Favourites of 2017

Which books stand out from an entire year or reading? Titles that didn’t leave me. Books I have wanted to share. To reread. That I have particular plans for. Books that I have read to multiple audiences. Books full of the beautiful and the hopeful. Wonder. Inspiration. Humanity. Sorrow and hope. Books I recommend highly. Books I am pleased to celebrate here.

The 17 books that made the final cut? I chose everything from picture books to young adult novels. Middle grade novels. Transitional chapter books. All of it. (except for nonfiction titles – they got a list all their own)

17 books and no more than 17 words of raving. This was my challenge last year with my Favourites of 2016 (16 books, 16 words) Each year it has been the same: Favourites of 2015 (15 books, 15 words), Favourites of 2014 (14 books, 14 words), Favourites of 2013 (13 books, 13 words) and (12 books, 12 words) with my 2012 Favourites. Each year, I get one more book and one more word to play with!

Favourites of 2017 There's a Book for That

17 favourites of 2017

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell

Nearly wordless. All about important things. Kindness. Trust. Simplicity.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Town is by the Sea written by Joanne Schwartz and illustrated by Sydney Smith

Daily life in a Cape Breton mining town. Illustrations that literally freeze place and time. 

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

Our voices cannot be silenced. Timely and timeless.

the-rooster-who-would-not-be-quiet Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin

Wordless and wonderful. Rich with kindness and longing for how we connect.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for ThatMy Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo

How can we leave one life to begin another? A refugee experience full of sadness and hope.


The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

A creative and inspiring journey that celebrates how what goes wrong is equally exactly right.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Now by Antoinette Portis

Being in the moment has never been celebrated with such lovely wonder and beauty.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Out of Wonder Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjorie Wentworth illustrations by Ekua Holmes

Oh this book of poems and art. Kind of speechless.

Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy (Charlie & Mouse, #2) written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Emily Hughes

Endearing and lovely. Sibling antics. Silly stories. Hilarious illustrations. Reading gold.

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold 

Bat, his family and a little orphaned skunk make up a cast of characters that you must meet.

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

So I kind of love everything about Clayton Byrd.

Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King (A.S. King) 

I can’t get Obe and Marvin Gardens out of my head.

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

Suspend belief. Be uncertain. Allow yourself to get lost in this story. Incredible writing.

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

I adore Alex Petroski. His journey to capture the essence of Earth reveals his vulnerable,  complicated existence.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

An isolated setting. Unique characters. Mystery and intrigue and simplicity that makes a can’t put down story.

Refugee by Alan Gratz.

You will cry. Shake your head. Fret. Dream terrible things. Read this book. Hand it to everyone.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Necessary reading for anyone who happens to currently be human. Deserving of all the hype.

Please share your own favourites of the year . . .

Wishing everyone a 2018 full of new favourites and lots of reading!


Monday August 7th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a  reading photo of the week.

This week, I would like to instead share an article. I had the honour of sharing a student’s story –  first with author/illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo and then with writer Alexandra Alter about Suzanne’s incredible book My Beautiful Birds. Alexandra included this story in her New York Times article

Children’s Authors Take on the Refugee Crisis

It was an unforgettable experience to organize a Skype with Alexandra and Nour and listen as Nour told her story. It will be something that I think about forever – the resilience and hope and love in this young girl’s voice as she talked about everything that she’s lost and found.

I am sharing this here with the #IMWAYR community because I know all of you know the power of books to change lives. This book told Nour’s story and gave her truth voice and audience. So powerful.

If you haven’t yet read this book – buy it! It’s a must have for our school and classroom libraries.

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.

On the blog:

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed

This is the second in a series of posts about working in the classroom library over the summer break.

Books I enjoyed:

I had a bookstore visit and read a lot of picture books and nonfiction titles this week. Some even followed me home. Surprise, surprise!

Some of my favourites:

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

This title is an incredible celebration of looking at “mistakes” as opportunities instead of something purely negative and wrong. A creative and inspiring journey. Such an important title to share in our classrooms.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist written by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns

Eugenie Clark is some kind of incredible! A scientist. A risk taker. A creative thinker that allowed the world to look at sharks through a different lens. Jess Keating shares Eugenie’s story to honour and celebrate curiosity and perseverance. Lots of additional information in the back pages including a detailed time line of Clark’s life and accomplishments. Gorgeous end pages too!

Teacup written by Rebecca Young and illustrated by Matt Ottley

This is a somewhat haunting and extremely beautiful story about a boy who must leave his homeland in a boat clutching a teacup full of soil The ocean journey brings peace, drama and unexpected surprises as he sails in search of a new home.

Samson in the Snow by Philip C. Stead 

Gentle and sweet. A book about compassion and care.

Owl Bat Bat Owl by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

A lovely little wordless title with lots of room for talk and questions. What is community? Who should we care about? What matters?

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

A completely endearing title about one little boy’s route to being brave. Loved.

A Squiggly Story written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Mike Lowery

Perfect for writer’s workshop. Clearly sends the message that all writing is story telling – marks on the page, drawings, words (regardless of spelling). I I were a K or Grade 1 teacher, I would be snapping this one up. As a Grade 3 teacher, I am also pretty tempted.

Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler

Power plays on the playground have lots of dynamics. Creatively explored in this little gem.

This Beautiful Day written by Richard Jackson with illustrations by Suzy Lee

This beautiful book. Wow is Suzy Lee talented! A celebration of rainy days and optimistic attitudes. Lovely all around.

If Found Please Return to Elise Gravel by Elise Gravel

So I am calling this a favourite, fought over classroom book for 2017/2018. And I KNOW I am going to be right. This book will be inspiring some funky sketchbooks in my students’ futures. Again, guaranteed.

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

So I kind of love everything about Clayton Byrd. And Williams-Garcia, whoa, can this woman write! A must read middle grade title.

Alvin Ho (Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things) by Lenore Look with illustrations by LeUyen Pham

I was pretty thrilled to find this title as I think it will be my first classroom read aloud in the fall. A lot of things in the world frighten and overwhelm Alvin including speaking out loud at school. So wonderfully portrayed in a humorous, relatable way by Look. I am buying the series!

Patina by Jason Reynolds

I share all of my book love for this title (released later this month) here.

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 43/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 185/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 32 books behind schedule (ten better than last week!)

#MustReadin2017: 18/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 25/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 31/50 books read

Up next? I am reading The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

Monday March 6th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. 

Last week I was here – Western Washington’s Children’s Literature Conference with Rita Williams-Garcia, Laurie Halse Anderson, Christian Robinson and Matt Phelan so I didn’t post. I just lived in literary love land. It was pretty darn amazing. I came home with bags of signed books and a head full of inspiring words.

Monday March 6th, 2017

So two weeks of literacy snapshots from my classroom are here:

When UBC (University of British Columbia) students come to teach us science for three days, you should also ask them to read aloud The Book with No Pictures. Hilarious!

Monday March 6th, 2017

Loved that I had both big kids (from UBC) and little kids (my 4s and 5s) reading during quiet reading time.Monday March 6th, 2017

Sarah Lean sent us some books – this is a group of readers showing her their excitement!Monday March 6th, 2017

Finally, the Grade 1/2 teacher has agreed to be our buddy reading class! Our first session was all that I knew it would be.

Monday March 6th, 2017 Monday March 6th, 2017 Monday March 6th, 2017

And because I can’t resist – here are my students doing their version of slam poetry – which is basically alternating poem lines in a loud dramatic fashion. They are rocking a Silverstein poem. Kind of hilarious.

Monday March 6th, 2017

#classroombookaday titles

Monday March 6th, 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.


On the blog:

It’s Slice of Life Season so there’s a lot here:

Advice on the Fly: Slice of Life #5 2 minutes to give teaching advice? What would you say?

Elevated Love Notes: Slice of Life #4 A letter from a student that knocked me over.

Proof: Slice of Life #3 A necessary post to help me process some stuff I don’t like observing

Listening During the In-Between: Slice of Life #2 The precious things we hear when there is time to listen.

Doubts: Slice of Life #1 Because you might as well start off a month of writing being sure you can’t do it . . .

Books I enjoyed:

Bob, Not Bob! written by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Matthew Cordell

When we are sick, we clearly need our Mom most of all. This may not be possible to make perfectly clear. Lots of tissues and blowing of noses here. Funny!


Antoinette written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Antoinette is pretty charming.


School’s First Day of School written by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Finally, I got my hands on a copy of this book. A beautifully tender first day book told from the school’s perspective.


A Family is a Family is a Family written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Qin Leng

Oh how I LOVE this book. Families all look amazingly and wonderfully different. This book celebrates this perfectly.

Groundwood Logos Spine

Preaching to the Chickens The Story of young John Lewis written by Jabari Asim and illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Gorgeous paintings by Lewis accompany an inspiring story of John Lewis in his childhood.


Before Morning written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes

Wow. This book is all about leaving and returning to a cozy home on a winter’s day. Just absolutely beautiful and poetic.


A River by Marc Martin

Take a journey along a river through your imagination. The colours here are just incredible.


My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo

This will be another title about a refugee family’s experience that I will be sharing with my students. One little boy must leave his home and his birds behind as he and his family seek safety in a camp.


When we Were Alone written by David A. Robertson and illustrated by Julie Flett

An important story of family and remembering. A grandmother tells her granddaughter about her residential school experience. Beautiful art by Flett.


Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

This is one funny book.But it’s also sweet and full of grief and change. Fantastically illustrated letters tell the story of a girl and the chickens she has inherited. She needs lots of help and advice along the way.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 11/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 65/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 2 books ahead of schedule!

#MustReadin2017: 6/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 13/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 11/50 books read

Up next? I am reading Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan