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!

Five Favourites from the Week

Report card writing means book blogging is a diversion I shouldn’t be taking! But we did so much great reading aloud last week, I can’t help but highlight five favourites. The power of reading aloud is always worth celebrating!

Bird, Butterfly, Eel with story and paintings by James Prosek. We shared this book in our reading group where we have been reading a variety of information storybooks and focusing on evidence that supports specific questions we pose. Right away we were curious what these three creatures on the front cover might have in common. In reading the book, we discovered that there were many things. Students summarized key points in their writing: each creature starts out on a farm near the sea, they each migrate over a large distance and they each return to the farm after a long return journey. We did note that only the bird travels south and returns and that the monarch and the eel who return are part of a new generation. Fasincating. This book prompted a lot of discussion and further investigation.

One of the books we read during our morning book sharing was not actually a book but one story from the book Tom Thumb (a collection of Grimms’ tales) illustrated and retold by Eric Carle. We read The Fisherman and his Wife and I was surprised at how instantly engaged the students were with the story. There was constant chatter and commentary and we frequently stopped the story to discuss what might happen or what we thought about the actions of a character. The Fisherman’s wife got few points; generally, we thought her quite awful and selfish! We were glad when she lost her grand homes and titles. “She’s so greedy that she can’t be trusted with all of that power,” someone aptly pointed out. Students have been asking me to read the three other stories in this collection.

I found the book Virginia Wolf written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault at the public library and asked my Reading group to give me some feedback. Should we put this book on a list of books Ms. Sheperd-Dynes should purchase for the library? Personally, I loved this book. I appreciated that it explored sadness, sibling relationships, the negative influence one child’s mood can have in a house and that it celebrated the perseverance of a sister to lift her sibling out of a dark funk. But . . . what would kid’s think? They loved it too! They told me it had a theme of “emotions” and “wrong-side-of-the-bedishness” and “being transformed.” They were fascinated to see what Virginia really did look like. Many read this book again on their own during independent reading. The verdict? It’s on the “we need this book for the library” list!

I have had Albert written by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Jim LaMarche sitting on my desk for months waiting for the perfect time to read it aloud. It is rather long for a picture book and I wanted to make sure that we had time enough to read and spend time discussing the plot. When we returned from our canoe trip on Monday afternoon, students were tired and in need of a quiet activity. After a little bit of play time on the playground, we settled at the carpet for a story. In this book, Albert fears the outside world, so the author has the outside world come to Albert. It comes through a bird who nests in his outstretched hand. A truly delightful story that inspired many, many discussions. A book we savoured after a wondefully active day. I have blogged about this book before. Read here for more details.

The Tooth was another book I read with the students during our morning picture book sharing time. This book is written by Avi Slodovnick and illustrated by Manon Gauthier. We used this book to practice our prediction and inferring skills. From the title and cover picture, what might it be about? Our list was quite detailed and included many tooth possibilities- teeth that wouldn’t come out, teeth full of cavities, teeth that got lost before making it to under the pillow. We didn’t manage to capture all of the complexities of what this book contained however as this book is also about being homeless, about wanting to do something and not knowing what and about being compassionate and kind. Definitely worth reading for the rich discussion that ensues.