Picture books to help you giggle

To celebrate picture book month, I am sharing peeks into the wonderful conversations I get to have with children about particular picture books. When I thought about writing a picture book post today, no conversations leaped out at me to share. I have no students here at home on a Sunday morning and I have been reading my own children the amazing novel Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. But . . . just yesterday evening, I was talking to Vancouver kindergarten teacher Sharon Hales about how great Elephant & Piggie titles are. She is a huge fan! (Great taste!) And, of course, I asked a few times – “Have you read . . . ?” “Do you know author . . . ?” 

Hmmm, this was a conversation about picture books . . .

So I started thinking, if I were a kindergarten teacher, what would be must own picture books for my classroom library? Books guaranteed to inspire giggles and choruses of “Read it again”? Quickly, I started a list on a scrap piece of paper. I ran out of room! This post is the result. 🙂

Grab one of these, grab a child or a kindergarten/early primary class and prepare for smiles and giggles!

Picture books to help you giggle There's a Book for That

And because once you start laughing, you need to laugh some more:

Picture books to help you giggle There's a Book for That

Picture Books to help you giggle:

Count the Monkeys written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Z is for Moose written by Kelly Bingham and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky 

I’m Bored  written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Prudence Wants a Pet written by Cathleen Daly and illustrated by Stephen Michael King

Brief Thief written by Michael Escoffier and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

Warning: Do not Open this Book! written by Adam Lehrhaupt and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe

Let’s Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld 

Don’t Play with Your Food by Bob Shea

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea

Interrrupting Chickenby David Ezra Stein

Chester by Mélanie Watt

You’re Finally Here by Mélanie Watt

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

Such a joy to share these favourite titles – perfect for the younger set but appealing to happy readers of all ages!

Are you in the picture book mood? Share some favourites! It’s Picture Book Month!

pb month logo

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

Picture book highlights:

Musk Ox Counts written by Erin Cabatingan and illustrated by Matthew Myers

One of my beloved #IMWAYR bloggers sent me a gift card when the strike finally ended to buy a few new treasures for my classroom. This is one of my selections – lots of silly, perfect humour delivered through illustrations, pacing and dialogue and some favourite characters – zebra and musk ox back again. I can’t wait to share this with my students and know it will quickly become a buddy reading time favourite. Thank you to Linda for the smiles and giggles all wrapped up in this title!

Musk Ox Counts #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

Perfect Square by Michael Hall 

Some books go for a clever kind of creativity that manages to be bold without being loud. I finished this book and just smiled. Impressive.

 Perfect Square #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

Open This Little Book written by Jesse Klausmeier and illustrated by Suzy Lee

Yippee! This book makes me want to grab hands with a bunch of little ones and spin about and then settle into a story time session where I have the time to indulge in the requests to “read it again” please! A book that celebrates the magic of stories and quite literally pulls you in closer to examine every detail. What fun.

Open-This-Little-Book #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

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

I read this first through teary eyes. The beginning sentence is too beautiful. And oh how I love Ivan. He occupied our hearts – my students and mine when we read Applegate’s special novel The One and Only Ivan in the spring. I have to practice reading this book multiple times before tomorrow so that I can read it without my voice catching when I look up at those little faces who love Ivan too.

 Ivan #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

I also read a lot of early/young chapter books in anticipation of lots of book talks on the horizon:

Princess Posey and the Perfect Present by Stephanie Greene 

I have a number of girls in my class who have been asking me to get this series for our class library. I had read one title in the past and tried another. Definitely sweet and perfect for young readers. In my classroom, these are a comfort read for those students ready for chapter books but easing in to the whole idea of reading titles a little longer and more complex.

princess posey #2 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

Mortimer Keene: Attack of the Slime by Tim Healey and Chris Mould

Amazing illustrations full of creepy and creative things, this title comes from Britain and is told in rhyming text. I think this would go over best if I read parts of it aloud and then let students read it on their own independently. There are many more complicated words and vocabulary so this is not for the beginning chapter book reader – a little more confidence and skill are needed to be able to tackle this title with success.

Mortimer Keene Attack of the Slime #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

Kung Pow Chicken Let’s Get Cracking by Cyndi Marko

I continue to be impressed by Scholastic’s Branches series. This is full of action and lots of images – kind of a cross between a heavily illustrated chapter book and a graphic novel. Lots of silly escapades and much kid humour. I am predicting this series will be very popular in my class.

Kung Pow Chicken Let's Get Cracking #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

And two graphic novels:

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Okay, yes, I admit, I have never read Smile until this weekend. I had read parts of it. I had heard it summarized by my daughter in huge detail numerous times, but I had never sat down and read it cover to cover. No reason for this – just a fact. Then I went to see Raina this week when she was in town promoting Sisters and of course, I was completely charmed. And now, I have read Smile and yes, I am in the fan club.

Smile #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Well, wow. All kinds of honest and vulnerable and powerful and hilarious. I could not put this book down. There are too many reasons why this book is fantastic and so beginning a list is just silly. But, wow, am I in awe of how this story is told, how friendship issues are explored and highlighted, how the power and powerlessness of a “disability” was portrayed through a child’s perspective . . . Okay, yes, I just started a list. If you haven’t yet, go read the book. Immediately.

El Deafo #IMWAYR There's a Book for That October 6th 2014

What’s Next? Probably Sisters by Raina Telgemeier I am currently enamoured with these authors telling their stories and their truths through the graphic genre.

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 64/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 450/650 books read (currently 44 books behind – slowly trying to get this down to 0 from the scary 54 I noticed a few weeks ago)

#MustReadin2014: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 108/65 complete

Picture Day Perfection

Our BLG book this week was Picture Day Perfection written by Deborah Diesen and illustrated by Dan Santat. This funny book was read to us by Peter, a BLG reader new to our classroom. Welcome Peter!

Picture Day Perfection: There's a Book for That

This book is quite a clever story with an interesting ending that surprised us all in a wonderful way. The boy in this story has been planning for Picture Day for months and months. It seems like everything that could possibly go wrong in his day, does. There is “sticky uppy” hair, breakfast that doesn’t stay on the plate, a favourite shirt that was unearthed from the bottom of the laundry basket. The day progresses to trouble on the bus, nausea from all the people saying “cheese” and art class mess. When it is finally time to have his picture taken, we discover that picture day perfection can mean many different things for different people. And a happy smile was perhaps not part of the plan . . . (except for Moms).

Spend time exploring the book jacket and end pages – many hilarious picture day snaps and even a frame to include your own photograph.

Student reviewers respond:

Kassidy rated this book 4/5 and writes: He put syrup on his face to make a worst smile. The photographer click the picture on time for him to smile. He did not like to get his picture taken. I liked the part where he smiles and the mother said, “This is the best one ever.”

Steven rated this book 5/5 and writes: At breakfast, he made a mess. He was dripping syrup. The picture was funny. When he smiled he has a missing tooth. I like the face.

Shereese rated this book 5/5 and writes: I loved the book. It was a funny picture when he wore a stinky shirt for picture day. His Mom picked a grey background that he did not like.

Sara rated this book 5/5 and writes: He is funny because he made a mess in his hair. It Iooks like his face is like the Grinch. He planned for next year.

Arianne rated this book 5/5 and writes: I thought it was weird – he wanted a bad picture day. He had syrup on his face. He wanted a funny picture.

Hyo Min rated this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part was when he made a funny face. I love the part when he got caught from the click. Why did he made funny faces? The illustrator made pretty pictures. I liked the pictures because it’s all wonderful, like the faces makes me laugh.

Vicky rated this book 5/5 and writes: I love the part when he spit spitballs on the driver because it was gross and also funny. I think the photographer was tricking the boy to make him so he can make him smile. To the author: Why did the boy not have a name?

Ibtihal rated this book 100/5 🙂 and writes: It was sunny when he made faces. Why he didn’t paint on his shirt? Why did he pore syrup on his self? He looked sleepy. Why does he hate picture day? I have a connection – when it’s picture day, I have a bad hair day. 

Kelvin rated this book 5/5 and writes: What is the boy’s name? Why is the boy making silly faces? Why is the boy always goofy in picture day? I liked how the boy spit balls at the driver. I liked how the illustrator made every picture bright. If the colour was black and white, it will be boring. With colour, it will be beautiful. 

Gracie rated this book 4/5 and writes: I liked when the boy who has no name made goofy faces. It was surprising when his idea of a good picture day was a goofy face. Note to author: Why do you not tell us his name? My favourite part is when he was mad because his mom chose the same boring grey background. I liked this book. It was funny. 

Jerry rated this book 5/5 and writes: I liked when the boy try to choose a face. When it was picture day, he had to eat breakfast. At the bus he shoots spitballs at the driver. In school the teacher ask the boy have you choose a colour yet? The boy thought his Mom pick grey colour. When it’s picture time, the boy hates cheese. Then it’s his turn for picture time and he doesn’t like cheese so he chooses a funny face. Then his Mom sees him in the picture. He has a missing tooth but not his brother.

Clark the Shark

Our BLG book this week was full of rhymes, funny sea creatures and lots of laughs. Deborah, our BLG reader read us Clark the Shark written by Bruce Hale and illustrated by Guy Francis. We were so excited to see Deborah return as one of our classroom readers again this year!

 Clark the Shark

Clark is an exuberant student at Theodore Roosterfish Elementary School under the sea. He has a few (well, a lot actually) challenges with keeping calm and quiet in his classroom and plays a little too wildly during play time. How is he going to have more success and not annoy his friends? His teacher, Mrs. InkyDink (a beautiful octopus) gives him a mantra: “Stay Cool!” Clark finds that by repeating this often and by coming up with some other rhymes of advice, he can navigate his school day with more success. Our favourite was “Only munch your own lunch!” Clark sometimes forgot the “ask before taking your neighbour’s sandwiches” etiquette of the lunchroom!

Students were very attentive while listening to Deborah read aloud. They noticed the rhymes and alliteration and enjoyed repeating certain lines along with Deborah. There were some worries that Clark might just decide to eat all his fish friends (“But I don’t get it. He’s a shark. Sharks eat fishes. They do!”) Eventually, they relaxed into the book and even made up a few of their own rhymes full of school advice:

“When we sit on the rug to learn. Remember to take your turn!”


“Don’t shout out or your teacher will pout!”


Student reviewers respond:

Kassidy rates this book 5/5 and writes: I like Clark because he learns to stay cool. Clark is the nicest shark in the whole world. And that book is the coolest. Deborah is nice to all of us. She is the best. She is my favourite one.

Joeli rates this book 3/5 and writes: I wonder why all the names of the characters is like a rhyme. Why did Clark the Shark eat everybody’s lunch? Why he did not bring his own lunch box? When Sid the Squid came, why did he not watch his step because he stepped on the slide and the swing.

Kevin rates this book 5/5 and writes: I love the rhymes! How could a school be under water? If the shark is under water, he won’t eat the fish? I like when Clark the Shark stays cool in Main School. 

Steven rates this book 5/5 and writes: Stay cool Deborah! I like the story. The shark was sad. I love books!

Soleen rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part is when the teacher said stay cool. I enjoyed this book. I love the teacher’s name. I like the rhymes and the pictures. I wonder if the Squid will be friends with the Shark? I thought that part was amazing. 

Kala rates this book 3.5/5 and writes: I loved the pictures most. My favourite picture was when the shark made a friend. Why was the shark so big? I think we should use “Stay cool in school!” for our class! So we will be the coolest class in the school!

Giovanni rates this book 4/5 and writes: I liked that Clark the Shark made friends with the Squid.

Andrew rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part is when Clark helped Sid the Squid. To the author: Why is Clark’s Teacher named Mrs. InkyDink? I have a rhyme for you: Clark the Shark sitting in the park staying cool on April fools!

Heman rates this book 3/5 and writes: My favourite part is when Clark the Shark made friends with Sid. Everyone ran away from Sid the Squid except Clark the Shark. I think everyone ran away from Squid because they were afraid of him. I like the rhymes in this book. 

Calvin rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part is when the Big Kid Squid came down because it was funny. 



Monday September 30th, 2013

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 reads! The #IMWAYR crowd always has so many fantastic titles to share.


I read some beautiful picture books this week and some very amusing Toon comics:

My absolute swoon book was . . .

The Man with the Violin written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dusan Petricic with a postscript by Joshua Bell

This book is such an important experience that I want to say next to nothing yet I want to say almost everything. I LOVE, love, love and then love this book some more. It quickly shot to the top of my favourite lists for 2013. WOW! The first page spread is divine. It was a 5/5 book just because of those two sentences and the illustration. And then it just continued to get better. Read and treasure this title. Go, now! Find this book. Seriously.

The Man with the Violin #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also enjoyed . .

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts by Emily Gravett

Little Mouse has edited a book of Beasts by Emily Gravett to make it less intimidating because you know, lions and rhinos and bears . . . oh, my! And snakes, crocodiles and wasps . . . the poison, the teeth, the stings! Terrible! Little Mouse has rewritten a book that is large on ingenuity. I know this will be an instant favourite in my room. There are lift the flaps, peer through holes in the pages, wadded up newspaper (really!) – so much fun!

 Little Mouse's Big Book of Beasts  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Ten Things I Loved about You by Daniel Kirk

An adorable book about kindness and friendship but it has possibilities beyond just these themes. This title really explores finding the best in a friend and thinking about the positive qualities that are dear. Would be a great prompt for a writing activity.

Ten Things I Love about You  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

I found this title simple but yet, powerful – Seeger trademarks. So much is told with limited text and accurate expressions of various feelings. Explores questions such as . . . What prompts mean/bully behaviour? How do we feel when we are called on our actions? What is the cause and effect relationship of bully dynamics?

Bully  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Yellow Moon,  Apple Moon written by Pamela Porter and illustrated by Matt James

Simple lyrical language. A beautifully illustrated bedtime poem. Translation of a New Mexican lullaby included in the back pages.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Count the Monkeys written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kevin Cornell

LOVE the interactive aspect of this story. Barnett is a master at this (think Chloe and the Lion) I read it to myself and must admit was tempted to leap out of my chair a few times! I cannot even imagine the mad rumpus that will ensue when I share this with my class! Fun, more fun, and then even more!

Count the Monkeys  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Barry’s Best Buddy by Renee French

A cute little story line about what we do for our friends. Love the intrigue that the marching ants carrying all kinds of puzzling things inspires – just what are they up to?

Barry's Best Buddy  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

A Day in the Office of Doctor Bugspit by Elise Gravel

Wonderfully odd. Doctor Bugspit works in a medical clinic in outer space. Quickly readers will suspect that his medical training might have come from some strange location where standards  are not quite up to our Earthly expectations. Many strange ailments come into the clinic and the Doctor’s suggestions are even stranger!

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

With two presentations this week on top of teaching, I unfortunately missed out on big chunks of reading time so I am only half way through the novel I have been reading –  Jinx by Sage Blackwood. Finding it a fascinating read so far!

With our student book club we have started The Boy on Cinnamon Street by Phoebe Stone. Check out our discussion here.

Next up, after I finish Jinx, I plan to read The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes and The Boy in the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson.

What are you reading? Happy reading to all!

Monday September 16th, 2013

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 reads! The #IMWAYR crowd always has so many fantastic titles to share.

IMWAYRThe picture books I loved this week:

A Mountain of Friends written and illustrated by Kerstin Schoene

I shared this title when our K/1 reading buddies came to visit our classroom for the very first time. It was a hot and stuffy afternoon and there were 44 children ages 4 to 8 in my classroom and we survived it because of this beautiful little book. It is interactive. It is adorable. It is all about creativity and the strong will to help out a friend in need. Elements of Eric Rohmann‘s My Friend Rabbit.

A Mountain of Friends #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild written and illustrated by Peter Brown

I really, truly love this book. I don’t want to give anything away to spoil the experience. I can stay it is stunning. And slightly peculiar in the best of ways. And the message . . . ? Divine.

Oh and it is so beautifully illustrated, one just might swoon while reading it.

Mr Tiger goes Wild #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Fox and Squirrel written and illustrated by Ruth Ohi

Such a wonderful little story about celebrating similarities and differences and finding common ground. A book just made for sharing with a primary classroom to talk about all of the intricacies of friendship.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Warning: Do not Open this Book! written by Adam Lehrhaupt and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe

This story exemplifies the “pull you right into it” feeling a picture book can provide. Fun. Silly. Delightful. I can’t even imagine how much fun it would be to share this with a classroom of children. I know that my classroom of children would go crazy. I really must get my own copy of this title! I love a little crazy when it comes to picture book experiences!

Warning do not Open this Book #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Bugs in my Hair written and illustrated by David Shannon

Well done Mr. Shannon. Being a lice expert myself (not necessarily a talent I had wanted to cultivate but . . . ), I have the feeling David Shannon has some first hand experience with these itchy little critters. Or he is a very good listener. This title both entertains and informs in the most delightful of ways. You finish it with a smile and if lice and you have been intimately acquainted, you know it is all okay in the end. Until next time . . .

Bugs in my Hair #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Doug Unplugged written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

Funny how a book can surprise you. I had seen this title around the blogosphere for a while. I knew it made suggestions that we shouldn’t be so wrapped up in technology that we miss out on real life. But I was reading the title incorrectly. I read unplugged as noun instead of verb. I saw Doug Unplugged as a name, not that Doug, unplugged (verb). Reading this book made it clear very quickly and honestly, I adored this book quite a bit more than I thought I might. A great story to spark discussion about many things – the difference between “book/internet knowledge” and the power of experience for one.

Doug Unplugged #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

A is for Musk Ox written by Erin Cabatingan and illustrated by Matthew Myers

I do have quite the thing for alphabet books. Who would have thought that authors and illustrators could get so creative with the abcs? Oh, but they do! And this book certainly is an ideal example. In the same vein as Z is for Moose but wordier and for the story time crowd with a little bit more listening stamina. Great book to model voice. Or just to share countless laughs!

 A is for Musk Ox #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

I have been happily and carefully reading Catching Readers Before They Fall by Pat Johnson and Katie Keier and so find myself at the end of a week without having completed a novel. I am one good early morning reading session away from finishing Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (talk about fast paced!) and am still enjoying reading my children The Fire Chronicle by John Stevens (also dramatic and hard to put down!)

In my classroom, we are loving our first chapter book read aloud together (for many students this is the first time they have ever been read a chapter book) – Marty McGuire Digs Worms by Kate Messner. We have been slowly making our way through Desmond and the Very Mean Word – a picture book that your classroom or school library MUST own. This is a story that has inspired so much discussion and passionate reader responses. What a book!

I look forward to many more exciting picture books in the next week and plan to begin Jinx by Sage Blackwood.

Monday July 8th, 2013

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 reads! The #IMWAYR community is a fantastic community of readers with many wonderful titles to share.

I found some wonderful picture books this week. Here are my favourites:

The #1 hit of the week in my house was definitely . . . 

Betty Bunny Didn’t Do it written by Michael B. Kaplan and illustrated by Stephane Jorisch I adore Jorisch’s work and loved the first Betty Bunny title so I was excited to read these other books in the collection. I “test read” these books out on my own children (10 years old x 2) Well . . . this book was SUCH a hit that my son talked about it for days – almost to the point of telling strangers about it. He didn’t go that far but he did tell people on the soccer field, our old neighbour and even his Grandma (after pulling the phone out of my hands and reading her the whole book over the phone). This book, he assured me, was a great book to read. I quote:

“Mom, this book has great morals. Well, maybe not for adults but for kids :-)”

Now I’m not sure what he means by morals . . . considering what my children seemed to learn from this book:

  • Telling very tall tales is charming and creative and not an avoidance of responsibility
  • Admitting that a statement is an honest lie is incredibly funny
  • Claiming that coming clean with the whole entire truth would hurt one’s feelings is a brilliant way to avoid telling the truth!

An interesting look at what it means to be honest. Much humour. Much charm. Much to repeat and relive!

betty bunny didn't do it

Betty Bunny Wants Everything written by Michael B. Kaplan and illustrated by Stephane Jorisch We liked this title as well although it doesn’t rate as high as the Betty Bunny story above. Betty Bunny is just a little too precocious. Seems like it was going to be a wonderful book to talk about consumerism and smart money strategies but it just . . . wasn’t. Still worth reading even to have those discussions of – does Betty Bunny take it too far? Does she really learn anything? Are characters always likeable? Even when you loved them in another story?

Betty Bunny eants Everything

Oliver and his Alligator written and illustrated by Paul Schmid What happens when you swallow all of your anxiety (well – have your alligator do it for you . . . )? Then there is nothing to be afraid of and things get a little dull! Deals with first day of school nerves in a very creative way!

oliver and his alligator

Tea Rex written and illustrated by Molly Idle A T rex for tea? Perfect! Thought the small talk was divine and the illustrations absolutely charming.


Can I play Too? written and illustrated by Mo Willems All Elephant and Piggie books are huge hits in my classroom. I still find some that I haven’t read and it is always such a pleasant surprise. This is one of my new favourites. Love the creative ways these characters try to be inclusive in their games. There is humour but also some pretty awesome modelling of how to play.


A Big Guy Took My Ball! written and illustrated by Mo Willems Again, Willems creates a winner.

A big guy took my ball

The Epiplectic Bicycle written and illustrated by Edward Gorey First published in 1969 but I just discovered it. Odd. Quirky. Many shades of absurd. Find it and experience a number of mysterious adventures.

Epiplectic Bicycle

More Bears written by Kenn Nesbitt  and illustrated by Troy Cummings Since I am always quite delighted when there is a bear (or two or three) in a story, I was particularly pleased that the narrator of this little tale was persistently encouraged to include more bears! Can see this being a very amusing read aloud.


My nonfiction reading was from the Amazing Animals series by Kate Riggs– I blogged about it here.


In novels . . .

My Happy Life written by Rose Lagercrantz and illustrated by Eva Eriksson A special little read that tackles some big issues: friends moving away, grief, sadness . . . So often we don’t find issues like this handled in a beginning chapter book for young readers. I appreciated the fact that there was space for thinking and discussion (thinking this would be a great read aloud in a primary classroom) and that it breathed resiliency and learning life lessons. And I adore Eva Eriksson as an illustrator. 


The Center of Everything written by Linda Urban I just finished this book this morning and I feel like I should have cradled it under my arm all day. Sometimes a book is small but powerful. This book isn’t long. It takes place over the course of a day. But it is written in a way that it holds big space in your thoughts and your heart. Reminds us that all of the little moments make up our very large lives. You never know which moments will shape you. Such a beautiful middle grade read that I will be putting in the hands of many young readers. This book is sad but soothing. There is grief but yet, reading this book is kind of like healing. A snapshot into the life of Ruby Pepperdine that speaks to a part in all of us. A quiet WOW book.

center of everything

I also read 2 adult novels

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult Powerful.


Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane Mystery. Detectives. Corruption. Grit. So not my usual read but was in the mood.

Gone Baby Gone cover

Next up? I am starting Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. My children and I are more than halfway through Torn Away by James Heneghan. A huge TBR pile stares at me but not sure what will be the other books of the week yet. It’s summer . . . and so hopefully it will be many of them!

Monday May 27th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA


Join Jen and Kellee’s meme and share all of your reading from picture books to young adult reads! Such a fantastic way to learn about “new to you” titles by exploring all of the blog posts shared! Share your own reading on twitter via the hashtag #IMWAYR

My picture book obsession has continued and so again I have many books to share. Like the last few weeks, I will keep it to my ten favourites.

Brief Thief written by Michael Escoffier and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo Absolutely hilarious. Dare you to read this and not laugh. Or at least smile. Definitely smirk. My daughter called it disgusting when I read it to her which made me love it all the more. So of course I had to share it with my students. The first three pages each have one sentence. On page three, we find out that the main character (a likeable lizard) has to go poo. Well, of course,  . . . that got everyone’s attention. One child even shared that he often had a meal, went to play and then (like the lizard) had to run back in and take a poo! Oh thank goodness, we have created an environment where connecting is valued 🙂 Anyway, I don’t want to give much of the plot away as this book really does need to be experienced. I will say though that the “briefs” on the cover are stolen to deal with a toilet paper crisis, there is a battle with a “conscience” and in the end, heroes (of sorts) win out. That’s all I’m saying (Except – Go read the book!)

 It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

My New Shirt written by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Dusan Petricic This pair work so wonderfully together. Their recent Mr. Zinger’s Hat is one of my favourite picture books of 2013. My New Shirt came out in 2007 and I happened upon it at my public library today. This isn’t a book for those that don’t like a longer picture book. It is on the lengthy side and would likely be best shared with readers 8 and up just so that the length can be managed and the humour appreciated. It is basically about a young boy who is gifted a new white dress shirt every year on his birthday by his grandmother. This year when his “Bubbie” gives him the shirt, he has a sort of “out of body” experience (that involves an image of endless white shirts floating towards him) and the shirt ends up getting dropped out the window. What happens from there is an amusing romp through the neighbourhood and around the eclectic neighbours as the chase is on after the shirt (keenly held in the pet dog’s teeth)! Maybe this book especially appeals to me because I have “gift receiving anxiety” It’s a lot of pressure to receive a gift gracefully – especially one you might not like – although I have never thrown anything out of the window!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

The Big Question written and illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch A simple little picture book that tackles a huge life question: “Why am I here?” Turning the pages allows us to hear many answers to this big question. “You’re here to kiss the clouds,” says the pilot. “You are here to obey,” the soldier states. “So that you many learn patience,” the gardener shares. The book takes us through many answers from people and animals alike. It ends with the wisdom that as you grow, more answers will reveal themselves and includes a place in the back to make notes for when answers are discovered. This book won the Bologna Ragazzi award in 2004. Original edition is in German.

The Big Question It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

Backbeard and the Birthday Suit written and illustrated by Matthew McElligott All about fun and ridiculous pirate fashion. One of the best pirate books out there. Backbeard is the quintessential pirate – hairy, stinky, and full of pirate swagger.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

Puffin Peter written and illustrated by Petr Horacek Absolutely stunning illustrations. A story about friendship, the similarities and differences in birds and the importance of being specific. And whoa . . . a gorgeous whale page!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping written and illustrated by Melanie Watt When I shared this book with my class, we had to pull out every Scaredy Squirrel book in the room and these books travelled from child to child during independent reading time. Scaredy Squirrel is the most wonderfully anxious, eccentric character out there. How can you not love a squirrel who dons a survival kit to bring an extension cord to a power outlet so that he can watch TV shows about camping in the safety of his own tree? (Think I just summarized the book in one very long and exhausting sentence) Hilarious!

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

The Princess and the Pig written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Poly Bernatene This lovely little read manages to link to many classic fairy tales while telling a great original story and poking fun at just about everything! A pig and a princess switch places and the happy ending is not what you might predict.

The Princess and the Pig It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

Not your Typical Dragon written by Dan Bar-el and illustrated by Tim Bowers What happens when a little dragon is born into a long line of wonderful fire breathers and can’t manage to even produce a little puff of smoke? A story about diversity, acceptance and realizing what you need.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

Little Red Riding Hood written by Lari Don and illustrated by Celia Chauffrey I have been collecting many fairy tales for our class collection and loved the illustrations in this version. Some twists from the original tale. A Barefoot Books book so just beautifully done and contains a story CD. 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

Just Ducks! written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino I love the gentle narration infused with facts in this beautifully illustrated book about ducks! And I love ducks. This book would have been a treasure to my childhood self.

Just Ducks! It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

In other reading, I finished two fantastic middle grade novels.

Bigger than a Breadbox written by Laurel Snyder So powerful. A sensitive story about a young girl coping with the separation of her parents. Captures emotions and thinking that is so personal and raw. The magic in this book is really well done. It seems possibly impossible and I’m sure would entice young readers to continually ask themselves, what would they do in Rebecca’s place? While this book is about the break up of a marriage and what it does to a family, it also handles all of the emotions of moving to a new place and new school so well. Important and real family moments. Friend anxiety. A perfect middle grade selection.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

Hold Fast written by Blue Balliett This is the first Balliett title I have read. I was very curious about this novel. I have seen people rave about it and others have some pretty specific criticism. I was quickly captured by the brilliant word/literacy reverence and the rhythms of language. What held me was the power of family and faith and the desire for home. Such an important book.

Hold Fast It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

What’s next? Homesick by Kate Klise. This was a recommendation made to me by another blogger from the #IMWAYR community, Ms Yingling, when she saw I had read another title about a child of a hoarder. Will be interesting to see how this topic is handled in this novel.

Monday May 13th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Jen and Kellee in their weekly meme and share all of your reading from picture books to young adult reads! Such a fantastic way to learn about “new to you” titles by exploring all of the bloggers who link their Monday reads posts 🙂

I read many picture books this week but forced myself to narrow it down to my favourite ten to share here. In no particular order . . .

Big Wolf & Little Wolf written by Nadine Brun-Cosme and illustrated by Olivier Tallec I have been waiting years to experience this book. I have seen it celebrated on blogs and book lists but had yet to lay my hands on it. I bought it finally, never having read it because I just knew that this book was meant for me. I was not disappointed. In fact I was just in awe. The colours in many of these pages are so beautiful. I love the blue ground under the tree at night, the red red of the tree bark in the full light of day and the fiery leaves of autumn. Friendship. Connection. Longing. So lovely!

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School written by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Ard Hoyt This book has pretty much everything anyone could want – a real individuality, great energy, a definite sense of humour and absolutely fantastic hair. Hair that is so much more than gorgeous! Love that this book so cleverly celebrates the creative spirit of a little girl and her determination to be herself.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

One Gorilla: A Counting Book by Anthony Browne I am not sure that Anthony Browne can make a book that I will not adore. This book is certainly NOT that book. Because . . . wow! A simple counting book with the most wonderful of primates. The colours? Whoa . . .  And each number is so much more because it is attached to a jaw dropping illustration of a group of primates. 6 gibbons. Sigh. 8 macaques. Wit and wisdom. 10 lemurs. Pure joy.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

The Boys, an almost wordless book by Jeff Newman Okay, book, where have you been while I’ve been happily amassing amazing wordless titles? First published in 2010 but my pretty finely tuned wordless radar missed it! A lovely little story of finding a way to belong. With some pretty fantastic persuasion delivered by the cool old guys who hang out on the park bench. So absolutely delightful!

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

The Little Yellow Leaf written and illustrated by Carin Berger This book magically captures the colours of fall. Those golden changing colours that seem to be pure magic against bleak autumn skies. But this book also tells a story of perseverance, anxiety around change and finding the way with the little help from someone else. I could just flip through the pages over and over and marvel at the illustrations. Gorgeous.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Azad’s Camel by Erika Pal A story infused with magic about child camel jockeys in the Middle East. Lots of room to infer. Pictures are stunning. Would be great to use in a unit on children’s rights – to discuss child labour, etc More information about camel racing at the back of the book. Definitely a book that needs an adult to help navigate the theme and the story.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Courage of the Blue Boy by Robert Neubecker My class just completed some amazing art inspired by Neubecker’s Wow! City! So I was very pleased to find this little book in our school library. Travelling through various one coloured pages and on a green sea, the reader follows our little blue hero as he experiences and questions diversity, identity and belonging.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Goldilocks and Just the One Bear written and illustrated by Leigh Hodgkinson Fractured Fairy tales are either very clever or very not! This is a fun little twist on the classic Goldilocks story with whimsical, endearing illustrations. Much fun to be had in exploring this book. My son couldn’t stop giggling when the bear sat on the cat and claimed that the “chair” was too noisy. Silly humour with big appeal.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Wolf Won’t Bite by Emily Gravett So what happens when we fully bury ourselves in trust with a wolf? Well . . . read on 🙂

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

Again by Emily Gravett A unique example of impatience gone wrong involving bedtime stories, eager listeners and tired parent readers. And little dragon impatience is pretty powerful! If you don’t believe me . . . check out the back of this book! I must admit, “Again!” is my favourite response when I read a picture book! 🙂

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

In other reading . . .

I finished Endangered by Eliot Schrefer but I am not so sure it is finished with me. This book won’t leave my head. It was that powerful. Endangered is about many things. But mostly – love. It tangled itself around me just like those precious hugs between Sophie and Otto, the little bonobo who needs her desperately. An unthinkable story of survival and connection. Unforgettable. I often recommend books that I love. Sometimes quite adamantly. This book though . . . I will go as far as to insist it is a must read.

There's a Book for That: It's Monday! What are you reading?

What’s next/on the go? 

A Tangle of Knots










I am currently flying through A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff. Our new family read aloud is Scumble by Ingrid Law.  

Many magical connections ironically between Scumble and Graff’s novel and as they both sit on my bedside table, I have noticed that they are completely colour coordinated! Don’t you agree?

With my student book club, we have started The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. Such an ideal book to share with a book club!

The Three Ninja Pigs

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz and illustrated by Dan Santat was   our BLG book this week! Thank you to Pearl for sharing it with us. This was certainly not the Three Little Pigs story we thought we knew!

3 ninja pigs (1)

This was one fun fractured fairy tale! A not to be missed adventure!

Instantly, we were charmed by these three pigs who were not about to let a big mean wolf boss them around. The fact that they went to Ninja School? Absolutely fascinating!

Each pig chose a different martial art to practice. Akido, jujuitsu and karate! Wow, we were intrigued. Santat’s illustrations are so engaging and the students all strained to get close up looks of the pictures. All of the action scenes, the bravado, the humour has huge kid appeal and we were hooked completely.

Unfortunately, the first two pigs had not paid enough attention to the learning and practice necessary to become masters of their chosen martial art. Neither could overpower the wolf. When Pig Three announced that she was a “certified weapon,” a hush fell over the room. The wolf might have tried to be brave as he hurled a few choice insults at the pig, calling her bacon and claiming not to be intimidated, but we knew he was scared. And so he should have been. Pig Three was a keen student. She was ready to take on this wolf and realizing he was outrivaled, the wolf retreated, making the third little pig a hero!

There was some surprise that the third pig was female. One student interrupted, “Hey! Hold on! I didn’t know there was a girl.” But while students were writing their reviews, a few girls mentioned to me that they were happy that the smart pig was a girl pig. When I read this book to my own children, my daughter cheered at the end. “Yes! Girls! They are full of determination!”

A fan of pig power? Girl power? Stories where the bullies don’t win? This book delivers! Kiya!

Student reviewers respond:

Vicky: My favourite part was when the third pig showed karate to the wolf. I was thinking about the Three Little Pigs Book. This was funnier. Why did the first pig and the second pig not listen?

Shereese: That was funny when pig #1 fell asleep. I like when pig #3 was learning.

Ethan: The first pig fell asleep and he did akido. The second pig did jujitsu. He did a little better than that first pig. The first pig did better than every pig and the wolf too. I like the end. It’s a happy ending.

Pheonix: Pork Chop! Pork Chop! I like that part best.

Gracie: My favourite part is when the wolf says to the third pig, “Yo Bacon! I’m not scared of you.” It’s funny. But why did the first pig fall asleep? And I liked that the third pig was a girl! 🙂

Giovanni: That wolf started to shake!

Andrew: My questions: Why did the first pig fall asleep? Why did the second pig left the dojo? The third pig did all of her training. I learned I should listen.

Heman: It was funny when the first pig fell asleep in the middle of training. My favourite part is when the third pig scared the wolf away. The third pig did karate!

Kala: It reminds me of a karate kid movie. The wolf is being naughty. I like that they went to school.

Ashley: My favourite part was that the pig fell asleep. It was funny so much! The number three pig was good at listening. The wolf seems mean to the pigs. I like the number three because she listens so much.