Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

What a year in picture books! There are so many amazing titles to choose from. I have certainly not read every book out there. But I have read a lot and there are some that have stood out. Here is my list of twenty. Twenty books I think are absolutely worth owning and therefore, worth gifting. Fantastic titles in both fiction and nonfiction. My criteria? Is it a book that can be shared multiple times? Does it inspire creativity, thinking, inspiration? Does it make the readers think differently? Does it celebrate something important? Is it a book that brings joy? Or does it simply make you laugh? A lot.

With those questions in mind, here is my list:

Listed alphabetically by author.

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

This title is almost too special for words. After I read this book to my class, they wrote Ivan letters. Read more here. A book to inspire talk about how we treat animals and how we treat each other. Ivan’s story is a must read.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Quest by Aaron Becker

Experience the imaginative journey that Becker captures on the page. The reader is pulled through each illustration, all the while attempting to absorb every tiny detail. So wonderful that this is a picture book (wonderfully wordless) so that it can be experienced again and again.

 Quest Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Some Bugs written by Angela Diterlizzi and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

The text is delightful and the illustrations, divine! You will want to shrink down to insect size and crawl about this insect world.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

This title surprised me with its tenderness, the sweet, the kind. All the more amazing of course, because it is wordless.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma written by Diane Fox and illustrated by Christyan Fox

Funny, funny, funny – kind of like having a backseat driver “helping” tell a story. Annoying for the narrator. Amusing for the readers.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay

Enter Marie-Louise Gay‘s imagination, learn about her story conjuring process and hear a wonderful story . . . My class was completely spellbound by this book. More here.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Unique creatures and clever problem solving finesse. Speaks to loneliness and getting along with others with everyone pulling their weight.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle

Wordless. Playful and interactive with lots of flaps and expressions to study. Go ice dancing with Flora and her charming little friend.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Why do certain creatures have these specific features? They will tell you in this gorgeous nonfiction title.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

A Perfectly Messed up Story by Patrick McDonnell

Lots of humour. A conversation starter. A book to read together and then to refer to often. Life is full of messes. How are we going to face them?

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Sparky! written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans

This book is so absolutely charming. And wonderfully slow – yes, like a sloth.  It is about our desires and vulnerabilities. The last page will totally get you. This book needs to sit on your family’s bookshelf.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

This book will speak to your heart. Wordless perfection.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

 A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Cátia Chien 

Based on a true story. Gorgeous. Special. It’s a must own and must share. A story of a boy who finds his voice and shares it in the best of ways.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

A little “imaginary friend” goes in search of his person. What could be better? A book about connection and “meant to be”.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Don’t Play with Your Food by Bob Shea

We need to laugh lots with those we love. Little people will delight in this story. Big people will adore reading it aloud.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman 

A wonderful story about siblings, mistakes, owning up and doing what’s right. I challenge you to find a favourite illustration. Just stunning.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

This book needs an audience! Guessers to be specific. What else could feathers be used for besides flight? Feels like you could pluck some of these feathers right off of the page. Share the book and then come back to it often as you notice birds in your neighbourhood.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin written by Chieri Uegaki with illustrations by Qin Leng

A story of determination, perseverance and creativity. Absolutely about courage and dreaming. Connections to family. A treasure.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

This pigeon is channeling all children who resist, resist, resist the bath and then, absolutely refuse to get out. Have kids? You will relate!

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

What do you do with an idea? written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mac Besom

I previously described this title as a celebration of imagination and a Must Have/Must Own/Must Share title. I’m still going with that. Tempted?

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Books are gifts to treasure! This season give books!

Monsters, monsters everywhere

Monsters, monsters everywhere

Monsters have cast a certain magic over our classroom lately.

We’ve been reading about monsters.

Talking monster characteristics.

Designing monsters.

Sketching monsters.

Painting monsters.

Talking about monsters living with us. Because . . . hey, what if?

Stories to come. We are writing.

It all started with this book:

Leonardo Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

And then, we looked at a few more monster titles. Some monster images. Thank you Elise Gravel for some wonderful monster inspiration on your website! We made a gigantic chart about all of the monster features we noticed like: fangs, claws, blueberry bodies (you know squishy and round), humongous heads, extra eyes (and other body parts), horns and other strange features.

We drew monster designs.

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

By the next week, we were ready to pick a particular monster and “grow him/her” into our monster piece.

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Add some paint and some creative energy from your peers, and my, oh my, what happens . . .

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Some monsters are born!

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Boo! Are you scared? Just a bit? We won’t tell!

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Now that you are in the monster mood, you might want a book selection, or two to explore. Here are 18 of my favourite monsterish creature titles:

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Picture Books about Monsters

Monsters? Creatures? Is there a difference? I’m sure if we asked some of these characters, they would have an opinion.

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Strange Creatures in Picture books

Picture books that feature monsters and other strange creatures:

Crankenstein written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Dan Santant

Love Monster by Rachel Bright

My Teacher is a Monster (No I am Not) by Peter Brown

Prickles vs. The Dust Bunnies (A Balloon Toons comic) by Daniel Cleary

The Gruffalo written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Raising Your Own Pet Monster by Elise Gravel 

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Wilfred written and illustrated by Ryan Higgins

The Monstore by Tara Lazar

Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty

The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell

The Tale of Jack Frost by David Melling

The Book that Eats People is written by John Perry and illustrated by Mark Fearing.

Plantpet by Elise Primavera

Big Bad Bubble written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Don’t Play with Your Food by Bob Shea

Dexter Bexley and the Big Blue Beastie by Joel Stewart

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Happy Picture Book Month!

pb month logo

Monday April 14th, 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!

I read some odd picture books, some that were not so great and some that were wonderful. Here are those that were wonderful:

The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

I love Santat’s style and this book is many shades of wonderful. A little “imaginary friend” goes in search of his person. What could be better? A book about connection and “meant to be”.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Maple by Lori Nichols 

A special book about a new sibling, the wonder of nature and the magic of trees – over time and through the seasons.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

A Rule is to Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy by John Steven and Jana Christy (John and Jana) 

Kind of wild and certainly eccentric. Certainly one that would benefit from being discussed. I can see some taking issue with certain pages like one that says: When someone says “Work!”, you say “Why?” But there are others that will win you over:

Speak your Mind!

Listen to the Tiniest Voice.

Go ahead and be Stompy.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Sisters & Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page 

I never fail to be fascinated when reading a Jenkins/Page title!

sisters and brothers  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop

How had I missed reading this book? Living in an enchanted forest, we find Red Knit Cap Girl and her friends. She wants to find a way to reach the moon and have it speak to her. A celebration of quiet, peace and honouring nature.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read

Super Lexi written by Emma Lesko and illustrated by Adam Winsor 

Author Emma Lesko “is passionate about neurodiversity – a movement that embraces rather than marginalizes diversity in neurological functioning (ADD, autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, etc.)” In Super Lexi, a chapter book ideal for primary/early intermediate students, Lesko delivers a well done story, an interesting character and important themes. Lexi experiences the world with some “differences” – she is very sensitive to noise, she reveals her emotions and feelings in some very interesting ways and she needs those around her to be understanding of her phobias and coping strategies. I loved the multiple examples of how Lexi’s parents, peers and teachers are able to give her space and time. I enjoyed Lexi’s voice – the look we get into her thinking and reasoning. Really, I am excited that adults might read this book and that it might impact their thinking about how we treat all children. Children are often much more flexible and accepting of diversity. This would be an amazing class read aloud in a primary room.

Favourite line of the book?

“Only it never would have happened if my grown-ups had just listened to me in the first place.”

An important reminder to be tuned into each child before everything else. Not all children will communicate in the same ways – but they are always showing us the truth.

Super Lexi #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

What’s next?

I am almost finished (and loving) Threatened by Eliot Schrefer.  I then plan to read Countdown by Deborah Wiles 

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 28/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 188/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 13/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 48/65 complete

Happy Reading to all of you! I will be without internet access next Monday so will share a #IMWAYR post again in 2 weeks.


Monday November 25th, 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.

Officially I have 30 minutes to write a post of my favourite reads of the week. It is report card pressure weekend and so I must stay on track if I am going to be finished on time. But I don’t want to miss out on the joy of sharing in the #booklove, so here goes . . .

Briefly a few words about my five favourites 🙂

Grumpy Little King by Michel Streich 

Brilliantly exposes the futility of war. And reminds us that when we feel little, we act little. A wonderful title to spark discussion.

Grumpy Little King #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

How to Train a Train written by Jason Carter Eaton and illustrated by John Rocco

Fancy a pet train? Well if you do, this is the book for you! Just the whole concept is so out there and so fascinating for kids to consider and then, John Rocco’s illustrations – wow! My favourite part though might be the Dear Readers message by Rocco at the end of the book.

How to train a train #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Picture Day Perfection written by Deborah Diesen and illustrated by Dan Santat

Have you ever wanted your school picture to be perfect? Read about a little boy whose idea of perfect is not what you might expect! Lots of laughs and hilarious illustrations! My students wrote book reviews here.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Time for a Bath by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

I love this series by Jenkins and Page – (also Time to Eat, Time to Sleep) and just picked this up on sale at one of my favourite bookstores. Fascinating to me is how many of the creatures featured here don’t venture into the water at all but rather, take a bath in the dust or dirt to remove parasites.

time for a bath #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

If you Find Me by Emily Murdoch

I could not put this title down. A tragic, compelling story of two sisters forced to raise themselves hidden out of sight but not really so far away. This is the story of how they, in effect, “reenter” society and more importantly, family. Features a character with selective mutism which always fascinates me as it is becoming increasingly prevalent but I rarely see it in fiction.

If you find me #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I have just started The Real Boy by Anne Ursu (yippee!) and cannot wait to hand these reports in and then reward myself with time in the library taking out a bunch of new picture book titles.

Happy reading everyone!





Picture Day Perfection

Our BLG book this week was Picture Day Perfection written by Deborah Diesen and illustrated by Dan Santat. This funny book was read to us by Peter, a BLG reader new to our classroom. Welcome Peter!

Picture Day Perfection: There's a Book for That

This book is quite a clever story with an interesting ending that surprised us all in a wonderful way. The boy in this story has been planning for Picture Day for months and months. It seems like everything that could possibly go wrong in his day, does. There is “sticky uppy” hair, breakfast that doesn’t stay on the plate, a favourite shirt that was unearthed from the bottom of the laundry basket. The day progresses to trouble on the bus, nausea from all the people saying “cheese” and art class mess. When it is finally time to have his picture taken, we discover that picture day perfection can mean many different things for different people. And a happy smile was perhaps not part of the plan . . . (except for Moms).

Spend time exploring the book jacket and end pages – many hilarious picture day snaps and even a frame to include your own photograph.

Student reviewers respond:

Kassidy rated this book 4/5 and writes: He put syrup on his face to make a worst smile. The photographer click the picture on time for him to smile. He did not like to get his picture taken. I liked the part where he smiles and the mother said, “This is the best one ever.”

Steven rated this book 5/5 and writes: At breakfast, he made a mess. He was dripping syrup. The picture was funny. When he smiled he has a missing tooth. I like the face.

Shereese rated this book 5/5 and writes: I loved the book. It was a funny picture when he wore a stinky shirt for picture day. His Mom picked a grey background that he did not like.

Sara rated this book 5/5 and writes: He is funny because he made a mess in his hair. It Iooks like his face is like the Grinch. He planned for next year.

Arianne rated this book 5/5 and writes: I thought it was weird – he wanted a bad picture day. He had syrup on his face. He wanted a funny picture.

Hyo Min rated this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part was when he made a funny face. I love the part when he got caught from the click. Why did he made funny faces? The illustrator made pretty pictures. I liked the pictures because it’s all wonderful, like the faces makes me laugh.

Vicky rated this book 5/5 and writes: I love the part when he spit spitballs on the driver because it was gross and also funny. I think the photographer was tricking the boy to make him so he can make him smile. To the author: Why did the boy not have a name?

Ibtihal rated this book 100/5 🙂 and writes: It was sunny when he made faces. Why he didn’t paint on his shirt? Why did he pore syrup on his self? He looked sleepy. Why does he hate picture day? I have a connection – when it’s picture day, I have a bad hair day. 

Kelvin rated this book 5/5 and writes: What is the boy’s name? Why is the boy making silly faces? Why is the boy always goofy in picture day? I liked how the boy spit balls at the driver. I liked how the illustrator made every picture bright. If the colour was black and white, it will be boring. With colour, it will be beautiful. 

Gracie rated this book 4/5 and writes: I liked when the boy who has no name made goofy faces. It was surprising when his idea of a good picture day was a goofy face. Note to author: Why do you not tell us his name? My favourite part is when he was mad because his mom chose the same boring grey background. I liked this book. It was funny. 

Jerry rated this book 5/5 and writes: I liked when the boy try to choose a face. When it was picture day, he had to eat breakfast. At the bus he shoots spitballs at the driver. In school the teacher ask the boy have you choose a colour yet? The boy thought his Mom pick grey colour. When it’s picture time, the boy hates cheese. Then it’s his turn for picture time and he doesn’t like cheese so he chooses a funny face. Then his Mom sees him in the picture. He has a missing tooth but not his brother.

Monday October 14th, 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 reads! The #IMWAYR crowd always has so many fantastic titles to share.



I read quite a variety of picture books this week. My favourites:

Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

Before reading this action packed colourful picture book, I had never heard of lucha libre – the theatrical professional wrestling popular in Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries. I was very pleased that Niño with his little white boxers and red face mask was the first hero of the lucha libre world for me. The fact that he outsmarts his opponents with moves like the Tickle Tackle and the Popsicle Slick make him even more endearing. I can see this being a favourite book of many a preschooler with some wild and crazy energy. What fun!

Nino Wrestles the World #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes 

The illustrations in this story made it quite special. It is a wonderful introduction to Hindu literature and mythology through a quite creative adaptation of how the poet Vyasa convinces Ganesha to scribe the epic poem, the Mahabharata. This story involves delicious sweets and a super jumbo jawbreaker. Part silly, part spectacular, this is a fun visual adventure.

Ganesha's Sweet Tooth  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Look, a Book! written by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

The text of this title is simple – the premise simply – wow, look where a book might take you – on adventures and rides through imaginative landscapes. I am such a fan of illustrator Freya Blackwood and again, found her illustrations simply magic.

Look, a Book!  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Cat with Seven Names written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Christine Davenier

If you have ever had a pet that liked to share himself/herself with others very generously (and often motivated by food treats if truth be told) then this is a book to connect to. In this story, a cat wanders in and out of many different lives in a neighbourhood, eventually connecting the individuals into a community and being reunited with his owner who explains that this friendly feline will likely visit again. With themes of solitude and loneliness, this story has a happy feel good ending.

The Cat with the Seven Names  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Can I keep him? by Steven Kellogg

First published in 1971 – loved the older style drawings by Kellogg. A little boy tries to convince his mother that numerous animals would make the ideal pet. Finally he finds the perfect companion to keep him occupied as Mom is busy with her daily tasks. The fantasy element made this story lots of fun as a read aloud.

Can I keep him?  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

One Boy by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Really? Really! Really, Seeger is just too clever. Her books never fail to delight, engage and entertain. Such a wonderful book to share with my class. They were all completely engrossed guessing what would happen as we flipped the page – what word would the cutout reveal? What image? Amazing!

One Boy  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Carnivores written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Dan Santat

Oh so, so good. And it scored high on the giggle meter when I read it to my children. Such a clever premise – attempting to have us see these carnivores as well meaning with lots of self control. When true natures win out, Reynolds and Santat have us smiling a little guiltily as we root for these carnivorous characters who just can’t help themselves . . .

Carnivores  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I finished The Boy on the Wooden Box a memoir by Leon Leyson

An emotional read. Every story of the war speaks to our humanity – the cruelty and kindness of people, the devastation and hope in such horrific times. This is the story of Leon Leyson, one of the youngest members of Schindler’s list. It is the story of his childhood taken by war, his family and their love, of his time during Nazi occupation in the WWII and of his chance to actually have hope of a future. Highly recommended.

The Boy on the Wooden Box  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

What’s up next? I just started reading The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata. Next on the list is Crazy by Han Nolan.

What are you reading this week?



Monday January 28th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Link up to Jen and Kellee’s meme to share all of the great reading you have been doing from picture books to young adult novels.

I tried to limit my picture book list to my top 5 books of the week. That didn’t exactly work out . . . But I did keep it under 10!

The Beasties written by Jenny Nimmo and illustrated by Gwen Millward I found this book quite delightful and when I read it to my class, it cast a magical spell. All about how the story telling of the Beasties helps a little girl settle into her dreams each night in her new big bed in her new room. Eventually, she realized her own imagination can help soothe her into sleep.


The Insomniacs written by Karina Wolf and illustrated by The Brothers Hilts What if you travelled many timezones away and your night and day became all mixed up? What does a life lived at night look like? In this story, it is full of beautiful night blooming cactuses, night beetles, astronomy and moonbathing . . . The perfect blend of a slightly absurd story and stunningly imagined illustrations make this a beautifully unique book. Might not appeal to everyone. I adore it and want my own copy.

insomniacs cover

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz and illustrated by Dan Santat This fractured fairy tale was a huge hit in my classroom. We loved the martial arts, the energetic rhyme and super pig power! Read more here.

3 ninja pigs (1)

Oh, No! written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann Finally, I got my hands on this title! A perfect book to use to highlight paying attention to the details in the pictures. Can see this being a very popular and requested story time book! I think I would have no problems reading it over and over!


Charley’s First Night written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury A story of a little boy and his puppy’s first night at home. Absolutely sweet. This little Henry is the keenest, most attentive new puppy owner out there. Full of love and care.


Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff Oh, this book is just so lovely! It celebrates colour, nature and the special bond between baby bear and Mama. This is a wonderful book to gift someone with a young child. A beautiful book to revisit often.


Oliver by Birgitta Sif Love these illustrations – they match a gentle story that celebrates a child who is really his own person. But sometimes, we are ready to share our world with someone else who moves through life with their own style.


I also read the fantastic Lulu Walks the Dogs written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Lane Smith These Lulu books celebrate voice – Viorst is one funny narrator, Lulu is deliciously spunky and Lane Smith rounds everything out with his brilliant illustrations. I liked this book as much as the first Lulu and those were some big shoes . . .

lulu walks the dogs

I finished two novels this week. Both were on my must read list of 2013.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson Such a well written novel giving us an intimate view into a young woman’s courageous attempt at securing land in the unforgiving Montana prairie during 1918. Hattie reminds us that we discover what is big and grand inside of us by living the simple and often arduous day to day tasks amongst people who are doing the same. A book of relationships, challenges and beauty. While it certainly took me a while to get to this book (considering it was a Newbery honour book in 2007), at least it will be fresh in my mind when Hattie Ever After is released next month!

hattie-big-skyOn the Road to Mr.Mineo’s written by Barbara O’Connor I adore Barbara O’Connor. I smile when I pick up any of her books. Barbara O’Connor has a way of letting the world slow down. She tells us stories of people, long days, longing, fussing and forgiving where the journey is as important as the destination. As always, I love how her books highlight kid adventure and big personality in small place settings. Calm. Soothing. Happy. Who would think a one legged pigeon could cause such a fuss? Everyone wants him, some are convinced they need him and the chase is on. Reminded me of the feeling in Oliver Jeffers’ This Moose Belongs to Me of how an animal really belongs where it belongs, and not necessarily to anyone.

on the road to mr. mineos

Just started reading Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood, a book I’ve been wanting to read for ages so I am very excited!

The Three Ninja Pigs

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz and illustrated by Dan Santat was   our BLG book this week! Thank you to Pearl for sharing it with us. This was certainly not the Three Little Pigs story we thought we knew!

3 ninja pigs (1)

This was one fun fractured fairy tale! A not to be missed adventure!

Instantly, we were charmed by these three pigs who were not about to let a big mean wolf boss them around. The fact that they went to Ninja School? Absolutely fascinating!

Each pig chose a different martial art to practice. Akido, jujuitsu and karate! Wow, we were intrigued. Santat’s illustrations are so engaging and the students all strained to get close up looks of the pictures. All of the action scenes, the bravado, the humour has huge kid appeal and we were hooked completely.

Unfortunately, the first two pigs had not paid enough attention to the learning and practice necessary to become masters of their chosen martial art. Neither could overpower the wolf. When Pig Three announced that she was a “certified weapon,” a hush fell over the room. The wolf might have tried to be brave as he hurled a few choice insults at the pig, calling her bacon and claiming not to be intimidated, but we knew he was scared. And so he should have been. Pig Three was a keen student. She was ready to take on this wolf and realizing he was outrivaled, the wolf retreated, making the third little pig a hero!

There was some surprise that the third pig was female. One student interrupted, “Hey! Hold on! I didn’t know there was a girl.” But while students were writing their reviews, a few girls mentioned to me that they were happy that the smart pig was a girl pig. When I read this book to my own children, my daughter cheered at the end. “Yes! Girls! They are full of determination!”

A fan of pig power? Girl power? Stories where the bullies don’t win? This book delivers! Kiya!

Student reviewers respond:

Vicky: My favourite part was when the third pig showed karate to the wolf. I was thinking about the Three Little Pigs Book. This was funnier. Why did the first pig and the second pig not listen?

Shereese: That was funny when pig #1 fell asleep. I like when pig #3 was learning.

Ethan: The first pig fell asleep and he did akido. The second pig did jujitsu. He did a little better than that first pig. The first pig did better than every pig and the wolf too. I like the end. It’s a happy ending.

Pheonix: Pork Chop! Pork Chop! I like that part best.

Gracie: My favourite part is when the wolf says to the third pig, “Yo Bacon! I’m not scared of you.” It’s funny. But why did the first pig fall asleep? And I liked that the third pig was a girl! 🙂

Giovanni: That wolf started to shake!

Andrew: My questions: Why did the first pig fall asleep? Why did the second pig left the dojo? The third pig did all of her training. I learned I should listen.

Heman: It was funny when the first pig fell asleep in the middle of training. My favourite part is when the third pig scared the wolf away. The third pig did karate!

Kala: It reminds me of a karate kid movie. The wolf is being naughty. I like that they went to school.

Ashley: My favourite part was that the pig fell asleep. It was funny so much! The number three pig was good at listening. The wolf seems mean to the pigs. I like the number three because she listens so much.

Monday November 5th, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? On Halloween night there was torrential rain in Vancouver that prevented a lovely tick or treat scene like this one below (from Muth‘s Zen Ghosts). Still it was a cozy week for lots of seasonal reads!

Join Kellee and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with their weekly meme that highlights what everyone has been reading from picture books to young adult novels. It is a fantastic way to learn about new books and share favourites with others.

In my reading world . . . 

New classroom picture books:

Night Song written by Ari Berk and illustrated by Loren Long. Long’s illustrations make this an absolutely stunning book about a little bat’s first solo journey. Guided by his “good sense” little Chiro is able to both explore the world and then find his way home. While this book does not use the word echolocation, this is clearly the good sense being referred to and there is lots of text that helps the reader to talk about the concept. I found children wanted to study the pictures individually after the story was read aloud because it was just so gorgeous with the black as pitch pages.

Chester the Brave written by Audrey Penn and illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson. This is another story in the Kissing Hand series that explores being brave and demonstrating courage. Sweet but I find I like the illustrations more than the story with these books.

Dog in Charge written by K.L. Going and illustrated by Dan Santat. I ordered this through Scholastic when I saw Santat‘s signature illustrations. It is a very funny little story about a dog left in charge of a bunch of cats that get into everything! When it all just seems like too much, Dog compulsively devours a bag of cat treats and takes a nap. The cats, who love Dog, decide to clean up their messes and the family are none the wiser when they return from their outing. So . . . I’m wondering where does one find housekeeper cats? Those are some pets I could have a lot of!

New to me Halloween Stories read to my class or my own children (often both): 

The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell I am a huge fan of Patrick McDonnell and found this story to be absolutely delightful. This was our BLG book of the week and you can read more on the blog here. The best part of this book is the quirky little wanna be monsters with some of the best character names I have seen in a while: Grouch, Grump and little Gloom ‘n’ Doom. The final scene on the beach is all about the little moments of happy we all need to savour. Highly recommended.

Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth For those who know Muth’s  Zen . . . stories, this is another that will quickly become a favourite. I love that it is a story within a story. After everyone goes trick or treating, Stillwater the Panda tells the children a story based on a koan from The Gateless Gate that forces the reader/listener to question what is real and not real. And then just to sit and be fine with not really being sure. So much to explore within this book makes it a story that children of many ages can investigate. The illustrations, as in all Muth books, are exquisite.

Creepy Carrots written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown. I was very excited to get my hands on this book because I am such a Peter Brown fan. His illustrations are fantastic and accompany a story told by Reynolds that is actually quite sophisticated. This book on the surface is about a little rabbit being terrorized by some menacing carrots even thought nobody will believe him. What looks like a creepy carrot in the shadows of the night is often revealed to be something else entirely when a parent arrives and turns on a light. But are the creepy carrots really just a figment of Jasper, the rabbit’s overactive imagination? To be safe, Jasper builds a huge fence around the carrot patch to contain these orange vegetables that haunt him. In the end, the source of his fear is revealed. Do those creepy carrots really exist? Read this story that explores fear that just can’t be reasoned away in a totally clever and humorous manner. Loved this book!

The Perfect Pumpkin Pie by Denys Cazet This book has been in our library for a few years but I had yet to read it or share it with a class. Wow, had I been missing out!! This book is certainly a perfect spooky Halloween read featuring a ghost that rises out of the pumpkin patch threatening to haunt the residents of the nearby house if they don’t provide him with the perfect pumpkin pie. Yet while it seems like it might even be too scary for a primary read aloud, it is actually more full of humour, rhyme and pumpkin pie spices than anything else. And a very spunky Grandma who I adored. The illustrations are completely bizarre and unique to make this one of my new Halloween favourites.

Novels read:

Between Shades of Gray written by Ruta Sepetys This is a harrowing read. The images are disturbing and the violations against all basic human rights and human spirit are intense. In Lithuania, in June of 1941, fifteen year old Lina is forced from her home along with her Mother and younger brother by the Soviet Secret Police. They travel by train to a work camp in Siberia and eventually farther north to  the Arctic Circle. Survival is based on luck and perseverance that does not seem possible. Many, many die.  Lina is compelled to share her experiences through her art and her drawings recount terrible experiences suffered by her family and those of the other Lithuanian people around her. This story gives us a sense of the horror that happened to so many under Stalin’s rule. Many details were new to me. Ruta Sepetys brings voice to many who were completely silenced by death or extreme fear. A very important young adult read.

Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai. This book has been on my “to read” pile for  over a year and I found that once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in just over twenty-four hours. This book begins in Afghanistan in 2001 with a family fleeing across the border to Pakistan to then travel on to America. During the dramatic escape, six year old Mariam is left behind and her family is all tortured by their guilt and their extreme sadness at not being able to locate her from their new home in the U.S. Fadi, Mariam’s older brother hears about a photography contest that comes with a winner’s prize of a plane ticket to India. He becomes convinced that he can win and get back to Pakistan to rescue his younger sister. Meanwhile, the events of 9/11 happen and the family has to deal with racism, prejudice and attacks on their neighbours while they continue to grieve for their missing daughter. A book that speaks to the strength of family and of the faith of the Afghan people in a peace yet to come. Highly recommended.

Tonight I begin the novel Beneath my Mother’s Feet written by Amjed Qamer.  

Tom’s Tweet

Maria, our BLG reader brought us a very funny story this week. When we spied a cat on the back cover, the shouting started, “It’s Chester!” “No, Splat!” Obviously we have a thing for quirky cat characters. And with Tom’s Tweet, written by Jill Esbaum and illustrated by Dan Santat, we have a new feline to add to our list of endearing, funny cats!

What’s a poor cat to do when a potential treat turns out to be a shivering tweet? He can’t in good conscious eat a little thing that is just “feather and bone” even if it is a bird and he is a cat . . . And how exactly did Tom end up with a tweet between his lips on route to return it to its nest while being pecked at by an angry Mama Bird? Could this cat have a soft spot for the little Tweet? It seems so. And it makes for quite a hilarious story.

One of my students kept whispering to me as Maria read, “It will be about kindness.” “It’s going to be about kindness.” “Really, just wait, this will be a kindness book!” We have been reading many picture books on this theme and he saw through Tom the Cat’s bravado early on in the story. This cat was a goner for the little Tweet. There is even snuggling! Even though Tom insists he is “not that kind of cat.” In the end, even Mama Tweet realizes Tom’s true nature and emplys him to do some “tweety -sitting.” Dan Santat’s illustrations are superbly animated and our read aloud was full of giggles and smiles. A wonderful book for happy sharing!

Our student reviewers report:

Truman: I really like the illustrations and the part where Tom gets pecked! Funny!

Isa: I liked the part when Tom was dreaming about the birds. He couldn’t help it. That was so funny.

Khai: It was funny when Tom had to babysit the tweets!