Crafty Chloe

Our BLG book today was read by Dan: Crafty Chloe written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Heather Ross.

Chloe is very good at making stuff. Sewing, crafts and creativity are where she shines. She sees the world through “what could I make with this?” eyes and her little world is all the more intersting because of it!

My favourite picture has to be this one where we learn that Chloe is convinced that “anything becomes less boring with googly eyes on it”.

When Chloe’s birthday shopping plans for her friend Emma are thwarted by classmate London who swoops in and buys the Violet doll Chloe had planned to purchase, Chloe announces that she is going to make something for Emma. London sneers. “You’re going to MAKE her something?” Chloe has a challenge ahead. When the ideas don’t come, she suddenly develops a horrible case of the chicken pops (horrible blue spots of the washable variety) and she announces that she will be unable to make Emma’s party. When her Mom reminds her that there will be pony rides and that Emma is a really good friend, Chloe’s illness quickly disappears and her inspiration returns.

When London ends up dropping her gift into a mud puddle on route to the party, Chloe’s home made gift saves the day. AND it is beautifully adored by Emma. What we appreciated was how Chloe helped out London even when London had insulted her. Themes of friendhip, making good decisions and creativity.

Are you a crafty kid? Or an adult who spends time with one? Check out Chloe’s crafty website to make the crafts featured in the book.

Our student reviewers report:

Truman: I like the part when it showed the note that said, “P.S. I made it myself.”

Khai: I liked it because Violet said you’re going to make something? And laughed. Chloe still helped her.

Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine

Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine, written by Allison Wortche and illustrated by Patrice Barton was our read aloud wonder of the day! Students were completely engaged with the story and had lots to talk about as we read.

I could talk on and on about why this book is a fantastic book to share in the classroom but today, the book love comes from the students. I asked them why a teacher should share this book in the classroom and here is the list we came up with.

* “It teaches lots about gardening.” Isa

* “It shows you that it doesn’t matter if you are the best.” Manny

* “It is an example of forgiveness.” Truman

* “It reminds you that everyone is good at something.” Jacky

* “It has a theme of kindness.” Carmen

* “It also has a theme of courage.” Truman

* “There is a lot about caring – caring for the plant, caring for someone. . .” Catriona

A gem of a book. Set in a classroom, it does explore many important themes relevant in a primary classroom: envy, friendship, forgiveness, competition, desicion making, etc. And perfect to supplement a unit on growing seeds. We made lots of connections to the plants we are growing in our windowsill gardens!

Bertha and the Frog Choir

A recent book brought to us by our BLG reader Deborah was Bertha and the Frog Choir written by Luc Foccroulle and illustrated by Annick Masson. 

I admit I have a thing for fictional frogs. They have a certain charm and vulnerability that I find myself drawn to. I even blogged about it: Five Fantastic Fictional (Mostly) Frogs So when Deborah brought this book in to class, I was pretty excited! And it had us from the beginning – oh the poor frogs, described as flabby and slimy, not beautiful as so many other animals are. But. . . they redeem themselves with their chorus, their beautiful frog song! So what happens when you are a frog like Bertha who doesn’t exactly produce lovely sounds when she opens her mouth? Or a tiny frog like Lucy who isn’t even allowed to audition for the frog choir because she is so small? Well . . .

Bertha and Lucy sit at the edge of the pond, both sad and rejected. But then they start to get creative. Bertha could cook up a delicious meal to help Lucy grow and Lucy could give singing lessons to Bertha. Unfortunately, the plan does not seem to work. So the two clever frogs come up with a new plan. One that involves a trick. A trick that works perfectly. Perfectly, until both frogs get tired of pretending and decide that their true talents need to be recognized.

A story that reminds us that good friends are as important as being true to yourself.

There is a song at the back if reading this book puts you in the mood to sing. Twice,  Deborah asked if we wanted to sing along. Each time the students exclaimed “No!” But each time they sang and the second time even louder and sweeter!

Picture Books to help us explore the complexity of bullying

Division 5 is currently exploring the theme of bully, bullied, bystander through picture books. We also share books on this topic during our weekly Social Responsibility gatherings. Here are some of the titles we have been reading.

Jungle Bullies written by Steven Kroll and illustrated by Vincent Nguyen

This book has a simple repetetive message important to help children understand that bossy, mean behaviour isn’t okay especially when someone is using their bigger size to be intimidating. As each jungle animal nudges another out of a napping spot, the trend seems like it will never stop until a little monkey decides with the help of his Mama that he wants to stand up to a bully. Children learn: Being a bully isn’t okay. I can stand up to it with some help from others. Let’s focus on sharing and maybe even being friends. Perfect for Pre-K-2. 

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns about Bullies written by Howard Binkow and illustrated by Susan F. Cornelison.

This is one of my favourite Howard B. Wigglebottom books and one that never fails to engage listeners. This book teaches us about the importance of asking for help when bullying doesn’t stop. Howard has a little voice inside his head that tells him Be brave, Be bold, A teacher must be told. But it isn’t always easy to trust our intuition and Howard suffers many unpleasant interactions with the Snorton twins before he finally decides to report their behaviour. Finally, he can sleep easily, knowing that he was brave, he was bold when his teacher was finally told. “I am okay. I am safe.” he assures himself at the end.  Such an important book!

Great for K-3

You’re Mean, Lily Jean written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. 

 This is a “could be”, “might be”, “kinda is” a bully book but the social dynamics between the children allow it to be a book that is more about making firm expectations for play. Lily Jean is definitely some kind of bossy and quite quite mean. She shows off constantly, says “No!” when asked “Can I play too?” and bosses everyone around when she does allow them to be part of the game. (“You be the cow and I’ll be the cowgirl” kind of thing) But when sisters Sandy and Carly are assertive with Lily Jean and set some limits, Lily Jean is basicallly put in her place with the question, “Can you be nice?” When she agrees, playtime continues and is happy for all involved. A great book to illustrate that children can often solve their own social problems without involving an adult. It also shows us that the power of a bully dissolves quickly when nobody will go along with it.

Ideal for K-3

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun written by Maria Dismondy and illustrated by Kimberly Shaw-Peterson.

The message of this book is all about courage – courage to stand up for yourself but also courage to forgive and reach out to others. Lucy has been bullied by Ralph in some truly nasty ways. When he gets stuck on the monkey bars, she has the opportunity to get back at him. Instead she realizes, looking at him so full of fear, that just like her Papa Gino told her, Ralph has a heart with feelings. Lucy offers her help, demonstrating courage to do the right thing – treat others the way she wants to be treated. Students learn that sometimes the hard shell of a bully can be softened with a little bit of kindness.

Suitable for Grades 2-4

Say Something written by Peggy Moss and illustrated by Lea Lyon.

What happens when you see bullying all around you? Pushing. Teasing. Name calling. But you don’t participate? You don’t say anything. What happens when one day the bullying happens to you? Those other kids sitting near, the ones saying nothing . . . suddenly the silence feels like something. It feels like it should be different. Saying nothing is the opposite of saying something. Of standing by instead of standing up. A very powerful book that shows us the importance of speaking up.

Suitable for Grades 2-5

Silly Goose’s Big Story

A recent BLG book read by Maria was Keiko’s Kasza‘s Silly Goose’s Big Story.

Goose and his friends often act out the stories Goose makes up when they are playing. Each story is full of drama, excitment and adventure. The only problem is that Goose always wants to be the hero. When his friends point out that they would like to have a turn to be the hero, Goose disagrees, even when he is accused of being selfish.

When a big wolf sneaks up on the animals, Goose gets the chance to really be the hero or he will end up as lunch! He tries out his story telling talents on the wolf trying to scare him away. Wolf is having none of it until the monster that Goose is describing seems to come to life. Students quickly figured out that it was Goose’s brave and clever friends who were pretending to be the monster that scared the wolf away. Goose figured out that his friends were his real life heroes!

A sweet little story about being there for your friends and learning about what is really important.

Our student reviewers report:

Truman: I like the part when Goose scared the wolf away wih his story

Raymond: I like when they scare the wolf!

Khai: I like how the author did it so the Goose’s friends were mad at Goose and they still helped.

When Randolph Turned Rotten

Today we started reading books that help us to address the bully/bullied/bystander dynamic. When Randolph Turned Rotten by Charise Mericle Harper was our first book.

Many would not categorize this as a book about bullying. It would more likely be labelled a book about feelings, friendship or forgiveness. While it does teach us about all of those things, I also think it is the ideal book to introduce the concept of how our feelings translate into our actions. Quite simply here: rotten feelings = nasty actions.  We are going to learn a lot in this unit. To start, why does someone act like bully/engage in bully behaviour? Next, what does being bullied feel like? What emotions does someone go through? Third, what about when there are bystanders? What are their roles? And finally, how does all of this work together? What happens when bullying begins and isn’t stopped?

In When Randolph Turned Rotten, we gain insight to what made Randolph go from being a good friend to a guy with “stinky rotten insides” that wishes ill on his best friend. In Randolph’s case, he is impacted by envy. His lovely best friend Ivy is invited to a birthday party. An all girl birthday party. A birthday party that Ivy is super duper excited about and that Randolph is NOT invited to attend. Randolph wishes he could go. He wishes Ivy would not go. He wishes he wasn’t going to be left alone. Then his wishes get mean. He hopes Ivy will have a horrible time and he devises a plan to ensure it. Randolph turns into nasty Randolph (Harper creates the perfect labelled diagram complete with mad hands – we all practiced trying to smile with clenched fists like that and it was close to impossible!) Mean thoughts invade his brain.

Randolph does a number of things to try and mess up Ivy’s trip – many of them focussed  on getting her to pack ridiculous items in her bag and scaring her about potential beach hazards like the awful beach bears that she will need a poiny stick to ward off! This book has  very interesting twist when Ivy arrives at the party. The geese (Ivy happens to be a goose!) get locked out of the house and must spend the night on the beach. All of the items Randolph inist Ivy pack turn out to be incredibly useful. Instead of ruining the party, Randolph is a hero! But, not to himself. Randolph, once alone with just time to contend with, feels guilty for what he has done. He apologizes. Ivy forgives him. They are best friends as always. But, we the readers, learned a lot. When we let our upset feelings take over and take us from thinking to acting in mean ways, we are engaging in bully behaviour. Wanting others to feel as bad as we do is a normal feeling but not one that we want to allow to cloud our judgement. It helped us understand why someone might do and say cruel things. It allowed us to start having those conversations about why someone might bully.

We are looking forward to reading more titles on this theme and the conversations that they might inspire.

Tom’s Tweet

Maria, our BLG reader brought us a very funny story this week. When we spied a cat on the back cover, the shouting started, “It’s Chester!” “No, Splat!” Obviously we have a thing for quirky cat characters. And with Tom’s Tweet, written by Jill Esbaum and illustrated by Dan Santat, we have a new feline to add to our list of endearing, funny cats!

What’s a poor cat to do when a potential treat turns out to be a shivering tweet? He can’t in good conscious eat a little thing that is just “feather and bone” even if it is a bird and he is a cat . . . And how exactly did Tom end up with a tweet between his lips on route to return it to its nest while being pecked at by an angry Mama Bird? Could this cat have a soft spot for the little Tweet? It seems so. And it makes for quite a hilarious story.

One of my students kept whispering to me as Maria read, “It will be about kindness.” “It’s going to be about kindness.” “Really, just wait, this will be a kindness book!” We have been reading many picture books on this theme and he saw through Tom the Cat’s bravado early on in the story. This cat was a goner for the little Tweet. There is even snuggling! Even though Tom insists he is “not that kind of cat.” In the end, even Mama Tweet realizes Tom’s true nature and emplys him to do some “tweety -sitting.” Dan Santat’s illustrations are superbly animated and our read aloud was full of giggles and smiles. A wonderful book for happy sharing!

Our student reviewers report:

Truman: I really like the illustrations and the part where Tom gets pecked! Funny!

Isa: I liked the part when Tom was dreaming about the birds. He couldn’t help it. That was so funny.

Khai: It was funny when Tom had to babysit the tweets!