Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015)

I have been writing and planning numerous posts on the blog all about best and favourites of the year. Looking back through blog posts is such an interesting process – whether it is searching for books or searching for moments. I find the summarizing strangely comforting. So, I am going to do it again. This time? I am capturing a year of literacy thinking in the posts that highlight my passion: all things literacy connected to all things children. ūüôā

Today, I celebrate what I feel are the ten “best of the year” posts on this blog related to reading, readers and #booklove.

In no particular order . . .

# 1 All author visits are all kinds of amazing. This one, from Calef Brown, was particularly out of this world. We were as excited to share the land we had created in his honour as Calef was eager to share his new book of poems with us. Read more here: Celebration: Calef Brown Land

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#2 Camp Read Рa day when everything is about reading and books. The absolute best! I highlighted this amazing day at my school here: Celebration: Camp Read Meeting author Dan Bar-el was an absolute highlight of the day!

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#3 My first #MockCaldecott was in January of 2015. What a beautiful, literacy rich experience! I shared it here: Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#4 I believe so strongly in the importance of sharing nonfiction titles in our classrooms. Part of that is exposing students to titles they want to read on their own and expanding their knowledge of the huge variety of nonfiction titles out there. I blogged about this here: Nonfiction conversations: Book sharing circles РWhat nonfiction titles are we drawn to and why?

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#5 And while we are still talking nonfiction books? A nonfiction tour of my classroom: A room full of nonfiction

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

Talking about classroom libraries has been a bit of an obsession this year. I have it right for about twenty-two seconds before I change things again. All through the process, I share.

#6 My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features I believe in a room full of books and time to read them. I also celebrate lots of book displays, incredible illustrations, an organization system that makes sense and a place for student voice. Reader statements from my students are an important part of our learning.

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#7  I began this post, explaining that my classroom is a library: How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider Through various images and some brief thoughts, I tried to capture some essential parts of building, organizing, maintaining and using a classroom library. Labels are key!

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#8 In this post Talking Classroom Libraries, I shared a list of questions we might begin with when thinking about how our classroom libraries work for our students.

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#9 What are the goals for my readers? I started with some questions. Sunday Reflections: Goals for my Readers

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#10 Literary Nest Building 101: in this post, I expressed my goals for growing passionate readers during this 2015/2016 year

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

Today, I celebrate all of my literacy learning and thinking in 2015. Sharing it here means I learn from my own reflections and the readers who join in the conversations.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.


Monday April 27th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. I love the energy of the interactions and the reading that this photo highlights – another moment from buddy reading with the Ks. Books and children, they go together . . . ūüôā

Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

And because I just can’t resist: Some Richard Scary love.

Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

If you didn’t get to read about our amazing visit with author/illustrator Calef Brown, read here.

Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

His fantastic new book of poetry is a must read, must share, must own: Hypnotize a Tiger: Fantastic Poems about just about Everything The pages are full of fascinating word play and delightful illustrations. Hard to pick a favourite here. Miriam, who works with me loves Lazy Head and the children are particularly fond of Pigeon Frogs. Today, I am very charmed by Interview with a Termite, but by tomorrow I might have a new favourite!

Hypnotize a Tiger Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for ThatJoin 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.


Some of my favourite titles from the week:

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear that Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh written by Sally M. Walker and illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss

My students wrote reviews of this book that I will be posting soon. We loved the story and the history. What a relationship between Winnie and Harry Colebourn! It is easily apparent why Winnie made her way into the stories of A.A. Milne for his son Christopher Robin. The real Winnie was a sweet little bear.

Winnie- The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Unnatural Selections by Wallace Edwards

This book squeaks and speaks and hollers: Art project! Ahem . . . art inspiration! What fun!

Unnatural Selections  Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Stick by Clay Rice

These woodcut images are incredible. I like the story’s theme of imagination but this is not a book I would rave about or necessarily choose for my classroom collection. Potential but just not quite there . . . Yet the images stay with me.

stick Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace and illustrated by Leuyen Pham

How I love the illustrations by Leuyen Pham! This is a fun little story perfectly suited to little dancers. Can Vampirina stay focussed on her dancing and resist turning into a bat?

 Vamperina Ballerina Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Josephine written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Christian Robinson 

Such a detailed, poetic biography of Josephine Baker. The colours, the illustration, the use of language – all things make for an incredible middle grade picture book biography.

Josephine Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby 

There is reason for all of the raving about this YA title. The characters are so very unique – different, mysterious but so very appealing. The story is full of intrigue, suspense, mystery and magic. It is haunting and sad yet full of hope and transformation. It is one of those books that must be experienced and the less you read about it in advance, the better because each surprise, each “around the corner” is so delicious. So I will stop here. Except to nudge you . . . go, read this book.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Up next? I am devouring The Truth about Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh (and not because it makes one hungry). My class just finished Each Little Bird that Sings by Deborah Wiles (which I would recommend over and over and over as a beautiful read and even better read aloud) so we are up for a new read. Happy to announce that it will be Jack by Liesl Shurliff. We read Rump last year and kids are over the moon that we get to share another book by Liesl together!

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 20/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 165/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 9/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 36/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 18/50 books read

Celebration: Calef Brown Land

This week I am thrilled to celebrate a very special visit from author/artist/poet/word-wizard/snail-inventor, the amazing Calef Brown! To say that we adore Calef Brown’s art and poems is an extreme understatement. We are ultimate fans! So much so that we have been working on creating what we have come to call Calef Brown Land: a world on our outside bulletin board that features creatures, flying machines, flora and fauna inspired by Calef’s work.

Calef’s book Dragon, Robot, Gatorbunny was the inspiration for many of these pieces  Dragon, Robot, Gator Bunny Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That We started drawing . . . Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That And then we painted Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Creatures and such were cut out and collected. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That And then the building of Calef Brown Land began. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That It was admired ūüôā Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Because it is AMAZING! Full of whimsy, vibrant colours and all kinds of joyous charm. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That And then, today . . . Calef Brown, himself, was coming to visit! Books were ready (check out the top row) Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That The schedule was set. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Welcome signs were made. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That And then, we heard the shouts, “Calef Brown is here! He’s here!”

Staying in the room and calm went quickly out the window. Because today was the day! We got to visit with Calef Brown!

Sharing the mural was pretty special. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That But having Calef Brown share with us . . . Well, now, that was just full of wow! We talked about syllables and favourite words. Rhymes and near rhymes. List making. Word savouring. Rice paper. Tones. Inspiration. Silly. Colours. End papers and treasures under the book jackets. We got to ask lots of questions and found out many things like which came first – the poem? the word? the illustration? (Never the chicken or the egg in case you were wondering)

We watched Calef read poems (perfectly) upside down. And . . . recite multiple poems from memory. Most of his poems are stored in his head and he shared them with us, when the time was right, on multiple occasions. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That When the students had their recess break, Calef made each one a special note. (Yes, he really did this! I witnessed it!)

He also gifted a signed copy of his newest book Hypnotize a Tiger to our school. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Calef got a little peek at my students doing what they do best: losing themselves in books! His books, of course, flew into hands and were shared together or devoured individually. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That In the afternoon, students got a peek at their individual notes. Lots of smiles all around ūüôā Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That This week I celebrate Calef Brown’s generosity, creativity and time. His visit was very special for us, confirming our knowledge that book makers – readers, writers, artists extraordinaire are magical. They make the world extra everything! Thank you Calef Brown! This was a morning for the very important memory files. Filed under . . .

wordy wanderings

art meanderings

kindly offerings

Same ¬†number of syllables inspiration ¬†ūüôā

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks. celebrate-link-up

Celebration: New views

This week a bit of a theme seemed to emerge – seeing things in a new way or seeing things for the first time. I had a shortened teaching week due to a Pro D day in my district and travelling to participate in Pro D to the island so my learning “adventures” were a little more varied.

This is what I celebrate this week: new views.

#1 It was the third annual Nonfiction 10 for 10 this week. Follow the link to check out all of the lists shared. My theme this year was Change your perspective. This list featured my favourite nonfiction titles that allow us to think about something from a completely new or different perspective.

Change your perspective Celebration: New views There's a Book for That

#2¬†Watching my students in buddy reading this week was lovely as always. But, as I walked around and listened in to the reading and the conversations, what really stood out was their leadership. My students have really become reading mentors. They are responsive to their listeners, they are monitoring for understanding, they are aware of attention span and they are asking amazing questions. I couldn’t be prouder.

Celebration: New views There's a Book for That

#3 My students adore Calef Brown. We love his art. We love his wonderful poems. This week in art we made some images inspired by his.

I loved how some images were Brown inspired with such a lovely “child” twist. Like this sweet little moment between these characters below.

Celebration: New views There's a Book for That

#4 These views were truly new views of the most beautiful and majestic kind! They are taken out my window flying back from Port Hardy Friday evening. I loved the tiny plane ride and the incredible views of mountains and coast line that we could see out the window. The flight back to Vancouver had no empty seats and many people were snapping pictures of these gorgeous scenes.

Celebration: New views There's a Book for That Celebration: New views There's a Book for That

#5 The reason I was in Port Hardy was to participate in Vancouver Island North Teachers’ Association’s District Professional Day on The Whole Child. It was an honour to present the Key Note address and to be able to share my love for nonfiction picture books in the two nonfiction workshops I shared. The photo below is part of my book stack ¬†– upside down with sticky notes everywhere which made sense for me as I presented.

The North Island community was wonderful. While I had only a limited time there, I was touched by the stories that people shared with me and by the warmth in which I was welcomed. The beautiful landscape, the dancing and the drumming, the care and commitment of these educators . . . it was a wonderful 24 hours for me.

Celebration: New views There's a Book for That

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks. Read all of the celebrations by following the links shared here.


Celebration: Children’s Art

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

celebrate link upThis week I had a visit from someone that spent a lot of time in my classroom last year. She walked into the class, paused and took in all of the wall space and displays. ¬†“I just love all of the art in this classroom. It is always so amazing.” she commented. Yes, I thought, I think so too!

The art all over our walls and on display in the hallways speaks to our spirit, our creativity and our community. Making art together every week is a happy time. Time to talk, to problem solve, and to share. We often have three to four projects on display at once. Often a picture book has been an inspiration for these projects. I also regularly read a variety of art blogs for great ideas.

This week, I am sharing some final projects as well as some in process photos of art projects created in my classroom over the last 12 months or so. I celebrate the art my students produce! It is always a source of joy.

I hope it brings as much happiness to you as it does to us to be surrounded by colour and creativity everyday!

We did gorgeous cityscape pieces last spring using black construction paper, glue lines and vibrant chalk pastel. Our inspiration for these pieces was the book by Robert Neubecker‚Äės¬†Wow! City!¬†More about this project here.

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

We were inspired by the ‚Äúeyepatch‚ÄĚ page in¬†Calef Brown‚Äôs¬†book¬†Pirateria. Fabulous pirates guarded our hallway after everyone got to work on making some amazing pirate art. More about this project here.

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

Mini Grey‚Äės¬†The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be¬†was part of the inspiration for some princess and pea inspired art.¬†More about this project here.

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

The book Ten Little Beasties by Ed Emberley was the inspiration for a project to make our own beasties. Lots of colour, lots of fun.

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

What is Halloween without amazing witches? More about this project here.

Witches  Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

I have a thing for owls. Last year we did three projects about owls in art. This year, I just couldn’t resist sneaking one in. More about this project here.

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

We are VERY fortunate to have Arts Umbrella come in and do a project with us almost every year. This year we did huge insect art. Stunning!

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

We finished up some gorgeous winter castles in January and added some writing to go with the final pieces on display. I love working really large with projects!

Winter castles  Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

For Valentines and Kindness week, my class made Love Robots. Programmed to love. What could be sweeter?

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

And sometimes art going on display is not a class project, but a body of work by one child. This is an in process photo for a project to be on display after our Spring Break. Thanks to the brilliant inspiration of Miriam, who shares these wonderful children with me, to bust out the gold spray paint!

 Celebration: Children's Art There's a Book for That

May your week be filled with colour, creativity and joy!

Monday May 20th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Jen and Kellee’s meme¬†and share all of your reading from picture books to young adult reads! Such a fantastic way to learn about ‚Äúnew to you‚ÄĚ titles by exploring all of the blog posts shared! Share your own reading on twitter via the hashtag #IMWAYR

This week has been a lot about books! A LOT of books! A lot of reading. Early morning reading. Reading over coffee. Reading while folding the laundry (I have this down to an art) Much browsing, some (well, a little more than some :-)) buying and many bookstore hours passed surrounded by . . . books! Is there any better way to spend one’s time?

For the second week in a row, I have narrowed my picture books down to my ten favourites of the week to share here:

If You Want to See a Whale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead I spent a week one summer in a house by the sea, wanting to see a whale. I never did. I think I needed this book to help me out. It reveals the ins and outs of waiting. And wondering. And hoping. And wow, is it gorgeous! This is my new go to gift book because adults and children alike will love it. (I might add that the first person I gifted it to was me!)

If you want to see a whale

Wilfred written and illustrated by¬†Ryan Higgins Last week on my #IMWAYR journey through blog posts I happened upon this title on Nicole’s blog Bluestocking Thinking¬†She called this book a “keeper” and I must agree. It is absolutely odd. Wilfred is a big hairy monster in a land of bald beings. But odd is wonderful. And this book is so much more – a story of kindness and friendship and of being compassionate. I loved this little story and cannot wait to share it with my students.


Line 135 written by Germano Zullo and illustrated by Albertine The previous book by these two РLittle Bird was one of my favourite titles of 2012. In fact, it will likely be a favourite of all time. Line 135 has a very different feel. But it shares something that I love with Little Bird: it celebrates a beautiful sense of self and human connection. A picture book adults will love Рthemes of travel, wonder, being who you are. But, if shared right with a group of children Рthis could be magic.

Line 135

How to by Julie Morstad Morstad is a picture perfect picture book illustrator. She sends memories, dreams, wonder and magic from the page to her reader. Find this book. Buy it. Treasure it. Read it often and believe in everything.


Ben Rides On written and illustrated by Matt Davies I want to say everything about this book because I found it so wonderfully fun! And sweet. And funny . . . But I am going to try and say nothing more. This book needs to be experienced. Read it without expectation or bias and enjoy . . . 

ben rides on

Fantastic review of this book on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

A Stick is an Excellent Thing written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by LeUyen Pham A celebration of the outdoors and playful encounters! Should be read while lounging under a tree or marching through meadows.

A Stick is anExcellent Thing

The Secret Message written by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Bruce Whatley Mina Javaherbin, with her wonderfully generous spirit, sent us this beautiful story and it was such a pleasure to share it with my class! We are currently creating art pieces in response and I hope to be able to share them later this week! A story about how precious freedom is! Shared by Mina from her childhood memories of being told this story (based on a poem by Rumi) by her father.

The Secret message

Kumak’s Fish written and illustrated by Michael Bania Some might know that fishing is a lot about patience and definitely something about luck. But how about cooperation? And hooking sticks? And an entire village? Much fun in this delightful story set in the Arctic.

Kumak's Fish

Lilly’s Chocolate Heart written and illustrated by¬†Kevin Henkes¬†I bought this in board book version for our buddy reading with the Ks. Lilly has the best ideas about chocolate. Enough said.


Dutch Sneakers and Flea Keepers written and illustrated by¬†Calef Brown¬†My class adored the humour in so many of these poems! Fun things to do? Count the cavities (and promise to be better about brushing!), debate the merits of raising fleas for income and explain how quickly you could catch that runaway waffle and gobble it up! With all Brown’s books, it is the illustrations that make them especially amazing!

dutch sneakers

This was a special week for our class because Calef Brown¬†(the real guy) came to visit our school! Kala, who has been a super fan of Brown’s whimsical words and quirky art kept a countdown sign outside of our classroom. Finally, it was zero more sleeps and truly – Calef Brown Day!


Students were thrilled to show Calef the art we had done inspired by his book Pirateria! It doesn’t get any more special than being able to invite an author/illustrator to come and check out a bulletin board he inspired! Thank you Calef Brown!


In other reading, I finished four novels: 

Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff Mystery. Fantasy. Magic. This book had it all! Requires the reader to remain completely alert to follow this story through its multiple narrators. Fun, certainly. Wonderful for middle grade readers.

A Tangle of Knots

Stolen written by Lucy Christopher This is the book that had the biggest impact on me this week. I started it early Friday morning and resented my errands of the day for intruding into my reading time. Don’t begin this book without some hours of uninterrupted reading time ahead. And be prepared for a tough read. This is a story of kidnapping and it has much good, bad and ugly yet by the end, nothing is clear. We know for certain that Gemma has been taken. We know she is in the middle of nowhere. We watch her attempts at escape, her terrifying interactions with the middle of the Australian desert (full of nothing and camels and red sand and poisonous everything) and settle into her memories and confusion. Her interactions with her abductor are psychologically intimate and raw. Yet her kidnapper is also the one who rescues her often. Is it care or control? Love or obsession? Nothing is black or white. Beautifully written. Haunting.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky Yes, I am a Charlie fan. Yes, this is a must read book. Sad and funny and vulnerable and worrisome. Fantastic characters. Addictive.


Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu¬†This novel touched on a theme I have never read about in a middle grade or young adult novel – hoarding. Lucy is the youngest of three children and the only one still living with her mother, until she is old enough to move out. Her mother’s hoarding makes her home life basically unbearable and a desperate secret. The conditions she lives in are truly disgusting. She keeps going by holding on to dreams of a “normal” life two years away when she is old enough to leave home. But then something happens that changes all of her plans.

dirty little secrets


Next up? I borrowed Bigger than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder from my daughter’s collection. And I plan on jumping in to a number of fairytales that I will then share with my reading group. We currently believe that fairy tales are the ultimate in drama and can’t get enough of them!

Ahoy there Pirates!

Sometimes a page in a picture book just speaks out and begs to be emulated. This happened to our class when we turned to what we call the “eyepatch” page in Calef Brown’s book Pirateria. (Read student reviews of this book here)

 Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for that!

There is a full page spread of various pirates sporting eyepatches in perfect pirate colours. ¬†¬†Colours such as: Briny Deep Green, Dreaded Red and Swashbuckled Huckleberry. And of course: Cannonball Black. Students wanted to look at it again and again. We decided it was the perfect inspiration for some of our own art in Calef Brown‘s style. We included the elements of his pirates that we loved: the striped shirts, stylish bandanas, whoop-de-doo noses and colourful faces. Below, read the step by step of how our pirates came to be.


First we did some sketching with black crayon, trying out various pirate styles.

Students then chose a favourite and began their large pirate face, using a black oil pastel. Don’t you just love these noses? We sent Calef Brown some pictures and told him how much we loved the noses. He explained their importance:

 Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for that!

Then time to colour with oil pastels – just the eye patch, the hair, shirt, ¬†bandana, and mouth. Some people couldn’t resist colouring in their nose!

 Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for that!

On Day 2, we painted.

 Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for that!

We used 2 colours – one for the face and one for the background.

 Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for that!

Students then outlined with pastel again if necessary once the paint was dry. All pirates had a lot of style. This saucy fellow, according to the little artist who created him is a bit of a facke (fake)!

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a book for That

Some pirates were all about the nose!

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!

Others – it was lips not to be missed!

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!

Can you say moustache? How about three?

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!

Some pirates had lovely smiles.

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!

Some smiles need a little dental attention or the occasional toothbrush at least!

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!We had pirates who looked serious and wise.

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!

And some who pondered life under a starlit sky.

Ahoy there Pirates! There's a Book for That!

Now all of these pirate characters hang outside of our classroom. Come by and check them out but don’t get too close . . . They may make you walk the plank!

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!


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!


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!


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 ‚Äď 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.


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 April 22nd, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?¬†

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Jen and Kellee’s meme to share all of your reading from the week – everything from picture books to young adult reads.

I’ve enjoyed sharing some new classroom books with my class this week. Many of them I was able to read aloud and enjoy all of the rich discussion they sparked.

My favourite five picture books of the week:

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons written and illustrated by Il Sung Na This is a gorgeously created book to introduce young readers to all the wonders of the changing seasons as they follow a little rabbit through the pages. He hops through the winter white and eventually ends up in the spring, outfitted in his new brownish fur. Beautifully captures the transition between winter and spring. My students were intrigued by how the artist seemed to have created her own paper to make collages.

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit Il Sung Na review

Pirateria: The Wonderful Plunderful Pirate Emporium written and illustrated by Calef Brown Oh, the writing and questions this book inspired . . . Read here for student reviews.    Imagine entering a pirate store with every imaginable piece of pirate gear. What would you choose? Interested in learning about how to avoid the gallows? Well, at Pirateria, they have a class for that! Told in energetic rhyme and illustrated in moody hues, this book was a huge hit in my classroom! We could have spent all day just examining the eye patch page. The book is worth owning just for that wonderful page!


The Frank Show written and illustrated by David Mackintosh My students LOVE David Mackintosh. Earlier in the year I shared Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School with them. As soon as I pulled out this new Mackintosh book they instantly started talking about the book they knew. Such distinctive and kid friendly quirky style. This title is all about a young boy who thinks his Grandpa Frank is not going to be an interesting share at Show and Tell. But, watch out for the older generation! Boy do they pull out all the stops. I am a sucker for any title with a well done intergenerational relationship so . . . hooked! A really, really great book to share to highlight how wonderful it is to get to know our grandparents.

The Frank Show

Chameleon’s Colors written and illustrated by¬†Chisato Tashiro¬†We have been a little chameleon obsessed in my room lately. So this book was a real treat. It poses the very interesting question: What if other animals happened to change their colours? Or do original colours serve important purposes? Art. Science. Wonder.


Prickles vs. The Dust Bunnies (A Balloon Toons comic) by Daniel Cleary There are some really fantastic Balloon Toons comics out there. This, is absolutely one of them! I was just going to book talk this book and give a few sneak peeks but ended up reading the whole thing aloud. So much fun as a shared read! So, really, be honest, who doesn’t struggle with the odd dust bunny (or an infestation under those hard to move couches)? This little book will have you thinking about dust bunnies with a whole new respect. And maybe a little empathy? A big smiles and giggles book!

Prickles vs the Dust Bunnies

Things got busy this week with this and that and strangely I didn’t finish any novels. Maybe it was reading all of the #IRA2013 tweets! But, I am close to finishing Requium by Lauren Oliver and am loving sharing Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan¬†with both my student book club and as a read aloud with my children.

Next up? The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore.

Happy Reading one and all! Have a great week.


Pirateria¬†written and illustrated by Calef Brown was our BLG book this week read by the very talented Bill who read sections in a very¬†believable¬†piratey “accent.” This was one fun book and a very amusing read aloud experience! Bill started off with the title and immediately one child remarked that the title sounded a lot like “bacteria.” Well, yes . . . With amazing illustrations, rhyming text and read in “regular” English and “pirate” English, this read aloud was highly energetic! Bill was frequently interrupted by requests to see the illustrations up close and a few times for some feedback like,

¬†“It’s kind of like you are using up all of your¬†saliva.”


“You should think about being in a movie about pirates.”


“Are you having a lot of fun talking like that? I think you are.”


Pirateria (the book) describes Pirateria (the store) and all of the treasures that are available there. Everything these “treasure seekers”, “barnacle scrapers” and “sea robbers” might be in the market for . . . ¬†My favourites? Maple walking planks, black pantaloons, big buckled shoes and the incredible sword collection! Also important to note, you can take night classes at Pirateria and learn about such things as “wild pirate¬†rumpuses¬†, “smuggling molasses” and how to avoid the gallows.

When Bill read us the information about Calef Brown on the book jacket, we were very interested that it referenced a real store called Pirateria! Many students decided to provide details in their book summaries of what they would purchase if they could go shopping in such a store! 

There was also a¬†discussion¬†between a few girls about whether or not there were any girl pirates featured in this book. They couldn’t decide if the long haired pirates were girls or long haired boys. Their writing below reflects this concern. I loved that this conversation was happening independent of adults. Fantastic for little readers and listeners to be aware!

This book will likely inspire some future pirate art. Pirates are very fashionable and eccentric and this book revealed all of the pirate details in the best of ways!

Student reviewers respond: 

Kala: To the author: Why did you make is so piratey? If I was you, I would buy a pirate family. I love your book. I’ve got a pirate stuffie. I like all the colours. I am a girl. You did not really put girls in it.

Kevin: My favourite part was when the pirate was wearing stripes, sword, map, and eye patch. I would buy socks like Miles [our volunteer Miles happened to be wearing pirate socks today :-)], a parrot, lots of eye patches and pirate socks.

Brian: I would buy a sword, a treasure map, an eye patch, a fake moustache and a fake beard. The names of the pirates were funny names. And I would buy a talking parrot too! I love pirates!

Vicky: I would buy a sword, treasure maps, gold, money, pirate socks and a bracelet. My favourite part is when they showed all eye patches on the page.

Gracie: To the author: Is Pirateria a real store? If it was, I would buy a blue and white striped shirt. If Pirateria is a real store, do you work at it? I would also buy a fake moustache and a talking parrot. And a tophat and striped socks. I also want a new belt and I want a sharp sword. Also: a red eyepatch and a pair of boots. I really like this book but I wonder why don’t you put colourful colours in the book? And you didn’t put many girls in the book. Girls can be pirates too. But I like this book a lot! Bye!

Heman: My favourite part is when the pirate was eating a grub! I like pirates and I liked the colours. I would buy a pirate ship, eye patches, swords and treasure maps. And a parrot.

Arianne: I would buy a talking parrot, sparkly jewels and a sparkly hat. I liked it when the pirates were funny.

Andrew: My favourite part is when I figured out that there is a real store named Pirateria. I would buy a sword, a map and a crest.

Shereese: I like the book. I like the book because it has a hat and boots and a parrot. Calef Brown, do you like your book because I really do. My name is Shereese.

Ethan: Was that a cool book? Cause I thought it was cool. Do pirates drink whiskey? I would buy a sword and a costume.

Kelvin: I like the pictures. Beautiful. How do you make the pictures so nice. Really?

Kassidy: I like your story because you used lots of colours. Are you a real pirate? Where do you live? I live in Vancouver B.C. I am 8. What is your real name? Is it the one on the book? My name is Kassidy.