It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.
It’s always a bit dangerous for me when I find myself surrounded by new picture books because I want to buy them all! This past week, Surrey Kidsbooks came to one of my workshops and “set up shop” in the school gym! As always, Maggie had new books set aside to show me and I’m excited to share them now.
On the top of Maggie’s “A MUST for teachers” list this fall, and now on the top of mine, is Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale. This book is themed around self regulation, a topic of growing interest in education thanks to the insightful work of Canadian educator Stuart Shanker and others. In this book, we meet Clark – a shark with a very BIG personality. Clark LOVES everything but sometimes his boisterous enthusiasm gets in the way of his friendships. His teacher, Mrs. Inkydink, helps him to devise a strategy of making up simple rhymes to calm down and “stay cool”. An excellent book to share with children – entertaining as well as an important message.
The Very Inappropriate Word by Jim Tobin is a celebration of words. I loved this book for so many reasons – it’s funny, has great illustrations and a wonderful subtle message about using appropriate language. The best part for me is the fact that it’s also written for those, like me, who love words. The boy in this book loves words – big words, interesting words, hard words. Things go a little sideways for him when he learns a word that is inappropriate and tries using it. I love words and I love this book!
What Are You Doing? by Elisa Amado is a celebration of reading. On his way to school, a young boy notices many different people reading. “What are you doing?” he asks, to which each responds with another reason for reading. One person is reading instructions to fix their bike, another is reading a story, while another is reading a guidebook. Later in the day, he borrows his own book from school to read. The simple text is a reminder to all of us about the pleasures and purposes for reading.
The Man with the Violin by Canadian writer Kathy Stinson is based on the true story of renowned American violinist Joshua Bell who gave a free concert one day in a Washington, D.C. subway station. Thousands of commuters rushed by but only seven stopped to listen. Dylan, the fictional character in the story, is one of the seven who did stop, although his mother did not want him to. He is mesmerized by the beautiful sound of the music and the song plays in his head all day. The illustrations are beautiful and the writing floats and dances like music. This book is a celebration of music and a great reminder to take the time to appreciate beauty that surrounds us. An interesting account of the real event is provided at the back. This was such an interesting story and one that I can see would be the starting point for some excellent class discussions. I can’t wait to share this with my students. LOVE it!
Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler is another beautifully illustrated book that celebrates the cycle of seeds and seasons. Miss Maple collects and cares for lost seeds, carefully searching for a place for them to grow when the time is right for them to find their roots. I felt like I was walking through a garden when I read this book. A perfect book to launch a science unit on plants or seeds.
In this witty book Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds, a group of misunderstood carnivores, tired of being made fun of by their plant-eating enemies, form a support group in their attempt to become more politically correct. Their first plan is to think of converting to plant-eating but that plan does not go well because Wolf can’t find a berry bush without a bunny in it! (hilarious!) This book is meant to be read out loud – it is so funny. Small children may not understand the humor but the bold, punch-line, slap-stick delivery would certainly be appreciated by older students.
David Shannon latest book Bugs in My Hair! is a humorous look at head lice. Let’s face it – most teachers have had the unwelcome experience of a lice outbreak in their classrooms. This book deals with this situation in an informative and light-hearted way that would make children feel less embarrassed about this unpleasant experience. A great book to have on hand – just in case you get a case!
A Mountain of Friends by Kirsten Schoene is a heartwarming story of a penguin who has a dream to fly. His friends work together to help him achieve this seemingly impossible goal. The illustrations are beautiful and children will love how the book needs to be turned from landscape to portrait to view the “mountain” of friends. A great book to teach children about working together to help others.
The Road to Afghanistan by Linda Granfield is a moving book honoring those committed Canadian soldiers who fought in this war and experienced things none of us really can understand. This is a reflective book about the successes and challenges of war and gives us a glimpse of Afghan people, culture and land to help us connect. It is definitely a book I will add to my Remembrance Day collection, particularly given the Canadian focus.
Well, it’s been a great week of new books! I’d love to hear about what you’ve been reading!