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, November 26th, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Join a fabulous group of readers who share their weekly reads from picture books to young adult novels by participating in Jen and Kellee’s meme. If you are looking for new book ideas, this is a fantastic place to start!

The reading and the blogging about my reading are guilty pleasures this week. I am supposed to be finishing report cards. The reports are coming along but the reading and celebrating cannot be sacrificed!

I read a lot of wonderful picture books this week. Most of them fit into one of two categories: sweet or humourous. And a few were neither or straddled both. This is how I categorized my top ten favourite picture books reads this week:

Picture books of the Sweet variety :

Spork written by Kyo Mclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault I am a big fan of Virginia Wolf written by this author/illustrator team but I had yet to read this earlier book. A lovely story about being meaningful when you are truly needed. Arsenault’s illustrations are as always, stunning.

Make a Wish Bear by Greg Foley Yes, this book does end on a kind of predictable note but all along the way it celebrates a bunch of “strategies” for making a wish come true. I am a sucker for wishing upon a star so I thought this book was pretty special.

Plantpet by Elise Primavera This book ranks up there as one of my all time favourite picture books. It was not a new read but an important “re-read”shared with my class. We savoured it and then we did some art (see below) to celebrate the wonder of Plantpet. I highlight how amazing this story is in this post. Plantpet enters Bertie’s life as a found little creature in a cage. When Plantpet’s digging seems to have no end, Bertie banishes him to a corner of the yard and soon finds himself all alone. When he recognizes how much he misses his friend, Bertie races to find him only to discover a withered little green being. The two revive their friendship in the most beautiful of ways.

Student art inspired by this story: Ode to Plantpet

Mine! written by Shutta Crum and illustrated by Patrice Barton This little book is almost wordless (so I am instantly a fan) . One word is used in a multitude of ways: “mine” Young siblings and a dog experience owning, sharing and exploring with some toys. A little love expressed happens along the way.

Books that tickle your Humour bones: 

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems This was a fantastic read aloud shared in my classroom this week. A twist on a classic tale that only Willems could deliver. My favourite comment from a student: “Why did the dinos want to eat Goldilocks so badly? I liked that Goldilocks.” This is a Goldilocks you really must meet.

Slightly Invisible by Lauren Child I really do like Lauren Child’s Charlie and Lola books. They are so much fun for children to read aloud to practice dialogue reading and expression and I love the sibling relationship: Lola’s spunk and Charlie’s patience. I particularly love Lola’s “imaginary” friend Soren Lorensen. So the fact that this character has a kind of key role in this story, makes me an instant fan.

A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid I had seen this title on a number of blogs and booklists earlier this year and finally bought my own copy. This is certainly a book to own. Petunia wants a pet. A pet skunk. And when her parents cannot be convinced, my, oh, my does she react. Off she stomps to live in the woods where she happens to meet a real skunk. Let’s just say real life experience has a way of being a powerful teacher . . .

I’m Bored  written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi I’m Bored” – oh such tedious words that parents and teachers dread. This story’s power is in the hugely large display of “I will prove I am NOT boring” that the main character shows to us.

Kids are boring.” Those are fighting words!

In between:

Won Ton (A Cat Tale Told in Haiku) written by Lee Wardlaw and illustrated by  Eugene Yelchin Such a cleverly told tale of a cat finding his way into the home and hearts of a family who adopts him. Funny moments of cat quirkiness alongside tender images of a cat and “his boy.”

Something else entirely and so worth a read: 

Each Kindness written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis Reminiscent of The Hundred Dresses this beautifully illustrated picture book’s power is in the questions it suggests: What does it mean to be kind? How do our actions impact others? What does it feel like to be left out and ignored? What happens when we run out of chances? Each kindness has a chance to matter if it is in fact offered. Powerful.

I also finally finished The Search for Wondla written and illustrated by Tony Diterlizzi as a read aloud with my children. We took quite a while to read this because we so frequently find picture books and non-fiction titles to share together. But every time we picked it up after a few nights off, we fell right back into this very unusual science fiction/fantasy title. Stunning artwork. Interesting story. Not necessarily the best book I’ve read in a while but certainly made for lots of great discussion with my children.

Upcoming book adventures?

I just started reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio to my own children! I loved this title when I read it and can’t wait to share it.

Last week I finished reading Clementine and the Family Meeting to my class and we just started Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm. I hope it will be a favourite for my students as it was for me!

The novel I am reading for myself is What Came from the Stars by Gary D Shmidt. Very intriguing so far.

Dusted off treasures

When I think about the tangible things I value, books top the list hands down. My whole house can be disorganized, but my books never are.  I consider books to be treasures. They each have a story, an experience and many memories attached. I looked through my picture books last night and selected ten little treasures to dust off and share. These are some of many books that line my family book shelf that I adore – books that often have sat there for quite some time and bring inevitable joy in being reread and shared. Nobody loves new books more than me, but this is about honouring beautiful books that have been with me for some time. Their stories tell mine.

Ten treasures that line my shelves: (in no particular order)

The Tale of Urso Brunov written by Brian Jacques and illustrated by Alexi Natchev

This book was a gift from me to my son about four years ago when he was 5 years old and ready for the longer picture book. Urso Brunov is the Little Father of All Bears, a Brunov Bear only the size of your thumb but wiser and stronger than all living creatures. During the time of the long winter sleep, four tiny bears go missing and it is up to Urso Brunov to find them and bring them home. Such a dramatic and beautiful adventure story full of clever heroics.

Hunwick’s Egg written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Pamela Lofts

When my children were toddlers and we lived in the land of picture books, Mem Fox was easily one of our very favourite authors. We read many of her books countless times. Hunwick’s Egg came into our lives later than other of Fox’s stories. We were already expert on many of her captivating Australian animals and fell hard for Hunwick, the little bandicoot who happened upon a very curious egg and fell quickly in love. Hunwick’s egg never hatched although it provided him with companionship, faith and an important secret. Yes, he realized his egg was not an egg at all but a perfectly shaped stone and he loved it all the more. This book is beyond endearing and my heart lifts just pulling it off the shelf.

Oscar and Hoo written by Theo and illustrated by Michael Dudok De Wit

Oscar and Hoo was sent to us by a dear friend who frequently gifts us with beautiful books. This is a book of comfort about a little boy Oscar who gets lost and is befriended by a lone little cloud Hoo who has also lost his flock. These two lone creatures tell stories, share dreams and give new meaning to the phrase “head in the clouds.”

The Cozy Book written by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Betty Fraser

I discovered this lovely book of verse about all things cozy at the public library and swiftly special ordered multiple copies – one for us and many to gift as this book is the perfect gift for anyone who has the honour to snuggle into a cozy corner and read to a child. Beautiful illustrations by Betty Fraser take me back to a simpler time of childhood. Relish in all that is cozy by the rhyming master Mary Ann Hoberman:

Calm Unhurried Smooth Unworried

Fine and dandy tried and true

Lovey-dovey Hunky-dory

Cozy feelings Felt by you.

Plantpet written and illustrated by Elise Primavera

This book came into my life when my husband to be scoured old book stores and discovered treasures, purchased them for me and hid them in funny places – under my pillow, in the bathtub, in the oven. This book has been mine for many years and I still delight in sharing it or just savouring it all for myself. Bertie lives all on his own in a junkyard up on a hill. He discovers Plantpet in a cage and vows to care for it. What he thought was a plant confuses him – is it a pet? It walks and digs and grows. What Plantpet does most though is tend to the long-neglected junk yard garden. But when Plantpet’s digging seems to have no end, Bertie banishes him to a corner of the yard and soon finds himself all alone. When he recognizes how much he misses his friend, Bertie races to find him only to discover a withered little green being. The two revive their friendship in the most beautiful of ways.

Our King has Horns! written by Richard Pevear and illustrated by Robert Rayevsky

This book also came into my life back in the days of the hidden books around my apartment by my husband to be that realized he was always going to have to compete with my love of books! How I have loved this book based on an old Georgian folktale. It has found its way into many read aloud situations with various children over the years and nobody ever tires of this very relevant story about the persistent nature of truth. What happens when we are forced to keep secrets too dramatic to hold? Is there freedom in revealing the truth? Such a clever story.

The Bear Under the Stairs written and illustrated by Helen Cooper

Poor little William thought he saw a bear under the stairs. Don’t bears want to eat boys for lunch? Not if they are well fed deduces William and places many food offerings in the space under the stairs where the bear resided. William’s Mom soon sniffs out the smell wafting sourly from under the stairs and together she and William brace themselves to battle that scary bear. But all that they find is an old furry rug and a broken chair. No scary bear. This book was big in our lives when sleep was frequently disturbed by upsetting nightmares and we read and reread it, finding solace in its honouring of the scary places of dark and shadows.

The Three Golden Keys written and illustrated by Peter Sis

Peter Sis brings the legend and magic of his childhood home alive in this story set in Prague. A man in a hot air balloon is blown off course and finds himself in the city of his childhood. But his old house is dark and there are three rusty padlocks on the door. Can he find the lost keys to let him in? We join in with his search through Prague’s beautiful streets and buildings. Steeped in magic, history and wonder, this book leads us through time and mystery. This book was gifted to me by friends who knew I treasure my time teaching in what was then the country of Czechoslovakia and that Prague holds a special place in my heart and memory – part real, part magic still.

Waiting for Gregory written by Kimberly Willis Holt and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska

waiting

This book was a gift from me to my husband when our children were small. It captures the wonder of a child waiting for the arrival of a baby cousin – when will that baby come to be and how long can she possibly wait? She states: “Waiting for a baby is like waiting for a show to begin.” So much to anticipate and waiting and waiting and waiting. A beautiful book – the prose and the paintings both thoughtful and gorgeous. Because we waited first long and then anxiously for our babies, this book has significant meaning in our world.

The Hello, Goodbye Window written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Chris Raschka

This book has special meaning to me. I grew up with grandparents far away and my children have been blessed with grandparents, two sets even, close at hand and very involved. This book celebrates the unique bond of grandparent and child told in quirky observations and Raschka’s joyous full colour stories that explode off the page. Childhood simplicity. Intergenerational love. Gardens. “Oh Susannah.” Oatmeal and raisins. Peek-a-boo. And the wonderful line that we still repeat in our house, “Hello, World! What have you got for us today?” Love to love this book.

Books are treasures. Treasures to be shared.