Monthly Archives: May 2014

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – A Seal, a lion, a picnic and a name!

IMWAYR

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

A trip to my favorite children’s bookstore this week, Vancouver Kidsbooks, resulted in the discovery a few new treasures that I’m excited to share with you!

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas

Elizabeth – Queen of the Sea – Lynne Cox

This is the amazing true story of Elizabeth, an elephant seal, who decides she wants to live in the warm Avon River near the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.  At first, it is delightful novelty to have a seal living in the river, especially when she takes to sun bathing in the middle of the flat, warm road!  But with the dangers of passing cars, the people decide to keep her safe and Elizabeth is towed out to sea.  But somehow, Elizabeth makes her way back to the river.  Each time she is carried farther and farther away, she comes back.  (making a connection to “The Cat Came Back” song right about now!)   The soft pen and ink watercolor illustrations by Brian Floca are lovely and the writing includes wonderful imagery that I would certainly use as an anchor book for writing:  “Moving up the soft shore like a giant inchworm”  (can you say simile?)  I loved how there was factual information about elephant seals gently woven into the text. Background information and a photo of the “real Elizabeth” at the back of the book.  A delightful book!

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The Change Your Name Store – Leanne Shirtliffe

Themes of respecting differences, global awareness, multiculturalism along a great spunky character make this book a must read for all primary teachers!  Wilma Lee Wu does not like her name. So she marches into the Change Your Name Store where she meets the outrageous owner Zeena McFouz.  Zeena soon convinces Wilma to try on new names in the magical store. Each time Wilma selects a new name, she is transported to the country from which the name originates. Isn’t that the greatest premise for a picture book?  (I wish I had thought of it!) The illustrations are delightful and the text is written in simple rhyme.  A GREAT read aloud, perfect for making connections to names, a link to social studies (I am already planning a lesson to plot Wilma’s journey on a world map with my students!) and wonderful addition to your multicultural collection!

Picnic

Picnic – John Burningham

I am a John Burningham fan.  I love his simple, sparse text and his pen and ink watercolor illustrations.  In this latest book, a boy and girl prepare for a picnic.  On their way to find their picnic spot, they meet various animals and invite them to join the picnic.  A uninvited bull interrupts and disrupts their picnic and there is a bit of a chase scene!  Eventually, exhausted, they go home to bed!  As the story unfolds, the reader is asked to spot lost items on the page.  The items are easy to find but add an interactive feature for younger readers.  Classic Burningham!

The Lion and the Bird

The Lion and the Bird – Marianne Dubuc

Sigh.  This is a beautiful, sweet and moving story.  A lion finds a wounded bird and brings it home to care for it.  When spring comes, the bird flies away to join his flock.  Lion is lost.  Bird returns to spend winter with lion.  Sigh again.  This book is a  treasure.   It is a story of friendship told in a very honest and simple way.  I loved the sparse text (one sentence per page)  that leaves room for a lot of thinking.  I loved the illustrations and the sweetness of the friendship that develops between these two unlikely creatures.  I felt a quiet calmness when I finished.  I wanted to hug it.  (I think I did)

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Pom and Pim – Lena and Olof Landstroem

OK – I’m a sucker for a cute cover – and this one definitely meets my criteria for cuteness!  The story reminded me a lot of  Michael Foreman’s”Fortunately – Unfortunately”.  Pom finds some money and buys an ice cream (that’s good) but eats too much and gets a tummy ache (that’s bad).  There is very little text and the illustrations are quite unique – lots of white space so you can focus on the action and Pom’s delightful expressions on each page.  This would be a great anchor book to read to an early primary class and then have them create their own mini version of the “That’s good – That’s bad” pattern.   This book is translated from Swedish – and I wish they had included a translation of exactly what type of toy Pim is!  A cute blob with arms and legs and I want one!
Thanks for stopping by!  I’d love to know which book caught your eye!

 

 

 

 
 

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Filed under Connect, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Mapping, New Books, Picture Book, Read-Aloud, Social Responsibility

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Boats, a moose and a panda!

IMWAYR

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

Toy Boat

Toy Boat – Randall de Seve

I love Loren Long’s illustrations so was immediately drawn to this new book.  It is the story of a little boy and his beloved homemade toy boat.  The boy and his boat are inseparable until a storm comes up and the boat blows away.  We then follow the boat as it begins its own adventure alone  excited at first to be “free” but encounters some dangerous situations and eventually is reunited with the boy.  The illustrations and colors are amazing – I loved the “face” on the boat!    This would be a great book for making connections to favorite toys for younger students and but older students may infer that the boy and boat could be a metaphor for a parent and child relationship.

Three Bears in a Boat

Three Bears in a Boat – David Soman

WOW!  I am IN LOVE with this book!  And quite a shift from Soman’s previous Ladybug Girl!  This story has it all – breathtaking illustrations an epic adventure and a subtle message.  Three sibling bears accidently break their mother’s favorite blue seashell.  So, rather than telling her, they set off to try to find her a new one.  Their search brings them adventure but they cannot find any blue seashells.  A rather unpredictable ending but a very forgiving mother makes everything right in the end.  A great book for questioning and predicting with a  few fun literary devises thrown in for adults!  I predict this will be the buzz book of the summer!

Once Upon a Balloon

Once Upon a Balloon – Bree Galbraith

Last week, I was “gifted” with a brand new picture book written by first time local Vancouver author Bree Galbraith.  Bree is graphic designer and a graduate from Emily Carr University.  Have you ever wondered where balloons go when they float away?  Theo does, when he accidently lets go of the string of his party balloon.  His older brother, Zeke, luckily knows everything about the land of lost balloons – they are collected by “Frank” and end up in the windy city of Chicago. After learning about what Frank does, Theo decides to send him a message of thanks. This story is whimsical and imaginative and the illustrations by Isabelle Malenfant are delightful.  A great book to celebrate gratitude and acts of kindness.

This is a Moose – Richard T. Morris

The setting of this hilarious story is a movie set where Director Duck is making a documentary about Moose.  But the Moose who is staring in the movie does not, in fact, want to be an actor, or a moose – he wants to be an astronaut!  Enter Moose’s zany forest friends to help him including a superhero chipmunk a lacrosse-playing grandma!  Lots of action, fantastic illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld and great message of following your dreams!

Chengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep– Barney Saltzberg

This book is adorable!  Poor Chengdu!  He cannot fall asleep no matter how hard he tries!  This book is adorable – and includes innovative, interactive fold out pages with wonderful artwork.  A great book for connecting and a perfect book for panda lovers!

Help! We Need A Title!

Help!  We Need a Title!  – Herve Tullet

The basic steps in writing a story is the premise of this book as quirky characters are about to go through their day but need help because their story hasn’t been written yet!  I really liked how the story was a “work in progress” and the readers interact with the characters to write the book.  Clever and cute!

The Boys in the Boat – Daniel James Brown

And now in keeping with my “boat” theme – I am currently reading the nonfiction book The Boys in the Boat.  Our book club pick for this month is the true story of University of Washington’s eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal in 1936.  I am only about 1/3 of the way through but am loving it!  It is the story of undeniable courage and a shared dream that 9 working class boys from the United States had.  Many of the stories came from the boys’ diaries and journals and the book includes real photographs.  The main  focus is Joe Rantz, a teenager without family who is not rowing for glory or fame but to regain his shattered self.  This is, by far, one of the best nonfiction books I have read in a long time.  Emotional, interesting, inspiring!

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you been reading this week!

 

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Filed under Book Club, Connect, Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Question, Social Responsibility

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – New Titles from Favorite Authors

IMWAYR

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 been a while since I did a IMWAYR post.  April was a VERY busy month for me – the last full push of Pro. D. for the school year and I presented a lot of workshops.  Fortunately, May is not nearly as hectic so I hope to be able to post more regularly.

Here are a few titles I am excited to share – with several new releases from some of my favorite authors!

The Day I Lost My Superpowers – Michaël Escoffier

This book is DELIGHTFUL and would be a perfect book to add to your Mother’s Day collection!  The story is about a little girl who discovers she has “super powers” (her imagination at work!).   But when the super powers begin to disappear after a mishap,  she looks around for someone who might be able to help her get them back.  Lo and behold – who possess an amazing array of her own “super powers”?  Her superhero mom!  I love how the touching, yet subtle message of the special bond between parent and child.  The illustrations are charming and I really like the way the book doesn’t force a message but does so gently and with humour.

Have You Seen My Dragon?

Have You Seen My Dragon? – Steve Light

This book is a combination of a counting book, search and find book and story that is well worth a close read.  A boy searches through the city for his dragon and finds many interesting treasures along the way (20 to be exact!)  The detailed black and white ink drawings are well worth  exploring and I think students will enjoy joining in on the dragon search!  I liked reading the author’s note at the back where he explains how he got the idea for the story:  When he was a boy growing up in New York, he used the imagine that the steam coming up from the street grates was dragon smoke!

Nurse Clementine

Nurse Clementine – Simon James

I enjoy Simon James books – simple text and lovely colored ink illustrations.   His latest book is definitely one to use for practicing making connections with younger students.  I think many would be able to connect to the main character, Clementine, who is thrilled when she receives a nurse’s outfit and nurses kit for her birthday.  (I certainly remember when my son desperately wanted a doctor kit!)  With cap on and kit in hand, she proceeds to “fix” all the injuries in her family.  Her younger brother refuses her services until he gets stuck in a tree.  Sweet, simple, predictable – and a great read-aloud for early primary.

The Beginner's Guide to Running Away from Home

Beginner’s Guide To Running Away From Home – Jennifer Larue Wuget

In my new book Nonfiction Writing Power, one of the structures I explore is Instructional writing.  So I’m always on the look out for anchor books that teachers can use which model the language and form of instructional writing.  Guidebooks and handbooks are a great examples so I was excited to find this new title to add to my book list!   This humourous book has everything you will need to successfully run away – from what to pack to where to leave your note.  The character reminded me a little of Judith Voirst’s Alexander – a kid who is just at the end of his rope.  The illustrations have a Pixar feel that I think would appeal to kids.  This book is definitely for a slightly older crowd – I think gr 3-5’s will really appreciate the humour.

Poem Depot – Aisles of Smiles – Douglas Florian

I have a bad habit of using the word “favorite” too often when it comes to books!  But I would say that Douglas Florian is definitely my favorite children’s poet.  I am drawn to his humour, his creativity, his art.  I love that his poetry books are collections around a specific theme  – seasons, mammals, dinosaurs, baseball, pirates, trees, bees, space… you name it and he has written a poetry book about it!   I love that he explores different poetic devices and forms so that I can use them to help me teach poetry to my students.   In his latest book, Florain captures the everyday humor of kids’ lives with a collection of great read-aloud nonsense poems that are sure to keep you and your students laughing.

If – Rudyard Kipling   Illustrated by Giovannia Mamna

“IF” is a poem that Rudyard Kipling wrote for his 12 year old son in 1909.  (Sadly, his son would die a few years later in WWI)  It is an inspiring poem of life lessons – encouraging and thoughtful advice.  It’s a poem I could read over and over and think about it differently each time.  I remember reading the poem in high school but of course now, my experiences as an adult and a parent invite a completely different interpretation.  The watercolor illustrations are stunning.  While the tone and language may be challenging for independent reading – I can see how this poem would stimulate rich discussion, connections and inferences if guided as a shared read-aloud.

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Gravity – Jason Chin

Jason Chin is a remarkable.  Somehow, he manages to explore thought provoking concepts in a very accessible way.  In this book, he explores the concept of gravity – What makes things “stay put” on earth and not float away?  Why do things fall from above when we drop them?   As in his previous books, Redwood, Coral Reef and Island, his illustrations are captivating and mesmerizing.  I loved the simple text and larger print.  This would be an excellent book to introduce a unit on space or to invite questioning.

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Rules of Summer – Shaun Tan

Wow! Wow! Wow!  How can you not open up a book by Shaun Tan and not be completely blown away by the creativity, the depth, the layers of thinking that it invites?   In this new release he once again manages to challenge the mind and the imagination with his new book.  If any of you reading this are looking for a new book to teach INFERING – this is it!  AMAZING!  The book portrays two boys – and the lessons they each learned during the summer.  Each double page spread is one lesson – an image and a simple sentence – open to many interpretations.   There is a dark quality to the lessons as you go deeper into the book and this is certainly a book intended for an older audience.  Captivating illustrations with so much detail – a remarkable book!

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

Our book club pick this past month was The Rosie Project.  For those of you who may not have read this clever, quirky charming love story – you should.  I don’t think I have laughed so hard reading a book – EVER!  At one point I was reading it on the plane and was literally shaking with laughter,  tears pouring down my cheeks.  Laugh out loud funny one minute and touchingly beautiful the next.  I fell in love with the hero Don Tillman –  the socially awkward genetics professor who narrates the story.  Don believes he is not wired for romance and not capable of the social rituals necessary for true love.  He is, we infer, on the spectrum of Asperger’s but doesn’t realize it.  At 39 he decides it is time to settle down so he  designs “The Wife Project” – a comprehensive and lengthy questionnaire to try to find the “perfect match”.  Enter Rosie – on a search of her own – who fails just about every question on his test but somehow manages to turn Don’s world upside down.   5 stars, 2 thumbs up, and gets a coveted place on the top shelf of my book case – where only my very favorites get to live!

And that’s what I’ve been reading lately!  I’d love for you to leave your thoughts about these books or any that you have been reading!

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Filed under Connect, Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Mother's Day, New Books, Picture Book, Poetry, Reading Power