The Invisible Boy

I know when I read certain picture books that I have a powerful read aloud in my hands. Actually sharing the story with a classroom full of children can sometimes be so touching and illuminating, that I realize that I have underestimated the impact the story will have on listeners. Such was the case with this title:

The Invisible Boy written by Trudy Ludwig and illustrated by Patrice Barton is a story that needs to be shared and discussed. In my class, the comments, questions and insights brought tears to my eyes. Children need to talk about this book! Adults need to listen.

The invisible boy There's a Book for That

Before I even began reading this book, I asked children to predict from the cover and title. Here is what was said:

  • “Maybe people don’t treat him well so he doesn’t show himself.”
  • “Maybe people treat him like he’s invisible.”
  • “He might be ignored.”
  • “Maybe they don’t pay attention to him.”
  • “He might be lonely because people don’t be his friend.”

The story begins with Brian who isn’t noticed in a class full of big personalities that demand a lot of attention. Brian, we learn, doesn’t take up much space. He isn’t included in recess games. He isn’t invited to parties. He isn’t able to contribute to lunchtime conversation. Brian loves his art and escapes into his drawings.

At this point n our read aloud, we stopped to talk about what we had observed.

  • “He’s a really good drawer.”
  • “He looks sad when he doesn’t get to play. He’s always on his own.”
  • “Does drawing calm him down?”
  • “What if he told how he felt, would he get to play?”
  • “That teacher didn’t see him right beside her because the other kids are loud and noisy.”
  • “Maybe a new kid will come and they might have something in common?
  • “Yeah and then he could have a friend!”

Students were delighted that on the very next page, a new boy, Justin, arrives in Brian’s classroom. Some of the kids wondered should they be Justin’s friend. Was he cool enough? When kids laugh at Justin’s food in the lunchroom, Brian notices. He wonders “which is worse – being laughed at or feeling invisible.” Brian makes Justin an encouraging note about his lunch. We stopped again to talk and share our thinking:

  • “Maybe if the new boy fits in, Brian will have to draw a friend. He’ll still be alone.”
  • “Do you think he will ask Justin to be his friend?”
  • “They only want to play with cool kids?! That’s not fair!”
  • “Will Justin fit in? Will he still be nice?”
  • “Justin and Brian do have something in common because they are both teased.”

At this point, the question was posed: “What does it mean to be cool?”

  • “In this book it seems to mean all popular and kinda mean to people. But a cool person should be nice and kind and sharing to everyone.”
  • “Why do we need to be cool to be friends? Kids who show off don’t seem cool.”
  • “Cool means people are being mean and making fun.”

When it seems like Justin is beginning to be included and Brian continued to be excluded, Justin steps up and insists Brian be part of a classroom trio to work on a project. The illustrator has begun to add colour to the drawings of Brian. Children noticed this immediately: “He has colour now because he is noticed.” Brian’s smile as he begins to be part of a friendship group lights up the final page. We asked the students the very important question suggested in the back of the book.

“How many kids did it take in this story to help Brian begin to feel less invisible?”

It was completely quiet and then little fingers went up showing one (Justin) or two (Justin & Emilio). Nobody talked as the children looked at each other. Some started to nod. Some shook their heads. One little voice spoke for all of us:

“Oh. I get it.”

Some written responses that need to be shared: 

Joeli: Why does the teacher ignore him – even when the teacher can see where he is? Why did the popular kids tease Justin? They don’t know what he is even like. When that teacher was looking for Brian, why she did not look beside her or in front of her? I think she needs glasses.

Soleen: This book is interesting because it suggested that we can help others like ____________ because she is lonely.

Andrew: There was a boy named Brian who was invisible. Justin made Brian not invisible anymore.

Grace: This book inspired me to help kids in our school that feel the same way. Me and my friends are going to play with ________. I think she feels lonely. Even the tracher doesn’t notice Brian. My teacher would never do that. I noticed that when he was invisible, he was black and white. Then when Justin came along and they became friends, he had colour.

Sara: The kids think they are cool but why don’t they think they are all cool? He was invisible but when Justin came, they played together and he wasn’t invisible anymore, Maybe this book is trying to teach us treat others how you want to be treated.

Hyo Min: Brian was sad because no one can see him in his class. Justin and Emilio made friends with Brian. Why other kids need cool friends? I felt a little sad for Brian. Brian wanted to make friends. At the end of the story, he was happy with his new friends. I love the story.

Ibtihal: I learned that kids can make you feel better. When Justin and Emilio made friends with Brian, he turned into colours. The teacher didn’t see him because kids were being loud and noisy. The kids only played with the cool kids. The kids made fun of Justin’s food so Brian made a beautiful picture of his food and wrote “Yum!”

Pheonix: Brian, the invisible boy was gray at first. Then a different boy touched him and he got colour and he was not invisible anymore.

Brian: Justin had something in common with Brian because kids were teasing both of them. When Emilio started being their friends, Brian started to not be lonely anymore.

Heman: I noticed that Brian was feeling lonely. I noticed that Brian and Justin were both being teased at. The kids in Brian’s class only wants to be friends with cool people. Brian felt sad because he was left out. Justin made Brian feel better. Brian was a good drawer. Brian, Justin and Emilio made a story based on a picture and Brian drew the pictures.

Because there are children that don’t seem to take up space but actually have much to offer . . .

Because each child is important . . .

Because no one should feel alone in the middle of a classroom community . . .

Because each of us can make things different for someone else . . .

Share this book with your students.

Herman and Rosie

Our BLG book this week was Gus Gordon‘s Herman and Rosie. Absolutely charming, a story of friendship, of following your passion and of celebrating the busy rhythms of a big city.

Herman and Rosie


Pancakes. Jacques Cousteau. Jazz tunes. The joy and the solitude of New York city. Finding someone who gets you and shares your quirky tastes. It all comes together in this delightful story.

For some specifics of what was wonderful and some things that happen, read these amazing student reviews!

Student reviewers respond:

Kelvin rates this book 5/5 and writes: I like the beginning because Herman was creative. He played cool music. I didn’t like the ending. It was too emotional. It looked like Herman was about to kiss Rosie. This made me feel uncomfortable. I am a kid. I don’t like a love story. 

Steven rates this book 5/5 and writes: In the book Herman and Rosie, I connected to their music. I thought the pictures were interesting. It was so cool that both Herman and Rosie liked hot dogs. 

Grace rates this book 5/5 and writes: I noticed that they both watched the same TV show. Rosie got kicked out of the jazz club. Herman and Rosie met on top of a roof. I also like pancakes. Wait, I love pancakes like Rosie. I think that later on Herman and Rosie will make their own jazz club. There is cool and unique pictures.

Shereese rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part is when they met. I like the pictures because it looks like they are treasure maps. They have things in common like watching the same TV show. They have a happy ending because they play in a band. 

Soleen rates this book 5/5 and writes: I like the part when it was musical. I connect to another book with a Rosie in it. They are meant to be friends. I like the pictures because I like how it is ripped. I think they they are going to find a band and let other people come and join the band. That would be a happy ending.

Heman rates this book 4/5 and writes: My favourite part is when they met on the roof. I noticed that Rosie and Herman do the same things. Herman and Rosie both lost their jobs. Rosie and Herman both like music. Rosie and Herman were meant to be together. The illustrations were interesting. There was a happy ending because they aren’t lonely anymore.

Ava rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part of the story is about the jazz because a lot of picture books aren’t about groovy jazz tunes. It goes sad and happy and sad and happy and sad and ends with a happy ending because they got to be together as friends. The met on the roof. Rosie hums to the tune of the oboe. Herman plays the oboe in the jazz band. 

Joeli rates this book 4/5 and writes: If Herman likes music, why he did not get a job on the music club? Why is it an animal story? How can Rosie jump that far on top of the building? She might fall! I think it is a friendship story. They both like music. 

Andrew rates this book 4/5 and writes: I liked the pictures because it looks handmade. I noticed Herman and Rosie met on the roof. I connected to the roof because I walked 1 000 steps up the Temple of China. I noticed they both lost their jobs. It was a sad but happy ending. To the author/illustrator: I loved your book! I loved the pictures. I totally think Herman and Rosie are better together. 

Vicky rates this book 5/5 and writes: Herman and Rosie are meant to be together because of some of the things they both liked. Herman lost his job because he didn’t sell that much stuff where he worked. Rosie lost her job because there wasn’t anybody watching. At first the beginning was sad. At the end it was happy. They were playing music together. 

Kassidy rates this book 4/5 and writes: I think that Rosie and Herman should be together. They both do music and the girl is a singer and the boy does the oboe. I like to sing on Thursdays in the choir. They both walk all over the place and they both watch the same movies. At the end it was so a happy ending for me. For me and them. I like the book because it is all about love and friendship. I like the ending because they both do a band together and that is the best part for me. I think they both should be together. I think that they are both in love. 

Monday June 3rd, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Jen and Kellee’s meme and share all of your wonderful reading from picture books to young adult novels. Such a great place to find “new” reads to delve into!

I read a lot of wonderful picture books this week. Some were good. Some just okay. Some fantastic. Here are my favourites from the week:

That Book Woman written by Heather Henson and illustrated by David Small I am an absolute sucker when it comes to David Small – especially David Small does historical fiction. Add to that that this title is also about spreading the joy of literacy and books. Sigh. I am done for. Sold . . . hook, line and sinker. I knew of this book, but I had yet to sit and read it. When I read it, I instantly wondered why I hadn’t read it before. I read it first thing Sunday morning. Then I had coffee and read it again. Then I read it to my family at breakfast. Each time, I teared up. Reading it aloud, I had to stop and my daughter finished it. What is more beautiful than bravery and perseverance to bring books into the homes of children who don’t even have the chance to go to school? Set in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1930s, this book is inspired by the Pack Horse Librarians who brought books by horseback to areas where there were few if any schools and no libraries. My daughter instantly identified with Lark, the little girl in this family who is the “readenest child you ever did see.” Always her nose is in a book. But it is when Cal, who is not the “readin’ type” delves into reading – finding stories where he once thought there was only “chicken scratch,” that the story reached a level of instant favourite for me.

A story about the power of books, the devotion they are given and the magic that happens when a reader is made.


The Quiet Place written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small I also especially adore David Small when he illustrates for his wife, Sarah Stewart. These two are the masters of historical stories – conveying emotion, context and historical details always in a gorgeous story. This story is about young Isabel who immigrates to the U.S. from Mexico in the 1950s. Through a series of letters to her beloved aunt, Isabel tells her story of moving to a new country and finding her place. Simply lovely.

the quiet place

I spent Friday in the classroom of the wonderful Ms. Karen Lirenman and her fantastic Grade 1 students. While I did a lot of learning on this day, I also had the opportunity to share some of my favourite read alouds with the children. And . . . I was lucky enough to be introduced to the books of Australian author/illustrator Aaron Blabey. Karen discovered his books while on teacher exchange in Australia some years back. All of these books share certain things in common – brilliant and original character names, appealing illustrations and a celebration of individuality. I would love to have any or all of these titles in my classroom library.

Sunday Chutney written and illustrated by Aaron Blabey Sunday is new to her school – in fact she is always the new girl. Her family moves a lot. Sunday is confident and quirky in the best of ways. She has a very active imagination and very particular tastes. Always being new is not always easy but we could all learn a little from Sunday’s optimism.


Stanley Paste written and illustrated by Aaron Blabey Stanley Paste is very small and he is not at all happy about this fact. Being small is terrible until he meets Eleanor Cabbage who is incredibly tall. She too, despises her stature. But while these two are vastly different in height, they find a special friend in each other and as friendship blooms, so does some perspective about life and accepting the hand you are dealt. Delightful.

Stanley-PasteHere is Aaron Blabey talking about his book, Stanley Paste:

Pearl Barley and Charley Parsley written and illustrated by Aaron Blabey A very special book about friendship. Pearl and Charlie are very different and it is their differences that help them to be such wonderful friends. A friendship story that is worth reading aloud and exploring. Pretty sure it will prompt some discussions about what makes a friend a friend. So well done.

Pearl Barley

Exclamation Mark written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld Such a fun concept of making an exclamation mark the main character and allowing the journey to celebrating personal importance be such a delightful one!


The Boy who Cried Ninja written and illustrated by Alex Latimer The cover alone hooked my students – a ninja! We found ourselves happily confused in this story – was telling the truth the problem? Or was it being believed? This little boy seemed to always be in trouble. And his outlandish (or were they?) tales made for quite the story.

boy who cried ninja

I finished just one novel this week:

Homesick written by Kate Klise This is the second novel about living with a parent who is a hoarder I have read in the last few weeks. Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu was the first. An absolutely difficult topic. What fascinates me is how these young characters deal with living in such stress and feelings of being overwhelmed and out of control. There is definitely no parent providing structure and care in these situations. This novel was lighter than Omololu’s and written for a middle grade audience. Set in a tiny town, it had the quirky appeal of small town eccentric characters and wonderful friendships that span generations. But it didn’t shy away from the fact that a young boy was being neglected and put at risk while living alone with his father who compulsively filled their home with junk.

Spoiler alert: As in Omololu’s story, there is an ending that prevents anyone from having to fully deal with completely cleaning up the mess of a house where a hoarder has lived. The forces of nature come into play in both stories (one helped along a little) Makes me think about what is the rest of the story if someone really did need to be responsible . . . ?


Currently reading? As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins 

And . . . Because there is a new Clementine story out, my children and I have put Scumble on hold, and are diving into Clementine and the Spring Trip by Sara Pennypacker.

Bear Has a Story to Tell

Magnus, our BLG reader this week shared the gorgeous Bear Has a Story to Tell with our class. Written and illustrated by the extremely talented team of author Phillip C. Stead and illustrator Erin E. Stead, this book was an instant favourite. It brought quiet smiles and laugh out loud giggles as we experienced this gentle story about patience and the change of seasons.

Bear Has a Story to Tell - There's a Book for That!

I have highlighted this book before on this blog:

“Text and illustrations that match perfectly to create a quiet and calm book about the change of seasons and a small group of friends. There is so much space in this book to question and reflect. It begs to have its pages turned slowly and to just revel in each scene. On some pages it was the phrasing, others the muted colours of a forest sky that asked to be enjoyed before moving on.  It isn’t possible to move quickly through this book just as we have no power over the pace the seasons come at us. Beautiful.”

I am a huge fan of both of the Steads. When they tell a story together, it is even more powerful! It was wonderful to have this book read aloud to my students and be able to sit amongst them and watch as the story was experienced. This book cast a gentle kind of spell over us. A quiet calm crept up as Magnus read. And then when all of the anticipation kind of went poof . . . the laughing and chatter began in earnest. A simply delightful book!

Student reviewers respond:

Kelvin: To the author and ilustrator: How did you make the spine and cover so shiny? Was that story the bear had really really important? I loved the book. It is so beautiful and exquisite and generous. It makes me happy.

Andrew: My favourite part was when the bear forgot his story. To the author: What story was the bear going to tell? To the illustrator: I like all the pictures so much.

Arianne: To the author: Why do bears hibernate? I love the pages in the book where the illustrator turned the book sideways for the mole’s house underground.

Vicky: My favourite part is when the bear asked mouse, duck, frog and mole if they had time to hear a story. I felt happy when Magnus read the book. I think in the story a bear tells a story, he’s telling the story we were reading.

Brian: My favourite part was when the bear was in a deep sleep just like Cinderella. When the bear forgot his story, it was pretty silly.

Heman: My favourite part is when the bear tried to tell the story to his friends. I liked the pictures. They were so colourful. It was funny when the bear forgot the story at the end.

Gracie: My favourite part is when the bear starts to tell a story. I think  . . . in the story a bear tells a story and the story he’s telling is the story! It makes a circle! I like this book!

Monday February 25th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

I love Sunday nights when I reflect on my reading over the week and join Kelle and Jen’s meme to share books read from picture books to young adult novels.

Because I am really supposed to be writing report cards, my book descriptions will be shorter than usual. Report card writing has also interfered with my reading time. This week I only finished one novel: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, a Printz title by Benjamin Alire Saenz. But, oh, what a novel it was . . . So much I loved about this book. It was a truly beautiful read. Loved the relationship between mothers and sons. The respect for family. The search for who exactly one might be. I love the contemplative narration. The vulnerability revealed. Oh, did I adore this book . . .

Aristotle and Dante- It's monday What are you reading?

Picture books I read:

Ten Birds by Cybele Young A great book to spark discussion! I personally love the illustrations. They are wonderfully quirky and odd. A counting theme but much more . . .

Ten Birds - It's Monday!

The Little Red Fish by Taeeun Yoo Library love and mixed up feelings of real and unreal as one travels literally, and not, through the pages of a book. Stunning!

littleredfish It's Monday!

These Hands written by Margaret H. Mason and illustrated by Floyd Cooper Such voice in the Grandfather teaching his little grandson what “these hands” can do. And then . . . what “these” hands cannot do because of racist ideas. Beautiful book. I need to own it.

these hands It's Monday!

Goal! written by Mina Javaherbin illustrated by A.G. Ford My students adored this book and wrote fantastic reviews. The illustrations are so full of life, the text beautiful to read aloud. I loved the celebration of play. These words in the text were my favourite: “When we play, we forget to worry. When we run, we are not afraid.”

Goal! by Mina Javaherbin

The Monster Returns by Peter McCarty A sequel to Jeremy Draws a Monster – don’t think it would be as cute if read as a stand alone. But as a sequel, charming.

The Monster Returns - It's Monday!

Looking for a Moose written by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Randy Cecil Wonderful combination of energetic playful language and sweet images.

Have you ever seen a moose — a long-leggy moose– a branchy-antler, dinner-diving, bulgy-nose moose?”

Looking for a moose - It's Monday

Kite Day: A Bear and Mole Story by Will Hillenbrand Hillenbrand writes such whimsical, sweet stories. Adventure shared by two friends. Adorable.

Kite Day - It's Monday

Nonfiction titles:

Queen of the Falls by Chris VanAllsburg This was a fantastic read aloud that held my Grade 2 reading group on the edge of their seats. How could a 62 year old woman plan and execute a stunt such as going over Niagara Falls in a barrel? Here is the story of Annie Edson Taylor, determined to make her fortune by being the first person to go over the falls.  A compelling and sad story.

QueenofFalls - It's Monday!

Watch this video of VanAllsburg discussing creating the book:

Oscar and the Frog by Geoff Waring A cute little book that introduces concepts of growing and how different living things begin, grow and develop. I liked the connections between plants and animals.

Oscar and the Frog

I discovered that this book is part of an entire collection of Oscar books to introduce science/nature concepts to young readers. Would love to get all of the titles for my nonfiction collection.

Oscar Collection


Goal! written by Mina Javaherbin illustrated by A.G. Ford was our BLG read aloud this week. Thanks to Harpreet for sharing it with us!

Goal! by Mina Javaherbin


Set in South Africa, this book tells the story of good friends, a new soccer ball and the bullies that threaten their freedom to play. Ajani has won a brand new federations sized ball for being the best reader in class. He brings this ball to play with his friends. How thrilled all of the boys are to not have to play with their old plastic ball! However, the streets where they play are not safe and one boy at a time must take a turn standing guard on the roof. When bullies show up, the boys are able to outsmart them, concealing their new ball. Their old ball is taken but when the bullies are gone, the game can continue!

This book is universally appealing because of the celebration of play and, of course, of a favourite sport played all across the world: soccer/football. Kids were instantly connecting to make-shift goals, scoring, racing after the ball and playing with friends.

The illustrations are gorgeous. You can feel the bright African sun, the dusty streets and the joy and concentration as the boys play.

My favourite lines of the book:

When we play, we forget to worry.

When we run, we are not afraid.

Student reviewers respond:

Shereese: I thought it was smart when they hid the football in the bucket so the bullies wouldn’t break the ball. He was pretending to cry but why did they pretend to cry? For the author: Do you like your book?

Kevin: Why do the bullies want to steal the ball? Why do they need to use the buckets as goals? Where did the bullies come from? Some boys have flip flops and some have shoes. My favourite is scoring the goal!

Pheonix: Bullies are so mean.

Andrew: Why did the bullies steal the ball? Why did the bullies didn’t want them to play football? I connected because I play soccer with my friends. In the story the boys use buckets for goals and I use a sweater for goals.

Kala: How come you didn’t make the kid fall down? Is this story true? Why did you make them pretend to cry?

Kassidy: Why did the boy carry a bucket? Why did the bullies steal the balls? Why is the street bad for the boys? I like when the boy pretends to cry. Why did the bullies take the old ball? How did the illustrator make the boys so real? How did you come up with this story

Ashley: My favourite part was that the bully boys were taking the old ball and the good nice boys were happy because they had a new ball with them. I do not like the mean boys. I like that the nice boys were so happy that they can play soccer now. The pictures are so so nice. I am feeling happy that the nice boys can feel happy. I am feeling happy because they can be playing soccer and they still have a soccer ball.

Giovanni: Football is soccer. The kids had fun playing football. They had a new ball.

Heman: My favourite part is when the boys hide the new ball from the bullies. The bullies was riding bikes. The boys were playing football. They used upside down buckets for the net. Some of the boys were wearing flipflips. Why did the bullies steal the ball from the boys?

Arianne: In Africa they play football. We call it soccer. The boy won the new ball for being the best reader.

Kelvin: My favourite part was the kids trick the bullies and take the ball. The kids faked cry. They wait for the bullies to get far far away to play football again.

Vicky: When I listened, I was thinking about the boys playing soccer. In Africa, they call it football. My favourite part was the boy got first prize for reading. I did not like the bullies. Harpreet, did you like this book so you picked this book?

Brian: My favourite part was when the kid scored a goal. Why did the big bullies take their old ball away. My Dad taught me that football means soccer.


Monday February 4th, 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 had a big weekend of reading. Part of it was that I fell into many books I just couldn’t put down so I was able to read more novels than usual in a work week.

The Spindlers written by Lauren Oliver This was a title I have been reading to my children as a nightly read aloud. An interesting fantasy title about the world Below – full of drama and action and slightly scary parts. Liza has to rescue her brother’s soul that has been stolen by the Spindlers and the rescue mission is full of risk and odd, magical creatures, many of them menacing. The idea that her little brother’s soul was stolen was creepy enough to warrant a request from my son not to read it right before bed. This lasted just a few nights until the adventure was too addictive and we had to read this book nightly! A really gripping fantasy story for the middle grade crowd.

The Spindlers

Glory Be written by Augusta Scattergood Set in Mississippi in 1964 in the heat of summer and the heat of the civil rights movement. This is a story of one strong girl, her family, her friendships and her drive to make sense of the prejudice and fear around her. The letter Glory sends to the local paper to question the town’s decision to close the pool is absolutely brilliant. What voice and what conviction in such a young girl. I had wanted to read this story for a long time and it is now in the hands of my ten year old daughter who is devouring it.

Glory Be

Dying to Know You written by Aidan Chambers I picked this book up and could not put it down. Yes, I was intrigued by the story and the characters but it was the style of writing and the fact that Chambers tells this story through the voice of a nameless 75 year old narrator that just held me. The narrator’s voice was so strong, so vulnerable, so lyrical – I just loved it. Of course, read this book because the storyline is very clever but the writing will wow you. A young adult realistic fiction title.

dying to know you

Ordinary Beauty written by Laura Wiess Not a book to dip your toe into – you need to jump right in and be with the character as she tells the story of her painful, abusive childhood full of neglect. Sayre’s mother is an addict and she is dying. Sayre’s life story is told alongside her present day dramatic struggle on a wintery night to reach her mother’s bedside and confront her feelings about what is happening. This story is extra raw for me as I have taught students whose lives have many similar elements to Sayre’s childhood – extreme poverty, horrible living conditions, exposure to things children should not even conceive of . . . A hard book to read but what a story . . .

ordinary beauty

Books I am starting this week: Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky is next up for our student book club. I haven’t read this title yet so will be reading along with the kids. With my own children, I have just started reading The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens. This is a book I have wanted to read for a while so am excited to share it with my children. Next novel up for me? Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King – this just arrived for me at the public library. I requested it after loving King‘s Ask the Passengers.

Picture books I enjoyed this week included many nonfiction titles:

Hello Oscar! a Zoe and Beans story by Chloe and Mick Inkpen I keep seeing Zoe and Beans books at the public library and decided I should finally read one – very sweet little illustrations – lovely for story time with the younger set.


A Perfect Day by Carin Berger Perfectly depicts the wonder and magic of a snow day. Love this illustrator’s style.


Speaking of snow – I highlighted some nonfiction snow books on my Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post, including this title, The Story of Snow. Read this post to hear more about these snow books.


Adopt a Glurb by Elise Gravel I really enjoy so many of these Balloon Toons titles! This one is especially quirky and hilarious. Can see this being hugely popular with my students.

adopt a glurb

I Have a Dream by Dr Martin Luther King Jr with paintings by Kadir Nelson. I shared this with my own children and we had very thoughtful discussions. Kadir Nelson’s beautiful art makes Dr. King’s words so accessible and powerful through the intimate experience a well done picture book can create.


Have a happy week of reading everyone!

Bear in Love

Bear in Love written by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand was our BLG book this week. Thank you to Deborah for sharing such a sweet, gentle story – an ideal story to hear as our school participates in The Great Kindness Challenge 🙂

bear in love


This really is such a comforting little tale about kindness and being generous. A bear finds a carrot on a flat rock and decides to taste it even though he has no idea what it is. When he loves the crunchy flavour, he devours the whole thing and sets off on a walk through the woods singing a little tune about this delicious treat. The next day, there are two of these delicious orange things on the rock outside of his cave! This inspires more eating and another little song! Every morning there are more treats left for him and he begins to feel that someone must like him. A delightful feeling!

Gracie had a great question after the bear had made a few discoveries: “But how does he know that those are left for him?” We decided that they were left for the bear because somebody had left the treats on the flat rock outside of his little cave. Eventually, the bear decides that he will also leave gifts for this generous creature who has left him so many treats. He tries to stay up and keep watch to discover who it is but always falls asleep. Some of the gifts are so lovely – a carefully stacked tower of blueberries, a chocolate bar with just two bites missing . . .

Finally bear and bunny meet, convinced they have each found the perfect friend. For bear it is a cute little bear and bunny thinks he was found a lovely big strong bunny. Confusion aside, the two friends sit together and chat and sing as the sun goes down. A feel good book that made us all smile!

Student reviewers respond:

Ethan: He was doing an act of kindness! The bunny started to give some carrots. I liked the book because it was happy.

Shereese: I like when Bear was falling asleep. I love the part when he left the blueberries. And when he was wondering who was leaving the gifts.

Kevin: My favourite part was when the Bear was hungry and then I felt hungry too. What’s the bunny’s name? He looks so cute. Where does he live?

Heman: I liked when the bear put the chocolate bar on the flat rock. My favourite part is when the bear put blueberries on the rock. The bear saw carrots on the rock and the bunny left a flower there.

Ashley: The bear was falling asleep. The bear was nice to the rabbit. I like the title because it has the word love. I like it because I love Ms. G.

Vicky: My favourite part was when the bunny thought the bear was a bunny and the bear thought the bunny was a bear. It was funny. I was thinking about my birthday when they were giving gifts. Whey did the bunny leave treats for the bear and the bear started to give treats?

Kelvin: Bear saw some carrots and he eats the carrots. then he saw two carrots and then three carrots and he eats them. Bear had some honey. He wanted to eat it all but he wanted to give some for a gift to somebody that gave the carrots to him.

Andrew: Where did the bunny get all those stuff? The bunny did an act of kindness. The bear was finding his friend. His friend was the bunny. I like the part when the bear found his friend.

Kassidy: I like when the bunny thought that the bear was the bunny. The bear put some honey near the rock and chocolate on the rock.

Arianne: I liked it when the bear found the carrot. He took a little bite of the carrot. He found three carrots. The bear found honey. The bear found a friend.

Grace: My favourite part is when he keeps falling asleep. It’s funny. Does he like the gifts? I also like it when he sings about how nice the bunny is. Why is the title Bear in Love? What’s he in love with? The bunny? The gifts? But I like this story!


Monday December 3rd, 2012

It’s Monday! What are your reading?

penguin little

Join Jen and Kellee’s meme to share your reading from picture books to young adult reads. The best way to build your book piles with recommended books from many book addicts around the blogosphere.

It’s Monday! What are your reading? 

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Busy, busy week with finalizing report cards and many meetings and special events. But always, I squeeze reading in to keep me happy and wise! 🙂

The picture books I enjoyed this week . . . 

Penguin and Pinecone (a friendship story) by Salina Yoon I shared this sweet little story with the primary students at our weekly Social Responsibility gathering. It is the story of a penguin who finds a strange object in the snow. When he realizes that his new friend needs to go back to where he belongs to grow big and strong, he takes the little pinecone to the forest. Of course, the forest is no place for a penguin so the friends cannot stay together. The friends must part but the love and kindness they have exchanged grows. Grows in ways that seem quite unbelievable. Let’s just say that one page in this book produced that lovely gasp out loud reaction with the group. The perfect book for story time and to spark talks about friendship and caring.


Big Brave Brian by M.P. Robertson This is a fabulously funny book filled with alliteration, scary (or maybe not) creatures and delightful illustrations in M.P.Robertson’s signature style. Thinking it would be a great prompt for a writing activity to make a class book . . . Hmm . . .

big brave brian

Mars Needs Moms by Berkeley Breathed This was a reread that I loved sharing again with my reading group when we were doing an activity about asking specific questions about the storyline. I LOVE Berkeley Breathed. In fact, he is the creator of my favourite picture book of all times. Yes, I have one. I’ve decided and I’m sure. Curious? Read here. But back to this story . . . Lots of humour and curious Martians cannot upstage one of the most beautiful and yet, simple moments of parent/child love in a picture book.


Dragons Love Tacos written by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri This author/illustrator team can do humour in the catch you quick, lure you in, leave you wanting more way that is an absolute hit with young readers (and the adults who get to read to them) Taco obsessed dragons who cannot do spicy salsa (tummy troubles like you don’t want to imagine) turn up to a taco party where there are hidden jalapenos.  Yikes! When things go wrong with a bunch of fire breathing dragons, they go very wrong in a big way. Delightful!

dragons love tacos

This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers Wilfred and Marcel the moose go romping through some lovely landscapes. Wilfred trying to impose his ownership over Marcel who is generally having none of it. In the end, it’s not the labels that matter but how we deal with each other. Tender. Funny. Quirky. Wise. Loved this book!

this moose belongs to me

Life in the Ocean The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A Nivola I think this is a wonderful read aloud to share with upper primary (and older) students about finding your passion and making it your life’s work. I love this book for many reasons. The depiction of Earle’s curious childhood in the water, descriptions of moments in her life that truly shaped and changed her, beautiful and enticing illustrations and this very important message: “You can’t care if you don’t know.” In this story, this message applies to ecology and caring for our natural world but it is a message that applies to so many things. One worth thinking a lot about.

Life in the Ocean

Guilty confession: I abandoned What Came from the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt. This was tough. When I read Okay for Now, I frequently stopped and shook my head, not believing that someone could write a story that completely captured me and yet allowed room for me to reflect on this amazing way with words. “How can this be this good?” I kept thinking. But with this novel (Stars) I was completely distracted with having to look up words in the glossary at the back and with the flipping back between worlds and the story couldn’t flow for me. I need Schmidt to write another book so we can redeem our author/reader relationship and I can stop feeling bad.  I suppose I can blame my challenging week for not wanting to work so hard. Sometimes it is not the time for a book and reader to meet. All of this rambling about this book is the measure of my guilt!

I did begin reading Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor and am enjoying the feeling of just relaxing into a book. So far? Lovely.

Frank N Stan

When we met the book Frank N Stan by M.P. Robertson, we met a “new to us” but very experienced BLG reader, Magnus. Before we get into how wonderful this book is, we have to spend a few minutes to explore just how interesting it was that Magnus chose this book. You see, this book is about a robot of very large proportions. He towers over his creator in the most magnificent of ways! Magnus, it just so happens, does a little towering too. He is 6 foot 9! This did not go unnoticed from the seven and eight year olds amongst us! There were questions and comments and then some. Magnus handled them all with honesty, candor and lots of patient politeness! Kids don’t hold back . . .

“How come your feet are so big?” “How did you get so tall?” “Where do you get your clothes?” “Do you have a 6 pack?” “How many pounds are you?”

Once we knew everything about Magnus, we were ready to begin the story.

And what a wonderful story . . .

Frank would love a younger sibling but when his Mom said, “We’ll see” to his request, he decided to make his own brother. He built a robot and named him Stan. Stan was fashioned out of junk yard parts, sprockets, sockets and a battery. When Stan had an oil leak, one child commented quite seriously, “A robot’s blood is oil.” This robot was unusual, but we accepted him as part of the family! And the family appreciated him  for all of his help. This robot vacuums and folds the laundry. “He is being helpful like a Mom,” somebody noted.

Most importantly, Frank loved all of the fun he and Stan had! There was noise and mess and more noise! What could be better? But then a baby girl came into the family. When the story mentioned that she might be a little smelly, students had a lot to say!

“Babies do smell.” “They poo and they pee.” “No, they have diapers!” “They still smell.”

Little baby Mary liked Stan and as she grew, she could do more and more with Frank. Stan began to feel left out and finally decided to leave the family. He trudged out into the snowy landscape, sad and alone. Students were quite upset!

“Oh no, what if he cries?” “He might cry oil!” “The oil tears will go down and make him rusty!” 

Poor Stan. eventually he conked out and lost all of his power, slumped down in the snow. Back at Frank’s house, Stan was missed. Frank went searching for him. For a few moments, our room was quiet, intently listening to see if Frank found Stan out in the snowy woods. Was he found? Well . . . Let’s just say our room erupted in applause at the end!

And (spoiler alert) little sister Mary said her first word when she was reunited with Stan. What was it? “Stan!” of course. (Reminded me of the ending of Knuffle Bunny :-))

M .P. Robertson has detailed, creative illustrations that make his books perfect for multiple rereads and quiet exploration. I think this is fast on its way to being one of our class favourites!

Student reviewers respond:

Kelvin: My favourite part was the basement. Stan was sad because they didn’t like him. So he travelled. I was hoping that they would save him.

Pheonix: That was cool! So cool I want to faint. For real. I’m not joking.

Andrew: My favourite part was when Frank built Stan. Stan came alive. I was thinking Stan looks weird. What if Stan gets all rusty?

Arianne: I like him building a robot. I like at the end, it was happy.

Vicky: My favourite part was when Mary said, “Stan!” I have a question for Magnus: Can you touch the ceiling?

Heman: I like when Frank built Stan in the basement. Frank was sad because Stan went away.

Ashley: Why was he a brother and a robot? I like the title because it is a funny title. I like the book!

Grace: Why did Frank want a robot brother? I like the title because it sounds like Frankenstein.