Monday September 15th, 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.

The picture books I enjoyed this week:

Loula is Leaving for Africa by Anne Villeneuve

How delightful is this little title? Loula is done with her brothers (triplets! can you imagine?) and has decided she is running away to Africa. Luckily the family chauffeur knows the way . . . Full of adventure and kindness.

 Loula is leaving for Africa #IMWAYR There's a Book for That September 15th 2014

Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid

Such a treat for the senses. Calming and inspiring at the same time. Surprised it’s taken me a while to get to this book. Now, of course, I want my own copy.

 Picture a Tree #IMWAYR There's a Book for That September 15th 2014

The Big Adventure of the Smalls by Helen Stephens

I know that if we had had this book when my children were teeny, it would have been part of our nightly story time ritual. A read again and again and again title. What child wouldn’t love a sneaky adventure in and amongst an adult dinner party?

The Big Adventure of the Smalls #IMWAYR There's a Book for That September 15th 2014

What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings Written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Just so beautiful. The text, wow . . . The illustrations, swoon. So thankful I purchased this title. It now sits on my night table so I can reread favourite poems and passages. While I love all of these poems rather passionately, Starting Now might be my favourite.

What the Heart Knows #IMWAYR There's a Book for That September 15th 2014

I also finished Revolution by Deborah Wiles

I have been raving about this book all day – at a rally for public education, to a friend on the street and then to my mother in law at dinner. Wow.

Where do I start with this incredible story? Maybe the best bet is how I captured its essence in less than 140 characters. Easily one of my favourite titles of 2014.

Revolution #IMWAYR There's a Book for That September 15th 2014

Next up? I am reading Hostage Three by Nick Lake

I will admit that my nerves are still shot and I am not doing the reading I would like to be doing. I am worried about my students. (more here) I want to be working. I am tired of walking around a sidewalk. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Strikes are terrible. Plain and simple.

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 61/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 416/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 106/65 complete

Monday April 28th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?


Because last Monday I was away (and technology free) reading and walking the beach with my family, I am sharing two weeks of reading in this post. Warning: it’s a little long!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

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. The best way to grow your TBR list!

I read some fantastic picture books, both fiction and nonfiction. Here are my favourites:

Nassredine written by Odile Weulersse and illustrated by Rébecca Dautremer

What an important story to share with children to illustrate so perfectly the message that we can’t please everyone and in fact, there is often someone, no matter what, who will be critical of what we do. So much to this story: patience of a wise father, sensitivity in young Nasreddine and the gossipy judgement of “others.” Even though this tale is set in another place and time, it is very relevant to children today. The illustrations are absolutely stunning.

Nasreddine #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell

Enter the beautiful undersea world of little Minnow, one of King Neptune’s fifty daughters. Minnow, unlike her sisters, seems not to have a special gift or talent.  But her persistence and curiosity allow her to discover the story behind the strange and wonderful object that she found and to share it with all who want to find out more. A longer story, perfect for children who love fairy tales and fantasy elements.

The Mermaid and the Shoe #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Orani My Father’s Village by Claire A. Nivola 

This beautiful book tells the story of Nivola’s visits to Orani, the tiny Sardinian village where her father was born. A special place – full of memories, community, simplicity. A gorgeous celebration of family history. The author’s note in the back is well worth reading.

Orani #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Highest Number in the World written by Roy MacGregor and illustrated by Geneviève Després

One of my students says it best: “This is a really good book because Gabe’s grandmother saved the day. She did this by convincing Gabe that she was lucky.” Hockey, wise grandmothers and sports heroes. Quite the book. My students have written reviews of this title that I hope to blog soon. It was very popular with boys and girls alike but I really liked that our little hockey loving heroine was a girl!

 the highest number in the world Roy MacGregor

Flight of the HoneyBee by Raymond Huber and illustrated by Brian Lovelock

A fantastic introduction to bees – told as one scout’s story. The pages are incredibly illustrated – the bees look like they are dusted in gold dust. Learn about pollination, how bees dance, life in the hive, etc. Gorgeous nonfiction title for the elementary classroom.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Big Blue Whale written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Nick Maland

All about the blue whale. As always, Nicola Davies manages to deliver a lot of information in such lyrical text. The illustrations by Maland are really interesting and add to the feel of the book. Such majestic creatures, blue whales.

big blue whale #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Jazz Baby written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by R Gregory Christie

What fun this would be to read aloud with little ones. Music sings out via the rhythm of the words. Energy, movement, fun!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Dog Loves Counting by Louise Yates

Just so much fun. Help a little dog who can’t sleep count things – like three toed sloths and five-lined skinks and the seven stripes on the racoon’s tail. Playful, clever and sweet. Would make a very interactive story time for little ones or be the perfect book for buddy reading with Kindergartens.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings (young MG)

One of the most entertaining “wants a dog, parent says no” books out there. And Fido is certainly some pet. Hilarious. Spirited. Perfect for those students ready to handle longer chapter books. I am reading this with my Jr. Book Club (Grades 2 and 3).

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo (MG)

I read this book in one early morning sitting with some strong coffee and lots of tears. It has so much that I love – true humanity, history, truth and sentimental simplicity. Not is any sappy or overly dramatic way. Just a true story told. Good people are sometimes hard to find. This book has a collection

with a name like love #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer (YA)

Wow. Hard to find words to describe the intensity and interesting aspects of this story. Set in the jungles of Gabon, this novel is about a boy and his relationships with chimpanzees. No doubt, there are messages of conservation that come through loud and clear. But this book is also about being alone, finding connection, chasing dreams and finding home. Days after I finished reading this book, I wanted a chance just to peek again at the characters – human and chimp to see how they were faring. It was that real to me.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Golden by Jessi Kirby (YA)

I often see books categorized as a “coming of age” story and this truly is that. What is it like to be on the brink of your future? How do our choices define what lies ahead and how connected are we to where we come from? This book has a lot to it – mystery, soul searching, family and friendship connections. Much of it bittersweet.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos (YA)

An interesting title – one that deals with mental health issues, abusive families and an amusing look at teenage life. More about character than plot. The search for self and meaning through the muddy waters of family dysfunction and depression. Complex. Painful. Well done.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (YA)

This book has been sitting on my shelf for ages and so I put it on my #MustReadin2014 list. What took me so long to pick it up? It was all kinds of amazing. I loved pretty much everything about it. The characters. The honesty and vulnerability of the narrator. The family dynamics. The truths. The humour. Wow, wow, wow. READ this book, if you haven’t already!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Countdown by Deborah Wiles (MG)

I am more and more impressed with Wiles with every title I read. This is the first novel in her Sixties trilogy and it is fantastic. It is everything a middle grade novel should be. Preteen  everyday issues (family and friendship drama) in the context of this time in history – the Cuban Missile Crisis. So well written and full of nonfiction elements – songs, ads, headlines, photographs. The reader steps right into the life and times of these characters and lives their fear over world events and conflict. Highly recommended. My eleven year old daughter is now reading this book.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I continue reading Jinx’s Magic by Sage Blackwood to my own children. I am starting All That’s Missing by Sarah Sullivan and have a number of nonfiction titles I picked up from the library that I’m eager to read.

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 35/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 213/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 15/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 56/65 complete


Monday March 10th, 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 was quite ill this week so my picture book reading was limited to what was in the house that I had yet to read (no library adventures for me). On the other hand, I spent hours reading novels and finished seven titles. Basically all I have done in the last three days is read, sleep and in one big burst of energy, I cleaned the fridge.

Picture books I enjoyed:

Locomotive by Brian Floca 

Wow. The details and the history that Floca gifts to us in this train ride to the West Coast are just stunning. I read this to my son and he was captivated. Simply gorgeous.

Locomotive #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

DareDevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy

Another title for the picture book biography section. Betty Skelton and speed – whoa! I was truly shocked at how many things this woman was ready to try and how nothing phased her whatsoever. It was like, goal accomplished – what’s next?

Daredevil #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Fox in the Library written by Lorenz Pauli and illustrated by Kathrin Scharer

Loved the illustrations in this story and that it certainly promoted the love of books and literacy. But was the story memorable, not so sure. Did the story itself impress me? I felt it was only okay.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Novels I finished:

Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy (MG)

A #MustReadin2014 title that I borrowed from my daughter’s bookshelf. What an ideal middle grade novel. It has everything to appeal to this preteen/early teen audience: family and friendship dynamics, humour, a taste of bizarre, a dose of romance and just a really great story.

small medium at large #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Charm & Strange by Stehanie Kuehn (YA definitely)

Intense, haunting and beautifully told. Almost impossible to discuss this book without giving things away. It is dark. It is about facing the past and demons that have shaped you. It is about vulnerability. An emotional read but one I really recommend.

Charm and Strange #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz (MG/YA)

There is much to this book about two siblings basically raising themselves – helped occasionally by their spirited Grandmother who is otherwise sad and despondent. Everything changes when an escaped convict breaks into their home and holds them hostage. The drama is not rushed and full of fear and aggression. Rather, it is a simmering psychological story where questions rise up. What is family? What is loyalty? Where do our wishes lead us?

zebra forest #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Every Day After by Laura Golden (MG)

Another #MustReadin2014 title I took off my daughter’s shelf (thank goodness I give her such amazing titles!). Lizzie is another young heroine of historical fiction that will weave her way into your heart and you can’t help but root for her. I really hope Laura Golden continues to write in this genre.

Every Day After #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles (MG)

Who would think one could use descriptors such as delightful and uplifting about a book all about funerals and death? Yet, this book is exactly that. It celebrates spirit and connection. It honours life. There is pure simplicity and complex interpersonal dynamics. And in the end I cried. But I would read this book again in a heartbeat just to experience interesting funeral food, the joys of a a flower garden and slobbery dog love.

Each Little Bird That Sings #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Bird by Crystal Chan (MG/YA)

This book will follow me through the year I predict and may just end up on my favourites of 2014. Jewel is raised in grief and superstition. Guilt and anger. The day she was born was the day her brother Bird died. Everything about her life begins from there. Beautifully written. Sad and spectacular imagery. Themes of friendship, grief, family, culture, faith. Highly recommended.

Bird #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (YA)

I had heard numerous times that this novel was powerful. That is explored PTSD in honest and raw ways. These things were not surprises. How much I adored the characters, the rich relationships, the true to life portrayal of a young girl caught between a place of hanging on and trying to embrace life and possibility – all of this surprised me. Just. So. Good.

Th Impossible Knife of Memory #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Up next? I am currently reading Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – I really enjoyed Cinder and had looked forward to reading this entire trilogy. I just picked up Allegiant by Veronica Roth from the library so that will likely be my next read. My children are thrilled that I am feeling better so that I can continue nightly reading of The Shadow Throne.

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 19/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 124/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 9/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 40/65 complete


Monday August 19th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

IMWAYRJoin 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 picture books I loved this week . . .

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue

A story of friendship, prejudice and courage set in the American South in 1964. Beautifully written – lyrical text and honest emotions, this book is one of the best historical fiction picture books I have read. Would be ideal to pair with other picture books and novels also dealing with this time period such as The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine and Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood. 

Freedom Summer #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Josee Masse  A companion book to Mirror Mirror full of more brilliantly and beautifully crafted poems inspired by fairytales. Forward or backwards – simply amazing. 

 Follow Follow #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Today I Will Fly! by Mo Willems Who can help but root for Piggie and her incredible perseverance? Creativity and imagination help Piggie do the impossible (sort of . . . ).

Today I Will Fly! #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I Will Surprise My Friend! by Mo Willems Anticipation can make even the simplest of surprises very dramatic!

I Will Surprise my Friend #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Some amazing nonfiction titles

No Monkeys, No Chocolate written by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young with illustrations by Nicole Wong 

What a rich engaging information story book. The reader is quickly wooed by a page of delicious desserts and treats with chocolate as a main ingredient . . . but where does chocolate come from? We travel to the rainforests of Central and South America and learn the very complicated series of natural events that make it possible to harvest the cocoa bean. Packed with information told through beautifully detailed illustrations, easy to follow text and the humourous commentary of two tiny bookworms in the corner of each page. I learned so many things from this book that I was rereading it for a second time within minutes of finishing it. A book I cannot wait to share with my students this fall.

Read a fantastic review of this book on Margie Myers-Culver‘s blog.

No Monkeys, No Chocolate #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Even an Octopus Needs a Home by Irene Kelly 

This book reveals the huge variety of homes built by animals around the world. From treetops, to coral reefs, caves, burrows, and sandy shores – this book is full of unique animal homes and details of how they are built. Did you know that monk parakeets weave their nests onto the nests of another nesting pair? So that the result can be a colony of parakeets living in an apartment like nest possibly as large as a car? Or that redhead ducks don’t build a nest at all – they simply lay their eggs in the nest of another duck and let the unsuspecting new mother duck hatch and raise the ducklings? So much to learn about animal habitats!

Even an Octopus Needs a Home #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I read somewhere in some review that this was a YA romance book for those people not typically wowed by romance stories. This is true. Strangely, this title is completely centered on one of the most beautifully told young love stories I have ever read, yet “romance book” is not the way I would start when describing this title. It is about teenage angst. About social cruelty and bullying and ignorance. It is also a book that reveals that relationships exist for so many reasons – some of them truly because of love, some of them out of desperation and a series of bad decisions. This is the story of poverty that typically isn’t told. It is about judgement and courage and genuine care. It is about finding the amazing in someone who does everything to hide it. It is about being young and vulnerable and confused. It is about adults who mess up and inflict so much that is not okay on the children. It is about abuse and fear. And ugliness. 

And then, it is really about love. And thank goodness, because what an emotional ride. No guarantees of happily ever afters with a handsome prince. Full guarantees that you will laugh, shake your head, feel your stomach turn and just smile. Wow.

Eleanor and Park #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown

A rare adult read.

The Longings of Wayward Girls #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? We’re off on a before school starts trip and in my bag I have packed . . . .

  • Rules by Cynthia Lord
  • The Outlandish Adventures of Liberty Aimes by Kelly Easton
  • Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood
  • When Llfe Gives you O.J. by Erica S. Perl
  • Thomas and the Dragon Queen by Shutta Crum
  • Cinder by Marissa Myer
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • and maybe a few more  . . . 🙂

Happy Reading Everyone! I will be posting again in two weeks for #IMWAYR