Monday June 25th, 2018

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Some Mondays have passed and I haven’t shared – report cards, end of the year busy, my daughter’s incredible dance show – all pulled me away. Now, I need to play catch up!

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week. Here are a few.

Reading a little Dan Santat to an imaginary audience

Serious fan of the Fan Brothers.

#classroombookaday titles to share

Wonderfully weird and wild.

Interacting with animals.

Some of my absolute favourites.

Classroom Highlights 

We have been making book lists of our favourite titles of the year. This is serious business!

There are book piles everywhere!

Making sure we don’t miss any!

Laying it all out. 

Symmetry play in math.

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.

Books I loved

Little Robot Alone written by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlin Charest with illustrations by Matt Phelan

I am partial to Phelan’s illustrations. Pretty darn cute. A little robot needs a friend and what a wonderful companion he creates!

If I Had a Horse by Gianna Marino

Just beautiful. Whimsical pages. Horse dreams.

On the Night of the Shooting Star written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Jenni Desmond

We can never have enough delightful and charming friendship books. This one is extra special.

A Bike Like Sergio’s by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

So impressed with this team that creates picture books that allow us to look at children’s lives where money is not easy. This book explores challenging, ethical decisions in a child’s life and is so, so well done.

When Sophie Thinks She Can’t…  by Molly Bang

All about growth mindset and the power of the magical word Yet. More lesson than story but still worth sharing. Didn’t love this one as much as I was hoping to.

Hawk Rising written by Maria Gianferrari with illustrations by Brian Floca

For three summers in a row, Cooper hawks nested in the trees on our street and in our yard. I have been in love with crows ever since. This book is about red-tailed hawks and we are able to follow them throughout a day. Beautiful illustrations, powerful words. A gorgeous nonfiction title.

What’s Your Favorite Bug?  by Eric Carle and Friends (out at the end of July)

I am a real fan of these What’s Your Favorite? series. In a classroom that reads lots of picture books, there is such joy in recognizing the style of a known and loved illustrators! This title is just as wonderful as the others in the series! I will want to purchase a hardcover copy this summer.

Wild Orca: The Oldest, Wisest Whale in the World written by Brenda Patterson and illustrated by Wendell Minor (out in September)

Thank you to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC of this book. I shared it with my students who were completely enamoured. Especially as many children in my room have been lucky enough to spot orcas from ferries in our BC waters. The students loved that a community watches out for these whales and knows their calls and habits. Lots of learning about wonderful whales that inhabit our oceans.

The Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley by April Stevens 

I finished reading this on the bus yesterday on the way to a dance class and found myself  quietly sobbing. Just a beautiful book about friendships, nature and the many ways to be alive. Incredible sibling relationship develops over the course of the book. An incredible friendship between young Frances and the more than eighty year old wise and wonderful school bus driver. A place in the rocks. Crow watching. Crisp, cold air. Figuring it all out. Loved this MG title.

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

I wanted to love this YA novel. And I really liked aspects of it. But, it was just not for me. Multiple possible endings. And realities? Just too much.

Loser’s Bracket by Chris Crutcher

This book I really liked. Such an exploration of family. If you love YA realistic fiction that is real and true and gritty, I highly recommend this one! I was waking up before 6 a.m. to sneak in pages.

Up next? So excited to begin In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

Reading Progress updates:

2018 Chapter Book Challenge: 24/60 complete

2018 Transitional Chapter books: 8/40 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 111/300 books read

Progress on challenge: 32 books behind schedule

#MustReadin2018: 13/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 13/40 titles

Diverse Books in 2018: 18/40 books read

A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited

I read a lot of nonfiction aloud to my class. I never get to as many titles as I intend to – the “must share” stack is always growing. It’s not necessarily due to lack of time. I make lots of time for nonfiction reading. It’s that I believe nonfiction read alouds need to be rich reading experiences. And so, they require time. Time for questions. Time for discussion. Time to think and absorb and ponder. We “stretch out” our read alouds over days and days – reading, writing, talking, drawing. I celebrate the time we take with each book because I know the learning is rich.

I thought I would make this post for Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday be all about the celebration of and learning from our nonfiction reading this year.

Here are (most of) the titles we read together in this “stretched out” style. We also read many other nonfiction titles – some in their entirety, some just a few pages here or there.

A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

I chose some particularly important learning to highlight here.

A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Cátia Chien

In this title we learned that a love for animals can be deep and a promise to protect them can be deeper. Alan Rabinowitz is a huge inspiration for my students. They felt his anxiety growing up stuttering and were inspired by his commitment to his work.

 A Boy and a Jaguar A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Ivan’s story prompted discussions of animals in captivity, of human cruelty, of just “why?” Lots of conversations. Thanks To Katherine Applegate and all of those who have loved Ivan, we love Ivan too.

 Ivan A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

This title allowed students to explore a question they had never before considered – just how do butterflies get to museums and science centres all over the world? But it did more than that. It gave students a close up view at the miraculous life cycle of a butterfly and allowed them to see the beauty in every stage.

 Handle with Care A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

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

This book gave my students hope. It energized them. It reminded them about the power of an individual to impact a community. When we closed the book, students made comments like this one: “I like Kate so much. It happened a long time ago but her soul probably still speaks for trees. She was one person who did so much.”

 The Tree Lady A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Galapágos George written by Jean Craighead George and illustrated by Wendell Minor

This title let us talk about extinction. It allowed students to grasp the true vulnerability of so many species. We read this after reading various books about endangered animals. Reading about a special creature that actually became extinct prompted both outrage and sadness. “So many animals could disappear because of humans . . . ” one child observed solemnly.

Galapagos George A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Tiny Creatures The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies; illustrated by Emily Sutton

This title prompted a lot of “Wows” and a lot of hand washing! 🙂 It is so important for students to wonder about the world they can not easily see. The power of something very tiny is a very big idea.

 Tiny Creatures A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book about Henri Matisse written by Patricia MacLachlan with illustrations by Hadley Hooper

This title opened up the conversation about inspiration. What inspires an artist? What inspires any art? One child commented, “The book was about what inspired Matisse. Maybe we have inspiration all around us too.”

Iridesence of Birds A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

Our learning climbs up the walls, surrounding us all year.

A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That A Year of Nonfiction Picture Books Revisited There's a Book for That

We learned. Some things. A lot of things, in fact. Not close to everything. It’s a huge amazing world out there. But wow, did we learn.

We wondered. We pondered. We talked and listened. We developed our curiosity. We considered things from new perspectives. Most importantly, we considered our place in the world. What do we impact? What can we impact? What do we notice? What do we not yet understand? What do we plan to find out?

A year of reading nonfiction.  I have described reading nonfiction titles with a class as building shared knowledge, one learning layer at a time. How exciting it was to build this developing understanding of the world with this group of children this year.

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2015. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

#nfpb2015Looking for nonfiction titles to read aloud? Check out this list: Nonfiction Picture Books for Reading Aloud

Mock Caldecott 2015

While every year I celebrate Caldecott winners with my students, this is the first year we are having our own Mock Caldecott competition. After perusing numerous other Mock Caldecott lists and lists of Caldecott predictions, I narrowed it down to eleven titles to share with my class. There was a LOT of rethinking and eliminating titles. In the end, I tried to choose a varied list that conveyed different moods, feelings and responses.

Mock Caldecott Choices 2015 There's a Book for That

Here are the books we are sharing, reading and swooning over – shared alphabetically by illustrator:

Sparky! written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Quest by Aaron Becker

The Promise written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Laura Carlin

Draw! by Raúl Colón

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book about Henri Matisse written by Patricia MacLachlan with illustrations by Hadley Hooper

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Hi, Koo! by Jon J Muth

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Grandfather Gandhi written by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Evan Turk

Our process is simple. We read and talk about each book individually, enjoying the interactive read aloud experience. Then, I hide the book away until we bring them all out again and spend some time looking closer at each title with Caldecott criteria in mind.

Like others who are running a Mock Caldecott with their classrooms, I adapted the criteria into a child friendly rubric.

Each child will have an opportunity to rate each book using a 1 – 5 scale (with 1 being not at all to 5 being agree absolutely) responding to these three statements:

This book is a book kids will really appreciate. 

The illustrations in this book are excellent in quality.

The illustrations are a great fit for the story being told. 

An opportunity to comment on favourites will also be available.

By next week, we should have shared all of the titles and will be prepared to rate each book. We will do this over a morning where we can reread, look more closely at the actual criteria and have lots of discussions with other students and the adults we have invited to participate in this process with us. More details on our class blog: Curiosity Racers.

We will then announce our medal winner and 3 honour titles.

I am not sure if it is the children or the adults who are more excited but our room is buzzing even more with picture book love. At times I am sure I can hear the hum 🙂

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: The Iridescence of Birds

I am so excited to once again be participating in a weekly sharing of amazing nonfiction books that we can use to enhance the learning in our classrooms and our own reading and learning lives. Hurray for #nfpb2015!

This year, at least once a month, I want to try to share how I am using particular texts with my students or what we are reading in the world of nonfiction.

Today, we read the beautiful picture book biography: The Iridescence of Birds: A Book about Henri Matisse written by Patricia MacLachlan with illustrations by Hadley Hooper

This book, by the way, is on the Mock Caledcott list I am doing with my class. I think I love the illustrations more with each read.

This title is like one long answer to the book’s first page:

“If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray”

It goes on to highlight beautiful images and memories of his childhood home and experiences. Simple. Calm. Subtle. Slowly, we are drawn into the colours, the sensations, the possible perspectives of a young Matisse. This isn’t a story of adult artist. It is about a boy absorbing the beauty of his world.

This title is truly a treasure. Read it over and over and find yourself lulled by the lyrical words and the beautiful hues of Hooper’s illustrations.

I loved this interview with Hadley Hooper on the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. 

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: The Iridescence of Birds There's a Book for That

Before I shared this title with my class, I “read” them the gorgeous wordless title Draw! (another title on our Mock Caledcott list) The author’s note at the back talks about Colón‘s journey to adult artist. The children were intrigued by his long history of drawing and who he counted as influences.

Draw!

Before sharing The Iridescence of Birds, I posed this question to my students: 

“I wonder where an artist gets his/her inspiration?”

This question mirrors the beginning of MacLachlan‘s author’s note at the back of the book:

“Why do painters paint what they do? Do they paint what they see or what they remember? “

We looked at some images of Matisse’s work and talked about what we noticed.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: The Iridescence of Birds There's a Book for That

Students began to answer the question about where an artist’s inspiration might come from. Their ideas were fairly general:

  • from their childhood
  • from the places and people around them
  • from the time that they lived (we helped with this idea)

After reading the book, I asked the students to think about two questions:

  1. What were specific things that might have influenced Matisse in his later work?
  2. What was the author’s purpose in sharing this story?

We needed to picture walk the book a number of times again and read the text from particular pages so that the students could share specific and not vague answers. I pointed out that yes, his childhood had been an influence, but what specifically had the author and illustrator highlighted? I think this digging deeper past a quick answer is so important. This book in its beautiful simplicity of text, allows us to reread multiple times and focus on the specific details.

Finally, the students came up with this list:

  • the red rooms (floors and walls)
  • the fruit he got to put in bowls
  • the putting flowers into vases
  • there was always a cat
  • the painted plates his Mom made
  • the scenery he thought about or saw when he looked out the window
  • the pigeons – how they moved and what they looked like
  • his experience of mixing paints

They had some interesting comments about the author’s purpose. I love that when we read picture book biographies, they make connections between a particular individual’s story and their own experiences (past, present or future).

“It started off all grey and it gets more colourful. They showed how he changed his “place” himself to be more beautiful.”

“Kids like art. It’s fun. You can be inspired by reading about an artist and his life.”

“They wanted us to learn more about a famous artist.”

“The book was about what inspired Matisse. Maybe we have inspiration all around us too.”

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2015. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

#nfpb2015

 

Monday May 19th, 2014

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 novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. The best way to grow your TBR list!

My favourite picture books of the week

If You Listen written by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by Stefano Vitale 

How do you know someone is with you even when they are not physically there? A little girl needs reassurance from her mother about how to cope with missing her Dad who is no longer with her. Did he pass away? Has he left the family? It isn’t clarified. The important aspects of the story are how to deal with loss, grief and acceptance of love (whether immediate or far away). First published in 1980 and redone in 2002 with these gorgeous illustrations.

If you listen #IMWAYR May 19th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Once Upon a Balloon written by Bree Galbraith and illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant 

An intriguing story about imagination, sibling dynamics and an act of kindness. This title explores the land of “what if” and the power of belief just as much as it celebrates the story telling whims of an older brother who knows he has a captive audience in his younger sibling. The ending brings an entire other aspect to this story and allows the reader to think about what it is to be kind and compassionate.

#IMWAYR May 19th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Awesome Book of Love! by Dallas Clayton

Love, love, love. Not any one kind in particular but simply love that is huge and all encompassing. My favourite line?

“or just being around when the others have gone or about letting go when you want to hold on.”

A true celebration of love.

#IMWAYR May 19th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

Set by the lake in Tanzania, a mother speaks this lullaby to her child as they see father off in the morning and greet him again at the end of a busy day. Vividly illustrated. A story of routine, daily chores and family love.

#IMWAYR May 19th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Tippy-Tippy-Tippy Splash! written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Candace Fleming has such fun with language in this story of Mr. McGreely and his annoyance with the rabbits that make him so angry. Always trying to better these “wily twitchwhiskers” Mr. McGreely finds himself always outdone. Finally, he figures out a way to work with rather than against these “flop eared” foes. Silly and fun, a sequel to Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!

#IMWAYR May 19th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Moonday by Adam Rex

Absolutely odd. Stunning illustrations. It will either work for people or it won’t. The cover enchanted me and I felt persuaded to come along on Rex’s imaginative journey asking, “What if the moon ended up perched in your backyard?”

#IMWAYR May 19th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Samsara Dog written by Helen Manos and illustrated by Julie Vivas

Not necessarily a picture book for younger children. Emotional and thoughtful. Based on Buddhist concepts of Samsara and Nirvana, this story tells the tale of a dog who lives many lives, learning and growing in each of them. Finally, he lives the life that allows him to feel deeply, to know much and to give fully.

#IMWAYR May 19th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill

Amazing nonfiction – Shackleton’s story of the Endurance’s attempted voyage to Antarctica. Uniquely illustrated by Grill. This book is ironically a book about exploration that needs to be explored for its every detail. Read this aloud to my children (who are eleven) and we were all captivated. I had to own this book as soon as I heard about it and was in no way disappointed.

Shackleton's Journey #IMWAYR May 19th 2014 There's a Book for That

I finished two novels and am now avidly reading Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan 

Completed:

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee 

This was a #MustReadin2014 title

Vulnerable. Beautiful. Sad and full of grief while at the same time magical and full of hope. What a story.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy #IMWAYR May 19th 2014 There's a Book for That

Nightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin

I don’t know where to start with this book. The reader must suspend belief and be transported by the sweet song of a young girl and the power of a beautiful voice to heal so much that is wrong. A book full of many examples of choices with huge consequences. Hauntingly beautiful. A story about the power of grief to overwhelm and surround us. Full of so many different kinds of moments- worrisome, sweet and lovely, angst filled. Upper middle grade. Highly recommended.

Nightingale's nest #IMWAYR May 19th 2014 There's a Book for That

Next up? After finishing Golden Boy, I plan to begin A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 38/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 249/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 16/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 63/65 complete

Nora’s Chicks

Our BLG book this week was Nora’s Chicks written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Kathryn Brown.

Nora's Chicks There's  a Book for That

What a wonderfully lovely title that could be used to talk about what it is like to move somewhere new, away from friends, family and country. Little Nora moves with her family to the prairies from Russia. Nothing looks or feels the same and she is desperately lonely. Some little chicks and two geese become her adopted companions and lead her to both friendship and joy. A wonderful historical fiction selection.

I loved how one of my little Junior Book Club members made a connection to Charlotte’s Web (our current novel). When Nora got some chicks that were all her own, she cried out, “That’s just like Fern – she got a little pig for all her own.”

Thanks to Magnus for sharing this title with us!

Student reviewers respond:

Hyo Min rates this book 10/5 and writes: How many chicks are there? Is it bright at a farm? Is a farm in Canada or not? There is a lot of weeds. Me and Nora are sad because we moved to a different country. Maybe she misses snow people like her Grandma and Grandpa. Maybe she misses her friends from Russia. This story reminds me when I moved to Canada. I felt sad. I missed my friends, the sun and the nature. I visit and stay for a few weeks.

Steven rates this book 5/5 and writes: I like the chicks. Nora feels sad because no tree, no friends and no hills. She had chicks and a dog. She had a new friend.

Arianne rates this book 4/5 and writes: Nora was sad because she had no one to play with until one day she got some chicks. How did they travel to America?

Brian rates this book 3/5 and writes: My favourite part was when nora found a dog. I think that dog lost its owners. Then Nora wanted to keep that dog but then Willie started playing with Milo. Then Nora’s Dad got some baby chicks. After that, she started having so much fun because they followed her everywhere. The chicks helped Nora make friends with Susannah. 

Ava rates this book 2/5 and writes: I have a connection. My Aunt is named Natasha like one of the chicks. I think it needs more action and it would improve it.

Kevin rates this book 5/5 and writes: The family is clean and has pretty cloth. First Nora was lonely. Then a friend showed up and then Nora was happy. It was a happy ending. At the end, she was happy because Susannah showed up. She missed her home. Susannah was shy to ask Nora out to play. Milo got a dog and Nora have a friend and lots of chicks. So it’s even. What did they do to get to America?

Joeli rates this book 4/5 and writes: I think Nora was a nice person. She kept the chicks alive and fed the dog. But she was still sad because Willie played with Milo. She does not have any friends. So finally she has a friend in the end and her name is Susannah. They became friends because of the chicks and the chickens.

Heman rates this book 3/5 and writes: My favourite part is when Nora found the dog. Nora named the dog Willie. Willie liked Milo more than Nora. Milo is Nora’s little brother. Nora was lonely. She wanted a friend. Nora’s dad gave her chicks and two geeses. Nora named all the chicks and geese. Nora once lived in Russia but she needed to go to live in a prairie in America. Nora was homesick. she didn’t like this place because there were no trees or mountains. Nora’s chicks followed Nora everywhere she went. Nora named the chicks Russian names. 

Kassidy rates this book 5/5 and writes: I love the book because she finds a new friend. Nora was sad because she was lonely and had no friends. Nora was shy when she first met Susannah. Susannah was shy too. Nora’s Dad wanted to eat the chicks but he doesn’t because he gives them to Nora. Nora loves the chicks but she was still lonely. Nora was homesick. Nora promises Susannah to give her some chicks.

Soleen rates this book 5/5 and writes: Nora had no friends and she was so sad. Now Nora has a friend and she is happy. She was homesick. Nora was very shy when she tried to talk to Susannah but it was hard for her. She names the chicks Susannah, Eva, Natasha, Friend, Galna, Ivan, Fritz, Polina, Wolfgang, Clacker and Hoots. She talked to Susannah and promised she will give some to her. That’s how they became friends. She lost a chicken and Susannah found it. 

Pheonix doesn’t rate the book but offers this comment: Those chickens look tasty.

🙂 This was a laugh out loud discovery in the pile of reviews!

Monday July 22nd, 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! These #IMWAYR posts are a great place to “shop” for new titles.

Favourite picture books from the week:

On a Beam of Light: A story of Albert Einstein written by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky Sometimes in the middle of a picture book, I know. I know that it will become a favourite before I even finish it as a certain kind of enchantment begins. There is the purely wonderful feeling of experiencing the story and the illustrations and the magic of the book. But there is also the explosion in my head of all of the different ways I can use the story in the classroom. Loud, swirling and whirling ideas. So when the book itself is about how Einstein thought and approached the world, about how his thinking happened, well . . . the layers of wow can’t quite be described. Radunsky’s illustrations are divine and Jennifer Berne delivered a story about the complexities of Einstein’s ideas in a book that is simple and accessible and beautiful. Just. Pure. Brilliance. A book I plan to use to introduce my year – all the perfect themes of wonder, curiousity and thinking outside of the box.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Nora’s Chicks written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Kathryn Brown A wonderfully lovely title that could be used to talk about what it is like to move somewhere new, away from friends, family and country. Little Nora moves with her family to the prairies from Russia. Nothing looks or feels the same and she is desperately lonely. Some little chicks and two geese become her adopted companions and lead her to both friendship and joy.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

 Coming on Home Soon written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis This pair create some absolutely beautiful books. I liked the simplicity to this story – a young girl misses her Mother who has gone to Chicago to work in a factory job left vacant as all of the men are off at War (WWII). Ada Ruth is cared for by her grandmother with a practical, no nonsense kind of love. Love that soothes the missing, comforts the sadness and has room for a bothersome kitten. Stunning illustrations.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator written and illustrated by Mo Willems Oh Mo Willems, how do you do it? Engaging and hilarious as usual!

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Matilda’s Cat written and illustrated by Emily Gravett. Gravett’s books are so frequently shared in my room during kindergarten buddy reading time and this title is another example of why. Even with sparse text, a big story is told. It makes you smile and lures you into frequent rereads, the repetitive elements making it all the more engaging. Matilda, dressed as a cat herself, leads her cat through a variety of activities, listing off what the cat does not like until eventually we discover what it is exactly that makes this cat so happy. Adorable. Perfect for a story time session with younger children.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

I have been previewing some early chapter books that I purchased for my class – hoping to introduce some new series.

The Disastrous Little Dragon by Gillian Johnson Part of the Monster Hospital Series. Fun and full of expressive illustrations – ideal for students moving into early chapter books. This story is full of humour, adventure and dragon mishaps. There is also a message that a certain degree of confidence goes a long way.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Hello Nebulon!  Galaxy Zack series by Ray O’Ryan In the year 2120, it’s possible to travel and live on the planet Nebulon and what a fascinating new place for Zack and his family. Beds that descend from the ceiling, dinner that appears in moments, a house controlled by a robot (named Ira) and bikes and cars like nothing on Earth. Still adjusting to a new home and school is full of anxiety no matter what planet you might find yourself on! Lots of illustrations and fun fantasy perfect for readers just beginning to handle chapter books.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

Middle Grade/Young Adult Novels: 

A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean For a book all about a girl who stops speaking, this book was anything but quiet. But yet it spoke sort of magically – weaving connections to the characters and the story around and around my heart until I was all wrapped up in this story. This is the first book that has made me cry in quite some time. It is simple and precious and poignant. We read about a little girl’s grief and the healing process she goes through which involves new friends, visions of her mother and a very special dog called Homeless. This book took on a tragic topic – losing a parent and sent a message that grief can take many forms and the importance of accepting them all. It also touched on selective mutism – which I don’t find very often in stories. It was handled so well here. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone – but will just say that Cally teaches us a lot about how to grieve, how to remember and how to live in a world that is all of a sudden without someone who means a lot. A beautiful book.

A Dog Called Homeless  Monday reads There's a Book for That!

 Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles I have now officially read all of the Jo Knowles novels out there except for Living with Jackie Chan which is released this fall. Since I am a huge fan of Knowles’ work I needed to get this title read as it is a companion book for  Living with Jackie Chan. I found it quite amazing that even writing from four different perspectives, Knowles could convey so sensitively the turmoil and angst a teenage pregnancy brings onto a group of connected teens. As always, Jo Knowles exposes the vulnerability of both male and female characters in such a believable, not over the top way. A book where you are rooting for everyone and where, I am sure, each reader brings different connections to this story of an unintended pregnancy and the complexity of relationships.

 Monday reads There's a Book for That!

What am I reading next? I am thrilled to be part way through The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (much gratitude to a friend who lent me her ARC!) I was waiting, extremely impatiently, until the September release and was very excited to be able to dive back into this mysterious, eerie and supernatural drama that Stiefvater leads her readers through. Then it’s Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick and The Apprentices by Maile Meloy – both recent holds I just picked up at the library.

What fantastic titles are you reading?