Monday November 10th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

My favourite reading photo of the week is of these boys who discovered that I changed the books displayed in one of our picture book shelves and immediately plopped themselves down to begin reading. Book love!

Monday November 10th, 2014 #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.


It’s Picture Book Month! This week I shared two posts in celebration:

A celebration of sharing Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay

A conversation with a little guy about some nonfiction: Talking Spiders

I am late getting this post up as I was away for the weekend so I am only highlighting a few titles from the week:

The Conductor by Laëtitia Devernay

This book is an incredible wordless title to share with a group of creative and observant children. Nothing is as it seems and the pages fill with imagination, movement and music. It was magic in my room. My favourite exchange:

Child 1: “He can conduct birds because birds make music. They make beautiful sounds.”

Child 2: “Not crows. Crows just yell.”

The Conductor Laëtitia Devernay Monday November 10th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Once Tashi Met a Dragon written by Anna Fienberg and Barbara Fienberg with illustrations by Kim Gamble

This isn’t a book that I would have picked up to read but I loved watching my students respond when a guest reader brought it to my room. They were intrigued by the folklore elements of dragons bringing rain, the detailed illustrations and the humour of the dragon family interactions. A lovely, longer read aloud.

Once Tashi Met a Dragon Monday November 10th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Cloudwalker by Rob Henry Vickers and Robert Budd

What a beautiful book! This is the ancient story of Gitxsan hunter who is dropped into the clouds by a group of swans. Stumbling on his walk through the sky, he spills water from his cedar box (a guloonich) and new lakes and rivers are created on the land below providing life producing waters for his people. This book highlights how nature interacts and our responsibility to respect it.

Cloudwalker Monday November 10th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

I loved everything about this title. There are so many layers to this book and so many reasons to rave about it. The characters! Wow. The themes of science, family, friendship and the struggles of age and aging. Perfect middle grade literature. A must read.

The Fourteenth goldfish Monday November 10th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Up next? I am in the middle of Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and will likely finish it today. I then plan to read Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 71/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 513/650 books read (45 books behind)

#MustReadin2014: 21/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 119/65 complete

Monday September 29th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?


Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. You are guaranteed to find something new to add to your list.

Picture book love overflowed. Ten favourites from the week:

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

I will admit that I coveted this book from first just the title and then, once revealed, the cover. Yes, of course, because I adore Marla Frazee but also because . . . what a cover. It hints at mystery and strange happenings and . . . ? This book could have been so many stories. If you haven’t yet experienced it, don’t you have numerous story lines floating about in your head? It surprised me with its tenderness, the sweet, the kind. All the more amazing of course, because it is wordless. I cannot wait to experience this next through children’s eyes when I share it with my class.

the farmer and the clown Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

My, my, my, my. What a package of brilliance and wonder and beauty. A quiet forest walk in the dark with highlights of little bits of magic. Amusing. Beautiful. Wow. And wordless . . . Yet, I imagine this in children’s hands and all I hear is natter, natter, natter.

Flashlight Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Best Book in the World by Rilla Alexander

All about the journey that books take us on – how it is somewhat endless and circular and full of all kinds of wonderful.

the best book in the world Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Catching Kisses written by Amy Gibson and illustrated by Maria Van Lieshout

Love these illustrations in a very big way. Gorgeous visually all around. A book that is comforting, soothing and about the power of connection.

catching kisses Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Once Upon a Memory written by Nina Laden and illustrated by Renata Liwska

Ode to memories and inspiration for dreaming up more. The perfect book to inspire a list, a discussion, a story . . .

 Once Upon a Memory Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Rock-A-Bye Room written by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Amy Bates

I found this at the library and instantly wished I could read it multiple times to a near sleep toddler – it is the perfect bedtime book. If I find it in board book version, I will buy multiple copies to gift to new parents. Just lovely all around.

Rock a bye room Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

And Two Boys Booed written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

I love books that capture what it is like to be courageous in everyday moments. This is one of the best.

And Two Boys Booed Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Rain Stomper written by Addie Boswell and illustrated by Eric Velasquez

I am not really sure how it is that I haven’t celebrated this book before – considering it is all about finding ways to embrace the rain and I live in the rainy Pacific Northwest. But now that I have, let me rave. This is all about powerful language, great energy and the magic of a community of children and a rainy day. Delightful.

the rain stomper Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Ladybug Girl and Bingo by David Soman and Jacky Davis

Every time I read a LadyBug Girl title, I become more enamoured with these lovely stories and the incredible illustrations by Soman. In this title, Ladybug Girl has some big time camping adventures with her beloved dog Bingo. Of course, adventures can seem big or small according to your perspective on the world . . .

LadyBug Girl and Bingo Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Lisa Brown

I know for sure that some people will just not like this book. It is odd. It doesn’t necessarily make sense. It can be considered confusing. For me though, it is quite brilliant. Takes me right back to being a child and imagining wild and wonderful things about perhaps the most ordinary of places. Or perhaps not . . .

29 Myths Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read a sweet little beginning chapter book:  Squishy McFluff The Invisible Cat by Pip Jones and illustrated by Ella Okstad

Love the rhymes and often I don’t like rhymes. This rhyming text allows for a smoother read and predictability with the text. Lots of naughty here. Is it our darling Ava up to no good? Or her sneaky invisible kitty?

Squishy McFluff Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I have been switching novels around a little bit and have now settled into The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 62/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 441/650 books read (currently 40 books behind which is actually progress! Last week it was 54!)

#MustReadin2014: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 107/65 complete

Monday June 10th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Jen and Kellee’s meme and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult reads! A fantastic way to learn about new titles.

It’s report card writing season so my reading has been interfered with . . . But I managed to sneak in some fantastic titles!

In picture books . . . .

I found three new lovely board books for my Kindergarten buddy reading collection:

Northwest Coast Native Animals by Kelly Robinson Students loved the gorgeous illustrations and many connected to art they have seen in their homes and relative’s communities up north. Bright, beautiful and perfect for sharing.

northwest coast native animals

Good Morning World by Paul Windsor A lovely board book that celebrates nature and the world around us. Students have loved sharing this title with their little buddies.


Old Bear by Kevin Henkes I was pleasantly surprised by the stunning colours of the seasons in this story. Such a gentle tale about an old bear dreaming about his days as a cub. Soothing and sweet.

old bear

Other picture books I enjoyed:

Ivy Loves to Give by Freya Blackwood I think Freya Blackwood is such a gifted illustrator. I adore her blog.  This is a picture book perfect for a story time setting about a little girl, Ivy, who loves to gift things she finds to whoever is near. Often, her gifts don’t quite match the needs of the recipient but her generosity is treasured.


Museum Trip a wordless book by Barbara Lehman This book is about getting lost on many levels – but quite nicely not about lost and being scared. More of an adventure – getting lost in the pictures of mazes quite literally . . .

museum trip

My two favourite picture books of the week:

Big Wolf and Little Wolf: The Little Leaf that Wouldn’t Fall by Nadine Brun-Cosme and Olivier Tallec Oh how I am coming to adore these two long snouted wolves and their adventures through all that is friendship and nature and love. Devotion. Bravery. Patience. I don’t want to give anything away so I will just say that there is much that is simple and celebratory of the wonder and complexity of nature and near the end a moment of pure beautiful.

leaf that wouldn't fall

A Hen for Izzy Pippick written by Aubrey Davis and illustrated by Marie Lafrance I confess to falling for this book before I even read it. I loved everything about the cover – the greens, the pluck of the girl and hen marching across the page, the quirky title . . . So I could have been disappointed. But not even close. I adored this book through every page (and it is a longer picture book). This book celebrates what we don’t often encounter in a picture book: honesty and a fierce determination to simply do what is right. Yet, this story is not overly dramatic. It is actually quite amusing and whimsical. We meet Shaina who in protecting a hen that belongs to the illusive Izzy Pippik starts a bit of a chicken invasion in her small village. All the while waiting for the return of Izzy Pippik. This story is inspired by Jewish and Islamic traditional texts.

hen for izzy pippik

I also finished two novels:

Clementine and the Spring Trip written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee In my family, Clementine has reached a sort of cult status. Even though we read our first Clementine story way back (five years ago) when my chldren were five, they have not become too old for another Clementine story. Each time, a new book in the series is published, we need to read it! Immediately! We read this story in probably three sit down read aloud sessions and felt like we curled up with our old friend. Many giggles over the mystery of the very unpleasant odour of Bus #7. Can’t wait for the next one!


As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins I liked this book but I didn’t love it. I thought I should at least really like it. But it was simply just “like” Even though the writing is great. . .  The storyline is very interesting. The characters have some wonderfully odd elements to them. Yet, nothing pulled at me to keep reading this book. It was like being offered a very nice cup of tea. But I just don’t really like tea – I want my strong black coffee. Lots of adventure and some of it was very dramatic but I never felt on the edge of my seat. A story of a summer trip that goes sideways in every way.

s easy as

What is on my reading horizon? I just started Torn Away by James Heneghan as a read aloud to my children. I started reading Accomplice by  Eireann Corrigan – a young adult novel I knew very little about going in so we shall see . . . I have many books on hold at the library and looks like they might all arrive at once! So I had better get these report cards written!

Monday March 4th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Kellee and Jen’s meme to share what you are reading from picture books to young adult reads. Their blog is the perfect one stop shop to follow all of the links to book lovers’ and blogger’s weekly reads!

My favourite picture books of the week:

 Odd Velvet It's Monday!

Odd Velvet written by Mary Burg Whitcomb and illustrated by Tara Calahan King I shared this book with my reading group for Pink Day (Anti Bullying day).

We had some great conversations about diversity and celebrating what is unique about all of us. 

Student writing shows how powerful this little book can be when shared with a group of children.

 Odd Velvet It's Monday! What are you Reading?

Donovan’s Big Day written by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Mike Dutton This book was shared with me by the librarian at my children’s school. Her blog is a fantastic place for book lovers. Donovan is getting all ready for his very big day. He will be the ring bearer at a very important wedding. This book celebrates love, family and marriage and the right we all have to have all of those things.


Willow Finds a Way written by Lana Button illustrated by Tania Howells A really important read for primary students – one that explores how we treat each other, standing up for what we know is right, honouring our feelings . . . Children can so often be bossy and controlling and it is often difficult for other children to stand up and be assertive. This book explores how this might look beautifully.


Instructions written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess Oh how I adore this poem by Gaiman. Steeped in metaphors, wise words and subtle lessons and woven through a fairytale setting . . . Wonderful. A very adult children’s book.


Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle My, my, my, my . . . do I need to own this book. All about making a friend. Being graceful and wonderfully clumsy. Being perfectly not perfect. And . . . if I can say it . . . finally a pink book that is perfectly pink and not really about pink at all – there just happens to be a pink flamingo 🙂


Some Dog written by Mary Casanova and illustrated by Ard Hoyt My class recently shared Some Cat by the same author/illustrator team. We adored the big personalities in the animals and this book (that was actually published first) delivers the same wonderful pets that manage to charm you through the pages. Fantastic book to talk about welcoming a new animal into the home.

some dog

Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic by Monica Carnesi Love the illustrations and simple text that tell this story making it accessible even for independent reading for young readers. What a story!


Rabbit’s Snow Dance written by James and Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Jeff Newman I first heard about this book from Linda at Teacher Dance. It is a wonderful pourquoi tale that reveals why rabbits have their little cotton ball tails.  Delightful.

rabbit's snow dance

In novels . . . finishing reports and preparing for a big presentation on Wednesday has definitely cut into my reading this week. Hoping to have more time over this next week (as in any minute please – my bookstacks are calling . . . ) to read.

Finished Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver I enjoyed this just as much as Delerium even though I was initially devastated that Alex would not escape with Lena into the Wilds. I enjoyed the “Now” and “Then” format of the novel and found I couldn’t put this book down. And wow, does Oliver set us all up to be eagerly anticipating the final book in the triology. Even though I knew what was coming with the ending  . . . I’m hooked.


I am happily devouring Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. Loving this novel so far. Next up is Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool and Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King. 

What are you reading this week?

Monday February 11th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Kellee and Jen’s meme to share all the reading you have done over the week – everything from picture books to young adult novels! Connecting with the #IMWAYR community is such a great way to hear about fantastic books “new to you.”

I have been sick for 4 days. We all know the yucky things about being sick so I haven’t been thrilled about being ill this weekend. But, for a book lover, sick days mean book days so I happily read some great novels between naps and mint tea breaks.

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King This is the second King title I’ve read (Ask the Passengers being the first) and I am fast becoming a fan of how she lays out characters and families and their sometimes strange, challenging but yet, connected dynamics. I sort of feel like I’m spying through a lit window at night into the intimate details of family relationships. Not always pretty. Sometimes all about the ugly and the weak. But so truly real.  A book with a theme of bullying and how it affects an entire family.


Crow by Barbara Wright This title is another great example of why I love historical fiction to learn about specific events in history I often knew nothing or little about – in this case, the Wilmington Massacre of 1898. This book is very much about Moses and his family. I loved his relationship with his spunky and wise grandmother Boo Nanny. The racial tensions and extreme prejudice are thoroughly explored in this story – going back in time to Moses’  grandparent’s experiences and forward to his father’s dreams for him. Some challenging moments in this book. A middle grade read that might be best as a read aloud where lots of discussion could occur. With room for many questions . . .


Insurgent by Veronica Roth So first off, I must say that yes, I liked this book. Yes, I’m hooked on the adventure and very curious about what will happen next. But, while I appreciate adventure and fast paced plots, I need breathing room in a story. Time to reflect and ponder. Down time. There is little down time in Roth’s books. Which is probably what makes them favourites for others but not for me. I miss the space to think. Again, like I said with Divergent, it feels like I am reading a movie. With little mood music. Just go, go, go! But I like many of these characters and so yes, count me in as someone who will read the next title in this series!


Next up for me? Nothing but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin. My children and I are loving The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens. If my voice hadn’t been so rotten this weekend we would have read much more. Such an engaging novel! And for kids, it has it all – suspense, humour, mystery, action . . .

I continue to add board books to my classroom collection for when we have buddy reading with the kindergarten class. Two new titles added this week:

Pouch! by David Ezra Stein A sweet little title about a little joey almost ready to brave the world.

Pouch David Ezra Stein

Duck & Goose: Goose Needs a Hug by Tad Hills My students love sharing Duck & Goose titles. So sweet. Messages always so positive. Kids read them and smile.

duck and goose needs

I also read some great nonfiction picture books this week.

Peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin This book is quietly powerful which is often the very best kind. Full of quotes to read, share and ponder. The artwork is exquisite. And I love the message that peace needs to be everywhere (in our hearts, homes, schools, countries . . .) in order to impact peace everywhere else. A book to own.

peace book cover

Who Lives Here? written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Marc Boutavant I purchased Who’s Like Me? (read more here) a book in this same format and it quickly became very popular for buddy reading so I am excited to book talk this title next week. In this book, students learn all about different habitats. Very accessible for younger learners and fun lift the flap elements.


My favourite picture books of the week were . . .

Sleep Like a Tiger written by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski This was the only Caldecott honour title for 2013 that I hadn’t read. I was completely smitten when I turned to the page of the whales. Oh, the whales! Such gorgeous pictures. Love the cityscape on the first page with the tiger carrying away the huge orange ball . . . Text and illustrations mesh beautifully. This would be such a beautiful book to give as a gift to those who appreciate the soothing power of bedtime books.

Sleep Like a Tiger

Bone Dog written and illustrated by Eric Rohmann I am a big Rohmann fan. My Friend Rabbit is one of my all time favourites. So I was intrigued by this title. It tackles death (of a pet) which most books shy away from so it gets automatic points. I always think we should talk openly with kids about death as a part of life. I once wrote a post ranting about this very thing. This title also has some very sweet elements to it. And when tested on a child (my son) evoked some giggles (when the proud little dog struts back with bone in mouth after a skeleton chase!)


The First Mosquito written and illustrated by Caroll Simpson. A dramatic First Nations story full of supernatural beings. My students wrote reviews of this book and I shared them here.

the First Mosquito


Have a happy reading week!

The First Mosquito

Our BLG book this week was The First Mosquito written and illustrated by Caroll Simpson. Thanks to Bill for reading us this dramatic tale.

the First Mosquito

Young Yax is upset when he cannot accompany his father to trade on the other side of the mountains. But his mother and sister Sook need him at home. When Yax loses his spear in the forest, he decides to show how brave he is and heads into the forest to look for it.  By evening, Yax has not returned. His mother and sister are very worried and Yax’s Mother vows to rid the forest of the Bloodsucking Monster that Mouse Woman whispered to her about. Sook and her mother set about a plan that will do away with Bloodsucking Monster and save Yax. All of them must be inventive and brave. What happens is very exciting (student comments will give the dramatic ending away :-))

Students loved hearing about all of the Supernatural creatures and beings in this book (there is a detailed description of each in the back of the book) and loved Simpson’s art work. There was mumbling all through the story:

  • Wow. Her pictures are so beautiful.”
  • “I love the art.”
  • She does such nice drawing.”

Also lots of comments about the creatures:

  • I’m a little scared of Creek Woman.
  • “Those Lightening Snakes are powerful.” (This child leaped out of his seat to get a better look!)
  • The Wild Man of the Woods is easily tricked for food!”

Student writing reveals how engaging we found this story!

Student reviewers respond:

Kala: Why did you make the blood sucking monster go to the fire? I like your pictures! But I think they are so real.

Ava: My favourite part was when the bloodsucking monster was pushed into the fire and the ashes turned into mosquitoes. I felt a little bit scared and I felt like, “Yes!”

Shereese: I like when the Mom saved the day! I like the art too. I like Creek woman crouched under the creek. I love those pictures. You are a great artist!

Ashley: My favourite part was when the bloodsucking monster turns into mosquitoes  The sucking monster seems like he is mean!

Kelvin: Bloodsucking monster came to eat their blood. And the bloodsucking monster fell into the fire and turned into one million mosquitoes.

Heman: The best part was when the bloodsucking monster went into the fire and transformed into mosquitoes. I liked it when Yax ran away from the man. I was scared when the blood sucking monster ran to the beach.

Vicky: My favourite part was when the blood sucking monster transformed into some mosquitoes. I want to know what happens next.

Andrew: My favourite part was when the bloodsucking monster went in the fire. What happens when the lightning snake shoots you? What happens now?

Ethan: I know why Bill picked this book because it’s almost Chinese New YEar. I like that book. It’s awesome!

Kevin: My favourite part was when the blood sucking monster transforms into mosquitoes. Where did the thunder snakes shoot? At who?

Brian: You are a good reader Bill. that book was scary. The Mom that push the bloodsucking monster was a super Mom. I felt scared when Yax and Sook was coming to be eaten.

Kassidy: Why did the mother push the monster into the fire? How did you come up with this story? I like your story. I like your pictures. I like when the boy fell on the ground, then one of the nice monsters told the boy to go. How do you make the book from the pictures? How do you do the lightning snakes together? I like the Creek Woman. How do you draw the monsters? I like the part with the monster wild man of the woods and the wild woman of the woods and the woodworm. I like all of them. I love you. Love, Kassidy

Rainbow Bird

Sometimes, in a busy week, students will do some writing about a book we’ve read or an activity we’ve done and I don’t get a chance to read it that same day. When I open up the Response and Ideas books a few days later, I sometimes find absolute undiscovered treasures. The same feeling like when I find money in my pocket. It was there all along; I just hadn’t uncovered it. And when I do, wow! This writing has been hidden away in notebooks for a week and now must be shared!

Today, I began reading student responses to Rainbow Bird – An Aboriginal Folktale from Northern Australia by Eric Maddern and vibrantly illustrated by Adrienne Kennaway. Thank you to our Teacher Librarian, Ms. Sheperd-Dynes for recommending this title.

Rainbow Bird is a “pourquoi” tale explaining how humans acquired fire.

Long ago, Crocodile Man had fire and refused to share it with any of the other creatures. Bird Woman was able to trick Crocodile Man and steal fire from him. Proudly, she asserts, “Now I shall give Fire to the people.” She flew around the country putting fire into the heart of every tree. From this day onward, people could make fire using dry sticks and logs from a tree.

Students in our reading group loved this dramatic story and were eager to write and draw about it.

A few samples:

Gary is in Grade 2. His writing shows that he has learned to summarize stories using specific and descriptive language.

“Crocodile Man could blow fire. He said he is the boss of fire. The animals begged for fire but he won’t give them fire. Bird Woman asked Crocodile Man for fire but he still won’t give her fire. Then crocodile man went to sleep. Bird Woman took the fire and shared it. She put fire on herself and became Rainbow Bird. Now Crocodile Man is stuck in the swamp forever.”

Truman is a Grade 1 student who has delighted in learning idioms. These idioms snake their way into his writing and show that he understands their meaning very clearly. I laughed out loud reading this!

“Crocodile Man says he is the boss of fire. It was the time of dreams. Bird Woman is cold at night because she doesn’t have fire. One day, Crocodile Man was dog tired. Then Crocodile Man was green with envy because Bird Woman took his fire stick. Now Bird Woman is happy as a clam. She put fire in the heart of trees. Now Crocodile Man lives in the swamp forever. Bird Woman said, “If you come up here, you will die!”

Catriona is a confident thinker and writer in Grade 1. I love how she shares her predictions and questions in her response. It is evident that Catriona utilizes all of the reading powers when she reads or listens to a story.

“I predicted that Rainbow Bird would steal Crocodile Man’s fire and I was right. But Rainbow Bird wasn’t always Rainbow Bird. She used to be Bird Woman. I am still wondering if that story could be true if they took all the fiction out and replaced it with real life stuff. Then, where would Rainbow Bird put the fire?”

All such different responses to the same story shared together. I am delighted by them all!

Frog Girl

When our librarian, Ms. Sheperd-Dynes, found out how much our reading group liked Storm Boy she brought us Frog Girl, also by Paul Owen Lewis. This is another title that represents the rich oral traditions of the Native people of the Northwest Coast of North America.

This story is an adventure that introduces us to Volcano Woman (also known as Frog Woman). She has the power to destroy villages if the people do not show proper respect for living creatures. (Lewis provides a detailed author’s note in the back of the book that provides very interesting information about how this story has Northwest Coast motifs of Separation, Initiation and Return. He explains that like other world mythologies, this tale has elements of what renowned scholar Joseph Campbell described as rites of passage (referring to separation, initiation and return) in the Adventure of the Hero)

In this story, the Chief’s daughter spies on two boys capturing frogs at the lakeshore. She finds one lone frog in the grass who leads her to a mysterious village under the lake. Here she meets Grandmother who is crying over her missing children. Her sadness seems to power rumblings and shaking in this underwater world. The chief’s daughter returns to the forest and her own village to find it empty but threatened by an erupting volcano. She finds a basket of frogs and races them to the lakeshore – home to Grandmother. Then the rains come and her people return. The girl tells her story as the frogs sing in the background.

Guided by Lewis’ notes in the back, I asked the students to be listening for some key elements in the story:

  • disrespectful/cruel behaviour
  • encountering animals who speak
  • performing a heroic deed
  • encountering mythological beings

Students listened incredibly attentively, pulled into the story’s powerful text and detailed visual images.

The chief’s daughter races through the burning forest to return the stolen frogs to the lake

In their written responses, some students retold favourite parts, some responded to the elements I asked them to listen for and some asked questions. Some excerpts:

Jenny: The two boys left and the girl heard a voice. She went to that voice and it was a frog that said follow me. The shore opened up and the girl went inside. Then the frog turned to like a person and the girl saw a beautiful village.

Jeremiah: My favourite part of the story was when the girl saved the frogs. The two boys were being disrespectful of the frogs.

Kevin: Frog Girl and Storm Boy are quite similar because they both have a secret village.

Catriona: I’m still wondering . . . Why did the frog transform into a frog on land but transform into a woman in the water? Why did the two boys capture all the frogs?

Eddy: How can the frogs talk and transform into a human but green? How could the girl run to the lake in time to save the frogs when the volcano almost destroyed the whole forest?

Truman: Two boys were capturing frogs. This is cruel behaviour. There was a frog that spoke. That is encountering animals who speak. There was a girl who saved the frogs. That is called performing a heroic deed. There are frog people. They are called encountering mythological beings. I liked it when the girl went to another world. I am still wondering how the frog turn into people and how the people turn into frogs.

Such inspired writing! Pretty amazing for Grades 1, 2 and 3!

Storm Boy

Ms. Hong (now at Strathcona Library) recommended this title when our reading group started reading Aboriginal Literature. Storm Boy by Paul Owen Lewis is a definite favourite that sparked lots of discussion, questions and great writing.

We loved how this book was so mysterious. We had as many questions at the end as we did throughout the pages, yet we seemed to know something more. Such a visually powerful book that has won many awards including Best Book of the Year from the Pacific Northwest Book Award. Storm Boy introduces us to the Killer Whale people who seem to inhabit an undersea world. This book follows the tradition of the people of the Pacific Northwest Coast (Haida, Tlingit and others). Stories from this area tell of individuals in parallel worlds where animals seem to live in human form.

I provided some sentence starts to assist students in organizing their written responses. We had such a dramatic story to respond to!

  • I was impressed when . . .
  • I was shocked by . . .
  • I am still wondering . . .
  • It was incredible when . . .

Some excerpts from out written responses that needs to be shared:

Ricky: I was shocked when I saw the boy get carried by a storm. Then he was in a nation’s island. There were four killer whales. The chief one was big. They ate fish that weren’t cooked or cut. The killer whales could talk. Then the boy missed his original home. I was surprised because the killer whales knew that he missed his home.

Gary: I was impressed when he went on the whale to get back home and when he got back, his Mom said: “You’ve been gone a year!” Then they celebrated because of his return.

Catriona: I am still wondering if time goes slower in the Killer Whale people’s village.

Truman: I am wondering if the chief’s son can turn into an orca whale because he went to the orca people’s place

Storm Boy by Jenny

Jenny was inspired to draw this gorgeous picture.

She writes: “There was a boy that went fishing and then a storm came and hitted the boy and he got pushed away from his village. He landed in another village and he saw big people. They invited the boy and they danced around the fire and did their welcome song. Then the boy missed his mom and dad and the big people made the boy appear back in his village.”

What’s the Most Beautiful Thing you Know about Horses?

We have been reading Aboriginal Literature with our reading group each week. This beautiful book by Richard VanCamp and illustrated by George Littlechild allowed us to learn more about horses while also learning about VanCamp’s Dogrib Nation.

Author Richard VanCamp’s hometown is Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories of Canada. On a cold (forty below!) winter day he decides to ask people he knows What’s the Most Beautiful Thing you Know about Horses? He, himself, doesn’t know much he explains because he is a stranger to horses; his people are not horse people. The people of the Dogrib nation have a great respect for dogs. In this northern land, dogs helped with hunting, protected the food stashes and helped with hauling camp from place to place. But yet in Dogrib the word for horse is big dog. When did dogs grow into horses? When did horses shrink into dogs? he asks.

Oh, the things he learns when he asks: “Horses always find their way home,” his Dad tells him. George Littlechild, who did the amazing illustrations for this book shares, “They stare at you as they breathe. Their soul comes right out.”

We shared some things we know too:

  • They go in running races
  • They are sometimes used in war
  • They are useful
  • They are calm and swish their tails
  • We can see them at the P.N.E.
  • They are in the Chinese Zodiac. Horse people care about their families.

What’s the Most Beautiful thing you Know about Horses?