Monday May 13th, 2019

Trying to post at least once a month to be part of this amazing reading community and to share all the wonderful titles I have been reading.

A few #kidsarereading photos for inspiration. Our visit to the Vancouver Public Library. Everyone left with a book and a library card if they didn’t have one. Our arms full of books, our heads full of stories, we skipped all the way back to school. Summer reading – we are getting ready for you!

Love how my students want to read EVERYTHING. The size of the book box is never big enough.

Nothing is quite as lovely as buddy reading moments.

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

Books I read:

Tomorrow Most Likely by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Lane Smith

What will tomorrow bring? A delightful and beautifully illustrated collection of possibilities.

Growing Season by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

A sweet little book about friendship, flowers and all kinds of growing.

Dog Vs. Ultra Dog by Troy Wilson with art by Clayton Hanmer

So much in this book – having faith, wanting to matter – an emotional book wrapped up in super hero style and cute humour.

Our World is Relative written by Julia Sooy with illustrations by Molly Walsh

You know when you play 20 questions with a group of kids and they ask questions like, “Is it big?” or “Is it little?” and you keep trying to prompt, “Bigger than a . . . ” Well, this book would be perfect in times like this! My only complaint – that measurements are not in our Canadian metric system. Otherwise, so ideal! I will be sharing this one in the classroom often. Releases August 13th 2019

Bat and the Waiting Game by Elana K. Arnold

This character! Bat is beyond endearing. I absolutely adore him.

The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Such an interesting subject for a novel. A former mill town needs to attract residents to keep its schools and town from completely shutting down. A number of homes are offered to families for just $1.00 if they meet criteria and comply with specific conditions over the next year. This is the perfect chance for Lowen and his family to have a new beginning and more opportunities. It’s also a way for Lowen to try to leave behind the memories of a young friend who was shot. Would be a fantastic middle grade read aloud.

The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu

There is always something remarkable about Ursu’s titles. Part magic, part harsh reality, unbelievable and completely relatable. Devastating and full of hope. Wow.

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel

A rare adult read highly recommended by my sister. Rosie and Penn have 4 boys and then they have Claude. Another boy who actually wants to be a girl. And then everything becomes about how to best let this little human be who they are supposed to be. A truly must read novel.

Up next? I am reading The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith

My Must Read Titles for 2019

For those readers and list makers, nothing is more exciting than January! The time to make an amazing list of books to read for the year!

Where will our reading lives take us? What adventures and emotions will we experience through the books we read? Always, there are endless possibilities.

So many books. Limited time.

New books to distract us from other books.

A must read list ensures not all are forgotten!

#MustReadin2019

Join the #MustReadin2019 community!

To read more about the challenge and add your list, read here.

MustReadnovels

Here are the 30 titles I am going to try and read over this year. As always these titles will represent only a portion of my reading. My goal? To read most of these. I use this list like a road map of where to turn next when I come to a pause in my reading choices. It is always waiting to guide me. But it also waits patiently when I am distracted by new books. Often, I am.

Making a list like this – a To Read list – also allows us to reflect on the reading that we want to do. I know I want to emphasize middle grade novels. I didn’t read as much as I usually do in 2018 so my list has more titles that are published in 2018 or earlier (19 titles) and fewer 2019 releases (11 titles).

Here is my list:

Published in 2018 or earlier

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

The Soul of an Octopus

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing

After Zero by Christina Collins

After Zero

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka Read April 7th 2019 5 stars

Hey, Kiddo

The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson Read April 19th 2019 5 stars

The Dollar Kids

Wonderland by Barbara O’Connor
Wonderland by Barbara O'Connor

Harbour Me by Jacqueline Woodson Read January 6th 2019 5 stars

Harbour Me by Jacqueline Woodson

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena  Read February 11th 2019 4 stars

A Girl Like That

Far from the Tree by Robin Benway Read February 17th 2019 5 stars

Far from the Tree

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden  Read March 19th 2019 5 stars

The Benefits of Being an Octopus

Lu by Jason Reynolds

Lu

All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan Read January 22nd 2019 4 stars

All that I can fix, chan

From You to Me by K.A. Holt

Girl sitting on pier and lookingat the river

Sweep The Story of a Girl and her Monster by Jonathan Auxier  Read March 24th 2019 5 stars

Sweep

Tight by Torrey Maldonado

Tight

Wild Blues by Beth Kephart Read January 29th 2019 5 stars

Wild Blues

(Time Castaways #1) The Mona Lisa Key by Liesl Shurtliff

The Mona lisa key

The Last (Endling #1) by Katherine Applegate

The Last (Endling #1) by Katherine Applegate

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang  Read March 2nd 2019 5 stars

The Prince and the Dressmaker

Published in 2019 

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

Padma Venkatraman The Bridge Home

The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu Read May 12th 2019 5 stars

The Lost Girl

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

Dig by A.S. King

Dig, King

Song for A Whale by Lynne Kelly

Song for A Whale

Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt Read March 7th 2019 4 stars

Shouting at the Rain

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

OtherWordsHome

The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith

Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

To Night Owl from Dogfish

Where the Heart is by Jo Knowles

Where the Heart is

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St James by Ashley Herring Blake

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St James

What novels are at the top of your TBR list? Please share! 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings

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

TTT

This week’s topic? Ten Fairytale Retellings I’ve Read/Want To Read

I decided to focus on books I have read and loved: 5 of my favourite picture books and 5 of my favourite MG/YA novels. I love fairytales and stories with nuances of fairytale elements. But, I am very particular. It is a pleasure to share what I consider to be some of the very best in this list.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

Picture Books:

The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma written by Diane Fox and illustrated by Christyan Fox

Hilarious. Kind of like having a backseat driver “helping” tell a story. Annoying for the narrator. Amusing for the readers. Little Red Riding Hood like you have never before heard it.

The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and GrandmaTop Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

The Princess and the Pig written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Poly Bernatene

This lovely little read manages to link to many classic fairy tales while telling a great original story and poking fun at just about everything! A pig and a princess switch places and the happy ending is not what you might predict.

Princess and the Pig Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

Me and You by Anthony Browne

Browne tells simultaneous stories, letting us into the world of Goldilocks while at the same time we revisit the familiar story about the bears.  On the left, sepia images of the little girl, out on an errand with Mom and then suddenly, lost. Her story is wordless, told just through the images. On the right, we follow little bear and his Mummy and Daddy as they head out for a walk and then return home to find a stranger in their home. A version of the Goldilocks story that we are very familiar with. This story blurs the absolutes of fairy tale right and wrong and introduces a lovely element of empathy.

 Me and You Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz and illustrated by Dan Santat

Certainly not the Three Little Pigs story we thought we knew! A fan of pig power? Girl power? Stories where the bullies don’t win? This book delivers! Kiya!

 The Three Ninja Pigs Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be by Mini Grey

This book is told from the perspective of the pea! A pea, who plays quite an active role in the outcome of this tale . . .

 mini Grey Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

Novels:

Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

Such an interesting twist on the fairytale we know. Loved reading this aloud to my class. Why is this book so special? The children loved the whole idea that this was the “back story” of a well known tale. They felt they were in on some secrets! And what characters! We were rooting for Rump. We loved Red and the Trolls and Nothing, the donkey! We all agreed that the King and the Miller were terrible. The pixies fascinated us. Children begged and pleaded for me to read this book at every possible free minute of out day.

 Rump Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

The Prince of the Pond by Donna Jo Napoli 

The story of the Frog Prince but told from the perspective of the pond and the frogs. The prince is now a frog and must adjust to pond life and to talking like a frog. It is more difficult than it seems. Certain sounds aren’t possible thus, The Frog Prince is De Fawg Pin. Learn a lot about frogs. And their life cycle. Meet Jade, Pin’s mate. Despise the hag. Root for the froglets! Read this aloud to a group of children and prepare for spit out your milk laughter. Chortles. Giggles. Guffawing. The first in a trilogy.

 The Prince and the Pond Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

Breadcrumbs written by Anne Ursu

Inspired by the classic story The Snow Queen with all kinds of modern everything. Yet magical fantasy that feels utterly timeless. Read this to my children who loved the mix between fairy tale and real life and all of the references to stories and books they knew. Beautiful as a read aloud – the words just come off the page, swirl around and we are immersed in the book.

Breadcrumbs Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

I became quickly hooked on all things Shannon Hale after reading this book and went on to read the complete Books of Bayern series. Fast paced. Lots of magic. Fantastic characters. The perfect book to get lost in.

 The Goose Girl

Cinder written by Marissa Meyer

Honestly, I was surprised by how addictive this story was for me. I thought it would be a light read but I was drawn in to the drama and intrigue despite suspecting some of the secrets unveiled late in the novel quite early on. Futuristic, fantasy/sci-fi with fairy tale elements and high drama.

 Cinder

What are your favourite fairytale retellings? 

In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out

I read a lot. As in hundreds and hundreds of books a year. Many, yes, are picture books. But many are novels. 95% of these are middle grade and young adult novels. So, in some ways, I can say I “meet” a lot of young people. Some make me cry. Some leave me laughing. Some inspire. I have a myriad of emotions as I read about each of these young fictional lives: confusion, hope, worry, relief, upset, happiness . . .

These characters often stay with me. And because they do, I want to honour them here. These boys*, in the pages of the books where they live, impressed me in notable ways. I admire so many of them for their honesty, their growth, their vulnerability, their hard choices, their loyalty, their mistakes, their learning and their endurance.

In their own way, each is brave and real. Meeting them will enrich every reader.

 In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Doug Swieteck in Okay for Now written by Gary D. Schmidt

Okay for Now  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Miguel in We Were Here written by Matt de la Peña

We Were Here  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Nate Foster in Better Nate than Ever written by Tim Federle

Better Nate than Ever  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That,

Jack in Dead End in Norvelt written by Jack Gantos

 Dead End in Norvelt  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Ben in Half Brother written by Kenneth Oppel

 Half Brother  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Travis in Blue Fish written by Pat Schmatz

bluefish  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Fadi in Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai

Shooting-Kabul-Senzai  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Matt in The Boy in the Black Suit written by Jason Reynolds

boy in the black suit  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Moon in Alabama Moon written by Watt Key

 Alabama Moon  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Holling Hoodhood in The Wednesday Wars written by Gary D. Schmidt

 The Wednesday Wars  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Lucky Linderman in Everybody Sees the Ants written by A.S. King

 Everybody Sees the Ants  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Oscar in The Real Boy written by Anne Ursu

 The Real Boy  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Moses in Crow written by Barbara Wright

Crow  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

 Victor (a.k.a. “Little Man”) in Paperboy by Vince Vawter

 Paperboy  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Julian in Twerp written by Mark Goldblatt

twerp  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Josh in Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

 Living with Jackie Chan  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for ThatJoey in Nest written by Esther Ehrlich

Nest  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Ali in When I Was the Greatest written by Jason Reynolds 

when I was the greatest  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Albert in Fish in a Tree written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish In A Tree  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Albie in Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

Absolutely Almost  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Junior in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie

absolutely true  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Jack in Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson 

Small_as_an_Elephant  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Ryan Dean West in Winger written by Andrew Smith

Winger  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Peter Stone in Wish Girl written by Nikki Loftin

Wish Girl  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Steven in Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie written by Jordan Sonnenblick

Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Which characters would make your list? 

*Coming soon: In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out

Celebrating: Truths

Celebrating Truth There's a Book for That

Celebration honoured. This is the loveliest of reasons to share. Join Ruth Ayres who shares a Celebration Link up on her blog each week.

This week I am celebrating truth. Three pieces of the truth.

Truth that just needs to come out. Truth that speaks to our hearts. Truth that is uttered so beautifully by children.

Truth #1 In the last few years I have learned an important lesson a few times over. Sometimes we need to write to have our truths have weight. More than venting, more than organizing our thinking, writing is also about being read. It is about the response. It is about knowing that someone else might feel the same.

Last week I wrote a post, that for me, needed to be written. In fact, it had been brewing for quite some time: The Part That is True This post talks about Harry, a student who needs flexibility, compassion and respect, not judgement and rejection. The amazing response – via twitter, blog comments and sharing gave me strength and hope. There are many Harrys who need us all.

Thank you to everyone for honouring Harry and how much he matters.

Truth #2 Mid week, I came across this brilliant piece by author and parent Anne Ursu. I love Anne’s novels. Her words are magical. But her voice extends far beyond the world of fiction and speaks to how we treat each other and how we raise our children to understand their peers. Thank you Anne for this: On Autism, Birthday Cards and Empathy It is an absolute must read.

Truth #3 Listen to children talk about big issues and it can be kind of amazing. Especially because they have no idea they are talking about something big. They are just talking about their world – what they wonder, what they notice, what they think. So they talk in terms stripped of jargon, careful word choice and apologies. They just call it. This is part of why I love my job. Children’s voices.

Here’s the story I want to share: My Teacher Librarian and I met with our Gr 2/3 book club today to discuss our book Charlotte’s Web. One child talked about how even though it was fiction, it was kind of cool that we were learning about animals. Then we started talking about how many books have animal characters. We actually looked through a stack of picture books recently read by guest readers. Many of them featured animals. The conversation turned to why. Are animals easier to draw? Do authors/illustrators think we don’t want to see human characters in books? This brought us to what had been some of the most powerful books in our class this year. We realized many of these stories had human characters.

This is a long story to get here: One girl shared,

“But why do the illustrators not draw enough mixed/ different skin? Why don’t they show people from different places? It kind of makes me mad because there are lots of different colours of skin in our class. Lots of books don’t look like they have very real classrooms.”

Then these girls (five girls, all from a different ethnic background, it just so happens) put their arms next to each other and smiled about how all of their skin had different colours.

In this discussion about the big topic of diversity or lack of it in our picture books, not one child mentioned race, ethnicity or culture. They just talked about the colour of their skin: celebrated all of the different hues and lamented that they didn’t see this in lots of picture books. Simply, their truth.

I told this to my husband later and he noted how wonderful it is that these children didn’t see colour in a way that leads to judgement. Instead they boasted about how wonderful it is that we have lots of colours of skin in our room.

*Just before our session ended, one girl grabbed a recent read aloud, Emily’s Art by Peter Catalanotto and we all looked at the first few pages of the children sitting at the carpet.

“Oh he did a good job. Look there are lots of skin colours with these kids. This classroom looks real.”

 From Emily's Art Celebrating Truth There's a Book for That

Monday December 2nd, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

IMWAYR

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! This is always my favourite way to discover what to read next.

I read many picture books this week – many aloud to my own children, all to make up for not getting to read as much as I wanted to last week while writing report cards.

I selected my ten favourites to feature here:

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

Just perfectly delightful. A book about a problem that needs solving and having wonderfully, persistently, kind intentions. Sweet. Honest. So engaging. And did I mention wordless. . . ?

Hank finds an Egg #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

No Bears written by Meg McKinlay and illustrated by Leila Rudge

A wonderful book for inspiring story writing. Meet Ella, a little girl who loves a creative story but doesn’t love bears. She thinks there are far too many of them in stories today. So Ella is creating a story that will have absolutely no bears. Not a one! But is seems her story is getting a little assistance from a furry creature on the sidelines . . .

No Bears #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Dirty Cowboy written by Amy Timberlake and illustrated by Adam Rex

“Wow Mom, that illustrator did a really good job keeping all the privates private!” remarked my son after we read this book. My daughter said, “Disgusting!” a lot. What an amusing story of a very dirty (filthy, with his fair share of critters crawling just about everywhere) cowboy who decided to take a bath in the river. What happens when his loyal dog doesn’t recognize his clean scent? VERY amusing.

The dirty cowboy #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Busing Brewster written by Richard Michelson and illustrated by R.G. Roth

A picture book with many important themes: having a dream, the power of libraries to be transformative and what it was like to be black at an all white school. Set in the 1970s when integration was being “helped” along by forced busing – bringing black students into white schools, this story gives children a glimpse into the racial tensions of the time and the complexities of integration.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Tortoise and the Hare by Jerry Pinkney

Love the desert setting of this classic tale brought to new life by the brilliant Pinkney with an almost wordless title. I particularly enjoyed the last gestures of the hare – an interesting and surprising twist with an equally important message about competition.

The tortoise and the hare #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World’s People by David J. Smith and illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong

I read this title to my children and they were absolutely fascinated by the population data conveyed through the concept in this book – imagine that the world’s population was contained in a village of 100 (each person represents millions). Facts that shocked them: how many people had some kind of faith or another, predicted population growth and the blatant inequity amongst people. Only 24 people in this representative village of 100 have enough to eat? Heart breaking message about our world.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Mud written by Mary Lyn Ray and illustrated by Lauren Stringer

Oh the messy, gloopy, squishy joys of mud – this title captures it all through lyrical language and richly coloured illustrations. Perfect to practice visualizing.

Mud #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Full, Full, Full of Love written by Trish Cooke and illustrated by Paul Howard

Loved the celebration of food, family and affection as Sunday dinner with his family is seen through Jay Jay’s eyes. Language ideal for preschool, early primary children. Happy, happy book.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I Lost my Bear by Jules Feiffer

A humorous ode to the child who likes to collect. A bear is lost and it seems like all is lost as we follow this little one on a melodramatic, anxious search.

iIost my bear #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex

Poor Billy Twitters, his parents threaten him with a blue whale if he doesn’t do his chores and keep his room clean. Of course, this is just a ridiculous threat, isn’t it? Well . . . no. And so Billy Twitters must now be in charge of a blue whale (have you noticed just how truly big they are??) and take it everywhere he goes. Eventually Billy Twitters discovers this “consequence” has an upside. Absurd and delightful, and it just so happens, the first picture book written by Mac Barnett.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I am terrible about being ahead of the game for the holidays in terms of shopping, baking, decorating, etc but we do own a beautiful collection of holiday books. I set out 24 to read next to the Advent calendars – one for each night (and there are plenty more on the shelf for when the evening calls for a few!) The one thing in the holidays I do do well – celebrate holiday stories! Tonight’s read was a new one for me

Winter’s Gift by Jane Monroe Donovan

A beautiful story of hope and all that is important in the holiday season as an old man faces his first Christmas alone.

 Winter's Gift #IMWAYR

I also finished The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

Magical. Lyrical. Beautiful. Mysterious. What a vulnerable, strange (in the best of ways) and hopeful of stories. On one level, this story is a fantastical tale of magic, mystery and monsters. On another, it is all about the most human element in all of us – wanting to be safe and belong. All along, I felt the story was beautiful. But by the end, I was in awe.

The Real Boy #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? A.S. King‘s Reality Boy. And plans for many more holiday stories . . .

Happy Reading everyone!