Monday February 11th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

Join Kellee and Jen’s meme to share all the reading you have done over the week – everything from picture books to young adult novels! Connecting with the #IMWAYR community is such a great way to hear about fantastic books “new to you.”

I have been sick for 4 days. We all know the yucky things about being sick so I haven’t been thrilled about being ill this weekend. But, for a book lover, sick days mean book days so I happily read some great novels between naps and mint tea breaks.

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King This is the second King title I’ve read (Ask the Passengers being the first) and I am fast becoming a fan of how she lays out characters and families and their sometimes strange, challenging but yet, connected dynamics. I sort of feel like I’m spying through a lit window at night into the intimate details of family relationships. Not always pretty. Sometimes all about the ugly and the weak. But so truly real.  A book with a theme of bullying and how it affects an entire family.


Crow by Barbara Wright This title is another great example of why I love historical fiction to learn about specific events in history I often knew nothing or little about – in this case, the Wilmington Massacre of 1898. This book is very much about Moses and his family. I loved his relationship with his spunky and wise grandmother Boo Nanny. The racial tensions and extreme prejudice are thoroughly explored in this story – going back in time to Moses’  grandparent’s experiences and forward to his father’s dreams for him. Some challenging moments in this book. A middle grade read that might be best as a read aloud where lots of discussion could occur. With room for many questions . . .


Insurgent by Veronica Roth So first off, I must say that yes, I liked this book. Yes, I’m hooked on the adventure and very curious about what will happen next. But, while I appreciate adventure and fast paced plots, I need breathing room in a story. Time to reflect and ponder. Down time. There is little down time in Roth’s books. Which is probably what makes them favourites for others but not for me. I miss the space to think. Again, like I said with Divergent, it feels like I am reading a movie. With little mood music. Just go, go, go! But I like many of these characters and so yes, count me in as someone who will read the next title in this series!


Next up for me? Nothing but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin. My children and I are loving The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens. If my voice hadn’t been so rotten this weekend we would have read much more. Such an engaging novel! And for kids, it has it all – suspense, humour, mystery, action . . .

I continue to add board books to my classroom collection for when we have buddy reading with the kindergarten class. Two new titles added this week:

Pouch! by David Ezra Stein A sweet little title about a little joey almost ready to brave the world.

Pouch David Ezra Stein

Duck & Goose: Goose Needs a Hug by Tad Hills My students love sharing Duck & Goose titles. So sweet. Messages always so positive. Kids read them and smile.

duck and goose needs

I also read some great nonfiction picture books this week.

Peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin This book is quietly powerful which is often the very best kind. Full of quotes to read, share and ponder. The artwork is exquisite. And I love the message that peace needs to be everywhere (in our hearts, homes, schools, countries . . .) in order to impact peace everywhere else. A book to own.

peace book cover

Who Lives Here? written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Marc Boutavant I purchased Who’s Like Me? (read more here) a book in this same format and it quickly became very popular for buddy reading so I am excited to book talk this title next week. In this book, students learn all about different habitats. Very accessible for younger learners and fun lift the flap elements.


My favourite picture books of the week were . . .

Sleep Like a Tiger written by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski This was the only Caldecott honour title for 2013 that I hadn’t read. I was completely smitten when I turned to the page of the whales. Oh, the whales! Such gorgeous pictures. Love the cityscape on the first page with the tiger carrying away the huge orange ball . . . Text and illustrations mesh beautifully. This would be such a beautiful book to give as a gift to those who appreciate the soothing power of bedtime books.

Sleep Like a Tiger

Bone Dog written and illustrated by Eric Rohmann I am a big Rohmann fan. My Friend Rabbit is one of my all time favourites. So I was intrigued by this title. It tackles death (of a pet) which most books shy away from so it gets automatic points. I always think we should talk openly with kids about death as a part of life. I once wrote a post ranting about this very thing. This title also has some very sweet elements to it. And when tested on a child (my son) evoked some giggles (when the proud little dog struts back with bone in mouth after a skeleton chase!)


The First Mosquito written and illustrated by Caroll Simpson. A dramatic First Nations story full of supernatural beings. My students wrote reviews of this book and I shared them here.

the First Mosquito


Have a happy reading week!

Monday December 24th, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 

Join a fabulous group of readers who share their weekly reads from picture books to young adult novels by participating in Jen and Kellee’s meme. If you are looking for new book ideas, this is a fantastic place to start! Especially if you are looking ahead to some lazy reading days over the holidays!

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

I read a lot of picture books this week, but I must confess, I didn’t love them all. Those titles are not included here. Instead, below are the ones that stood out for me as being titles I would recommend/read again/read aloud.

The Man in the Moon by William Joyce (A Guardians of Childhood book) ConfessionI don’t often know what is going on in mainstream media. Ask me about hip songs and the latest and greatest movie and I likely can’t tell you. So I did not connect these Guardians of Childhood books to the slight movie buzz I was hearing with this same title. Many of you are probably cooler than me and knew all about it.

Wow! Does William Joyce create visually stunning books! I shared this as a bedtime read aloud and the next night my children were begging me for the next title that we had just received from a lovely book gifting friend (The Sandman). I loved the images and how magical the stories felt. My children were intrigued by the whole concept of the Guardians watching over children – how they were brave and majestic yet at the same time teeny and odd. Very interesting.

The MAn in the Moon

The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie by William Joyce (the second picture book in the Guardians of Childhood series

If you, like me, are not so up on this series here is more information. It seems there are so far, two picture books and a handful of novels featuring different Guardian characters.


Singing Away the Dark written by Caroline Woodward  and illustrated by Julie Morstad This book is absolutely lovely and a new favourite of mine. Typically I am wary of  books with rhyming text but this one is done so well. A little girl, all of six years old has an early morning walk through snow banks and spooky trees on a cold winter morning to catch the school bus.

“When I was six and walked a mile and sang the dark away.”

Woodward recalls images of her own childhood walks in the Peace River region of B.C. Some of us really do have childhoods that included long walks to school and this book takes me back to all the small moments of bravery that once seemed so huge on my own walk to school on my journeys of childhood. Beautifully illustrated by Morstad.


The Golden Rule written by Ilene Cooper and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska. This book explores this simple rule of childhood that seems so difficult for so many to follow. It is pointed out that a version of “”Do Unto Others . . . ” is in every religion for people all over the world. A little boy and his grandfather discuss what the world could be like it everyone actually followed this rule. A lovely format to make this concept accessible to children.


Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter The true story of Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and the green landscapes that she returned to Africa. A book in the biography genre that explores ecology, environment and inspiration.


How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills I adore books that promote the love of literacy and the magic of reading. Hills captures the delight of putting sounds together to make words and the lure of a story in this lovely little book that features Rocket as student and the little yellow bird as enthusiastic teacher. I would pair this title with How to Teach a Slug to Read, a book I have used in the past to explore the process of learning how to read.


Rabbit and Robot The Sleepover by Cece Bell. A fun little story but what excites me most is that it is a fun little story in early chapter book format that can be enjoyed by students just beginning to dive into this genre There are not enough of these titles out there that have this kind of interest, humour and unique characters while still exploring familiar territory: navigating the complications of friendship. Can’t wait to get this book into the hands of students!


I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, an adult novel. I rarely read adult novels anymore and quite honestly, I am happy to dive back into the land of middle grade and young adult novels full force. This book was just too full of ugliness. Well written but what characters . . .

Gone Girl

I am close to finishing  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I cannot put it down.


Monday December 17th, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? Celebrate your weekly reading by joining Jen and Kellee’s meme and link up with other reading enthusiasts sharing their reads from picture books to young adult reads.

Mon Reading Button PB to YA

I enjoyed many great books during this past week and tried to fit in some last minute Nerdy Book Club nominations 🙂

Picture Books I loved:

Neville written by Norman Juster and illustrated by G. Brian Karas I read this book with my reading group and we shared questions we had before, during and after the story. An amazing book to inspire questions and discussion. A boy moves to a new town and heads out for a walk, unhappy about his move and convinced he will be friendless. When he begins to yell the name “Neville!” interesting things begin to happen. I adored this book.


Jangles, a BIG fish story by David Shannon Part folklore, part mystery, part adventure – all good 🙂 Gorgeous oil paintings give this book an eerie aura.


Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills I agree, of course, with many other readers that this book is an ideal story to share when highlighting the writing process. Love the little yellow bird and the big tree of inspiration.

Rocket cover

Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan Stunning art helps narrate this story of a nighttime adventure in the forest. Perfect for teaching about nocturnal animals.


Chopsticks Amy Krause Rosenthal Scott Magoon A fun story about friendship, independence and loyalty with just the right dose of humour “mixed in.”


A few holiday stories shared with my class: 

Home for Christmas by Jan Brett My students loved paying attention to the detailed illustrations for hints of what was coming up next in the story. I have many holiday books by Jan Brett on my bookshelf. Always so festive and sweet.


Just Right For Christmas by Birdie Black and Rosalind Beardshaw This book was shared in my class this week, more details here. A story with elements of Phoebe Gilman‘s Something from Nothing or Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback. 

just right for Christmas

Some non-fiction themed books:

The Journey: Stories of Migration written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Lambert Davis I have been sharing sections of this book all term with my class as we learn about migration. The illustrations were vivid and detailed and the stories very easy to follow for my Grade 2/3 students. Lots of learning!

stories of migration

A Strange Places to Call Home written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Ed Young The pictures in this book are incredible and I really enjoyed reading more about each creature and their strange habitats at the back of the book. Did I love all of the poems? Some more than others . . .

strange place to call home

The novel I finished this week was a young adult read called Ask the Passengers by A.S. King. Great characters and beautiful writing. I quickly requested other titles by this author from the library. Astrid Jones holds her feelings and questions close as she tries to navigate small town life and big world questions with a family not really along for the ride. Everyone in her two parent, two kid family feels very much on their own and so Astrid connects with the unknown passengers on the planes that fly overhead. A story that explores love, friendship and family dynamics.

Girl lying on sand, reaching up to the sun