Monsters, monsters everywhere

Monsters, monsters everywhere

Monsters have cast a certain magic over our classroom lately.

We’ve been reading about monsters.

Talking monster characteristics.

Designing monsters.

Sketching monsters.

Painting monsters.

Talking about monsters living with us. Because . . . hey, what if?

Stories to come. We are writing.

It all started with this book:

Leonardo Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

And then, we looked at a few more monster titles. Some monster images. Thank you Elise Gravel for some wonderful monster inspiration on your website! We made a gigantic chart about all of the monster features we noticed like: fangs, claws, blueberry bodies (you know squishy and round), humongous heads, extra eyes (and other body parts), horns and other strange features.

We drew monster designs.

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

By the next week, we were ready to pick a particular monster and “grow him/her” into our monster piece.

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Add some paint and some creative energy from your peers, and my, oh my, what happens . . .

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Some monsters are born!

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Boo! Are you scared? Just a bit? We won’t tell!

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That

Now that you are in the monster mood, you might want a book selection, or two to explore. Here are 18 of my favourite monsterish creature titles:

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Picture Books about Monsters

Monsters? Creatures? Is there a difference? I’m sure if we asked some of these characters, they would have an opinion.

Monsters, monsters everywhere There's a Book for That Strange Creatures in Picture books

Picture books that feature monsters and other strange creatures:

Crankenstein written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Dan Santant

Love Monster by Rachel Bright

My Teacher is a Monster (No I am Not) by Peter Brown

Prickles vs. The Dust Bunnies (A Balloon Toons comic) by Daniel Cleary

The Gruffalo written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Raising Your Own Pet Monster by Elise Gravel 

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Wilfred written and illustrated by Ryan Higgins

The Monstore by Tara Lazar

Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty

The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell

The Tale of Jack Frost by David Melling

The Book that Eats People is written by John Perry and illustrated by Mark Fearing.

Plantpet by Elise Primavera

Big Bad Bubble written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Don’t Play with Your Food by Bob Shea

Dexter Bexley and the Big Blue Beastie by Joel Stewart

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Happy Picture Book Month!

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Picture Books that model perseverance

It’s Picture Book Month and I have picture books on my mind. I am beginning to think in lists. Often. It may be a syndrome. Picturebooklistitis? Something like that.

On Friday, I had some parent meetings in the a.m. It was lovely to talk about students who have demonstrated improvement in goal areas due to persistence, determination and creative approaches to problems. Heading home, after school, I started thinking about picture books on this theme of persistence.

What exactly was I thinking about? All of the synonyms for perseverance: persistence, tenacity, determination . . . But also being able to solve problems with creativity or a different/unique approach. A lot of it has to do with being able to focus but also being able to think outside of the box. Sometimes it is just about, simple but tough, hard work and diligence.

I think all of these picture books highlight a particular aspect of this theme and in their own way, model perseverance.

Twenty favourite titles:

These ten beauties:

Picture Books that model perseverance

And ten more:

Picture Books that model perseverance There's a Book for That

Twenty picture book titles that model perseverance:

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

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

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

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

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

Papa’s Mechanical Fish written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov

If You Want to See a Whale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Rosyln Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth by Marie-Louise Gay

Ice by Arthur Geisert

Flight School by Lita Judge

A House in the Woods by Inga Moore

The Mighty Lalouche written by Matthew Olshan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds 

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires 

A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead

Oscar and Hoo written by Theo and illustrated by Michael Dudok De Wit

Queen of the Falls by Chris VanAllsburg 

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Ten Birds by Cybèle Young

In case you’ve missed them, I have been making more lists:

Picture Books that celebrate courage

Picture Books to make you giggle

Happy Picture Book Month!

pb month logoAs always, please share your favourite titles on this theme!

Picture Books that celebrate courage

To celebrate Picture Book Month I have been sharing a variety of picture books and the conversations I am having about them with my students, my children and others. This post is a kind of conversation with my self. I am reading the novel Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt to my own children and it often comes up that Doug, the main character, has to be brave in so many ways.

How do picture books depict bravery? Courage? Conviction? Strength?

In, oh, so many ways . . .

Each of these titles features a character who comes face to face with fear, who takes a risk, who stands up or stands out. Each book is full of inspiration.

Ten of my favourites:

Picture Books that celebrate courage Twenty titles There's a Book for That

And ten more:

Picture Books that celebrate courage Twenty titles There's a Book for That

Twenty Picture Books that celebrate courage:

Those Shoes written by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Pete and Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

Ruby’s Wish written by Shirin Yim Bridges and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Willow Finds a Way written by Lana Button illustrated by Tania Howells

Bird Child written by Nan Forler and illustrated by François Thisdale

The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman

Sheila Rae, the Brave written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes

Spuds written by Karen Hesse and illustrated by Wendy Watson

Soccer Star written by Mina Javaherbin and illustrated by Renato Alarcão 

Across the Alley written by Richard Michelson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

The Lion & The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Creepy Carrots written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown

The Dark written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Hello, my Name is Ruby by Phillip C Stead 

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

Suki’s Kimono written by Chieri Uegaki and illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue

Singing Away the Dark written by Caroline Woodward and illustrated by Julie Morstad

What picture book titles on this theme would you share? I would love to hear your favourites!

Happy Picture Book Month!

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Picture Book Wish List: August 2014

Well, it’s a new month. Teachers in B.C. still don’t have a contract. Not sure when a pay cheque with my name on it is ever coming my way again . . . Sigh.

So I am making another picture book wish list! (July’s version is here) It’s supposed to be helping me not want to buy books for my classroom. (It doesn’t!) It does help me stay convinced that picture books are one of the best things in life. They bring much joy. Joy that is multiplied with rereads.  🙂

So, this month’s picture book dreaming includes these ten titles (some not yet released)

Knock Knock My Dad’s Dream for Me written by Daniel Beaty with illustrations by Bryan Collier (December 2013)

Loss. Hope. Upset. Deep love. All in 32 beautiful pages. I can’t recover from this book. I think I need to own it. And read it to children and let their responses and observations work their magic.

Knock Knock My Dad's Dream for Me Picture Book Wish List: August 2014

Flight School by Lita Judge (April 2014)

Seriously, I can’t get over how adorable this little penguin is – the turned in toes, the aviator glasses, the multi-coloured feathers (would be wings). And that he claims he has the soul of an eagle? Melt.

Flight School Picture Book Wish List: August 2014

The Grudge Keeper written by Mara Rockliff with illustrations by Eliza Wheeler (April 2014)

Work with seven, eight and nine year olds and you experience drama – small things can become big things quickly. We work to keep perspective. A book that allows us to think about holding on when we should be letting go, about forgiveness and the power of blame. Yes, please. One for us.

 The Grudge Keeper Picture Book Wish List: August 2014

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett (April 2014)

I am still in awe of just how brilliant The Boy and the Airplane was. Some say that they like this title more. And “well done wordless”? It is a weakness of mine . . .

The Girl and the Bicycle Picture Book Wish List: August 2014

Julia, Child written by Kyo Maclear with illustrations by Julie Morstad  (July, 2014)

Read it. Loved it. Left it at the bookstore. Now I keep thinking about the potential as a read aloud. How it would inspire children to conjure up recipes and concoctions for helping adults stay true to what’s important. Can’t you just imagine? The writing. The list making. The art. Oh. Oh. I am so easily convinced.

Julia, Child Picture Book Wish List: August 2014

My Teacher is a Monster (No, I am Not) by Peter Brown (July 2014)

September is around the corner. We all need some laughs. And oh how I adore Peter Brown!

 My Teacher is a Monster Picture Book Wish List: August 2014

Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo (September 2014)

My Mom is one funky, energetic Nini (what my children started calling her and it stuck) who adores her grandchildren. I love stories with relationships that span the generations. I love the spunk of those a little wiser and more experienced and the adventures they can invite little ones to join. I also love every illustration by Lauren Castillo. Clearly, this book is meant for me.

Nana in the City Picture Book Wish List: August 2014

Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle (September 2014)

Because really – graceful penguins and Flora? We loved pink and flamingoes. Can’t wait for blues and a little ice.

Flora and the Penguin Picture Book Wish List: August 2014

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke (September 2014)

I just love how this sounds. Don’t you want to own a house by the sea and fill it with creatures when you need to spice up your world. Noisy, odd creatures? All the better!

 Julia's House for Lost Creatures Picture Book Wish List: August 2014

A Perfectly Messed up Story by Patrick McDonnell (October 2014)

Well, first, Patrick McDonnell is brilliant. Second, we all need to embrace mess a little more. Stories – the writing, the reading and the telling don’t always go as planned. That’s the beauty of them, after all.

A Perfectly Messed up Story Picture Book Wish List: August 2014

 

As I have said before, wish lists are a safe bet. They only become dangerous when we put them in our pocket. Which I am not going to do . . . Really.

What picture books are you dreaming about?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favourites of 2013

So excited to share my favourites of 2013! I had a wonderful year of reading – thanks to the amazing authors and illustrators out there that enrich our lives in so many ways.

The best of the best (published in 2013) for me?

13 favourites and no more than 13 words of raving about each title. This was my challenge last year (12 books, 12 words) with my 2012 Favourites. This year I get one more book and one more word to play with!

I decided to split these titles into 4 categories of what I read most of – middle grade novels, young adult novels, picture books and nonfiction picture books. 4 x 3 titles each and one bonus book = 13 titles for 2013 🙂

Middle Grade Titles:

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Brilliant, unique characters who teach us what it means to have “people”

Counting by 7s Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco

Inclusion. Bullies. Women’s rights. Orphans. Magic. Love where it’s needed.

Beholding Bee Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

High drama, adventure and intrigue led by Jaron: loyal, brave and charmingly plucky.

The Runaway King Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Young Adult Titles:

Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

Teenage vulnerability and humility. Best kind of uncle. Two well written male characters.

Living with Jackie Chan Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Because teenage love stories don’t often look like this. Gets you but good.

Eleanor and Park Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Intrigue, mystery, twists, upsets, revelations. Oh these Aglionby boys. And Blue . . .

The Dream Thieves Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Picture Books (fiction):

The Man with the Violin written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dušan Petričić 

Because we all need reminders to stop and honour the magic all around us.

The Man with the Violin Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

The Mighty Lalouche written by Matthew Olshan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

The joy and humour of boxing adventures and the triumph of the underdog.

The Mighty Lalouche Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Wild Thing! I think we love you. Just divine. Swoon.

Mr Tiger goes Wild Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Picture Books (nonfiction):

The Boy who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Mathtastic magic that inspires little thinkers. The wonders of number devotion.

 The Boy who Loved Math Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

On A Beam of Light- A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

Wonder, curiosity and thinking outside of the box. Accessible Einstein!

 On a Beam of Light Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

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

Math is all around us. Gorgeous illustrations. Fascinating animal facts.

Lifetime Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

And one more – published in North America in 2013. And in Australia in 2012.

Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon

Pancakes. Jacques Cousteau. Jazz tunes. New York City. Someone who gets you.

Herman and Rosie Favourites of 2013 There's a Book for That

Please share your own favourites of the year . . . 

Monday September 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 reads! The #IMWAYR crowd always has so many fantastic titles to share.

IMWAYRThe picture books I loved this week:

A Mountain of Friends written and illustrated by Kerstin Schoene

I shared this title when our K/1 reading buddies came to visit our classroom for the very first time. It was a hot and stuffy afternoon and there were 44 children ages 4 to 8 in my classroom and we survived it because of this beautiful little book. It is interactive. It is adorable. It is all about creativity and the strong will to help out a friend in need. Elements of Eric Rohmann‘s My Friend Rabbit.

A Mountain of Friends #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild written and illustrated by Peter Brown

I really, truly love this book. I don’t want to give anything away to spoil the experience. I can stay it is stunning. And slightly peculiar in the best of ways. And the message . . . ? Divine.

Oh and it is so beautifully illustrated, one just might swoon while reading it.

Mr Tiger goes Wild #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Fox and Squirrel written and illustrated by Ruth Ohi

Such a wonderful little story about celebrating similarities and differences and finding common ground. A book just made for sharing with a primary classroom to talk about all of the intricacies of friendship.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

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

This story exemplifies the “pull you right into it” feeling a picture book can provide. Fun. Silly. Delightful. I can’t even imagine how much fun it would be to share this with a classroom of children. I know that my classroom of children would go crazy. I really must get my own copy of this title! I love a little crazy when it comes to picture book experiences!

Warning do not Open this Book #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Bugs in my Hair written and illustrated by David Shannon

Well done Mr. Shannon. Being a lice expert myself (not necessarily a talent I had wanted to cultivate but . . . ), I have the feeling David Shannon has some first hand experience with these itchy little critters. Or he is a very good listener. This title both entertains and informs in the most delightful of ways. You finish it with a smile and if lice and you have been intimately acquainted, you know it is all okay in the end. Until next time . . .

Bugs in my Hair #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

Doug Unplugged written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

Funny how a book can surprise you. I had seen this title around the blogosphere for a while. I knew it made suggestions that we shouldn’t be so wrapped up in technology that we miss out on real life. But I was reading the title incorrectly. I read unplugged as noun instead of verb. I saw Doug Unplugged as a name, not that Doug, unplugged (verb). Reading this book made it clear very quickly and honestly, I adored this book quite a bit more than I thought I might. A great story to spark discussion about many things – the difference between “book/internet knowledge” and the power of experience for one.

Doug Unplugged #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

A is for Musk Ox written by Erin Cabatingan and illustrated by Matthew Myers

I do have quite the thing for alphabet books. Who would have thought that authors and illustrators could get so creative with the abcs? Oh, but they do! And this book certainly is an ideal example. In the same vein as Z is for Moose but wordier and for the story time crowd with a little bit more listening stamina. Great book to model voice. Or just to share countless laughs!

 A is for Musk Ox #IMWAYR There's a Book for That!

I have been happily and carefully reading Catching Readers Before They Fall by Pat Johnson and Katie Keier and so find myself at the end of a week without having completed a novel. I am one good early morning reading session away from finishing Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (talk about fast paced!) and am still enjoying reading my children The Fire Chronicle by John Stevens (also dramatic and hard to put down!)

In my classroom, we are loving our first chapter book read aloud together (for many students this is the first time they have ever been read a chapter book) – Marty McGuire Digs Worms by Kate Messner. We have been slowly making our way through Desmond and the Very Mean Word – a picture book that your classroom or school library MUST own. This is a story that has inspired so much discussion and passionate reader responses. What a book!

I look forward to many more exciting picture books in the next week and plan to begin Jinx by Sage Blackwood.

Monday November 5th, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? On Halloween night there was torrential rain in Vancouver that prevented a lovely tick or treat scene like this one below (from Muth‘s Zen Ghosts). Still it was a cozy week for lots of seasonal reads!

Join Kellee and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with their weekly meme that highlights what everyone has been reading from picture books to young adult novels. It is a fantastic way to learn about new books and share favourites with others.

In my reading world . . . 

New classroom picture books:

Night Song written by Ari Berk and illustrated by Loren Long. Long’s illustrations make this an absolutely stunning book about a little bat’s first solo journey. Guided by his “good sense” little Chiro is able to both explore the world and then find his way home. While this book does not use the word echolocation, this is clearly the good sense being referred to and there is lots of text that helps the reader to talk about the concept. I found children wanted to study the pictures individually after the story was read aloud because it was just so gorgeous with the black as pitch pages.

Chester the Brave written by Audrey Penn and illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson. This is another story in the Kissing Hand series that explores being brave and demonstrating courage. Sweet but I find I like the illustrations more than the story with these books.

Dog in Charge written by K.L. Going and illustrated by Dan Santat. I ordered this through Scholastic when I saw Santat‘s signature illustrations. It is a very funny little story about a dog left in charge of a bunch of cats that get into everything! When it all just seems like too much, Dog compulsively devours a bag of cat treats and takes a nap. The cats, who love Dog, decide to clean up their messes and the family are none the wiser when they return from their outing. So . . . I’m wondering where does one find housekeeper cats? Those are some pets I could have a lot of!

New to me Halloween Stories read to my class or my own children (often both): 

The Monsters’ Monster by Patrick McDonnell I am a huge fan of Patrick McDonnell and found this story to be absolutely delightful. This was our BLG book of the week and you can read more on the blog here. The best part of this book is the quirky little wanna be monsters with some of the best character names I have seen in a while: Grouch, Grump and little Gloom ‘n’ Doom. The final scene on the beach is all about the little moments of happy we all need to savour. Highly recommended.

Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth For those who know Muth’s  Zen . . . stories, this is another that will quickly become a favourite. I love that it is a story within a story. After everyone goes trick or treating, Stillwater the Panda tells the children a story based on a koan from The Gateless Gate that forces the reader/listener to question what is real and not real. And then just to sit and be fine with not really being sure. So much to explore within this book makes it a story that children of many ages can investigate. The illustrations, as in all Muth books, are exquisite.

Creepy Carrots written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown. I was very excited to get my hands on this book because I am such a Peter Brown fan. His illustrations are fantastic and accompany a story told by Reynolds that is actually quite sophisticated. This book on the surface is about a little rabbit being terrorized by some menacing carrots even thought nobody will believe him. What looks like a creepy carrot in the shadows of the night is often revealed to be something else entirely when a parent arrives and turns on a light. But are the creepy carrots really just a figment of Jasper, the rabbit’s overactive imagination? To be safe, Jasper builds a huge fence around the carrot patch to contain these orange vegetables that haunt him. In the end, the source of his fear is revealed. Do those creepy carrots really exist? Read this story that explores fear that just can’t be reasoned away in a totally clever and humorous manner. Loved this book!

The Perfect Pumpkin Pie by Denys Cazet This book has been in our library for a few years but I had yet to read it or share it with a class. Wow, had I been missing out!! This book is certainly a perfect spooky Halloween read featuring a ghost that rises out of the pumpkin patch threatening to haunt the residents of the nearby house if they don’t provide him with the perfect pumpkin pie. Yet while it seems like it might even be too scary for a primary read aloud, it is actually more full of humour, rhyme and pumpkin pie spices than anything else. And a very spunky Grandma who I adored. The illustrations are completely bizarre and unique to make this one of my new Halloween favourites.

Novels read:

Between Shades of Gray written by Ruta Sepetys This is a harrowing read. The images are disturbing and the violations against all basic human rights and human spirit are intense. In Lithuania, in June of 1941, fifteen year old Lina is forced from her home along with her Mother and younger brother by the Soviet Secret Police. They travel by train to a work camp in Siberia and eventually farther north to  the Arctic Circle. Survival is based on luck and perseverance that does not seem possible. Many, many die.  Lina is compelled to share her experiences through her art and her drawings recount terrible experiences suffered by her family and those of the other Lithuanian people around her. This story gives us a sense of the horror that happened to so many under Stalin’s rule. Many details were new to me. Ruta Sepetys brings voice to many who were completely silenced by death or extreme fear. A very important young adult read.

Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai. This book has been on my “to read” pile for  over a year and I found that once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in just over twenty-four hours. This book begins in Afghanistan in 2001 with a family fleeing across the border to Pakistan to then travel on to America. During the dramatic escape, six year old Mariam is left behind and her family is all tortured by their guilt and their extreme sadness at not being able to locate her from their new home in the U.S. Fadi, Mariam’s older brother hears about a photography contest that comes with a winner’s prize of a plane ticket to India. He becomes convinced that he can win and get back to Pakistan to rescue his younger sister. Meanwhile, the events of 9/11 happen and the family has to deal with racism, prejudice and attacks on their neighbours while they continue to grieve for their missing daughter. A book that speaks to the strength of family and of the faith of the Afghan people in a peace yet to come. Highly recommended.

Tonight I begin the novel Beneath my Mother’s Feet written by Amjed Qamer.