Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Picture Books about Love

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, a meme created by The Broke and Bookish.

This week’s theme? All about Romance – I am going to take liberties with this theme and stretch it and shape it to be all about love. Love as in romantic love or connection love. Deep friendship. True devotion. Care, concern, warmth.


The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage written by Selina Alko and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

A nonfiction title about Richard and Mildred Loving whose marriage and love were questioned because of their race. A story of determination, persistence and the power of love and family.

The Case for Loving- The Fight for Interracial Marriage

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato

Love, love, love, love! Love because it’s love, not because it is celebrated in any particular way.

WormLoves Worm

Pete and Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

This book celebrates love in the happiest and most joyful of ways. But it doesn’t scrimp on the realities of love: loss, pain, frustration, forgiveness, sacrifice. Love is all of it and this book delivers. It takes you on a journey sailing through a myriad of emotions and delivers you on the other side, changed. Better. Brighter. Exhausted.

I often tell people that yes, I have a picture book favourite even though I LOVE many books. This is it. This one here. How I adore this book!


The Day I Became a Bird by Ingrid Chabbert and Guridi

I am utterly enamoured by the illustrations in this book about a boy willing to be a bird to attract the attention of the girl he swoons over.


Hunwick’s Egg written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Pamela Lofts

Hunwick’s egg never hatched although it provided him with companionship, faith and an important secret. Yes, he realized his egg was not an egg at all but a perfectly shaped stone and he loved it all the more.

Hunwick's Egg

Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon

Pancakes. Jacques Cousteau. Jazz tunes. The joy and the solitude of New York city. Finding someone who gets you and shares your quirky tastes. It all comes together in this delightful story.


Ida, Always written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso

A sweet tender story of loving and letting go.

Ida, Always

Pierre in Love written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Petra Mathers. 

A beautiful picture book about being in love and being brave enough to admit it.

pierre in love

Bear in Love written by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

Finally bear and bunny meet, convinced they have each found the perfect friend. For bear it is a cute little bear and bunny thinks he was found a lovely big strong bunny. Confusion aside, the two friends sit together and chat and sing as the sun goes down. A feel good book that made us all smile!

bear in love

City Dog Country Frog written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon J Muth

Willems’ simple text, pictures and words tell the tender story of  friendship, the passage of time, young curiosity and calm wisdom.


Which book would you add to the list?

Because Good Little Books Must be Shared; celebrating books about #booklove

This week a treasure of a book arrived at my house.

The Good Little Book written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Marian Arbona

 The Good Little Book Because Good Little Books Must be Shared; celebrating books about #booklove There's a Book for That

This title perfectly captures true #booklove and the notion that books must be shared. What a perfect book to get us thinking about heading back into classrooms and reading to children or snuggling up for a cozy family story time with your own little ones. Books about loving books are especially special. They celebrate the wonder and magic of reading. This title by Maclear reminds us that our attachments to certain stories can be passionate and run deep.

This book is unique. It doesn’t have a jacket (significant later in the story) and its end pages are some of the most exquisite I have ever seen. Vibrant red flowers, quirky doodles and a name plate that makes us think about a very important question: Does a book truly belong to any one person? 

This book is about a boy and his book. His love for the book grows slowly. It comforts him. It transports him to new places and inspires him to experience a myriad of emotions. Soon, he is most definitely attached. And then one day, his book is missing. He worries. He searches. He mourns.

It might be that he does come across this book again. But our boy is now a reader and he knows, most certainly, that a book is a gift. A gift to be shared.

Such a gem. This good little book 🙂

This week I celebrate The Good Little Book and all of the #booklove it will conjure up in its readers.

I have also shared some of my other favourite titles that honour books, literacy and reading.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

 The Fantasict Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore  Because Good Little Books Must be Shared; celebrating books about #booklove There's a Book for That

The Library written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small

 The Library  Because Good Little Books Must be Shared; celebrating books about #booklove There's a Book for That

That Book Woman written by Heather Henson and illustrated by David Small

 That Book Woman  Because Good Little Books Must be Shared; celebrating books about #booklove There's a Book for That

Mr. George Baker written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Jon J Muth

Mr. George Baker  Because Good Little Books Must be Shared; celebrating books about #booklove There's a Book for That

The Snatchabook written by Helen Docherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty.

The Snatchabook  Because Good Little Books Must be Shared; celebrating books about #booklove There's a Book for That

The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco

 The Bee Tree  Because Good Little Books Must be Shared; celebrating books about #booklove There's a Book for That

The Best Book in the World by Rilla 

the best book in the world  Because Good Little Books Must be Shared; celebrating books about #booklove There's a Book for That

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.


Happy Reading! 

Thank you to Pamela at Penguin Random House Canada for providing the copy of The Good Little Book for review!

Mock Caldecott 2015

While every year I celebrate Caldecott winners with my students, this is the first year we are having our own Mock Caldecott competition. After perusing numerous other Mock Caldecott lists and lists of Caldecott predictions, I narrowed it down to eleven titles to share with my class. There was a LOT of rethinking and eliminating titles. In the end, I tried to choose a varied list that conveyed different moods, feelings and responses.

Mock Caldecott Choices 2015 There's a Book for That

Here are the books we are sharing, reading and swooning over – shared alphabetically by illustrator:

Sparky! written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Quest by Aaron Becker

The Promise written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Laura Carlin

Draw! by Raúl Colón

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

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

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

Hi, Koo! by Jon J Muth

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

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

Grandfather Gandhi written by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Evan Turk

Our process is simple. We read and talk about each book individually, enjoying the interactive read aloud experience. Then, I hide the book away until we bring them all out again and spend some time looking closer at each title with Caldecott criteria in mind.

Like others who are running a Mock Caldecott with their classrooms, I adapted the criteria into a child friendly rubric.

Each child will have an opportunity to rate each book using a 1 – 5 scale (with 1 being not at all to 5 being agree absolutely) responding to these three statements:

This book is a book kids will really appreciate. 

The illustrations in this book are excellent in quality.

The illustrations are a great fit for the story being told. 

An opportunity to comment on favourites will also be available.

By next week, we should have shared all of the titles and will be prepared to rate each book. We will do this over a morning where we can reread, look more closely at the actual criteria and have lots of discussions with other students and the adults we have invited to participate in this process with us. More details on our class blog: Curiosity Racers.

We will then announce our medal winner and 3 honour titles.

I am not sure if it is the children or the adults who are more excited but our room is buzzing even more with picture book love. At times I am sure I can hear the hum 🙂

Monday November 24th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

My favourite reading photo of the week is of these two sisters reading early Friday a.m. before school had even started. Older sister invited little one to sit and listen. This captured moment is why I love having a room full of books that are beloved!

Monday November 24th, 2014 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

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


I had a funny picture book reading week. I read a number of “new to me books”, but only a few stood out. My favourites of the week:

Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light

Cute on every level. A celebration of a creative little artist who is also a big sister.

Louise Loves Art Monday November 24th, 2014 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato 

This book could just be sweet and well, sweet. Yet, it has something more. The old fashioned era depicted in the illustrations? The nuances? The perspectives the illustrations reveal? Not sure. But this little title is light in words but heavy in impact. Themes of kindness, friendship and gratitude.

 Little Elliot Monday November 24th, 2014 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Come On, Rain! Written by Karen Hesse and illustrated by Jon J. Muth

A summer day that craves a rain storm. Hot, hot, hot. Beautiful images conveyed through both illustrations and text. Delicious words. Illustrations to linger on.

Come On, Rain! Monday November 24th, 2014 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Mingan: My village Poems by Innu Schoolchildren by Rogé With participation of Joséphine Bacon, Rita Mestokosho and Laure Morali.

I featured this book in my Wednesday nonfiction post but loved it so much I am highlighting it again here. Poems and Portraits. Student voice. Stunning.

 Mingan My Village Monday November 24th, 2014 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Stand Straight Ella Kate: The True Story of a Real Giant written by Kate Klise and illustrated by M. Sarah Klise

A fascinating story of a young woman who really did grow to be a giant. It turns out that it wasn’t only her height that made her stand apart from other women of the times.

Stand Straight Ella Kate- The True Story of a Real Giant Monday November 24th, 2014 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read two brilliant middle grade novels

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

A difficult title to write about because there are plot points integral to the story that if revealed, give things away. I will say that this book captured me. I loved the character of Chirp, her neighbour Joey. Both so solid, yet so vulnerable. I love their observations. Their coping strategies. Their complicated friendship. Emotionally difficult. Absolutely beautiful. Highly recommended.

Nest Monday November 24th, 2014 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

I started and finished this book in one sitting. Before the rest of the house was awake. I couldn’t imagine putting it down. Rose is a girl I might have met, but this novel gave me a deeper peek into how she ticks and for this, I am very grateful to Ann M. Martin. Any title that helps a teacher think bigger, better, more carefully about students that may come our way, is a true gift. Rose may do a lot of things very differently. She also does a lot much more bravely. Such a read.

Rain Reign Monday November 24th, 2014 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I am reading The Turtle of Oman: A Novel by Naomi Shihab Nye

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 74/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 542/650 books read (40 books behind)

#MustReadin2014: 21/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 122/65 complete

Monday May 5th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?IMWAYR

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!

I have been busy writing many blog posts to celebrate a lot of literacy related events in my classroom. Blog highlights include:

On my classroom blog Curiosity Racers, I shared about our amazing Skype experience with author Liesl Shurtliff and a photo heavy thank you to the Writers’ Exchange. On this blog, I shared the process of how we got a book full of student stories published through working with the Writers’ Exchange.

My very favourite of the picture books I read:

Ma Jiang and the Orange Ants written by Barbara Ann Porte and illustrated by Annie Cannon

Sorry for the blurry image – had trouble finding an image online (the book was published in 2000) This book is a great read aloud for listeners who can handle a longer title. Set in China many years ago we meet the Ma family who makes a living selling orange ants to the orange growers who use the ants in their orange groves to protect their fruit from insects (the ants eat the pests not the fruit). When Jiang’s father and older brothers are called to serve in the Emperor’s Army, how will the family survive? A fascinating story of ingenuity, history and family ties. My children found this story fascinating when I read it aloud to them.

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

Max’s Magic Seeds written by Geraldine Elschner and illustrated by Jean-Pierre Corderoch 

This book totally speaks to me. A botanist uncle with huge bags of flower seeds. Guerilla gardening of sorts. Making joy and community happen one blossom at a time. Would be great to pair with The Curious Garden by Peter Brown.

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

Ruby’s Wish written by Shirin Yim Bridges and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

I love this title! One little girl in a prosperous Chinese family wants an education like her brothers and male cousins, not a future that includes marriage and motherhood. Based on the life of the author’s grandmother. A beautiful example of a little girl who speaks up and the grandfather who hears her.

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

Oh my, my, this pigeon! He is channeling all children who resist, resist, resist the bath and then, absolutely refuse to get out. My children still do this!

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

Found by Salina Yoon

I read this at the bookstore the other day and it was all I could do to leave it in the store. Absolutely adorable. So sweet that the bear tries so hard to find the owner of the lost rabbit he finds. Can he help it if on this search, he becomes very attached? Sometimes things are just meant to be. There sure is a lot of doing the right thing in this book! 🙂

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

Hi, Koo! by Jon J Muth

I have only one complaint. It is absolutely impossible to pick a favourite poem. Can’t even narrow it to top three. And the illustrations . . . sigh!

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

Dare the Wind written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

What a fantastic biography for our nonfiction collections. This book tells the story of Eleanor Prentiss who broke the world record for sailing from New York City to San Francisco around the tip of Cape Horn and its treacherous waters. In 1851, a female navigator was unheard of let alone one that could sail at record speeds. A fantastic story of adventure, determination and absolute bravery.

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

Finished just one novel

All That’s Missing by Sarah Sullivan

I really enjoyed this middle grade novel about Arlo, an eleven year old boy living with his grandfather who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. With nobody else to care for him when his grandfather ends up in the hospital, Arlo searches for an estranged grandmother who might be able to help. All about finding family, making friends and creating home.

#IMWAYR May 5th 2014 There's a Book for That

What’s up next? I am just about to begin Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee. 

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 36/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 228/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 15/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 61/65 complete

My Picture Book 10 for 10 for 2013

Connections across the generations. Picture Book 10 for 10 There's a Book for that

I am thrilled to be participating in the Picture Book 10 for 10 event for the second time. This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning. What are the picture books that you just can not live without?

pb 10 for 10

Last year I shared many of my all time favourite picture books. This year, I thought I would focus on what has become a beloved theme: picture books that feature a connection between generations – whether it is a child and a grandparent or a child and a grandparent like figure.

These stories remind us that time is a gift, memories have big meaning and wisdom shared always enhances what we know.

My top ten favourites on this theme: Connections across the generations

Mr. Zinger’s Hat written by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Dusan Petricic

A wonderful story about the power of storytelling and how it meanders this way and that between the narrator and the “creatively involved” listener. Young Leo and Mr. Zinger  collectively “create” a story. And then the storytelling continues once Leo has been “bit” by the writing/narrating bug. Just lovely.

Mr Zinger's Hat: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

The Friend written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small

A beautiful friendship and love exist between little Belle and her devoted housekeeper Beatrice. Bea is little Belle’s daily companion as her parents race off here and there, too “busy” to give their child time. Reminds us that spending time with a child is everything even when doing the most mundane chores. Connection, warmth, love . . . What makes this story even more special is that it is inspired by a similar relationship in the author’s childhood. I wish I owned this book but sadly it is out of print. As always Small and Stewart create a treasured story together.

The Friend: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

The Imaginary Garden written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher

The Imaginary Garden tells a story of grandfather and granddaughter who paint a lush garden mural when a real garden is no longer possible in Poppa’s new apartment. I used this book as inspiration for some beautiful garden art with my students.

 The Imaginary Garden: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

The Frank Show, a David Mackintosh title

This title is all about a young boy who thinks his Grandad Frank is not going to be an interesting share at Show and Tell. But, watch out for the older generation! Boy do they pull out all the stops. A great book to share to highlight how wonderful it is to get to know our grandparents. (My own Dad who happens to be a “Papa Frank” loved this title and read it to my nieces :-))

The Frank Show: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

Oma’s Quilt written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Stephane Jorisch

Emily’s Oma (grandmother) has to move to a retirement home and she is very reluctant to do so.  What about her precious things? Her neighbours? Cooking apple strudel? Even the bowling alley at the home doesn’t change her mind (smelly shoes!) While Emily and her mother are sorting through Oma’s possessions, Emily has a wonderful idea. Why not make a memory quilt for Oma!?

Oma's Quilt: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith 

This book has so much of what I love- adoration for a Grandfather (a Great Grandfather in this case!), nostalgia for sick days and lots of reading, gardens, and the love of family history shared between generations. Exquisite!

Grandpa Green: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

Mr. George Baker written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Jon J Muth

What a special story that celebrates friendship, literacy and the sentiment that it is never too late to learn something new. Young Harry waits for the school bus every morning with his friend and neighbour Mr. George Baker. Mr. Baker, a spry and charming man is a hundred years old and has never learned how to read. “That must be corrected,” says George. Lyrical. Simple. Inspirational. A book to share with new learners of every age.

Mr. George Baker: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

The Wednesday Surprise written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Donald Carrick

Anna spends every evening with her Grandma. After dinner and dishes, Grandma and Anna work on a surprise for Dad’s birthday. The surprise is all about books and reading and it makes me cry no matter how many times I read this story. Special. Special. Special.

The Wednesday Surprise: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco

When Mary Ellen confesses that she is tired of reading, Grandpa leads her (and half the community!) on an adventure that involves racing over fields and country roads in search of a bee tree. Along with the reward of baking powder biscuits and sweet honey, Mary Ellen receives some of Grandpa’s wisdom:

“There is sweetness inside of that book too! Such things . . . adventure, knowledge and wisdom. But these things do not come easily. You have to pursue them.”

The Bee Tree: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

William’s Doll written by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by William Pene Du Bois

A classic and consistently important story that shakes up thinking that is based in stereotypes. Brothers, neighbours and Dad send William the message that wanting a doll is wrong, something for a “sissy” and certainly not for a boy. But Grandma arrives, and in her wise and quiet way manages to get William the doll he covets and give the message to Dad that William wants a doll to love, but also to “play” at being a father – learning to do all of the things he will need to do one day for his own child. More than forty years old, this book is still relevant. I used it with a class last year and it was powerful.

William's Doll: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

Last year, my list featured two more favourites on this theme. Stories that remain favourites.

Connections across the generations. Picture Book 10 for 10 There's a Book for that

(Knew I would find a way to “be creative” (a.k.a. cheat) with the 10 book guideline :-))

Not only do I love books that celebrate connections between the generations, I also love the magic that happens when books are shared during reading experiences. I shared that in this post: The Grandparent Effect

Please share if you have other titles that fit with this theme of connections across generations.

Happy Reading!

Monday April 29th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Jen and Kellee for their weekly meme and share all of your reading from picture books to young adult novels. The #IMWAYR community is always an amazing source of book ideas and inspiration!

I had a lot of fun with picture books this week. Here are my favourites:

A Girl and her Gator written by Sean Bryan and illustrated by Tom Murphy So what might happen really if you went through your day with a gator on your head? Well . . . this book makes it very clear! Written completely in quite sophisticated rhyme, this book is rather delightful!

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

Skunkdog written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Pierre Pratt I found the fact that this dog with such a very pronounced snout was absolutely lacking in the “sniff it out” department to be wonderfully ironic and silly. Skunkdog cannot smell. Smells just don’t impact him. And so when he tries to befriend a skunk who doesn’t hesitate to spray him repeatedly, he is not at all bothered. His owners, on the other hand, have a different opinion about his association with a skunk! Lots of tomato juice, held noses and questions about what it is to be lonely.

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

Me and Mr. Mah written by Andrea Spalding and illustrated by Janet Wilson This title was originally published in 1999 and while I had seen it often in our school library, I just finally pulled it off the shelf and read it. It turns out to have many elements that I love in a story – a wonderful intergenerational relationship between young Ian and his new neighbour Mr.Mah who teaches him, via gardening, about patience, holding memories close and new growth. Themes of divorce, moving and making friends.

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

The Worst Princess written by Anna Kemp and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie This book arrived home in my daughter’s backpack with an excited explanation that her Teacher Librarian had sent it on to me to read as she thought I might like it. Thank you to the wonderful Cheriee! Because like it I did! And how . . .

First of all, within the first few pages of reading this book aloud to my class, a spontaneous debate arose between the boys in my room. It sounded something like this:

E: “This is a girl book!”

K: “I have books about princesses and dragons at my house. I read them. I’m a boy.”

P:  “There’s no such thing as a girl book. All books are for everyone.”

K: “Can you read the book now Ms. Gelson?”

After that debate settled itself (love when I just get to sit back and bear witness), we all settled into a charming story about a princess who was expecting much more from life once her Prince Charming finally arrived. And it certainly did not involve weary pouffy dresses and sitting around while her Prince had all of the adventures. One of my students summed this story up best:

“It started out and you thought it would be a Prince and Princess vs The Dragon story but it ended up being The Princess and the  Dragon vs. The Prince and everyone else!”

One might describe this title as a modern Paperbag Princess in yellow hightops! My students certainly connected this book to the Munsch classic.

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

The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel SchefflerWell, simply summarized this story is about a thieving rat who gets his just desserts. My students wrote wonderful reviews that tell it much better than me. Please take a moment and enjoy 🙂

The Highway Rat It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

City Dog Country Frog written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon J Muth. I have actually read this title before but had yet to read it aloud to a class until this week. I confessed to my students that I had originally bypassed this book because of the cover. While I love frog books, I don’t adore dog books. But of course, this book is so so much more. I had originally (back in 2011) blogged:

“Something about the cover picture spoke dog to me and I kept missing the frog, even when I eyed the title I saw dog instead of frog. Finally, I looked a little closer and spotted the frog so perfectly plopped on the dog’s head and I pulled the book off the shelf.  How could I have missed this? I was missing so much! Inside illustrations are mellow, gentle and ahh, what greens. Together with Willems’ simple text, pictures and words tell the tender story of  friendship, the passage of time, young curiousity and calm wisdom. To make up for the months I haven’t been reading this book, I need to read it over and over and over again.”

So . . . I have been rereading this book over time and am now blogging about it again because it is truly special. One of my favourite book bloggers, Donna McKinnon from 32 Pages, seems to have felt something similar. A must read post from her about this wonderful title.

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

“I Have a Little Problem,” said the Bear written by Heinz Janisch and illustrated by Silke Leffler Sometimes, we might have a problem and everyone wants to help yet nobody truly slows down enough to listen clearly to exactly what the problem might be. This book is about exactly that – the challenges of really being heard.

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

Miss Maple’s Seeds written and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler There is something tender and sweet about the care that Miss Maple delivers to the seeds she collects. She nestles them in straw baskets and takes them soaring on the wind in floral “air balloons.” She reads them stories by firefly light and takes them dancing in rainstorms. Each image is magical and delightful and at the other end of this charming book, we are delivered –  wiser about seeds and the seasons and content that Miss Maple is a special nature caretaker.

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

I was able to finish reading Requiem this week and then started and finished The Water Castle.

Requiem written by Lauren Oliver While I definitely enjoyed this final book in the Delirium trilogy, I wouldn’t rate it as highly as the first two books. Delirium absolutely captured me and I found Pandemonium to be fast paced and full of unexpected drama. This book was clearly meant to wrap things up, which, while on the one hand, I do appreciate, I felt that the whole book was geared towards an ending that was actually not as tightly woven as I was expecting. I did enjoy Hana’s story and everything going on for her inside Portland and on route to a matched marriage that seems scarier than the “on the run life” that Lena has. Maybe I just felt that this book needed more Lena. Still not sure. But – would definitely recommend reading the trilogy to fans of dystopian fantasy.

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

The Water Castle written by Megan Frazer Blakemore Thanks to a wonderful community of readers that I am connected with – I have heard many rave reviews of this middle grade title. And now I clearly see why . . . This is an excellent mix of mystery and adventure that would have wide appeal with middle grade readers. In fact, I have just placed it up high on the list as a possibility for my student book club. And, I want to read it aloud to my own children. This book has such wide kid appeal. It is one part science, one part mystery/adventure, one part fantasy/science fiction and one stabilizing part of family/friendship dynamics to make the unreal, part of the very real, world. There is so much I loved about this title – the relationships between the characters, the mystery that permeates everything, the fact that not everything is solved and yet, one isn’t left disappointed. And best of all, the myriad of stories that are woven together across time. Highly recommended.

The Water Castle It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

Next up? I have just started Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco.

What are you reading? 

Monday November 5th, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? On Halloween night there was torrential rain in Vancouver that prevented a lovely tick or treat scene like this one below (from Muth‘s Zen Ghosts). Still it was a cozy week for lots of seasonal reads!

Join Kellee and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with their weekly meme that highlights what everyone has been reading from picture books to young adult novels. It is a fantastic way to learn about new books and share favourites with others.

In my reading world . . . 

New classroom picture books:

Night Song written by Ari Berk and illustrated by Loren Long. Long’s illustrations make this an absolutely stunning book about a little bat’s first solo journey. Guided by his “good sense” little Chiro is able to both explore the world and then find his way home. While this book does not use the word echolocation, this is clearly the good sense being referred to and there is lots of text that helps the reader to talk about the concept. I found children wanted to study the pictures individually after the story was read aloud because it was just so gorgeous with the black as pitch pages.

Chester the Brave written by Audrey Penn and illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson. This is another story in the Kissing Hand series that explores being brave and demonstrating courage. Sweet but I find I like the illustrations more than the story with these books.

Dog in Charge written by K.L. Going and illustrated by Dan Santat. I ordered this through Scholastic when I saw Santat‘s signature illustrations. It is a very funny little story about a dog left in charge of a bunch of cats that get into everything! When it all just seems like too much, Dog compulsively devours a bag of cat treats and takes a nap. The cats, who love Dog, decide to clean up their messes and the family are none the wiser when they return from their outing. So . . . I’m wondering where does one find housekeeper cats? Those are some pets I could have a lot of!

New to me Halloween Stories read to my class or my own children (often both): 

The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell I am a huge fan of Patrick McDonnell and found this story to be absolutely delightful. This was our BLG book of the week and you can read more on the blog here. The best part of this book is the quirky little wanna be monsters with some of the best character names I have seen in a while: Grouch, Grump and little Gloom ‘n’ Doom. The final scene on the beach is all about the little moments of happy we all need to savour. Highly recommended.

Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth For those who know Muth’s  Zen . . . stories, this is another that will quickly become a favourite. I love that it is a story within a story. After everyone goes trick or treating, Stillwater the Panda tells the children a story based on a koan from The Gateless Gate that forces the reader/listener to question what is real and not real. And then just to sit and be fine with not really being sure. So much to explore within this book makes it a story that children of many ages can investigate. The illustrations, as in all Muth books, are exquisite.

Creepy Carrots written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown. I was very excited to get my hands on this book because I am such a Peter Brown fan. His illustrations are fantastic and accompany a story told by Reynolds that is actually quite sophisticated. This book on the surface is about a little rabbit being terrorized by some menacing carrots even thought nobody will believe him. What looks like a creepy carrot in the shadows of the night is often revealed to be something else entirely when a parent arrives and turns on a light. But are the creepy carrots really just a figment of Jasper, the rabbit’s overactive imagination? To be safe, Jasper builds a huge fence around the carrot patch to contain these orange vegetables that haunt him. In the end, the source of his fear is revealed. Do those creepy carrots really exist? Read this story that explores fear that just can’t be reasoned away in a totally clever and humorous manner. Loved this book!

The Perfect Pumpkin Pie by Denys Cazet This book has been in our library for a few years but I had yet to read it or share it with a class. Wow, had I been missing out!! This book is certainly a perfect spooky Halloween read featuring a ghost that rises out of the pumpkin patch threatening to haunt the residents of the nearby house if they don’t provide him with the perfect pumpkin pie. Yet while it seems like it might even be too scary for a primary read aloud, it is actually more full of humour, rhyme and pumpkin pie spices than anything else. And a very spunky Grandma who I adored. The illustrations are completely bizarre and unique to make this one of my new Halloween favourites.

Novels read:

Between Shades of Gray written by Ruta Sepetys This is a harrowing read. The images are disturbing and the violations against all basic human rights and human spirit are intense. In Lithuania, in June of 1941, fifteen year old Lina is forced from her home along with her Mother and younger brother by the Soviet Secret Police. They travel by train to a work camp in Siberia and eventually farther north to  the Arctic Circle. Survival is based on luck and perseverance that does not seem possible. Many, many die.  Lina is compelled to share her experiences through her art and her drawings recount terrible experiences suffered by her family and those of the other Lithuanian people around her. This story gives us a sense of the horror that happened to so many under Stalin’s rule. Many details were new to me. Ruta Sepetys brings voice to many who were completely silenced by death or extreme fear. A very important young adult read.

Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai. This book has been on my “to read” pile for  over a year and I found that once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in just over twenty-four hours. This book begins in Afghanistan in 2001 with a family fleeing across the border to Pakistan to then travel on to America. During the dramatic escape, six year old Mariam is left behind and her family is all tortured by their guilt and their extreme sadness at not being able to locate her from their new home in the U.S. Fadi, Mariam’s older brother hears about a photography contest that comes with a winner’s prize of a plane ticket to India. He becomes convinced that he can win and get back to Pakistan to rescue his younger sister. Meanwhile, the events of 9/11 happen and the family has to deal with racism, prejudice and attacks on their neighbours while they continue to grieve for their missing daughter. A book that speaks to the strength of family and of the faith of the Afghan people in a peace yet to come. Highly recommended.

Tonight I begin the novel Beneath my Mother’s Feet written by Amjed Qamer.