Monday January 20th, 2014

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. One of the very best ways to discover what to read next!

This week I had serious plans to read a number of novels. These plan got put on hold when I went to the library Tuesday evening and came home with stacks and stacks of nonfiction picture books. I fell into a kind of nonfiction reading marathon. I share some of these titles here and some I will share on Wednesday for Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday hosted by KidLit Frenzy.

Here are the picture books (fiction and nonfiction) that I loved this week: 

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills written by Renee Watson and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Not only a glimpse into the life of Harlem Renaissance singer Florence Mills but a story of courage, commitment and the power to make change. Really enjoyed this picture book biography.

 Harlem's Little Blackbird #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Sophie’s Squash written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf

This book passed the “it’s so funny/charming I can’t help giggling” test when I read it aloud to my son. Cute, cute, cute. Charming and then some. A beautiful story about a child who does things a little differently. Not enough books celebrate persistence, creativity and passion in children so well. And whoa . . . the ending! LOVE.

Sophie's Squash #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jaques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino

After reading Manfish to my class, I had to read this title! We spent Friday afternoon reading this book and filling out a Knew/New sheet to reflect our learning. (Thanks Adrienne Gear! Love all of the BLMs for reflecting about thinking/learning) Another fantastic picture book biography sharing the life of the inspiring Jacques Cousteau.

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jaques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

My students adding some pictures to their thinking:


This is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration written by Jaqueline Woodson and illustrated by James Ransome

Lyrical and lovely. A story of family across generations as they move to the big city from the South. The Great Migration represented the movement of African Americans from rural Southern towns to the cities in the North. This migration was inspired by the hope and promise of better treatment, better opportunities and better education. This story weaves a rope through one family’s experience and tells a beautiful story of connection, love and new beginnings.

 This is the Rope #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Brownie Groundhog and the Wintry Surprise written by Susan Blackaby and illustrated by Carmen Segovia

A delightful winter story – full of humour, charm and spectacular surprises. Read my students’ reviews here. The illustrations are absolutely stunning.

 Brownie Groundhog and the Wintry Surprise #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Raven and the Loon written by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley and illustrated by Kim Smith

In the time of before, both raven and loon had all white feathers. They decide to make beautiful coats for each other. The process and the result does not play out perfectly smoothly. An energetic and entertaining Inuit tale.

The raven and the loon #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Umbrella by Ingrid and Dieter Shubert 

I adored this wordless fantasy title. A little bit of fear, a big bit of adventure and the largest bit of flying over stunning landscapes all over the world. I want my own copy of this book . . . Or at least a red umbrella that can take me travelling!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Peaceful Pieces: Poems and Quilts About Peace by Anna Grossnickle Hines 

Well to begin with – these illustrations are vibrant, saturated with colour and interesting design. I read a few poems, really liked some, kept reading and soon realized, I liked a lot of these poems. And the why is the important part. They aren’t generally preachy and unrelated to the everyday. They are about the here and now. There are poems that reflect mindfulness (being in the moment), poems that talk about anger, poems that talk about PTS after experiencing war. A lot in this little book of poetry. Some of my favourite lines?

I have never fired a gun

but have shouted words

that pierced and stung.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Boot and Shoe by Marla Frazee

How have I not read this book sooner than this? I adore Marla Frazee. Adore. So I’m not sure how I had yet to pick this title up. Now it is heading off to school with me tomorrow to provide some Monday morning giggles for my students! Let’s just say when a “pee tree” is the cause for a happy ending, this title is guaranteed to have high levels of kid appeal.

 Boot and Shoe #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Jemmy Button by Jennifer Uman and Valerio Vidali

Quite a title. The whole process of creating this book between two illustrators who didn’t share a language and talked via an online translator was fascinating to my students. The images are powerful and full of symbolism at every turn. This title is inspired by the true story of Orundellico (named Jemmy Button) who was taken from his home in Tierra del Fuego to England to experience “civilization.” I think this book is so well done and don’t want to say anymore – go into it with eyes wide open

 Jemmy Button #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore created Libraries for Children written by Jan Pinborough and illustrated by Debby Atwell

Well. . . Anne Carroll Moore now has superhero status as far as I am concerned. Loved this story of how one woman acted as a champion for children’s access to books, libraries and beautiful spaces.

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also finished one novel:

Prodigy by Marie Lu

I am quite hooked into this fast paced dystopian tale. Drama. Psychological twists and turns. Unexpected outcomes. I plan to read the final book in this trilogy during the next few weeks.

 Prodigy #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

What’s next? I think I will return to my list of novels from last week that I need to get to – Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick and The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour. 

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 5/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 46/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 3/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 17/65 complete

Happy Reading everyone!

Brownie Groundhog and the Wintry Surprise

Our BLG book this week was Brownie Groundhog and the Wintry Surprise written by Susan Blackaby and illustrated by Carmen Segovia

Brownie Groundhog and the Wintry Surprise = There's a Book for That


What a delightful winter story – full of humour, charm and spectacular surprises. These characters are irresistibly wonderful and it is difficult to judge even possible mischievous intentions when the friends arrange such a special surprise for Brownie Groundhog. She simply must be woken from her winter sleep to witness it! Poor Brownie eventually gets back to her long slumber. But first there are lights, feasting and pie. Makes one want to set out to a snowy meadow for an enchanting winter party similar to the one beautifully depicted in this story.

For more story details, read these student reviews.

Student reviewers respond:

Grace rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part was when Brownie said to Fox, “Don’t eat Bunny, she’s company.” I loved the illustrations. They were so good. My favourite pie is lemon meringue – it’s so yummy. My favourite character was Brownie but I also liked all of the personalities. The tree was colourful and full of light. It was a fantastic book. 

Ibtihal rates this book 5/5 and writes: I liked the part when they did the big feast. It was funny when Brownie was grumbling. The tree has a lot of decorations. There were so many good characters in the book. The author did an amazing job with the book. My favourite character is the rabbit because she is responsible and funny and cute. 

Joeli rates this book 4/5 and writes: Why fox did not make his own house instead of just stealing? Or just cut his tail and make it to a coat? Or he can just cut all his fur including his tail to make a very fluffy coat. My favourite character is the bunny because he is tiny.

Andrew rates this book 3/5 and writes: I like the tree. I like pie. My favourite part was the pie. They made a big surprise for Brownie. They had a good feast. My favourite character is the fox. I like the fox because he’s funny. The bunny was honest and nice. The fox was stealing Brownie’s stuff but he was creative. 

Soleen rates this book 5/5 and writes: I enjoyed the book because it was funny. I liked the characters because the bunny was so responsible. I liked the surprise because it was so beautiful. 

Kevin rates this book 5/5 and writes: I noticed that they eat a picnic in the park. My favourite pie is all the pie. I like the sign is called “Do Not Disturb!” They work hard on the tree and the tree looks full of light. The fox is really sneaky. The bunny was really honest and nice. Brownie is a groundhog and when he was sleeping, he was grumbling, mumbling and saying words.

Vicky rates this book 5/5 and writes: The fox is a thief. He did not understand what Brownie said. But when he made the tree, it was a big surprise. My favourite pie is apple pie. My favourite characters are Fox and Bunny because the fox thought Brownie let him use everything but Bunny said no, it’s not that. In the end, Brownie forgave them because it was a surprise and it was sweet. 

Jerry rates this book 4/5 and writes: The big surprise for Brownie is a big decorated tree. Fox and Bunny set it up for Brownie because Fox wanted to make Brownie happy. They they had a party and some crackers. The the party was done. Brownie went to bed and Bunny said, “That was fun” and Bunny gave Fox a cake. Then they all ate together. 

Hyo Min rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part was Brownie was talking funny. I love when Fox and Rabbit made a surprise. It was a great book. Why did they make a surprise? I loved the book. My favourite character was Rabbit because he said no to the fox. Bunny was more responsible than Fox. Maybe it was a winter party.

Heman rates this book 4/5 and writes: My favourite part is when the fox, the Rabbit and Brownie were eating pie. I liked when Brownie saw the winter surprise. I think the Bunny was responsible and I think the fox was creative (when he decorated the tree). Brownie was sleeping and the fox asked “Can we borrow the ladder?” Brownie said in a very mumbly voice, “Goey wave slop blubbering bee” and he thought she said, “You can use whatever you want.” Bunny thought she said, “Go away, stop bothering me.” What is the bunny and fox’s names? I wonder why the author didn’t give them names.

We reviewed another title by this author/illustrator team here: Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox. 

Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox

How lucky are we to have a reader from BLG law firm come in every week and read to us! The volunteer readers in our room are a big part of every Wednesday morning. This is the first book review of a new BLG book. Check back weekly for the newest titles introduced to Division 5!

Our book this past week was read by Deborah.  Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox by Susan Blackaby is a lovely book about the impatient wait for spring. Beautifully illustrated by Carmen Segovia, an artist from Barcelona who had exhibited the sketches of our little groundhog at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair Illustrators Exhibition.The paintings in this book actually inspired the story which was written in order to bring these characters to life!

Brownie groundhog

There is a charming interaction between the fox and the groundhog in this story. Brownie needs to keep the fox busy and distracted enough to forget about trying to eat her.

“You can’t eat yet,” she said. “You haven’t worked up an appetite.”

“I feel appetitey,” said the fox.

“Well, you aren’t,” said Brownie. “Why don’t you clear the snow off the pond? That might do the trick.”

Our student reviewers report:

Ricky: I liked when the fox was trying to eat the groundhog but the groundhog kept tricking the fox.  At first, I thought the groundhog didn’t know that the fox wanted to eat him but she actually did. I thought she was just playing.

Jena: I liked how Brownie the Groundhog distracted the fox so he wouldn’t eat him – like taking him skating on the pond.