Monday April 15th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Jen and Kellee’s meme and share what you are reading from picture books to young adult novels. The #IMWAYR community consistently has wonderful suggestions if you are looking for new book ideas! This week, I read everything from board books to adult novels.

A little “bookish” news:

I was thrilled to have a post about my student book club on the Nerdy Book Club blog this week. Click here if you would like to read it. I appreciated all of the comments and enthusiasm for the joys of sharing the love of reading with groups of students.

I also appreciated being mentioned in Assistant Superintendent Shelley Burgess’ (@burgess_shelley) blog post: Becoming Leaders of Readers Thank you Shelley for including so many links back to my blog (posts that detail favourite books)! I always love talking and recommending books.

My reading this week . . . 

I am currently collecting board books to set out when the Ks come up for buddy reading. Board books I read this week and added to our bin:

Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins Bright, colourful engaging! Would love to use this as an inspiration for buddy art making . . .

Hooray for Fish

Hello, Doctor written by Michael Coffier and illustrated by Matthieu Maudet Seriously clever. If a board book can make you laugh in just a few pages, you know it is good.

Hello

I’m the Biggest thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry Loved watching my Grade 2/3s try this out on their little K buddies. They were so excited to see if it had registered that the giant squid continued his boasting from inside the whale. Adorable!

im-the-biggest-thing-in-the-ocean-7820538

I read a number of fantastic picture books this week. Too many to narrow down so my reviews are brief!

The Other Side written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis This author/illustrator combination create absolute magic. So much in one little picture book with huge implications for discussion. A fence that represents the division of race becomes just a fence at the end of the story when a whole row of girls perches atop it. I want my own copy of this book.

The-Other-Side_Large

Me Want Pet written by Tammi Sauer illustrated by Bob Shea Definitely cute but when kid tested, it gets a better response. My own children laughed and laughed. Obviously the urging a parent for a pet is an age old issue 🙂

Me Want Pet

Chloe, instead by Micah Player An amazing book to share with a child dealing with conflicting emotions about a new sibling. Simple, bright and effective.

chloe instead

The Museum written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds As always Peter H. Reynolds makes movement and magic on the page. Such a wonderful celebration of art. I am not a total fan of rhyming text but the playful, joyous images allowed me to get over being slightly irked . . .

The Museum

Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka I know not everyone loves  Raschka but I really do. Few words are used and they are barely needed – the illustrations relay all of the emotions, pride and accomplishment in the process of learning to ride a bike.

everyone-can-learn-to-ride-a-bicycle

The Red Hat by Lita Judge Basically wordless but tells such a story. Wow. Playful and smile provoking.

red hat

Oy Feh So? written by Cary Fagan illustrated by Gary Clement Sometimes a picture book is great because kids will like it but adults will love it and will therefore read it with so much expression and joy that it is enjoyed all the more by the listeners. Thus, it becomes elevated to “better” after the repeated, happy readings. Read this book. You will see what I mean.

oy feh so

A Leaf Can Be . . . by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta Dabija Wow. Stunning imagery. Turns the imagination up to high.

leaf can be

All of these wonderful picture books and . . .  I still had some time to read and finish some amazing novels.

One Crazy Summer written by Rita Williams-Garcia 1968. California. The Black Panthers. Civil Rights. Three little girls who need to know about their mother. I loved the relationship between the sisters and everything about Delphine. An important read. I can’t wait to share with kids. Thinking a future book club book . . .

one crazy summe

The Runaway King written by Jennifer A. Nielsen Oh, did I set the bar high with my children! We finished this Saturday and on Tuesday we have tickets to see Jennifer Nielsen in person! This is a read aloud/book experience that I doubt I will be able to match. When reading this aloud with my children I must admit there were times I wanted to continue reading after I sent them to bed. Had to use a lot of self-restraint not to do so! This book continued the high drama, adventure and intrigue that we loved in The False Prince. We are big Jaron fans. My son finds his spunk hilarious and we are continually impressed by his loyalty, quick thinking and brilliant plans. We loved many other characters too – Imogen of course and also Fink. We are now very anxiously awaiting the third book in this trilogy.

The Runaway King

Little Bee written by Chris Cleave I don’t often read adult novels. Not sure if it is that they sometimes just feel too heavy . . . I had heard a lot about this title though and was glad to read it. The highlight of the book is the narration (in her sections) by Little Bee herself. Strength. Survival. Resilience. She is immersed in all of it. Hard to discuss any aspects of this novel without giving away important plot points. I did love the message that collecting and telling stories can save us. I believe this fully.

Little Bee

Next up? I’m reading my children Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan which is the book I am doing with my student book club. Love this title! Tonight I will start Requiem by Lauren Oliver. I feel in the mood for some dramatic fantasy. I’m sure this will deliver.

What are you reading?

Monday January 28th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Link up to Jen and Kellee’s meme to share all of the great reading you have been doing from picture books to young adult novels.

I tried to limit my picture book list to my top 5 books of the week. That didn’t exactly work out . . . But I did keep it under 10!

The Beasties written by Jenny Nimmo and illustrated by Gwen Millward I found this book quite delightful and when I read it to my class, it cast a magical spell. All about how the story telling of the Beasties helps a little girl settle into her dreams each night in her new big bed in her new room. Eventually, she realized her own imagination can help soothe her into sleep.

The-Beasties

The Insomniacs written by Karina Wolf and illustrated by The Brothers Hilts What if you travelled many timezones away and your night and day became all mixed up? What does a life lived at night look like? In this story, it is full of beautiful night blooming cactuses, night beetles, astronomy and moonbathing . . . The perfect blend of a slightly absurd story and stunningly imagined illustrations make this a beautifully unique book. Might not appeal to everyone. I adore it and want my own copy.

insomniacs cover

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz and illustrated by Dan Santat This fractured fairy tale was a huge hit in my classroom. We loved the martial arts, the energetic rhyme and super pig power! Read more here.

3 ninja pigs (1)

Oh, No! written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann Finally, I got my hands on this title! A perfect book to use to highlight paying attention to the details in the pictures. Can see this being a very popular and requested story time book! I think I would have no problems reading it over and over!

Oh-no-cover

Charley’s First Night written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury A story of a little boy and his puppy’s first night at home. Absolutely sweet. This little Henry is the keenest, most attentive new puppy owner out there. Full of love and care.

Charely

Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff Oh, this book is just so lovely! It celebrates colour, nature and the special bond between baby bear and Mama. This is a wonderful book to gift someone with a young child. A beautiful book to revisit often.

baby_bear_sees_blue

Oliver by Birgitta Sif Love these illustrations – they match a gentle story that celebrates a child who is really his own person. But sometimes, we are ready to share our world with someone else who moves through life with their own style.

oliver

I also read the fantastic Lulu Walks the Dogs written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Lane Smith These Lulu books celebrate voice – Viorst is one funny narrator, Lulu is deliciously spunky and Lane Smith rounds everything out with his brilliant illustrations. I liked this book as much as the first Lulu and those were some big shoes . . .

lulu walks the dogs

I finished two novels this week. Both were on my must read list of 2013.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson Such a well written novel giving us an intimate view into a young woman’s courageous attempt at securing land in the unforgiving Montana prairie during 1918. Hattie reminds us that we discover what is big and grand inside of us by living the simple and often arduous day to day tasks amongst people who are doing the same. A book of relationships, challenges and beauty. While it certainly took me a while to get to this book (considering it was a Newbery honour book in 2007), at least it will be fresh in my mind when Hattie Ever After is released next month!


hattie-big-skyOn the Road to Mr.Mineo’s written by Barbara O’Connor I adore Barbara O’Connor. I smile when I pick up any of her books. Barbara O’Connor has a way of letting the world slow down. She tells us stories of people, long days, longing, fussing and forgiving where the journey is as important as the destination. As always, I love how her books highlight kid adventure and big personality in small place settings. Calm. Soothing. Happy. Who would think a one legged pigeon could cause such a fuss? Everyone wants him, some are convinced they need him and the chase is on. Reminded me of the feeling in Oliver Jeffers’ This Moose Belongs to Me of how an animal really belongs where it belongs, and not necessarily to anyone.

on the road to mr. mineos

Just started reading Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood, a book I’ve been wanting to read for ages so I am very excited!

Monday September 3rd, 2012

The last It’s Monday! What are you reading? post of the summer! I really hope I can find lots of time to read as the new school year begins. My TBR towers everywhere are a great incentive! 🙂

Link up with Jen and Kellee’s meme and share your reading from the week (picture books to young adult titles).

Our family finished listening to the False Prince  by Jennifer A. Nielsen as an audio book. It was the perfect Vancouver to Seattle and back listen and we finished the book all sitting happily in our den listening avidly to the last disc. What a story! We loved the suspense, the character of Sage and all of us are excited for the next titles in the trilogy. In fact, there are almost daily arguments about who gets to read the second book first when it is published.

I read a few middle grade titles this week. The first was The Great Gilly Hopkins written by Katherine Paterson. Gilly is a raw, angry  character. Quick to judge. Guarded. But so in need of love and acceptance and a real sense of belonging. The character of Maime Trotter in all of her simplicity is a hero of sorts. I thought I might read this book to my Grade 2/3 class but realize it needs a slightly older audience. Still love that it so candidly deals with the reality of being a foster child.

I just finished Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko. As I read, I kept thinking: “Wow.” By the end of the book I was up to a lot of “Wows.”  A must read middle grade selection for so many reasons: the history, the character of Moose and what rests on his very tall shoulders, the way autism was understood and misunderstood in the 1930s and the depiction of childhood in times of more freedom (despite living on Alcatraz). Can’t recommend this book enough.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

I read a lot of picture books this week, finding titles at the public library, my school library, and my own collection. As always, for brevity’s sake, I will limit this list to five. A bit of a back to school theme going on here with the final three.

Bink and Gollie: Two for One written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated (perfectly) by Tony Fucile. Take a state fair with all of its rides, booths and amusements, add Bink and Gollie and there is guaranteed laughter! My favourite lines?

“Tell Madame Prunely what it is you seek.”

“Truth,” said Gollie.

“Food,” said Bink.

Art and Max by David Wiesner. Absolutely delightful! So much to discuss as this book takes us through a very colourful exploration of art, fantasy and imagination.

 Vera’s First Day of School by Vera Rosenberry. Something speaks to me in little Vera – the way she holds so firmly to the black and white version of life (totally appropriate at her age and stage.) When she hasn’t entered school by the time the bell has sounded, she is convinced she can’t go at all. A lovely Mom, an understanding teacher and a brave attitude allow Vera to begin her day again.

Things I learned in Second Grade by Amy Schwartz. A lot happens in a school year. This book is an interesting documentation of just how much for one little boy. Great to read at the end or beginning of a school year.

Mr. Ouchy’s First Day written by B.G. Hennessy and illustrated by Paul Meisel. The first day of school is a first day for everyone, teachers included! Children might be surprised at how nervous those new teachers might be! A lovely book that explores the building of classroom community and the passion a teacher has for making learning paramount for his students!

We enjoyed listening to an audio book so much that we have just started The London Eye Mystery. Should be a fun nightly routine as we ease back into a new school year!

Happy Reading everyone!

 

Monday August 27th, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you reading? How I love sharing the books I’ve been reading by participating in Kellee and Jen’s meme (celebrating books read from picture books to young adult selections)! Such a great way to find out about different titles.

This past week was holiday time so I read lots of novels and only one picture book that I found book shopping at Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle. I’ve been collecting Caldecott medal and honour books for the classroom and this is one I didn’t have.

Sam, Bangs and Moonshine by Evaline Ness. The illustrations were lovely in this book that won the Caldecott medal in 1967. I liked the line drawings, the limited colours and the intense expressions on the character’s faces. I had a real soft spot for Sam whose overactive imagination was used to compensate for a mother who was not really a mermaid but who had died and a father who was busy fishing all day long. Her imagination leads to some scary situations but she doesn’t abandon the magical completely.

 I also read a number of middle grade and young adult novels and even one adult novel (a rarity lately!) – an ARC called Three Graves Full.

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. This was an intense read but I really enjoyed it. You don’t often find a sibling relationship based on a lot of respect and care and this book really showcased a lovely relationship between brothers. I’ve read some reviews that claim this book is too confusing and not connected but I thought it all tied together well in the end

Will Grayson, Will Grayson written by John Green and David Levithan. I have had a very John Green summer (reading An Abundance of Katherines, The Fault in our Stars, Paper Towns, and Looking for Alaska) so I had to end my summer with this title co-authored with David Levithan. This book was all about characters. Not that plot wasn’t important, but the characters were so large (yes, literally in Tiny’s case) that they just sang out of the book (yes, again literally, in Tiny’s case :-)). Days after finishing this book, I found my mind occupied by these characters. Funny. Edgy. Humble. Vulnerable. Powerful. Such a great read!

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. Wow. Such a get under your skin little book. Loved the honesty of the characters, the relevance of the story and the power in the words. Because it is told in verse, you can sit and finish this book in one sitting and then take the rest of the day just to digest it all.

inside-out

Our family is one disc away from finishing the audio version of  The False Prince. Such a fantastic book!

Five Reasons I love Audio Books

In the summer,  our family often borrows unabridged books on CD –  recorded books that entertain us all.

Last summer we listened to Beyond the Deep Woods (the Edge Chronicles Book 1) created by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. The audio book read by Clive Mantle. We were transported to the Deep Woods,  a mysterious place full of odd creatures and many dangers as we followed the adventures of Twig on a quest to discover his true identity.

A thrilling fantasy!

Why are these recorded stories so wonderful? My top 5 reasons:

1. We have discovered many great authors through this process and have gone on to read other titles they have written (i.e. This is how we met the character Clementine and quickly went on to devour all of the Clementine books by Sara Pennypacker)

2. An audio book is a great way to introduce the first in a series and have your child read  the rest of the series independently. My son read all of Cornelia Funke‘s Ghosthunters after we listened to Book 1 as an audio book.

3. A story becomes a shared family experience. We still read aloud to our children but it is usually one of us reading to them while the other parent finishes dinner clean up etc. While it is lovely to have a story just shared between a few of us it is equally lovely to all listen to a story together – lots of conversations happen throughout the day when we are listening to a story together. Predictions, debates, questions. We have enjoyed many stories together and we all get the references if we talk about the book in the future.

4. Think about long hours in a car or even short hours in a car with arguing children . . . Press play and all of the bickering instantly ends as the story takes over. What could be better?

5. I love reading aloud but sometimes it is really great to let someone else do it! And usually they are really awesome narrators, often with very cool accents and they have the dramatic pause down to an art.

Some of our favourites:

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM written by Robert C. O’Brien (winner of the Newbery Medal in 1972)

We just finished listening to this audio book narrated by Barbara Caruso (who has more than 100 recorded books to her credit). Enter the world of Mrs. Frisby, a widowed fieldmouse who needs to move her family to their summer house but her youngest son Timothy, has pneumonia and is too weak to travel. Mrs. Frisby must enlist help from the mysterious rats of NIHM. She gets much more than help from these brilliant rats.

A wonderful adventure story.

The Talented Clementine written by Sara Pennypacker

This story is narrated by Jessica Almasy who has the ideal voice to read this story – full of energy, young and perfectly animated. Read more about her here

Highly humorous, Clementine’s second adventure is well worth a listen. Clementine is convinced that she is the only untalented student in her third grade class and she is panicking as the evening of Talentpaloosa: Night of the Stars approaches. Laugh out loud funny. We highly enjoyed this story.

The Secret of Platform 13 written by Eva Ibbotson.

This story was narrated by Angela Thorne, possibly our absolute favourite narrator. We could have listened to Ibbotson’s magical tale forever. In this magical fantasy, the beloved baby prince of the Island is kidnapped and cannot be rescued for nine long years until the gump opens again between London and the Island, a magical place inhabited by delightful creatures. The rescue party faces many obstacles – the most difficult perhaps – tolerating the nine year old prince, raised and horribly spoiled by the awful Mrs. Trottle.

After listening to this story last summer, I went on to read the book to my class and it was a favourite.

Head off to your local library and check out some audio titles. Happy listening!



When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead has quickly become one of those books that I know I will recommend (in my not so subtle you have to read this kind of way) again and again. I am also looking for any excuse to revisit this book – perhaps it should become a book club selection? I will definitely read it to my own children in the next few years (when they hit about 10 years old I think).

It is difficult to categorize this book – it blurs many genres – mystery, fantasy, science fiction (with elements of time travel and frequent references to Madeleine L’Engle‘s A Wrinkle in Time) but really, it reads mostly as realistic fiction (although set a few years back – 1979) This book explores the life of sixth grade Miranda and focuses on her relationships and her understanding of how others struggle with life and interactions all in their own ways. This book tells the story of mysterious notes relaying information to Miranda that no one could possibly know because they have yet to happen. The first note is both thrilling and scary:

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. I ask two favours. First, you must write me a letter. Second please remember to mention the location of your house key. The trip is a difficult one. I will not be myself when I reach you.

Miranda struggles to make sense of who is sending these notes and why. How everything plays out in the end is absolutely fantastic and Stead is able to tie up many loose ends even if the reader has to work to follow the threads and not tangle them up. But don’t try too hard – just let them weave together – as the character Marcus points out:

Einstein says common sense is just the habit of thought. It’s how we’re used to thinking about things, but a lot of time it just gets in the way.

I love how there is a sub plot of Miranda and Richard (Mom’s boyfriend) helping Miranda’s Mom prepare for the show The $20,000 Pyramid. There is so much emphasis on giving the appropriate clues and thinking fast to figure things out. Miranda spends the book figuring things out in a much more organic, subtle way. It is very clever of Stead.

There are so many layers to this novel. The storyline is interwoven with mystery and clues – turns and full stops – but not hugely dramatic – just calm and lovely. The characters are interesting and likeable – even those that don’t feature hugely in the story. I love Miranda’s Mom – her intense love for Miranda, her challenges about committing to her boyfriend and how her level of job dissatisfaction is conveyed by how many office supplies make their way (permanently) into her home.  Anne Marie’s Dad has lovely quirky elements – elaborate food making when procrastinating but a deeply protective nature over his daughter. The children in this book have many more freedoms – it being 1979 and not 2011 but the parents are portrayed as very solid figures. Many more interesting characters inhabit this book- the laughing man, Wheelie, the school’s secretary, Alice Evans who is not brave enough to excuse herself to go to the bathroom and compulsive Jimmy who owns the sandwich shop. All play important roles as Miranda navigates her way through the complicated puzzle of friendships, forgiveness and truly heroic deeds.

Highly recommended! On my Middle Grade favourites list.

Books on my Summer Reading list

It is summer! Time to do lots of things and top of the list is read! Next on my list are these three titles: middle grade reads and young adult novels. For those students wanting book suggestions over the summer – try the first one.

#1 The Day Joanie Frankenhauser Became a Boy written by Francess Lantz

#2 When You Reach Me written by Rebecca Stead

# 3 Mockingbird written by Kathryn Erkskine

So – lots of planned reading for me which I happily anticipate 🙂 I will report back when I am done.