Monday May 6th, 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!

My favourite picture books this week:

The Relatives Came written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Stephen Gammell This book takes me right back to my own childhood when it seemed like endless cousins arrived and our beds and rooms were bursting. A lovely celebration of visiting family and long vacations!

The-Relatives-Came-9780689717383

Boy Wonders written and illustrated by Calef Brown Calef Brown is fast becoming a favourite in our room. Rhymes and word play. Lots of wondering and questions in this text. Questions that you might not ever have considered . . . The art is incredible!

Boywonders

Polka-bats and Octopus Slacks (14 stories) written and illustrated by Calef Brown This could very well be my favourite Calef Brown title. As always the art is simply divine. But in this text, I love the stories. Quirky. Fun. Silly. Clever. And whoa. . . what a stylish octopus! A definite title to source out and savour if you have not had the pleasure . . .

polka bats

An Undone Fairy Tale written by Ian Lendler and illustrated by Whitney Martin This is a favourite book that seems to travel like hotcakes through my room every few months. And I realized that I had never actually read it. The big appeal – it’s a story not quite ready to be told. The illustrator is not quite caught up so the story needs to keep changing to adapt. Feels very interactive. Lots of humour. Lots of fun!

AnUndoneFairyTale

In other reading . . . 

Beholding Bee written by Kimberly Newton Fusco A very special little read. Set in the early 1940s, we meet Bee, 11 years old and an orphan travelling with an on the road carnival crew including, Pauline who has been looking out for Bee since she was four (when her parents died). Bee is shy and self-conscious of the “diamond” birthmark on her cheek. But she is bright and compassionate and loves animals and the few people she connects with at the carnival. When Peabody, a stray dog ends up finding his way to Bee and Pauline is distracted by love, Bee finds herself in circumstances that lead her to run off from the carnival to find a home for herself, Peabody and Cordelia, a little pig she cannot bear to leave behind. But there is something very special about the home she finds and the two women that begin to care for her. Conjured up by love, need, magic and life lessons that need teaching, these two aunts provide what Bee needs. Even though she seems to be the only one who can see them . . . There is much to this story – women’s rights, childhood bullying, issues of school inclusion and the importance of the ‘right’ teacher. It is also a story of love, family, friendship and belonging. Quite wonderful.

Beholding Bee

Listening for Lions written by Gloria Whelan This is actually the third time I have read this book. First it was for myself and then as a read aloud to a Grade 3/4 class I taught a few years ago. We just finished this as a book club book for my student book club and I read it aloud to my own children at the same time. I continue to adore this novel. This book begins with Rachel Sheridan living with her English missionary parents in the East African village of Tumaini. When her parents die in the influenza epidemic in 1919, Rachel is vulnerable. Her fate seems decided – she will be sent to live in an orphanage. Unless . . . Rachel is instead scooped up by a neighbouring family and sent off to visit their Grandfather in England, posing as his granddaughter, Valerie. The relationship between Rachel and the grandfather is lovely but never predictable. And certainly full of secrets. Historical Fiction. Mystery. Adventure.

Listening

I am currently reading Endangered by Eliot Schrefer Wow.

With my children, we have just begun a new read aloud, Scumble by Ingrid Law. A few years ago we read Savvy so are excited to read the next book in the trilogy.

 

Monday February 18th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join up to Kellee and Jen’s meme and share what you have been reading from picture books to young adult novels.

I enjoyed many picture books this week. It seems many had a theme of friendship. Also dogs graced many a page and the name Hopper kept cropping up. Who knows why these things happen?

The Lonely Moose by John Segal Sometimes we think we don’t need friends. But once we’ve begun to enjoy the company of another, life can be pretty lonely once we are alone again. This is what this lovely little picture book explores.

the lonely moose

The Reader written by Amy Hest and illustrated by  Lauren Castillo I adore Castillo’s illustrations. Amy Hest never misses. Books, companionship and a snow day. This book is a wonderful nostalgic little read. The most clever thing of all? Calling the little boy the reader throughout the story. It just gives this story a whole other level.

the reader

Hopper and Wilson by Maria Van Lieshout I think there can never be too many picture books about friendship. So I was delighted to find another.

hopper-and-wilson

Harry and Hopper written by  Margaret Wild and illustrated by Freya Blackwood I am fast becoming a huge fan of Freya Blackwood’s illustrations. I love the scratchy, loose lines and the mood she creates through shading and colour. This book tackles themes of grief and a pet dying. It is done in a gentle, sweet way that respects everyone’s process.

harry and hopper

Dog Loves Drawing by Louise Yates Great message – that art, doodling. drawing can tell a story, allow for creativity and challenge the imagination.

dog loves drawing

You by Stephen Michael King I have a soft spot for Stephen Michael King’s illustrations. (Leaf is one of my favourites) A book that celebrates all of us.

you

Mirror Mirror written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Josee Masse Beyond clever. I have been sharing these poems with my reading group and we read each poem multiple times just being in awe how reversing words and changing phrasing alters everything.

Mirror_Mirror

Some nonfiction titles:

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins written by Barbara Kerley and illustrated by  Brian Selznick I read this title to my own children. We have all read all of Selznick’s books so were excited to see his illustrations here (Caldecott honour worthy and all!) We were intrigued by how Hawkins made models of dinosaurs without having all of the definitive details that would be later discovered. Part of a story about the quest to “recreate” dinosaurs that we just didn’t know.

Waterhouse Hawkins

How the Dinosaur got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland We actually read this before The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins – it gave us all of the vocabulary to understand what is involved in erecting a dinosaur skeleton. Fascinating! And time consuming! Reading it with my children, we turned it into a memory game 🙂 Each time I got to the by the _______, I would pause and see who remembered the title! An excerpt:

“chiseled from the stone by the EXCAVATORS,
authenticated by the PALEONTOLOGIST,
and searched for by the DINOSAUR HUNTER.”

HowTheDino

I Have the Right to be a Child written by Alain Serres, illustrated by Aurelia Fronty Such an accessible book for children to learn about the rights of children everywhere. Gorgeously illustrated.

I have the right to be a child

I finished two novels this week:

Anything but Typical written by Nora Raleigh Baskin Is this cover not just absolutely stunning? Loved pausing in this book just to stare at it. A fantastic middle grade read narrated by a boy with autism. Themes of family, friendship and identity. So much to this story. Baskin weaves many stories into this one vulnerable tale. It is challenging enough to fit in as a preteen, what happens when you are autistic and your very reactions to the world guarantee you stand out?

anything-but-typical

Fourmile written by Watt Key This book manages to be both all about the characters and yet it doesn’t scrimp on action. There is always something going on – even under the surface of the simplest and mundane tasks like painting a fence. Sometimes the goings on are dramatic and frightening. Steeped in hurt, pain and longing, this story also reveals the vulnerability and strength in the characters. While, the main character is a twelve year old boy, some of the disturbing scenes might make this more of a young adult read. Or a middle grade . . .  with caution. I continue to love this author after first reading Alabama Moon and being blown away.

Fourmile

Next up? Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Blackout

Picture Book Love #4: Celebrating picture books that are just too good not to gush over.

Blackout by John Rocco is not just visually gorgeous (It is a 2011 Caldecott Honour Book after all), it also reads bearing gifts. It reminds us to take and honour the gift of time, the gift of family, the gift of slowing down and being in the moment. And it does this without being preachy, sappy or judgemental. It just shows us that busy often gets in the way of family time and removing ourselves from the busy world can be possible, right at our own kitchen table.

Blackout_spread

The story starts out letting us peek into the windows of a family’s apartment. Everyone busy. Computers. Cooking. Chatting on the phone. Don’t disturb. Leave me alone. No time for a game that the youngest family member wants to play. And then . . . A blackout. No power. No lights. Nothing works but . . .  time. Flashlights and candles make the dark, quiet world go from scary to cozy. But the muggy summer heat soon leads the family to the rooftop where starlight creates an art filled sky of wonder. Now nobody is busy and the family revels in time together.

When the lights come on again, the family is not ready to give up the special closeness the blackout created. Family game time by candlight is first on the “to do” list.

This book reminds us to look for wonder in the simple and everyday and to treasure family time above all else. Because everything can get in the way. But only if you let it . . .