Monday May 2nd, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. Last week we did some buddy reading outside in the spring sunshine with the grade 3/4 class. It was delightful watching students so engaged in their books together.

 There's a Book for That  There's a Book for That  There's a Book for That

 There's a Book for That

For our #classroombookaday, we had a bit of a pet theme going on!

 There's a Book for That

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

IMWAYR 2015

On the blog:

I have been a little absent from blogging. In two weeks, I just published this Slice of Life piece: I am every age

Books I enjoyed:

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by R. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell with illustrations by Rafael López

This is such an inspiring book based on actual events in San Diego – how a neighborhood can be changed and strengthened by art. Illustrator Rafael López is more than the illustrator here – he is the inspiration for the character of the muralist. I am so excited to share this title with my students – it was one I had to purchase.

Maybe Something Beautiful

The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi

A storm can make an eagerly anticipated beach day seem impossible. But storms roll in and storms roll out . . .

The Storm [Akiko Miyakoshi]

The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield

There is something especially charming and endearing about this title.

The Bear and the Piano

Fetch by Jorey Hurley

Hurley conveys so much with simple text and beautiful illustrations. A must have for dog lovers!

Fetch

 I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings with pictures by Shelagh McNicholas

I was excited to read this picture book about the real Jazz Jennings, trans teen and reality star. Very accessible for young children.

I-Am-Jazz-Jennings

On the Farm, At the Market by G. Brian Karas

From farm, to market, to table. Celebrates healthy eating and community.

On the Farm At the Market

Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock with illustrations by Gérard DuBois

This was a must have for my biography collection. A fantastic biography of photographer Dorothea Lange.

Dorothea's Eyes

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook by Leslie Connor

A beautiful middle grade read, a title that celebrates family, community, resilience and strength of character. I didn’t want this book to end. Perry is a very memorable character. I would love to read this title aloud with a class of students (Grade 3/4 and up)

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook by Leslie Connor

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 16/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 127/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 14/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 18/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 16/50 books read

Up next? I am reading Booked! by Kwame Alexander

Monday July 20th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. Now that it is summer, I am not surrounded every day with little readers so . . . I am choosing moments from the year not previously shared. “We love reading together,” these reading buddies announced with an ultimate squishy face hug and a huge book stack.  How we love when the Kindergarten buddies come to read with us.

From the classroom 2014/2015 archives:

 Monday July 20th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

imwayr

On the blog this week:

Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books that Came into my Possession

For Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited

A little bit of picture book dreaming: Picture Book Wishlist: July 2015

Celebration: Blogging Escapades

Sunday Morning Perspective: Reflections on the power of classroom community

Lots of reading happened too. Sharing my favourite titles here:

Picture books:

Mo and Beau by Vanya Nastanlieva

Adorable. Simple repetitive language leaves lots of room for observation. Perfect for little ones.

Mo and Beau  Monday July 20th, 2015 There's a Book for That

No More Kisses for Bernard! by Niki Daly

A great title to explore talking about personal boundaries. Bernard has four aunties that are much too kissy. How is his “No more kisses!” request respected? Quite creatively.

No More Kisses for Bernard!

Nonfiction picture books:

Sweep up the Sun by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder

Beautiful pairing of incredible close up photos and perfectly matched poetry.

Sweep up the Sun  Monday July 20th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Whale Trails, Before and Now written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Documents the history of the whaling industry and contrasts it to current whale watching practices.

Whale Trails, Before and Now  Monday July 20th, 2015 There's a Book for That

I’m Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton

Lots of humour. Spider facts. Some arachnid squashing. All in a genuine quest for spider love.

Trying to Love Spiders  Monday July 20th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Transitional chapter books:

The Adventures of Sophie Mouse: A New Friend written by Poppy Green and illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell

Sweet early chapter title. Themes of friendship and community.

sophie mouse  Monday July 20th, 2015 There's a Book for That

The Princess in Black is written by Shannon and Dean Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Princess Magnolia leads a double life! She ditches her frilly pink dresses to don her Princess in Black disguise and act as a kind of super hero in the kingdom. What fun!

 Monday July 20th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Novels:

The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scanlon

Many things I appreciated about this middle grade novel. It is so wonderfully character driven but still many things happen. Strong friendships. Family loyalty. Persistence. Courage. Forgiveness. Just plain lovely.

 The Great Good Summer  Monday July 20th, 2015 There's a Book for That

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 38/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 255/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 15/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 52/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 26/50 books read

Up next? I am reading the very clever Phoebe and her Unicorn by Dana Simpson and Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

Happy Reading everyone!

A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited

I read a lot of nonfiction aloud to my class. I never get to as many titles as I intend to – the “must share” stack is always growing. It’s not necessarily due to lack of time. I make lots of time for nonfiction reading. It’s that I believe nonfiction read alouds need to be rich reading experiences. And so, they require time. Time for questions. Time for discussion. Time to think and absorb and ponder. We “stretch out” our read alouds over days and days – reading, writing, talking, drawing. I celebrate the time we take with each book because I know the learning is rich.

I thought I would make this post for Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday be all about the celebration of and learning from our nonfiction reading this year.

Here are (most of) the titles we read together in this “stretched out” style. We also read many other nonfiction titles – some in their entirety, some just a few pages here or there.

A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

I chose some particularly important learning to highlight here.

A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Cátia Chien

In this title we learned that a love for animals can be deep and a promise to protect them can be deeper. Alan Rabinowitz is a huge inspiration for my students. They felt his anxiety growing up stuttering and were inspired by his commitment to his work.

 A Boy and a Jaguar A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Ivan’s story prompted discussions of animals in captivity, of human cruelty, of just “why?” Lots of conversations. Thanks To Katherine Applegate and all of those who have loved Ivan, we love Ivan too.

 Ivan A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

This title allowed students to explore a question they had never before considered – just how do butterflies get to museums and science centres all over the world? But it did more than that. It gave students a close up view at the miraculous life cycle of a butterfly and allowed them to see the beauty in every stage.

 Handle with Care A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry

This book gave my students hope. It energized them. It reminded them about the power of an individual to impact a community. When we closed the book, students made comments like this one: “I like Kate so much. It happened a long time ago but her soul probably still speaks for trees. She was one person who did so much.”

 The Tree Lady A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Galapágos George written by Jean Craighead George and illustrated by Wendell Minor

This title let us talk about extinction. It allowed students to grasp the true vulnerability of so many species. We read this after reading various books about endangered animals. Reading about a special creature that actually became extinct prompted both outrage and sadness. “So many animals could disappear because of humans . . . ” one child observed solemnly.

Galapagos George A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Tiny Creatures The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies; illustrated by Emily Sutton

This title prompted a lot of “Wows” and a lot of hand washing! 🙂 It is so important for students to wonder about the world they can not easily see. The power of something very tiny is a very big idea.

 Tiny Creatures A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book about Henri Matisse written by Patricia MacLachlan with illustrations by Hadley Hooper

This title opened up the conversation about inspiration. What inspires an artist? What inspires any art? One child commented, “The book was about what inspired Matisse. Maybe we have inspiration all around us too.”

Iridesence of Birds A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Our learning climbs up the walls, surrounding us all year.

A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

We learned. Some things. A lot of things, in fact. Not close to everything. It’s a huge amazing world out there. But wow, did we learn.

We wondered. We pondered. We talked and listened. We developed our curiosity. We considered things from new perspectives. Most importantly, we considered our place in the world. What do we impact? What can we impact? What do we notice? What do we not yet understand? What do we plan to find out?

A year of reading nonfiction.  I have described reading nonfiction titles with a class as building shared knowledge, one learning layer at a time. How exciting it was to build this developing understanding of the world with this group of children this year.

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2015. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

#nfpb2015Looking for nonfiction titles to read aloud? Check out this list: Nonfiction Picture Books for Reading Aloud

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Fourteen favourites of 2014 (Part 2)

I am thrilled to share my favourite fourteen nonfiction titles of 2014!

2014 Nonfiction Picture Books

I love books. As in absolutely adore, frequently gush over, make piles, make lists, always reading kind of #booklove devotion. If you had asked me to talk favourites a few years ago, a nonfiction title would have made it on the list here and there. I have always appreciated the power of the nonfiction read aloud but . . . it wasn’t until I began participating in the nonfiction picture book challenges organized by Alyson Beecher (from Kid Lit Frenzy) that I have become absolutely smitten with nonfiction titles.

I have been busily tweeting about this as of late . . .

I am thrilled to renew my commitment to nonfiction reading by participating in the #nfpb2015 challenge! The more nonfiction I read, the more I learn and the more my students ultimately benefit.

#nfpb2015

More about my favourites of 2014. If these titles are not on your already read and loved or must read radar, consider adding them to the list!

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

ivan

The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

The Right Word

Gravity by Jason Chin

gravity_chin

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Emily Sutton

tiny-creatures

Weeds Find a Way written by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by Carolyn Fisher

weeds-find-a-way

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill

shackletons-journey

Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steve Jenkins 

eye-to-eye

Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

creature-features-coversmall

Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and their Parents by Lita Judge

Born in the Wild

A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Cátia Chien 

boyandajaguarcover

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy 

neighborhood-sharks

Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen

winter bees

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson

star stuff

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

feathers

I have included picture books here but must also note that Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop was an absolute favourite of the year.

cheetahs

I am also pleased to report that I more than met my goal of reading 65 nonfiction picture books this year. Grand total: 144 titles! 🙂

What are your favourites of the year?

Favourites of 2014

Here are my favourite titles of 2014! Another wonderful year of reading – always in awe of the amazing authors and illustrators out there that give us the important gift of stories.

The best of the best (published in 2014) for me?

14 favourites and no more than 14 words of raving about each title. This was my challenge last year with my Favourites of 2013 (13 books, 13 words) and in 2012 (12 books, 12 words) with my 2012 Favourites. This year I get one more book and one more word to play with! 🙂

This year I chose to spread my book love evenly between picture books and novels. 7 and 7. I will be sharing my nonfiction favourites in a post of their own this week so I focussed a little more on fiction here.

In no particular order – my 7 favourite picture books of 2014:

Sparky! written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Absolutely charming. And wonderfully slow – yes, like a sloth.

Sparky Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin written by Chieri Uegaki with illustrations by Qin Leng

A story of determination, perseverance and creativity. Dream. Be courageous. Such messages.

 Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Thanks To Katherine Applegate and all of those who have loved Ivan, we love Ivan too.

ivan Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

A cover that hints at mystery and strange happenings and . . . ? Tender. Sweet. Kind

 The Farmer and the Clown Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

Persistence and love wrapped in brown, green and a little brother’s smile.

 The Girl and the Bicycle Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay

A story starts with a blank white page . . .

 Any Questions Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Pulls you deep into a “theorizing hole.” Digging in, around and out is highly satisfying.

 sam and Dave Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

And the novels that touched me – often making me pause and just connect with the state of being and living and loving. Novels roll out stories that transform our thinking with beautiful words on a page – the characters in these books have stuck with me.

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner

Vulnerability. A touching exploration of grief. Superb writing and of course, little Frankie Sky.

 The Summer of Letting Go Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Bird by Crystal Chan

One girl raised in grief and superstition chases living. Sad and spectacular imagery.

 Bird Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Friendship trials and celebrations. Growing up with hearing loss and super powers.

El Deafo Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Chirp. Joey. Solid but broken. Love their observations, their coping strategies, their complicated friendship.

Nest Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

Tears, faith, outrage, peace. What a story. Wiles pulls you right into 1964.

Revolution Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rose does things differently. But much a lot more bravely. Such a read.

Rain Reign Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Full of raw mistakes and huge hopes. Energizing despite the grief and pain.

I'll Give you the sun Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Please share your own favourites of the year . . . 

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

What a year in picture books! There are so many amazing titles to choose from. I have certainly not read every book out there. But I have read a lot and there are some that have stood out. Here is my list of twenty. Twenty books I think are absolutely worth owning and therefore, worth gifting. Fantastic titles in both fiction and nonfiction. My criteria? Is it a book that can be shared multiple times? Does it inspire creativity, thinking, inspiration? Does it make the readers think differently? Does it celebrate something important? Is it a book that brings joy? Or does it simply make you laugh? A lot.

With those questions in mind, here is my list:

Listed alphabetically by author.

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

This title is almost too special for words. After I read this book to my class, they wrote Ivan letters. Read more here. A book to inspire talk about how we treat animals and how we treat each other. Ivan’s story is a must read.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Quest by Aaron Becker

Experience the imaginative journey that Becker captures on the page. The reader is pulled through each illustration, all the while attempting to absorb every tiny detail. So wonderful that this is a picture book (wonderfully wordless) so that it can be experienced again and again.

 Quest Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Some Bugs written by Angela Diterlizzi and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

The text is delightful and the illustrations, divine! You will want to shrink down to insect size and crawl about this insect world.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

This title surprised me with its tenderness, the sweet, the kind. All the more amazing of course, because it is wordless.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma written by Diane Fox and illustrated by Christyan Fox

Funny, funny, funny – kind of like having a backseat driver “helping” tell a story. Annoying for the narrator. Amusing for the readers.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay

Enter Marie-Louise Gay‘s imagination, learn about her story conjuring process and hear a wonderful story . . . My class was completely spellbound by this book. More here.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Unique creatures and clever problem solving finesse. Speaks to loneliness and getting along with others with everyone pulling their weight.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle

Wordless. Playful and interactive with lots of flaps and expressions to study. Go ice dancing with Flora and her charming little friend.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Why do certain creatures have these specific features? They will tell you in this gorgeous nonfiction title.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

A Perfectly Messed up Story by Patrick McDonnell

Lots of humour. A conversation starter. A book to read together and then to refer to often. Life is full of messes. How are we going to face them?

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Sparky! written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans

This book is so absolutely charming. And wonderfully slow – yes, like a sloth.  It is about our desires and vulnerabilities. The last page will totally get you. This book needs to sit on your family’s bookshelf.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

This book will speak to your heart. Wordless perfection.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

 A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Cátia Chien 

Based on a true story. Gorgeous. Special. It’s a must own and must share. A story of a boy who finds his voice and shares it in the best of ways.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

A little “imaginary friend” goes in search of his person. What could be better? A book about connection and “meant to be”.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Don’t Play with Your Food by Bob Shea

We need to laugh lots with those we love. Little people will delight in this story. Big people will adore reading it aloud.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman 

A wonderful story about siblings, mistakes, owning up and doing what’s right. I challenge you to find a favourite illustration. Just stunning.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

This book needs an audience! Guessers to be specific. What else could feathers be used for besides flight? Feels like you could pluck some of these feathers right off of the page. Share the book and then come back to it often as you notice birds in your neighbourhood.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin written by Chieri Uegaki with illustrations by Qin Leng

A story of determination, perseverance and creativity. Absolutely about courage and dreaming. Connections to family. A treasure.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

This pigeon is channeling all children who resist, resist, resist the bath and then, absolutely refuse to get out. Have kids? You will relate!

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

What do you do with an idea? written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mac Besom

I previously described this title as a celebration of imagination and a Must Have/Must Own/Must Share title. I’m still going with that. Tempted?

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Books are gifts to treasure! This season give books!

Dear Ivan

Last year I read my class Katherine Applegate‘s The One and Only Ivan. We fell in love. Ivan’s words (via Katherine) and his story had such an impact. When I heard that there was a picture book to be published in the fall written by Katherine and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, I showed my students the book trailer. Well, . . .

“You have to buy that book!”

“Will you read it to us?”

“Even if we aren’t in your class?”

“Promise?!”

This year I have been able to keep 80% of the students I had last year – looping a Grade 2/3/4 into a 3/4. When Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas was released, I made a special trip to the bookstore. I read this gorgeous picture book to my students multiple times. We have certain lines memorized.

 Dear Ivan There's a Book for That

We then watched the video of Ivan in the shopping mall that I found on Mr. Schu’s blog.

Some of us cried. We read the story again. We started writing letters to Ivan. I showed the children a video of Ivan at Zoo Atlanta. We watched it more than once. We added to our letters.

Yes, we know that Ivan passed away in 2012. But Ivan has sat with us in our room. He has made us laugh and made us pause. We have sat in silences thinking. He has been our hero and we have wanted to protect him. His story has prompted discussions of animals in captivity, of human cruelty, of just “why?” Lots of conversations. Thanks To Katherine Applegate and all of those who have loved Ivan, we love Ivan too.

Writing to him felt like the right thing to do. Reading the letters later? Well, wow. It was certainly the right thing to do.

 Dear Ivan There's a Book for That

Portions of my students’ letters:

Ava writes:

Dear Ivan: I wish I could actually see you in real life and your silver back. I’m sorry that you spent 27 years in a shopping mall all alone.

Noella writes:

Dear Ivan: Were you sad in the shopping mall? Was your cage rusty? Were you sad for your sister? Were you happy in the zoo?

From Andrew:

Ivan, what did the zoo feel like? How much did you eat? What did you feel like when you first went to the zoo? How did it feel to be trapped in a cage? How dark was your cage? How did it feel to have no one to protect? How did it feel to be lonely?

From Rebecca:

Dear Ivan: I really liked your painting Ivan. I am so sorry for your sister. You were so smart Ivan. I am impressed of the things that you do. I am happy that you are in a zoo. I am happy for your freedom.

Jorja writes:

Dear Ivan: Your cage was grey and the jungle was green. There were other gorillas and you looked happy. You looked happy in the zoo too. You looked calm and relaxed. I was sad when you died.

From Kevin:

Dear Ivan: I know you’re gone but we still have your books. I felt sad when you were in the shopping mall because it was dark and there were no friends and no love. There should have been grass and gorillas to play.

Brian writes:

Dear Ivan: I feel really sad for you and I really want to see you face to face. When I miss you, I get really emotional and I hope you were happy when you were in the zoo. When you were in your cage you felt empty inside and you need compassion and love. I’m really sorry for your sister Tag. You looked all majestic with your big black coat at the zoo. You were looking at the world instead of people looking at you. I love you Ivan

From Gracie:

Dear Ivan: I didn’t realize how empty and alone it was in your cage until I watched the real video. I love art and I wanna be an artist. You’re the most interesting and fantastic artist I’ve ever seen. I hope you had a good life Ivan. When I watched you at the zoo, I was filled with joy. Here’s what I saw: You looking around like you were impressed with the world. I know that it is hard to read a gorilla’s emotions but I bet you were very happy. Did you think you wasted your life or did you know you were gonna live happy every after?

Even though this post doesn’t talk in detail about this gorgeous nonfiction picture book by Katherine Applegate and G. Brian Karas, I hope it calls to you (if you have yet to read it) to experience Ivan’s story. Then, of course, find someone to read it to. This story is meant to be shared.

NFPB 2014

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 111/65 complete!