Monday November 4th, 2013

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 reads! Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read!

A book filled week to be certain! Some of it was spent reading books. Much of it was reading books to my students. And laughing and wondering and being in awe. Shared a lot of our reading week on our new classroom blog in a new feature called That’s a Wrap!.

Here are my favourite picture books of the week:

Anna May’s Cloak written by Christiane Cicioli and illustrated by Susan Pearson

Isn’t this cover absolutely divine? This is a beautifully illustrated book that spans generations and weaves the importance of a blue cloak into the love of a family. Reminiscent of Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman.

Anna May's Cloak #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Flood by Alvaro F. Villa 

A powerful wordless title that looks at how nature can change everything for a family when a storm causes floodwaters to threaten the safety of their home. Powerful images of worry, upset and hope.

Flood #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Chu’s Day written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Adam Rex

I always appreciate Adam Rex’s illustrations always but these are particularly adorable. A simple and exaggerated story line of a powerful little sneezer. I found this charming as I once taught a student who sneezed (always in threes) so loudly that he could be heard in every classroom on the same floor. A sneeze can be quite the thing!

Chu's day #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli 

This week some of my curious little students went exploring the Halloween display across the hall. The scattered candy proved too tempting and there was a little bit of tasting. Then there were rumours of the dangers of this oldish candy and oh, my, oh my! The anxiety set in and turned, for some, to full blown panic. We all calmed down, learned a lesson hopefully to not sample candy in a display but wow, did it prove that the worry of consuming something that maybe should not be consumed is a powerful stressor! This is the theme of this delightful little picture book told through sweet illustrations all pink, green and black and much humour. What happens when you swallow a seed? Will you end up as fruit salad? Sprouting vines?

Read and find out just what happens to this voracious watermelon muncher.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Day the Crayons Quit written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

I know, I know. Everyone has read this book. And I just finally did. It wasn’t for lack of awareness! It just hadn’t happened. Love Jeffers. Love the voices. Fun all around. Mostly what I love is watching students sit and share this book together. One day last week, two girls chose reading this book (taking turns as different crayons) to a classroom volunteer over play time during choices. I think they might have had the most fun in the room!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

Gorgeously illustrated, this book conveys so much about the importance of sunlight and green plants to our life and survival. Nicely accessible for kids with lots of relevant and additional information in the back.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I’m a Frog! by Mo Willems

A purely whimsical celebration of pretend like only Elephant and Piggie can do it!

I'm a Frog #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Other reading:

Ivy + Bean: What’s the Big Idea (#7) written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Ivy + Bean titles are big in my classroom this year! I have a few girls who have made it a goal to read every title in the series! I must admit to being pretty partial to these energetic and interesting friends myself. This book explored the idea of saving the planet. What could two girls do that would make a difference? Turns out that after some very outlandish ideas like throwing ice cubes into the air to slow down global warming, Ivy and Bean happen upon an idea that might make a big difference in a small moment for the very people who might need it most.

What's the big idea? #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

I’m going to start by saying that I think I might just have met some characters that could be the most memorable characters I have met in some time. I would like to have weekly check in sessions with them or at least regular emails/updates. These were characters that you would never put together but yet they turned out to be the perfect fit. Willow Chance inspired me to think about what it is to have “people” in your corner. She reminded me that growing anything in a garden has all kind of magic wrapped up within it. She also made me a little anxious about many things that she knew mostly everything about: the importance of staying hydrated, how essential regular flossing is and why we shouldn’t ignore any strange skin conditions. Willow Chance: brilliant, quirky, vulnerable and not nearly as enigmatic as she first appears. If you have read this title, I’m betting on the fact that you loved it. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

Counting by 7s #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I am beginning the only title by Jo Knowles that I have yet to read! Living with Jackie Chan. I read Jumping off Swings earlier this year and have been eagerly anticipating this title! Knowles is one of my absolute favourite authors so I know I have many happy reading moments ahead.

My students and I are absolutely adoring The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O’Connor. Whoa can this lady pull kids in and quick? My students beg me to read more of this novel multiple times a day!

Monday March 4th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

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

My favourite picture books of the week:

 Odd Velvet It's Monday!

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

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

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

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

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

donovan

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

Willow

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

instructions

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

Flora-and-the-Flamingo

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

some dog

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

little-dog-lost

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

rabbit's snow dance

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

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

Pandemonium

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

What are you reading this week?

ABCDEFG . . . Alphabet books for you and me!

The alphabet. The basis for all we write and read. Let’s celebrate our letters! We can do it with rhyme, with nonsense, in quiet or noisy ways. Our letters tell many stories. Some wonderful books to celebrate the A, B, Cs!

Achoo! Bang! Crash! The Noisy Alphabet by Ross MacDonald

Noisy letters. Yippee! Wahoo! Ding Dang, Eeek, Fwip, Grunt, Honk Honk and on it goes. This book delivers our 26 letters marching across the pages with much exuberance and the aid of a vintage printing press. Noisy! But gorgeous!

LMNO peas created by Keith Baker

These little green peas inspire many different ideas for occupations. Painters. poets. plumbers, pilots, parachutists? That covers the “P”s! Want to guess the “S” occupations? Come on! This is a great way to share this book as a read aloud!

Dr. Seuss’s ABC

Nobody does nonsense better than Dr. Seuss! He is the King of Silly 🙂 My class loved this book and begged me to read certain pages over and over so we could try to recite particular pages together as a class. A taste. Big M little m: Many mumbling mice are making midnight music in the moonlight . . . mighty nice

Alphabetter written by Dan Bar-el and illustrated by Graham Ross.

This book invites the reader to do many things on each page. First, enjoy a story that weaves through letter by letter.

Alberto had an alligator, but he didn’t have a bathing suit.

Benoit had a bathing suit, but he didn’t have a clarinet.

Second, search each page (sometimes you need to search and search and search) for a hidden letter. (a on A page, b on B page, etc)

My Little Sister Hugged an Ape written by Bill Grossman and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.

 ABCDEFG . . . Alphabet Books for you and me! There's a Book for That

This alphabet book has much more text than others and carries us along in delightful rhymes. The little sister, on a hugging spree,  hugs animals from A to Z. Fun!! And then some more! A sample:

She gave an OCTOPUS a hug. Those eight long arms felt nice and snug,

Gripping my sister in eight different spots. And tangling themselves into eight different knots.

The Dangerous Alphabet written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Gris Grimly

Follow not just letters through the pages. This is is a superbly edgy journey through the land of adventure. Pirates. Monsters. Bats. Creepy tunnels by boat. Eyes are watching you. Will you make it to safety? Follow two children and their pet gazelle through a world beneath the city. Beautifully creepy.

H is for “Help me!” – a cry, and a warning . . .

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

 ABCDEFG . . . Alphabet Books for you and me! There's a Book for That

This book could be a very simple, run of the mill ABC book. B is for Ball, C is for Cat, etc. But. . . a very impatient moose cannot wait for his turn and M is very far away when we begin with A! Full of moose mishaps, much humour and a lovely act of kindness. This is easily one of the most shared book during buddy reading time in my room.

Bruno Munari’s ABC

 ABCDEFG . . . Alphabet Books for you and me! There's a Book for That

First published in 1960, travel through interesting pairings and graphically interesting pages.

A piano, a Package, Peanuts, a Pear a Pea Pod for a . . . (turn the page) a Quail.

Each page flows and connects in the most interesting of ways

Flora McDonnell’s ABC

 ABCDEFG . . . Alphabet Books for you and me! There's a Book for That

A study in letters, opposites and clever pairings. Each page has 2 objects beginning with a specific letter. Some of my favourites? The large giant with a tiny red glove perched on his thumb, a regal tiger with a teapot balanced on his head and a rhinoceros sniffing at a radish. Bright, bold and beautiful.

Caveman a B.C. Story by Janee Trasler 

 ABCDEFG . . . Alphabet Books for you and me! There's a Book for That

A hilarious tale told one word at a time in ABC order. Much humour and much to infer.

These books are not just for our children learning their letters. Read them right into the intermediate grades. They let us guess, wonder and delight in the magic of language – from one letter to long strands of text! Enjoy!

Two goldfish? Or . . . your Dad?

Author and illustrator Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean are a brilliant team. Their book, The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish had that amazing silencing power over my classroom – so engrossing that at times there was not a word! And then at other times, volume turned high in discussion and debate – on task talking! Yippee!

Day I Swapped

This book in and of itself is pretty darn amusing. The conversation and comments it inspired in the classroom – hilarious!

Nathan comes over with two goldfish in a bowl. They were pretty neat – reddy-gold and beautiful swimmers. A swap is proposed. The problem – Nathan isn’t interested in anything offered, not the transformer robots, the annoying penny whistle or the punching bag. So some deep thinking happens: “I’ll swap you my Dad.”

Whoa!! This caused quite the commotion in our room. Nathan, back in the book, was sceptical. One Dad for two goldfish doesn’t seem quite right until it is pointed out that a Dad is as big as a hundred goldfish. And he can swim (“Can’t” protests the little sister) So Nathan leaves with a newsparer reading Dad and the two goldfish remain.

So I ask: What do you all think? Is it a fair trade? I love how they take this question absolutely seriously!

Kevin: “No! A Dad is more useful than goldfish.”

Hajhare: “A Dad is more valuable, he grew up with you.”

Jeremiah: “But he still has his Mom.”

Hajhare: “Nope a Dad is not available.”

Alyson: “Without the father, you can’t have another baby.”

Lisa: “The Mom will be pretty surprised when she gets home.”

And of course Mommy says, “You can take these goldfish over to Nathan this minute, and don’t you come back without your father.”

But this is a little bit more difficult than first seems because Nathan has done some more swapping.

Alyson: “My Dad is more expensive.”

My important clarifying question: “How much is a Dad worth?”

Hajhare: “Love!!”

Ricky: “Dads have mastercards.”

Kevin: “Why don’t you ask a Dad to buy you goldfish?” Indeed!

We began to think this swapping might not end. There was much more searching following the trail and a gorilla mask, Galveston the rabbit and the Queen of Melanesia enter the story. Finally the Dad is recovered still reading the paper and sitting in a rabbit hutch.

Hajhare: “I think the message is Moms are all about love and Dads are about newspapers.”

Manny: “No that’s not the message. It’s – don’t let kids trade people.”

Whatever the message, this book is an adventure worth reading. (Preferably out loud to some opinionated children 🙂 )



Spooky suspense on Saturday afternoon

We did our weekly trip to the library and came back home with piles of books as usual.  Everyone is sick and wanting to be entertained so we pulled the blinds, turned on a little reading light and settled in with some scary books. All we needed was a tiny light in a dark room, a whisper voice used here and there, some well written suspense and dramatic illustrations and things got scary fast!

Wolves in the Walls

Neil Gaiman and illustrator Dave McKean teamed up again (they also brought us Coraline) to create this dramatic, quirky and quite scary tale.  Lucy heard noises . . . coming from inside the walls . . . and is sure there are wolves.

By the end of the book – some things change – Who lives where? Who scares who? Who is living in the walls now? It is quite the adventure to find out.

the banshee

Eve Bunting takes us on a “catch your breath, feel your heart beat faster” journey through the pages of The Banshee (spookily illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Emily Arnold McCully). What makes the “Scree  Scree” sound that wakes Terry in the middle of the night? Does he really have to go out into the garden to find out?

“I open the back door. The kitchen heat rushes out, and the night rushes in. I can’t go into that dark yard. Where she is. I can’t. I go.”

These two books allow us to explore some big questions in the minds of young readers:

What is it to be brave?

What is superstition? legend? folklore?

Do we believe what people tell us?

How do we confront our fears?

And the scariest one . . . “Is there really a . . . ?”