Picture Books that model perseverance

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

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

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

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

Twenty favourite titles:

These ten beauties:

Picture Books that model perseverance

And ten more:

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

Twenty picture book titles that model perseverance:

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

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

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

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

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

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

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

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

Ice by Arthur Geisert

Flight School by Lita Judge

A House in the Woods by Inga Moore

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

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds 

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires 

A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead

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

Queen of the Falls by Chris VanAllsburg 

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

Ten Birds by Cybèle Young

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

Picture Books that celebrate courage

Picture Books to make you giggle

Happy Picture Book Month!

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

Picture books to help you giggle

To celebrate picture book month, I am sharing peeks into the wonderful conversations I get to have with children about particular picture books. When I thought about writing a picture book post today, no conversations leaped out at me to share. I have no students here at home on a Sunday morning and I have been reading my own children the amazing novel Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. But . . . just yesterday evening, I was talking to Vancouver kindergarten teacher Sharon Hales about how great Elephant & Piggie titles are. She is a huge fan! (Great taste!) And, of course, I asked a few times – “Have you read . . . ?” “Do you know author . . . ?” 

Hmmm, this was a conversation about picture books . . .

So I started thinking, if I were a kindergarten teacher, what would be must own picture books for my classroom library? Books guaranteed to inspire giggles and choruses of “Read it again”? Quickly, I started a list on a scrap piece of paper. I ran out of room! This post is the result. 🙂

Grab one of these, grab a child or a kindergarten/early primary class and prepare for smiles and giggles!

Picture books to help you giggle There's a Book for That

And because once you start laughing, you need to laugh some more:

Picture books to help you giggle There's a Book for That

Picture Books to help you giggle:

Count the Monkeys written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Z is for Moose written by Kelly Bingham and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky 

I’m Bored  written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

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

Brief Thief written by Michael Escoffier and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

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

Let’s Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld 

Don’t Play with Your Food by Bob Shea

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea

Interrrupting Chickenby David Ezra Stein

Chester by Mélanie Watt

You’re Finally Here by Mélanie Watt

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

Such a joy to share these favourite titles – perfect for the younger set but appealing to happy readers of all ages!

Are you in the picture book mood? Share some favourites! It’s Picture Book Month!

pb month logo

Monday February 18th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join up to Kellee and Jen’s meme and share what you have been reading from picture books to young adult novels.

I enjoyed many picture books this week. It seems many had a theme of friendship. Also dogs graced many a page and the name Hopper kept cropping up. Who knows why these things happen?

The Lonely Moose by John Segal Sometimes we think we don’t need friends. But once we’ve begun to enjoy the company of another, life can be pretty lonely once we are alone again. This is what this lovely little picture book explores.

the lonely moose

The Reader written by Amy Hest and illustrated by  Lauren Castillo I adore Castillo’s illustrations. Amy Hest never misses. Books, companionship and a snow day. This book is a wonderful nostalgic little read. The most clever thing of all? Calling the little boy the reader throughout the story. It just gives this story a whole other level.

the reader

Hopper and Wilson by Maria Van Lieshout I think there can never be too many picture books about friendship. So I was delighted to find another.


Harry and Hopper written by  Margaret Wild and illustrated by Freya Blackwood I am fast becoming a huge fan of Freya Blackwood’s illustrations. I love the scratchy, loose lines and the mood she creates through shading and colour. This book tackles themes of grief and a pet dying. It is done in a gentle, sweet way that respects everyone’s process.

harry and hopper

Dog Loves Drawing by Louise Yates Great message – that art, doodling. drawing can tell a story, allow for creativity and challenge the imagination.

dog loves drawing

You by Stephen Michael King I have a soft spot for Stephen Michael King’s illustrations. (Leaf is one of my favourites) A book that celebrates all of us.


Mirror Mirror written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Josee Masse Beyond clever. I have been sharing these poems with my reading group and we read each poem multiple times just being in awe how reversing words and changing phrasing alters everything.


Some nonfiction titles:

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins written by Barbara Kerley and illustrated by  Brian Selznick I read this title to my own children. We have all read all of Selznick’s books so were excited to see his illustrations here (Caldecott honour worthy and all!) We were intrigued by how Hawkins made models of dinosaurs without having all of the definitive details that would be later discovered. Part of a story about the quest to “recreate” dinosaurs that we just didn’t know.

Waterhouse Hawkins

How the Dinosaur got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland We actually read this before The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins – it gave us all of the vocabulary to understand what is involved in erecting a dinosaur skeleton. Fascinating! And time consuming! Reading it with my children, we turned it into a memory game 🙂 Each time I got to the by the _______, I would pause and see who remembered the title! An excerpt:

“chiseled from the stone by the EXCAVATORS,
authenticated by the PALEONTOLOGIST,
and searched for by the DINOSAUR HUNTER.”


I Have the Right to be a Child written by Alain Serres, illustrated by Aurelia Fronty Such an accessible book for children to learn about the rights of children everywhere. Gorgeously illustrated.

I have the right to be a child

I finished two novels this week:

Anything but Typical written by Nora Raleigh Baskin Is this cover not just absolutely stunning? Loved pausing in this book just to stare at it. A fantastic middle grade read narrated by a boy with autism. Themes of family, friendship and identity. So much to this story. Baskin weaves many stories into this one vulnerable tale. It is challenging enough to fit in as a preteen, what happens when you are autistic and your very reactions to the world guarantee you stand out?


Fourmile written by Watt Key This book manages to be both all about the characters and yet it doesn’t scrimp on action. There is always something going on – even under the surface of the simplest and mundane tasks like painting a fence. Sometimes the goings on are dramatic and frightening. Steeped in hurt, pain and longing, this story also reveals the vulnerability and strength in the characters. While, the main character is a twelve year old boy, some of the disturbing scenes might make this more of a young adult read. Or a middle grade . . .  with caution. I continue to love this author after first reading Alabama Moon and being blown away.


Next up? Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

My picture book 10 for 10 for 2012

Picture Book Love!!

This is the first year I am participating in the Picture Book 10 for 10 event hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning.

Any opportunity to celebrate a love for picture books, count me in!

Of course I could have listed hundreds but I tried to select the first ten that came to me. My list for 2012:

Pete and Pickles by Berkeley Breathed. Oh how I love this book that celebrates love! I gushed about it here. This book is quite possibly my favourite picture book ever. And that is really saying something!

The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert. Geisert is a master at telling a beautiful and whimsical fantastical story through a wordless book.  How the pigs happen to be saved from volcanic disaster is a reason to share this story many times. Gorgeous.

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. I really liked this book on first read. But after sharing it with my class I quickly grew to love it. My students went crazy for this book! Read more here. This book read aloud in a classroom of book lovers is a force to be reckoned with.

All the World written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee. This book could be read daily and one would never tire of it. I have blogged about it before: “The images are comforting, saturated with details and evoke our own memories attached to the experiences suggested by each picture. These pictures are so easy to connect to, I felt like I had taken a journey through some of my own most happiest of memories.”

Hunwick’s Egg written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Pamela Lofts. I have blogged about this book before as it is one of my favourites: “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. This book is beyond endearing and my heart lifts just pulling it off the shelf.”

The Gardener written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small. It is wonderful to have historical fiction wrapped up so beautifully in this illustrated book. My own children wanted to study this book again and again.

House Held up by Trees written by Ted Kooser and illustrated by Jon Klassen. This book celebrates the power of nature and how we are naturally drawn to it. Efforts to keep it at bay are often futile. Nature finds its way. This book is stunning.

Leaf by Stephen Michael King. A story of the friendship between a boy, a dog and a plant. Simple, sweet, endearing. The best thing about this book? It is nearly wordless – the only text  – sound effects – Whooosh, Boing, Sploosh, Glurg glurg .

Hello Goodbye Window written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Chris Raschka. The vibrant colours in this book are pure joy! I love the celebration of the relationship between grandchild and grandparents. “Hello World! What have you got for us today?” We still quote this line frequently in our house!

Wilfred Gordon Macdonald Partridge  written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas. A favourite of mine for years. Every time I read it aloud to a new group of students I sit back and enjoy their discussions of all the special kinds of memories. A book every house and classroom should own.

Prudence Wants a Pet

Picture Book Love #2: Celebrating picture books that are just too good not to gush over.

Okay start counting how many books you have read about a child who really wants a pet and the parents say no. No, it’s too much work. No, you won’t look after it. No, we don’t have time, space, energy . . . I can think of many. So how can another book on this theme really seem fresh, new, inspired?  Prudence Wants a Pet written by Cathleen Daly and illustrated by Stephen Michael King will sweep you off your feet. This book is simply about the determination and charisma of Prudence. And yes, her extreme and unrelenting desire for a pet!  I dare you not to adore her!

Prudence wants a pet

Prudence really wants a pet but her parents roll out those typical parent excuses. So she is left to her own devices. She gets a pet and names it Branch. Because, well, it is a branch. It lives on the front porch and after tripping up Dad eight times, Branch ended up in little pieces on top of the wood pile. Prudence gets a new pet named Twig (because yes, you guessed it Twig is a twig). Twig is too small and gets lost. So Prudence moves on. She attaches a leash to an old shoe, which just so happens to be her new pet named Formal Footwear. Really! Then Prudence tries making her little brother Milo a pet but things don’t go over very well with her parents when she feeds him seeds and grass. So on to bigger and better things! A car tire. Just try to keep a straight face! Finally following an extremely disappointing attempt to raise sea buddies after which Prudence retires to her closet, her parents consider an actual pet for her.

At this point, this book is poised to deliver an expected, typical, wrap it up happy ending. But no, this is where Prudence hooked me. Where I swooned. Completely done for. Prudence was so excited when she heard a “Mew” coming from the box her parents gave her that . . .

Her eyes got hot and tingly. She’s so happy it leaks out of her eyes a little. She didn’t know about those kinds of tears.

Seriously? Wow. Tell me you don’t need this book. It is so much more than a “Girl wants Pet. She begs and begs. Girl gets pet,” kind of story. It is Prudence.

What a beautiful world!

Spring! Finally! In Vancouver, spring sunshine is often chased away by rain showers so all the more reason to delve into books which help transport us into nature and wonder with just a flip of a page, a beautiful illustration or a perfect written image. We found three perfect books which do just this on our library visit Saturday.


I adore this book. All the World is a Caldecott Honour Book illustrated by Marla Frazee and written by Liz Garton Scanton. Simple rhyming text pays tribute to the small simple things our world has to offer like a tomato blossom or a fire to take away a chill. But it also celebrates through Frazee’s absolutely gorgeous illustrations, the majestic purply sky at the edge of the ocean or a thunderous downpour that comes out of nowhere. The images are comforting, saturated with details and evoke our own memories attached to the experiences suggested by each picture. These pictures are so easy to connect to, I felt like I had taken a journey through some of my own most happiest of memories. Climbing a tree in childhood. Visiting a farmer’s market and eating plump berries with my children. Racing through a rainstorm on a summer’s day in search of shelter.

Janeen Brian and Stephen Michael King, the author and illustrator of Where does Thursday go? have created a lovely little tale of wonder and whimsy. An important question is posed, if Friday is coming, where does Thursday go? What happens to it during the night?

Where Thursday

Bruno doesn’t want his wonderful birthday day to end. He wants to say goodbye to it. He finds his friend Bert and they traipse through a blue star filled night looking for Thursday to say goodbye. When the moon rises up big, round and bright like Bruno’s birthday balloons, the two friends feel like they have found Thursday. They creep back into bed until the sun brings Friday. Sweet, illustrations on blue filled pages. Lovely. I especially like the image of the two friends on the beach at the edge of the sea where ocean and sky meet in swirly blues and whites.

the_curious_gardenThis book appeals to the urgency I feel when spring flowers begin poking through the earth. Tend. Nurture. Clip back. Transplant. Compost. Appreciate. Wow, can I connect to the main character in this story who nurtures a struggling garden into a majestic green world.  Liam, the little boy in Peter Brown‘s The Curious Garden resides in a dreary city where everyone stays inside. Not Liam. On one of his rainy day walks he finds a few wildflowers and tiny plants on some abandoned railroad tracks. He cares for this garden over several seasons – appreciating its natural tendencies to spread and travel and helping it along a bit too (hooray for guerilla gardening). Years later he can appreciate an entire green city, tended by a multitude of gardeners.

Peter Brown includes an author’s note at the end of the story which explains his inspiration for the book.

Escape into Spring with a poking about walk to the library and discover all the places you can find signs of Spring.

A visit to the public library uncovers. . .

I went to the library and what did I find?  Some “new to me books”! Exactly why public libraries are such lovely places.  You can walk in empty handed and walk out with a bag bursting full of undiscovered treasures.  For free!  At least that’s what happens to me.

Some books I found today that I have to share – first here and then this week, in the classroom! Excited at the possibilities . . . These will need to be more than book talks – all are simple and quick to read – but like a lovely sweet treat – something to savour for some time afterwards . . .

In Leaf by Stephen Michael King, a little boy escapes his Mom’s intentions to give his hair a trim.  While hiding out with his his adorable little dog, a bird drops a seed on his head. A shoot pops up and grows a leaf. Now he needs to carefully tend to this living thing on top of his head. Simple, sweet, endearing. The best thing about this book? It is nearly wordless – the only text  – sound effects – Whooosh, Boing, Sploosh, Glurg glurg . . .

Kathryn Otoshi has created a wonderful book called Zero all about finding value in yourself. I can see this book fitting in wonderfully with extension lessons with the Mindup curriculum where we explore looking at things from a different perspective. Is Zero empty inside?  Or is she open and full of possibilities?

This book is pretty funny,” announces my son. And it is but also a little bit more . . . Penguin by Polly Dunbar lets us look at a child’s frustration when he can’t communicate in the way he wants to with a new friend. And my, my, the things we tend to do as we get frustrated!

Happy Reading!