Monday April 29th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

E: “This is a girl book!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you reading? 

Monday March 4th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Kellee and Jen’s meme to share what you are reading from picture books to young adult reads. Their blog is the perfect one stop shop to follow all of the links to book lovers’ and blogger’s weekly reads!

My favourite picture books of the week:

 Odd Velvet It's Monday!

Odd Velvet written by Mary Burg Whitcomb and illustrated by Tara Calahan King I shared this book with my reading group for Pink Day (Anti Bullying day).

We had some great conversations about diversity and celebrating what is unique about all of us. 

Student writing shows how powerful this little book can be when shared with a group of children.

 Odd Velvet It's Monday! What are you Reading?

Donovan’s Big Day written by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Mike Dutton This book was shared with me by the librarian at my children’s school. Her blog is a fantastic place for book lovers. Donovan is getting all ready for his very big day. He will be the ring bearer at a very important wedding. This book celebrates love, family and marriage and the right we all have to have all of those things.

donovan

Willow Finds a Way written by Lana Button illustrated by Tania Howells A really important read for primary students – one that explores how we treat each other, standing up for what we know is right, honouring our feelings . . . Children can so often be bossy and controlling and it is often difficult for other children to stand up and be assertive. This book explores how this might look beautifully.

Willow

Instructions written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess Oh how I adore this poem by Gaiman. Steeped in metaphors, wise words and subtle lessons and woven through a fairytale setting . . . Wonderful. A very adult children’s book.

instructions

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle My, my, my, my . . . do I need to own this book. All about making a friend. Being graceful and wonderfully clumsy. Being perfectly not perfect. And . . . if I can say it . . . finally a pink book that is perfectly pink and not really about pink at all – there just happens to be a pink flamingo 🙂

Flora-and-the-Flamingo

Some Dog written by Mary Casanova and illustrated by Ard Hoyt My class recently shared Some Cat by the same author/illustrator team. We adored the big personalities in the animals and this book (that was actually published first) delivers the same wonderful pets that manage to charm you through the pages. Fantastic book to talk about welcoming a new animal into the home.

some dog

Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic by Monica Carnesi Love the illustrations and simple text that tell this story making it accessible even for independent reading for young readers. What a story!

little-dog-lost

Rabbit’s Snow Dance written by James and Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Jeff Newman I first heard about this book from Linda at Teacher Dance. It is a wonderful pourquoi tale that reveals why rabbits have their little cotton ball tails.  Delightful.

rabbit's snow dance

In novels . . . finishing reports and preparing for a big presentation on Wednesday has definitely cut into my reading this week. Hoping to have more time over this next week (as in any minute please – my bookstacks are calling . . . ) to read.

Finished Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver I enjoyed this just as much as Delerium even though I was initially devastated that Alex would not escape with Lena into the Wilds. I enjoyed the “Now” and “Then” format of the novel and found I couldn’t put this book down. And wow, does Oliver set us all up to be eagerly anticipating the final book in the triology. Even though I knew what was coming with the ending  . . . I’m hooked.

Pandemonium

I am happily devouring Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. Loving this novel so far. Next up is Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool and Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King. 

What are you reading this week?

Monday February 4th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Kellee and Jen’s meme to share all the reading you have done over the week – everything from picture books to young adult novels! Connecting with the #IMWAYR community is such a great way to hear about fantastic books “new to you.”

I had a big weekend of reading. Part of it was that I fell into many books I just couldn’t put down so I was able to read more novels than usual in a work week.

The Spindlers written by Lauren Oliver This was a title I have been reading to my children as a nightly read aloud. An interesting fantasy title about the world Below – full of drama and action and slightly scary parts. Liza has to rescue her brother’s soul that has been stolen by the Spindlers and the rescue mission is full of risk and odd, magical creatures, many of them menacing. The idea that her little brother’s soul was stolen was creepy enough to warrant a request from my son not to read it right before bed. This lasted just a few nights until the adventure was too addictive and we had to read this book nightly! A really gripping fantasy story for the middle grade crowd.

The Spindlers

Glory Be written by Augusta Scattergood Set in Mississippi in 1964 in the heat of summer and the heat of the civil rights movement. This is a story of one strong girl, her family, her friendships and her drive to make sense of the prejudice and fear around her. The letter Glory sends to the local paper to question the town’s decision to close the pool is absolutely brilliant. What voice and what conviction in such a young girl. I had wanted to read this story for a long time and it is now in the hands of my ten year old daughter who is devouring it.

Glory Be

Dying to Know You written by Aidan Chambers I picked this book up and could not put it down. Yes, I was intrigued by the story and the characters but it was the style of writing and the fact that Chambers tells this story through the voice of a nameless 75 year old narrator that just held me. The narrator’s voice was so strong, so vulnerable, so lyrical – I just loved it. Of course, read this book because the storyline is very clever but the writing will wow you. A young adult realistic fiction title.

dying to know you

Ordinary Beauty written by Laura Wiess Not a book to dip your toe into – you need to jump right in and be with the character as she tells the story of her painful, abusive childhood full of neglect. Sayre’s mother is an addict and she is dying. Sayre’s life story is told alongside her present day dramatic struggle on a wintery night to reach her mother’s bedside and confront her feelings about what is happening. This story is extra raw for me as I have taught students whose lives have many similar elements to Sayre’s childhood – extreme poverty, horrible living conditions, exposure to things children should not even conceive of . . . A hard book to read but what a story . . .

ordinary beauty

Books I am starting this week: Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky is next up for our student book club. I haven’t read this title yet so will be reading along with the kids. With my own children, I have just started reading The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens. This is a book I have wanted to read for a while so am excited to share it with my children. Next novel up for me? Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King – this just arrived for me at the public library. I requested it after loving King‘s Ask the Passengers.

Picture books I enjoyed this week included many nonfiction titles:

Hello Oscar! a Zoe and Beans story by Chloe and Mick Inkpen I keep seeing Zoe and Beans books at the public library and decided I should finally read one – very sweet little illustrations – lovely for story time with the younger set.

HelloOscarCover

A Perfect Day by Carin Berger Perfectly depicts the wonder and magic of a snow day. Love this illustrator’s style.

a-perfect-day-coever

Speaking of snow – I highlighted some nonfiction snow books on my Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday post, including this title, The Story of Snow. Read this post to hear more about these snow books.

story-of-snow

Adopt a Glurb by Elise Gravel I really enjoy so many of these Balloon Toons titles! This one is especially quirky and hilarious. Can see this being hugely popular with my students.

adopt a glurb

I Have a Dream by Dr Martin Luther King Jr with paintings by Kadir Nelson. I shared this with my own children and we had very thoughtful discussions. Kadir Nelson’s beautiful art makes Dr. King’s words so accessible and powerful through the intimate experience a well done picture book can create.

i-have-a-dream

Have a happy week of reading everyone!

Monday January 21st, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? 

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

A highlight of every week is linking up with Jen and Kellee’s meme to share all of my reading for the week from picture books to young adult novels. Such a fantastic way to learn of new titles from an avid reading community.

I read some very lovely picture books this week. Sharing my top five here.

Again, is it just me, or are there a plethora of bears in picture books? Not that I’m complaining. Love bears! But I sure do encounter them frequently.

 

Bear in Love by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. This is an especially sweet and gentle story of kindness and friendship. I shared my students’ reactions to this story here.

bear in love

Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson I found this little treasure of a book about . . . treasuring books . . . at the bookstore today and it made its way home happily with me! Any book that celebrates reading, imagination and the love of books is an instant favourite of mine. So Otto is my new friend, the book promotor!

otto the book bear

Cheer up your Teddy Bear Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell and illustrated by Neal Layton I always love Neal Layton’s illustrations which is what initially drew me to this book. Such a perfect read aloud for early primary students that touches on a sad mood that becomes contagious. Eventually, the little teddy bear recognizes that a miserable mood can be changed with a shift in attitude and then the sun comes out and so much more . . .

cheer up your teddy bear

The Black Rabbit by Philappa Leathers  Took me right back to when my children were little and shadows were absolutely fascinating – how they followed us, walked with us, joined in at unexpected times 🙂 In this story, a scary black rabbit seems to terrorize a little rabbit until . . .

the black rabbit

Mr. Zinger’s Hat by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Dusan Petricic This is one of my favourite books of the week. A wonderful story about the power of storytelling and how it meanders this way and that between the narrator and the creatively involved listener. Always I adore books that feature interactions between generations – in this case it is young Leo and old Mr. Zinger who collectively “create” a story. And the storytelling continues once Leo has been “bit” by the storytelling bug. I read this at the bookstore today and think that I need to own it. A story you want to read and reread.

mr zingers hat

Early Chapter

Penny and her Doll by Kevin Henkes How I love that Kevin Henkes has created this series of books featuring Penny!

penny and her doll

Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford I am so excited about Violet Mackerel! She is the brainchild of Australian writer Anna Branford and is such a breath of fresh air in this genre. A young girl who is an interesting young girl – not all pink and cutesy but really just real. She loves discovering interesting things, appreciates the cozy feel of her pajamas on a cool morning and sees treasure and joy in everyday things. More in this series will soon be released in the North American market.

violet m

I finished two novels this week.

Delerium by Lauren Oliver I found myself surprisingly connected to characters in this story and read through it very quickly. Of course, I want to read the next in the series but am wary of who will be there and who won’t be . . .

Delirium

Every Day by David Levithan I am still feeling speechless after completing this story yesterday. Shook up my thinking in a number of ways. This novel asks you to suspend belief and takes you to some very interesting places if you can do just that. Made me think that much is random and yet, that really nothing is . . .

every day

 

I’m currently reading Hattie Every After by Kirby Larson. With my children, we continue to enjoy The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver as our nightly read aloud.

Monday January 14th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Kellee and Jen’s meme to share all the reading you have done over the week – everything from picture books to young adult novels! Connecting with the #IMWAYR community is such a great way to hear about fantastic books “new to you.”

I read a lot of picture books this week. Here are my favourites:

Pecan Pie Baby by Jaqueline Woodson and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. A perceptive little story about a young girl who is anxious about a new baby coming and changing the connected relationship between her and her Mama. Love Sophie Blackall’s illustrations – all the tender snuggles between pregnant Mom and daughter.

pecan pie baby

Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman I’ve read other Ladybug girl stories but not this original book and I like it best of all. Lovely illustrations and the highlights of outdoor pretend play.

Ladybug-Girl

Clancy and Millie and the Very Fine House by Libby Gleeson and illustrated by Freya Blackwood The best part of this story is the celebration of play through some very imaginative building with boxes. (Fantastic illustrations by Blackwood) Of course, it’s also a great book to touch on anxiety about moving somewhere new.

clancy and millie and the very fine house

C.R. Mudgeon by Leslie Muir and Julian Hector There is much to this little book. A tribute to friendship, a reminder to break out of your comfort zone and be ready for new things and the celebration of individuals who really truly grab on to the world and shake all there is to find within it out! Go read it . . . so worth it!

C.R. Mudgeon

Some Cat! This was a wonderful read aloud in my room. I shared my students’ reactions here.

some cat

Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein The pay it forward story line isn’t unique for a picture book but none of us can hear this message too often: kindness passed on grows and strengthens. Loved the illustrations. Beautifully colourful and whimsical. I read this to my class and it sparked a lovely brainstorming session on how we can create more kindness in our classroom.

because_amelia_smiled

Wanted: The Perfect Pet by Fiona Robertson A boy wants a dog. A dog wants a friend. Really, they need each other. If you just look at it in the right way . . . Touching story of the need for a companion and how far some might go to find that connection. Chapter format in a picture book.

wanted the perfect pet

Bullly by Patricia Polacco Handles middle school issues of cyber bullying, friendship and loyalty very well.

Bully-cover-web

I also read some fantastic nonfiction. Read this post for more details.

In novels . . . 

DivinersI finished The Diviners by Libba Bray. This was one of my must read in 2013 titles as I’m trying to read more fantasy novels.

Wow . . .this was some book! Dramatic. (I loved the 1920s setting and characters.) Funny. At times, absolutely scary. Eerie and shivery kind of scary. Horror. Paranormal activity. Special powers. It was the kind of read where it is necessary to say to yourself, “just a book, just a book . . . ” Some nights I would turn off my light and then haunted by worries about a specific character, turn the light back on and read on.

This is a long read (578 pages) but highly addictive. The ending definitely leaves many things unanswered (hooking readers for the next in the series . . .)

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

I also read How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr.

I read this book quickly finding myself very attached to what might happen to all of the characters. The story is about two teenage girls (Jill and Mandy) who find their lives completely colliding when Jill’s Mom decides to adopt Mandy’s baby in an open adoption. Pregnant Mandy comes to live with Jill and her Mom and brings with her sadness, secrets and longing for a different life. Jill is still reeling from the recent death of her father and finds it difficult to be open to anyone. Somehow though these characters find a way to make sense to each other and the ending is . . . (I don’t want to spoil it but must say, it really touched me)

Currently, I’m reading The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver to my children and The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (think this is the fourth time I’ve read this book!) with my student book club at school. We are really enjoying The Spindlers – it’s full of delightful and unique characters from “below” My son is finding the idea of spindlers a little spooky but every time I stop reading, he begs me to continue!

I am also reading Delirium by Lauren Oliver (the author that seems to be everywhere I look this week!)