Monday March 27th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. As we were off this past few weeks, I have a photo of a bookstore visit to the incredible Munro’s Books  in Victoria B.C. Here is part of the picture book display.

Monday March 27th, 2017

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

IMWAYR 2015

With Spring Break and being away for a few days I missed last week’s IMWAYR so this post captures 2 weeks of reading.

On the blog:

Continued Slice of Life posts mean daily posting:

Missing Primary: Slice of Life #26 I love Grade 4 and 5 but I miss the little ones

Shopping: Slice of Life #25 I am not a good shopper

So far: Slice of Life #24 So far from a year ago

Rain: Slice of Life #23 Caught in a deluge

Quiet Things: Slice of Life #22 The quiet things I love

Chapter book Challenges: Slice of Life #21 How we support students moving into chapter books

Writing cheats: Slice of Life #20 Words still eluding me

Missing words: Slice of Life #19 Writing steals my reading time

Simply easier: Slice of Life #18 Preparing to write about teaching before? Maybe soon

Slightly Awkward: Slice of Life #17 Thinking about the work that change in our practice involves

Mud: Slice of Life #16 Nothing to write about

For nonfiction Wednesday, Nic Bishop’s newest: Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Penguin Day – A Family Story

Capturing play: Slice of Life #15 The importance of play

Sometimes Guilt: Slice of Life #14 Sometimes, thinking back to leaving my previous school  brings guilt.

The little girl I should have taught: Slice of Life #13 Thinking about a child who should have been in my class

Books I enjoyed:

Triangle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

Love the way these two partner up to make us smile and wonder and shake our heads. Little bits of sneaky. Lots of funny. And always, the stunning artwork from Klassen.

A Walk in the Forest by Maria Dek

Oh this book. Visually it is absolutely stunning. If this doesn’t make you want to wander through the woods and use every sense . . .

Shy by Deborah Freedman

Underneath a very sweet story is permission to be just who you are.

Rain by Sam Usher

Gorgeous rain. The pages seem slightly drowned. The images feel like they are full of puddles. And a lovely little story about a boy and his Grandpa.

A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young

More than an “I want a pet” story. This is “I want a unicorn story” With big expectations come big disappointments. And then, big love.

Life on Mars by Jon Agee

Not really about Mars. More about set up and surprises and wanting something to be so. Really liked this one.

Dear Dragon written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Rodolfo Montalvo

Charming and full of all kinds of classroom possibilities. Writing to a pen pal becomes even more exciting when you begin to share more and more about yourself. What happens when the chance to meet in “person” happens? Told in rhyming letters, there is a lot to this little picture book.

Egg by Kevin Henkes

I have a thing about picture books where the egg plays a starring role. This one is especially wonderful.

Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Steve Jenkins 

For years, I have made it clear that I do not like squirrels. At all. They steal my daffodil bulbs. They have tried to burrow into my house. They make feeding birds a battle. So, I wasn’t sure about how I would feel about a title devoted to these creatures. Must admit, I kind of loved it and I learned a lot. But, I still do not like squirrels.

Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep

Feathers and Hair, What Animals Wear written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong

This is a must experience it yourself nonfiction title. Really incredible illustrations. Would be a beautiful addition to any school or classroom library.

Completely Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

I have been putting off reading the final Clementine title because I didn’t want to say goodbye. We found Clementine as an audio book years ago when my children were smaller and went on to read all of the titles. In fact, I have read all but 2 titles aloud to my children. At 14, they weren’t going to sit through this one but I am excited to share it with students who I know have been Clementine fans.

Feathers  by Jacqueline Woodson 

A story of hope.Of family. Of observations. What a lovely read.

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart 

Dramatic and hard to put down. There were parts of this story I found absolutely creepy. Kids who love action driven books will love this story. I am a big fan of Gemeinhart. This is not my favourite of his three so far published titles. But definitely an action packed read.

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan 

Holly Goldberg Sloan has a way of showcasing characters in stories that we don’t always see together. This is what I loved about Counting by 7s – the diversity of characters who were in each other’s lives. In Short, it is all about friendships between generations. It’s also about a play and all of the wonderful behind the scenes preparations. I fell in love with the characters here. A must read middle grade novel!

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 17/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 94/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 11 books ahead of schedule!

#MustReadin2017: 8/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 17/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 13/50 books read

Up next? I am reading The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Picture Books about Love

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, a meme created by The Broke and Bookish.

This week’s theme? All about Romance – I am going to take liberties with this theme and stretch it and shape it to be all about love. Love as in romantic love or connection love. Deep friendship. True devotion. Care, concern, warmth.

10-picture-books-about-love

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage written by Selina Alko and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

A nonfiction title about Richard and Mildred Loving whose marriage and love were questioned because of their race. A story of determination, persistence and the power of love and family.

The Case for Loving- The Fight for Interracial Marriage

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato

Love, love, love, love! Love because it’s love, not because it is celebrated in any particular way.

WormLoves Worm

Pete and Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

This book celebrates love in the happiest and most joyful of ways. But it doesn’t scrimp on the realities of love: loss, pain, frustration, forgiveness, sacrifice. Love is all of it and this book delivers. It takes you on a journey sailing through a myriad of emotions and delivers you on the other side, changed. Better. Brighter. Exhausted.

I often tell people that yes, I have a picture book favourite even though I LOVE many books. This is it. This one here. How I adore this book!

pete-and-pickles

The Day I Became a Bird by Ingrid Chabbert and Guridi

I am utterly enamoured by the illustrations in this book about a boy willing to be a bird to attract the attention of the girl he swoons over.

the-day-i-became-a-bird

Hunwick’s Egg written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Pamela Lofts

Hunwick’s egg never hatched although it provided him with companionship, faith and an important secret. Yes, he realized his egg was not an egg at all but a perfectly shaped stone and he loved it all the more.

Hunwick's Egg

Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon

Pancakes. Jacques Cousteau. Jazz tunes. The joy and the solitude of New York city. Finding someone who gets you and shares your quirky tastes. It all comes together in this delightful story.

herman-and-rosie-900x1024

Ida, Always written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso

A sweet tender story of loving and letting go.

Ida, Always

Pierre in Love written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Petra Mathers. 

A beautiful picture book about being in love and being brave enough to admit it.

pierre in love

Bear in Love written by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

Finally bear and bunny meet, convinced they have each found the perfect friend. For bear it is a cute little bear and bunny thinks he was found a lovely big strong bunny. Confusion aside, the two friends sit together and chat and sing as the sun goes down. A feel good book that made us all smile!

bear in love

City Dog Country Frog written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon J Muth

Willems’ simple text, pictures and words tell the tender story of  friendship, the passage of time, young curiosity and calm wisdom.

City-dog

Which book would you add to the list?

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have!

An early intermediate library is such fun to build. Students are ready for longer chapter books with more complex and compelling story lines but they still adore silly and engaging stories that some early graphics and picture books might offer them. Picture books can be clever and witty and nonfiction can be managed quite independently. So many possibilities!

What twenty titles from 2016 do I think are must have books in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom library?

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

This book love is inspired by my students’ reading passions and my own reading journey as I source books for them.

Listed alphabetically by author:

Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosgol

Kids this age are beginning to understand that alone time is precious and sometimes hard to achieve. This is wonderfully humorous!

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

How a story about a robot can be so tender, I don’t know. Heavily illustrated which makes it wonderfully rich. Themes of compassion, kindness and connection.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

Achy and real. This book will squeeze you heart. A beautiful, teary emotional ride. But full of hope, not sad. At least not too much sad. The hope wins.

Counting Thyme Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Such a book. I love the images, the rhythm of the text and the mystery of the still not known that is conveyed.

 Giant Squid Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad

Just pure poetry perfection.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

Some kind of everything in this book. Fantastic, engaging, emotional, full of heart, full of adventure. This is the read aloud I am starting with in January.

Some Kind of Courage Monday Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

This book! Ben Hatke is a super hero in my classroom. This will become the “it” book in the room. Prepare to never see it again except when a child holds it wailing, “When does the next one come out?” (Fall of 2017) Relatable and fantastical all at once.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

There are so many reasons to share this story with children. It is a story of hope, of change, of perseverance, of the power of music and the beauty of community. A story of transformation.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins

A book to explore endlessly. Infographics are an incredible source of information. Use this book to teach how to access this information correctly.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals written by Jess Keating with illustrations by David DeGrand

This title features a number of “pink” creatures from around the world and shares some of the wild and wacky facts about each one. Every page also includes specific information under these headings: Name, Species name, Size, Diet, Habitat, Predators and threats. 

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers written by Sara Levine and illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth

Learn about the different kinds of teeth you have in your mouth: incisors, canines and molars. Find out how other mammals use their teeth and why they are different sizes and shapes. How are human teeth similar and different compared to other mammals? How do the teeth of herbivores, omnivores and carnivores differ?

Tooth by Tooth Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Ida, Always written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso

Big emotions is a tiny book. Necessary for young readers. All about the challenging process of saying goodbye.

Ida, Always Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner

Who would think that ice fishing, Irish dancing, magical elements and heroin addiction could be combined to create a story that is impossible both to put down and then impossible to keep from immediately recommending? I have much gratitude to Kate Messner for writing this book.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Readers will fall hard for this story of Peter, Pax and Vola. Beautiful, emotional and raw. This would be a fantastic read aloud or an engaging read alone.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

Oh, the kid appeal! I chuckled through this and did a lot of head shaking. There is one scene that involves a pile of dog poop that I know I never would have thought of – thankfully! This book continues to be read and reread in my room. Kids LOVE the step by step drawing pages in the back.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

CaveBoy Dave: More Scrawny than Brawny by Aaron Reynolds and Phil McAndrew

Highly appealing. A relatable underdog main character. Lots of poop. Again, the poop! Prehistoric creatures. Action. Adventure. Humour. And . . . a series! What more could kids want?

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff

Because fairy tales can be incredible. Reimagined and retold can go wrong but Shurtliff always gets it right (add Rump and Jack to your collection too!)

Red Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh

A gorgeous book – Tonatiuh gives us an interpretation of the Mexican legend how the volcanoes Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl came to be.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Ravi has just moved from India. Joe has been here for what seems forever. They share a few things in common – a relationship with a bully and the daily classroom and lunch room experiences of middle school. Alternately narrated by both characters, this book reminds us that it is challenging for all kids to fit in, to find your way and to be noticed for who you are.

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

Willems is more than brilliant and doesn’t disappoint in any way in this last Elephant and Piggie title. Students this age have had Willems as a staple of their reading lives. This book is a must have. They will grieve that there will be no more Elephant & Piggie and then get back to celebrating all the ways Elephant & Piggie are part of who they are!

Twenty 2016 titles your Grade 4 and 5 classroom library must have! There's a Book for That

Intermediate libraries? They need a mix of everything!

Love books. Give your students lots of time to read. Let them choose books so they can read widely and obsessively. Read aloud daily. Share often. Gush and be ridiculously demonstrative with your book love!

Build your library.

Invest in your readers.

They matter.

Happy Reading!

 

Fall update: #MustReadin2016

As we head into the fall, It’s time to update our progress with our #MustReadin2016 lists.  Making progress? Where has your reading life taken you? Please share!

MustReadin2016challenge

My original list had 30 titles on it. By April 1st, I had finished 12 novels from the list. Since then, I have completed 8 more.  I keep congratulating myself on choosing such fantastic reads. I also know this is much more than luck – I have a well-read reading community that helps guide my choices.

#MustReadin2016

Here are the titles I had finished at our Spring update.

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm 

Fat Angie by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo 

More Happy Than Not by  Adam Silvera

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

Stand Off by Andrew Smith

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Paper Hearts by Meg Wivott   

This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart

Since then, I have read the following titles (listed in the order I completed each novel). I loved all of these novels and so thought I would, very briefly, attempt to convince others why these titles truly are must read books!

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Full of adventure, wartime atrocities, human kindness and connection. It also tells the story of a real historical event that many of us know nothing about – the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the biggest and most tragic disaster in maritime history. Heartbreaking, compelling, an incredible read. And, very possibly, one of my all time favourite historical fiction titles.

Salt to the sea

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook by Leslie Connor

Kind of a perfect middle grade read. A title that celebrates family, community, resilience and strength of character. I have plans to read this book aloud with my new class this fall.

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook by Leslie Connor

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

Dramatic family relationships, young love, coming of age, and New York in 1977 and all that that means . . . the Son of Sam murders and the fear surrounding this time, fires, blackouts, financial hardships. I highly recommend this YA title.

Burn Baby Burn

Booked by Kwame Alexander

This novel in verse celebrates language, words and relationships. Throughout the book, all of these things are all wrapped up in each other in some pretty wonderful ways.

Booked

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar

This book transports the reader to a time and a place and a family and a story that you want to walk around in and experience every tiny sensation – the smells of the Mexican cooking, the sound of a lone bee buzzing in your ear, the vastness of a desert ranch, the tingling feeling of a story that is wrapped up in history and magic. I don’t always love magical realism but in this story, it worked. I wanted to believe all of it. And maybe I should . . . One of my favourite middle-grade novels of the year.

hour of the Bees

House Arrest by K.A. Holt

Just thinking about this book again and I start breathing deeply. Reading it was an emotional topsy-turvy ride. I recommend this book to everyone. It’s written in verse with words that grab tight. Released at the other end, one is transformed by incredible courage, honesty and humanity.

House Arrest by K.A. Holt

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

There is sadness here but it’s life sadness and the learning and the revelations in these characters make this such a rich MG read.

raymie nightingale (1)

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Yes, really, as good as all of the raving. I fell hard for this story of Peter, Pax and Vola. Beautiful, emotional and raw. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. Fantastic writing by Pennypacker.

Pax-Sara-Pennypacker

If you have been participating in #MustReadin2016 and written an update post, please share using the #MustReadin2016 hashtag!

Leave your link in the comments if you have written a post. Please try to visit a few of the other #MustReadin2016 bloggers/readers and get inspired!

Want to know more about #MustReadin2016? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read lists.

Next update will be on December 31st,  2016!

I am travelling today so won’t be visiting posts until later this evening. Looking forward to reading about everyone’s progress and possibly starting a draft of my #MustReadin2017 list!

HAPPY READING!

Monday July 25th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. My classroom is certainly not full of children and I have repacked many books so that floors can be waxed and shelves can be gathered. So it also looks like it is not full of books! This is what the stack of classroom collection titles looked like when I left them a week ago. Tomorrow I head in to put my read aloud titles (fiction and nonfiction) away in another area of the room where there are shelves and cupboards. Another stack of books in that area awaits me!!

Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

And here is my reading spot last week – out on the balcony with my morning coffee on Pender Island. Just beautiful.

Monday July 25th, 2016 #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. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

IMWAYR 2015

On the Blog:

We spent the last week away and so not much blogging has happened. I did manage a few posts since my last #IMWAYR:

Still processing my move in this Slice of Life: Giving away the Guilt

A “listen along” review of Ah-Choo! written by Lana Wayne Koeler and Gloria G. Adams

Books I enjoyed:

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

I was lucky to have been passed an ARC of this lovely little title when I introduced Melissa Sweet in Bellingham in the spring at the Western Washington Children’s Literature Conference. I saved it (well, there was much peeking) until we went away this summer so I could read it in one sitting. It is fantastically good which, if you read the book is over the top wordy to just say what should be said in plain English: Go buy this book when it is released (October 4th, 2016) and then pass it on to everyone you know to read. That’s how good. As usual, Sweet knocked me over with her detailed illustrations and precisely chosen quotes and text.

Some Writer! Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana

I have wanted to read this book for a while but avoided it because I was afraid of the stress of experiencing this natural disaster through a young character’s experience. There were some difficult scenes, made especially hard because connecting to the characters happens quickly. A really well done title.

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit 

This is more of a YA novel even though the young main character of Anna begins the book at eleven years old. This book is philosophical and dark. Full of the challenges, violence  and absurdities of war but wrapped up in the story of only a few characters. As they travel over land, the reader travels in their heads. Such an introspective title. I quite enjoyed it.

Anna and the Swallow Man Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

This book is part fairy tale, part fantasy, part sadness, part mystery. Except not really. It might not be any of those things. It is a story of Finley Hart and one summer where she is sent to live with her extended family she doesn’t know. Captivating. Captured an endless summer feeling – with being at a home with cousins and grandparents and new found friends. Although, there are darker elements. Can see this being a fantastic book club title. Highly recommended.

Some Kind of Happiness Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Yes, really, as good as all of the raving. I fell hard for this story of Peter, Pax and Vola. Beautiful, emotional and raw. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe.

Pax-Sara-Pennypacker Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Some picture books:

Ah-Choo! is written by Lana Wayne Koeler and Gloria G. Adams with illustrations by Ken Min

I shared more details in my post a week or so ago. See link above.

 Ah-Choo! Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

I love how this title celebrates style but also honours the joy of play. Especially wonderful? The characters are beautifully diverse! I loved the illustrations.  Even though this title plays with the Mary Had a Little lamb rhyme, it is the celebration of children that stands out to me here. I can see little ones adoring this book and wanting to hear it multiple times!

Mary Had a Little Glam Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Rain Fish by Lois Ehlert

Of course this inspires all kinds of imagining about potential art projects with found objects. for this reason, this title is relevant right into high school even though the story would best be shared during a story time session.

Rain Fish Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Dig In! by Cindy Jenson-Elliot with illustrations by Mary Peterson

Who doesn’t want to literally lay their hands in the dirt after experiencing this book? Perfect for a classroom of primary students to launch a gardening unit. Introduces the concept that there is much happening in the soil (insects, worms, seeds, etc. )

Dig In! Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

 

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 28/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 191/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 27/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 25/50 books read

Up next? I am reading  Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peña

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the “in between” place

So if you are a voracious children’s book addict, you often experience the world in relation to images and phrases in children’s books. If you have a blog called There’s a Book for That,  you absolutely do . . . Some of you, I know, are with me. Yes?

“Shhh!” I often exclaim, “I have a plan.” (Full credit to Chris Haughton‘s Shh! We Have a Plan) And the children, they actually stop and listen. Yes, for about 2.5 seconds, but still.

When I do something particularly impressive, I might deem it “skilly” (thank you Bob Shea and Cheetah) The “skilly” descriptor elevates things. And makes us smile.

Holy Bagumba!” once was uttered in my classroom (a classroom besotted with Flora & Ulysses) multiple times a day. For a while, when I was reading one of the Clementine novels (thank you Sara Pennypacker) the children delighted in affectionately calling each other vegetable names. Nowadays, we pretend to have Mrs. Gobble Gracker sightings. (Thank you to Abby Hanlon and the wonderful Dory books) Sometimes, I am almost convinced she is lurking around the corner. Sometimes, in very hopeful ways. I could go have a third cup of coffee and Mrs. Gobble Gracker could take care of everything.

A recent afternoon consisted of a mini Betty Bunny (thank you Michael B. Kaplan) reading marathon. All of us professed our love for chocolate cake or equally divine lemon tarts, strawberry cupcakes or apple pie. Although none of us wanted to stuff any of these favourite desserts into our socks (Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake is a must read), we did certainly identify with Betty’s intense love for delicious sweet treats.

We then read Betty Bunny Didn’t Do it and talked a lot about the honest truth. Betty, has switched her obsession from chocolate cake to honest lies and the “situations” she anticipates them saving her from. Honest truths. Honest lies. In the world of Betty Bunny? Quite hilarious. And of course, perfect inspiration for those important conversations we can have with children about accepting responsibility, “owning up” and dealing with the consequences.

I keep thinking about life right now in these categories. Honest truths. Honest lies. The honest truth? This has been a challenging fall. For some reasons I can share freely and for some reasons I can’t. Unfortunately, much is not in my control. Also the truth? That when lots is hard, we doubt what we know. We get pulled from our confidence. We drift from our strengths. We see clouds over what we trust. We don’t feel all that skilly.

Honest lies? Sometimes I tell them to myself until I can get back to the truth. What are they? That I am fully coping. The truth? Not really. Not always. I have been drifting. I have been waiting to see the metaphorical whale in front of me – the inspiration and the amazing in a class full of children that can and does outweigh the challenges that might be swimming around. But storms have taken me off course. I have been doing it all wrong. I have been looking the wrong way.

In If you want to see a whale, the beautiful book written by Julie Fogaliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, Fogliano writes,

“If you want to see a whale, keep both eyes on the sea and wait . . . and wait . . .  and wait . . .”

I have not had both eyes on the sea. My attention has been pulled. I have been looking at foggy, cloudy skies and missing things. But I have kept faith that one day again soon, I will look out at the right time, in the right way and see. When I see my “whale” I will realize that my boat is strong and steady, that I can row in rough waves and that I can pause and appreciate the wonder and the magic of teaching children. I can recognize that multiple little sightings of amazing lead to something with the promise as enormous as a whale.

I didn’t know that Marla Frazee would point me in the exact direction I needed to look. But she did.

Yesterday, Marla Frazee addressed an audience of picture book lovers and devoted fans at the Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable‘s Illustrator breakfast. She began with a gracious acknowledgement of her welcome and introduction. She honoured Vancouver’s torrential rain, calling it beautiful and welcome to a California resident. And then, before she launched into an inspirational talk about her books and her art and her practice, she asked, “Is Carrie here?” Once we figured out that she was actually talking about me, I raised my hand. “I just wanted to see who you were,” she explained.

The honest truth? This simple statement was a gift. It made me teary. Teary beyond being flattered that my “super fan status” and my sharing of how meaningful Marla’s titles have been in my classroom had also meant something to her.

Yesterday, in that room full of picture book love, these words from Marla Frazee brought me back. In my searching for a whale metaphor, they steadied my boat. But really, they planted my feet. Right back where they needed to be. They reminded me of who I am.

I am a teacher. A teacher who believes firmly in the gift of literacy.  I am a conduit between authors and illustrators who have magic to give and the children who need to receive it. And when I can, I reflect it back. I love nothing more than to share how very beloved stories are in a community of little readers. I am blessed to sit “in between“- in the middle of the book makers and the readers and listeners who they make these books for.

How lucky we are – reading teachers – who get to read aloud to children daily. To put amazing books in the hands of children. To witness as all of the creative energies, the stories, the world flows to these students entrusted to us from nine to three each day. To bask in the wow moments as these children shine it back out into the world. And sometimes, to catch bits of that and pass it back to the book makers who shared in the first place . . .  It is a beautiful thing.

The honest truth? I am a reading teacher. And I have important work to do. Marla Frazee, thank you for reminding me of this. What a pleasure it was to listen to your wisdom and meet you yesterday.

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

Thank you also to the wonderful Nancy Johnson from Western Washington University who I loved visiting with yesterday. She hears the same words I do when we are in the presence of author/illustrator brilliance and writes them down and holds them close. I love that we both know that through books we find most of the answers and all of the questions and that these beloved book makers, when they share, help to illuminate both. Your students, Nancy, are so blessed to have you shine the light on this.

And so, on Monday, I will do what I do. I will let books do what they do. Yesterday, I found the perspective and the emotion I had been missing. Hard things wear us down. It would be an honest lie to say all is well, but honestly, truthfully, I feel like I have renewed energy to focus on what I need to be doing each day.

For me, yes. But more importantly, for my students.

For the children who want to be readers and who aren’t yet . . . For each child, no matter how they express this – through quiet admissions, through masking behaviours, through various emotions, through smiles of pride as progress happens. For these children, I will continue searching for books that each one can read at every stage so that we all get to feel like the books in our room are for all of us. I made a pit stop at Vancouver Kidsbooks yesterday, to fuel up. Yes, there are over a thousand books in my classroom library but each new group of readers has new needs and so I will always be book shopping.

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

For Joey in my class who just wants to read all day and is on #2 of Stone Rabbit and our classroom library has only #1 to #3, I purchased these. Because nothing makes me happier than hearing a child tell me, “I just want to read all day. Can I?” Oh, reading bug, I hope the contagion factor is very high. Go forth and infect!

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

For the children who comment, “Look at all of those books we have read,” I will continue to read aloud. Every day. Multiple times. For those who ask me to read more books like “this” of “that” I will find them and I will read them so that all of us are hearing the stories we need to hear.

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

For the Elephant and Piggie devotion, we will celebrate and read and read and read. And giggle, of course.

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

For the buddy reading pride. Such an amazing thing to watch these moments between my students and the little ones who come to visit each Wednesday afternoon. As Marla Frazee said yesterday, anything an illustrator puts in a picture, the children will see. They naturally know how to read pictures. I want to give them multiple opportunities to do just this.

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

Because I have readers to support. Because I have learners to celebrate. Because this is what I believe in. All the World shines through when I know this.

Sunday Reflections: Honest Truths, Metaphorical whales, and the

And yes, for those who have been asking, more blog posts should be happening. Soon. Maybe not quite as often but they are coming.

Monday June 10th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Jen and Kellee’s meme and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult reads! A fantastic way to learn about new titles.

It’s report card writing season so my reading has been interfered with . . . But I managed to sneak in some fantastic titles!

In picture books . . . .

I found three new lovely board books for my Kindergarten buddy reading collection:

Northwest Coast Native Animals by Kelly Robinson Students loved the gorgeous illustrations and many connected to art they have seen in their homes and relative’s communities up north. Bright, beautiful and perfect for sharing.

northwest coast native animals

Good Morning World by Paul Windsor A lovely board book that celebrates nature and the world around us. Students have loved sharing this title with their little buddies.

native_nw_morn

Old Bear by Kevin Henkes I was pleasantly surprised by the stunning colours of the seasons in this story. Such a gentle tale about an old bear dreaming about his days as a cub. Soothing and sweet.

old bear

Other picture books I enjoyed:

Ivy Loves to Give by Freya Blackwood I think Freya Blackwood is such a gifted illustrator. I adore her blog.  This is a picture book perfect for a story time setting about a little girl, Ivy, who loves to gift things she finds to whoever is near. Often, her gifts don’t quite match the needs of the recipient but her generosity is treasured.

ivy-loves-to-give

Museum Trip a wordless book by Barbara Lehman This book is about getting lost on many levels – but quite nicely not about lost and being scared. More of an adventure – getting lost in the pictures of mazes quite literally . . .

museum trip

My two favourite picture books of the week:

Big Wolf and Little Wolf: The Little Leaf that Wouldn’t Fall by Nadine Brun-Cosme and Olivier Tallec Oh how I am coming to adore these two long snouted wolves and their adventures through all that is friendship and nature and love. Devotion. Bravery. Patience. I don’t want to give anything away so I will just say that there is much that is simple and celebratory of the wonder and complexity of nature and near the end a moment of pure beautiful.

leaf that wouldn't fall

A Hen for Izzy Pippick written by Aubrey Davis and illustrated by Marie Lafrance I confess to falling for this book before I even read it. I loved everything about the cover – the greens, the pluck of the girl and hen marching across the page, the quirky title . . . So I could have been disappointed. But not even close. I adored this book through every page (and it is a longer picture book). This book celebrates what we don’t often encounter in a picture book: honesty and a fierce determination to simply do what is right. Yet, this story is not overly dramatic. It is actually quite amusing and whimsical. We meet Shaina who in protecting a hen that belongs to the illusive Izzy Pippik starts a bit of a chicken invasion in her small village. All the while waiting for the return of Izzy Pippik. This story is inspired by Jewish and Islamic traditional texts.

hen for izzy pippik

I also finished two novels:

Clementine and the Spring Trip written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee In my family, Clementine has reached a sort of cult status. Even though we read our first Clementine story way back (five years ago) when my chldren were five, they have not become too old for another Clementine story. Each time, a new book in the series is published, we need to read it! Immediately! We read this story in probably three sit down read aloud sessions and felt like we curled up with our old friend. Many giggles over the mystery of the very unpleasant odour of Bus #7. Can’t wait for the next one!

clementine

As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins I liked this book but I didn’t love it. I thought I should at least really like it. But it was simply just “like” Even though the writing is great. . .  The storyline is very interesting. The characters have some wonderfully odd elements to them. Yet, nothing pulled at me to keep reading this book. It was like being offered a very nice cup of tea. But I just don’t really like tea – I want my strong black coffee. Lots of adventure and some of it was very dramatic but I never felt on the edge of my seat. A story of a summer trip that goes sideways in every way.

s easy as

What is on my reading horizon? I just started Torn Away by James Heneghan as a read aloud to my children. I started reading Accomplice by  Eireann Corrigan – a young adult novel I knew very little about going in so we shall see . . . I have many books on hold at the library and looks like they might all arrive at once! So I had better get these report cards written!