Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have!

An early intermediate library is such fun to build. Students are ready for longer chapter books with more complex and compelling story lines but they still adore silly and engaging stories that some early graphics and picture books might offer them. Picture books can be clever and witty and nonfiction can be managed quite independently. So many possibilities!

What twenty titles from 2016 do I think are must have books in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom library?

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

This book love is inspired by my students’ reading passions and my own reading journey as I source books for them.

Listed alphabetically by author:

Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosgol

Kids this age are beginning to understand that alone time is precious and sometimes hard to achieve. This is wonderfully humorous!

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

How a story about a robot can be so tender, I don’t know. Heavily illustrated which makes it wonderfully rich. Themes of compassion, kindness and connection.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

Achy and real. This book will squeeze you heart. A beautiful, teary emotional ride. But full of hope, not sad. At least not too much sad. The hope wins.

Counting Thyme Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Such a book. I love the images, the rhythm of the text and the mystery of the still not known that is conveyed.

 Giant Squid Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad

Just pure poetry perfection.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

Some kind of everything in this book. Fantastic, engaging, emotional, full of heart, full of adventure. This is the read aloud I am starting with in January.

Some Kind of Courage Monday Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

This book! Ben Hatke is a super hero in my classroom. This will become the “it” book in the room. Prepare to never see it again except when a child holds it wailing, “When does the next one come out?” (Fall of 2017) Relatable and fantastical all at once.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

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

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.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins

A book to explore endlessly. Infographics are an incredible source of information. Use this book to teach how to access this information correctly.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals written by Jess Keating with illustrations by David DeGrand

This title features a number of “pink” creatures from around the world and shares some of the wild and wacky facts about each one. Every page also includes specific information under these headings: Name, Species name, Size, Diet, Habitat, Predators and threats. 

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers written by Sara Levine and illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth

Learn about the different kinds of teeth you have in your mouth: incisors, canines and molars. Find out how other mammals use their teeth and why they are different sizes and shapes. How are human teeth similar and different compared to other mammals? How do the teeth of herbivores, omnivores and carnivores differ?

Tooth by Tooth Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

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

Big emotions is a tiny book. Necessary for young readers. All about the challenging process of saying goodbye.

Ida, Always Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner

Who would think that ice fishing, Irish dancing, magical elements and heroin addiction could be combined to create a story that is impossible both to put down and then impossible to keep from immediately recommending? I have much gratitude to Kate Messner for writing this book.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Readers will fall hard for this story of Peter, Pax and Vola. Beautiful, emotional and raw. This would be a fantastic read aloud or an engaging read alone.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

Oh, the kid appeal! I chuckled through this and did a lot of head shaking. There is one scene that involves a pile of dog poop that I know I never would have thought of – thankfully! This book continues to be read and reread in my room. Kids LOVE the step by step drawing pages in the back.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

CaveBoy Dave: More Scrawny than Brawny by Aaron Reynolds and Phil McAndrew

Highly appealing. A relatable underdog main character. Lots of poop. Again, the poop! Prehistoric creatures. Action. Adventure. Humour. And . . . a series! What more could kids want?

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff

Because fairy tales can be incredible. Reimagined and retold can go wrong but Shurtliff always gets it right (add Rump and Jack to your collection too!)

Red Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

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.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Ravi has just moved from India. Joe has been here for what seems forever. They share a few things in common – a relationship with a bully and the daily classroom and lunch room experiences of middle school. Alternately narrated by both characters, this book reminds us that it is challenging for all kids to fit in, to find your way and to be noticed for who you are.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

Willems is more than brilliant and doesn’t disappoint in any way in this last Elephant and Piggie title. Students this age have had Willems as a staple of their reading lives. This book is a must have. They will grieve that there will be no more Elephant & Piggie and then get back to celebrating all the ways Elephant & Piggie are part of who they are!

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Intermediate libraries? They need a mix of everything!

Love books. Give your students lots of time to read. Let them choose books so they can read widely and obsessively. Read aloud daily. Share often. Gush and be ridiculously demonstrative with your book love!

Build your library.

Invest in your readers.

They matter.

Happy Reading!

 

Monday April 4th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week This is taken during Reading Workshop. It kind of speaks for itself don’t you think? These two on the bench organized themselves into a little reading partnership, “Let’s each read a page.” I also love the message on the board that a child wrote. It captured the feel in the room – happy readers everywhere.

Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Our #classroombookaday titles this week were especially lovely.

Monday April 4th, 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:

I finished up my Slice of Writing challenge for the month of March. 31 days of published writing on the blog! Phew.

Night Before Thinking Musing about back to work after a break

Inspired by student poetry writing and When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons (listed below) I wrote my own poem about writing spring poems  today we picked spring

Words A Slice of Life post about being grateful that words find me

My first post with the meme Diverse Children’s Books featuring the book: My Two Blankets (pictured below)

Books I enjoyed:

This week it was alll about the picture books!

Where’s the Elephant? by Barroux

Sometimes on this blog I insist that a book must be purchased so it can be shared again and again. Well, okay, sometimes seems like a rare occurrence. I just might do it often. But, take my word for it, I won’t steer you wrong! This book is one of those books. It is beyond a search and find which it seems to be just a few pages in. Not at all. It is a statement about development encroaching on habitat. Of what this means to our world and the animals in it. Powerful. So, powerful. The perfect book to introduce environmental studies. To begin conversations. To worry about. And maybe to inspire change.

Wheres-the-Elephant Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad

This book of poetry is kind of pure perfection. Julie Morstad’s illustrations. Julie Fogliano‘s beautiful images. I can’t pick a favourite poem. But I have many a favourite line.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

A Hungry Lion or a dwindling assortment of animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

This book is very funny. It requires that wonderful page flipping back and forth phenomenon – “Did that really happen?” I don’t want to give anything away but will say the surprises delighted me. Can’t wait to read this to a group of children.

a-hungry-lion-or-a-dwindling-assortment-of-animals Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley

Such a sweet (but not at all over the top) story of what it is to move away and leave a friend. Bagley tackles emotions so beautifully.

Before I Leave Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

My Two Blankets written by Irena Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

I wrote about this book in this post. Themes of immigration, new friendships, learning a language, adjusting to a new culture and new place.

My Two Blankets Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Always Remember by Cece Meng and illustrated by Jago

This is a story of loss, of what it is to lose a loved one and remember. Full of hope and emotion and the illustrations are STUNNING.

Always Remember Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

My Heart Fills with Happiness written by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Julie Flett

I bought this for our board book collection.  A book about finding joy! Illustrations by Flett are beautiful. I love that this title features Indigenous children and families. This book is perfect for my classroom.

My Heart fills with happiness Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Snappsy the Alligator Did Not Ask to Be in This Book! written by Julie Falatko and illustrated by Tim Miller

Oh so very clever! The under-enthused and annoyed main character, the irritating narrator, the dynamic between the two of them. What an amusing little book!

Snappsy the Alligator Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Fun Book of Scary Stuff written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Hyewon Yum

This book! A little guy talks about his fears with a dog and the conversations are SO hilarious. I couldn’t leave the book store without this one.

The Fun Book of Scary Stuff Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey

Thelma is a pony with unicorn aspirations. When a unicorn transformation happens to her (this is a great scene) life seems grand. But is fame and attention really a wonderful thing?

Thelma the Unicorn Monday April 4th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 14/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 97/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 12/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 15/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 12/50 books read

Up next? I continue with Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys Our family read aloud is Pax by Sara Pennypacker

I wanted to see a whale

One of my very favourite picture books of all time is If You Want to See a Whale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead When I first read this book, I had just spent a week at a summer house waiting to see a whale. I never did. But this book reminded me of how very much I longed for one to pass through the ocean as I gazed out ever so patiently at the water.If you want to see a whale I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatHow I adore this book. I love it because it’s beautiful. It is gentle and calm. It reads like I imagined a whale might move – softly, smoothly and ever so gracefully. But I mostly love it because I really do want to see a whale. It tempts me with the possibility. It lures me with the one day . . . The maybe . . .

Now, I love this book for another most perfect reason. Finally, I have seen my whale. We just spent over a week in Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast of B.C and we saw a gray whale just off the beach close to where we were staying. Honestly, I got teary. It was one of the most beautiful experiences in nature I have ever had.

 I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

Of course we were not the only ones enamoured with this whale. While we watched from shore, a few small boats watched from closer by.

 I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

Two kayakers stopped as well.

 I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

Here are my children watching the water for sightings of “our” whale. Every few minutes it would surface to exhale.

 I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

I was lucky enough to see this whale on three different occasions and each time I watched it for at least thirty minutes. Once, we saw it in the evening. It was so quiet and the sound of the whale exhaling is something I won’t ever forget.

If you are like me and have had dreams of seeing a whale, here are some more picture books – both fiction and nonfiction that will make you long for the experience even more. I have always been “swoony” about whale illustrations. I suspect this sighting will make me more so.

The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond

The Blue Whale  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor
Trapped! A Whale's Rescue  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

The Eye of the Whale: A Rescue Story by Jennifer O’Connell

The Eye of the Whale  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatBig Blue Whale written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Nick Maland
big blue whale  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatHere Come the Humpbacks written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Jamie Hogan
here come the humpbacks  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman Three Bears in a Boat  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That Flotsam by David WiesnerFlotsam  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatJumping Penguins illustrated by Marije Tolman with text by Jesse Goossens
Jumping Penguins  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatFollowing Papa’s Song by Gianna Marino 
 Following Papa's Song  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatThe Storm Whale by Benji Davies

 The Storm Whale  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatWater Sings Blue: Ocean Poems by Kate Coombs illustrated by Meilo So
Water Sings Blue  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatThe Mermaid and the Shoe by K. G. Campbell
mermaid and the shoe  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatBilly Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex
 Billy Twitters  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for ThatWild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking written by Elin Kelsey and illustrated by Soyeon Kim
Wild Ideas  I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

To the Sea by Cale Atkinson

To the Sea I wanted to see a whale There's a Book for That

Have you seen a whale in the wild?  I would love to hear about it!

Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection

There are so many beautiful picture books out there in the world.

Books make lovely gifts that become part of a family’s story world.

So how to choose?

Board books always make wonderful gifts but so do picture books that will be part of a child’s collection of read again and again stories. Not every book gift needs to be given thinking only about babyhood and the first few years. Give a book that can be grown into. A book that tells a story families will want to share repeatedly. Stories to be savoured and talked about and wondered about.

These suggestions have a definite theme of being in the moment and noticing the world – the big moments, the small things, the important feelings. Because childhood soars by. These titles remind us to experience it as fully as we can.

Here are 20 titles I would gift new parents and why they need to be on the family book shelf:

Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

Listed in alphabetical order by author.

Yard Sale written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Lauren Castillo

No matter what the journey, no matter what is possessed along the way, family matters most of all.

 Yard Sale Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo

Facing fears is a lot easier with a Nana by your side. I love what this book says about home, family and the wisdom of grandparents.

Nana in the City Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

A Good Night Walk by Elisha Cooper

Simple and reassuring. The power of walking in the neighbourhood: being, noticing, connecting.

A Good Night Walk Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson

A wise nana. A regular bus ride. The importance of neighbourhood and noticing.

Last Stop on Market Street Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

The Snatchabook written by Helen Docherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty

This book reminds us that everyone needs to be read to. A life with bedtime stories is rich indeed.

The Snatchabook Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

A book about a problem that needs solving and having wonderfully, persistently, kind intentions.

 Hank Finds an Egg Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

If You Want to See a Whale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

The ins and outs of waiting. And wondering. And hoping. Patience is underrated in life but celebrated in this beautiful little book.

If you want to see a whale Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries. Four Families. One Delicious Treat. written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

An opportunity to talk about cooking together over time. Tradition. Changes. Savouring of sweet treats.

A Fine Dessert Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

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

Read this book early and often and send the message – our life is going to be a life where we are surrounded by books and reading and all of the magic that will guarantee.

 The Fantastic Flying Books Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith

What is at eye level for our little ones? Flowers and many other interesting things. Children notice many things and give so freely.

Sidewalk Flowers Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

Wave by Suzy Lee

There is nothing like the joy of a big expanse of beach and the waves that roll in and out. This wordless book captures all of the all the excitement, fear and wonder of a child’s beachside experience.

 Wave Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

Sleep Like a Tiger written by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski 

Such a beautiful book for those who appreciate the soothing power of bedtime books. Sleep is a wonderful thing!

Sleep Like a Tiger Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

This is Sadie written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad

Sadie is enchanting. She embraces life – both the real and the imagined parts with gusto. Wonderful connections to favourite book characters.

This is Sadie Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

There is kindness and then there is putting others’ happiness before your own. Kindness between siblings is very special.

 The Girl and the Bicycle Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

I Wish You More written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld 

This book captures hope and love in a sweet, endearing way.

I Wish You More Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

Blackout by John Rocco

Time. Time together. Time together as a first priority. This book reminds us of how very important this is. Because everything can get in the way. But only if you let it . . .

 Blackout Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

All the World  written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee

Simple rhyming text pays tribute to the small simple things our world has to offer like a tomato blossom or a fire to take away a chill.

All-the-World Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman 

A wonderful story about siblings, mistakes, owning up and doing what’s right.

 Three Bears in a Boat Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

The Man with the Violin written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dušan Petričić 

This is an important story of what we miss by not being in the moment. How many beautiful experiences are lost on us as we rush through our days?

The Man with the Violin Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

Happy by Mies van Hout

What could be better than a bright and bold celebration of our emotions?

Happy Picture Books for New Parents: Building a beautiful collection There's a Book for That

Give books.

Read books.

Share books.

Often.

Picture Books that model perseverance

It’s Picture Book Month and I have picture books on my mind. I am beginning to think in lists. Often. It may be a syndrome. Picturebooklistitis? Something like that.

On Friday, I had some parent meetings in the a.m. It was lovely to talk about students who have demonstrated improvement in goal areas due to persistence, determination and creative approaches to problems. Heading home, after school, I started thinking about picture books on this theme of persistence.

What exactly was I thinking about? All of the synonyms for perseverance: persistence, tenacity, determination . . . But also being able to solve problems with creativity or a different/unique approach. A lot of it has to do with being able to focus but also being able to think outside of the box. Sometimes it is just about, simple but tough, hard work and diligence.

I think all of these picture books highlight a particular aspect of this theme and in their own way, model perseverance.

Twenty favourite titles:

These ten beauties:

Picture Books that model perseverance

And ten more:

Picture Books that model perseverance There's a Book for That

Twenty picture book titles that model perseverance:

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

Rosie Revere, Engineer written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

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

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

Papa’s Mechanical Fish written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov

If You Want to See a Whale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Rosyln Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth by Marie-Louise Gay

Ice by Arthur Geisert

Flight School by Lita Judge

A House in the Woods by Inga Moore

The Mighty Lalouche written by Matthew Olshan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds 

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires 

A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead

Oscar and Hoo written by Theo and illustrated by Michael Dudok De Wit

Queen of the Falls by Chris VanAllsburg 

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Ten Birds by Cybèle Young

In case you’ve missed them, I have been making more lists:

Picture Books that celebrate courage

Picture Books to make you giggle

Happy Picture Book Month!

pb month logoAs always, please share your favourite titles on this theme!

Monday May 20th, 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

This week has been a lot about books! A LOT of books! A lot of reading. Early morning reading. Reading over coffee. Reading while folding the laundry (I have this down to an art) Much browsing, some (well, a little more than some :-)) buying and many bookstore hours passed surrounded by . . . books! Is there any better way to spend one’s time?

For the second week in a row, I have narrowed my picture books down to my ten favourites of the week to share here:

If You Want to See a Whale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead I spent a week one summer in a house by the sea, wanting to see a whale. I never did. I think I needed this book to help me out. It reveals the ins and outs of waiting. And wondering. And hoping. And wow, is it gorgeous! This is my new go to gift book because adults and children alike will love it. (I might add that the first person I gifted it to was me!)

If you want to see a whale

Wilfred written and illustrated by Ryan Higgins Last week on my #IMWAYR journey through blog posts I happened upon this title on Nicole’s blog Bluestocking Thinking She called this book a “keeper” and I must agree. It is absolutely odd. Wilfred is a big hairy monster in a land of bald beings. But odd is wonderful. And this book is so much more – a story of kindness and friendship and of being compassionate. I loved this little story and cannot wait to share it with my students.

Wilfred

Line 135 written by Germano Zullo and illustrated by Albertine The previous book by these two – Little Bird was one of my favourite titles of 2012. In fact, it will likely be a favourite of all time. Line 135 has a very different feel. But it shares something that I love with Little Bird: it celebrates a beautiful sense of self and human connection. A picture book adults will love – themes of travel, wonder, being who you are. But, if shared right with a group of children – this could be magic.

Line 135

How to by Julie Morstad Morstad is a picture perfect picture book illustrator. She sends memories, dreams, wonder and magic from the page to her reader. Find this book. Buy it. Treasure it. Read it often and believe in everything.

morstad

Ben Rides On written and illustrated by Matt Davies I want to say everything about this book because I found it so wonderfully fun! And sweet. And funny . . . But I am going to try and say nothing more. This book needs to be experienced. Read it without expectation or bias and enjoy . . . 

ben rides on

Fantastic review of this book on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

A Stick is an Excellent Thing written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by LeUyen Pham A celebration of the outdoors and playful encounters! Should be read while lounging under a tree or marching through meadows.

A Stick is anExcellent Thing

The Secret Message written by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Bruce Whatley Mina Javaherbin, with her wonderfully generous spirit, sent us this beautiful story and it was such a pleasure to share it with my class! We are currently creating art pieces in response and I hope to be able to share them later this week! A story about how precious freedom is! Shared by Mina from her childhood memories of being told this story (based on a poem by Rumi) by her father.

The Secret message

Kumak’s Fish written and illustrated by Michael Bania Some might know that fishing is a lot about patience and definitely something about luck. But how about cooperation? And hooking sticks? And an entire village? Much fun in this delightful story set in the Arctic.

Kumak's Fish

Lilly’s Chocolate Heart written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes I bought this in board book version for our buddy reading with the Ks. Lilly has the best ideas about chocolate. Enough said.

Lilly-s-Chocolate-Heart-9780060560669

Dutch Sneakers and Flea Keepers written and illustrated by Calef Brown My class adored the humour in so many of these poems! Fun things to do? Count the cavities (and promise to be better about brushing!), debate the merits of raising fleas for income and explain how quickly you could catch that runaway waffle and gobble it up! With all Brown’s books, it is the illustrations that make them especially amazing!

dutch sneakers

This was a special week for our class because Calef Brown (the real guy) came to visit our school! Kala, who has been a super fan of Brown’s whimsical words and quirky art kept a countdown sign outside of our classroom. Finally, it was zero more sleeps and truly – Calef Brown Day!

IMG_7048

Students were thrilled to show Calef the art we had done inspired by his book Pirateria! It doesn’t get any more special than being able to invite an author/illustrator to come and check out a bulletin board he inspired! Thank you Calef Brown!

IMG_7053

In other reading, I finished four novels: 

Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff Mystery. Fantasy. Magic. This book had it all! Requires the reader to remain completely alert to follow this story through its multiple narrators. Fun, certainly. Wonderful for middle grade readers.

A Tangle of Knots

Stolen written by Lucy Christopher This is the book that had the biggest impact on me this week. I started it early Friday morning and resented my errands of the day for intruding into my reading time. Don’t begin this book without some hours of uninterrupted reading time ahead. And be prepared for a tough read. This is a story of kidnapping and it has much good, bad and ugly yet by the end, nothing is clear. We know for certain that Gemma has been taken. We know she is in the middle of nowhere. We watch her attempts at escape, her terrifying interactions with the middle of the Australian desert (full of nothing and camels and red sand and poisonous everything) and settle into her memories and confusion. Her interactions with her abductor are psychologically intimate and raw. Yet her kidnapper is also the one who rescues her often. Is it care or control? Love or obsession? Nothing is black or white. Beautifully written. Haunting.

stolen

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky Yes, I am a Charlie fan. Yes, this is a must read book. Sad and funny and vulnerable and worrisome. Fantastic characters. Addictive.

Perks-of-Being-A-Wallflower-Review

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu This novel touched on a theme I have never read about in a middle grade or young adult novel – hoarding. Lucy is the youngest of three children and the only one still living with her mother, until she is old enough to move out. Her mother’s hoarding makes her home life basically unbearable and a desperate secret. The conditions she lives in are truly disgusting. She keeps going by holding on to dreams of a “normal” life two years away when she is old enough to leave home. But then something happens that changes all of her plans.

dirty little secrets

 

Next up? I borrowed Bigger than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder from my daughter’s collection. And I plan on jumping in to a number of fairytales that I will then share with my reading group. We currently believe that fairy tales are the ultimate in drama and can’t get enough of them!

More fabulous picture books with a Garden theme

As we continue to learn about plants, seeds and gardens, it feels like there are garden themed books blooming everywhere we look.

See our first list here which includes many more titles.

Ava’s Poppy by Marcus Pfister

We read this book today and students were inspired to create a list of all the great reasons this book should be shared: we can learn how to grow a flower, it teaches us about life cycles, we learn how to take care of a flower, there is lots of information about seeds,  and it has important themes of kindness and friendship. Lovely little Ava makes friends with a gorgeous red poppy in a field of green and cares for it in changing weather and over time. When she buries a seed capsule, she has no idea that the next spring her poppy will return to her!

 Rosie Sprout’s Time to Shine written by Allison Wortche and illustrated by Patrice Barton

Students loved this story about a little girl who learns about friendship, kindness and surviving competition while tending pea plants in her classroom. Shared in our classroom here.

The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert

Another wordless book by the brilliant Geisert and a follow up to the equally wonderful Ice (reviewed here) Explore the concept of seed dispersal and how seeds travel in this fantasy story. How the pigs happen to be saved from volcanic disaster is a reason to share this story many times.

And then it’s Spring written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead 

Explore the magic of the transformation from brown and boring to the wonder of green that comes in spring. What treasures lay buried deep waiting for the sun, warm temperatures and the power of spring showers?

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms written by Julia Rawlinson and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

Is that snow in the middle of spring? Fletcher certainly thinks so. But he learns that blossoms can cover the earth in a blanket during the spring just like snow does in the winter. A beautiful celebration of spring.