Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017

Picture book 10 for 10 is here! This is one of the best days of the year to increase your knowledge of amazing picture books. It may also be a tad expensive . . . You’ve been warned!

This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning. Thanks to both of them for the work they do to promote this wonderful day of picture book sharing!

This is my sixth year participating in this event. In 2012, I shared ten beloved titles. In 2013, I went with a theme: Connections across the generations. In 2014, I shared ten “go to” titles on various themes like generosity, courage and forgiveness. In 2015. I highlighted favourite historical fiction titles. Last year I chose books that may inspire philosophical discussion

This year’s theme is the theme I chose for #classroombookaday with my Grade 4 and 5 class during the last week of school. I told them I was going to read books that were beautifully quirky and that I wanted to be sure I shared with them before our year together ended. Beautifully quirky is a great category. These books lead to awe and wonder. Questions and discussions. And many rereads.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

These books are wonderfully odd. My kind of odd. I hope your kind of odd. Books that leave you thinking. That awe you with the wild and the beautiful and the unexpected or unexplained.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (2014)

This book will always be about the shouting audience. “No! They missed it again!” “Oh my God!” “Seriously?!” This book is all about theories. Digging in, around and but never really out is highly satisfying.

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket with illustrations by Lisa Brown (2017)

This book really is about a goldfish ghost who travels around in search of a place to belong. Quietly clever and speaks to some important themes: the cycle of life, belonging and companionship.

Goldfish Ghost Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for ThatNot Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima (2017)

Kelp was born in the ocean and raised by narwhals. Something has always seemed not quite right. Then one night, he discovers unicorns. Is this the answer to everything? Or just some things. Who we are, where we belong, how big all of this can be. Lovely little book.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken (2017)

This book begins with an eye that was drawn too large. Where it ends up? Oh my! A creative and inspiring journey.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

The Snurtch written by Sean Ferrell with illustrations by Charles Santoso (2016)

Well, if we all have a Snurtch – and I suppose we do – I would hope that mine is this cute. A charming story that reminds us of all the emotions and moods inside of us. Because, oh yes, it isn’t all happy happy joy joy.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

The Day I Became a Bird by Ingrid Chabbert and Guridi (2016)

I am utterly enamoured by the illustrations in this book about a boy willing to be a bird to attract the attention of the girl he swoons over.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis  (2016)

Invented language. Over the top stunning illustrations. This book invites the reader to climb inside and help tell the story over and over again.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

The Liszits written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Júlia Sardà (2016)

I use the word quirky every time I pick this book up. It is absolutely captivating. The story. The lists. The illustrations. I can’t share this with anyone without reading them the entire book and then we both just sit back in awe. Inspired.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Papa’s Mechanical Fish written by Candace Fleming with illustrations by Boris Kulikov (2013)

Creativity. Focus. Absurdity. Inventiveness. The language is fun. The entire family is involved and Papa models the curiosity and persistence of an inventor. This book is “almost true” based on the life of Lodner Phillips who really did build The Whitefish, an actual functioning submarine.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Bug in a Vacuum by Melanie Watt (2015)

Who better to introduce children to the stages of grief than a bug swallowed up in a vacuum? Right? Huh? Love this book! Students do too.

Beautifully quirky: 10 titles to read and ponder #pb10for10 2017 There's a Book for That

Follow along on twitter using the #pb10for10 hashtag. All posts will be linked on the Google Community Site for Picture Book 10 for 10

pb-10-for-10What titles would make your beautifully quirky list? 

Happy picture book reading!  

Monday August 31st, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. Now that it is summer, I am not surrounded every day with little readers so . . . I am choosing moments from the year not previously shared. I love this Henry and Mudge love!

From the classroom 2014/2015 archives:

Monday August 31st, 2015 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:

For Top Ten Tuesday: Titles that feature wonderful male/female friendships in MG literature

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A Room Full of Nonfiction A mini tour of the nonfiction in my classroom

A Celebration post about #booklove starring The Good Little Book

Sunday Reflections: Literary Nest Building 101

Books I read and loved:

A Rock Can Be . . . by Laura Purdie Salas with illustrations by Violeta Dabija

I love this nonfiction series – lovely poetry, stunning illustrations and interesting and detailed back matter. A must have for classrooms and/or libraries.

A Rock Can Be Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

What this Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig by Emma J. Virján

Super silly. Super simple. Perfect for kids just learning to read – lots of repetition – a quality little book.

What this Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

The Good Little Book written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Marian Arbona

I adore this book on many different levels. What a perfect book to get us thinking about heading back into classrooms! The end pages are incredible!

 The Good Little Book Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

To the Sea by Cale Atkinson

Love the tones in this sweet little book about friendship and being noticed.

To the Sea Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

Ask Me written by Bernard Waber and illustrated by Suzy Lee

I actually hugged this book in the bookstore after I read it. A regular conversation between a father and his young daughter perfectly captures the energy and wonder of a particular time of childhood. Love this book! And the illustrations, wow!

Ask Me Bernard Waber Suzy Lee Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley

Yes, Josh Funk if you are reading this, this book made me teary. A book about the every day moving on process of grieving the loss of a loved one and wrapping yourself up in the love of those still with you. Just beautiful.

Boats for Papa Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

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

Leo is a charmer. A ghost that needs to find out where he is appreciated.

Leo a Ghost Story Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

Bug in a Vacuum by Mélanie Watt

So clever Ms. Watt! This is one thick picture book – full of the stages of grief (hilariously conveyed) and lots of humour. Just delightful. Can see using this with older grades and having students write about their own self-talk through the stages of grief attached to a particular event.

Bug in a Vacuum Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

Blue on Blue written by Dianne White and illustrated by Beth Krommes

Rain, beautiful rain. This book celebrates the dark colours and images of a rain storm. The illustrations are incredible.

 Blue on Blue Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi

This is a wonderful title. Such creative twists on Little Red Riding Hood – crafted into quite a different tale. Love the shades and repetitive colours.

 The Tea Party in the Woods Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

I read this to myself and had to whisper certain lines aloud because I was certain they would be a treat to say. Yep! Wow Kate DiCamillo can write!

Leroy Ninker Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave by Jen White

An emotional middle grade novel about two sisters who need to take care of each other when their Dad leaves them at a gas station. I couldn’t put this book down.

Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart

From the title and the cover, one would think this is a light hearted novel. There is humour but it is full of emotions. In fact, I woke up early one morning worried about the character and had to finish the book to make sure all was okay. What do you do when you are twelve, you have lost your Dad and money is an issue? This title explores this reality in creative, but always authentic and sensitive ways. Fantastic characters and family dynamics.

Death  by Toilet Paper Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

I read this in one sitting and if I had time, I would have started on page one and read it all over again. So beautiful. So heartfelt. So human.

the house on mango street Monday August 31st, 2015 There's a Book for That

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 50/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 309/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 16/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 58/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 33/50 books read

Up next? I am still reading and LOVING  The Queen of Water by Laura Resau and then will begin Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles

Picture books to help you giggle

To celebrate picture book month, I am sharing peeks into the wonderful conversations I get to have with children about particular picture books. When I thought about writing a picture book post today, no conversations leaped out at me to share. I have no students here at home on a Sunday morning and I have been reading my own children the amazing novel Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. But . . . just yesterday evening, I was talking to Vancouver kindergarten teacher Sharon Hales about how great Elephant & Piggie titles are. She is a huge fan! (Great taste!) And, of course, I asked a few times – “Have you read . . . ?” “Do you know author . . . ?” 

Hmmm, this was a conversation about picture books . . .

So I started thinking, if I were a kindergarten teacher, what would be must own picture books for my classroom library? Books guaranteed to inspire giggles and choruses of “Read it again”? Quickly, I started a list on a scrap piece of paper. I ran out of room! This post is the result. 🙂

Grab one of these, grab a child or a kindergarten/early primary class and prepare for smiles and giggles!

Picture books to help you giggle There's a Book for That

And because once you start laughing, you need to laugh some more:

Picture books to help you giggle There's a Book for That

Picture Books to help you giggle:

Count the Monkeys written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Z is for Moose written by Kelly Bingham and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky 

I’m Bored  written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Prudence Wants a Pet written by Cathleen Daly and illustrated by Stephen Michael King

Brief Thief written by Michael Escoffier and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

Warning: Do not Open this Book! written by Adam Lehrhaupt and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe

Let’s Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld 

Don’t Play with Your Food by Bob Shea

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea

Interrrupting Chickenby David Ezra Stein

Chester by Mélanie Watt

You’re Finally Here by Mélanie Watt

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

Such a joy to share these favourite titles – perfect for the younger set but appealing to happy readers of all ages!

Are you in the picture book mood? Share some favourites! It’s Picture Book Month!

pb month logo

Monday October 28th, 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 read a really diverse selection of picture books this week. Sharing my favourites here:

Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book by Yuyi Morales

Well, I know all of about three words in Spanish (in Canada, we learn French as a second language) so this was a huge adventure for me. The reader gets to follow Señor Calvera, the skeleton from Day of the Dead celebrations as he rides along to Grandma Beetle’s birthday celebration.  What gift is the perfect one? We get to sample possibilities from every letter of the Spanish alphabet. My favourite ideas? Una Escalera (a ladder to reach past the sky), Niebla (fog to play hide and seek in) and un Ombligo (a bread called belly button). What does he finally decide on? You must read to find out!

Just in Case #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Scaredy Squirrel prepares for Halloween by Melanie Watt

Arranged in chapter book format, this title is an absolutely sought after commodity in my classroom. Only Scaredy Squirrel would need to prepare a “How to manage Halloween” manual. And he leaves nothing to chance! Loved the page on Getting to Know Your Halloween Candy!

Scaredy squirrel #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack

Nearly wordless – the entire story is told using “A” and “H” (Ha Ha, Ahh, Ah Ha, you get the picture) and a number of brilliant illustrations which call on young readers to predict, infer and smile their way to the end of the book. A little frog is chased through these pages by a young frog collector and a number of dangerous predators! Who will get the last HA?!

Ah Ha! #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Snatchabook written by Helen Docherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty

I think I want to give this gift to every new parent I know. It is a beautiful tribute to the important before bed read aloud experience shared together, snuggled close. What if you have nobody to read to you? What if you desperately wanted your own story time? Would you resort to being a book thief? This book explores these questions. Read my students’ reviews here.


The Snatchabook #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Bee & Bird by Craig Frazier

If I could, I would make this suggestion for this wordless title. Go through it once and try to pay close attention. Go through it again and pay better attention. If things aren’t becoming clear, read it through again thinking “Is this what it seems?” Quite brilliant. Worthy of many reads and rereads as this little adventure of bee and bird is unveiled.

Bee & Bird #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals’ Lives  written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Wow! Wow and wow! I think this book leaped into my hands at the bookstore and called to me. It went something like this, “How will you enjoy me? Let me count the ways!” There is counting and estimating and wondering and a whole bunch of other mathematical applications – rounding, multiplying, dividing, adding, subtracting, using fractions, understanding averages thinking about mean and median. But, this book is also a nonfiction title that reveals fascinating animal facts like  – an alligator will lay over 550 eggs in one lifetime. Oh and  . . . . Christopher Silas Neal (of the amazing illustrations in Over and Under the Snow)? So are you sold yet? The back of the book has much more information about each animal depicted in the first section – information about lifespan and other details that allow you to do all of the amazing math that this book inspires.

This title also happens to be my 60th nonfiction picture book read in 2013 which was the goal I made back in January when I joined Alyson Beecher‘s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge! 

And, yes, I did take this book home. Don’t you . . .  when titles speak out so convincingly?

Lifetime #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The First Drawing by Mordicai Gerstein

Inspired by questions and wondering about the discovery of cave paintings 30,000 years old. Gerstein thought what if . . . ? and this book came to be. Captivating.

The First Drawing #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

In other reading . . .

I finished Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord

A quiet middle grade read that poses questions about family, belonging and finding home.

 Touch Blue #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Finished reading Marty McGuire Digs Worms by Kate Messner to my class (read a selection of student reviews here). We are excited to begin a new chapter book read aloud this week.

I just began reading the short stories in The Chronicles of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg to my children even though we have another novel on the go and keep getting sidetracked by beautiful nonfiction titles I bring home.

Up next for me? I am reading Ivy & Bean #7 What’s the Big Idea so I can book talk it to students this week – it also has a saving the Earth theme like the Marty McGuire title. I am starting Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan tonight! Have been excited to read this title.

What are you reading?!

Picture Book favourites shared by my book loving daughter!

My lovely daughter Beatrice (who is almost eleven) was inspired by my excitement over all of the wonderful picture book 10 for 10 blog posts and decided that she wanted to share hers! She raced downstairs and selected her favourite titles from our bookshelf and wrote her reviews.

This is the very first guest blog post on my blog and I couldn’t be prouder!

pb 10 for 10

Hi everyone I’m Beatrice and these are my top ten picture books!!! I hope you enjoy my reviews and read these amazing books. Thanks!

The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child captured by Polly Borland

This book is GREAT because it’s a funny twist of a fairy tale. And it has amazing art!!! My favourite part is when they are telling about the other princesses. It’s really funny!!!

princess and the pea

The Gypsy Princess by Phoebe Gilman

I really enjoyed this story because it has a moral. The moral is be who you are because somebody else might seem better, happier and cooler but it’s better to be you!!!

gypsy princess

The Quiltmaker’s Gift written by Jeff Brumbeau and illustrated by Gail de Marcken

I think this book is important because it tells you that even if you have the best of everything you aren’t going to be happy because it’s better to give than receive!!!


Who’s that Knocking on Christmas Eve by Jan Brett

This book is a fave because it has beautiful illustrations and the story is relatable to
your life (even though it is also a fantasy) I definitely recommend this book TO BE READ ON CHRISTMAS!!!!

who's that knocking on christmas eve

Chester by Melanie Watt

This book is HILARIOUS. Seriously, it’s a riot. It has humour spread like jam on every page!!! There are Chester replacements, poetry, lines and so much more!!! (Most of this you will only understand if you READ THE BOOK!)

Chester’s Back by Melanie Watt

This is the (also) HILARIOUS sequel to Chester. If you like the first one, GO TO A BOOK
STORE NEAR YOU AND BUY THIS! Chester would insist.

Chester's Back

Who is Melvin Bubble? by Nick Bruel

What a funny book! We hear many people’s perspectives on who Melvin Bubble is – some of them are not very nice. I would be nervous to ask a whole bunch of people to write about me like this!

who is melvin bubble

Playhouse by Robert Munsch illustrated by Michael Martchenko

This book is about a girl whose parents give her whatever she wants. When I was little and my Mom read this to me, I thought I never would have wanted a Play Mommy and Play Daddy. I liked the real ones!!


Ribbon Rescue by Robert Munsch illustrated by  Eugenie Fernandes

In this book people are forgetting things for a wedding they are going to. A little girl gives them what they need no matter what! This book shows that it doesn’t matter what you have, you can still help. 


Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson illustrated by E.B.Lewis

This is a sad but important book. People can be really mean by not speaking up or ignoring others. This book shows us that you will probably regret if you aren’t kind and also if you just stand back and don’t help.

each kindness

** Thanks to Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning for hosting this picture book event!

Monday June 24th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA


Join Jen and Kellee’s meme and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult reads! The #IMWAYR community is a fantastic community of readers with many wonderful titles to share.

My favourite picture books of the week:

Trains Go written and illustrated by Steve Light A fantastically colourful and loud (when it is read) board book about various trains and the wonderful sounds that they make. Love that this book is extra long in its shape – adds to the visual appeal. This book will be ideal for our board book collection for when Kindergarten buddies visit. Really – who doesn’t love to make loud train noises? Whoooooooosh! 

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

Yoon and the Jade Bracelet written by Helen Recorvits and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska A beautifully illustrated picture book about a little girl from Korea who is struggling to feel part of the friendship and social groups at her new school. When another girl borrows her jade bracelet and then won’t give it back, Yoon must find a way to deal with this very real friendship/bullying issue. An important multicultural story about the challenges of finding one’s place in someplace that is new.

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

A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke An engaging and adorable photographic tale of the sloths that live in a sanctuary in Costa Rica. Full of information and hilarious, endearing photos.

a little book of sloth There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you Reading?

Iggy Peck Architect written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts The illustrations in this book are so wonderful – I must admit I was a little disappointed to learn that the text was in rhyme. It didn’t ruin the story by any means – but . . . I am not usually much of a fan of rhyming text. Still – I would recommend this title that celebrates creativity, passion and ingenuity. Perfect way to launch a study of structures, bridge building or architecture.

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

The Table Where Rich People Sit written by Byrd Baylor and illustrated by Peter Parnall Such a wonderful reminder to celebrate the riches of family, nature and the wonder of the world. Beautiful.

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

The Great Snortle Hunt written by Claire Freedman and illustrated by Kate Hindley A fun book for a younger story time. Loved the illustrations. More rhyming text – but suits the playful story of a serious search for a Snortle.

The Great Snortle Hunt - There's a Book for That It's Monday What are you Reading?

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt My class absolutely adores Melanie Watt. Somehow, I had missed reading this title. Very funny as most Scaredy Squirrel titles are. Some kind of amazing beach phobic suit! Loved the feared creatures that inhabited the waters of Scaredy Squirrel’s imagination!

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

I also finished two novels

Paperboy by Vince Vawter An eleven year old boy has his life thrown for a loop when he takes over his friend’s paper route for the month of July. Trying to navigate the world with a strong stutter is a theme in this story but there is much happening. All about relationships, choices and discovering who you are. Set in Memphis in 1959. I enjoyed this novel on many levels – for a window into the life of a boy who stutters, it’s a great piece of historical fiction and an important middle grade read that teaches students more about the racism that was so prevalent at these times in the South. Read Vawter’s Nerdy Book Club post that discusses this novel (his first).


Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder I must admit that while reading this novel I was constantly irritated by the cover because . . . well, I tend not to read novels that look like sappy romance stories. This looks like one but it certainly isn’t. More of a story of relationships gone wrong – a controlling and obsessive boyfriend, an abusive step father . . . I didn’t love this young adult novel but I appreciated that it tackles the topic of realizing that a relationship isn’t safe and drawing a line. 


Next up? Twerp by Mark Goldblatt 

Monday May 27th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA


Join Jen and Kellee’s meme and share all of your reading from picture books to young adult reads! Such a fantastic way to learn about “new to you” titles by exploring all of the blog posts shared! Share your own reading on twitter via the hashtag #IMWAYR

My picture book obsession has continued and so again I have many books to share. Like the last few weeks, I will keep it to my ten favourites.

Brief Thief written by Michael Escoffier and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo Absolutely hilarious. Dare you to read this and not laugh. Or at least smile. Definitely smirk. My daughter called it disgusting when I read it to her which made me love it all the more. So of course I had to share it with my students. The first three pages each have one sentence. On page three, we find out that the main character (a likeable lizard) has to go poo. Well, of course,  . . . that got everyone’s attention. One child even shared that he often had a meal, went to play and then (like the lizard) had to run back in and take a poo! Oh thank goodness, we have created an environment where connecting is valued 🙂 Anyway, I don’t want to give much of the plot away as this book really does need to be experienced. I will say though that the “briefs” on the cover are stolen to deal with a toilet paper crisis, there is a battle with a “conscience” and in the end, heroes (of sorts) win out. That’s all I’m saying (Except – Go read the book!)

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

My New Shirt written by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Dusan Petricic This pair work so wonderfully together. Their recent Mr. Zinger’s Hat is one of my favourite picture books of 2013. My New Shirt came out in 2007 and I happened upon it at my public library today. This isn’t a book for those that don’t like a longer picture book. It is on the lengthy side and would likely be best shared with readers 8 and up just so that the length can be managed and the humour appreciated. It is basically about a young boy who is gifted a new white dress shirt every year on his birthday by his grandmother. This year when his “Bubbie” gives him the shirt, he has a sort of “out of body” experience (that involves an image of endless white shirts floating towards him) and the shirt ends up getting dropped out the window. What happens from there is an amusing romp through the neighbourhood and around the eclectic neighbours as the chase is on after the shirt (keenly held in the pet dog’s teeth)! Maybe this book especially appeals to me because I have “gift receiving anxiety” It’s a lot of pressure to receive a gift gracefully – especially one you might not like – although I have never thrown anything out of the window!

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

The Big Question written and illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch A simple little picture book that tackles a huge life question: “Why am I here?” Turning the pages allows us to hear many answers to this big question. “You’re here to kiss the clouds,” says the pilot. “You are here to obey,” the soldier states. “So that you many learn patience,” the gardener shares. The book takes us through many answers from people and animals alike. It ends with the wisdom that as you grow, more answers will reveal themselves and includes a place in the back to make notes for when answers are discovered. This book won the Bologna Ragazzi award in 2004. Original edition is in German.

The Big Question It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

Backbeard and the Birthday Suit written and illustrated by Matthew McElligott All about fun and ridiculous pirate fashion. One of the best pirate books out there. Backbeard is the quintessential pirate – hairy, stinky, and full of pirate swagger.

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

Puffin Peter written and illustrated by Petr Horacek Absolutely stunning illustrations. A story about friendship, the similarities and differences in birds and the importance of being specific. And whoa . . . a gorgeous whale page!

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

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping written and illustrated by Melanie Watt When I shared this book with my class, we had to pull out every Scaredy Squirrel book in the room and these books travelled from child to child during independent reading time. Scaredy Squirrel is the most wonderfully anxious, eccentric character out there. How can you not love a squirrel who dons a survival kit to bring an extension cord to a power outlet so that he can watch TV shows about camping in the safety of his own tree? (Think I just summarized the book in one very long and exhausting sentence) Hilarious!

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

The Princess and the Pig written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Poly Bernatene This lovely little read manages to link to many classic fairy tales while telling a great original story and poking fun at just about everything! A pig and a princess switch places and the happy ending is not what you might predict.

The Princess and the Pig It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

Not your Typical Dragon written by Dan Bar-el and illustrated by Tim Bowers What happens when a little dragon is born into a long line of wonderful fire breathers and can’t manage to even produce a little puff of smoke? A story about diversity, acceptance and realizing what you need.

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

Little Red Riding Hood written by Lari Don and illustrated by Celia Chauffrey I have been collecting many fairy tales for our class collection and loved the illustrations in this version. Some twists from the original tale. A Barefoot Books book so just beautifully done and contains a story CD. 

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

Just Ducks! written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino I love the gentle narration infused with facts in this beautifully illustrated book about ducks! And I love ducks. This book would have been a treasure to my childhood self.

Just Ducks! It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

In other reading, I finished two fantastic middle grade novels.

Bigger than a Breadbox written by Laurel Snyder So powerful. A sensitive story about a young girl coping with the separation of her parents. Captures emotions and thinking that is so personal and raw. The magic in this book is really well done. It seems possibly impossible and I’m sure would entice young readers to continually ask themselves, what would they do in Rebecca’s place? While this book is about the break up of a marriage and what it does to a family, it also handles all of the emotions of moving to a new place and new school so well. Important and real family moments. Friend anxiety. A perfect middle grade selection.

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

Hold Fast written by Blue Balliett This is the first Balliett title I have read. I was very curious about this novel. I have seen people rave about it and others have some pretty specific criticism. I was quickly captured by the brilliant word/literacy reverence and the rhythms of language. What held me was the power of family and faith and the desire for home. Such an important book.

Hold Fast It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for That

What’s next? Homesick by Kate Klise. This was a recommendation made to me by another blogger from the #IMWAYR community, Ms Yingling, when she saw I had read another title about a child of a hoarder. Will be interesting to see how this topic is handled in this novel.

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!)

Enjoyment guaranteed

I love picking up a book at the library by an author/illustrator I know and love. Based on past interactions with the artist’s books, enjoyment is pretty much guaranteed. It’s like knowing you will love a wrapped present before opening it. It is all about settling into the book and preparing to be pleased. These three books I just found at the public library yesterday prove my point.

Wolf Won’t Bite by Emily Gravett

Three pesky (and very well dressed) pigs have captured a wild wolf! And no matter what they do to him: dress him in bows, make him dance a jig, shoot him through the air (yes, in a cannon!) he just won’t bite. Aren’t they clever? Aren’t they brilliant? Aren’t they trusting? But if it all seems a little farfetched . . . (poor wolf reminds me of the dog I had when I was 5 years old who loved to play dress up with me 🙂 Not! ) Well, let’s just say in the end, the pigs need to more than clever and brilliant. They need to be fast! There is a chase, and it doesn’t take much to guess who is chasing who!

You’re Finally Here by Melanie Watt

I love how this book celebrates the relationship between reader and character and the interactions between the two. A book is nothing without its reader and the reader nothing without books. Oh how we depend on each other! Melanie Watt knows how to make us laugh out loud, snicker knowingly and read and reread because her books withstand multiple readings and just become more fun! Yes, little rabbit we are happy to be your readers and yes, you certainly entertained us! Are you sticking around or what?

Caramba and Henry by Marie Louise Gay

Be careful what you wish for Caramba. Little brothers of your dreams are very different from little brothers of reality. Dream little brothers cooperate, participate and share secrets. Real little brothers named Henry yell and howl and . . . maybe, fly? Caramba is the only cat that can’t fly and now that Henry is here and learning to do something that Caramba wants to do desperately, how could it be any worse? Yet, Caramba realizes that to be happy Henry needs to fly and in a very BIG big brotherly fashion, Caramba encourages Henry to learn this important skill. Caramba and Henry build their sibling relationship through trials, tribulations, encouragement and love.

Scaredy Squirrel at Night

As we explore what it means to be courageous, we thought it was time again to talk about our own fears. Scaredy Squirrel was just the character to give us inspiration!

Melanie Watt gives us the cautious, worried and fearful Scaredy Squirrel. My students also thought that Scaredy Squirrel had some other important character traits: organized, creative and persistent. Important to recognize his strengths of character! Early on in this story we realized that Scaredy Squirrel is not sleeping because of worries about what he might dream about. What can happen when you don’t get enough sleep? “You die, you actually do,” insisted one student. Others included things like “Your run out of energy”, “You need to have a nap” and “You get very hurt, red eyes.” You definitely get obsessed about what worries you!

Our response to this book today was to include our own bad dream anxieties. What do we want to avoid in our sleep?

We used this page as the inspiration:

And created our own “page” – Truman decided that he was afraid of both things and creatures.


Who isn’t afraid of that closet lurking across the room?


And how about fire? This made a lot of lists.


Big fear in our class? Lice! Even though we have quite a few of these critters making their way through our tresses! We fear they might not leave!


Like Scaredy Squirrel though, we realize that a good sleep is a great cure for an overactive imagination! Feeds our energy and calms our fears. Everything looks better in the morning! Sometimes what we need to feel brave is new perspective.