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


Monday May 12th, 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. The best way to grow your TBR list!

Hoping all Moms had a lovely Mother’s Day yesterday! Here is one of the gorgeous bouquets that went home to Moms and Grandmas in my class:

 #IMWAYR May 12th 2014 There's a Book for That

My own children made me lovely cards. How well my son knows me! 🙂

 #IMWAYR May 12th 2014 There's a Book for That

I read a variety of picture books this week. Here are my favourites:

The Girl with the Brave Heart: A Tale from Tehran written by Rita Jahanforuz and illustrated by Vali Mintzi 

Readers will notice similarities to well known folktales and fairytales. An important story that highlights how our true spirit shines through when we trust our heart. I imagine this story would be very popular in my classroom. Students love to learn from tales from around the world.

 #IMWAYR May 12th 2014 There's a Book for That

Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson

These illustrations are powerful – some pages almost overwhelming in their intensity. Baby Bear is lost and finds his way home through the wisdom of his fellow forest dwellers. Advice is soothing sometimes more than specifically helpful – “Hug a Tree” but Baby Bear manages to find his way.

 #IMWAYR May 12th 2014 There's a Book for That

Missuk’s Snow Geese written by Anne Renaud and illustrated by Genevieve Cote 

A beautiful story of a little girl who wants to be a carver like her father. When he is lost in a storm, it turns out that Missuk’s creations helped bring him home.

 #IMWAYR May 12th 2014 There's a Book for That

A Packet of Seeds written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Bethanne Andersen 

Historical fiction with much melancholy. A family travels west to settle in a new place and new home on the prairie. This book highlights the physical and mental courage and energy it took to be able to make a home in a new place. The promise of a flower garden and the memories the blossoms might evoke makes all of the difference for one Mom.

 #IMWAYR May 12th 2014 There's a Book for That

 The Apple Orchard Riddle written by Margaret McNamara and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

A riddle weaves its way through this story all about a visit to an apple orchard. Much to learn and much to wonder.

 #IMWAYR May 12th 2014 There's a Book for That

Every Day is Malala Day by Rosemary McCarney with Plan International 

This book is a photographic thank you letter to Malala Yousafzai for her courage and her determination to speak up for the rights of girls to have an education. Both text and photos (of girls all over the world) are powerful. I highlighted how I shared it in my class in this post

Every Day is Malala Day  #IMWAYR May 12th 2014 There's a Book for That

The Troll written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by David Roberts

I love David Roberts as an illustrator. This story is very amusing. It mixes some pirates up with the Troll from the Billy Goat’s Gruff story in very delightful and silly ways. Comical and creative.

 #IMWAYR May 12th 2014 There's a Book for That

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan 

I started to smile on the first page and I was more delighted and amused with each page I turned. Beautifully odd and quirky. Rich images. I am of course convinced that I must own this book. I want to make my way through the pages time and again.

 #IMWAYR May 12th 2014 There's a Book for That

In other reading . . .

I am pages away from finishing Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

I adore being lost in the other worldly ways of this novel. Magical. Mystical. Mysterious.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy  #IMWAYR May 12th 2014 There's a Book for That


Up next? I plan to start Nightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin 

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 36/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 239/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 15/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 61/65 complete

Monday January 6th, 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. One of the very best ways to discover what to read next!

Speaking of what to read next? Do you have a TBR list that needs to be tamed? Join a number of bloggers who have chosen some titles as must read titles in 2014. Follow #MustReadin2014 on twitter and read more here. If you want to join in – send me your list/blog post via twitter to @CarrieGelson and I will add it to this post! Everyone is welcome! 🙂 My Must Read List is here. On the Gathering Books blog there is also a wonderful challenge called Check off Your Reading Challenge where you can keep track of and include reviews of books you read. Many of us are participating in both of these challenges!

The picture books (fiction and nonfiction) that I loved this week!

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau written by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Éric Puybaret

Gorgeous. What I loved most about this story is how it depicts the interests and passions of Cousteau at all ages and stages. It helps reinforce the message we want to send to our children – be curious, wonder, figure things out and care for our world. An ideal introduction of Cousteau for children. I want to add this title to my picture book biography section and will share it with students this week.

Manfish #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Who Says Women Can’t be Doctors? The story of Elizabeth Blackwell written by Tanya Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

I love the style of this book – both visually and the narration. It makes the story both interesting and accessible for young readers. And what a story! An important biography about determination, changing general opinion and beliefs and following a dream. While I want all of my students to hear this story (I have ordered my own copy and will share it soon), there are some children that I specifically have in mind who will rejoice in the messages of this book.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Duck by Randy Cecil

A very sweet little story about a duck from a carousel who befriends a duckling. How can she teach duckling to truly fly? Little bits of melancholy in this gentle book.

 Duck #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Without You by Geneviève Côté

Perfect friendship story to spark discussion with the younger set. The message is a simple one (full of all of the complexities of interpersonal relationships!) Without you . . . many things just aren’t as good. With you, it all is better. My favourite line?

But my book is funnier when I read it with you!

Without you #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I am the World text and photographs by  Charles R. Smith Jr.

A wonderful celebration of children and culture from around the globe.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Minji’s Salon by Eun-hee Choung

What a delightful little find at the library this week. This story is all about the celebration of make believe. A little girl peeks at her Mother at the salon and then decides to have her own salon day with her dog! The back and forth between Mom at the salon and little “hairstylist to be” playing at home is wonderful!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Novels I finished:

Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

This was my final book on my Must Read in 2013 list and I squeaked in finishing it 45 minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve. A lovely way to “read in” the New Year – with humour, heroics (of sorts) and creative license with all of the fairy tales we think we know! My son adores this series and I can see exactly why it appeals to him so much!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (the first title I finished on my #MustReadin2014 list)

If you are no longer 18 years old, you might forget that fact while reading this book. All the vulnerability, fear, brutal soul searching and life lessons will come hurtling back at you as you experience the characters of Fangirl. Rainbow Rowell writes characters that are all about raw and true. Brilliant.

Fangirl #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I am almost finished reading Legend by Marie Lu and will probably jump right into Prodigy as I am trying to read the series without many breaks. I’m reading The Vengekeep Prophecies by Brian Farrey as a read aloud with my children and it is lots of fun! A great MG fantasy/adventure.

Heading back to teach tomorrow, I feel a little sad to give up the long hours of reading I managed to do this holiday! But lots of read aloud adventures await me with my students and for this, I am excited! I was capturing our last two weeks of learning/activities on our class blog Curiosity Racers today – no wonder I was tired at the end of December! Wow, were those last two weeks busy!

For all of you heading back to teaching this week, good luck! Happy Reading to everyone!

The Magic Beads

In our reading group we have been exploring different genres. Today was day three of looking at realistic fiction. Last week what kept coming up on our list of what makes a book realistic fiction was that many people would find things to connect to easily in the story. Today we read a story together and our writing focused on possible connections.

The story that we read today had a lot to it and our discussion and subsequent writing was rich. In fact, I don’t think I can think of a time all year where the group was so quietly engrossed in their writing. When I read notebooks at recess, I was blown away by the maturity and thought that was shared. The Magic Beads written by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund and illustrated by Genevieve Cote is an important story addressing the emotions of a young girl starting school while her life is full of change.

Lillian begins Grade 2 at a new school after she and her Mom have had to move to a shelter to escape her abusive father. They have left everything behind and Lillian is feeling a range of emotions from anxiety to anger. A part of her misses her father even though her memories of his bad moods are difficult to think about. She loves her Mom and knows why they had to leave but she also feels angry that her Mom was the one that took them away. When she is asked to share at Show and Tell on Friday, Lillian’s upset grows. She no longer has her pesonal possessions with her. What could she share? The butterflies in her tummy turn into grasshoppers, donkeys and eventually buffalos as Friday approaches and she has nothing to share.

Finally as she stands before the class on Friday, Lillian talks about her plastic beads, terming them magic beads and explaining that with just a little imagination, the beads can be all kinds of things. Lillian’s inventive imagination intrigues her classmates and provides a way for friendships to begin.

Student writing ranged from personal connections to ideas of what events or emotions readers might feel connected to in the story. Here are excerpts:

Carmen writes: Some people might connect to being sad because of leaving your Dad all alone since you might have played with your Dad and you might miss your favourite happiness. 

Truman shared: I connected to when I first went to this school and I felt scared and shy. Some people might connect to their feelings on the first day of school. I connected to when I didn’t bring my Chinese homework and felt nervous.

Catriona wrote: People could connect to being mad at a person when the person you’re really mad at isn’t there. 

Heman shared: When I first went to this school, I felt like I had a tummy ache just like Lillian. 

Khai made a list of possible connections: using your imagination to feel better, feeling anxious at school on the first day, having a Dad with some anger problems, having to move somewhere when you don’t really want to, . . .