Monday November 21st, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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

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

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

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

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


On the blog:

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

Books I enjoyed:

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

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


Big Bear Little Chair by Lizi Boyd

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


Bjorn’s Gift by Sandy Brehl

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

From Goodreads:

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

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


Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick

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


Reading Progress updates:

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

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 56/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 304/400 books read

Progress on challenge: 50 books behind! Yikes!

#MustReadin2016: 22/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 42/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 44/50 books read

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

Wrapped up in shades of black and grey

It is November and that means it is Picture Book Month!

Here in B.C. we have been experiencing some dark, rainy days. Daylight savings means we just found an extra hour of light in the morning but our afternoons disappear into evening black far too soon. Yet darkness is not all about doom and gloom. It also means cozy, long stretches to read or bustle about inside. Darkness can pull us together for seasons of celebration and special events or provide us with solitude for introspection and calm. Bright is beautiful but so is dark. Whether we seek out the mystery and unexpected or the opportunity to settle into the quiet.

All of the dark has got me thinking about picture book covers. I started a list to see if I could come up with a number of titles that come specially wrapped in blacks and greys. My list ran off the page and I realized that many of my favourite books reside here. Is it just me or is there a certain elegance to these titles?

When you need a break from the bright, pick up one of these beautiful books.

25 titles to swoon over.

Wrapped up in Shades of Black and Grey There's a Book for That

Listed alphabetically by author.

Leo a Ghost Story written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

Gleam and Glow written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Peter Sylvada

A Good Night Walk by Elisha Cooper

The Black Book of Colors written by Menana Cottin and illustrated by Rosana Faría

Nighttime Ninja written by Barbara DaCosta and illustrated by Ed Young

Willaboughy and the Moon by Greg Foley

The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein

The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett

I Know a Bear by Mariana Ruiz Johnson

This is not my Hat by Jon Klassen

In the Tree House written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Dušan Petričić 

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith

Night Animals by Gianna Marino

Zero by Kathryn Otoshi

Our King has Horns! written by Richard Pevear and illustrated by Robert Rayevsky

Big Bad Bubble written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

The Dark written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Swan written by Laurel Synder and illustrated by Julie Morstad

Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise written by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Jean Jullien

Friends by Mies van Hout 

Happy by Mies van Hout

Surprise by Mies van Hout 

Ten Birds by Cybele Young

How I love sharing picture book lists during this month of picture book love!

Happy Picture Book Reading!

pb month logo

Monday September 29th, 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. You are guaranteed to find something new to add to your list.

Picture book love overflowed. Ten favourites from the week:

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

I will admit that I coveted this book from first just the title and then, once revealed, the cover. Yes, of course, because I adore Marla Frazee but also because . . . what a cover. It hints at mystery and strange happenings and . . . ? This book could have been so many stories. If you haven’t yet experienced it, don’t you have numerous story lines floating about in your head? It surprised me with its tenderness, the sweet, the kind. All the more amazing of course, because it is wordless. I cannot wait to experience this next through children’s eyes when I share it with my class.

the farmer and the clown Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

My, my, my, my. What a package of brilliance and wonder and beauty. A quiet forest walk in the dark with highlights of little bits of magic. Amusing. Beautiful. Wow. And wordless . . . Yet, I imagine this in children’s hands and all I hear is natter, natter, natter.

Flashlight Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Best Book in the World by Rilla Alexander

All about the journey that books take us on – how it is somewhat endless and circular and full of all kinds of wonderful.

the best book in the world Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Catching Kisses written by Amy Gibson and illustrated by Maria Van Lieshout

Love these illustrations in a very big way. Gorgeous visually all around. A book that is comforting, soothing and about the power of connection.

catching kisses Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Once Upon a Memory written by Nina Laden and illustrated by Renata Liwska

Ode to memories and inspiration for dreaming up more. The perfect book to inspire a list, a discussion, a story . . .

 Once Upon a Memory Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Rock-A-Bye Room written by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Amy Bates

I found this at the library and instantly wished I could read it multiple times to a near sleep toddler – it is the perfect bedtime book. If I find it in board book version, I will buy multiple copies to gift to new parents. Just lovely all around.

Rock a bye room Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

And Two Boys Booed written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

I love books that capture what it is like to be courageous in everyday moments. This is one of the best.

And Two Boys Booed Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Rain Stomper written by Addie Boswell and illustrated by Eric Velasquez

I am not really sure how it is that I haven’t celebrated this book before – considering it is all about finding ways to embrace the rain and I live in the rainy Pacific Northwest. But now that I have, let me rave. This is all about powerful language, great energy and the magic of a community of children and a rainy day. Delightful.

the rain stomper Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Ladybug Girl and Bingo by David Soman and Jacky Davis

Every time I read a LadyBug Girl title, I become more enamoured with these lovely stories and the incredible illustrations by Soman. In this title, Ladybug Girl has some big time camping adventures with her beloved dog Bingo. Of course, adventures can seem big or small according to your perspective on the world . . .

LadyBug Girl and Bingo Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Lisa Brown

I know for sure that some people will just not like this book. It is odd. It doesn’t necessarily make sense. It can be considered confusing. For me though, it is quite brilliant. Takes me right back to being a child and imagining wild and wonderful things about perhaps the most ordinary of places. Or perhaps not . . .

29 Myths Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read a sweet little beginning chapter book:  Squishy McFluff The Invisible Cat by Pip Jones and illustrated by Ella Okstad

Love the rhymes and often I don’t like rhymes. This rhyming text allows for a smoother read and predictability with the text. Lots of naughty here. Is it our darling Ava up to no good? Or her sneaky invisible kitty?

Squishy McFluff Monday September 29th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I have been switching novels around a little bit and have now settled into The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 62/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 441/650 books read (currently 40 books behind which is actually progress! Last week it was 54!)

#MustReadin2014: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 107/65 complete

Wordless Whispers and Shouts

It is no secret that I adore wordless books. Some of these titles have so much buzz about them lately – you can probably hear the shouts if you put your ear to the ground on the picture book love network. Others have been around for a little while and need a “Psst, you know this title don’t you?” mention.

 Wordless Whispers and Shouts: There's a Book for That Some wonderful wordless titles

Here are a handful of words about some fantastic wordless (or nearly) titles:

Journey by Aaron Becker

Grab your imagination and enter a magical world where anything might happen. Stunning.

 Wordless Whispers and Shouts: There's a Book for That Some wonderful wordless titles

Bluebird by Bob Staake 

Loneliness. Friendship. Cruelty. Grief. Hope. A whirlwind of emotions.

 Wordless Whispers and Shouts: There's a Book for That Some wonderful wordless titles

South by Patrick McDonnell 

A story of being lost and found and having someone sweet enough to help you on your journey to where you need to go.

 Wordless Whispers and Shouts: There's a Book for That Some wonderful wordless titles

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann

Including this title here is kind of cheating. It isn’t really a wordless title. But some of the best pages of the book that tell the biggest story are the pages of just images. All about brilliant, creative, heroic ideas in the name of friendship.

 Wordless Whispers and Shouts: There's a Book for That Some wonderful wordless titles

Looking Down by Steve Jenkins

Closer and closer and closer. Google Earth beautifully captured in a picture book. Experience a little vertigo as you turn the pages.

 Wordless Whispers and Shouts: There's a Book for That Some wonderful wordless titlesInside Outside by Lizi Boyd

Simple adventures over the seasons inside and outside of the house.

 Wordless Whispers and Shouts: There's a Book for That Some wonderful wordless titles