Monsters, monsters everywhere

Monsters, monsters everywhere

Monsters have cast a certain magic over our classroom lately.

We’ve been reading about monsters.

Talking monster characteristics.

Designing monsters.

Sketching monsters.

Painting monsters.

Talking about monsters living with us. Because . . . hey, what if?

Stories to come. We are writing.

It all started with this book:

Leonardo Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

And then, we looked at a few more monster titles. Some monster images. Thank you Elise Gravel for some wonderful monster inspiration on your website! We made a gigantic chart about all of the monster features we noticed like: fangs, claws, blueberry bodies (you know squishy and round), humongous heads, extra eyes (and other body parts), horns and other strange features.

We drew monster designs.

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

By the next week, we were ready to pick a particular monster and “grow him/her” into our monster piece.

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Add some paint and some creative energy from your peers, and my, oh my, what happens . . .

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Some monsters are born!

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Boo! Are you scared? Just a bit? We won’t tell!

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Now that you are in the monster mood, you might want a book selection, or two to explore. Here are 18 of my favourite monsterish creature titles:

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Picture Books about Monsters

Monsters? Creatures? Is there a difference? I’m sure if we asked some of these characters, they would have an opinion.

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Strange Creatures in Picture books

Picture books that feature monsters and other strange creatures:

Crankenstein written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Dan Santant

Love Monster by Rachel Bright

My Teacher is a Monster (No I am Not) by Peter Brown

Prickles vs. The Dust Bunnies (A Balloon Toons comic) by Daniel Cleary

The Gruffalo written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Raising Your Own Pet Monster by Elise Gravel 

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Wilfred written and illustrated by Ryan Higgins

The Monstore by Tara Lazar

Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty

The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell

The Tale of Jack Frost by David Melling

The Book that Eats People is written by John Perry and illustrated by Mark Fearing.

Plantpet by Elise Primavera

Big Bad Bubble written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Don’t Play with Your Food by Bob Shea

Dexter Bexley and the Big Blue Beastie by Joel Stewart

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Happy Picture Book Month!

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Monday April 29th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Jen and Kellee for their weekly meme and share all of your reading from picture books to young adult novels. The #IMWAYR community is always an amazing source of book ideas and inspiration!

I had a lot of fun with picture books this week. Here are my favourites:

A Girl and her Gator written by Sean Bryan and illustrated by Tom Murphy So what might happen really if you went through your day with a gator on your head? Well . . . this book makes it very clear! Written completely in quite sophisticated rhyme, this book is rather delightful!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

Skunkdog written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Pierre Pratt I found the fact that this dog with such a very pronounced snout was absolutely lacking in the “sniff it out” department to be wonderfully ironic and silly. Skunkdog cannot smell. Smells just don’t impact him. And so when he tries to befriend a skunk who doesn’t hesitate to spray him repeatedly, he is not at all bothered. His owners, on the other hand, have a different opinion about his association with a skunk! Lots of tomato juice, held noses and questions about what it is to be lonely.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

Me and Mr. Mah written by Andrea Spalding and illustrated by Janet Wilson This title was originally published in 1999 and while I had seen it often in our school library, I just finally pulled it off the shelf and read it. It turns out to have many elements that I love in a story – a wonderful intergenerational relationship between young Ian and his new neighbour Mr.Mah who teaches him, via gardening, about patience, holding memories close and new growth. Themes of divorce, moving and making friends.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

The Worst Princess written by Anna Kemp and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie This book arrived home in my daughter’s backpack with an excited explanation that her Teacher Librarian had sent it on to me to read as she thought I might like it. Thank you to the wonderful Cheriee! Because like it I did! And how . . .

First of all, within the first few pages of reading this book aloud to my class, a spontaneous debate arose between the boys in my room. It sounded something like this:

E: “This is a girl book!”

K: “I have books about princesses and dragons at my house. I read them. I’m a boy.”

P:  “There’s no such thing as a girl book. All books are for everyone.”

K: “Can you read the book now Ms. Gelson?”

After that debate settled itself (love when I just get to sit back and bear witness), we all settled into a charming story about a princess who was expecting much more from life once her Prince Charming finally arrived. And it certainly did not involve weary pouffy dresses and sitting around while her Prince had all of the adventures. One of my students summed this story up best:

“It started out and you thought it would be a Prince and Princess vs The Dragon story but it ended up being The Princess and the  Dragon vs. The Prince and everyone else!”

One might describe this title as a modern Paperbag Princess in yellow hightops! My students certainly connected this book to the Munsch classic.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel SchefflerWell, simply summarized this story is about a thieving rat who gets his just desserts. My students wrote wonderful reviews that tell it much better than me. Please take a moment and enjoy 🙂

The Highway Rat It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

City Dog Country Frog written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon J Muth. I have actually read this title before but had yet to read it aloud to a class until this week. I confessed to my students that I had originally bypassed this book because of the cover. While I love frog books, I don’t adore dog books. But of course, this book is so so much more. I had originally (back in 2011) blogged:

“Something about the cover picture spoke dog to me and I kept missing the frog, even when I eyed the title I saw dog instead of frog. Finally, I looked a little closer and spotted the frog so perfectly plopped on the dog’s head and I pulled the book off the shelf.  How could I have missed this? I was missing so much! Inside illustrations are mellow, gentle and ahh, what greens. Together with Willems’ simple text, pictures and words tell the tender story of  friendship, the passage of time, young curiousity and calm wisdom. To make up for the months I haven’t been reading this book, I need to read it over and over and over again.”

So . . . I have been rereading this book over time and am now blogging about it again because it is truly special. One of my favourite book bloggers, Donna McKinnon from 32 Pages, seems to have felt something similar. A must read post from her about this wonderful title.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

“I Have a Little Problem,” said the Bear written by Heinz Janisch and illustrated by Silke Leffler Sometimes, we might have a problem and everyone wants to help yet nobody truly slows down enough to listen clearly to exactly what the problem might be. This book is about exactly that – the challenges of really being heard.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

Miss Maple’s Seeds written and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler There is something tender and sweet about the care that Miss Maple delivers to the seeds she collects. She nestles them in straw baskets and takes them soaring on the wind in floral “air balloons.” She reads them stories by firefly light and takes them dancing in rainstorms. Each image is magical and delightful and at the other end of this charming book, we are delivered –  wiser about seeds and the seasons and content that Miss Maple is a special nature caretaker.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

I was able to finish reading Requiem this week and then started and finished The Water Castle.

Requiem written by Lauren Oliver While I definitely enjoyed this final book in the Delirium trilogy, I wouldn’t rate it as highly as the first two books. Delirium absolutely captured me and I found Pandemonium to be fast paced and full of unexpected drama. This book was clearly meant to wrap things up, which, while on the one hand, I do appreciate, I felt that the whole book was geared towards an ending that was actually not as tightly woven as I was expecting. I did enjoy Hana’s story and everything going on for her inside Portland and on route to a matched marriage that seems scarier than the “on the run life” that Lena has. Maybe I just felt that this book needed more Lena. Still not sure. But – would definitely recommend reading the trilogy to fans of dystopian fantasy.

Requiem It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

The Water Castle written by Megan Frazer Blakemore Thanks to a wonderful community of readers that I am connected with – I have heard many rave reviews of this middle grade title. And now I clearly see why . . . This is an excellent mix of mystery and adventure that would have wide appeal with middle grade readers. In fact, I have just placed it up high on the list as a possibility for my student book club. And, I want to read it aloud to my own children. This book has such wide kid appeal. It is one part science, one part mystery/adventure, one part fantasy/science fiction and one stabilizing part of family/friendship dynamics to make the unreal, part of the very real, world. There is so much I loved about this title – the relationships between the characters, the mystery that permeates everything, the fact that not everything is solved and yet, one isn’t left disappointed. And best of all, the myriad of stories that are woven together across time. Highly recommended.

The Water Castle It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

Next up? I have just started Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco.

What are you reading? 

The Highway Rat

Our BLG book this week was The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Thank you to Deborah, our BLG reader this week, for sharing this wonderful title with us.

This author/illustrator team (Donaldson and Scheffler) continues to create books that kids adore and adults love reading aloud!

The Highway Rat

In this story, inspired by the poem The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, we meet a thieving rat who rides along the highway and steals food from all of the travellers. It begins:

“The Highway Rat was a baddie

The Highway rat was a beast.

He took what he wanted and ate what he took.

His life was one long feast.”

It didn’t take long before the class began to shout out their opinions of this Highway Rat. “He’s so greedy!” “And bossy!” “Jealous and selfish.” “I think he’s a pirate on the road!”

As he continued to hold up travellers and steal their food, students became even more upset. They shouted out and mumbled. Some comments were general. Some seemed to be addressed directly to the rat!

“He is very naughty!”

“You aren’t going to get anything guy if you continue like this!”

“Whoa! He thinks everything is his.”

“You are not the best. Even if you think you are!”

“I don’t understand. Why is nobody standing up to him. They could say ‘Stop it!'”

When the rat came upon a little duck with nothing, no food or treats, he announced that he will just have to eat her up. One student noticed the dark clouds on the page, “Oh no! Something terrible is coming I think!” The little duck led the Highway Rat to a cave promising him delicious treats that her sister who lived in the cave possessed. Our greedy thief followed her eagerly. Students quickly figured out that this little duck was up to something.

“That duck is trying to trick him because of all the things he did! That rat is going to get it!”

We won’t give away the very clever ending. But will let you know that good prevails in the end. And suffice it to say that the only dessert the rat will get for a while is dessert of the “just” variety.

Deborah announced at the end of the story that there was “a little bit of a lesson” in this book. One child quickly remarked, “No it was a BIG lesson!”

A simply delightful story that begs to be read again and again. My students adore this author/illustrator duo and I managed to find some fantastic articles and blog posts for further reading. Here are a few:

Students have been learning to address specific questions to the author and the illustrator in their writing. Especially if they have questions or comments. You will see this reflected in their writing below. 

Student reviewers respond:

Ava: Author, I love your writing! Where did you get the idea to put a rat in a book? Where do you live? I liked the rat’s hat. The rat at the end deserved it! Because he was mean!

Vicky: My favourite part was when everybody was happy because they got their food back. I liked when the duck tricked the rat. I really enjoyed the story. To the illustrator and author: I really liked the story and the pictures.

Andrew: I like when the duck tricked the rat to go to the cave. The rat was mean because the rat took the traveller’s food. To the author: Where are you from? How old are you? To the illustrator: I like the way you dressed the rat.

Giovanni: I liked when the duck tricked the rat. I liked the horse.

Shereese: I think the duck is the hero. Did you make the duck the hero? I loved the book. I also love your other books. The rat learned his lesson.

Kelvin: That book made me hungry just a bit. The rat made me hungry. To the illustrator: The pictures were so real. It was so nice. The horse looked really funny.

Ethan: To the author: I think you are an expert writer. You could write rhyming words. I think that rat is a pirate because of his hat and his sword. Where were you born? Where are you from? I’m from Vancouver.

Gracie: How did the duck know that the rat would bring the duck to the cave? My favourite part was when the duck tricked the rat. The rat was mean because he was so selfish. Why would the rat like hay that he stole from his horse? Rats don’t like hay. Do they? To the illustrator: I liked your drawings. They’re awesome! To both of you: I love all of your books that you guys made together.

Kevin: Why does the book repeat a lot? Why is the rat so bossy? I think he will never get any present from Santa. I enjoyed the story. My favourite character is the duck. I think that the rat is like a pirate. The duck is very helpful. To the author: How did you print so good? I think you are an expert. To the illustrator: How did you make the colours so bright?

Brian: The character of the duck had a really good trick to trick the rat. He took the rat to a cave and pretend he had a sister. The rat could eat the duck but when the rat stepped in the cave, the duck took his horse and ran away!

Kassidy: When the rat got stuck in the cave, that was my favourite part. I have a question. Why does the rat steal so much? I learned that he should not steal any more. I enjoyed the rhyming!

A Gold Star for Zog

Our BLG readers have started for the 2012/2013 year! Our first reader was Maria and she brought in the entertaining A Gold Star for Zog written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

This story is about a dragon named Zog who is determined to win a gold star at Dragon School for mastering the lessons that Madam Dragon teaches. Unfortunately, he is quite accident prone and he wins more bumps and bruises than stars for stellar achievement. Luckily for Zog, a young girl shows up after every injury and tends to him – bandaging, soothing and healing.

Like many Donaldson stories, this one is full of rhyme and repetition. We caught onto this very quickly. Many of my reading group members grew quite excited about this fact and tried to whisper to me subtly “It’s got repetition! The text rhymes!” (We had just had a lesson where we explored our rhyme and repetition bin in class.)

Students had quite a bit to say as Maria read and recounted all of Zog’s injuries.

 “It’s worse luck. Then, good luck when she helps him.”

“Everytime, each page he always gets hurt.”

“Oh! Oh! I hope he will still be able to fly!”

This story takes place over time and so the reader must pay careful attention to how the illustrator shows the passing of years. Some students missed the text clues “In Year Two. . .” “A year went by and in Year Three. . .” but they saw differences in the pictures. Many of them commented that both dragon and girl were getting older and taller as we moved through the book.

Maria was a very patient reader and paused for all of the comments and questions, including one very sincere inquiry, “Did you make this book?” 🙂

When it is revealed that the girl is actually a princess, we were pretty excited!

“She’s actually a princess? I didn’t know!”

She helps all of the dragons! She is a hero!”

“She doesn’t need that prince to rescue her! She’s smart!”

We were all quite excited about how this book ended. Yes, Zog got a gold star but our princess got a starring role in the life she wants to live. This is a fantastic message!