Celebration: Nerding out

Oh there has been a whole lot of amazing bookish things in this week. If there is a land of Nerdy-book-club-ish-ness, well, I have been wandering about within it. Quite happily. Actually wandering is not the word. Leaping. Whirling. Rejoicing. These words better capture it.

It began a week ago with the amazing Western Washington Children’s Literature Conference and it kept going until today at the eerie and exceptional Serendipity conference here in Vancouver.

I have been so blessed to hear brilliant and passionate words (and have many books signed by . . .  ) from Kate DiCamillo, Yuyi Morales, Joyce Sidman and Matt de la Peña (all in Bellingham) and Molly Idle, Holly Black, Andrew Smith and Mariko Tamaki (here in Vancouver).

I also got to attend the first EVER nErDCamp Bellingham last Sunday!

And then of course, all kinds of #booklove happened in my classroom all week.

I have too many words but can’t seem to settle them. So much of this will be in pictures.

The Western Washington Children’s Literature Conference was so amazing!

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

I learned a lot from each presenter. One (or two) line take aways

Matt de la Peña: “You can’t be a great writer until first you are a great reader.”

Yuyi Morales: “At the library, there are books with art in them like in an art gallery. Some of them were made for people like me and my story.”

Kate DiCamillo: “It is a privilege to have anything at all to do with books. Words matter. Words don’t fail.”

Joyce Sidman: “Why share poetry with children? Poems can never be wrong. Some might be more powerful. They can express our “souls””

And Sunday was all about nErDcamp in the gorgeous Whatcom Middle School Library:

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

I spent some time twisting and turning trying to see this gorgeous space from every angle

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

Loved meeting with friends old and new and learning together 🙂

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

Thank you to the awesome Adam Shaffer for his Nerdy vision!

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

I loved bringing Viva Frida back for Miriam and watching her share it with little listeners

Celebration: Nerding out There's a Book for That

Today at the Vancouver Children’s Literacy Roundtable’s Serendipity, more wonderful words and many laughs. Many of the gems are too – let’s call them – “too YA” to share.

From Andrew Smith: “My code is the English language. Like a wizard I can put words together and make poetry. It is powerful.”

From Mariko Tamaki: “There is a third writer in a comic book – the author, the illustrator and the person who puts it all together. The collaboration is important.”

From Molly Idle and Kelly Chipponeri (Editorial Director, Children’s Books at Chronicle Books in San Fransisco): “The process of putting together a book and doing what is best for the book is about kind, creative and supportive communication.”

From Holly Black: “It is intensely personal and strange to write a book. Writing is often answering the questions that we come across.”

I loved the chance to talk education with Andrew Smith and to share the sunshine with Molly and Kelly and hear more about their collaboration.

A gorgeous day all around.

My students adore Molly Idle‘s Flora so they will be thrilled that I got our classroom copies signed!

IMG_2144 And yes, I love all of this – the authors, the illustrators and the literacy love. But why do I love it so much? Because I can share it with my students.

Their book love is my book love.

Our passion for literacy is always, I hope, transformative.


Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks. Read all of the celebrations by following the links shared here.


Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

Oh, how I love my class! I love the talk, the writing, the words, the questions . . . All of it.

I celebrate this long and winding conversation with my students:

Me: “I’m so excited I’m going to see an author/illustrator this weekend!”

A student: “Do we know who it is?”

Me: Gives various clues

Eventually . . . .

Various students: “Marie-Louise Gay!”

Me: “Yes. I hope to get her new book signed at the author breakfast I am going to.”

A student: “Signed to us right?”

Me: “Of course.”

A student: “Do you know Elise Gravel or are we just writing to her?

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

Me: “We are getting to know her. She’ll know you better after we send our letters and fan art.”

A student: “Did you send them already?”

Me: “Well, we are still working on everything. I will send it this weekend when we finish.”

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

A student: “Why don’t you just tweet it all?”

Me: “I have sent her some photos. But, I think she will like getting the package in the mail.”

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

A student: “Do you know Katherine Applegate?

Me: “We know her work but no, I haven’t met her.”

A student: “Go meet her. You should. And tell her about how we love her books.”

Me: “I shared some of our letters in a blog post and tweeted it to her. So she knows we love them.”

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

A student: “But you are going to meet Kate DiCamillo right?

Another student: “Can we come?”

Me: “I am going to a conference in the spring and she will be speaking. I will get our copy of Flora & Ulysses signed.”

A student: “You forgot The Illuminated Adventures part”

A student: “And you just met Raina Telgemeier right?”

Me: “Yes, and she signed books to our class. People are reading them right now.”

Many students: “I am.” “And then me.” “I’m next!” “Me!”

A student: “So, who are you going to meet next? Someone we like right?”


I also celebrate this – – > The lovely Miriam who works with me created these sheets and plastered the room and the school. In our room, we were gifting these words to each other with messages. I received “wisdom” with a comment from one child, “You are always really smart to us.”

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

One of our little learners was inspired and made her own. We found it outside our room at the end of the day – taped up in the hallway.

Pass it on. 

Celebration: Disgusting Critters, Favourite Authors, Pass it on

Conversations about authors and illustrators. Book love. Words with weight. These things I celebrate.

Thank you also to Ruth Ayres, for the inspiration and her Celebration Link up that she hosts each week. I love how being a part of this #celebratelu community reminds us weekly to look for the positive and take some time for gratitude.


Celebration: All is better with a little gold dust

celebrate link up

Celebration honoured. This is the loveliest of reasons to share. Join Ruth Ayres who shares a Celebration Link up on her blog each week.

I had a fantastic week back with my students. I think all of us were thrilled to be together again after a two week break, learning and sharing. I have many things to celebrate this week!

1. I loved all of the #MustReadin2014 spring updates shared by a wonderfully keen reading community. The Must Read phenomenon was born out of an attempt to gain some control over unruly TBR lists that grow and grow! Check out my update and links to update posts here. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo is one of my favourite books read so far from this list. Maybe even more special because I read it aloud to my children and we all loved it.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

2. I was thrilled to have a Nerdy Book Club post published this week. I saw a request from Colby Sharp for some retro review posts to be shared on twitter a few weeks ago. I have written some other Nerdy posts but never one in this category. I asked Colby if I could share something a little different instead of a review of one specific title. I wanted to go “retro” and look back at titles treasured with my children (now 11!) when they were preschool age. It was a nostalgic look back at books we adored. Read the post here.

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge  Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

3. I read the powerful picture book Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson illustrated by E.B.Lewis to my class this week.The reactions and comments were quite incredible. I think I might share some of their thinking and writing on our classroom blog. But the most interesting moment came with the ending. If you have read this book, you know that it ends with Chloe standing at the shore of the pond feeling a mix of regret, sadness and guilt. Her opportunity to offer kindness to Maya is gone. The story ends with these words:

“I watched the water ripple as the sun set through the maples and the chance of a kindness with Maya was becoming more and more forever gone.”

At first there was silence in the room and then one girl erupted, “What?! That’s terrible! It’s a terrible ending!” It’s not terrible. It’s just not happy so it’s confusing a bit,” someone else added. Another child piped up,”It makes you think about drama and saying sorry. It makes us think. It’s good.” As we were getting ready to move on to Reading Workshop, another child said, “I liked it. I have been waiting for a bad ending in a book. Not bad like not good but every ending shouldn’t be happy – that’s not how life is.” This little girl asked me to help her find a new novel and we kept talking about the story. I asked her if she wanted to put her thoughts into a reader’s statement (we have a huge wall of these posted on a bulletin board). She came up with something that I think is quite brilliant:

Readers can’t always expect a happy ending.

That books inspire discussions and thinking like this – this, I celebrate!

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

4. Ah . . . book love! My students were happy to be back to our classroom full of books. I sensed it on Monday morning when an instant hush fell upon the room when we started Reader’s Workshop. I did “book commercials” for new books all week and this generated lots of excitement.

I felt the book love when I saw “who reads it next” lists being created and stuck to new books.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

I felt it as I observed the wonderful engagement of one to one time with various adults who listen to children read and talk about stories and thinking with the students.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

I sensed it when listening to the the buzz around the book bins during buddy reading time with the K/1 class.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

Ah .  . . book love!

5. If you have hung in reading this very long Celebration post (it was a wonderful week!), here is the pot of gold 🙂 One of our students makes a lot of paper objects and sculptures all throughout the day. It helps him to focus and listen. We started thinking . . . Wouldn’t it be great to showcase some of his work? Wouldn’t it be better if it was spray painted gold? Absolutely! Here is the young artist at work, gold paint in action!

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

And here is the installation. Thank you to the amazing Miriam (the Support Worker who I get to work with every day!) for her huge role in displaying and advertising the “piece.” There are flyers pasted up all over the school! When this boy’s Mom came in to see this art and got hugely proud and teary, we all got teary. It was a moment.

 Celebration: All is Better with a Little Gold Dust

I celebrate all the many ways this is golden . . .

What are you celebrating this week?

Must Read Titles in 2014: Spring Update


My #MustReadin2014 list has 30 titles on it. As of today, I have read 13 of these books. Since I have read 26 novels so far in 2014, half of my reading has been from my #MustRead list. Sometimes these titles lead me off to read the rest of the series (after Legend I read Prodigy and Champion within weeks) or a sequel (after Better Nate than Ever, I read Five, Six, Seven, Nate!)

Here are the books I’ve read and the rating I gave them on Goodreads.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell  (Read January 3rd, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Legend by Marie Lu  (Read January 7th, 2014) Rating: 4/5

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick  (Read January 11th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Forgive me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (Read January 25th, 2014) Rating: 4/5

The Living by Matt de la Pena (Read January 31st, 2014) Rating: 4/5

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo  (Read February 15th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Listening for Lucca by Suzanne Lafleur (Read February 23rd, 2014) Rating: 4/5

Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy (Read March 6th, 2014) Rating: 4/5

Every Day After by Laura Golden  (Read March 6th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle (Read March 19th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech  (Read March 20th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Allegiant by Veronica Roth  (Read March 23rd, 2014) Rating: 2/5

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Read March 31st, 2014) Rating: 5/5

More details of my favourite 4 from this list:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

If you are no longer 18 years old, you might forget that fact while reading this book. All the vulnerability, fear, brutal soul searching and life lessons will come hurtling back at you as you experience the characters of Fangirl. Rainbow Rowell writes characters that are all about raw and true. Brilliant.

Fangirl #MustReadin2014 Spring Update There's a Book for That

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

I read this aloud to my children and we adored it. It is such a fantastic book to read aloud. We savoured the quirky, the hilarious and the eccentric. We smiled at the characters. We were lulled by the whimsy. And we were charmed by the brilliance of DiCamillo. 5 stars: all glowing and magical!

#MustReadin2014 Spring Update There's a Book for That

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle

Add me to the long list of readers who has been utterly charmed by the character Nate Foster. I loved his small town inexperience. His candor. His charm. The fact that he talks about his parent’s marriage problems, personal problems and parenting problems. I love that he talks about not knowing who he might like in the future and that he hasn’t got a gender all picked out yet. I love his friendship with his best friend. And then there is his audition. Okay, I basically just loved all of it. And I continued to love him in the sequel Five, Six, Seven, Nate! 

Better Nate than Ever #MustReadin2014 Spring Update There's a Book for That

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

I have had the pleasure of reading this entire trilogy to my children and this final book certainly did not disappoint. Adventure. Intrigue. Battles and Heroes. Everything a MG title needs to be fully engaging and engrossing! Highly recommend the entire trilogy if you haven’t read it yet.

 The Shadow Throne #MustReadin2014 Spring Update There's a Book for That

Some things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Matthew Quick is a must read author!
  • Dystopian series go downhill fast or remain exciting throughout. If on book 2 you have figured out which of these categories you are reading, remember this and either jump ship or keep reading.
  • There are so many Middle Grade titles to be excited about!
  • I am so glad I made this list because it has ensured that I have discovered some favourites!

How is your To Be Read list treating you?

If you have been participating in #MustReadin2014 and written an update post, please share using the #MustReadin2014 hashtag!

Want to know more about #MustReadin2014? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read lists.

Monday February 17th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?


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

The picture books I enjoyed this week (yes, I too notice a theme of silly!):

Just Me and 6,000 Rats: A Tale of Conjunctions written by Rick Walton and illustrated by Mike Gordon and Carl Gordon

A wonderful way to learn about conjunctions while reading an amusing story about a boy and his 6,000 rats who follow him everywhere. As you might imagine, the rats have quite the impact on everyone he meets. But along the way we get to learn how using words like but, until, since, etc can stretch our sentences!

Here Be Monsters written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Poly Bernatene

What a brilliant book to read aloud. Dare you to read it and not burst out a pirate accent! The rhyming is divine and the plot adored by young listeners. My students wrote reviews of this book on our class blog Curiosity Racers.

Here be Monsters #IMWAYR There's a Book for That February 17th 2014

Hippospotomus written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross

Hippopotamus has a red spot on his bottomus and every jungle animal offers advice. Nothing works! Completely ridiculous and silly with hilarious rhymes throughout.

” . . .A needle in the bottomus

Will rid you of the spotomus.”

Despite his perfect shotamus.

The cure was in vain.

The ending is ever so clever.

Hippospotamus #IMWAYR There's a Book for That February 17th 2014

Hey, Rabbit! by Sergio Ruzzier

This title appeals to the imaginative and the curious. What is in rabbit’s suitcase? Something for everyone? Each friend makes a remarkable discovery. Will there be anything left for rabbit? Sweet and creative.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That February 17th 2014

And the train goes . . . by William Bee

I can just imagine travelling back in time to the days when my son was obsessed with every kind of large moving vehicle and the sounds it made. We would have had to read this book over and over and over again. All kinds of colours and wonderful sounds.

Clickerty-click, clickerty-clack

clickerty-click, clickerty-clack . . .

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That February 17th 2014

Aunt Amelia by Rebecca Cobb

Aunt Amelia comes to babysit and strays a little from the list left by the children’s parents. Let’s just say there is a lot of mud, ice cream consumption and late night reading marathons on the agenda. Would the children like Aunt Amelia to come again? Absolutely! A perfect story for storytime.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That February 17th 2014

Helen’s Big World The Life of Helen Keller written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tavares

What an incredibly inspirational book about Helen Keller and her brilliant teacher Annie Sullivan. This book has quotations by Keller on every page. Beautifully illustrated. What an amazing relationship between teacher and student. What a tribute to the power of education. So much to this book.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That February 17th 2014

Novels I finished:

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by K.G. Campbell (This was a #MustReadin2014 title)

I read this aloud to my children and we adored it. We savoured the quirky, the hilarious and the eccentric. We smiled at the characters. We were lulled by the whimsy. And we were charmed by the brilliance of DiCamillo. 5 stars: all glowing and magical!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That February 17th 2014

Far Far Away written by Tom McNeal

How to describe this book? There is a huge surprise midway through so I’m not even going to touch the plot. But I will talk about the writing. Gorgeous. Eerie. Fairytales intertwined with modern day. Small town charm. Big time mystery. Ghosts. Friends. Love. And the theme of devotion – played out in many ways – some sweet, some heroic, some disturbing.

Far, Far Away #IMWAYR There's a Book for That February 17th 2014

Next up? I just started Listening for Lucca by Suzanne LaFleur. My children and I are hoping that The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielsen arrives at my work address tomorrow. We are more than a little excited to begin this title and plan to make it our next family read aloud!

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 11/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 101/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 6/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 34/65 complete

Monday November 11th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?


Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult reads! Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read!

I had a little weekend getaway with some friends so my novel reading was put on pause but I found lots of picture books that are very worth celebrating!

Mitchell Goes Bowling written by Hallie Durand and illustrated by Tony Fucile

This book reminds me that Tony Fucile is fast becoming one of my very favourite illustrators. Wow has he captured the hilarity and drama of taking a little intense bowler to the bowling alley. Mitchell is very amusing – competitive (“Battle on!”), intense (“Awahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!) and dramatic (“I’m going home.”) Durand has perfectly depicted a first bowling experience with an energetic four year old and his suave bowling experienced Dad.

Mitchell Goes Bowling #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Anno’s Hat Tricks written by Akihiro Nozaki and illustrated by Mitsumasa Anno

I found this book (hardcover!) at a second hand store for $1.99 Yippee! Hurrah! I was instantly excited because I am such a fan of Mitsumasa Anno. But . . . I didn’t know what a treat I was in for. This is a math book, a logic book, a fantastic book to talk through numerous thinking puzzles. There are three children: Tom, Hannah and Shadowchild (who represents the reader) who wear different red and white hats. They can see the hats on the other children’s heads but not on their own. Can they figure out the colour of the hat on their head by clues and the colour of the hat on the other children?

Anno's Hat Tricks #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Across the Alley written by Richard Michelson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis

It is the 1950s in New York City. Black and Jewish boys don’t mix. But Abe and Willie pay no attention to prejudice as they build their friendship by communicating through their bedroom windows. Baseball, violins and a big lesson in what friendship really can be and how it can inspire others to rethink segregation.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Animals Should Definitely not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett

I first heard about this title thought the Nonfiction 10 for 10 event and so was pleasantly surprised to see this title in a new edition and in the new books section of my public library. I can see this book being well enjoyed in an interactive read aloud session with children as they marvel at the silly pictures that accompany a series of reasons why various animals should not wear clothing.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Kate, The Cat and the Moon written by David Almond and illustrated by Stephen Lambert

I read this book after dinner at friends last night as it was described by my friend as possibly the favourite picture book read aloud in 10 or so years of reading aloud to his children. It is a beautiful book – the text is worth rereading over and over before you even turn the page. Lyrical, full of beautiful cat like images. Kate hears mewing in the middle of the night and heads out to play with a cat visitor but not as a human girl – instead in lithe cat form. Delightful dream like fantasy and some lines to be treasured.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Mrs. Biddlebox written by Linda Smith and illustrated by Marla Frazee

Oh do I adore Mrs .Biddlebox and her grumpy antics! Frazee is SO talented.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee Maclean

A lovely introduction to mindful practices for children. A reminder for all of us really to take time to center and notice the small moments that make life so beautiful.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Looking Closely through the Forest by Frank Serafini

I will be using this beautiful nonfiction title before I take my class on a forest walk this spring. Mysterious close up photos of forest treasures that inspire the reader to want to climb right into the book and absorb the textures and sounds and smells that are hinted at through this visual treat.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

I also finally got my hands on the latest Bink and Gollie title.

Bink and Gollie Friends Forever  written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated by Tony Fucile.

Not enough pancakes and not enough height but absolutely enough snickering and giggling inspired by this third in the Bink and Gollie series! As one of little girls often says, “Bink and Gollie are the bestest characters for me!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Next? Hoping to finish Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles this evening and then read Rump by Liesl Shurtliff next!

First Few Read Alouds

Oh, how I have missed reading aloud to a classroom of children! We didn’t switch classes until the end of this week so I had the pleasure of reading some books to our class from last year. Here were our first three reads:

Chloe and the Lion written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex (although his artistic contributions to this book were impacted when he was fired by the author and during the time he was inside the lion’s belly!)

I told the students that this book was a little different than most picture books and asked them to predict how just by looking at the cover. We looked carefully. What was different? We saw cover art, the author’s name, the illustrator’s name . . . Everything seemed normal. Pictures of the author and illustrator? Hmm . . . We didn’t always see that. Well author and illustrator featured hugely in this book. In fact story line, author issues, illustrator perspectives were all intertwined. We bore witness to the creative process, the discussion (often heated) between author and illustrator and even watched the character have impact on how the story unfolded. How did we like it? There were laughs. There was shouting. There was opinion expressed from my very involved audience. If everyone was in on this, why not us?! A delightful read aloud experience. Mrs. Morden, our principal, walked in during the story and nobody even gave her a glance. All of our attention was on this story! (We later sent this book home with Mrs. Morden to read to her children so she wouldn’t miss out! :-))

You’re Finally Here written and illustrated by Melanie Watt

This is not the first time I have read this book aloud to this group. Last spring I brought it in to share after finding it at the public library. Sergio must have asked me every week to read this book again and I never saw it again at the library. So when I found this title at the end of August, I tucked it on my school bag to share this first week back. This book is just as fun on the second read. So many giggles – especially at the contract the bunny wants us to sign to promise to not leave him and make him our highest priority! This book made its rounds during quiet reading and the next day was still being shared – often one student reading it to another and giggling a lot! A delightful book to share when everyone needs a smile. (First week anxiety means creating lots of opportunities to laugh and smile together)

Bink and Gollie Two for One written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated by Tony Fucile. 

Having just read this book myself last week, I realized it was the perfect book to bring in since so many students had visited Playland/the PNE this summer and this book is set at the State Fair. We related to the delight of rides, the games and booths, the sweet treats and the fortune teller tent. Needless to say, students were delighted by the antics of Bink and Gollie and appreciated the subtle and not so subtle humour (poor Mr. Whack the Duck man!)

Monday September 3rd, 2012

The last It’s Monday! What are you reading? post of the summer! I really hope I can find lots of time to read as the new school year begins. My TBR towers everywhere are a great incentive! 🙂

Link up with Jen and Kellee’s meme and share your reading from the week (picture books to young adult titles).

Our family finished listening to the False Prince  by Jennifer A. Nielsen as an audio book. It was the perfect Vancouver to Seattle and back listen and we finished the book all sitting happily in our den listening avidly to the last disc. What a story! We loved the suspense, the character of Sage and all of us are excited for the next titles in the trilogy. In fact, there are almost daily arguments about who gets to read the second book first when it is published.

I read a few middle grade titles this week. The first was The Great Gilly Hopkins written by Katherine Paterson. Gilly is a raw, angry  character. Quick to judge. Guarded. But so in need of love and acceptance and a real sense of belonging. The character of Maime Trotter in all of her simplicity is a hero of sorts. I thought I might read this book to my Grade 2/3 class but realize it needs a slightly older audience. Still love that it so candidly deals with the reality of being a foster child.

I just finished Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko. As I read, I kept thinking: “Wow.” By the end of the book I was up to a lot of “Wows.”  A must read middle grade selection for so many reasons: the history, the character of Moose and what rests on his very tall shoulders, the way autism was understood and misunderstood in the 1930s and the depiction of childhood in times of more freedom (despite living on Alcatraz). Can’t recommend this book enough.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

I read a lot of picture books this week, finding titles at the public library, my school library, and my own collection. As always, for brevity’s sake, I will limit this list to five. A bit of a back to school theme going on here with the final three.

Bink and Gollie: Two for One written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated (perfectly) by Tony Fucile. Take a state fair with all of its rides, booths and amusements, add Bink and Gollie and there is guaranteed laughter! My favourite lines?

“Tell Madame Prunely what it is you seek.”

“Truth,” said Gollie.

“Food,” said Bink.

Art and Max by David Wiesner. Absolutely delightful! So much to discuss as this book takes us through a very colourful exploration of art, fantasy and imagination.

 Vera’s First Day of School by Vera Rosenberry. Something speaks to me in little Vera – the way she holds so firmly to the black and white version of life (totally appropriate at her age and stage.) When she hasn’t entered school by the time the bell has sounded, she is convinced she can’t go at all. A lovely Mom, an understanding teacher and a brave attitude allow Vera to begin her day again.

Things I learned in Second Grade by Amy Schwartz. A lot happens in a school year. This book is an interesting documentation of just how much for one little boy. Great to read at the end or beginning of a school year.

Mr. Ouchy’s First Day written by B.G. Hennessy and illustrated by Paul Meisel. The first day of school is a first day for everyone, teachers included! Children might be surprised at how nervous those new teachers might be! A lovely book that explores the building of classroom community and the passion a teacher has for making learning paramount for his students!

We enjoyed listening to an audio book so much that we have just started The London Eye Mystery. Should be a fun nightly routine as we ease back into a new school year!

Happy Reading everyone!


Kidsbooks sale – so some new books to our class!

Vancouver Kidsbooks just had its annual sale so a little book shopping was necessary!

Kate DiCamillo is a favourite author (Because of Winn Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux). Her beginning chapter book series (about  Mercy Watson, an adored pet pig) was an instant hit in our classroom.  So much so I had to choose numbers between 1 and 100 to pass out the first 3 books in the series to eager little hands during quiet reading this morning. And the books each have an understood “I’m next” list attached to them.

mercy watson

We also got the new Binky book by Ashley Spires! Binky the Space Cat has been a very popular book in our Graphics bin.

The newest Binky (Binky to the Rescue) flew off the new book ledge as well!

Happy reading everyone!