Monday December 12th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. I love finding readers perched everywhere during Reading Workshop time.

Monday December 12th, 2016 There's a Book for That

There was also some amazing art produced by my students this week. So many self-portraits were incredible. So I thought I would choose the one that belongs to that reader on the small stool above. I am in absolute awe of the artists in my room.

Monday December 12th, 2016 There's a Book for That

We have continued to explore themes for our #classroombookaday titles. This week we explored unexpected friendships and belonging.

Monday December 12th, 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:

25 books: 2016 Picture Books to Gift this Season Is some picture book shopping on your list? #GiveBooks


Books I enjoyed:

The Big Snow by Jonathan Bean

Yes, waiting for the snow can feel endless but when the world is blanketed in white then . . . wow. This book captures exactly that.

 Big Snow Monday December 12th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

While I still don’t love the idea of tattoos personally, this is sure a beautiful book of the many stories that make a life.


The Blobfish Book by Jessica Olien

Oh blobfish, 2016 seems to be your year in picture books! This is very amusing and informative.

 The Blobfish Book

Your Alien Returns by Tammi Sauer with illustrations by Goro Fujita

There are friends and there is home. Both have lots of appeal. A playdate that involves leaving the planet? Well, that is beyond exciting! But other places can make us feel literally like the other. Thankfully, our friends know how to make us feel at home. Home and away are both celebrated here in this sweet little story.

 Your Alien Returns

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes

The illustrations here are incredible – I am hopeful that another picture book is in Homes’ future (looks like there is one in Spring 2017: Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets). This is an incredible picture book biography told through poetic and lyrical language. Fannie Lou Hamer’s life is captured here – her struggles, her triumphs and her many inspirations.


The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner

Just an incredible read. Beautiful writing. A story about loss and hope and connection. Like a spotlight shone on one family when the world seemed to shut down. Highly, highly recommended. Gae Polisner you are a wonder. This story of 9/11 is unforgettable.


The Girl who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill  

In so many ways absolutely beautiful – what a story! That fantasy and nature intertwined was probably my favourite aspect. The only thing keeping me from giving it 5 stars was the idea of audience. Some themes seemed too dark for a middle grade audience. When I think of my Grade 4 & 5 class even as readers next year, I can only think of one child who would totally devour this on her own. That being said, I would have read it to my children when they were 10 or 11 and we would have loved the experience. The characters are wonderful – I adored Luna.


Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 61/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 324/400 books read

Progress on challenge: 53 books behind! Can’t break that 50 mark!

#MustReadin2016: 22/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 44/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 47/50 books read

Up next? Reading Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff

Monday, December 1st, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

My favourite reading photo of the week was captured during buddy reading with the kindergarten class this week. Love the teaching and interacting that was going on between these two!

 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.

imwayrI was held hostage by report card writing this week and literally attached to my computer this weekend. I lamented and, at the same time, celebrated here. As a result I didn’t get the reading done that I would have liked to do. I also have a very limited time to get this post together as I need to go back and edit my reports one more time. Sigh.

So this is an abbreviated version of my typical #IMWAYR post

Here are some picture books that I enjoyed:

 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I See the Moon by Jaqueline Mitton; illustrated by Erika Pal

From There to Here written by Laurel Croza and illustrated by Mark James (student reviews will soon be published on our class blog)

Song of Middle C by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Scott Menchin

Two Frogs by Chris Wormell

All Kinds of Families! by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Marc Boutavant

In other reading? Tomorrow evening I will finish Okay for Now with my children. I think our next book is going to be Twerp by Mark Goldblatt. My daughter reads all over the map but my son pretty much sticks to graphics and fantasy/adventure. When I read realistic fiction, he gets totally into it but he would never read it on his own. So, I am sticking to realistic fiction for a while with my kids.

I am reading in spurts and starts The Turtle of Oman: A Novel by Naomi Shihab Nye. I then plan to read Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff. Then, I have a big mission. I had plans to read 100 novels this year. That means I have to get 25 finished in a month. Nobody cares but me. But I care. A lot. Our lengthy job action (on strike forever) should have given me excess time to read. Instead it froze me and I didn’t get to dive into the land of books like I wanted to. I resent that. I am bound and determined to meet this goal. I wouldn’t quite put money on it. But, I should at least get big points for big ambition. Here goes . . .

Monday November 11th, 2013

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 reads! Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read!

I had a little weekend getaway with some friends so my novel reading was put on pause but I found lots of picture books that are very worth celebrating!

Mitchell Goes Bowling written by Hallie Durand and illustrated by Tony Fucile

This book reminds me that Tony Fucile is fast becoming one of my very favourite illustrators. Wow has he captured the hilarity and drama of taking a little intense bowler to the bowling alley. Mitchell is very amusing – competitive (“Battle on!”), intense (“Awahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!) and dramatic (“I’m going home.”) Durand has perfectly depicted a first bowling experience with an energetic four year old and his suave bowling experienced Dad.

Mitchell Goes Bowling #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Anno’s Hat Tricks written by Akihiro Nozaki and illustrated by Mitsumasa Anno

I found this book (hardcover!) at a second hand store for $1.99 Yippee! Hurrah! I was instantly excited because I am such a fan of Mitsumasa Anno. But . . . I didn’t know what a treat I was in for. This is a math book, a logic book, a fantastic book to talk through numerous thinking puzzles. There are three children: Tom, Hannah and Shadowchild (who represents the reader) who wear different red and white hats. They can see the hats on the other children’s heads but not on their own. Can they figure out the colour of the hat on their head by clues and the colour of the hat on the other children?

Anno's Hat Tricks #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Across the Alley written by Richard Michelson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis

It is the 1950s in New York City. Black and Jewish boys don’t mix. But Abe and Willie pay no attention to prejudice as they build their friendship by communicating through their bedroom windows. Baseball, violins and a big lesson in what friendship really can be and how it can inspire others to rethink segregation.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Animals Should Definitely not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett

I first heard about this title thought the Nonfiction 10 for 10 event and so was pleasantly surprised to see this title in a new edition and in the new books section of my public library. I can see this book being well enjoyed in an interactive read aloud session with children as they marvel at the silly pictures that accompany a series of reasons why various animals should not wear clothing.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Kate, The Cat and the Moon written by David Almond and illustrated by Stephen Lambert

I read this book after dinner at friends last night as it was described by my friend as possibly the favourite picture book read aloud in 10 or so years of reading aloud to his children. It is a beautiful book – the text is worth rereading over and over before you even turn the page. Lyrical, full of beautiful cat like images. Kate hears mewing in the middle of the night and heads out to play with a cat visitor but not as a human girl – instead in lithe cat form. Delightful dream like fantasy and some lines to be treasured.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Mrs. Biddlebox written by Linda Smith and illustrated by Marla Frazee

Oh do I adore Mrs .Biddlebox and her grumpy antics! Frazee is SO talented.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee Maclean

A lovely introduction to mindful practices for children. A reminder for all of us really to take time to center and notice the small moments that make life so beautiful.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Looking Closely through the Forest by Frank Serafini

I will be using this beautiful nonfiction title before I take my class on a forest walk this spring. Mysterious close up photos of forest treasures that inspire the reader to want to climb right into the book and absorb the textures and sounds and smells that are hinted at through this visual treat.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

I also finally got my hands on the latest Bink and Gollie title.

Bink and Gollie Friends Forever  written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated by Tony Fucile.

Not enough pancakes and not enough height but absolutely enough snickering and giggling inspired by this third in the Bink and Gollie series! As one of little girls often says, “Bink and Gollie are the bestest characters for me!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Next? Hoping to finish Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles this evening and then read Rump by Liesl Shurtliff next!

First Few Read Alouds

Oh, how I have missed reading aloud to a classroom of children! We didn’t switch classes until the end of this week so I had the pleasure of reading some books to our class from last year. Here were our first three reads:

Chloe and the Lion written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex (although his artistic contributions to this book were impacted when he was fired by the author and during the time he was inside the lion’s belly!)

I told the students that this book was a little different than most picture books and asked them to predict how just by looking at the cover. We looked carefully. What was different? We saw cover art, the author’s name, the illustrator’s name . . . Everything seemed normal. Pictures of the author and illustrator? Hmm . . . We didn’t always see that. Well author and illustrator featured hugely in this book. In fact story line, author issues, illustrator perspectives were all intertwined. We bore witness to the creative process, the discussion (often heated) between author and illustrator and even watched the character have impact on how the story unfolded. How did we like it? There were laughs. There was shouting. There was opinion expressed from my very involved audience. If everyone was in on this, why not us?! A delightful read aloud experience. Mrs. Morden, our principal, walked in during the story and nobody even gave her a glance. All of our attention was on this story! (We later sent this book home with Mrs. Morden to read to her children so she wouldn’t miss out! :-))

You’re Finally Here written and illustrated by Melanie Watt

This is not the first time I have read this book aloud to this group. Last spring I brought it in to share after finding it at the public library. Sergio must have asked me every week to read this book again and I never saw it again at the library. So when I found this title at the end of August, I tucked it on my school bag to share this first week back. This book is just as fun on the second read. So many giggles – especially at the contract the bunny wants us to sign to promise to not leave him and make him our highest priority! This book made its rounds during quiet reading and the next day was still being shared – often one student reading it to another and giggling a lot! A delightful book to share when everyone needs a smile. (First week anxiety means creating lots of opportunities to laugh and smile together)

Bink and Gollie Two for One written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated by Tony Fucile. 

Having just read this book myself last week, I realized it was the perfect book to bring in since so many students had visited Playland/the PNE this summer and this book is set at the State Fair. We related to the delight of rides, the games and booths, the sweet treats and the fortune teller tent. Needless to say, students were delighted by the antics of Bink and Gollie and appreciated the subtle and not so subtle humour (poor Mr. Whack the Duck man!)

Monday September 3rd, 2012

The last It’s Monday! What are you reading? post of the summer! I really hope I can find lots of time to read as the new school year begins. My TBR towers everywhere are a great incentive! 🙂

Link up with Jen and Kellee’s meme and share your reading from the week (picture books to young adult titles).

Our family finished listening to the False Prince  by Jennifer A. Nielsen as an audio book. It was the perfect Vancouver to Seattle and back listen and we finished the book all sitting happily in our den listening avidly to the last disc. What a story! We loved the suspense, the character of Sage and all of us are excited for the next titles in the trilogy. In fact, there are almost daily arguments about who gets to read the second book first when it is published.

I read a few middle grade titles this week. The first was The Great Gilly Hopkins written by Katherine Paterson. Gilly is a raw, angry  character. Quick to judge. Guarded. But so in need of love and acceptance and a real sense of belonging. The character of Maime Trotter in all of her simplicity is a hero of sorts. I thought I might read this book to my Grade 2/3 class but realize it needs a slightly older audience. Still love that it so candidly deals with the reality of being a foster child.

I just finished Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko. As I read, I kept thinking: “Wow.” By the end of the book I was up to a lot of “Wows.”  A must read middle grade selection for so many reasons: the history, the character of Moose and what rests on his very tall shoulders, the way autism was understood and misunderstood in the 1930s and the depiction of childhood in times of more freedom (despite living on Alcatraz). Can’t recommend this book enough.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

I read a lot of picture books this week, finding titles at the public library, my school library, and my own collection. As always, for brevity’s sake, I will limit this list to five. A bit of a back to school theme going on here with the final three.

Bink and Gollie: Two for One written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated (perfectly) by Tony Fucile. Take a state fair with all of its rides, booths and amusements, add Bink and Gollie and there is guaranteed laughter! My favourite lines?

“Tell Madame Prunely what it is you seek.”

“Truth,” said Gollie.

“Food,” said Bink.

Art and Max by David Wiesner. Absolutely delightful! So much to discuss as this book takes us through a very colourful exploration of art, fantasy and imagination.

 Vera’s First Day of School by Vera Rosenberry. Something speaks to me in little Vera – the way she holds so firmly to the black and white version of life (totally appropriate at her age and stage.) When she hasn’t entered school by the time the bell has sounded, she is convinced she can’t go at all. A lovely Mom, an understanding teacher and a brave attitude allow Vera to begin her day again.

Things I learned in Second Grade by Amy Schwartz. A lot happens in a school year. This book is an interesting documentation of just how much for one little boy. Great to read at the end or beginning of a school year.

Mr. Ouchy’s First Day written by B.G. Hennessy and illustrated by Paul Meisel. The first day of school is a first day for everyone, teachers included! Children might be surprised at how nervous those new teachers might be! A lovely book that explores the building of classroom community and the passion a teacher has for making learning paramount for his students!

We enjoyed listening to an audio book so much that we have just started The London Eye Mystery. Should be a fun nightly routine as we ease back into a new school year!

Happy Reading everyone!


So Many Days

Sometimes I read a book and I don’t know what to do. Sigh and savour? Read it again instantly? Pack it into my school bag to share? Just stop and think . . .?

So Many Days by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo is exactly that book.

I want to read it again. But I might cry. Or maybe not. Maybe I will just smile. This book is all about potential. Possibilities. Choosing a path and following it. Being loved. Succeeding. Falling flat. Who will you be and where will you go?

I found this book at the library. But I think I need to own it. A book to give as a gift. To someone graduating from something. Someone on the eve of parenthood. Someone who needs to be reminded: You are loved more than you know.


Simple Books, Little Treasures

It’s report card writing time: words, words and more words. At the library today I was drawn to books that didn’t contain many (words) at all! These fabulous little finds are all about simplicity – wordless or sparse text. Pages full of ideal illustrations, questions posed and left unanswered and inferences begging to be made. 🙂 South by Patrick McDonnell.

A last fall leaf lands on a lone little bird, asleep. His friends have all left for warmer places. Despair. Mooch, the cat, accompanies him on his journey south through falling snow, falling tears and developing adoration until they happen upon the beautiful sound of birdsong.

Old friends found but reluctant goodbyes to new friends made. South by Patrick McDonnell is a lovely wordless story about being lost and found and having someone sweet enough to help you on your journey to where you need to go.

Aren’t we lucky to have children in our lives (like the little boy in this book in his star ship pyjamas and his important cardboard box) to remind us to appreciate the here and now? Kind of why it is great to be a parent and a teacher. My favourite line from Alison McGhee is the last line of the story: Little boy, you remind me how so much depends on days made of now. This book was inspired by the poem The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams (a poem that also plays a starring role in Love that Dog by Sharon Creech) Little Boy is illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.

I love books featuring birds, books that ask questions (and inspire more) and books by Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka. This book was made for me!

Little Black Crow where do you go?begins the questioning . . . 27 questions make up this book about a little boy wondering about the little black crow he sees in the sky.

Haven’t you also wondered about those birds flying by? Hey! Birds! Are you never afraid? Do you wonder about the stars you see? Might you ever wonder about someone . . . like me?

Happy Reading!