Monday July 7th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?


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. You are guaranteed to find something new to add to your list.

I noticed about a week ago that I was behind on my Goodreads goal by 16 books. I had a few picture book reading blitz days and am almost caught up So . . . catching up on my reading means that I have many picture books I could share here. I narrowed it to my ten favourites of the week. Sometimes, it really is about a week where picture books have a hugely starring role!

Emily’s Blue Period written by Cathleen Daly and illustrated by Lisa Brown

Cathleen Daly just kind of knocks me over. Her book Prudence wants a Pet is a “I want a pet book” done that much differently that it feels unique even though the story premise seems to have been told over and over. Here is a picture book that touches on the emotions and confusion of a family separated by divorce. Such a common lived experience for so many children – the unanswered questions, the frustration, the living between two homes – yet captured in a picture book? Not so often. More often these themes are tackled in novels for middle grade readers. Here, nothing feels off limits and we truly are privy to the raw and the difficult that is divorce through the eyes of young children. Throw in some cool references to Picasso and his Blue period and wow, what a picture book.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That July 7th 2014

Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison

Sometimes, it is not a talent or exceptional skill that makes us special. Sometimes it is just enough, and even quite extraordinary, to be that one that offers connection and affection. A tribute to special pets but also to the virtues of kindness and companionship.

Extraordinary jane  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That July 7th 2014

The Day I Lost my Superpowers written by Michael Escoffier and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

I found this book particularly charming. It is absolutely representative of the naturally egocentric nature of a preschool age child – who feels magical and mighty and all powerful. When the limits of their own power confront them, they are able to honour the power of those around them – like the super powers of Mom!

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That July 7th 2014

A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna

Begin reading this book and be instantly surprised. It is wide and extra big and it opens bottom to top so you are flipping up instead of turning pages. Gorgeous illustrations in this tale set in Paris of a lion trying to find his “place” in this beautiful European city. Eventually, he finds a spot where he is meant to be. Unique. Much of the appeal of this book is the format and the Parisian vibe.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That July 7th 2014

The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc

Wow. This story is told through minimal text, beautiful illustrations, pauses and space. Sometimes what is held in the silence and few precious seconds of a blank page turned or a page that holds just one simple image has huge impact on the overall story. Just so very well done. Themes of friendship, kindness, hope and the passing of time. Did I say wow?

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That July 7th 2014

Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman 

Please go read this book – there are so many reasons – a wonderful story about siblings and mistakes and owning up and doing what’s right. Some forgiveness thrown in. Can’t go wrong. But let me tell you about the right – just page through again and again and travel through illustrations that will knock you over, make your heart sing, force you to have too many favourite pictures so you just have to love and savour each page. Oh please, Mr. David Soman be working on a new book right now I just can’t wait!

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That July 7th 2014

Starring Me and You by Genevieve Cote

A sweet little title for younger readers learning how to navigate the world socially and with friends through compromise, patience and acceptance.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That July 7th 2014

Little Mouse by Alison Murray 

I can imagine that if this book had existed when my children were very small that we would have read it endlessly. Sometimes, an endearing name doesn’t seem to fit. Other times, it is perfect. Through a parade of animals, we learn about all the aspects of one little girl’s personality – she is brave like a lion, can stomp like a bear and be hungry like a horse. And of course, she can be quiet and cozy like a little mouse. Adorable.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That July 7th 2014

One is a Snail Ten is a Crab: A Counting Feet Book written by April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Saryre and illustrated by Randy Cecil 

This counting book is hugely entertaining. It allows children to think about numbers in a variety of ways. After learning about how many feet many different creatures possess, the reader is ready to think about larger numbers like – 60 – 60 is six crabs (6 groups of 10 feet) or 10 insects (10 groups of 6 feet). Playful, creative and wonderfully amusing.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That July 7th 2014

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors written by Helen Khan and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

Stunning illustrations introduce young readers to the culture and beauty of Islam through descriptive pages about a variety of things representative of Muslim culture and religion. A glossary in the back helps for those not familiar with all of the things described in the book.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That July 7th 2014

Thank you to everyone who has shared their #MustReadin2014 July updates. Many are linked here or shared through the #MustReadin2014 hashtag via twitter. So interesting to see what everyone has been reading and enjoying.

This week I finished one novel:

Cress by Marissa Meyer which was my 18th #mustreadin2014 title!

I am fully captivated by these Lunar Chronicles stories even though I never thought I was going to be. I read Cinder on a whim and was hooked. I particularly love how all of the characters from previous books still play starring roles in the ongoing storylines. Dramatic, suspenseful, interesting characters. Great YA fantasy!

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That July 7th 2014Next up? I am halfway through The Riverman by Aaron Starmer. What a book! Early in the week, I plan to read The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner, which is another #MustReadin2014 title for me.

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 46/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 327/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 18/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 79/65 complete


Celebration: Time to . . .

celebrate link up

Celebration honoured. This is the loveliest of reasons to share. Join Ruth Ayres who shares a Celebration Link up on her blog each week.

I am now at the end of a two week Spring Break holiday and I am happy to celebrate time to . . .

Do the things I don’t always have time to do! Like:

Reclaim my garden from winter’s coverings and a few years of post-reno neglect. I know that the gardening bug has bit me again full force because my head is full of thoughts like this:

  • “If I make a big fruit salad, I will have more peels to put into the compost . . . “
  • “This rain is so good for the plants I just divided and transplanted.”
  • “How should I mark where I want to put bulbs in this fall?”

Celebration:  Time to . . .

Tackle the to do list This week I cleaned my closet, organized kitchen drawers, compiled receipts and sorted clothes my children have outgrown.

Visit the bookstore! I love nothing more than hours at the bookstore (Kidsbooks here in Vancouver is one of my very favourite places) to explore. I inevitably lose my children numerous times. My daughter is pretty easy to find. She is usually nestled into a corner reading – lost only in a book that has captured her.

Celebration:  Time to . . .

Read a novel with my children and keep reading when they beg for one more chapter 🙂

We are now just chapters away from finishing the highly engaging final book in the Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. NielsenThe Shadow Throne.

Celebration:  Time to . . .

Write posts that have been swirling about in my head. This week I wrote a post called What also happens here? This post addresses what we don’t often write about as teachers – the upset in the room.

Celebration:  Time to . . .


What have you celebrated this week?

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Dirt, Roots & Shoots and Ladybugs

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! NFPB 2014

I have spent all week in my garden. So much so that I am dreaming about compost and worms and transplanting plants. This lead me to some titles I am adding to my class nonfiction collection next week. As I have been conferencing with kids about what they would like to see more of in our nonfiction areas of our classroom library, books about plants, gardens and growing have come up a lot. So these four books will be new additions (although they are not all recent releases) and hopefully of interest to my little gardening/plant enthusiasts.

Dirt: The Scoop on Soil written by Natalie M. Rosinsky and illustrated by Sheree Boyd (published in 2002)

Lots of information on the different parts of dirt: humus, silt, rocks and pebbles, clay and sand. Each of these parts is talked about in some detail. I enjoyed the sections on the decomposers who eat dead plants and how insects and animals help loosen the soil as they crawl through it. The book does mention keeping our soil healthy but it doesn’t go into much detail. Thee are some experiments in the back of the book to try. A nice addition, in my opinion, would have been a section on how to make and maintain a compost bin/pile.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Dirt, Roots & Shoots and Ladybugs

How Does a Seed Sprout? And other Questions about . . . Plants by Melissa Stewart A Good Question book (published in 2014)

Organized in a question/answer format this is a book for stronger readers (late primary/early intermediate) or great to use as a read aloud – even just a few questions at a time. I appreciated the detailed drawings of the six stages of a bean plant sprouting and the pictures of a pine tree’s life cycle. There is an index in the back and more information for further reading and websites to visit. This would be a great resource for a plants/seeds unit.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Dirt, Roots & Shoots and Ladybugs

Grow with me Ladybug by Kate Riggs (published in 2013)

This Grow with Me series published by Creative Paperbacks is an ideal reading level for upper primary (and older) students to be reading independently. Full of lots of photographs (including many magnified close ups), detailed information and nonfiction features such as an index, glossary and fact boxes. While the focus of this book is to talk about the lifecycle of the ladybug, there is a lot of other interesting information shared:

  • Protective Measures
  • Living to Eat
  • A Bug for all Seasons

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Dirt, Roots & Shoots and Ladybugs

Ladybugs by Gail Gibbons (published in 2012)

The illustrations here are incredible and give so many specific details about how ladybugs grow, what they eat and how they survive in different seasons. This book would make a fantastic read aloud. I loved the page that explains that there are many different kinds of ladybugs – possibly up to 5,000 different types world wide with 475 different kinds in North America. The illustration depicts ten different types with different colours and spot patterns. Children will come away with an excellent understanding of the life cycle of a ladybug, how they help keep the population of garden pests down and how each of their body parts function.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Dirt, Roots & Shoots and Ladybugs

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 titles.

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 47/65 complete!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Buzzing about Bees

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

NFPB 2014

Psst! Bzzz! Buzz! Buzz! 

This week I was fascinated with bees. It started with an information story book about community gardening and then led to a search for more books about bees that I might share alongside this title – one book new to me and one that I have in my nonfiction read aloud collection.

Big City Bees written by Maggie de Vries and illustrated by Renné Benoit (published in 2012)

 #nfpb2014 Buzzing about Bees There's a Book for That

I am a huge fan of the information story books that local author Maggie de Vries writes. I have often gifted these titles to my children, nieces, nephews and friends – love sharing stories about the natural world that are local, relevant and fascinating for children. This title – Big City Bees is a story about siblings Sophie and Matthew, who want to grow pumpkins in their community garden plot with Grandpa’s help. The children know that they need bees to help the pumpkins grow and worry that there won’t be any bees to find their pumpkin flowers in the big city. Grandpa takes them walking in the busy downtown streets looking for “big city bees”. They discover beehives atop a hotel roof and the story then shares all of the details of raising bees in hives.

We learn that bees are essential to the possibility of a pumpkin on a pumpkin vine. Each blossom (some male, some female) bloom for just one day. They must be pollinated by bees in order for a pumpkin to grow. My favourite page is of the two children crouched next to their pumpkin vines on a cold early morning before sunrise, determined to watch for the bees that might come and find their pumpkin flowers on the day that they will bloom. Oh the anticipation as the children wish, “Please come bees.”

The illustrations of the bees dusted with pollen are stunning – they look as if they are wearing gold sparkle. This story highlights both the importance of bees to the garden and the wonder of learning about growing things together in a family. With such a trend towards urban gardening in the city, this is an essential and timely title to share with children.

Follow this link to Maggie’s site to hear about why she was inspired to write this book. This title was inspired by Graeme Evans, who was both head of housekeeping and a beekeeper at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver. Yes – there really are “big city bees”!

Wanting some more information about bees led me to this title: Buzz about Bees by Kari-Lynn Winters (published in 2013)

 #nfpb2014 Buzzing about Bees There's a Book for That


Organized in chapters with full of full colour photographs, labelled diagrams and many fun true and false quizzes, this book provides much information about bees. Parts I was particularly interested in:

  • a page with close up photographs detailing the differences between bees and wasps (yellow jackets)
  • a two page spread that explains (with step by step photographs), how to build a nesting box for orchard mason bees
  • information about colony collapse disorder and other reasons that bees are seriously endangered like parasites, shrinking habitats, pesticides, pollution and infections (bacterial, viral and fungal)
  • 10 ideas to “BEE the Change the World Needs” – ways to make a difference for bees – some I wasn’t aware of
  • this quote from Albert Einstein mentioned numerous times: “If bees disappeared, humans would have only 4 years left to live.”

I also pulled out a favourite title – The BumbleBee Queen written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Patricia J. Wynne (published in 2005)

Lyrical text, detailed illustrations and additional facts shared on each page – this book about the life of a bumblebee queen reads like a information story book. I love reading this title aloud.

 #nfpb2014 Buzzing about Bees There's a Book for That

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 titles.

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 12/65 complete!

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!

More fabulous picture books with a Garden theme

As we continue to learn about plants, seeds and gardens, it feels like there are garden themed books blooming everywhere we look.

See our first list here which includes many more titles.

Ava’s Poppy by Marcus Pfister

We read this book today and students were inspired to create a list of all the great reasons this book should be shared: we can learn how to grow a flower, it teaches us about life cycles, we learn how to take care of a flower, there is lots of information about seeds,  and it has important themes of kindness and friendship. Lovely little Ava makes friends with a gorgeous red poppy in a field of green and cares for it in changing weather and over time. When she buries a seed capsule, she has no idea that the next spring her poppy will return to her!

 Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine written by Allison Wortche and illustrated by Patrice Barton

Students loved this story about a little girl who learns about friendship, kindness and surviving competition while tending pea plants in her classroom. Shared in our classroom here.

The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert

Another wordless book by the brilliant Geisert and a follow up to the equally wonderful Ice (reviewed here) Explore the concept of seed dispersal and how seeds travel in this fantasy story. How the pigs happen to be saved from volcanic disaster is a reason to share this story many times.

And then it’s Spring written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead 

Explore the magic of the transformation from brown and boring to the wonder of green that comes in spring. What treasures lay buried deep waiting for the sun, warm temperatures and the power of spring showers?

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms written by Julia Rawlinson and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

Is that snow in the middle of spring? Fletcher certainly thinks so. But he learns that blossoms can cover the earth in a blanket during the spring just like snow does in the winter. A beautiful celebration of spring.

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!