Rosie Revere, Engineer

Our BLG book this week was Rosie Revere, Engineer written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts. Thanks to Magnus, our BLG reader this week, for sharing this title with us!

 Rosie Revere, Engineer Student Reviews There's a Book for That

There are many reasons to treasure this book. The illustrations are absolutely fantastic. Our hero is a heroine – little Rosie who has big dreams of building, inventing and creating. It inspires the question . . . what might you want to be when you grow up? And then there are the themes that we can never have too much of: perseverance, courage, creativity, invention . . . But best of all, it reminds us that on the path to everything there are failures and mistakes and that we can celebrate the effort as much as the success.

The cover reveals one of Rosie’s inventions – helium pants! The story itself is full of amusing and unique creations dreamed up and built by young Rosie.

The plot? It is hinted at in delightful ways through these student reviews:

Student reviewers respond:

Joeli rates this book 3/5 and writes: Why Rosie calls it a cheesecopter instead of a helicopter? Why did Rosie’s Great, Great, Great Auntie make fun of her when she fell? How is falling from a helicopter funny? Then her aunt told her the first might be a mistake but the second try, the better it is.

Kelvin rates this book 5/5 and writes: I like how she did not give up. I like how she is creative. How could she build a helicopter?

Soleen rates this book 5/5 and writes: I like the part when she tried to be an Engineer. She was really brave because she kept on helping. She helped her Aunt. Rosie build a cheesecopter to try and help her aunt. She didn’t give up. She will always love to invent.

Jerry rates this book 4/5 and writes: I liked when Rosie picked one of the old things from the garbage and she bring it home and she is gonna invent something good and new. But then her aunt said she built an airplane before when she was a pilot. Then Rosie thought of something that she want to be a pilot too. Rosie build a helicopter. She fly to the sky, then Rosie crashed down. Her Aunt laughed but she wasn’t really laughing.

Ava rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part was when Rosie made a cheescopter to make her Aunt fly. There is a lesson in this book to believe in yourself. Rosie Revere was so brave to stand up for herself. 

Kevin rates this book 5/5 and writes: I love that Rosie build engineer stuff so her Aunt can fly. I like that she used old stuff into new stuff and build an invention. She is a brave girl. I like when she build a cheesecopter. She is not a quitter. Rosie failed but she did not give up. She worked so hard to build a plane for her Aunt. She did a perfect job. She is a good builder.

Brian rates this book 3/5 and writes: Rosie never gave up. She made a really big cheesecopter. She builds really cool things. Rosie is really brave. The Great Aunt laughs at her.

Kassidy rates this book 4/5 and writes: Rosie was happy to be building stuff for other people. Her Aunt Rose was laughing but she did not care about that. She is shy and she still builds stuff. She helped her Aunt build stuff. She made pants to fly. Now she builds stuff with her Aunt. Her Aunt believes in her. Rosie did not believe in herself. But now she does. 

Calvin rates this book 5/5 and writes: Rosie was nervous to share. But she was brave. She wanted to be an engineer. Her Gramma was proud.

Heman rates this book 4/5 and writes: My favourite part is when Rosie built a cheesecopter. I noticed that Rosie was shy. Rosie was sad when she failed and her cheesecopter broke. Rosie liked building stuff. I like the rhymes in this book. When I grow up, I will be an architect.

Steven rates this book 5/5 and writes: Rosie made a plane. She was sad because her plane broke. She is happy because she keep trying.

Clark the Shark

Our BLG book this week was full of rhymes, funny sea creatures and lots of laughs. Deborah, our BLG reader read us Clark the Shark written by Bruce Hale and illustrated by Guy Francis. We were so excited to see Deborah return as one of our classroom readers again this year!

 Clark the Shark

Clark is an exuberant student at Theodore Roosterfish Elementary School under the sea. He has a few (well, a lot actually) challenges with keeping calm and quiet in his classroom and plays a little too wildly during play time. How is he going to have more success and not annoy his friends? His teacher, Mrs. InkyDink (a beautiful octopus) gives him a mantra: “Stay Cool!” Clark finds that by repeating this often and by coming up with some other rhymes of advice, he can navigate his school day with more success. Our favourite was “Only munch your own lunch!” Clark sometimes forgot the “ask before taking your neighbour’s sandwiches” etiquette of the lunchroom!

Students were very attentive while listening to Deborah read aloud. They noticed the rhymes and alliteration and enjoyed repeating certain lines along with Deborah. There were some worries that Clark might just decide to eat all his fish friends (“But I don’t get it. He’s a shark. Sharks eat fishes. They do!”) Eventually, they relaxed into the book and even made up a few of their own rhymes full of school advice:

“When we sit on the rug to learn. Remember to take your turn!”


“Don’t shout out or your teacher will pout!”


Student reviewers respond:

Kassidy rates this book 5/5 and writes: I like Clark because he learns to stay cool. Clark is the nicest shark in the whole world. And that book is the coolest. Deborah is nice to all of us. She is the best. She is my favourite one.

Joeli rates this book 3/5 and writes: I wonder why all the names of the characters is like a rhyme. Why did Clark the Shark eat everybody’s lunch? Why he did not bring his own lunch box? When Sid the Squid came, why did he not watch his step because he stepped on the slide and the swing.

Kevin rates this book 5/5 and writes: I love the rhymes! How could a school be under water? If the shark is under water, he won’t eat the fish? I like when Clark the Shark stays cool in Main School. 

Steven rates this book 5/5 and writes: Stay cool Deborah! I like the story. The shark was sad. I love books!

Soleen rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part is when the teacher said stay cool. I enjoyed this book. I love the teacher’s name. I like the rhymes and the pictures. I wonder if the Squid will be friends with the Shark? I thought that part was amazing. 

Kala rates this book 3.5/5 and writes: I loved the pictures most. My favourite picture was when the shark made a friend. Why was the shark so big? I think we should use “Stay cool in school!” for our class! So we will be the coolest class in the school!

Giovanni rates this book 4/5 and writes: I liked that Clark the Shark made friends with the Squid.

Andrew rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part is when Clark helped Sid the Squid. To the author: Why is Clark’s Teacher named Mrs. InkyDink? I have a rhyme for you: Clark the Shark sitting in the park staying cool on April fools!

Heman rates this book 3/5 and writes: My favourite part is when Clark the Shark made friends with Sid. Everyone ran away from Sid the Squid except Clark the Shark. I think everyone ran away from Squid because they were afraid of him. I like the rhymes in this book. 

Calvin rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part is when the Big Kid Squid came down because it was funny. 



The Snatchabook

Our first BLG book of the 2013/2014 year is a beautiful one! Dan, our BLG reader read us The Snatchabook written by Helen Docherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty.

The Snatchabook - There's a Book for That

Bringing a book that celebrates the love of reading to a classroom full of eager readers and book lovers was a very smart move! Dan was greeted by a few compliments about his nice outfit and his deep voice and then told by one child: “We love, love, love books more than anyone else in the world!” We were certainly excited to hear this story! And when we saw images from favourite fairytales and other beloved tales, our excitement grew!

Students were fascinated by this little book thief – the Snatchabook:

“Is it a raven? They steal and trick!”

“Is it a book fairy?”

“Book fairies don’t have tails.”

“It looks like a mouse fly.”

“Does it have big muscles?”

Heman‘s review summarizes the story in a wonderful way:

He rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part was when the Snatchabook gave the books back to their owners. I liked it when Eliza read a book to the Snatchabook. I liked the pictures and the colours in the book. In the book, the Snatchabook stole books from the animals and then the Snatchabook gave the owners their books back. The Snatchabook stole books because nobody read to him. At the end, Eliza read a book to the Snatchabook. I liked the way the illustrator drew the Snatchabook and the rabbit  The Snatchabook looks like a mouse with a long tail and wings. 

We loved how the Snatchabook made everything right in the end and got to participate in nightly story time in Burrow Down. What a perfectly lovely story about the joy of being read to!

Other student reviewers respond:

Brian rates this book 3/5 and writes: My favourite part is when the bunny read to the Snatchabobok. That was calm. I want to know – does the Snatchabook feel sad and lonely? Do they have homes? Do the Snatchabook and bunny love books? How can the Snatchabook carry that much books?

Vicky rates this book 5/5 and writes: What if a Snatchabook came to our classroom? If a Snatchabook came to our classroom, then it might steal our books. I will feel sad then and tell the teacher. My favourite part is when the Snatchabook gave the books back to people.

Soleen rates this book 5/5 and writes: I love the pictures. I enjoyed the book. I wonder if he is going to steal books ever again? The story was the best Snatchabook ever. The illustrator makes the best pictures.

Kelvin rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part was the bunny read to the Snatchabook. How do snatchabooks have wings? How could the Snatchabook carry so much books?

Kala rates this book a 4/5 and writes: The book was nice. I enjoyed listening to the book. We had lots of books like that book – the rhymes. My favourite thing was when the book fairy was nice to Eliza. I love the pictures. It was so so so so lovely.

Jerry rates this book 5/5 and writes: I love when the Snatchabook snatches books and when the bunny says come back with the books. I love the snatcher. I liked when the bunny read to the snatcher. I liked the bunny too. 

Hyo Min rates this book 5/5 and writes: My favourite part was the Snatchabook steals books. He was a good reader. I love the pictures. She is a good author and he is a good illustrator. I liked the underground and the overground. 

Andrew rates this book 5/5 and writes: What if the Snatchabook went to our room? What will the Snatchabook snatch? Which book will he snatch? In the end, the Snatchabook is really nice. 

Kevin rates this book 5/5 and writes: It is so nice to meet the new BLG reader. My favourite part was when the author draw nice rabbits in the book. It will be really nice to let Snatchabook come in and we will read a book to him. I learned to be patient. I thought this was a rhyme book on the first page and it was. I’m happy! I enjoyed the rabbits in this book. My sister wants a pet rabbit.

Jorja rates this book 5/5 and writes: I like the pictures. I like the cover. The Snatchabook looks like a mouse. Maybe Snatchabook likes books so he took their books. 

Grace rates this book 4/5 and writes: I like the rhymes. But I love the pictures. The animals are cute. What if a Snatchabook came to our classroom? Why doesn’t Snatchabook have a Mom or Dad? What if the Snatachabook was reading the book The Snatchabook? I enjoyed this book but it isn’t very very very exciting. What does the Snatchabook eat?

Monday April 29th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Jen and Kellee for their weekly meme and share all of your reading from picture books to young adult novels. The #IMWAYR community is always an amazing source of book ideas and inspiration!

I had a lot of fun with picture books this week. Here are my favourites:

A Girl and her Gator written by Sean Bryan and illustrated by Tom Murphy So what might happen really if you went through your day with a gator on your head? Well . . . this book makes it very clear! Written completely in quite sophisticated rhyme, this book is rather delightful!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

Skunkdog written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Pierre Pratt I found the fact that this dog with such a very pronounced snout was absolutely lacking in the “sniff it out” department to be wonderfully ironic and silly. Skunkdog cannot smell. Smells just don’t impact him. And so when he tries to befriend a skunk who doesn’t hesitate to spray him repeatedly, he is not at all bothered. His owners, on the other hand, have a different opinion about his association with a skunk! Lots of tomato juice, held noses and questions about what it is to be lonely.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

Me and Mr. Mah written by Andrea Spalding and illustrated by Janet Wilson This title was originally published in 1999 and while I had seen it often in our school library, I just finally pulled it off the shelf and read it. It turns out to have many elements that I love in a story – a wonderful intergenerational relationship between young Ian and his new neighbour Mr.Mah who teaches him, via gardening, about patience, holding memories close and new growth. Themes of divorce, moving and making friends.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

The Worst Princess written by Anna Kemp and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie This book arrived home in my daughter’s backpack with an excited explanation that her Teacher Librarian had sent it on to me to read as she thought I might like it. Thank you to the wonderful Cheriee! Because like it I did! And how . . .

First of all, within the first few pages of reading this book aloud to my class, a spontaneous debate arose between the boys in my room. It sounded something like this:

E: “This is a girl book!”

K: “I have books about princesses and dragons at my house. I read them. I’m a boy.”

P:  “There’s no such thing as a girl book. All books are for everyone.”

K: “Can you read the book now Ms. Gelson?”

After that debate settled itself (love when I just get to sit back and bear witness), we all settled into a charming story about a princess who was expecting much more from life once her Prince Charming finally arrived. And it certainly did not involve weary pouffy dresses and sitting around while her Prince had all of the adventures. One of my students summed this story up best:

“It started out and you thought it would be a Prince and Princess vs The Dragon story but it ended up being The Princess and the  Dragon vs. The Prince and everyone else!”

One might describe this title as a modern Paperbag Princess in yellow hightops! My students certainly connected this book to the Munsch classic.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel SchefflerWell, simply summarized this story is about a thieving rat who gets his just desserts. My students wrote wonderful reviews that tell it much better than me. Please take a moment and enjoy 🙂

The Highway Rat It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

City Dog Country Frog written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon J Muth. I have actually read this title before but had yet to read it aloud to a class until this week. I confessed to my students that I had originally bypassed this book because of the cover. While I love frog books, I don’t adore dog books. But of course, this book is so so much more. I had originally (back in 2011) blogged:

“Something about the cover picture spoke dog to me and I kept missing the frog, even when I eyed the title I saw dog instead of frog. Finally, I looked a little closer and spotted the frog so perfectly plopped on the dog’s head and I pulled the book off the shelf.  How could I have missed this? I was missing so much! Inside illustrations are mellow, gentle and ahh, what greens. Together with Willems’ simple text, pictures and words tell the tender story of  friendship, the passage of time, young curiousity and calm wisdom. To make up for the months I haven’t been reading this book, I need to read it over and over and over again.”

So . . . I have been rereading this book over time and am now blogging about it again because it is truly special. One of my favourite book bloggers, Donna McKinnon from 32 Pages, seems to have felt something similar. A must read post from her about this wonderful title.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

“I Have a Little Problem,” said the Bear written by Heinz Janisch and illustrated by Silke Leffler Sometimes, we might have a problem and everyone wants to help yet nobody truly slows down enough to listen clearly to exactly what the problem might be. This book is about exactly that – the challenges of really being heard.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

Miss Maple’s Seeds written and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler There is something tender and sweet about the care that Miss Maple delivers to the seeds she collects. She nestles them in straw baskets and takes them soaring on the wind in floral “air balloons.” She reads them stories by firefly light and takes them dancing in rainstorms. Each image is magical and delightful and at the other end of this charming book, we are delivered –  wiser about seeds and the seasons and content that Miss Maple is a special nature caretaker.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

I was able to finish reading Requiem this week and then started and finished The Water Castle.

Requiem written by Lauren Oliver While I definitely enjoyed this final book in the Delirium trilogy, I wouldn’t rate it as highly as the first two books. Delirium absolutely captured me and I found Pandemonium to be fast paced and full of unexpected drama. This book was clearly meant to wrap things up, which, while on the one hand, I do appreciate, I felt that the whole book was geared towards an ending that was actually not as tightly woven as I was expecting. I did enjoy Hana’s story and everything going on for her inside Portland and on route to a matched marriage that seems scarier than the “on the run life” that Lena has. Maybe I just felt that this book needed more Lena. Still not sure. But – would definitely recommend reading the trilogy to fans of dystopian fantasy.

Requiem It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

The Water Castle written by Megan Frazer Blakemore Thanks to a wonderful community of readers that I am connected with – I have heard many rave reviews of this middle grade title. And now I clearly see why . . . This is an excellent mix of mystery and adventure that would have wide appeal with middle grade readers. In fact, I have just placed it up high on the list as a possibility for my student book club. And, I want to read it aloud to my own children. This book has such wide kid appeal. It is one part science, one part mystery/adventure, one part fantasy/science fiction and one stabilizing part of family/friendship dynamics to make the unreal, part of the very real, world. There is so much I loved about this title – the relationships between the characters, the mystery that permeates everything, the fact that not everything is solved and yet, one isn’t left disappointed. And best of all, the myriad of stories that are woven together across time. Highly recommended.

The Water Castle It's Monday! What are you Reading? There's a Book for that

Next up? I have just started Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco.

What are you reading? 

The Highway Rat

Our BLG book this week was The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Thank you to Deborah, our BLG reader this week, for sharing this wonderful title with us.

This author/illustrator team (Donaldson and Scheffler) continues to create books that kids adore and adults love reading aloud!

The Highway Rat

In this story, inspired by the poem The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, we meet a thieving rat who rides along the highway and steals food from all of the travellers. It begins:

“The Highway Rat was a baddie

The Highway rat was a beast.

He took what he wanted and ate what he took.

His life was one long feast.”

It didn’t take long before the class began to shout out their opinions of this Highway Rat. “He’s so greedy!” “And bossy!” “Jealous and selfish.” “I think he’s a pirate on the road!”

As he continued to hold up travellers and steal their food, students became even more upset. They shouted out and mumbled. Some comments were general. Some seemed to be addressed directly to the rat!

“He is very naughty!”

“You aren’t going to get anything guy if you continue like this!”

“Whoa! He thinks everything is his.”

“You are not the best. Even if you think you are!”

“I don’t understand. Why is nobody standing up to him. They could say ‘Stop it!'”

When the rat came upon a little duck with nothing, no food or treats, he announced that he will just have to eat her up. One student noticed the dark clouds on the page, “Oh no! Something terrible is coming I think!” The little duck led the Highway Rat to a cave promising him delicious treats that her sister who lived in the cave possessed. Our greedy thief followed her eagerly. Students quickly figured out that this little duck was up to something.

“That duck is trying to trick him because of all the things he did! That rat is going to get it!”

We won’t give away the very clever ending. But will let you know that good prevails in the end. And suffice it to say that the only dessert the rat will get for a while is dessert of the “just” variety.

Deborah announced at the end of the story that there was “a little bit of a lesson” in this book. One child quickly remarked, “No it was a BIG lesson!”

A simply delightful story that begs to be read again and again. My students adore this author/illustrator duo and I managed to find some fantastic articles and blog posts for further reading. Here are a few:

Students have been learning to address specific questions to the author and the illustrator in their writing. Especially if they have questions or comments. You will see this reflected in their writing below. 

Student reviewers respond:

Ava: Author, I love your writing! Where did you get the idea to put a rat in a book? Where do you live? I liked the rat’s hat. The rat at the end deserved it! Because he was mean!

Vicky: My favourite part was when everybody was happy because they got their food back. I liked when the duck tricked the rat. I really enjoyed the story. To the illustrator and author: I really liked the story and the pictures.

Andrew: I like when the duck tricked the rat to go to the cave. The rat was mean because the rat took the traveller’s food. To the author: Where are you from? How old are you? To the illustrator: I like the way you dressed the rat.

Giovanni: I liked when the duck tricked the rat. I liked the horse.

Shereese: I think the duck is the hero. Did you make the duck the hero? I loved the book. I also love your other books. The rat learned his lesson.

Kelvin: That book made me hungry just a bit. The rat made me hungry. To the illustrator: The pictures were so real. It was so nice. The horse looked really funny.

Ethan: To the author: I think you are an expert writer. You could write rhyming words. I think that rat is a pirate because of his hat and his sword. Where were you born? Where are you from? I’m from Vancouver.

Gracie: How did the duck know that the rat would bring the duck to the cave? My favourite part was when the duck tricked the rat. The rat was mean because he was so selfish. Why would the rat like hay that he stole from his horse? Rats don’t like hay. Do they? To the illustrator: I liked your drawings. They’re awesome! To both of you: I love all of your books that you guys made together.

Kevin: Why does the book repeat a lot? Why is the rat so bossy? I think he will never get any present from Santa. I enjoyed the story. My favourite character is the duck. I think that the rat is like a pirate. The duck is very helpful. To the author: How did you print so good? I think you are an expert. To the illustrator: How did you make the colours so bright?

Brian: The character of the duck had a really good trick to trick the rat. He took the rat to a cave and pretend he had a sister. The rat could eat the duck but when the rat stepped in the cave, the duck took his horse and ran away!

Kassidy: When the rat got stuck in the cave, that was my favourite part. I have a question. Why does the rat steal so much? I learned that he should not steal any more. I enjoyed the rhyming!


Pirateria written and illustrated by Calef Brown was our BLG book this week read by the very talented Bill who read sections in a very believable piratey “accent.” This was one fun book and a very amusing read aloud experience! Bill started off with the title and immediately one child remarked that the title sounded a lot like “bacteria.” Well, yes . . . With amazing illustrations, rhyming text and read in “regular” English and “pirate” English, this read aloud was highly energetic! Bill was frequently interrupted by requests to see the illustrations up close and a few times for some feedback like,

 “It’s kind of like you are using up all of your saliva.”


“You should think about being in a movie about pirates.”


“Are you having a lot of fun talking like that? I think you are.”


Pirateria (the book) describes Pirateria (the store) and all of the treasures that are available there. Everything these “treasure seekers”, “barnacle scrapers” and “sea robbers” might be in the market for . . .  My favourites? Maple walking planks, black pantaloons, big buckled shoes and the incredible sword collection! Also important to note, you can take night classes at Pirateria and learn about such things as “wild pirate rumpuses , “smuggling molasses” and how to avoid the gallows.

When Bill read us the information about Calef Brown on the book jacket, we were very interested that it referenced a real store called Pirateria! Many students decided to provide details in their book summaries of what they would purchase if they could go shopping in such a store! 

There was also a discussion between a few girls about whether or not there were any girl pirates featured in this book. They couldn’t decide if the long haired pirates were girls or long haired boys. Their writing below reflects this concern. I loved that this conversation was happening independent of adults. Fantastic for little readers and listeners to be aware!

This book will likely inspire some future pirate art. Pirates are very fashionable and eccentric and this book revealed all of the pirate details in the best of ways!

Student reviewers respond: 

Kala: To the author: Why did you make is so piratey? If I was you, I would buy a pirate family. I love your book. I’ve got a pirate stuffie. I like all the colours. I am a girl. You did not really put girls in it.

Kevin: My favourite part was when the pirate was wearing stripes, sword, map, and eye patch. I would buy socks like Miles [our volunteer Miles happened to be wearing pirate socks today :-)], a parrot, lots of eye patches and pirate socks.

Brian: I would buy a sword, a treasure map, an eye patch, a fake moustache and a fake beard. The names of the pirates were funny names. And I would buy a talking parrot too! I love pirates!

Vicky: I would buy a sword, treasure maps, gold, money, pirate socks and a bracelet. My favourite part is when they showed all eye patches on the page.

Gracie: To the author: Is Pirateria a real store? If it was, I would buy a blue and white striped shirt. If Pirateria is a real store, do you work at it? I would also buy a fake moustache and a talking parrot. And a tophat and striped socks. I also want a new belt and I want a sharp sword. Also: a red eyepatch and a pair of boots. I really like this book but I wonder why don’t you put colourful colours in the book? And you didn’t put many girls in the book. Girls can be pirates too. But I like this book a lot! Bye!

Heman: My favourite part is when the pirate was eating a grub! I like pirates and I liked the colours. I would buy a pirate ship, eye patches, swords and treasure maps. And a parrot.

Arianne: I would buy a talking parrot, sparkly jewels and a sparkly hat. I liked it when the pirates were funny.

Andrew: My favourite part is when I figured out that there is a real store named Pirateria. I would buy a sword, a map and a crest.

Shereese: I like the book. I like the book because it has a hat and boots and a parrot. Calef Brown, do you like your book because I really do. My name is Shereese.

Ethan: Was that a cool book? Cause I thought it was cool. Do pirates drink whiskey? I would buy a sword and a costume.

Kelvin: I like the pictures. Beautiful. How do you make the pictures so nice. Really?

Kassidy: I like your story because you used lots of colours. Are you a real pirate? Where do you live? I live in Vancouver B.C. I am 8. What is your real name? Is it the one on the book? My name is Kassidy.

Monday October 22nd, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Join in with Jen and Kellee’s meme and share what you are reading from picture books to young adult reads. Always an opportunity to learn about new titles!

I had huge amounts of picture book love this week! A large part of that was having tickets to go see Jon Klassen at Vancouver Kid’s Books. Wow! Such an interesting and engaging presentation. Jon is charming and then some.

And  . . . it gets better. I was able to take my class to the Vancouver Writer’s Festival to see Sheree Fitch and Kyo Maclear. Their event was called High and Low and All Around. All of these author and author/illustrators impressed me to no end. (Sheree Fitch can recite her poems at super sonic speed. She is spellbinding!) I was inspired to continue sharing the love of literature, the beauty of the written word, the magic of the clever illustration, and the images of joy via the wonder of picture books. One of my favourite moments was when Kyo Maclear talked about how she loves reading and one of my students whispered intently to me, “She’s just like you!” Phew! Six weeks in and I’ve conveyed my love of books. So many weeks still ahead to pass this love on to each child in my room! 🙂

So because this post is all about picture book gushing, I thought I would try to place these books loosely into categories to bring some kind of organization to this post . . . that way you can just locate a section you are interested in!

First up: Art and more:

This is Not my Hat written and illustrated by Jon Klassen Love this book. Doesn’t hurt that I got to hear it first read and explained by Jon Klassen himself all the while holding my signed copy in my bag! But I would have loved it anyway. I love the dark pages, the horizontal format, the mood conveyed by the eyes and all of the inferring this book begs you to do. The crab in this book is a fantastic supporting character. (He gets a starring role at the top of this post!) I find Klassen quietly brilliant.

Virginia Wolf written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Kyo read this book to us in the presentation at the Writer’s Festival and when I returned to class, I read it aloud to the children again. They were completely delighted by the story and Arsenault’s stunning illustrations. As soon as it was quiet reading time, this book disappeared to be read again independently. A fantastic title about a dark mood, a hopeful sibling, the magic of imagination and the lightness when sadness lifts. This book can be read again and again and the reader will continue to discover new things.

I read this book last year to my Reading group and they adored it.

In the Wild is written by David Elliot and illustrated (gorgeous woodcuts) by Holly Meade Poems written by Elliot are lifted off the page by Meade’s striking and powerful woodcuts. My wish list now includes On the Farm a previous collaboration by these two.

A few books in the Rhyme and Repetition category:

A Gold Star for Zog written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Alex Sheffler This was our first BLG book of the year and we loved the language, the plot and the bright illustrations. Zog may not be the best at every task at Dragon School but he helps someone else find her way. For that, I think we can call him heroic.

Toot Toot Zoom written by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Matthew Cordell This is a likeable little story about the search for friends. Many adventures and lots of delightful traffic noise fill the pages as Pierre the fox travels to the other side of the mountain.

Books full of humour:

The Younger Brother’s Survival Guide by Lisa Kopelke Supposedly, this book was written by “Matt” Kopelke’s younger brother who entertains the reader by his step by step guide on how to terrorize and torment your older sister (who remains all the while older and more clever).

Please is a good word to say written by Barbara Joose and illustrated by Jennifer Plecas I’ve read some reviews of this book that claim it is a simple, too cutesy book about manners. I found it quite wonderful really. It is definitely a child’s voice that comes through loud and clear as when and how to use polite phrases and expressions are explained. It is hardly simple to understand the proper placement of please so that it sounds polite and gracious vs. whiny and annoying. I can see this book making kids really think about how best to use manners and that it would prompt many conversations.

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas. I first heard about this book from my principal because her five year old daughter was raving about a hilarious book that her teacher had read to her and was insisting that they had to have this very book a.s.a.p. I am always intrigued by book passion so had kept this title in the “be on the lookout for” compartment of my brain. I found it this week at the public library and now see why this little kindergartener was so enthused about it. It is hilarious! Bright and colourful illustrations and a funny little plot. Oh beware the vacuum if you are a dust bunny! The bonus: it also lets the readers practice rhyming! What could be better? I want this book for my buddy reading bin! It is perfect for reading to our little kindergarten buddies.

And also this category: Nature

Mossy by Jan Brett. I have always loved Jan Brett. My children were fed Jan Brett books about as often as mashed carrots in their early years. Always her illustrations are exquisite. Most of the time her stories are good. Sometimes just okay. Sometimes great. This book falls into the great category. It examines a beautifully unique little creature and the human tendency to want to “have” that beauty at the expense of the happiness of the creature. In this case, Mossy is captured and placed in a museum until a young girl senses her unhappiness. Reminds me of the wonderful Melvin and the Boy by Lauren Castillo. In fact, I think I am going to read both books this week with my reading group and do some inspired writing.

That’s not a Daffodil by Elizabeth Honey. This book has many things in it that made it a quick favourite for me: an intergenerational relationship, a theme of nature and gardening and beautiful imaginative language and imagery. A perfect book to inspire looking at nature in creative ways and I can’t wait to share it with my students. It also heads into my school bag this week.

I am also smack dab in the middle of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and must finish it by Friday as it is requested and I can’t renew it at the library! Wish there was more time because I am really enjoying the story. Determined to squeeze in some late night or early morning reading sessions.

What are you reading? Please share!

A Gold Star for Zog

Our BLG readers have started for the 2012/2013 year! Our first reader was Maria and she brought in the entertaining A Gold Star for Zog written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

This story is about a dragon named Zog who is determined to win a gold star at Dragon School for mastering the lessons that Madam Dragon teaches. Unfortunately, he is quite accident prone and he wins more bumps and bruises than stars for stellar achievement. Luckily for Zog, a young girl shows up after every injury and tends to him – bandaging, soothing and healing.

Like many Donaldson stories, this one is full of rhyme and repetition. We caught onto this very quickly. Many of my reading group members grew quite excited about this fact and tried to whisper to me subtly “It’s got repetition! The text rhymes!” (We had just had a lesson where we explored our rhyme and repetition bin in class.)

Students had quite a bit to say as Maria read and recounted all of Zog’s injuries.

 “It’s worse luck. Then, good luck when she helps him.”

“Everytime, each page he always gets hurt.”

“Oh! Oh! I hope he will still be able to fly!”

This story takes place over time and so the reader must pay careful attention to how the illustrator shows the passing of years. Some students missed the text clues “In Year Two. . .” “A year went by and in Year Three. . .” but they saw differences in the pictures. Many of them commented that both dragon and girl were getting older and taller as we moved through the book.

Maria was a very patient reader and paused for all of the comments and questions, including one very sincere inquiry, “Did you make this book?” 🙂

When it is revealed that the girl is actually a princess, we were pretty excited!

“She’s actually a princess? I didn’t know!”

She helps all of the dragons! She is a hero!”

“She doesn’t need that prince to rescue her! She’s smart!”

We were all quite excited about how this book ended. Yes, Zog got a gold star but our princess got a starring role in the life she wants to live. This is a fantastic message!

Into the bins we go . . .

With this goal in mind – read often and from a wide variety of sources, we are spending time each week exploring different reading bins in the classroom. My reading group is keen to explore and share picture books. This week we explored our Rhyme and Repetition bin using this format: 1. Explore the bin 2. Spend time reading some self-selected titles 3. Talk about what we noticed 4. Write a reflection

I brought out this bin and students predicted that many of these titles would have rhyming parts and selections of text that repeated (the title of the bin made this prediction a pretty easy one :-)) I read a few pages of a few books to model exactly that. We identified how often ending words rhymed and that sentence structure or specific phrases repeat. Students then helped me spread the books out on the carpet and every child spent fifteen minutes reading a variety of titles from this set of books.

We then gathered back at the carpet and shared what we had noticed focusing on this question:

Our list definitely included the rhyming and the repeating but students started with the fun aspect of the stories pointing out that they were often silly, farfetched and funny. It was clear that the word play brought a lightness to the books. One student even commented that the authors would have to work very hard to make all the words work together.

I then asked students to take just five minutes and write their own reflections about the books they read from this bin. This student was a big fan of these titles! He writes: “I noticed that they (meaning the authors) were worked very hard, They are the best in the world. They are very funny.”  

Today during independent reading, some students returned to this bin. It’s all in exposing students to new titles and genres to broaden their reading choices. Each week, I plan to introduce a different bin of books and follow a similar process. It’s a great opportunity to work on our reading stamina and increase our knowledge of book choices.

The Pirates Next Door starring the Jolley-Rogers

Our latest BLG book was read by Bill: Jonny Duddle‘s The Pirates Next Door (Starring the Jolley-Rogers) 


The little town of Dull-On-Sea has a temporary population blip. Instead of 2222 people residing in this seaside town, for a little while there are 2227. This is what happens when the house that has been for sale forever next to Tilda is occupied by new neighbours. Neighbours who haul their pirate ship into the driveway and unload barrels, treasure chests, cannons and crates. Tilda thinks her new neighbours are just grand! Jim Lad, his little sister Nugget, Grandpa and parents are sure to liven things up!  Her Mom and Dad are not so thrilled. Her teacher isn’t at all pleased with Jim Lad’s attire. And the neighbours find plenty to complain about. Oh the gossip. The judgement. The nasty comments. It seems that pirates just won’t do in this little town.

When the pirates leave suddenly in the middle of the night without warning, every lawn has an X over a recently dug hole. Turns out that the pirates have left surprises for all the residents that has them quickly singing a different tune about their temporary neighbours. Funny what a little treasure does to public opinion!

We enjoyed the rhyming verse, the colourful pictures and the pirate antics. A fun book. Students also pored over the family tree poster included on the book jacket.