Monday December 16th, 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 novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read! This is always my favourite way to discover what to read next.

I read a lot of mediocre books this week – not intentionally! But many were 2/5 or 3/5 ratings. I won’t share them here.

A few were standouts however and saved my reading week!

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins and illustrated by Jill McElmurry

I will admit that I bought this book because I have been in awe of its gorgeous cover and I knew it was about an inspirational woman who transformed an entire city. Love it for its passionate celebration of nature. For its gorgeous illustrations. Or for its important historical journey back in time beginning in the 1860s with a little girl named Katherine Olivia Sessions. A little girl who brought lush, green life to the city of San Diego. A woman who studied science when other women and girls did not. A woman who took what she had learned it and applied it in the most important of ways and brought a city to life. And oh, that cover . . .

 The Tree Lady #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon

Just delightful. Intricate, amusing illustrations. A tribute to New York City, “groovy jazz music” and the importance of finding the one that “gets you”. Herman and Rosie is a treasure. A book that my students loved but so did my Dad. Something for everyone, that’s for sure. I think this book is like a bottle of fine wine – it just gets better with age. However, it should not sit on a dusty shelf. It should be explored and pored over multiple times. Read my student’s reviews here.

Herman and Rosie #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Other books I enjoyed:

Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong

Full of humour and fantasy, this story is all about a magical pot that makes double anything that is dropped inside of it. Double the coins, double the purses, even double the people! A perfect math book to inspire some work with doubles!

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Strega Nona’s Gift by Tomie dePaola

Ah, Strega Nona and Big Anthony- such endearing characters. This story captures a month long series of holiday festivals in Italy beginning with the Feast of San Nicola on December 6th.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll written by Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Set in the Depression, this story explores the importance of family. Three sisters long for a store bought doll in times when money is very scarce. The doll does not bring them the happiness they imagined, but they learn the value of time together.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I have continued reading a holiday picture book every evening to my children as part of our book advent experience. These are the titles we read this week:

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I finished Matched written by Ally Condie

A dystopian YA novel that was a pleasant surprise. Yes, there are themes/similarities to other novels in this genre but enough felt fresh and interesting enough to really hold my attention. I have Crossed, the next in the series ready to begin tonight and look forward to reading it! Many philosophical questions pondered by the main characters. Not a book of extreme action – more an in your head kind of read.

Matched #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Monday December 9th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?


Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read! This is always my favourite way to discover what to read next.

Here are my favourite reads of the week:

Gracias Thanks written by Pat Mora and illustrated by John Parra

A dual language book written in Spanish and English. All about gratitude and celebrating all of the moments that make up a wonderful life. I plan to share this with my students before our Gratitude Circle this week. Each page shares a Gracias/Thanks:

For the ladybug that landed on my finger, a little red flying surprise, thanks.

Gracias Thanks #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

At Our House written by Isabel Minhos Martins and illustrated by Madalena Matoso

A new math inspiring book that I just discovered at the bookstore this weekend. And of course, I had to buy it! A counting book for the older set. How many people in your household? You too can count along like this book – how many teeth, nails, tummies, bones, pieces of hair exist under one roof? Such fun and fully bright and colourful graphics on every page.

At our house we have 40 fingers, 10 thumbs, 50 toes and 20 claws . . . That makes 120 nails to clip every Sunday.

This book begs to become a math project! 🙂

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Ook the Book and Other Silly Rhymes written by Lissa Rovetch and illustrated by Shannon McNeill

This title also followed me home from the bookstore this weekend. Perfect for my students as we work on rhymes during Word Work. These little poems are perfectly absurd as they highlight rhyming word families.

I am Id, Id the Kid.

Did you see what I just did?

I hid a Squid under old Sid.

Ook the Book #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Hello, my Name is Ruby by Phillip C Stead 

Little Ruby travels the world introducing herself to the various birds she meets. Brave. Sweet. Determined to make new friends. Ruby is a treasure. A wonderful way to talk about birds around the world.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Rosie Revere, Engineer written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts

This title has a beautiful lesson – our creative risks are mere steps to success but the road may be long. The point is to never give up. My students shared thoughtful reviews here.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Big Wet Balloon by Liniers 

I am a huge fan of Toon Tales and admire the diversity represented in their titles and author/illustrators. This little story is based on the author’s own two daughters and is all about the wonder and play that can be experienced by embracing a rainy day. Puddle jumping at its most adorable.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

King Pig by Nick Bland

Kind of odd but I like the message – treat others with kindness. Respect is earned not demanded.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Max and the Tag Along Moon by Floyd Cooper

A reassuring and sweet story of a little boy who watches for the moon on his long drive away from Granpa’s house.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Frog and Friends written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Josee Masse

Three short tales in a beginning chapter book series. Well written and engaging. A title early readers will truly enjoy. Delightful and sweet plot lines and interesting characters. So pleased to have discovered this series.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read #2 and #3 in the Frog and Friends series. I want to get all of them for my class! Just a lovely little early chapter book series.

I have been reading a holiday book every night to my children as part of a book advent experience. These are the favourites we shared this week:

Christmas books #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Reality Boy by A.S. King

A.S. King writes gritty, raw plot lines and characters. No sugar. I imagine if I were a teen reading this, I would really feel like she had captured the voice of the age group better than most writers. This story was completely engrossing. How does a boy who had his very dysfunctional life highlighted on T.V. every week fare as he grows up? The dysfunction remains and now the results of “fame” compound the stress. I was surprised throughout. Both upsetting and wonderful. Characters to root for. I will read anything King writes.

Reality Boy #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I have started reading Matched by Ally Condie

Monday November 25th, 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 novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read! This is always my favourite way to discover what to read next.

Officially I have 30 minutes to write a post of my favourite reads of the week. It is report card pressure weekend and so I must stay on track if I am going to be finished on time. But I don’t want to miss out on the joy of sharing in the #booklove, so here goes . . .

Briefly a few words about my five favourites 🙂

Grumpy Little King by Michel Streich 

Brilliantly exposes the futility of war. And reminds us that when we feel little, we act little. A wonderful title to spark discussion.

Grumpy Little King #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

How to Train a Train written by Jason Carter Eaton and illustrated by John Rocco

Fancy a pet train? Well if you do, this is the book for you! Just the whole concept is so out there and so fascinating for kids to consider and then, John Rocco’s illustrations – wow! My favourite part though might be the Dear Readers message by Rocco at the end of the book.

How to train a train #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Picture Day Perfection written by Deborah Diesen and illustrated by Dan Santat

Have you ever wanted your school picture to be perfect? Read about a little boy whose idea of perfect is not what you might expect! Lots of laughs and hilarious illustrations! My students wrote book reviews here.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Time for a Bath by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

I love this series by Jenkins and Page – (also Time to Eat, Time to Sleep) and just picked this up on sale at one of my favourite bookstores. Fascinating to me is how many of the creatures featured here don’t venture into the water at all but rather, take a bath in the dust or dirt to remove parasites.

time for a bath #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

If you Find Me by Emily Murdoch

I could not put this title down. A tragic, compelling story of two sisters forced to raise themselves hidden out of sight but not really so far away. This is the story of how they, in effect, “reenter” society and more importantly, family. Features a character with selective mutism which always fascinates me as it is becoming increasingly prevalent but I rarely see it in fiction.

If you find me #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I have just started The Real Boy by Anne Ursu (yippee!) and cannot wait to hand these reports in and then reward myself with time in the library taking out a bunch of new picture book titles.

Happy reading everyone!





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?!

Monday October 21st, 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 many picture books this week. Unfortunately, many were just okay. Yet, many were wonderful. These picture books stood out:

Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon

Just. Delightful. And then some!!! Oh, do I love this book! I love the quirky teacher – her style, her passion, her celebration of just about everything! I love Ralph’s avoidance strategies. I love Daisy’s ability to see a story in everything. I love that Ralph spends lots of time lying under his desk. And I love the story of the inchworm. Inspiring for little writers? Oh yeah! But also just such a warm representation of a primary classroom. Swoon.

 Ralph Tells a Story #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Crocodile who Didn’t Like Water by Gemma Merino

The illustrations in this story are absolutely charming. Meet a little crocodile that abhors water. He watches his siblings from afar and finally gets enough courage to dive in himself. Cured of his water phobia? Hardly. And it turns out there is a very good reason why not . .

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Little Red Writing written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

I have seen much #booklove for this title so I will get this out in the open quickly: I, personally, did not love this book. I love Melissa Sweet’s illustrations as I always do. I find the storyline clever and full of possibilities for writing workshop activities. But . . . I worry that this title doesn’t have enough stand alone enjoyment factor as a picture book. Did I read it and feel transported? No. Did it make me laugh? No. Did it evoke emotions? No. Was it just a great story? Not sure. I’m reserving final judgement until I try it out on kids. There was enough to like that I am including it as a title I enjoyed but . . . jury is still out.

Litte Red Writing #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay up Late by Mo Willems

Not sure how I had yet to read this Pigeon title. Read part of it with a student in a reading conference this week and then nabbed it from her book box when recess started. As always, I am delighted by Willems’ ability to engage the reader to participate so actively in his stories. My students adore the Pigeon!

Toads on Toast written by Linda Bailey and illustrated by Colin Jack

I liked how Mamma Toad schemed to save her little toadlets from Fox and his cookbook full of toad recipes! In the end, we learn that a truly simple and delicious meal can truly save the day (and the toads)! Lots of humour and delightful illustrations.

Toads on Toast #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Bear and Bee by Sergio Ruzzier

Some confusion. A worried bear. A clever bee. A made-to-be-friendship. Sweet and simple. Perfect for story time.

Bear and Bee #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read two wonderful nonfiction picture books:

What does it Mean to be Present? by Rana DiOrio and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

We practice mindfulness in our classroom (read more about the Mind Up curriculum here) so I am very excited to share this title with my students. It highlights with various daily examples what it really means to be present in the moment.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

An Eye for Color: The Story of Josef Albers by Natasha Wing with art by Julia Breckenreid

I continue to be impressed with the variety of picture book biographies available to share in the classroom. This title had me stopping numerous times to carefully examine the images in the book. I learned many things about colour and can see this being a wonderful title to share with children of all ages.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Novels I read:

The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata

A quiet, introspective story about a 12 year old girl, her brother and her grandparents during a wheat harvesting season. Family dynamics are beyond believable and ring with all that is true about relationships that span generations and cultures. And wow did I learn a lot about the seasonal work of harvesters! True, the plot is not fast paced but can see this being a story that speaks to the inner voices of many preteens. A lovely book.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Girl, Stolen by April Henry 

I have had a terrible cold all weekend and found this to be the perfect title to read while sick in bed. Certainly suspenseful but calm enough to put down when extra rest was needed. Still, I raced thorough this book in a day and enjoyed learning so much about being blind from the main character. Even though this is a YA title, I can see mature MG readers finding the text and story line easy to navigate and not too upsetting.

Girl, Stolen #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up from my very large TBR pile? Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord Very excited to begin this title! I also have a number of picture books and nonfiction titles I want to test out on my own children this week. I am finishing my first chapter book read aloud with my class (Marty McGuire Digs Worms by Kate Messner) and think I’m going to read them The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O’Connor next.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Preschool animal discoveries

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

I am so excited about the number of nonfiction picture books being written ideal for younger readers – from preschool to early primary. Recently I was invited to John Oliver High School‘s Wonder of Reading Event. My task? To read to rotating groups of preschool age children and their parents/caregivers for ten minutes at a time over the morning. What fun! I decided that rather than picking a fiction story, I would bring in a number of nonfiction titles and a basket of animal stuffies and set myself up for an interactive reading experience adventure into the world of animals.

I shared a few pages of different books depending on where the mood took us and the interest level of the group. We ended up talking a lot about ostriches, monkeys and penguins and the fact that none of us had a tail. What was in my bin of books?

Let me share:

From the brilliant Nicola Davies – three titles illustrated by Marc Boutavant. All of these books have a lift the flap and find out component. In my class we have started calling these “flip flap” books inspired by one student who refers to them like this because it makes one smile just to say it! 🙂

Who’s Like Me? (published 2012)

“Who’s like me? Who’s furry and breathes air like me? Is it . . . ?” 

Who's like me? #nfpb2013 Preschool Nonfiction There's a Book for That

Who Lives Here?  (published 2012)

“Who lives here? Who lives in this still, cool pond? Is it . . . ?”

 #nfpb2013 Preschool Nonfiction There's a Book for That

What Happens Next?  (published 2012)

“Here’s a hungry chameleon. Here’s a juicy grasshopper. What happens next?”

What happens next?  #nfpb2013 Preschool Nonfiction There's a Book for That

And even though none of us could find a tail on ourselves, we were sure excited to guess which tail belonged to which animal in Laura Hulbert‘s Who Has This Tail? Illustrated by Erik Brooks (published 2012)

 #nfpb2013 Preschool Nonfiction There's a Book for That

Tushes & Tails! by Stephane Frattini (published 2012) Who belongs to which tush and/or tail? It is not as easy as it many seem to guess. This was a hit with the parents who were as curious as their little ones to find out about each mysterious bottom!

 #nfpb2013 Preschool Nonfiction There's a Book for That

My original goal was 60 nonfiction picture books for 2013. Progress: 56/60 complete!

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2013! Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction titles.


Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Migration Stories

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

I will admit to being absolutely fascinated by the whole concept of migration – the effort exerted, the distances travelled and the whole idea of living life in different places in different seasons. Animals are amazing.

A new migration favourite: Is This Panama? A Migration Story written by Jan Thornhill and illustrated by Soyeon Kim (published in 2013)

A little Wilson’s warbler wakes up to a colder than usual morning and realizes that it is time to make the journey south to Panama. But, where are all of the other warblers? They must have left without him! How would he make it to Panama alone? So begins this story of Sammy (the warbler) and his quest to find his way to Panama on his own, without knowing the way.

Is this Panama? NFPB Wednesday There's a Book for That

Sammy meets many other animals who are also migrating, adapting for the changing season or planning to sleep away the winter. A ptarmigan explains that he doesn’t need to travel south because his changing white feathers keep him safe from predators while he continues to find lots of food in the north. A flock of sandhill cranes give Sammy a lift further south but not nearly close enough to Panama. They do however teach him that their migration strategy is to search for landmarks that they count on every year. Darner Dragonflies explain to Sammy that they follow the shoreline because flying over open water is much too dangerous. Other warblers (some redstarts, warbler cousins) show Sammy how they follow star maps by flying at night and a sense of knowing awakens in Sammy. Unfortunately, as he sets out with a clearer sense of his destination, he is confused by the bright lights of a city. In a terrible storm, Sammy finds refuge on the backs of a group of social humpback whales on route to warmer waters to calve. They bring him farther south and give him the rest he needs to find some new energy to fly. Finally, Sammy finds himself just where he needs to be. What a journey.

In the back of the book is a map revealing the regular route warblers take from Alaska to Panama and then Sammy’s much longer round about route. All of the creatures Sammy encounters are described as well – with important details about migration routes, reasons for migrating and migration strategies.

Did you know that Hudsonian Godwits can fly almost 10, 000 km in one go? Really! Humpback whales use the position of the sun and Earth’s magnetic field to guide their journey. Caribou migrate farther than any other land animal.

There is also a page titled How Animals Migrate detailing the various strategies animals use to guide their migration, why animals migrate and what are some of the dangers of migration (most happen to be caused by humans).

An amazing story and so much more on the topic of migration, I highly recommend this title. It would be a great read aloud in primary classes and ideal for independent reading for early intermediate students.

Interested in other picture books about migration?

These are also favourites:

Bird, Butterfly, Eel with story and paintings by James Prosek

Bird, Butterfly, Eel NFPB Wednesday There's a Book for That

The Journey: Stories of Migration written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Lambert Davis

Stories of Migration NFPB Wednesday There's a Book for That

My original goal was 60 nonfiction picture books for 2013. Progress: 50/60 complete

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2013! Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction titles.


Monday, September 9th 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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


Happy Back to School everyone!

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

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

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

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

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Rabbityness written and illustrated by Jo Empson

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

Rabbityness #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

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

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

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

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

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

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

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

In novels,

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

Cinder #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

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

Happy Reading everyone!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Farm Animals

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

There is something about a farm that is just a one stop shop when it comes to learning and observing nature. Fences, stalls and chicken coops might keep the animals safely in but they don’t keep the learning out! Baby animals. Food production. Farmyards. So many things to see. Many city kids get few opportunities to visit farms. But they are always interested in farm animals and love learning more about farm life. Books about the farm are always popular in my primary classroom.

When I discovered Real-size Farm Animals (DK Publishing 2013) at the public library, my family had just been to a farm and spent time with goats, pigs, horses, a donkey and many farm cats. All of these animals and many more are featured in this book.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Farm Animals

This title profiles fourteen animals including the fox, the owl and our favourite, the farm cats! Many pages fold out to reveal life size animals or the true size of ‘parts’ of an animal. Each page has various drawings, photographs and headings to organize specific information. There is a fact box on each two page spread with three or four pieces of interesting facts about each animal. There is also a comparison box featuring the image of a four foot tall child next to the animal described.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Farm Animals

Some interesting facts I learned:

  • A jersey cow can provide up to 80 glasses of milk a day (6 gallons/20 litres)
  • Only female ducks quack; male ducks make a whispery sound.
  • Sheep have a split in their upper lip which helps them to collect their food when grazing.
  • A donkey’s bray can be heard more than 2 miles/3 k.m. away
  • There are more chickens in the world than any other type of bird!

There is a two page glossary of new words in the back and the book even comes with a pull out height chart to post on the wall. An ideal book about farm animals for preschool/early primary.

My students also love the Farm book – one of Scholastic’s Discover More titles. Farm animals are certainly featured in this book but there are also pages that describe how certain farm equipment works and details about food production such as orchards and grain silos.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Farm Animals

These titles have many nonfiction features that make them ideal for independent reading in my Grade 2/3 classroom such as bright colourful photographs, lifecycle diagrams, a detailed glossary and an index. We have all of the Discover More titles in our nonfiction library.

Another beautiful title about life on the farm in Elisha Cooper’s Farm.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Farm Animals

What a book! Details of what happens on a farm day in and day out. Who lives there? The farmers, the cattle, the chickens, countless cats, etc. What do we find? Barns, sheds, tractors, trucks, plenty of equipment . . . And what exactly happens? Enough great details to fill a book that you have to really settle into to finish reading. A great read aloud but also a great book to explore with a friend. Elisha Cooper‘s Farm is a must for the primary classroom.

My original goal was 60 nonfiction picture books for 2013. Progress: 45/60 complete

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2013! Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction titles.


Monday August 12th, 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!

I did lots of picture book reading this week – often lugging stacks of books to the pool to read while my children had swimming lessons. I did my best to narrow the books I want to feature this week to ten:

Journey by Aaron Becker

Gorgeous. Inspired. I shared this with my family and we had so many connections to other stories and experiences. My children thought of Harold and the Purple Crayon, Howl’s Moving Castle, Airborn . . . A book that lures you right back to the beginning to start it again. A book you won’t be able to resist. It’s a must own.

Journey  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Andrew Drew and Drew by Barney Saltzberg

Very creative – such an experience seeing what unfolds with each lifting of the flaps. Celebrates imagination and doodles that might become  . . .

Andrew Drew and Drew #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Wag by Patrick McDonnell

Why is it exactly that Earl’s tail wags so enthusiastically? It takes a while to get to the answer but it is absolutely worth it. Adorable.

Wag #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Someday a Tree by Eve Bunting and Ronald Himler

A very special story about an important tree that a family visits everyday. When it turns out this tree is dying, it is heartbreaking. Touches on the life cycle of trees, environmental hazards, community, hope. So many possibilities for the primary classroom.

Someday a Tree #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

No Roses for Harry! written by Gene Zion and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham

How did I not know there were other stories about Harry (of Dirty Dog fame)? And wow, am I glad I found out!

no roses for harry #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

A Long Way Away by Frank Viva

I am still not sure of this title. I appreciate the concept of two stories in one – told either front to back or back to front – very creative. But . . . I kind of felt like the images could have stood on their own. I think this could easily have been a fantastic wordless title. I will see what my students think in the fall. With this book I really need “test readers” to try it out and see . . .

a long way away #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Matchbox Diary  by Paul Fleischman illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline 

I wasn’t quite prepared for just how beautiful these illustrations would be. The cover hints at the story’s concept and not the beauty of what is inside. Still – the concept – sigh. Just amazing. History, stories and memories told through unveiling of various contents of a number of matchboxes. Also love the intergenerational connection! A favourite of the year absolutely.

MatchboxDiary #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Goodbye Mousie written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Jan Ormerod

A well done title that deals with the death of a pet – how will it be handled by a preschooler? Illustrations of the family interactions are warm and natural.

goodbye mousie #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Bluebird by Bob Staake So I will confess that I have been avoiding this book since it was published. I think every staff member at Vancouver Kidsbooks (my local bookstore) has tried to share it with me or inquired whether I’ve read it yet. And, I’ve made multiple excuses. “Not in the mood.” “The cover just doesn’t grab me.” “I’ll look at it next time I’m in.” The truth? The cover has been whispering to me – “I’m going to get to you in a big way.” I knew I would love this book. I knew I would find it powerful. I knew I would find multiple ways to share it with my students and that our conversations would be huge and raw and honest as conversations with kids about great books often tend to be. I’m not going to share details about this book. I’m sure everyone but me has already experienced it. I will just say that this time at the book store, I read it and then, it came home with me.

 Bluebird #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frog: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle

A fantastic nonfiction read. What was happening to the golden frogs in the Panama? Could they be saved? This book explores the thinking and research of the scientists who tried to answer these questions. A longer read but could be shared even in upper primary over multiple read aloud sessions. So much to discuss – purposes of zoos we might not have known, ecology, environment, endangered species . . .

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I continue to try and read early chapter books and graphic novels that are already in my classroom This week I read:

Ivy + Bean (Book 1) by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall 

Somehow I have never sat down and read an entire Ivy + Bean. What was I thinking? They are more delightful than my skimming through titles had conveyed. Spunky characters in all the best ways. A friend of ours loves reading them with his daughter. He says it best:

“I like that these books have a bit of a wicked edge to them, a lovely appreciation of 7-year old anarchists. Nothing saccharine about Ivy&Bean.”

Ivy&Bean #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett J. Krosoczka 

Also realized that I had never read the first Lunch Lady title. I didn’t really read this so much as read it along to a running commentary from my children asking me which part I was at or what had just happened or did I think that . . . Wow, do kids love Lunch Lady! A series I always love recommending.

Lunch Lady #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read Sold by Patricia McCormick

A difficult but important read. A book that I hope is in all high school libraries.

Sold #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I am currently reading Eleanor and Park (almost finished!)  Loving it so far 🙂

I also finished

Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers by Steven L. Layne

Appreciated Layne’s voice and passion for making reading something that is adored by students everywhere. He makes it very clear however, that this passion begins with the environment we create in our classrooms. There are many people who need this book.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I have a few novels I want to read that are due back at the library at around the same time so it will be a due date competition that determines what I read!