Monday June 23rd, 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. You are guaranteed to find something new to add to your list.

My favourite picture books of the week:

Here I am written by Patti Kim and illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

The wow title of the week. Wordless, graphic style illustrations that are powerful and full of emotion. All about a young boy’s journey to a new country and a new life. Highlighting the myriad of emotions involved: confusion, fear, wonder, possibility . . .

Here I Am #IMWAYR There's a Book for That June 23rd 2014

The book trailer is wonderful.

Dream Dog written by Lou Berger and illustrated by David Catrow

I was attracted to this book by this gorgeous cover and of course recognized Catrow’s unique style from Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon. When Harry can’t have a dog, he imagines one. One that is big and blue and wonderfully playful. This new conjured up canine sticks with Harry for exactly as long as he needs him.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That June 23rd 2014

The Very Big Carrot by Satoe Tone

Simple story about the imaginative ideas of six little white rabbits about exactly what they might be able to do with a gigantic carrot. A few pages in I can see a bunch of listeners making very persuasive suggestions. It seems by the end, that these bunnies might have heard! Would be an ideal story time title for the younger set.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That June 23rd 2014

The Chickens Build a Wall by Jean-Francois Dumont

A rich story perfect for philosophical discussions about paranoia, acceptance and fear. When chickens discover an unknown hedgehog, they immediately assume he must signal trouble. Their worries and anxiety grow as does the wall they begin erecting. Interesting ending that I won’t reveal here.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That June 23rd 2014

The Salmon Twins by Caroll Simpson

Caroll Simpson writes and illustrates such engaging Aboriginal literature.There is a fantastic glossary in the back featuring all of the mythical creatures portrayed in the story. This title is set in a Pacific coastal village and focuses on the values of family, community and ingenuity.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That June 23rd 2014

When the Bees Fly Home written by Andrea Cheng and illustrated by Joline McFadden

A many layered story about a young boy and his family who raise bees. Jonathan feels like a disappointment to his stressed out father (a drought does not fare well for the bees) but is able to put his creative energy into making wax creatures. Helping his mom with candles that can be sold at the market turns out to bring many surprises. There are facts about bees woven into the pages through the illustrations but this is really a story of family dynamics. I loved the character of Jonathan – quiet, gentle, thoughtful and vulnerable.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That June 23rd 2014

Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon

Penguin is an adorable story time character and his adventures and spirit are hugely appealing to children who love these stories. My favourite is still Penguin and Pinecone but this title is also enjoyable.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That June 23rd 2014

I also finished two novels

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage

So first of all this is one wonderful story. Full of humour, mystery and southern charm. Second, Turnage writes so well. The kind of writer where you must stop and reread a sentence and think, “Well, well, well that was just brilliant.” Often. If you have read Three Times Lucky, you will love this title with many of the same characters. If you haven’t read either title – read them both! Middle grade perfection.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That June 23rd 2014

Jinx’s Magic by Sage Blackwood

I have been reading this title aloud to my children. If you know the story, you know that much of it is set in the Urwald – a magical forest where trees are not quite like the trees you might be used to. So . . . we took this book along on our forest walk today and found a small clearing to stop and read the final chapter. The story was already very good – this setting made it . . . well, magical. What I love about Blackwood’s Jinx stories is their humour, the unexpected and multi-layered magic and how the fantasy is so unique. For middle grade readers who love fantasy, both Jinx and Jinx’s Magic are ideal recommendations. Jinx is a character with total kid appeal. And as an adult, I must admit to rooting for him throughout! This book was on my #mustreadin2014 list!

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That June 23rd 2014

Next up?

Our family read aloud will be The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel. For me? Cress by Marissa Meyer.

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 44/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 299/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 17/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 73/65 complete

Monday February 11th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Kellee and Jen’s meme to share all the reading you have done over the week – everything from picture books to young adult novels! Connecting with the #IMWAYR community is such a great way to hear about fantastic books “new to you.”

I have been sick for 4 days. We all know the yucky things about being sick so I haven’t been thrilled about being ill this weekend. But, for a book lover, sick days mean book days so I happily read some great novels between naps and mint tea breaks.

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King This is the second King title I’ve read (Ask the Passengers being the first) and I am fast becoming a fan of how she lays out characters and families and their sometimes strange, challenging but yet, connected dynamics. I sort of feel like I’m spying through a lit window at night into the intimate details of family relationships. Not always pretty. Sometimes all about the ugly and the weak. But so truly real.  A book with a theme of bullying and how it affects an entire family.


Crow by Barbara Wright This title is another great example of why I love historical fiction to learn about specific events in history I often knew nothing or little about – in this case, the Wilmington Massacre of 1898. This book is very much about Moses and his family. I loved his relationship with his spunky and wise grandmother Boo Nanny. The racial tensions and extreme prejudice are thoroughly explored in this story – going back in time to Moses’  grandparent’s experiences and forward to his father’s dreams for him. Some challenging moments in this book. A middle grade read that might be best as a read aloud where lots of discussion could occur. With room for many questions . . .


Insurgent by Veronica Roth So first off, I must say that yes, I liked this book. Yes, I’m hooked on the adventure and very curious about what will happen next. But, while I appreciate adventure and fast paced plots, I need breathing room in a story. Time to reflect and ponder. Down time. There is little down time in Roth’s books. Which is probably what makes them favourites for others but not for me. I miss the space to think. Again, like I said with Divergent, it feels like I am reading a movie. With little mood music. Just go, go, go! But I like many of these characters and so yes, count me in as someone who will read the next title in this series!


Next up for me? Nothing but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin. My children and I are loving The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens. If my voice hadn’t been so rotten this weekend we would have read much more. Such an engaging novel! And for kids, it has it all – suspense, humour, mystery, action . . .

I continue to add board books to my classroom collection for when we have buddy reading with the kindergarten class. Two new titles added this week:

Pouch! by David Ezra Stein A sweet little title about a little joey almost ready to brave the world.

Pouch David Ezra Stein

Duck & Goose: Goose Needs a Hug by Tad Hills My students love sharing Duck & Goose titles. So sweet. Messages always so positive. Kids read them and smile.

duck and goose needs

I also read some great nonfiction picture books this week.

Peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin This book is quietly powerful which is often the very best kind. Full of quotes to read, share and ponder. The artwork is exquisite. And I love the message that peace needs to be everywhere (in our hearts, homes, schools, countries . . .) in order to impact peace everywhere else. A book to own.

peace book cover

Who Lives Here? written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Marc Boutavant I purchased Who’s Like Me? (read more here) a book in this same format and it quickly became very popular for buddy reading so I am excited to book talk this title next week. In this book, students learn all about different habitats. Very accessible for younger learners and fun lift the flap elements.


My favourite picture books of the week were . . .

Sleep Like a Tiger written by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski This was the only Caldecott honour title for 2013 that I hadn’t read. I was completely smitten when I turned to the page of the whales. Oh, the whales! Such gorgeous pictures. Love the cityscape on the first page with the tiger carrying away the huge orange ball . . . Text and illustrations mesh beautifully. This would be such a beautiful book to give as a gift to those who appreciate the soothing power of bedtime books.

Sleep Like a Tiger

Bone Dog written and illustrated by Eric Rohmann I am a big Rohmann fan. My Friend Rabbit is one of my all time favourites. So I was intrigued by this title. It tackles death (of a pet) which most books shy away from so it gets automatic points. I always think we should talk openly with kids about death as a part of life. I once wrote a post ranting about this very thing. This title also has some very sweet elements to it. And when tested on a child (my son) evoked some giggles (when the proud little dog struts back with bone in mouth after a skeleton chase!)


The First Mosquito written and illustrated by Caroll Simpson. A dramatic First Nations story full of supernatural beings. My students wrote reviews of this book and I shared them here.

the First Mosquito


Have a happy reading week!

The First Mosquito

Our BLG book this week was The First Mosquito written and illustrated by Caroll Simpson. Thanks to Bill for reading us this dramatic tale.

the First Mosquito

Young Yax is upset when he cannot accompany his father to trade on the other side of the mountains. But his mother and sister Sook need him at home. When Yax loses his spear in the forest, he decides to show how brave he is and heads into the forest to look for it.  By evening, Yax has not returned. His mother and sister are very worried and Yax’s Mother vows to rid the forest of the Bloodsucking Monster that Mouse Woman whispered to her about. Sook and her mother set about a plan that will do away with Bloodsucking Monster and save Yax. All of them must be inventive and brave. What happens is very exciting (student comments will give the dramatic ending away :-))

Students loved hearing about all of the Supernatural creatures and beings in this book (there is a detailed description of each in the back of the book) and loved Simpson’s art work. There was mumbling all through the story:

  • Wow. Her pictures are so beautiful.”
  • “I love the art.”
  • She does such nice drawing.”

Also lots of comments about the creatures:

  • I’m a little scared of Creek Woman.
  • “Those Lightening Snakes are powerful.” (This child leaped out of his seat to get a better look!)
  • The Wild Man of the Woods is easily tricked for food!”

Student writing reveals how engaging we found this story!

Student reviewers respond:

Kala: Why did you make the blood sucking monster go to the fire? I like your pictures! But I think they are so real.

Ava: My favourite part was when the bloodsucking monster was pushed into the fire and the ashes turned into mosquitoes. I felt a little bit scared and I felt like, “Yes!”

Shereese: I like when the Mom saved the day! I like the art too. I like Creek woman crouched under the creek. I love those pictures. You are a great artist!

Ashley: My favourite part was when the bloodsucking monster turns into mosquitoes  The sucking monster seems like he is mean!

Kelvin: Bloodsucking monster came to eat their blood. And the bloodsucking monster fell into the fire and turned into one million mosquitoes.

Heman: The best part was when the bloodsucking monster went into the fire and transformed into mosquitoes. I liked it when Yax ran away from the man. I was scared when the blood sucking monster ran to the beach.

Vicky: My favourite part was when the blood sucking monster transformed into some mosquitoes. I want to know what happens next.

Andrew: My favourite part was when the bloodsucking monster went in the fire. What happens when the lightning snake shoots you? What happens now?

Ethan: I know why Bill picked this book because it’s almost Chinese New YEar. I like that book. It’s awesome!

Kevin: My favourite part was when the blood sucking monster transforms into mosquitoes. Where did the thunder snakes shoot? At who?

Brian: You are a good reader Bill. that book was scary. The Mom that push the bloodsucking monster was a super Mom. I felt scared when Yax and Sook was coming to be eaten.

Kassidy: Why did the mother push the monster into the fire? How did you come up with this story? I like your story. I like your pictures. I like when the boy fell on the ground, then one of the nice monsters told the boy to go. How do you make the book from the pictures? How do you do the lightning snakes together? I like the Creek Woman. How do you draw the monsters? I like the part with the monster wild man of the woods and the wild woman of the woods and the woodworm. I like all of them. I love you. Love, Kassidy