Monday August 6th, 2012

It’s Monday What are you Reading? Celebrating books read and enjoyed from picture books to young adult reads. Link up with the meme sponsored by Kellee and Jen

I was on vacation this week so all of my reading was from the stack of books I brought with me except for two picture books I purchased at the Island bookstore.

Liu and The Bird: A Journey in Chinese Caligraphy Written and illustrated by Catherine Louis. Calligraphy by Feng Xiao Min. So many of my students every year attend Chinese language classes – this book will allow them to be the experts as everyone explores the calligraphy in this book. Illustrations are gorgeous!

Rain Rain Rivers written and illustrated by Uri Shulivitz. Loved the lyrical descriptive writing. In Vancouver, we had better celebrate rain! This book gets us started.

This week I finished a read aloud novel with my children: Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. A great adventure story that intrigued us all.


Hidden by Helen Frost. I found the format with the two perspectives told in different form very interesting. A quick read.

Having read both The Fault in our Stars and Paper Towns in the last few months, I continued with two more John Green novels.

Loved the characters in Looking for Alaska.

Looking For Alaska

An Abundance of Katherines had many funny passages but probably my least favourite of Green’s novels so far. Colin, and his dependency and constant self doubt began to irk me. But loved the characters who resided in Gutshot.


The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater was my favourite read of the week. Finished it late last night and still digesting it. Dramatic. Haunting. Amazing.


I also read two professional books this week: Kelly Gallagher‘s Readicide and Tony Stead‘s Good Choice.

Happy Reading everyone!

Five Reasons I love Audio Books

In the summer,  our family often borrows unabridged books on CD –  recorded books that entertain us all.

Last summer we listened to Beyond the Deep Woods (the Edge Chronicles Book 1) created by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. The audio book read by Clive Mantle. We were transported to the Deep Woods,  a mysterious place full of odd creatures and many dangers as we followed the adventures of Twig on a quest to discover his true identity.

A thrilling fantasy!

Why are these recorded stories so wonderful? My top 5 reasons:

1. We have discovered many great authors through this process and have gone on to read other titles they have written (i.e. This is how we met the character Clementine and quickly went on to devour all of the Clementine books by Sara Pennypacker)

2. An audio book is a great way to introduce the first in a series and have your child read  the rest of the series independently. My son read all of Cornelia Funke‘s Ghosthunters after we listened to Book 1 as an audio book.

3. A story becomes a shared family experience. We still read aloud to our children but it is usually one of us reading to them while the other parent finishes dinner clean up etc. While it is lovely to have a story just shared between a few of us it is equally lovely to all listen to a story together – lots of conversations happen throughout the day when we are listening to a story together. Predictions, debates, questions. We have enjoyed many stories together and we all get the references if we talk about the book in the future.

4. Think about long hours in a car or even short hours in a car with arguing children . . . Press play and all of the bickering instantly ends as the story takes over. What could be better?

5. I love reading aloud but sometimes it is really great to let someone else do it! And usually they are really awesome narrators, often with very cool accents and they have the dramatic pause down to an art.

Some of our favourites:

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM written by Robert C. O’Brien (winner of the Newbery Medal in 1972)

We just finished listening to this audio book narrated by Barbara Caruso (who has more than 100 recorded books to her credit). Enter the world of Mrs. Frisby, a widowed fieldmouse who needs to move her family to their summer house but her youngest son Timothy, has pneumonia and is too weak to travel. Mrs. Frisby must enlist help from the mysterious rats of NIHM. She gets much more than help from these brilliant rats.

A wonderful adventure story.

The Talented Clementine written by Sara Pennypacker

This story is narrated by Jessica Almasy who has the ideal voice to read this story – full of energy, young and perfectly animated. Read more about her here

Highly humorous, Clementine’s second adventure is well worth a listen. Clementine is convinced that she is the only untalented student in her third grade class and she is panicking as the evening of Talentpaloosa: Night of the Stars approaches. Laugh out loud funny. We highly enjoyed this story.

The Secret of Platform 13 written by Eva Ibbotson.

This story was narrated by Angela Thorne, possibly our absolute favourite narrator. We could have listened to Ibbotson’s magical tale forever. In this magical fantasy, the beloved baby prince of the Island is kidnapped and cannot be rescued for nine long years until the gump opens again between London and the Island, a magical place inhabited by delightful creatures. The rescue party faces many obstacles – the most difficult perhaps – tolerating the nine year old prince, raised and horribly spoiled by the awful Mrs. Trottle.

After listening to this story last summer, I went on to read the book to my class and it was a favourite.

Head off to your local library and check out some audio titles. Happy listening!

We’ve created some new Eva Ibbotson fans!

We finally finished the very popular Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson. Students were happily surprised at the ending (the details of which we can’t disclose here as we don’t want to ruin the surprise for anyone who hasn’t read this book yet).  But we can share that there were cheers, big smiles and celebrating in our room as we read aloud  the last two chapters 🙂 We had lots of laughter and some dramatic moments along the way but were very pleased to get a happy ending!

Eva Ibbotson wrote many books in her career. Sadly, she just passed away in October 2010 at the age of 85.

I think many students will be searching for new titles of hers to read on their own.  The two I want to read next:

Award winning, Journey to the River Sea is said to be a dramatic adventure about a lonely orphan named Maia who sails into the jungle to live with relatives she has never met. Living in the Amazon seems to have affected them in some very odd ways. . . . And why was it that they wanted Maia to live with them in the first place?

In The Star of Kazan, we meet Annika who is abandoned at birth and brought up in the house of three eccentric professors and their two servants. Then one day a woman arrives claiming that Annika is her long lost daughter and she is whisked away to live in a mansion in Germany. But soon Annika becomes suspicious about this new life . . .

The Secret of Platform 13

Right now we are reading The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson

Under Platform 13 at Kings Cross Station is hidden a quite remarkable secret. Every nine years a doorway opens to an amazing, fantastical island. Nine years ago, the island’s baby prince was stolen on the streets of London. Now a rescue party, led by a wizard, a fey, an ogre and a young hag must find him and bring him back. But the prince, raised (and spoiled) by nasty Mrs. Trottle is not an easy boy to like or to rescue.  Can he be rescued before time runs out?

Fantasy stories are fun to read – full of magical creatures, whimsical places and lots of imagination! To learn more about this genre, read:

Parent Guide to Book Genres: Fantasy