Monday November 27th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Sharing reading and learning from the past 2 weeks.

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week. This one was taken when we went to visit the Grade 3 & 4 class down the hall while they were having Camp Read. Tents, shoes and books everywhere! Every student in my classroom brought along a favourite picture book to share. Nobody Likes a Goblin is being devoured by these two readers.

Our #classroombookaday titles from last week allowed us to have some serious conversations about the world.

Writing was rich. Some students shared some very personal writing connected to their own experiences with leaving their countries because of war. We have started to talk about books as mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors (from Rudine Sims Bishop) and students instantly began to use this language to describe their connections to the books.

We watched a short video of the actual Kunkush, the cat who inspired Lost and Found Cat and students reread the book many times looking at the photographs in the back and having serious discussions.

This week with #classroombookaday, we laughed a lot!

Some of these titles inspired students to create their own retellings!

Which made one author very happy (and flattered)!

Classroom Highlights 

My Monday posts now also contain some sharing from our week in the classroom.

One student is working on a How to Draw book! How great is this?

More #classroombookaday thoughts

In the Art and Discovery Studio, students are working on paintings about significant places. I love the stories these pictures hold.

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.

Books I enjoyed:

Windows by Julia Denos and illustrated E.B. Goodale

This will be one of our Mock Caldecott titles. I could read this book endlessly. It is so calm and quiet and the little details . . . Just divine.

All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Mike Curato

Warmth of family traditions. Rich descriptions. Stunning illustrations. This one is fabulous!

What If You Had Animal Eyes? by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam

This series is such a favourite in my classroom. I loved this one in particular. Would be great to pair with Steve Jenkins’ Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World

Lulu and the Hedgehog in the Rain by Hilary McKay

I can’t get enough of these Lulu titles. I have now ordered the entire series for my classroom. This one was particularly endearing. I could just imagine children planning hedgehog runs. A wonderful transitional chapter book.

The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick

A younger middle grade title than Sonnenblick typically writes but some pretty serious threads – bullying, domestic abuse, addictions, poverty. For readers who like books with lots of issues and rooting for the underdog, Maverick is a character they will want to meet.

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

I had a hard time putting this one down – the mystery makes it addictive. But this book is beyond a mere mystery. Matthew is the last one to see the toddler who goes missing on his block. But he sees everything from his upstairs window. Matthew’s OCD makes it difficult for him to venture out of his home. Matthew wants to help find the child but this means he needs to face numerous fears and delve into grief and worries from his past.

Up Next? Greetings from Witness Protection! by Jake Burt

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 57/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 280/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 49 books behind schedule.

#MustReadin2017: 24/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 35/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2017: 40/50 books read

Monday November 21st, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. This photo of students book shopping before school started was part of my Celebration post this week.

 Monday November 21st, 2016 There's a Book for That

We have continued to explore themes for our #classroombookaday titles. Suggestions for this theme included hope, faith, finding the beautiful and grappling with expectations.

 Monday November 21st, 2016 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.

IMWAYR 2015

On the blog:

Celebration: The Formula The secret to book love in the classroom. Although, IMWAYR community, I know you know this so very well.

Books I enjoyed:

Many of these titles will likely be part of my #MockCaldecott list this year! Very excited to be narrowing down my list.

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh

A gorgeous book – Tonatiuh gives us an interpretation of the Mexican legend how the volcanoes Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl came to be. So much additional information in the author’s note, glossary and bibliography.

the-princess-and-the-warrior-a-tale-of-two-volcanoes

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Boris Kulikov

I had no idea that Louis Braille was so young when he invented braille. I also didn’t realize, as Bryant points out in the back matter, that so many inventors were teenage inventors. Amazing. This is not just a fascinating story that is beautifully illustrated, it is also full of a wealth of additional information in the final pages. One thing that broke my heart a little here was how much young Louis wanted to be able to read books on his own. Again, this speaks to the importance of access to literature for all kinds of readers.

six-dots-a-story-of-young-louis-braille

Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph written by Roxane Orgill and illustrated by Francis Vallejo

I am blown away by this title and kind of have no words. These poems. This art. These small moments of a day captured in one incredible photograph. Nonfiction and poetry combine to tell the story of one day with a goal of one photograph – snapped by Art Kane in Harlem,1958. Would make a beautiful gift book. Trying to justify gifting it to myself.

jazz-day-the-making-of-a-famous-photograph

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

The art in this book is beyond, beyond. Absolutely stunning. An incredible biography made accessible to children. I particularly appreciated the back matter here. Information on Motifs and symbolism in Basquiat’s work is something I will certainly share with students when we explore this book. Steptoe’s author’s note is very important too. Especially this:

“Basquiat’s success seemed to me to begin an era of inclusion and diversity in fine arts where there had been little to none. This meant as a young African American artist coming up that my chances of having my voice heard and achieving mainstream success were majorly expanded.”

radiant-child-the-story-of-young-artist-jean-michel-basquiat

Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin by Matt Tavares

This is an interesting story of balancing acts and feats that are all kinds of incredible. First, not to be believed and then, seemingly not all that impressive. Except, they actually become more impressive. Jean François Gravelet who became the greatest tightrope walker in the world and acquired the name the Great Blondin was truly an incredible acrobat and performer. In 1859, he made his first walk across the falls and went on to make even more spectacular crossings. Crowds that at first had absolutely no faith in his abilities later seemed disinterested. This is a testament to public fickleness and has nothing to do with the accomplishments of the Great Blondin. Back matter reveals that in sixty five years as a rope walker,he was never injured. Pick up this book to get a peek at some of his incredible performances.

crossing-niagara

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

Oh, this book. I had heard of this orchestra in the news in the last year and knew I had to own this book. There are so many reasons to share this story with children. It is a story of hope, of change, of perseverance, of the power of music and the beauty of community. A story of transformation.

adas-violin

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

My class is Ben Hatke crazy. Like, madly, deeply obsessed. Graphic novels are read, reread and shared around the room. Julia’s House for Lost Creatures is never on the shelf as someone is always using it to draw the creatures located inside. “Hasn’t he done something else?” I am frequently asked. So finally, I got my act together and purchased this book. It is full of all kinds of fabulous Hatke-esque characters and its star – the Goblin, is one to root for. This will be loved, I know. Now, I just need to figure out how to introduce it to our classroom collection without some kind of stampede.

nobody-likes-a-goblin

Big Bear Little Chair by Lizi Boyd

Lizi Boyd does the most amazing things with books – getting us to look at the page in new ways. This is part concept book about opposites, part story book and part work of art. There are so many ways this title could be used in the classroom.

big-bear-little-chair

Bjorn’s Gift by Sandy Brehl

I read an ARC of this engaging historical fiction title in the summer and forgot to share it. This is a sequel to Odin’s Promise which I haven’t read but found picking up this title and just beginning to be easy.

From Goodreads:

Set in Norway during World War II, Bjorn’s Gift continues the adventures of Mari, a young Norwegian
girl who faces growing hardships and dangers in her small village in a western fjord. German occupation troops and local Nazi supporters move closer to her family’s daily
life, and her classmate Leif becomes active in the Norwegian Nazi youth party. Mari struggles to live up to her brother Bjorn’s faith in her, as she becomes more involved in risky resistance activities, trusting only her
family and a few close friends.

I connected quickly with the character of Mari and loved her connection with her family. I love that Brehl chose to  look at this time in history and focused on this one family, and more specifically this one girl. Mari’s life becomes about daily difficult decisions and she must focus on protecting her family and trying to understand the actions of those around her. Living under Nazi occupation hits a small village hard. This novel asks the reader to imagine how absolutely everything is not the same during war times. Trust is fragile and invaluable at the same time. A wonderful historical fiction title.

bjorns-gift-cover-large

Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick

This is the kind book I try to avoid when I hear about it. But it lures me at the same time. Picking it up is about being brave and open to all kinds of emotions. The vulnerability showcased hits too close to home. A Dad who has a stroke out of nowhere. His teen children and wife need to find a way to cope. I have teen children. I can’t even imagine something like this happening to us. This book immerses its reader in the experience pretty fully. It is hard. I was often weepy. But, Sonnenblick can take us to these sad and scary places and remind us of our strengths and the power of others to get us through. Highly recommended.

falling-over-sideways

Reading Progress updates:

*Note: I am 50 books behind on my reading challenge this year. 50 books! This doesn’t usually happen. But then, it’s been quite a year. Moving and setting up a new classroom ate into my reading time for months. A saner person would embrace forgiveness and say, this year, I might not meet my challenge. Me? Not ready to throw in the towel yet. I have report cards to get through and then, I am determined to plow through and reach my goal! Which includes reading 19 novels still . . .

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 56/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 304/400 books read

Progress on challenge: 50 books behind! Yikes!

#MustReadin2016: 22/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 42/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 44/50 books read

Up Next? I am reading Little Man by Elizabeth Mann (look for this one!) and The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out

I read a lot. As in hundreds and hundreds of books a year. Many, yes, are picture books. But many are novels. 95% of these are middle grade and young adult novels. So, in some ways, I can say I “meet” a lot of young people. Some make me cry. Some leave me laughing. Some inspire. I have a myriad of emotions as I read about each of these young fictional lives: confusion, hope, worry, relief, upset, happiness . . .

These characters often stay with me. And because they do, I want to honour them here. These boys*, in the pages of the books where they live, impressed me in notable ways. I admire so many of them for their honesty, their growth, their vulnerability, their hard choices, their loyalty, their mistakes, their learning and their endurance.

In their own way, each is brave and real. Meeting them will enrich every reader.

 In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Doug Swieteck in Okay for Now written by Gary D. Schmidt

Okay for Now  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Miguel in We Were Here written by Matt de la Peña

We Were Here  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Nate Foster in Better Nate than Ever written by Tim Federle

Better Nate than Ever  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That,

Jack in Dead End in Norvelt written by Jack Gantos

 Dead End in Norvelt  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Ben in Half Brother written by Kenneth Oppel

 Half Brother  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Travis in Blue Fish written by Pat Schmatz

bluefish  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Fadi in Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai

Shooting-Kabul-Senzai  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Matt in The Boy in the Black Suit written by Jason Reynolds

boy in the black suit  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Moon in Alabama Moon written by Watt Key

 Alabama Moon  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Holling Hoodhood in The Wednesday Wars written by Gary D. Schmidt

 The Wednesday Wars  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Lucky Linderman in Everybody Sees the Ants written by A.S. King

 Everybody Sees the Ants  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Oscar in The Real Boy written by Anne Ursu

 The Real Boy  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Moses in Crow written by Barbara Wright

Crow  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

 Victor (a.k.a. “Little Man”) in Paperboy by Vince Vawter

 Paperboy  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Julian in Twerp written by Mark Goldblatt

twerp  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Josh in Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

 Living with Jackie Chan  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for ThatJoey in Nest written by Esther Ehrlich

Nest  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Ali in When I Was the Greatest written by Jason Reynolds 

when I was the greatest  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Albert in Fish in a Tree written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish In A Tree  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Albie in Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

Absolutely Almost  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Junior in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie

absolutely true  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Jack in Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson 

Small_as_an_Elephant  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Ryan Dean West in Winger written by Andrew Smith

Winger  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Peter Stone in Wish Girl written by Nikki Loftin

Wish Girl  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Steven in Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie written by Jordan Sonnenblick

Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Which characters would make your list? 

*Coming soon: In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out

Monday August 5th, 2013

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 reads!

I had an amazing week for picture books. Amazing. I am pretty sure I met some of the picture books that will make my favourites of the year list.

Here are the books I’ve been raving about this week:

Building our House by Jonathan Bean This book had special meaning for me because a few years ago we renovated our house. By we, I mean our contractors, but we spent many days wandering around the construction site that once was and would again be, our home. We climbed up ladders and visualized stairs and walls and rooms and life. I love how the illustrations in this book document a story as much as the text does. And the author’s note in the back with photographs of Jonathan Bean’s own history of a childhood spent amongst foundation and fields and beams made this story all the more special. Head over to Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast to see more:  sketches, storyboards and photographs. Amazing!

Building our House #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Papa’s Mechanical Fish written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov I saw the cover of this book and had to have it. I loved what it hinted at: creativity, focus, absurdity, inventiveness . . . I was not disappointed. The language is fun. The entire family is involved and Papa models the curiousity and persistence of an inventor. This book is “almost true” based on the life of Lodner Phillips who really did build The Whitefish, an actual functioning submarine.

Papa's Mechanical Fish #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Once Upon a Northern Night written by Jean E. Pendziwol and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault One of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time. Lyrical, soothing and visually beautiful. Let the text lull you to sleep with dreams of the magic and quiet of winter. Arsenault’s illustrations are exquisite.

Once upon a northern night #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Mighty Lalouche written by Matthew Olshan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. I found this story absolutely delightful! The illustrations are stunning and add much to an already engaging story. The messages here are important: perseverance, being true to yourself, finding happiness . . . But there are also levels to this story that are just going to engage children in the joy and humour of boxing adventures and the triumph of the underdog. I cannot wait to read this aloud to my class!

The Mighty Lalouche #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Mama, is it Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure A simple but gorgeous story about the waiting for summer through the seasons. Celebrates the joy of outdoors, the changing seasons and the wonder of nature.

Mama, Is it Summer yet? #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco There is so much I love about this story. I love that Grandpa is actively involved (leading in fact) the adventure of racing over fields and country roads in search of a bee tree. I love the spirit of community. And of course, that it ends with a message about the wonder of books and reading . . . Well! 🙂

The Bee Tree #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman  A story of friendship, of adventure and of bravery. My favourite page is snail looking over the page and down, down, down . . . just before he considers leaping. It’s really a fantastic reminder that courage is not in the doing but in the moments of contemplation leading up to the decision.

 The Story of Fish and Snail #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah Ohora So many books try to capture the essence of the preschool age child and they don’t come close to doing any justice. They have too much sweet. Or too much whiny. Or precociousness that isn’t cute. Only some nail the tantrum and the moments leading up to it with any sort of sense of realism. This book is divine. It really reveals what it is like to be a small being and have to navigate the world while attempting to contain emotional highs and lows. Absolutely adorable. I think this might be my new “must have it” gift for new parents. Captures the preschool mind, heart and will beautifully.

 No Fits, Nilson! #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Some nonfiction titles I loved:

The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham Wow. This is a fascinating biography that not only makes math seem absolutely engrossing but gives us a glimpse into a mind that was truly one track. A beautiful balance between the mathematical life and the other life of Paul Erdos. Accessible and intriguing for younger readers/listeners. A definite book to be explored multiple times.

The Boy who loved math #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Healthy Kids (A Global Fund for Children book) by Maya Ajmera, Victoria Dunning and Cynthia Pon I shared this title (and other related books) on my Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post.

Healthy Kids #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

 I also finished two novels.

Maggot Moon written by Sally Gardner Sigh. This YA read was not an easy one. It literally made my skin crawl. Part of me wanted to shake this book off – it is full of horror and upset and pain. If the text and happenings weren’t enough to make the reader tremble, the black and white illustrations lining the bottom of pages serve to ensure that one is always uncomfortable. This book is a mystery. It is set in an alternative history – tells us a powerful dystopian fable. But it is also about courage and the power of friendship. I have really never read anything quite like this story – even though it has clear parallels and not so subtle nuances that speak to our own recent and atrocious history of war, oppression and brutality. Clearly young adult, fully compelling, this story is not one I will soon forget. Gardner delivers a very important story. Highly recommended.

Maggot Moon #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

After Ever After written by Jordan Sonnenblick I read (and loved) Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie a few weeks ago and couldn’t wait to read this companion book. It made me cry. And laugh. And appreciate life. What more does one need from a story? I am fast becoming a huge Sonnenblick fan.

After ever After #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I am starting Sold by Patricia McCormick 

What are you reading this week?

Monday July 29th, 2013

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 reads! These #IMWAYR posts are a great place to “shop” for new titles.

Favourite picture books from the week:

The Hueys in It Wasn’t Me by Oliver Jeffers The second title in The Hueys books by Jeffers. Sometimes an argument becomes bigger than the original source of conflict. This simple little picture book highlights exactly this phenomenon. For anyone who spends anytime with children, this story rings very true!

 It Wasn't Me There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you reading?

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco An emotional historical fiction title set during the American civil war. Touches on themes of war, slavery, racism and survival. Definitely for older readers.

Pink and Say There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you reading?

Carmine – A Little More Red by Melissa Sweet An extremely clever alphabetical retelling/fractured tale of Little Red Riding Hood. Wander through bolded words in ABC order and Sweet’s signature artistic style – part collage, part detailed panels and so expressive. Loved the vocabulary and the fresh approach to this classic tale.

Carmine A Little More Red There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you reading?

A House is a House for Me written by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Betty Fraser I simply adore Mary Ann Hoberman and her gift for rhyme. And Fraser’s illustrations make me nostalgic for childhood ease. First published in 1978, this title is one long poem about everything that can be a house. All about homes/houses for just about everything. My favourite was no surprise: A book is a house for a story.

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

The Night Riders by Matt Furie One of my newest favourite wordless titles. This is some kind of adventure into the world of real and fantastical nocturnal creatures and amazing things that happen beneath the light of the moon. One of the best things about the book? The jacket unfolds into a double sided poster of images from the story. Here is a link to Matt Furie’s interview with The Beat (the daily news blog of comics news, reviews, and information) about this, his first book. 

Looking for more wordless titles? I just created a Pinterest board with all of my favourites.

Night Riders There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you reading?

Bruno Munari’s ABC First published in 1960, a wonderful graphic ABC book.

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

Flora McDonnell’s ABC Bright, bold and beautiful. This has inspired some art project ideas . . . A study in letters, opposites and clever pairings. Each page has 2 objects beginning with a specific letter. Some of my favourites? The large giant with a tiny red glove perched on his thumb, a regal tiger with a teapot balanced on his head and a rhinoceros sniffing at a radish. So fun.

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

Anticipating fall book talks, I am trying to catch up on some graphic novels and early chapter book titles. This week I read two winners.

Violet Mackerel’s Natural Habitat written by Anna Branford with illustrations by Ellana Allen Loved the nature/science/ecology connection. Perfect for my Grade 2/3/4 readers just beginning to read chapter books. And how delightful that Violet names her ladybug Small Gloria.

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

Bird & Squirrel on the Run by James Burks What fun and absolutely full of silly escapades. Loved the contrast of the pessimistic and optimistic characters. Kids will love this!

Bird and squirrel There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you reading?

I also finished two novels

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater A friend passed on her ARC of this book to me. I had resigned myself to impatiently waiting for September but, I was so thrilled to read it now! Let’s just say this – I am fully just as hooked and intrigued by these Aglionby boys and the character of Blue. Intrigue, mystery, twists, upsets, revelations. This second title has it all. 

The Dream Thieves There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you reading?

Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick Wow. This book subtly and not so subtly sneaks right up on you pretty quickly and holds fast. It is at times teary and heartbreaking, other times hilarious and witty and all the while, just plain good. A very human and honest look at a family hit hard by childhood illness and how they navigate the complicated business of hospitals, emotions and changing family dynamics. Stayed up half the night to finish this title. Now I get the Sonnenblick love. I’m in. Thank you to everyone who raved about this title to me. And yes, I am planning to read After Ever After – already requested from the library 🙂

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

 

Next up? Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner and some more graphic novels in my pile!

Happy reading everyone!