Nonfiction 10 for 10: Travel the world

I am not sure how many of you have read the The Bear Report by Thyra Heder. It is a beautiful, playful and imaginative title. And Olafur, a polar bear, is a transformative Arctic tour guide. Transformative and inspirational. This book got me thinking about how much we learn when we travel. And then I started thinking about how much we learn when we travel in a book.The Bear Report

And so, yes, it makes sense that a not really nonfiction book starts my post about some incredible nonfiction titles. Titles that let us travel to new places and learning through their pages. I feel that these titles do a particularly fantastic job of capturing a sense of place.

Nonfiction Ten for Ten: Travel the World

Thank you to Cathy Mere from Reflect and RefineMandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning  and Julie Balen of Write at the Edge for hosting this meme. Click here to read all of the top ten lists shared.

This is my fourth year participating in this meme.

In the  first year of #nf10for10 I shared favourite nonfiction titles – many that I have used with my class over the last few years in a variety of ways.

In the second  year, I chose to focus on nonfiction picture book biographies that feature inspiring women.

Last year, I shared nonfiction titles that allow us to think about something from a completely new or different perspective.

Nonfiction 10 for 10

This year my theme is about travelling the world and learning about place and more via the pages of a nonfiction picture book. These are ten (“ahem” eleven) of my favourite nonfiction titles. If I have blogged about them before, I have shared the link.

Travel to Chengdu, China when you read  Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears written by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff; illustrated by Gijisbert van Frankenhuyzen (published 2013)

Jasper’s story is one you just might not know and all of us should. A terrible instance of animals being captured and imprisoned so that their bile can be extracted for use in traditional Asian medicine. Jasper is a bear that was rescued by Jill Robinson (the author) and her Animals Asia team and brought to a sanctuary in China. He had been held in a cage for 15 years and was very weak and injured from so many years of cruel captivity.

Travel the World

Travel to Puerto Rico when you read  Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth (published in 2013) Winner of the 2014 Sibert Medal

So often when we hear about animals on the brink of extinction, there is no happy ending story to share. Here, we have a story of hope and promise. Through much hard work the endangered parrots of Puerto Rico are once again flying through the treetops. Both captive bred parrots and wild flocks are being supported by the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program. Gorgeous collage images invite you into the treetops with these beautiful birds.

Parrots over Puerto Rico

Travel to Antarctica when you read Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester (published in 2012)

This book defies categorization. It is a fictional story of young Sophie Scott travelling to Mawson Station in Antarctica with her father who is the captain of an icebreaker, the Aurora Australis. But it is based on the author’s real experience of travelling to Antarctica. And it is full of all kinds of facts about icebergs, icebreakers, life in a research station, Antarctic animals and the history of Antarctic exploration. I’m calling it an information story book and placing it under the nonfiction umbrella.


and Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill, (published in 2014)

Such a story of adventure, misadventure, perseverance and survival.


Travel to Australia when you read Big Red Kangaroo written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Graham Byrne (first published by Walker Books Australia in 2013, first U.S. edition 2015 by Candlewick Press)

The illustrations are so unique. Dry, dust seems to float off the page. I feel like I am under a hot sun, staring at wide expanse of dry grass, with little green. There is absolute mood in these pictures. Action, drama in the simmering Australian climate. Limited colours and striking lines. A fantastic book that celebrates both kangaroos and the Australian landscape.

big red kangaroo

Travel to wooded areas of California when you read Redwoods by Jason Chin (published in 2009)

It’s not just that redwood trees are majestic, this book brings some kind of added magic to learning about these forest giants. Part fantasy, part nonfiction – this title by Chin is a magical information story book. Learn about each level of the tree from small sapling to the canopy hundreds of feet off the ground in a redwood tree over 350 feet tall!

Redwoods by Jason chin

Travel to the Galapágos Islands when you read Galapágos George written by Jean Craighead George and illustrated by Wendell Minor (published in 2014)

This was a powerful read aloud in my classroom last year. This title let us talk about extinction. It allowed students to grasp the true vulnerability of so many species. We read this after reading various books about endangered animals. Reading about a special creature that actually became extinct prompted both outrage and sadness. “So many animals could disappear because of humans . . . ” one child observed solemnly.

Galapagos George

Travel to Ghana when you read about Emmanuel Ofusu Yeboah in Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah written by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls (published in 2015)

An inspirational biography of Emmanuel Ofusu Yeboah who rode across Ghana (more than 400 miles) to raise money for and awareness about people living with disabilities. A story of persistence, endurance and the human spirit.

Emmanuel's Dream- The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

Travel back to Cuba in the 1930s and learn about when you read Drum Dream Girl Dreaming: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López (published in 2015)

Millo Castro Zaldarriaga dreamed of drumming but this was not a dream for girls. This beautifully illustrated story gives us a peek into the colours of Cuba and the persistent dream of one girl  to play her music.

Drum Dream Girl

Travel to Minnesota in the wintertime Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen (published in 2014)

What about animals who must survive long winters where snow is not a novelty but a part of life? Is the snow a burden? A hardship? How do they survive? How do they adapt to the long winter months? These are questions that children will find answers to in this stunning collection of poems, lino cut prints and informative paragraphs.

winter bees

Travel to Iceland  when you read Puffling Patrol by Ted and Betsy Lewin (published in 2012)

An incredible story of two children on the island of Heimaey in Iceland who take part on the Puffling Patrol to assist young pufflings making their way to the sea. Unfortunately we learn in the back pages that the puffling population in Iceland is rapidly declining.

Pufflng Patrol 2

What are some of your favourite nonfiction titles that honour place?

Monday January 4th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. I haven’t been teaching for 2 weeks, so sharing from my house. This week I am sharing a photo of our Christmas book stack 🙂 Lots of reading in our house!

Monday January 4th, 2016

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:

For #nfpb2015 I shared my 20 favourite nonfiction titles of 2015

Our #MustReadin2015 community shared year end update posts

Please note: If you want to share a #MustReadin2016 list, we will begin sharing lists (connect here) January 6th, 2016

My Celebration this week was all about Simplicity

On the eve of back to school, I made some wishes. Sunday Reflections: Wolves and Wild Wishes This post is inspired by the novel The Wolf Wilder (discussed more below)

Books I loved:

I read a lot of picture books this week, I am going to share just my favourites of the bunch.

Picture books:

One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail

A superb lesson in persuasion and just the right words for the argument you are trying to make. Also a “Can I get a pet?” story with so much new and amusing. Loved this title.

One Word from Sophia Monday January 4th, 2016

Lizard from the Park by Mark Pett

I always find Pett’s illustrations very, very charming and this book is no exception. When you find an egg and vow to look after the hatchling, you just never know. Lots of fun!

Lizard from the Park

Mother Bruce by Ryan T Higgins

Funny. Funny. Funny. I laughed out loud in the book store. My stomach hurt from laughing so hard. This is a serious charmer. The perfect combination of curmudgeonly and adorable characters.

Mother Bruce

The Dog that Nino Didn’t Have written by Edward van de Vendel and illustrated byAnton Van Hertbruggen

Something about this book. First of all, I would like to hang all of it on my walls. Each page. Blown up to huge proportions. And the story. . .  It is a little out there. It is about lonely and longing and then having and adjusting. And then wondering. I loved it. In fact, I gifted it to myself. Couldn’t resist.

Dog that nino didn't have

The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton

I confess that I just never thought about picking this book up. I saw great reviews but it just didn’t speak to me. Finally, I found it at the library and started reading. It is quite wonderful and yes, I was missing out. I can see that this would have pretty fantastic read aloud appeal.


Frances Dean who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif

The illustrations are completely divine. The story, pretty cute.

Frances Dean who Loved to Dance and Dance2

Puffling Patrol by Ted and Betsy Lewin (2012)

I learned so much in this nonfiction text. Absolutely fascinating account of a the authors’ visit to a town in Iceland during 2008 to watch how a community helps young pufflings confused by the town’s lights make their way to the sea.

Pufflng Patrol 2


The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life by Lois Ehlert

Bold, full of colour. Such a fantastic autobiography!


Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear written by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Such an interesting format. Really a lovely little book.

Finding Winnie


The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

This book. This book. This book! I fall more and more in love with Rundell’s writing with each novel I read. Part adventure. Part fairy tale. Many parts brave and wonderful. Russia. Winter. Snow. Wolves. And beautiful, bold children. A must, must read!

Monday January 4th, 2016 The Wolf Wilder

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

A novel in verse. Highly recommended. What is life like when you don’t look like everyone else and your dreams and aspirations are “not what we do here”? This book, set in 1969 Vermont, is an incredible story of one young girl. Courageous, vulnerable, amazing.

Full Cicada Moon Monday January 4th, 2016

Final updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 71/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 471/415 books read COMPLETE! 

#MustReadin2015: 18/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 95/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 52/50 books read COMPLETE! 

A WONDERFUL reading year – even though all of my goals weren’t met, they sure were inspiring!

And 2016 Reading Goals begin:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 1/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 5/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 1/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 1/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 2/50 books read

Next up? I am reading More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera


Monday, November 18th, 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 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.

The picture books I enjoyed this week:

999 Tadpoles written by Ken Kimura and illustrated by Yasunari Murakami

My, oh my, a lot can certainly happen on route from one pond to another. The illustrations in this book are highly engaging – it’s a lot of fun to imagine what 999 growing tadpoles might look like. The story is not that complex but it is an amusing book to let students explore. What happens when one pond becomes too small and very cautious Parent Frogs need to move their quite humongous family to a bigger water hole?

999 Tadpoles #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf by Mark Teague

My students were delighted by this very charming version of the classic Three Little Pigs story. Student reviews are shared here. We particularly loved the clever third pig and how she handles both the wolf and her not so focussed siblings.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Oscar’s Half Birthday by Bob Graham

There isn’t a huge amount of story here, no action filled plot. Rather there is a whole lot of moment. Family. Time together. Celebration. A Park. A picnic. Lots of community. And . . . love the multiethnic parents depicted! Takes me back to the slower pace of having little ones still in babyhood.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Dream Friends by You Byun 

I had to read this title twice as the first time I was just entranced by the illustrations. A sweet little story about dream friends and the challenges for shy children to connect with others. Would love to read this with a young class and see the reaction.

Dream Friends #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Picture books I LOVED:

Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom by John Rocco

So first, I adore John Rocco. Second, a few pages in is an illustration of our big haired hero and his equally hair blessed friends marching across the page as “unstoppable!” Wow. And then the “station wagon capture” scene. Maybe this took me back to my own childhood full of those boat like station wagons, bell bottoms and big hair . . . Yes, this book definitely had the nostalgia advantage. But, I also loved the story of a little guy who equated his hair with superpowers and sees the world as a series of adventures and rescues where heroes fare best. Truly sweet. Big points for the illustrations. Would love to see another Caldecott next to Rocco’s name for this!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett and illustrated by Matthew Myers

This title gets full points for its highly appealing “revision” to make a book absolutely kid appreciated. Mind you, not just kid, as my husband read it and instantly wanted to buy a copy for his father for Christmas! It is the creative license that this book celebrates – the humour, the scribbles, the reinventing of a character . . . that I love. Also worth noting – I showed the book trailer to my class and they ask me about 15 times a day if I have bought the book yet! (Can’t wait to book talk this tomorrow and let this book loose into the hands of my classroom full of readers who will energetically devour it!) I think this book delivers the message that we can all be writers and imagine characters that we can bring to life. SO MUCH FUN.

BattleBunny #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I have also been reading through some new purchases for my “almost ready for chapter book” set.

Mr. Putter and Tabby See the Stars by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Arthur Howard

I remember reading many Mr. Putter titles when my children were younger and have a real soft spot for all of these characters! This book gives Mr. Putter’s tummy a starring role. Oh what midnight walks do for the digestion!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Mr. Putter and Tabby Run the Race by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Arthur Howard

I giggled through this entire story of Mr. Putter in his long socks and baggy shorts doing his training for a Senior’s Run. Very funny.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa Spring Babies by Erica Silverman and illustrated by Betsy Lewin

One of my little readers so loved the first Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa title. She read it to me. She read it to the principal. She keeps it in her book box as a kind of treasure. These early readers are a perfect stepping stone to longer chapter books. This title is particularly wonderful to let children explore the miracle of babies on a farm.

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also finished and loved Living with Jackie Chan by the brilliant Jo Knowles

Knowles just has vulnerability and raw emotion down. I was one of those readers of Jumping Off Swings that wanted to know more about Josh. This novel certainly delivered. A beautiful story of family, of healing, of facing mistakes and figuring it all out (sort of). Loved all of the characters in this story. Now my only problem is that I’ve read every book Knowles has written. Looking forward to anything else she might do!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I just started reading If you Find Me, a YA novel by Emily Murdoch and can’t put it down.