Monthly Archives: November 2014

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Picture Book Month Favorites

IMWAYR       b4f78-pb2bmonth2blogo

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: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

It’s hard to believe that November is almost over and in a few hours, the countdown to Christmas will begin!  It has been wonderful celebrating picture books this month with you and I hope that you have been inspired to use some of these wonderful books to enhance your lessons and bring some picture book joy to your students!  Here are some of the books I’ve featured on my Facebook page this month plus a few extras!

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The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Class – Justin Roberts

I know a book is going to be great when the word “transform” is written in the last line: “And now the world could transform and a change could be made by the smallest girl in the smallest grade.” This is a wonderful story about Sally, who, despite her small size, notices things going on around her – hurtful things. An inspiring story about making a difference and standing up for change – no matter what size you are! Vibrant pencil-crayon illustrations and rhyming text. A perfect primary read-aloud! Love!

If You Give a Mouse an iPhone – Ann Droyd

Getting sucked into screen time is certainly a topic we can all connect to! This is a hilarious spin on the classic series by Laura Numeroff. A boy gives Applesauce, the mouse, an iPhone to keep him quiet for 10 minutes. Of course, Applesauce wants the phone for much longer and ends up missing out on the fun activities surrounding him. If you are a parent trying to explain to their children why they should NOT get an IPhone – this might help your cause! Great illustrations, great fun! A great companion to Anne Droyd’s “Goodnight Ipad” (similar spin on Goodnight Moon)

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3nVxt6_lAc

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The Storm Whale – Benji Davies

This beautifully illustrated book invites readers to infer both from the carefully selected words and stunning artwork. The story is about a Noi, a young boy who discovers a whale on the beach after a storm. His father is a busy fisherman (and is a great hugger) and, despite their 6 cats, Noi is often alone. He decides to take the whale home and hide it in his bathtub. There is a tenderness to this quiet tale of loneliness, family and friendship.  Will make a wonderful book to practice questioning and inferring. 

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Blizzard – John Rocco

This book is based on John Rocco’s childhood experience duing the now infamous blizzard of 1978, which brought 53 inches of snow to his town in Rhode Island. Brief text and dynamic illustrations: the wonder of a winter storm told through the eyes of young boy. I LOVED John’s Rocco’s book Blackout (2012 Caldecott Honoree) about a family’s experience one summer during a power outage. I think I may love this one just a little bit more.

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Louise Loves Art – Kelly Light

This is a book that celebrates creativity, imagination and the challenges and joys of having a younger sibling!  Louise loves art – when she is not drawing, she is thinking about what she is going to draw next.  One day, she is preparing her latest masterpiece for the “Gallery du Fridge”, when her younger brother wants to join in but has a slightly different plan for her painting!  I liked the way the text told Louise’s story and the illustrations told her brother’s.  The illustrations are bright and lively and I liked how Louise modeled self control when her brother clearly ruined her special art.  This would be a perfect “connect” book!

elephant and piggy

Waiting is Not Easy – Mo Willems

Love this latest in the Elephant and Piggy series by the great Mo Willems.  This one deals with the challenges of having to wait for something!  Poor Elephant  is not having an easy time waiting for a special surprise that Piggy has in store for him.  This would be a perfect book to practice making connections with your primary class – especially with the Christmas season coming up… Who doesn’t have a hard time waiting for Christmas to arrive?

hockey sweater

The Hockey Sweater – 30 Anniversary Edition by Roch Carrier

With the passing of Pat Quinn, one of the most beloved faces of Canadian hockey this month, it seemed fitting to post a book celebrating this great sport. The Hockey Sweater is a true classic Canadian book and this year they have re-issued it as an “anniversary edition” (30 years!) Same classic story but filled with extra materials, still photos from the animated movie and best of all, quotes from celebrities who have read and loved the book. The story centers around a boy living in a small town in Quebec, his hockey hero #9 Maurice Richard, and the famous rivalry between the Montreal Canadians and the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is a story of hockey, family, community, heroes, passion and dreaming big.  This book would make a perfect Christmas present for the special hockey players in your life. (All three of mine have their own copy!) LOVE this book.

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What We See When We Read – Peter Mendelsund

Visualizing, or “making metal pictures” when you read is a strategy I have spent years teaching students about. In this fascinating book, graphic and book jacket designer Peter Mendelsund explores how we are better able to understand the act of reading through visualizing. In a “scrapbook” approach, a collage of short text, pictures, sketches and concepts he creates a visually interesting and thought-provoking look at the process of reading. Lively, quirky and thought provoking. This is a quick read (I read it cover to cover on the Victoria ferry) and reinforced the very foundation of what I know to be true: “The reader writes the story” (Annie Proulx)

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The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie – Chris Van Allsburg

It is actually painful for me to admit this – but I did not really like this book.  I love everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) that Chris Van Allsburg has EVER written.  I was SO excited seeing this new release on display in my favorite book store, but after reading it, I was left feeling so very disappointed.  Sweetie Pie is a pet hamster who longs to be free and run wild with other wild creatures. We follow Sweetie from the pet store to the owner’s house and finally to the classroom when he becomes the class pet.   Over Christmas, one of the students takes Sweetie Pie home – and forgets about him! I felt as if this whole book was about the abuse of this poor animal and about selfish children who didn’t care about him or anything!  I could not see myself reading it to my class as I don’t think there would be anything positive to discuss.   I am often teased by friends and colleagues that I “love every book” I read.  This book,  sadly, I did not even like!

 Hooray – this is my 100th Post!    Thanks for stopping by today!   Please leave me a message and let me know which book caught your eye!

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Filed under Friendship, Infer, It's Monday, making connections, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Reading Power, Visualize, What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Celebrating Picture Book Biographies

 

IMWAYR            b4f78-pb2bmonth2blogo

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: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

In celebration of Picture Book Month, I am posting some of my favorite picture book biographies!  I love sharing the true stories of extraordinary people with my students.  Gone are the days of boring biographies – these books are beautifully written, exquisitely illustrated and will inform and inspire you!

 

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela – Kadir Nelson

The courageous life of this man is a must share book.  Nelson Mandela – who stood up for his people and over time, won his fight because of his courage and his values.   He was, in my opinion, the bravest man who ever lived.

 

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau

Manfish A Story of Jacques Cousteau – Jennifer Berne

I remember my dad watching amazing Jacques Cousteau documentaries on TV when I was little.  This is a simple and beautifully told story of Jacques Cousteau, famous oceanographer – following his curiosity and infatuation with the sea as a child, to his inventions, his movies, his explorations and finally his conservation efforts.  This book will captivate your students!

 

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps

The Watcher:  Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps – Jeanette Winter

I am a long-time admirer of Jane Goodall.  This is a wonderful biography about her life’s work observing and protecting the chimpanzees in Africa.  I love how the theme of Jane being a “watcher” is the thread of the story.   Fascinating, intriguing details of her life without being overwhelming.  Jeanette Winter is a master at highlighting the interesting “chapters” of a life story. 

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The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art – Barb Rosenstock.
When young Vasya Kandinsky was a young boy in Russia, his aunt gave him a box of paints.  To Kandinsky’s amazement, when he opened the box, he “heard” the colors!  This is the fascinating story of the world’s first abstract artist  – the boy to whom colors were sounds.
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever
The Tree Lady:  The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever – H. Joseph Hopkins
The important and inspiring story of Katherine Olivia Sessions – the woman who in the 1860’s,  brought lush, green life to the dry desert landscape of San Diego.  I was so captivated by the gorgeous art on this cover – but loved the celebration of nature as well as discovering the life of a person I had never heard of before.
The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse
The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse – Patricia McLachlan
Well you can’t get much better than one of the greatest writers sharing the story of one of the greatest artists! This is a wonderful introduction of the early life of Henri Matisse – where his creative inspiration came from and the influence he had from his parents (his mother painted on dishes and always laid bright, colorful rugs on the floors of their drap cottage in the south of France; his father bought him pigeons) LOVE the title! 
 
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909
Brave Girl:  Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike of 1909 – Michelle Markel
A picture book biography about Clara Lemlich, the brave young girl who organized a strike in 1909 to improve working conditions for the young women employed in the garment industry factories. This is an excellent historical non-fiction biography to show children that one brave girl can make a huge  difference. 
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos – Deborah Helligman
And again, I find myself learning about a person I had never heard of before!  This is the extraordinary life story of Paul Erdos – the mathematician. As a child, Paul was fascinated with numbers.  This biography depicts his life as a young child to an old man as he embarks on a mathematics journey,  traveling all over the world and learning as much as he can from other mathematicians.
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Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller – Doreen Rappaport
This is a gorgeous, poetic, beautifully illustrated introduction to the life of Helen Keller.   Exquisite writing, large pictures and beautiful quotes woven throughout the book.  Inspiring.
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
The Right Word – Roget and His Thesaurus – Jen Bryant
I love words and I love this book!  This book tells the story of Dr. Peter Roget, doctor, inventor, scientist, list-maker, and creator of the thesaurus.  It is such an exceptionally beautiful book – both in the way the story is written and the extraordinary illustrations.  A celebration of triple scoop words – this book isn’t just “good” – it’s remarkable, extraordinary, staggering, incredible, stunning, astonishing, marvelous, phenomenal, outstanding and splendid! 
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Malala and Iqbal – two brave children from Pakistan – Jeanette Winter
This latest release by Jeanette Winter is two inspiring stories of brave children woven into one book.   From the front – we read the story of Malala who stood up for her belief that girls should be allowed to attend school; from the back, we read the story of Iqbol – the young boy who, alone, stood up against the inhumane child slavery conditions in the carpet industry.   Both were brave; both were heroes; both were shot. Their stories must be heard.
  Becoming Babe Ruth
Becoming Babe Ruth – Matt Tavaras
This is a wonderful introduction for younger students to the life of Babe Ruth.   I love the simple text and large life-like illustrations.  I knew Babe Ruth as a famous baseball player but didn’t know of his troubled life and how much he had to overcome as a child.  Life is what you make of it is the message behind this inspiring story.
What are YOUR favorite picture book biographies to share with your students?

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Filed under Biography, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Read-Aloud

Picture Book Month – Celebrating my favorite PB’s for Intermediate/Middle Grades

IMWAYR                      b4f78-pb2bmonth2blogo

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: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

“A children’s story that can be enjoyed only by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” —C.S. Lewis

Are picture books are not just for Primary students?  No, no, no!  In fact, there are MANY picture books far too sophisticated and complex for younger students.  Over the years, I have been astounded and moved by the rich conversations and deep thinking that emerges from sharing these books with older students.  They also include many powerful themes with topics that link to content areas.   I love using picture books to model different comprehension strategies and the fact that they are shorter in length means that I can read them for single lessons.

Soooo… today I am happy to celebrate my favorite picture books for your older readers…

Voices in the Park

Voices in the Park – Anthony Browne

Anthony Browne is a brilliant author/illustrator and this is one of my favorites of his.  I love the way he combines sparse text and detailed illustrations to tell his story, while always leaving spaces for our thinking.  I often use his books to practice inferringVoices in the Park follows four different narrative voices  (depicted by Browne’s signature gorilla characters) as they visit the same park one day.  What makes this book special is that, although at first glance it appears a simple story, it explores many adult themes including poverty, class and diversity.  Anthony uses different “voices”, font, language, body language, color and backgrounds to represent the different characters.  This is a book with many layers – and a perfect invitation for close and careful reading. 

Flotsam

Flotsam – David Wiesner

David Wiesner’s known for his highly inventive, creative wordless picture books.  This book earned him the Caldecott in 2007.   In in this story, a young boy, while searching for  flotsams (any floating object washed up on shore) on the beach, discovers an old-fashioned underwater camera.  The roll of film inside reveals some remarkable and magical surprises!  Breath-taking illustrations that can be poured over again and again.  A perfect book for practicing inferring with older students.  Delightful!

Sparrow Girl

Sparrow Girl – Sara Pennypacker

This book is based on a true event that happened in China in 1953 during the rule of dictator Mao Tse-Tung when he “declared war” on the sparrows.  Over a 3 day period, he ordered every person in china (women, children, the elderly) to take to the streets and make as much noise as possible to scare away the sparrows.  The result was horrific, as the sparrows were so frightened by the noise that they had heart attacks and fell down dead from the sky.   This event led to a famine that killed between 20-30 million Chinese over the next 5 years.  This is the story of a young girl who saves 7 sparrows and hides them in her barn.  This book would be a wonderful anchor to introduce students to different forms of government.

Mr. Peabody's Apples

Mr. Peabody’s Apples – Madonna

Madonna’s re-telling of an ancient proverb is one I often use to practice how sometimes a book can “transform” or change our thinking in some way.  The story centers around Mr. Peabody, a popular teacher and baseball coach in the small town of Happville.  When one of the children on his team witnesses what he believes is Mr. Peabody stealing an apple from a local deli, he begins to spread the rumours that his coach is a thief.  This book has stimulated a great many thoughtful classroom conversations about the consequences of spreading false rumours.   Lauren Long’s illustrations are amazing – especially the last page… “What can you infer from those few leftover floating feathers?”

Bully

Bully – Patricia Polacco

The amazing Patricia Polacco targets middle school students in this excellent book.  While there are many books about school bullying, this is the first I’ve read that focuses specifically on cyber and facebook bullying.  This is an important book to share and discuss with your middle school students – and a great book for practicing making connections. 

The Stamp Collector

The Stamp Collector – Jennifer Lanthier

Wow – this thoughtful book is truly beautiful – to read and to look at. A book that celebrates the power of stories and how they bind us together and set us free.  This is the story of a two friends – one grows up to be a prison guard, the other a writer imprisoned for something he writes.  Great to explore issues of government oppression and freedom of speech with older children. This book is haunting – it will stay with you long after the book is finished. 

Fox

Fox – Margaret Wild

This book is dark, disturbing and haunting –  definitely NOT for younger students.  A magpie with a burnt wing, a one-eyed dog and a jealous fox.  Even after the book is finished, it will stay with you for a long time.  I have had amazing journal responses from students after reading this book – so many unanswered questions.  The word choices, the art, the story – by far one of the BEST picture books in my intermediate collection!

The Arrival

The Arrival – Shaun Tan

The Arrival is a stunning wordless graphic picture book.   Shaun Tan captures the experience of an immigrant brilliantly.  The story follows the journey of a man leaving his family and his home country to his arrival in confusing new world.  The reader experiences the fears and challenges of this man as he tries to make his way in a new land, unfamiliar with the language and customs.  It is a surprisingly moving story of hope – perfect for questioning and inferring. 

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom – Shane Evans

The story of the underground railway, told through the eyes of voices of the slaves.  While there are few words on each page, the reader is left to infer much of the story.  As the slaves begin to “find the light”, so too, do the illustrations become brighter.  I love using sharing the words of the poem with students first without telling them the title or showing them the pictures and invite them to infer the possible meaning of “Freedom”

The Promise

The Promise – Nicola Davies

Nicola Davies is one of my favorite Nonfiction picture book writers so I was excited to see this book when it came out last year.  It is a “pay it forward” type of story  of hope, of renewal, of promise.  In a colorless city where the people have become as ugly as their surroundings, a young girl steals a bag from an old woman and makes a promise to plant what is inside the bag… acorns.   As trees begin to grow, green joy is spread throughout the desolate city and others are inspired to also do some planting of their own. The mixed media artwork  takes the reader from darkness to light as the change in the girl also begins to change the world around her.  I love Nicola Davies simple, direct language and message. 

The Composition

The Composition – Antonio Skarmeta

Wow – this powerful picture book for older students was originally published in Spanish.  It tells the story of Pedro, who lives in a police state and is forced to choose between his own family and the state.  One day,  a policeman comes into Pedro’s class and asks the students to write a composition about what their families do at night. The pressure on children to betray their own parents brings fear and terror to Pedro and his classmates;  many know their parents meet at night in secret and are planning some kind of a revolt.   I love to pause and ask the students – what would you do?  A  final note explains what it’s like to live under a dictatorship.

Just a Dream

Just a Dream – Chris Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsburg is a master story teller.   He seems to tell a story by not telling us the story!  In other words, he crafts his stories carefully to allow spaces for our thinking.  His books are my “go to” books for teaching and practicing inferring with intermediate students.  While ANY book by Chris Van Allsburg could be on this list, I chose Just A  Dream because of it’s subtle but important message about the environment.

To This Day: For the Bullied and Beautiful

To This Day: For the Bullied and the Beautiful – Shane Koyczan

Spoken word poet, Shane Koyczan provides us with a glimpse into his childhood of bullying and ridicule through this powerful book adaption of his poem.   Raw, heartfelt and inspirational – his words bring hope for all those who have been bullied.  This is a must share with your middle school students.

 

Thanks for stopping by!  What are your favorite picture books to use with Intermediate and Middle school students?

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, Picture Book, Reading Power, Transform, wordless

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Picture Book Month Celebration Begins!

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: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

It’s November and that means it’s time to celebrate Picture books!  November is Picture Book Month and I’m planning on sharing LOTS of picture books with you!  Today is my first of what I hope to be many posts this month as I celebrate my favorite thing!

“Some collect purses, some collect shoes,

some collect hats and trading cards too.

Some collect cars and some collect tools

I collect picture books.  To me, they are jewels!”

I just made that up!

So here are the picture books I’ve read recently…

How to Bake a Book

How to Bake a Book – Ella Burfoot

How do you write a perfect story? This book has the recipe which includes….a pinch of good, a dash of bad, some big words, and carefully cut out characters! A playful picture book with rhyming text outlines what goes into the writing process. I don’t usually love rhyming texts but this one was fun and didn’t feel forced.  Cheerful and playful illustrations with great references to story elements and word choice. A great book to share at Writer’s Workshop!

 

Sometimes You Barf

Sometimes You Barf – Nancy Carlson

After stuffing your with Halloween candy – I think many children might be able to make CONNECTIONS to this book!  Hard to believe that a book about barfing could actually be cute but Nancy Carlson manages to take the gross factor away from the topic of vomiting and make you giggle!  “If you are going to barf at school, make sure you do it on your Math Test!”    Nancy Carlson’s message is simple:  Everyone, including people and animals get sick and then you get over it.  The text is simple and straight to the point and the charming illustrations are not over the top or gross.  Funny and a great book to have on hand at school… just in case!

The New Kid

The New Kid – Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

Just because someone is different, doesn’t mean they can’t be your friend.  This is a wonderful book with a great message  about acceptance and friendship without being too “teacherish”.  It just so happens that I have a new student starting tomorrow in my class and this is the book I will be sharing!  Soft, gentle illustrations – this book is charming. 

Why?

Why? – Tracey Corderoy

I love books that celebrate questions !  Otto is a curious rhino who wants to know everything!  “Why does toast make crumbs?  Why is milk splashy?”   His parents decide that a trip to the museum might be just the thing.  But Otto has even MORE questions than ever!  Delightful!

Any Questions?

Any Questions? – Marie-Louise Gay

Speaking of asking questions… where do stories come from?  In this extraordinary new book by the author of the Stella books, Marie-Louise Gay takes her readers on a journey of writing process – from topic choice, to word choice, from developing characters and plot to finding the perfect ending.  This book is a celebration of the creative process, of asking questions and of sharing stories.  I loved the way she includes the actual story within her story  – while taking us through the process through her own voice.  Whimsical illustrations and detailed features – this book is one to savor.

Hunters of the Great Forest

Hunters of the Great Forest – Dennis Nolan

I love wordless picture books and often use them to help young readers understand the strategy of inferring. In Hunters of the Great Forest , a fantastic new wordless story, we follow a band of curiously tiny hunters as they embark on a journey full of adventure and danger.   This book is filled with small details and many surprises!  You have to look carefully at the illustrations or you will miss something!  This book is charming  and clever – and perfect for inferring, questioning and predicting!   LOVE it! 

Before After

Before After – Mathias Arigui

Another clever and surprising wordless picture book.  This book takes objects, landscapes, animals, situations and presents them in their “Before After” states. Appealing, simple, graphic illustrations  – the colors pop off the black page.  While you might predict that an acorn grows into an oak tree or a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, you will be surprised to discover the “afters” of some of the other examples in the book.  I was hooked on page 1 – this book is beautiful!

Thanks for stopping by!  Which book(s) caught your eye?

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Filed under Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, Picture Book, wordless