Favourites of 2014

Here are my favourite titles of 2014! Another wonderful year of reading – always in awe of the amazing authors and illustrators out there that give us the important gift of stories.

The best of the best (published in 2014) for me?

14 favourites and no more than 14 words of raving about each title. This was my challenge last year with my Favourites of 2013 (13 books, 13 words) and in 2012 (12 books, 12 words) with my 2012 Favourites. This year I get one more book and one more word to play with! 🙂

This year I chose to spread my book love evenly between picture books and novels. 7 and 7. I will be sharing my nonfiction favourites in a post of their own this week so I focussed a little more on fiction here.

In no particular order – my 7 favourite picture books of 2014:

Sparky! written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Absolutely charming. And wonderfully slow – yes, like a sloth.

Sparky Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin written by Chieri Uegaki with illustrations by Qin Leng

A story of determination, perseverance and creativity. Dream. Be courageous. Such messages.

 Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Thanks To Katherine Applegate and all of those who have loved Ivan, we love Ivan too.

ivan Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

A cover that hints at mystery and strange happenings and . . . ? Tender. Sweet. Kind

 The Farmer and the Clown Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

Persistence and love wrapped in brown, green and a little brother’s smile.

 The Girl and the Bicycle Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay

A story starts with a blank white page . . .

 Any Questions Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

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

Pulls you deep into a “theorizing hole.” Digging in, around and out is highly satisfying.

 sam and Dave Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

And the novels that touched me – often making me pause and just connect with the state of being and living and loving. Novels roll out stories that transform our thinking with beautiful words on a page – the characters in these books have stuck with me.

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner

Vulnerability. A touching exploration of grief. Superb writing and of course, little Frankie Sky.

 The Summer of Letting Go Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Bird by Crystal Chan

One girl raised in grief and superstition chases living. Sad and spectacular imagery.

 Bird Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Friendship trials and celebrations. Growing up with hearing loss and super powers.

El Deafo Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Chirp. Joey. Solid but broken. Love their observations, their coping strategies, their complicated friendship.

Nest Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

Tears, faith, outrage, peace. What a story. Wiles pulls you right into 1964.

Revolution Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rose does things differently. But much a lot more bravely. Such a read.

Rain Reign Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Full of raw mistakes and huge hopes. Energizing despite the grief and pain.

I'll Give you the sun Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Please share your own favourites of the year . . . 

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

What a year in picture books! There are so many amazing titles to choose from. I have certainly not read every book out there. But I have read a lot and there are some that have stood out. Here is my list of twenty. Twenty books I think are absolutely worth owning and therefore, worth gifting. Fantastic titles in both fiction and nonfiction. My criteria? Is it a book that can be shared multiple times? Does it inspire creativity, thinking, inspiration? Does it make the readers think differently? Does it celebrate something important? Is it a book that brings joy? Or does it simply make you laugh? A lot.

With those questions in mind, here is my list:

Listed alphabetically by author.

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

This title is almost too special for words. After I read this book to my class, they wrote Ivan letters. Read more here. A book to inspire talk about how we treat animals and how we treat each other. Ivan’s story is a must read.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Quest by Aaron Becker

Experience the imaginative journey that Becker captures on the page. The reader is pulled through each illustration, all the while attempting to absorb every tiny detail. So wonderful that this is a picture book (wonderfully wordless) so that it can be experienced again and again.

 Quest Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Some Bugs written by Angela Diterlizzi and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

The text is delightful and the illustrations, divine! You will want to shrink down to insect size and crawl about this insect world.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

This title surprised me with its tenderness, the sweet, the kind. All the more amazing of course, because it is wordless.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma written by Diane Fox and illustrated by Christyan Fox

Funny, funny, funny – kind of like having a backseat driver “helping” tell a story. Annoying for the narrator. Amusing for the readers.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay

Enter Marie-Louise Gay‘s imagination, learn about her story conjuring process and hear a wonderful story . . . My class was completely spellbound by this book. More here.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Unique creatures and clever problem solving finesse. Speaks to loneliness and getting along with others with everyone pulling their weight.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle

Wordless. Playful and interactive with lots of flaps and expressions to study. Go ice dancing with Flora and her charming little friend.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Why do certain creatures have these specific features? They will tell you in this gorgeous nonfiction title.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

A Perfectly Messed up Story by Patrick McDonnell

Lots of humour. A conversation starter. A book to read together and then to refer to often. Life is full of messes. How are we going to face them?

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Sparky! written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans

This book is so absolutely charming. And wonderfully slow – yes, like a sloth.  It is about our desires and vulnerabilities. The last page will totally get you. This book needs to sit on your family’s bookshelf.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

This book will speak to your heart. Wordless perfection.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

 A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Cátia Chien 

Based on a true story. Gorgeous. Special. It’s a must own and must share. A story of a boy who finds his voice and shares it in the best of ways.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

A little “imaginary friend” goes in search of his person. What could be better? A book about connection and “meant to be”.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Don’t Play with Your Food by Bob Shea

We need to laugh lots with those we love. Little people will delight in this story. Big people will adore reading it aloud.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season 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. I challenge you to find a favourite illustration. Just stunning.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

This book needs an audience! Guessers to be specific. What else could feathers be used for besides flight? Feels like you could pluck some of these feathers right off of the page. Share the book and then come back to it often as you notice birds in your neighbourhood.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin written by Chieri Uegaki with illustrations by Qin Leng

A story of determination, perseverance and creativity. Absolutely about courage and dreaming. Connections to family. A treasure.

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

This pigeon is channeling all children who resist, resist, resist the bath and then, absolutely refuse to get out. Have kids? You will relate!

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

What do you do with an idea? written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mac Besom

I previously described this title as a celebration of imagination and a Must Have/Must Own/Must Share title. I’m still going with that. Tempted?

Gift Books 2014 – twenty picture books to give this season There's a Book for That

Books are gifts to treasure! This season give books!

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!

Any Questions?

Yesterday, we ran out of time to do our afternoon picture book read aloud. But . . . I had already showed the trailer for Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay and students were eager to read it.

Aww!” they exclaimed when I announced we didn’t have time. “Tomorrow?”

Tomorrow was today and we had an all day field trip to Science World, but I thought we might be back in time and put Read Aloud in our day plan pocket chart.

That book? Will we read it today, Ms. Gelson?” I was asked many times.

 Any Questions? There's a Book for ThatWe returned to school with 23 minutes before the bell. Coats away. Carpet. Mindful breathing. Time for a read aloud. But just! Within minutes, the room was quiet. Students were captured. We entered Marie-Louise Gay‘s imagination, learned about her story conjuring process and heard a wonderful story . . .

 Any Questions? There's a Book for That

I read the last word at 2:59 p.m. and students rushed to tell me favourite parts:

“I like the giant because he is so huge. And the purple beast!”

“I saw Stella and Sam I think.”

“It was funny that the monster’s name was Fluffy!”

“I like all of the details and speech bubbles. I know she wrote it but it kinda seemed like kids wrote it.”

“I spotted a little Stella! I did.”

Rushing kids out the door heading out to do afternoon supervision, I still had the book in my hand. Near the playground, talk about the book continued:

“My favourite part was the end pages – it looks like she dipped markers in water.”

“I like all of the little stories inside of the book.”

“Do we get to read it again tomorrow? I want to look at all of the answers in the back.”

I used the book to cheer up someone who had fallen.

“Do you want to see a purple beast?”

Look at this smile!

 Any Questions? There's a Book for That

Then I started getting requests.

“Can I see that book too? What was the page you just showed?”

I, of course, was happy to share. But when I asked for the book back, others were not happy to return it 🙂

 Any Questions? There's a Book for That

However, after the book love could be shared with some others . . . I got my book back. Isn’t that how it should be? Stories are meant to be shared and shared and shared.

 Any Questions? There's a Book for That

Got it? Because if you have any questions, here’s the book for that:

 Any Questions? There's a Book for That

Any Questions? by Marie Louise Gay is a perfect book to celebrate for Picture Book Month

pb month logo

Monday October 20th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

imwayr

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult 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.

I read a few  picture books and many early/young chapter books and graphics this week.

Any Questions by Marie-Louise Gay

What a beautiful picture book. It highlights the story telling process, the magic of children’s questions and the imaginative journey of a gifted author/illustrator into the land of stories. Once upon a time . . .  Marie-Louise Gay tells us that a story begins with a blank white page. But her pages are never blank and white – when they are gifted to us, lucky readers, they are full of whimsy, happy clutter and childhood. Layer upon layer for read through after read through with little readers. Always something to happen upon on each page even if you miss it the first time through.

Any Questions Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The book trailer is delightful – especially hearing Marie Louise-Gay‘s warm and animated voice. After meeting her on Saturday at the Vancouver Children’s Literature Round Table’s Breakfast, it is even more charming. I am thrilled to bring my signed copy of her book into school this week!

 signed Any Questions Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Of course, I also had to purchase the two Marie-Louise Gay books I didn’t have in our class collection.

When Stella was Very, Very Small by Marie-Louise Gay

All of the Stella titles feature Stella as a young girl but this title takes us back to her toddler days. She is, of course, charming, curious and cute as a bug.

When Stella was Very, Very Small Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

What are you Doing Sam? by Marie-Louise Gay

I particularly love the Sam titles – the interactions between Stella and Sam that begin with Sam are quite charming. In this book, Sam decides to teach his dog Fred some tricks. This is quite an interesting endeavour. Fred, as usual, has his own ideas.

 What are you doing Sam? Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Extraordinary Warren: A Super Chicken by Sarah Dillard

This was a wonderful find at the bookstore this weekend. Thanks to a donation to classroom libraries at my school, I got to go book shopping. My plan was to purchase more early chapter series and graphic titles for our class collection. This reads as part graphic, part early chapter. Filled with humour, adventure and interesting character interactions, I predict this will be a hit with many little readers in my room!

 A Super Chicken Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Baby Mouse: Monster Mash (#9) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

It is October. Halloween is approaching. Reading this title was only fitting. Love the layers to the story about friendship, peer pressure and bully behaviour.

Monster Mash Baby Mouse Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Picture Day (Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe #1) by Susan Nees

Another Branches series by Scholastic.  I wondered if this title was going to be a “pink” book considering the cover and all of the rosy hues. I was pleasantly surprised by the character development and character interactions in an early chapter book title full of busy illustrations. Missy’s friend Oscar has some creative ideas about saving Missy’s identity crisis on picture day when her mother stifles her creative fashion spirit.

Picture Day Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Class Pets (Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe #2) by Susan Nees

I tried out another title just to check consistency and I enjoyed this one too. Perfect level for beginning chapter book readiness. Lots of colourful photos, easy to connect to school settings/plot lines and lots of humour.

 Class Pets Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Monkey Me #1 Monkey Me and the Golden Monkey by Timothy Roland

This Branches series is a little more complex than the Missy titles – more text and less illustrations. Still, great for a young chapter book series. After eating a special banana at the museum, Clyde has the tendency to become a monkey (literally) for portions of every day. Sometimes more than once. Silly, humorous and full of adventure.

Monkey Me and the Golden Monkey Monday October 20th, 2014 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also finished After Iris by Natasha Farrant

I so loved this book – I am a fan of the chaos, eccentricities and love in this Gadsby family. The parents? Yikes. The “au pair”/guardian? Fantastic. The sibling interactions? So true. Told through Blue’s film transcripts and diary entries, this is a must read middle grade novel. One of my #MustReadin2014 titles.

IrisUp next? I am still reading The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson – so happy with this title as I think both of my children will love it. Thinking of purchasing it as a futre family read aloud. We are big fans of fantasy. Still reading Okay for Now to my children- such a book to inspire discussion

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 65/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 471/650 books read (currently 48 books behind – not getting this much lower but keeping it under 50! I need a picture book blitz day or two or three)

#MustReadin2014: 21/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 111/65 complete

 

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.

celebrate-link-up

Monday, September 9th 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!

IMWAYR

Happy Back to School everyone!

This week was about sharing a lot of favourite titles with my new class. I am thrilled to announce that I have a multiage class of students – Grade 2/3/4. Sixteen of these children were with me last year. We have launched right into the celebration of books in a wonderful way. Wordless titles. Nonfiction books. Lots of picture books! Our first chapter book read aloud is Marty McGuire Digs Worms by Kate Messner.

Finally this weekend, I found the time to read some “new to me” picture books I pulled from my public library and school library. My favourites of the week:

Desmond and the Very Mean Word written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams and illustrated by A.G. Ford

Gorgeously illustrated by A.G. Ford, this title handles forgiveness and its power in a totally accessible and meaningful way for children. An engaging story of negative interactions between boys where the negative tension is finally soothed through gestures of apology and forgiveness. A wise adult helps Desmond navigate feelings of vengeance, anger and upset. Set in South Africa and based on a true story in Desmond Tutu’s own childhood.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Rabbityness written and illustrated by Jo Empson

Visually – wow. So much to this story. It is a celebration of self and creativity and joy. It is about inspiration. It is about loss and grief and moving on. A story told equally through text and illustrations.

Rabbityness #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Read me a Story, Stella written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay 

I am a big fan of Gay’s Stella and Sam – I love the connections to nature, the endless questions, Stella’s brave persona and Sam’s style of hanging back until he is sure. This book has all of the magic of the other Stella and Sam books and there is a love of literacy and books thrown in the mix. What could be better?

Read me a Story, Stella #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter This story is based on true events surrounding the invasion of Iraq in 2003. An incredibly brave and determined librarian worked quickly and creatively to protect the books in Basra’s Central Library from the destruction caused by the bombing. A story of heroism and hope in the midst of the ugliness of war. This book could be shared with older primary students and would be relevant right into high school.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter Another incredible story of courage based on true events. I think stories of violations of children’s right to attend school are stories that must be shared. This book tells the story of a little girl living in fear in the middle of Taliban rule. School offers her much more than education. My own children leaped up after I read this story to them, yelling in outrage about the injustices revealed in this book. They immediately made connections to The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis that we read a few years ago.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

In novels,

I finished Cinder written by Marissa Meyer Honestly, I was surprised by how addictive this story was for me. I thought it would be a light read but I was drawn in to the drama and intrigue despite suspecting some of the secrets unveiled late in the novel quite early on. I will definitely continue with this series. Futuristic, fantasy/sci-fi with fairy tale elements and high drama. Can see this being a huge hit for (older) middle school/high school readers.

Cinder #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I have just started Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein and also want to get to Jinx by Sage Blackwood.

Happy Reading everyone!