Monday February 10th, 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!

Lots of reading this week. And some important writing:

  • I loved sharing the wonderful sentiments from my students shared in our weekly Gratitude Circle in my Celebration post this week.
  • I also wrote a post that has been brewing for a long time. Finally, I had the courage to  finish it and press publish: The Part that is True. And then, I burst into tears. Sigh. Sometimes, sharing is a big risk. I have so appreciated the supportive comments and feedback.

And on to the books I have loved! My favourite picture books of the week:

Orangutan Tongs: Poems to Tangle your Tongue by Jon Agee

These tongue twister poems are hilariously ridiculous. Many are battling it out to be my favourite. I will check back soon to see which has won! Sharing the one I plan to read first to my class – just because we have been talking about the courtesy of neat writing for the sake of the reader 🙂

Rotten Writing

Reading writing

When it’s written really rotten

Can cause your eyes and intellect to strain.

When it’s written really rotten,

Writing’s really rotten reading.

Yes, reading rotten written writing really is a pain.

Organgutan Tongs #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Scoot! by Cathryn Falwell

I adored the celebration of nature and the liveliness of the rhyming text. In the final pages, Falwell explains some of her inspiration and how she made some of the collages using found objects from nature. A sample of the text:

Hustle! Hover! Flitter! Flee! On every branch and shrub and tree!

Scoot! #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman

A picture book that invites you into its pages where much is happening after a pot of blue paint is toppled by a chicken. I love the splashing, splattering and wading through the spilled paint. And then of course, the delightfully simple problem solving at the end of the story! Would be a perfect story time book for younger students!

Blue Chicken #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite written by Nick Bromley and illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne

Titles that demand to be shaken, examined and rocked can’t miss! And then when there is a huge bite mark in the back cover . . . Yikes, beware! Lots of fun for an interactive story experience.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The World is Waiting for You by Barbara Kerley

Gorgeous photographs beckon you – get outside and explore something amazing! Star gaze, get your hands muddy or follow a path to anywhere. Back pages include details about some of the photographs and how the photographers managed to capture such images. Significant photos for me: Sylvia Earle swimming with dolphins, a cave of crystals (beams of selenite) in Mexico and a beautiful photograph of two children racing with a toy sailboat on the edge of a river. A National Geographic title.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I featured three amazing nonfiction books with an ocean theme on my Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday Post: Life in the Deep Blue Sea

Deep Blue Sea #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Slugs by Valerie Bodden

I picked up this title at a recent book store sale. It is the perfect level for my primary students and has been passed from child to child ever since I book talked it on Tuesday. Wonderful photographs and interesting text. And of course slug slime, slug eggs . . . Such fun! I plan to purchase more of these Creepy Creatures titles.

Slugs #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The New Girl . . . and Me written by Jacqui Robbins and illustrated by Matt Phelan

This is a must have for school library and classroom collections. Themes of friendship, kindness, being new and taking social risks. When Shakeeta shows up in Mia’s classroom, Mia sets out to discover just how she might make her feel at home even though she is not entirely sure what that means. Mia certainly doesn’t want to say anything that might make Shakeeta want to punch her in the head like she threatened to do to the boy making fun of her. Mia’s gestures are sweet, genuine and “iguana friendly.” The story ends with possible new beginnings. Lovely.

The New Girl and Me #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Miss Dorothy and her Bookmobile written by Gloria Houston and illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb

Such an inspiring story about Dorothy Thomas, an absolute book hero. Dorothy’s dreams of a fine brick building where she could be librarian never materialized. But her role in bringing books to a community was huge. True testament to how books change lives and connect community. This title is now part of my growing picture book biography collection.

Miss Dorothy #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Champion written by Marie Lu

I have read the entire Legend trilogy in the last 5 weeks (around the reading of other novels) and I must admit I am sad to leave the world of June and Day. I don’t want to give anything away so I will just make two comments. One, the ending was not a disappointment. At all. Two, I might have enjoyed this third title in the trilogy most of all. Fantastic YA fiction: lots of action, drama, and intrigue.

Champion #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I am currently reading Far Far Away by Tom McNeal. After this, I plan to read The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. My children and I are almost finished Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo and we will be starting The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielsen next (a #MustReadin2014 title).

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 9/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 90/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 5/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 34/65 complete

Happy Reading everyone!

Monday January 20th, 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!

This week I had serious plans to read a number of novels. These plan got put on hold when I went to the library Tuesday evening and came home with stacks and stacks of nonfiction picture books. I fell into a kind of nonfiction reading marathon. I share some of these titles here and some I will share on Wednesday for Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday hosted by KidLit Frenzy.

Here are the picture books (fiction and nonfiction) that I loved this week: 

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills written by Renee Watson and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Not only a glimpse into the life of Harlem Renaissance singer Florence Mills but a story of courage, commitment and the power to make change. Really enjoyed this picture book biography.

 Harlem's Little Blackbird #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Sophie’s Squash written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf

This book passed the “it’s so funny/charming I can’t help giggling” test when I read it aloud to my son. Cute, cute, cute. Charming and then some. A beautiful story about a child who does things a little differently. Not enough books celebrate persistence, creativity and passion in children so well. And whoa . . . the ending! LOVE.

Sophie's Squash #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jaques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino

After reading Manfish to my class, I had to read this title! We spent Friday afternoon reading this book and filling out a Knew/New sheet to reflect our learning. (Thanks Adrienne Gear! Love all of the BLMs for reflecting about thinking/learning) Another fantastic picture book biography sharing the life of the inspiring Jacques Cousteau.

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jaques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

My students adding some pictures to their thinking:


This is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration written by Jaqueline Woodson and illustrated by James Ransome

Lyrical and lovely. A story of family across generations as they move to the big city from the South. The Great Migration represented the movement of African Americans from rural Southern towns to the cities in the North. This migration was inspired by the hope and promise of better treatment, better opportunities and better education. This story weaves a rope through one family’s experience and tells a beautiful story of connection, love and new beginnings.

 This is the Rope #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Brownie Groundhog and the Wintry Surprise written by Susan Blackaby and illustrated by Carmen Segovia

A delightful winter story – full of humour, charm and spectacular surprises. Read my students’ reviews here. The illustrations are absolutely stunning.

 Brownie Groundhog and the Wintry Surprise #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Raven and the Loon written by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley and illustrated by Kim Smith

In the time of before, both raven and loon had all white feathers. They decide to make beautiful coats for each other. The process and the result does not play out perfectly smoothly. An energetic and entertaining Inuit tale.

The raven and the loon #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Umbrella by Ingrid and Dieter Shubert 

I adored this wordless fantasy title. A little bit of fear, a big bit of adventure and the largest bit of flying over stunning landscapes all over the world. I want my own copy of this book . . . Or at least a red umbrella that can take me travelling!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Peaceful Pieces: Poems and Quilts About Peace by Anna Grossnickle Hines 

Well to begin with – these illustrations are vibrant, saturated with colour and interesting design. I read a few poems, really liked some, kept reading and soon realized, I liked a lot of these poems. And the why is the important part. They aren’t generally preachy and unrelated to the everyday. They are about the here and now. There are poems that reflect mindfulness (being in the moment), poems that talk about anger, poems that talk about PTS after experiencing war. A lot in this little book of poetry. Some of my favourite lines?

I have never fired a gun

but have shouted words

that pierced and stung.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Boot and Shoe by Marla Frazee

How have I not read this book sooner than this? I adore Marla Frazee. Adore. So I’m not sure how I had yet to pick this title up. Now it is heading off to school with me tomorrow to provide some Monday morning giggles for my students! Let’s just say when a “pee tree” is the cause for a happy ending, this title is guaranteed to have high levels of kid appeal.

 Boot and Shoe #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Jemmy Button by Jennifer Uman and Valerio Vidali

Quite a title. The whole process of creating this book between two illustrators who didn’t share a language and talked via an online translator was fascinating to my students. The images are powerful and full of symbolism at every turn. This title is inspired by the true story of Orundellico (named Jemmy Button) who was taken from his home in Tierra del Fuego to England to experience “civilization.” I think this book is so well done and don’t want to say anymore – go into it with eyes wide open

 Jemmy Button #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore created Libraries for Children written by Jan Pinborough and illustrated by Debby Atwell

Well. . . Anne Carroll Moore now has superhero status as far as I am concerned. Loved this story of how one woman acted as a champion for children’s access to books, libraries and beautiful spaces.

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also finished one novel:

Prodigy by Marie Lu

I am quite hooked into this fast paced dystopian tale. Drama. Psychological twists and turns. Unexpected outcomes. I plan to read the final book in this trilogy during the next few weeks.

 Prodigy #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

What’s next? I think I will return to my list of novels from last week that I need to get to – Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick and The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour. 

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 5/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 46/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 3/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 17/65 complete

Happy Reading everyone!

Monday January 13th, 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!

First week back and my students were as excited as I was to be back together and share lots of reading time together. I shared highlights of our first week back in this post on our classroom blog. It’s worth a peek to read a poem two of my girls wrote called Girl Drama.

I found lots of picture books (both fiction and nonfiction) to treasure this week. Here are my favourites:

The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud

This book was first published in France and wasn’t available in the North American market until 2013. I love lots of things about this book – the gorgeous colours on the cover, the fact that it is big and tall and that inside, each page is a visual delight. If one wanted to skip the story and just flip through the pages, it’s possible just to get lost in the details on each page searching for Little Bear as Papa Bear chases him into the city. But the story is simple and sweet – Little Bear has been lured by a bee and is rewarded after grand adventures with a sweet treat and snuggles from his Papa.

Here is a link to this book featured on the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike of 1909 written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

A fabulous story made even more spectacular by Melissa Sweet’s illustrations. This book tells the story of Clara Lemlich who was instrumental in the labour movement in the garment industry in the early 1900s. Introduces children to themes of work place safety, worker’s rights and individual strength and resolve. An inspirational story, this title is another book I would love to own for my picture book biography collection.

Brave girl #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Trouble Gum by Matthew Cordell

All about little siblings, mischief, and candy sneaking (in this case gum). Imagine chewing gum and little ones and you might be able to predict some of the “uh oh” happenings of this story. Lots of amusement and kid (in this case piglet) antics.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Maude The Not-So-Noticeable Shrimpton written by Lauren Child and illustrated by Trisha Krauss

I was surprised to find that this book was only written by Lauren Child, not illustrated by her as well. I think I might have preferred her signature style with this story. Still, this is an interesting exploration of a quieter daughter in a flamboyant, expressive family. Turns out her ability to just blend in and not stand out becomes a definite asset.

Maude #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Mole Had Everything by Jamison Odone

The message with this book is clear – having too much stuff just takes too much time and takes away from living life. Who wants that? Must admit I had a happy little smile when Mole prioritized and included in his “just enough” things one bookshelf for books. Because there is always room for books!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Henry’s Map by David Elliot

This book is absolutely adorable. It went right into my book bag for school as soon as I finished reading it as I must experience this as a read aloud! Henry the pig draws a map of the farm yard, carefully locating each structure and each animal. But when the animals all gather around Henry to admire his work and then look out to the farm, all of the animals detailed on the map seem to be missing! They all race back to the farm to investigate. Silly and clever, a wonderful book to inspire mapping your community.

Henry's Map #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Best Foot Forward: Exploring Feet, Flippers, and Claws by Ingo Arndt

I book talked this title early in the week and have watched it make its rounds around the classroom. My students have loved sharing this during buddy reading and marvelling at the various interesting animal feet that different animals use to walk, climb, dig, paddle, etc.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

This is our House by Hyewon Yum

A house holds so many memories when multiple generations are raised beneath its roof. Tells many stories – immigration, raising children, different stages of life, sharing a home across generations. Would love to share this story with my students and see what kinds of conversations are sparked – either of living with grandparents or of missing them because they don’t live here in Canada.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also finished three novels (all of them YA), the first two from my #MustReadin2014 list

Legend by Marie Lu

In the last few months I have been reading many dystopian trilogies and kept seeing this title (and the next two in the trilogy) by Marie Lu receiving high praise on various #IMWAYR posts. After reading this first book, I can understand the enthusiastic reviews. Full of drama, action, intrigue and compelling characters, I was hooked within pages.

Legend #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick

Wow. What a story concept. There are themes that one might encounter in many YA novels – friendship, romantic relationships, searching for a way out of a town and a way into a better future. But this book is also rich with strong characters, upsetting secrets and the trauma of grief. Highly recommended.

Boy 21 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller 

This was one of those books I found myself finishing in one long late afternoon into evening reading sessions. Another title that had come highly recommended via the #IMWAYR community. Callie was kidnapped by her mother at age five, has never been to school except for a brief stint in Kindergarten and has never had security or routines. Suddenly at seventeen, she is swept back into a full and busy Greek family who has missed her desperately and wants to make a place for her. But never having had friends, anyone to be accountable to or the belief in herself that she matters, Callie’s learning/adjustment curve is steep. Very engaging YA drama.

where the stars still shine #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I’ve started Prodigy by Marie Lu and then plan to read Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick and The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour Lots of reading – yes! But nothing is a better cure for a miserable, rainy January than great books!

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 4/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 27/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 3/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 6/65 complete

Happy Reading everyone!