today we picked spring: Slice of Life #30

today we picked spring: Slice of Life #30

 

march 29

today we picked spring

we went walking to be in it and there it was

we gathered and collected

words, images

and pieces of the world we happened by 

 

there was the sun- warm and everywhere

clouds dusted the sky

“like spirits of someone that knew us,” said one boy

“they’re just white,” said another

the sky that we see is the bluest of blue

we all said that

 

some trees have white blossoms and some have pink

flowers in the trees and flowers on the ground

“why is that anyway?” we wondered

 

there were dandelions and daisies

and someone to teach us how to weave daisy chains

we wore them as braclets or twisted into our hair

we found tulips so red

but nobody found roses

even though we wanted them in our poems

(some put them there anyway)

(because you can imagine too)

 

the grass is so green

not like always

today we are poets and it glows for us

 

soft wind

sweet air

cold mountains

loud crows

words line up

two by two

and the trees sing

as we race beneath them

 

*I bought When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad This poem is inspired by about two minutes of skimming through that beautiful, beautiful book (can’t wait to sit and savour each poem in more detail) and an afternoon of gathering up spring and writing simple spring poems with my students. I placed many of their images into this poem about our walk and writing experience.

We used a frame and a two by two format so finished poems were just 9 words long.

A few samples:

Grateful for

cold wind

hot sun

seeds grow

spring

by Khalid

 

Grateful for

blue sky

chirping birds

breezy air

spring

By Noah

 

Grateful for

Daisy gardens

wind dances

trees sing

spring

By Amira

 

Grateful for

muddy dirt

wind storms

soaking rain

spring

By Sahara

When Green Becomes Tomaoties

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Counting Lions

Shouldn’t book lovers know most of all to not fall in love with a book because of its cover? Or are we the most easily tempted? I am not so sure. This book, I will admit, had me from the cover. Holding the book in my hands? Absolutely, I was done in. Oversized and gorgeous. Charcoal drawings that look as realistic as photographs. Vibrant orange end papers. This book is simply beautiful.

Counting Lions Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Counting Lions

Beautiful, yes. But even more, so important. Walk into a world of nature, of animals. Marvel at their beauty. Wonder about their unique habitats. Look, so very close up, at their behaviours and interactions. And then, think about counting them. Think about that not in the context of how many are on the page. But think about that with this question in mind, “What if we were counting the final ones?”

In the powerful forward by Virginia McKenna, she writes,

“In Counting Lions, children will start at number one and end at number ten. If it were true that there were, in reality, only five elephants or four tigers, then the world would know that the end of those species is in sight.”

This book is not meant to create fear, it is more about inspiring wonder. But a piece of that wonder needs to be about how we protect each of these species on our planet from all of the things that threaten their populations.

Each page is a gorgeous two page spread that consists of drawings (all in dark charcoal) and poetic text (all in bright orange). Each page begins and ends with the repeated number of each individual animal shared on the page. One to ten. One Lion. Two gorillas. Three giraffes. Four tigers. Five elephants. Six Ethiopian wolves. Seven penguins. Eight turtles. Nine macaws.Ten zebras.

At the end of the book more information is provided about each animal including its protection status. For the animals included in this book four are Endangered (gorillas, tigers, Ethiopian wolves, loggerhead turtles), two are Vulnerable (lions, elephants), one is Near Threatened (emperor penguins) and three are Least Concern (zebras, macaws, giraffes). We learn what specifically threatens each species and what if any conservation efforts are currently in practice. There is also different status for different animals. For example, the Plains zebras featured in this book are not Endangered but Grevy’s zebras in Kenya and Ethiopia have Endangered status.

Final pages also include more information about the contributors (author, artist and writer of the forward). Links to relevant websites to learn more are also provided.

Counting Lions: Portraits from the Wild is written by Katie Cotton and illustrated by Stephen Walton. Virginia McKenna (from the Born Free Foundation) writes the forward. Published in October 2015 by Candlewick Press.

Margie Myers-Culver from the blog Librarian’s Quest wrote a beautiful post about this book last week.

This book will be a stunning starting point to further reading and investigation about Endangered animals. In May, I put together a list: Endangered Animals: Building a Read Aloud collection. Start here for a variety of nonfiction picture books that can be shared in the Elementary classroom or with your own children.

 

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 April 27th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. I love the energy of the interactions and the reading that this photo highlights – another moment from buddy reading with the Ks. Books and children, they go together . . . 🙂

Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

And because I just can’t resist: Some Richard Scary love.

Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

If you didn’t get to read about our amazing visit with author/illustrator Calef Brown, read here.

Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

His fantastic new book of poetry is a must read, must share, must own: Hypnotize a Tiger: Fantastic Poems about just about Everything The pages are full of fascinating word play and delightful illustrations. Hard to pick a favourite here. Miriam, who works with me loves Lazy Head and the children are particularly fond of Pigeon Frogs. Today, I am very charmed by Interview with a Termite, but by tomorrow I might have a new favourite!

Hypnotize a Tiger Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for ThatJoin 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.

imwayr

Some of my favourite titles from the week:

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear that Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh written by Sally M. Walker and illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss

My students wrote reviews of this book that I will be posting soon. We loved the story and the history. What a relationship between Winnie and Harry Colebourn! It is easily apparent why Winnie made her way into the stories of A.A. Milne for his son Christopher Robin. The real Winnie was a sweet little bear.

Winnie- The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Unnatural Selections by Wallace Edwards

This book squeaks and speaks and hollers: Art project! Ahem . . . art inspiration! What fun!

Unnatural Selections  Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Stick by Clay Rice

These woodcut images are incredible. I like the story’s theme of imagination but this is not a book I would rave about or necessarily choose for my classroom collection. Potential but just not quite there . . . Yet the images stay with me.

stick Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace and illustrated by Leuyen Pham

How I love the illustrations by Leuyen Pham! This is a fun little story perfectly suited to little dancers. Can Vampirina stay focussed on her dancing and resist turning into a bat?

 Vamperina Ballerina Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Josephine written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Christian Robinson 

Such a detailed, poetic biography of Josephine Baker. The colours, the illustration, the use of language – all things make for an incredible middle grade picture book biography.

Josephine Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby 

There is reason for all of the raving about this YA title. The characters are so very unique – different, mysterious but so very appealing. The story is full of intrigue, suspense, mystery and magic. It is haunting and sad yet full of hope and transformation. It is one of those books that must be experienced and the less you read about it in advance, the better because each surprise, each “around the corner” is so delicious. So I will stop here. Except to nudge you . . . go, read this book.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby Monday April 27th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Up next? I am devouring The Truth about Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh (and not because it makes one hungry). My class just finished Each Little Bird that Sings by Deborah Wiles (which I would recommend over and over and over as a beautiful read and even better read aloud) so we are up for a new read. Happy to announce that it will be Jack by Liesl Shurliff. We read Rump last year and kids are over the moon that we get to share another book by Liesl together!

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 20/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 165/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 9/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 36/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 18/50 books read

Celebration: Calef Brown Land

This week I am thrilled to celebrate a very special visit from author/artist/poet/word-wizard/snail-inventor, the amazing Calef Brown! To say that we adore Calef Brown’s art and poems is an extreme understatement. We are ultimate fans! So much so that we have been working on creating what we have come to call Calef Brown Land: a world on our outside bulletin board that features creatures, flying machines, flora and fauna inspired by Calef’s work.

Calef’s book Dragon, Robot, Gatorbunny was the inspiration for many of these pieces  Dragon, Robot, Gator Bunny Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That We started drawing . . . Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That And then we painted Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Creatures and such were cut out and collected. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That And then the building of Calef Brown Land began. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That It was admired 🙂 Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Because it is AMAZING! Full of whimsy, vibrant colours and all kinds of joyous charm. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That And then, today . . . Calef Brown, himself, was coming to visit! Books were ready (check out the top row) Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That The schedule was set. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Welcome signs were made. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That And then, we heard the shouts, “Calef Brown is here! He’s here!”

Staying in the room and calm went quickly out the window. Because today was the day! We got to visit with Calef Brown!

Sharing the mural was pretty special. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That But having Calef Brown share with us . . . Well, now, that was just full of wow! We talked about syllables and favourite words. Rhymes and near rhymes. List making. Word savouring. Rice paper. Tones. Inspiration. Silly. Colours. End papers and treasures under the book jackets. We got to ask lots of questions and found out many things like which came first – the poem? the word? the illustration? (Never the chicken or the egg in case you were wondering)

We watched Calef read poems (perfectly) upside down. And . . . recite multiple poems from memory. Most of his poems are stored in his head and he shared them with us, when the time was right, on multiple occasions. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That When the students had their recess break, Calef made each one a special note. (Yes, he really did this! I witnessed it!)

He also gifted a signed copy of his newest book Hypnotize a Tiger to our school. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That Calef got a little peek at my students doing what they do best: losing themselves in books! His books, of course, flew into hands and were shared together or devoured individually. Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That In the afternoon, students got a peek at their individual notes. Lots of smiles all around 🙂 Celebration: Calef Brown Land There's a Book for That This week I celebrate Calef Brown’s generosity, creativity and time. His visit was very special for us, confirming our knowledge that book makers – readers, writers, artists extraordinaire are magical. They make the world extra everything! Thank you Calef Brown! This was a morning for the very important memory files. Filed under . . .

wordy wanderings

art meanderings

kindly offerings

Same  number of syllables inspiration  🙂

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks. celebrate-link-up

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Student Voices

Mingan: My village Poems by Innu Schoolchildren by Rogé

With participation of Joséphine Bacon, Rita Mestokosho and Laure Morali.

 Mingan My village Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Student Voice There's a Book for That

I have the feeling I could write nothing about this title and that just from the cover image, you will seek it out.

Anybody nodding?

And really, you should. Seek. Read. Share it with students. It is beautiful on every level.

After spending a few days with children in Mingan, an Innu village in northeastern Quebec, Rogé painted portraits of the children he photographed. Through writer’s workshops, the children wrote the poetry that is shared in this book. The writing could speak of so many things in these children’s experiences. These poems depict a rich connection to nature, an honouring of the natural world and an awe of the beauty that surrounds us.

Some poems are written by one author. Others are collaborations. I love much of the imagery. Here is a portion of a favourite piece:

It snows on the planets

When we walk on the sky

And these words just stopped me.

When the ravens become white

I will stop loving you

More than forty percent of the students who attend my school are Aboriginal. I have just ordered my own copy of this title so it can be a part of our classroom library. Student voice. Student expression. The magic of poetry. I want all of these things to be inspiration to my students. I want them to find their power to observe, to share and to connect through the words of these children on the other side of our country.

When I ordered this title, I also ordered another title by Rogé that has been getting a lot of recent attention for its gorgeous illustrations:

Haiti My country: Poems by Haitian Schoolchildren

Haiti My Country  Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Student Voice There's a Book for That

Are these titles nonfiction? Yes and no. I think they can be stretched between genres. That these poems capture so much truth, that they inspire the reader to think about a place and a specific time and seek out maps and more information, this is my reason to nudge these titles, for today, into the nonfiction world.

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

klf_nonfiction2014_medium

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 121/65 complete!

Monday September 15th, 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. You are guaranteed to find something new to add to your list.

The picture books I enjoyed this week:

Loula is Leaving for Africa by Anne Villeneuve

How delightful is this little title? Loula is done with her brothers (triplets! can you imagine?) and has decided she is running away to Africa. Luckily the family chauffeur knows the way . . . Full of adventure and kindness.

 Loula is leaving for Africa #IMWAYR There's a Book for That September 15th 2014

Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid

Such a treat for the senses. Calming and inspiring at the same time. Surprised it’s taken me a while to get to this book. Now, of course, I want my own copy.

 Picture a Tree #IMWAYR There's a Book for That September 15th 2014

The Big Adventure of the Smalls by Helen Stephens

I know that if we had had this book when my children were teeny, it would have been part of our nightly story time ritual. A read again and again and again title. What child wouldn’t love a sneaky adventure in and amongst an adult dinner party?

The Big Adventure of the Smalls #IMWAYR There's a Book for That September 15th 2014

What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings Written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Just so beautiful. The text, wow . . . The illustrations, swoon. So thankful I purchased this title. It now sits on my night table so I can reread favourite poems and passages. While I love all of these poems rather passionately, Starting Now might be my favourite.

What the Heart Knows #IMWAYR There's a Book for That September 15th 2014

I also finished Revolution by Deborah Wiles

I have been raving about this book all day – at a rally for public education, to a friend on the street and then to my mother in law at dinner. Wow.

Where do I start with this incredible story? Maybe the best bet is how I captured its essence in less than 140 characters. Easily one of my favourite titles of 2014.

Revolution #IMWAYR There's a Book for That September 15th 2014

Next up? I am reading Hostage Three by Nick Lake

I will admit that my nerves are still shot and I am not doing the reading I would like to be doing. I am worried about my students. (more here) I want to be working. I am tired of walking around a sidewalk. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Strikes are terrible. Plain and simple.

Reading Goal Updates: 

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 61/100 novels complete

Goodreads Challenge: 416/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 106/65 complete

Monday July 28th, 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. You are guaranteed to find something new to add to your list.

My favourite picture books of the week are all kinds of amazing! I figured since I didn’t share any last week, highlighting a number of them this week will be okay!

Two Speckled Eggs by Jennifer K. Mann

Lyla Browning is different and when you are having a bunch of girls to a birthday party, that doesn’t seem like a good thing. As Ginger’s party progresses, it turns out that in close proximity, true colours shine through. And some seem to be shining a little more brightly after all. Lovely story about choosing friends for how they make you feel.

Two Speckled Eggs #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Turtle Island by Kevin Sherry 

A cute little story about having friends and being part of a community. An ideal story time title for younger students.

 Turtle Island #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

TAP TAP BOOM BOOM written by Elizabeth Bluemle with illustrations by G. Brian Karas

I adore any illustrations from G.Brian Karas and this rainy journey through the city has many charming images. But the rhythm of the text makes this book a delightful read aloud! It would be a book you want to practice before reading aloud so that it can be delivered with all of the drama it deserves. Lots of fun!

Tap tap Boom Boom #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

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

Made me cry. What a story of loss and hope, upset and deep love in 32 beautiful pages.

Knock Knock #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Captain Cat by Inga Moore

Gorgeous cover and illustrations. While I don’t necessarily love this story, I can see this being such a popular book for students to read and enjoy independently or with a buddy. A longer story perfect for upper primary students. And the rat chase is lots of fun!

Captain Cat #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

You are Stardust written by Elin Kelsey with illustrations by Soyeon Kim

Simply breathtaking illustrations. The message is a huge one – every living thing is connected – in perfect, child friendly text. Beautiful to read over and over – to savour the art and let the words swirl around.

 You Are StarDust #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Julia, Child written by Kyo Maclear with illustrations by Julie Morstad 

This is kind of a cheeky little book. Pay attention reader. The title is not Julia Child but Julia, Child. Yes, we see a little girl in an apron surrounded by cooking utensils, herbs and berries. Yes, this book is inspired by the idea of Julia Child and her passion for food and cooking. But this is hardly a biography. This is a playful book, full of joy and friends and butter. The message? Hang on to the best parts of being a child. For those adults who need some help with this, recipes are adjusted accordingly.

 Julia, Child #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

The Owl and the Pussy Cat written by Edward Lear with illustrations by Stéphane Jorisch  

This was a gift for my husband who loves this poem and used to recite it to our children often when they were little. He also loves illustrator Stéphane Jorisch so it was a must. Just a beautiful book to treasure.

 The Owl and the Pussycat #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Wow of the week:

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin written by Chieri Uegaki with illustrations by Qin Leng

This book was on my picture book wish list. I am not supposed to be book shopping. But I happened to find a little money tucked away in a bag I hadn’t used and found money should be for wishes, don’t you think? Anyway this title is now mine!

I absolutely adore it for so very many reasons. I have favourite pages, favourite series of illustrations and am completely enchanted by the green grass that we see one night at dusk. Wow. And then there is the story. A story of determination, perseverance and creativity. Absolutely about courage and dreaming. Connection to family – Ojiichan (Grandfather) in Japan who played Second Violin in front of the Imperial Family and his influence on little Hana who wants to play the violin too. Hana enters a talent contest. Little girl with medium sized violin walks out onto the huge stage. I dare you not to hold your breath! What happens when she begins to play is pure delight and probably not at all what you are thinking. Suki’s Kimono by Uegaki is a favourite picture book on our family bookshelf. This book will sit, also beloved, one space over.

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

I also read lots of great nonfiction that I will highlight on Wednesday’s #nfpb2014 post

I finished two novels:

Son by Lois Lowry

The fourth and final title in The Giver books. As I was reading it, I wasn’t loving it, yet I just couldn’t get the story out of my head. If you have read all of the other titles, yes, read it. I’m still deciding what I think. One thing bothered me and so . . .

SON #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrara

I was quite charmed by this story. And oh so happy that it was written. So many of my students  are impacted by poverty in so many ways. In our community, it is just the norm. So there isn’t a lot of judgement. But I remember once one of my students was going to move to a community where low income didn’t define the community in general. She was bright and spunky and didn’t miss a thing. I knew she was going to be okay but I worried about the getting there to that place of okay. In this book, Star Mackie moves to California and she is the girl from the trailer park. Standing out for something that doesn’t even seem to be about her. I love Star’s stubborn streak, her voice and her passion for the written word. I love how friendship and family dynamics are explored. A middle grade novel that is really going to resonate with readers.

Ironically, just as I finished this review, my eleven year old (I gave her this book to read this morning) came charging into my room.

“Mom! It’s not long enough! Is there a sequel? I can’t wait for it. My favourite characters are . .  ” Natter, natter, natter. Yep, the perfect book for middle grader readers!

 Hope is a Ferris Wheel #IMWAYR  July 28th, 2014 There's a Book for That

Next up? I have a huge, huge pile of books – holds that have all arrived at once. Top of the pile?  Winger by Andrew Smith

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 53/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 363/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 86/65 complete