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.

Monday October 22nd, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Join in with Jen and Kellee’s meme and share what you are reading from picture books to young adult reads. Always an opportunity to learn about new titles!

I had huge amounts of picture book love this week! A large part of that was having tickets to go see Jon Klassen at Vancouver Kid’s Books. Wow! Such an interesting and engaging presentation. Jon is charming and then some.

And  . . . it gets better. I was able to take my class to the Vancouver Writer’s Festival to see Sheree Fitch and Kyo Maclear. Their event was called High and Low and All Around. All of these author and author/illustrators impressed me to no end. (Sheree Fitch can recite her poems at super sonic speed. She is spellbinding!) I was inspired to continue sharing the love of literature, the beauty of the written word, the magic of the clever illustration, and the images of joy via the wonder of picture books. One of my favourite moments was when Kyo Maclear talked about how she loves reading and one of my students whispered intently to me, “She’s just like you!” Phew! Six weeks in and I’ve conveyed my love of books. So many weeks still ahead to pass this love on to each child in my room! 🙂

So because this post is all about picture book gushing, I thought I would try to place these books loosely into categories to bring some kind of organization to this post . . . that way you can just locate a section you are interested in!

First up: Art and more:

This is Not my Hat written and illustrated by Jon Klassen Love this book. Doesn’t hurt that I got to hear it first read and explained by Jon Klassen himself all the while holding my signed copy in my bag! But I would have loved it anyway. I love the dark pages, the horizontal format, the mood conveyed by the eyes and all of the inferring this book begs you to do. The crab in this book is a fantastic supporting character. (He gets a starring role at the top of this post!) I find Klassen quietly brilliant.

Virginia Wolf written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Kyo read this book to us in the presentation at the Writer’s Festival and when I returned to class, I read it aloud to the children again. They were completely delighted by the story and Arsenault’s stunning illustrations. As soon as it was quiet reading time, this book disappeared to be read again independently. A fantastic title about a dark mood, a hopeful sibling, the magic of imagination and the lightness when sadness lifts. This book can be read again and again and the reader will continue to discover new things.

I read this book last year to my Reading group and they adored it.

In the Wild is written by David Elliot and illustrated (gorgeous woodcuts) by Holly Meade Poems written by Elliot are lifted off the page by Meade’s striking and powerful woodcuts. My wish list now includes On the Farm a previous collaboration by these two.

A few books in the Rhyme and Repetition category:

A Gold Star for Zog written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Alex Sheffler This was our first BLG book of the year and we loved the language, the plot and the bright illustrations. Zog may not be the best at every task at Dragon School but he helps someone else find her way. For that, I think we can call him heroic.

Toot Toot Zoom written by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Matthew Cordell This is a likeable little story about the search for friends. Many adventures and lots of delightful traffic noise fill the pages as Pierre the fox travels to the other side of the mountain.

Books full of humour:

The Younger Brother’s Survival Guide by Lisa Kopelke Supposedly, this book was written by “Matt” Kopelke’s younger brother who entertains the reader by his step by step guide on how to terrorize and torment your older sister (who remains all the while older and more clever).

Please is a good word to say written by Barbara Joose and illustrated by Jennifer Plecas I’ve read some reviews of this book that claim it is a simple, too cutesy book about manners. I found it quite wonderful really. It is definitely a child’s voice that comes through loud and clear as when and how to use polite phrases and expressions are explained. It is hardly simple to understand the proper placement of please so that it sounds polite and gracious vs. whiny and annoying. I can see this book making kids really think about how best to use manners and that it would prompt many conversations.

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas. I first heard about this book from my principal because her five year old daughter was raving about a hilarious book that her teacher had read to her and was insisting that they had to have this very book a.s.a.p. I am always intrigued by book passion so had kept this title in the “be on the lookout for” compartment of my brain. I found it this week at the public library and now see why this little kindergartener was so enthused about it. It is hilarious! Bright and colourful illustrations and a funny little plot. Oh beware the vacuum if you are a dust bunny! The bonus: it also lets the readers practice rhyming! What could be better? I want this book for my buddy reading bin! It is perfect for reading to our little kindergarten buddies.

And also this category: Nature

Mossy by Jan Brett. I have always loved Jan Brett. My children were fed Jan Brett books about as often as mashed carrots in their early years. Always her illustrations are exquisite. Most of the time her stories are good. Sometimes just okay. Sometimes great. This book falls into the great category. It examines a beautifully unique little creature and the human tendency to want to “have” that beauty at the expense of the happiness of the creature. In this case, Mossy is captured and placed in a museum until a young girl senses her unhappiness. Reminds me of the wonderful Melvin and the Boy by Lauren Castillo. In fact, I think I am going to read both books this week with my reading group and do some inspired writing.

That’s not a Daffodil by Elizabeth Honey. This book has many things in it that made it a quick favourite for me: an intergenerational relationship, a theme of nature and gardening and beautiful imaginative language and imagery. A perfect book to inspire looking at nature in creative ways and I can’t wait to share it with my students. It also heads into my school bag this week.

I am also smack dab in the middle of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and must finish it by Friday as it is requested and I can’t renew it at the library! Wish there was more time because I am really enjoying the story. Determined to squeeze in some late night or early morning reading sessions.

What are you reading? Please share!

Monday October 15th, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Link up and share your week’s reading from  picture books to young adult reads on Jen and Kellee’s meme. I always find my TBR piles grow and grow as I sift through all of the fabulous titles shared!

This week I was able to share some favourite picture books for the first time as read alouds and I also read many titles new to me.

I shared The Hueys in the New Jumper by Oliver Jeffers with our primary SR (Social Responsibility) gathering this week (3 classes together). We often read books to the children that spark discussion about all kinds of topics that fall under the social/emotional umbrella. I chose this book because of its message about daring to be yourself and not always having to be the same as everyone else around you. It also reminds us that we do not need to be afraid of those “rule breakers” who aren’t worried about being unique and standing out. The students were very intrigued with the funny little Hueys and they loved learning that a sweater to us is a jumper to someone in another part of the world. Loved it so much that every time I said “the bright orange jumper” they joined in so that we were a little chorus! This book has BIG time LITTLE kid appeal.

I also read one of my favourite books to my class this week: Hunwick’s Egg by Mem Fox and illustrated by Pamela Lofts. One of my students showed me a treasure he had found – a stone shaped jut like an egg. “It’s really just a rock,” he told me in a whisper. “But maybe kind of magic because it seems like an egg.” Well . . . I hardly need an excuse to say “There’s a book for that!” But in this case . . . my , my, my . . . there sure is a book! Hunwick’s Egg is an absolute treasure about a little bandicoot named Hunwick who finds out that his special egg is actually just a stone but loves it deeply still. Although his egg never hatched, it provided him with companionship, faith and an important secret. Egg or stone, this was his friend. It was such a pleasure to share a favourite title with a new group of children. And then when we got to pass the stone around that had been shared with me. Well . . . sometimes magic happens during a day for just a few moments and this was one of those moments.

I also found a number of wonderful new to me picture books at the library this week:

The Potato People by Pamela Allen This book is about a Grandma and grandson who make creatures out of potatoes. As time passes, the potato creatures begin to wither and sprout. Grandma buries them in her garden and wow . . . Lots of learning about how potatoes are grown! I also love the bond between Grandma and grandson and that they sing the potato song: “One potato, Two potato, Three Potato, Four.” I recited this poem as a child and sang it twenty years ago when I was teaching children in Slovakia! A little nostalgic moment 🙂

Don’t Worry Douglas  by David Melling A sweet little story about Douglas the loveable bear who learns that telling the truth is most important when asking for help to solve a problem.

You are a Lion and other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo I shared this book with my seven year old niece and she instantly got down on the floor and tried out all of the poses, giggling all the while. A very fun, interactive book that introduces yoga poses to young children.The page layout is ideal: a two page spread with instructions: “Sit with feet together. Hold on to toes. Legs flap! You are a . . . ” Flip the page and find out: “. . . Butterfly” Would be perfect for a rainy day story time when everyone needs some movement!

One for All – All for One written by Brigitte Weninger and illustrated by Eve Tharlet. The illustrations are delightful – very endearing little animals. A story about being courageous, identifying inner strength and relying on the strength of friendship.

Can Hens give Milk? by Joan Betty Stuchner and Joe Weissmann This book is a hilarious exploration of the question . . . Can hens give milk? It logically approaches how to have hens start giving milk. The only problem is the premise to begin with is completely without logic! It goes something like this:

I see cows giving milk. Cows graze on grass. If chickens were fed grass, they would produce milk! Let’s give our chickens grass to eat! 

This story is about Tova and her family who live in the town of Chelm (a mythical village, populated, according to Jewish folklore by fools!) Cannot wait to share this with my class and see how they respond!

I also just finished Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George. A wonderful suspenseful middle grade read: part mystery, part fantasy, part intrigue . . . And it seems this title will be the first in a series. Since I am reading my daughter’s copy, I think I see some future book gifts ahead! She is a big Jessica Day George fan and now I understand why! The most interesting thing about this book for me? The fact that the castle itself was a main character! Next book up? The Raven Boys! I just picked it up from the library!

Monday July 23rd, 2012

It’s Monday What are you reading?

Here is my second post participating in Kelly and Jen‘s meme that celebrates all of the great literature being read by avid book lovers and bloggers (from picture books to YA fiction)

Picture Books I read this week:

My Dad is Big and Strong but . . . (A Bedtime Story) written by Coralie Saudo and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo  Loved the muted colours in the illustrations and the interesting twist on the going to bed battle.

Unfortunately written by Alan Durant and illustrated by Simon Rickerty. I purchased this book and The Plot Chickens this spring to add to my mentor texts to inspire writing. Can see this book inspiring mini stories illustrated in graphic style panels. Finally got a chance to read these titles I uncovered a basket of books in my new book area that I had thought I misplaced!


The Plot Chickens written by Mary Jane Auch and illustrated by Herm Auch. Such a fun book to emphasize important story elements.

East Dragon West Dragon written by Robyn Eversole and illustrated by Scott Campbell. I found this book at the library but would put it in my “diversity” bin at school if I end up purchasing it.

Swirl by Swirl (Spirals in Nature) written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes I finally read this book after seeing it on multiple lists all year. It is really as gorgeous and amazing as all of the hype!


I read and really enjoyed three middle grade titles:

Kepler’s Dream by Juliet Bell. I loved this book for many reasons: that it celebrates the love of books, that is has a well developed inter-generational relationship (grandmother and granddaughter) and that it explores themes of friendship, serious family illness, divorce and growing independence so well. Will recommend this title to previous students who love realistic fiction with strong characters.

kepler's dream

Olivia Bean Trivia Queen by Donna Gephart. My almost Grade 5 daughter and I both read this book this week and both of us really liked it. Such a fabulous book that looks at the friendship and family dynamics of a middle grade student. Olivia is a great character and I adored the little brother!

Because of Mr Terupt by Rob Buyea. Really well done novel told from seven different perspectives. Lots to think about as a teacher re the classroom community we build.


I am currently reading The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine.

Other Reading:

I read the third Binky book – Binky Under Pressure. These titles are so popular in my classroom and I am excited to add this one to the collection.

I also read Kylie Jean Spelling Queen This is part of a series about a little Texan girl who aspires to be a beauty queen (role models??) and has a dog named Ugly Brother (funny). Very accessible for those children just beginning chapter series.

Looking forward to another week of reading! Hurray for summer!

Monday July 16th 2012

This is the first time I am officially participating in Kellee and Jen‘s meme It’s Monday What are you Reading? blog link up! Such a wonderful way to share books read over the past week and plans for future reading.

Three favourite picture books I read:

The Friend by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small. I loved this book immediately because David Small is just so good. These pictures are gorgeous and depict the nuances and emotions that the book conveys. What a beautiful story about little Belle and Beatrice Smith, the housecleaner who adores her. Took me back to my own childhood of long summer days that start out with daily chores only I was lucky enough to be working side by side with my Mom.

the friend

Lola and Fred by Christoph Heuer.  A delightful wordless book (How I love wordless books!) about a tortoise and a frog who want to fly. Just how will they make this happen? Imagine this would be a wonderfully loud “share aloud” with a primary class.

Two Bears and Joe by Penelope Lively and illustrated by Jan Ormond. This book celebrates imagination, play and pretend. Love Ormond’s illustrations as always.

I also read a number of Early Chapter, Middle Grade and Young Adult novels this past week.

Early Chapter:

Heidi Heckelbeck and the Cookie Contest by Wanda Coven

Piper Reed Navy Brat by Kimberly Willis Holt I bought the first four titles in this series and plan to introduce it to some of my new students who are ready for a chapter book that is just a little bit longer. Love the school themes and the true to life family dynamics in the Reed family.

Middle Grade:

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead. The children’s librarian at the Vancouver Public Library branch we frequent has started a Middle Grade ARC club allowing readers to “borrow” the ARCs, bring them home to read, write comments in if they so choose and share reviews. My nine year olds and I were vey excited and joined. I did a little leap when I saw this title on the shelf.  Fantastic!

Young Adult:

Paper Towns by John Green. 

Pearl by Jo Knowles The characters in this story nestle up beside you as you read this book and when you are done, they are not gone. I adored Pearl (Bean) and Henry.

Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles

** I am also really enjoying Journey to the River Sea, the novel I’m reading aloud to my children.