for their choices or suggesting that maybe they missed a special book.

The fan art was pretty stupendous!

Return art has been everywhere!

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

And then there are the persuasive letters!

Advocating for A Hungry Lion or a dwindling assortment of animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Return championing:

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Have our books got a rest on the shelves now that all of the hoopla is over?

Hardly!

These students have reread Giant Squid countless times!

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

Before school this little K insists his older brother bring him into our classroom so he can look at his favourite books (Journey, Quest and Return) again. “I love these books forever,” he told me yesterday.

Celebration: More Mock Caldecott love

And Aaron Becker – as promised we have some baby name suggestions from a bunch of 9 and 10 year olds in Vancouver, Canada who wish you and your family the very, very best: Violet, Paige, Sky, Florence, Grace, Ida, Cleo, Blossom, Ira, Odessa, Penelope, Alexa, Jacklyn, Jade, Lilly, Gigi and (no surprise) this came up a lot: “Could they name her Journey?”

Next week we have student led conferences and our Mock Caldecott experience will feature big. I can’t wait to watch students share their learning and experiences with their families.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

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

celebrate-link-up

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017

Mock Caldecott is one of my very favourite things to do in the classroom! This year, with a Grade 4 and 5 classroom, I was able to stretch the analysis process further and deeper with my students. All around it was a rich and rewarding learning experience. I have much to celebrate!

We started this three-week process by learning about the Caldecott award, working to understand the specific criteria and examining past winners (both medal and honor).

We wrote about what we noticed.

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

Students shared favourite titles together.Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

Read together sessions happened all over the room.Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

Over about 7 days, I introduced our Mock Caldecott contenders. Reading these books took us in many directions. We wrote detailed responses to some stories. We watched related videos. Some books we read more than once and just giggled.

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

Then in small groups of 3 to 4 students we began the task of rereading each book, talking together about Caldecott criteria, our opinions and all that we loved about each title. Thank you to Jess Lif! Her blog post about her Mock Caldecott unit led me to sheets we could use to record our notes and thinking about how each book met or didn’t meet the criteria.  Like Jess, I used this as an opportunity for my students to learn from each other. I listened in for students’ thoughts about the books, yes. But I also was listening for how we communicated. Some groups needed more support than others to contribute ideas and some groups needed guidance on how to all have voice and how to listen attentively. I was very proud of the growing independence, the progress that happened over the week and how some quiet students stepped up and took on a leadership role in their group.

Carefully rereading the story before going through the illustrations and beginning to talk about what we notice.

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

Sharing details with each other.

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

Taking careful notes about what the group discussed.

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

Enjoying the amusing aspects of a funny book!

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

Looking closely at criteria.

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

Through all of this – lots of joy!

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And then Friday afternoon came and we spent an hour picking our top 3 titles and filling our Caldecott reflections/self-evaluations.

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

Some students were confident in their choices immediately. Others took a long time to finally submit their top 3. Everyone took a great deal of care filling out the Mock Caldecott Self-Assessment Reflections and Feedback sheet I created.

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

And the winners? I had some eager volunteers ready to celebrate with a few photos!

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

Some dramatic reading!

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

Our medal winner? Return by Aaron Becker

Honor books? They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe and Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Reflections 2017 There's a Book for That

The reflection sheet allowed students to continue to think critically and creatively about the books, self-assess their own contributions, reflect on their learning and rank all 12 titles in 1 to 12 order. Many students carefully studied their notes to help them with this process. These questions also allowed them to move beyond the illustrations and talk about story.

A few highlights of the thinking. Questions are in bold and italics.

Which book do you think K students would enjoy the most? Why?

  • A Hungry Lion because it has messy drawings and kids will think they can be an author too!
  • A Hungry Lion. Little kids like animals.
  • Maybe Something Beautiful because it’s bright and happy.
  • They All Saw a Cat because it’s cute and creative.

What about Grade 7 students? Explain.

  • Giant Squid because it has such cool drawings.
  • Giant Squid because it’s science.
  • Ada’s Violin – the like drama and true stories.
  • Ada’s Violin because it’s inspiring
  • Radiant Child because it tells you a message.
  • Radiant Child because it’s about a dream and soon they will need to accomplish their own dreams

Which book do you think adults would enjoy the most? Name a specific adult if you want.

  • Radiant Child because it’s a beautiful story and has amazing pictures.
  • Radiant Child because it actually happened. It’s a true story!
  • Radiant Child – old people can relate to “me” time.
  • The Night Gardener because it has very calm pictures.
  • My Mom would pick A Hungry Lion because it’s so funny.

Which book made you think the most? List some of your questions/thoughts.

  • Return. I was inspired by all of the imagination in this book. Is he going to write another book? Please!!
  • Ada’s Violin. I never knew people lived like this. How can people live in a pile of garbage.
  • The Sound of Silence. He can’t find silence. It’s hard to find. I can’t find silence in class.
  • Giant Squid. I wonder everything about giant squids now.
  • The Storyteller. It didn’t make sense until I kept reading it.
  • Radiant Child. It made me think about why people use drugs and about who is sad.
  • The Hungry Lion. What’s going to happen to that turtle?

What did you like about our Mock Caldecott process?

  • Participating in all of these things made me think about so much.
  • It’s fun reading it and then reading it again and actually being like a judge!
  • I love looking at so many books and voting!
  • Seeing all of the different art.
  • Getting to share my opinion about picture books.
  • Some really well done details can actually blow someone’s mind.
  • It was an enlightening experience. It made me more critical. It made me think about details and how colours impact me.
  • I liked getting to read so many different kinds of books and then getting to rate them and show my opinion.
  • We didn’t just read pretty books. I got to share my opinion.
  • I liked looking at many illustrations because they are so beautiful.
  • It was so fun because we got to rate books!

What did you learn about your own likes/dislikes/preferences with picture books?

  • I think I have been judging books too fast instead of taking my time.
  • I now know that if I really like it, I can read it all over again and see more.
  • For some reason, I love art with trees!
  • I like things that are realistic with really bold shadows.
  • It’s possible to have too much colour in a book.
  • I didn’t know I liked books with no text so much. I love illustrations that show adventures.
  • I like books even if the drawings aren’t perfect.
  • It seems I like books with a little bit of mystery.
  • Books that are black and white except for some parts will bring your attention to the spot with colour.

What did you learn about illustrations?

  • Some of the smallest illustrations have great details but you hardly notice unless you focus.
  • That they can be anything – there is no best way. Some are collage. Some are messy. Some are weird. Some are super detailed.
  • I really like pencil drawings.
  • Colours affects your mood.
  • There is lots of orange skin.
  • There are so many different ways drawings can be: colourful, bland, collage, paint.
  • A story doesn’t actually need words.
  • Illustrations can touch you.
  • I learned about the different kinds of illustrations. And finally I can spell illustrations!
  • Not every picture has to be perfect to be beautiful.

Why do you think Mock Caldecott is a worthwhile activity to do in a classroom?

  • We learned that illustrators do many unique and special things
  • Just because you are 10, 11, 9 or any age doesn’t mean you are too old to read or listen to a picture book.
  • We can learn new books and also learn from their art and really know the story.
  • Students should know about illustrations and always see new books.
  • It makes you talk to people you might not usually talk with.
  • We were so inspired by the pictures!
  • We all learned that art is so beautiful and important. We want to read even more picture books now.
  • Kids learn how to judge things by having a list [criteria], I learned a lot about what art looks like.
  • Think critically. Slow down and notice.
  • It expands your reading world
  • Picture books need pictures. Pictures can tell a story all on their own.
  • It’s great to actually be able to vote.
  • Doing this let us talk in groups with new people.
  • Picture books teach you so many things. They teach you to dream.

Students also rated themselves on their ability to share ideas, listen to others, learn from other people’s opinions, work cooperatively in a group and refer to criteria when rating books. Each child gave themselves a compliment about their group work and identified an area for improvement.

The most entertaining response was to this question: Which book would you remove from our Mock Caldecott list. Give specific reasons.

A Hungry Lion. Why? Because animals get eaten!

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

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

celebrate-link-up

Mock Caldecott 2017

This year is Year 3 for me of doing a Mock Caldecott unit with my class. Every year I have worked with a different grade. I taught a Grade 3 & 4 class in 2014/2015, a Grade 2 & 3 class in 2015/2016 and this year I have a Grade 4 & 5 class. So each year I have had to switch things up a little bit. Tomorrow we begin our unit and will be deep in reading and discussion for the next 2 weeks. On January 23rd, the actual Caldecott awards (honor and medal) will be announced!

mock-caldecott-2017

I read a LOT of picture books each year and start selecting Mock Caldecott possibilities early on. In making this list, I do pay attention to Caldecott buzz but I also think about a few other things in compiling the ideal list for my students. I try to choose a collection of titles where there will be some nonfiction as well as fiction. I want the stories we share to be entertaining and inspiring. I want students to encounter illustration styles they might not have seen before. I hope that we will continue to be able to talk about genre – so this list contains a fantasy story, a biography, narrative nonfiction, poetry and a wordless book. First, yes, I have to have been impressed by the illustrations but I usually narrow a list of 20  plus titles down to 10 to 12 so I can also think of these other things in making my choices.

I am very excited about this list of twelve titles on our Mock Caldecott 2017 list.

Listed alphabetically by illustrator.

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Daniel Finds a Poem

Return by Aaron Becker

Return

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

adas-violin

A Hungry Lion or a dwindling assortment of animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

a-hungry-lion-or-a-dwindling-assortment-of-animals

The Night Gardener by the Fan brothers 

The Night Gardener

The Sound of Silence written by Katrina Goldsaito and illustrated by Julia Kuo

the-sound-of-silence

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

Maybe Something Beautiful

Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann

giant-squid

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

radiant-child-the-story-of-young-artist-jean-michel-basquiat

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

the-princess-and-the-warrior-a-tale-of-two-volcanoes

The Storyteller by Evan Turk

the-storyteller-by-evan-turk

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

they-all-saw-a-cat

In thinking about how I would do this unit with an older class, I was thrilled to come across Jess Lif‘s blog post about her Mock Caldecott unit. Jess is one of the most inspirational, insightful and generous educators I know. The work Jess did with her students is helping me think about how I am going to work with my students this year in terms of discussion, analysis and the voting aspects of the unit.

For the first few days we will be talking all things Caldecott and exploring some of the previous winners. Within a few days, we will be diving headfirst into all of these books! Can’t wait! Stay tuned!

 

 

Gift Books 2016: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season

I love to book shop all year round. In the winter holiday season, I love to insist everyone else should partake. Making a picture book list to give is one of my favourite holiday traditions. I started with 12 in 2013 and moved to 20 in 2014.  Last year I bumped the list to 25 (2015). And this number seems to be the sweet spot. There are lots of books to love! It is a joy to recommend many of my favourites of the year!

Gift Books 2016: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Which books make the list? There are some things I think about. Is it a book that can be shared multiple times? Does it inspire creativity, thinking, inspiration? Does it make its readers think differently? Does it celebrate something important? Does it freeze time? Is it a book that brings joy? Or does it simply make you laugh?

With those questions in mind, here is my list:

Listed alphabetically by author.

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Simply the perfect mentor text for poetry writing. Enough said. Well, except to point out that the illustrations are especially swoon worthy.

Daniel Finds a Poem Monday April 11th, 2016

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato

I think this picture book has shades of pure perfection within it. A spotlight on the ridiculous “must be” wedding planning that occurs when love should just prevail. And please note, this is love for love’s sake. Not love that fits in any cookie cutter mold. How I adore this book.

WormLoves Worm

Where’s the Elephant? by Barroux

Beyond a search and find which it seems to be just a few pages in. Not at all. It is a statement about development encroaching on habitat. Of what this means to our world and the animals in it. Powerful. So, powerful. The perfect book to introduce environmental studies. To begin conversations. To worry about. And maybe to inspire change.

Wheres-the-Elephant Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Return by Aaron Becker

The third book in a trilogy (give the entire collection!). I love each book for particular reasons. This title must be experienced so that you can see how it continues the stories started in Journey and Quest. I think this cover image is my favourite of the three.

Return

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. Spend ages on each page.

the-airport-book

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. 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.

Maybe Something Beautiful

It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton

This book is absolutely delightful. Since actual letters and personal mail is quite the novelty in this day and age, surprises arriving by post really are special. Maybe too much so . . .

It Came in the Mail

A Hungry Lion or a dwindling assortment of animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

This book is very funny. Very, very funny. It requires that wonderful page flipping back and forth phenomenon – “Did that really happen?” I don’t want to give anything away but will say the surprises delighted me. Can’t wait to read this to a group of children.

a-hungry-lion-or-a-dwindling-assortment-of-animals Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Knowing Book written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich with illustrations by Matthew Cordell

When this book was first published, someone said it was my kind of book. It is most definitely my kind of book. I think it might also be your kind of book. Gently perfect.

The Knowing Book

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

Barnacle is Bored by Jonathan Fenske

This book is so well done. Talking about the story is giving away the story. So I’ll just say this: clever, really funny, perfect read aloud to inspire much conversation about how to look at life.

Barnacle is Bored Monday August 15th, 2016 There's a Book for That

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad

This book of poetry is kind of pure perfection. Julie Morstad’s illustrations. Julie Fogliano‘s beautiful images. I can’t pick a favourite poem. But I have many a favourite line.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Sound of Silence written by Katrina Goldsaito and illustrated by Julia Kuo

This book is just incredibly beautiful in its simplicity – the search for silence. One to share and share again. The illustrations are captivating.

the-sound-of-silence

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

Full of all kinds of fabulous Hatke-esque characters and its star – the Goblin, is one to root for. This will be loved.

nobody-likes-a-goblin

Hotel Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Bruce just might be my favourite grump. Lots of giggles here.

hotel-bruce2

Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle

Oh Flora, you sure can move. And this time with not one, but two, dancing partners. Stunning all around!

Flora and the Peacocks Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Like many, I eagerly anticipated this title. Klassen is so unique. I love the subtle things here. The hints. The suggestions. The not neatly wrapped up ending. The room for readers to do some work.

We Found a Hat

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

Finding Wild written by Megan Wagner Lloyd and illustrated by Abigail Halpin

Where can you find wild? What is wild to you? Why do we need wild? How is wild beautiful and dangerous all at the same time. Just so full of wow.

Finding Wild Monday May 30th, 2016 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Listzs by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Júlia Sardà (coming in October)

Quirky with gorgeous illustrations and prompts wonderful list making. A great book to share with children who appreciate all the lovely language in the lists. Highly recommended.

the-liszts

Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat

So very clever. Literal twists and turns! Quite the reading experience exploring the feeling of time’s passage on a road trip.

Are we there Yet?

Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Because picture books are especially treasured as they lull us to sleep.

twenty-yawns

 

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

This might be my favourite title by this author/illustrator pairing. The illustrations here are incredible.

the-water-princess

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

Brilliant. So rich with possibilities to share and talk about perspective, self and the world.

they-all-saw-a-cat

Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

Well, I am absolutely smitten. This book speaks of friendship and individuality and acceptance and patience. I am kind of in love.

Be a Friend

Happy Reading. Happy Shopping. Happy Giving.