Monthly Archives: January 2015

Celebration Saturday


I am happy to be joining Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes and others to celebrate and appreciate the goodness of the past week(s).

It’s been a few weeks (month?) since I last wrote about my celebrations and I’m feeling as though I’m behind in acknowledging all that is positive in my life!  It’s been a busy month – getting back to my classroom, school, workshops and the busy life of my family (and boys in sports) so it’s important to take a moment to pause, breathe and be grateful.

1)  Sharing joys – I continue to be blessed with the opportunity to present workshops to amazing groups of educators.  It brings me such joy to be able to share lessons, stories, challenges, reflections and celebrations of my own teaching practice with other teachers.  I have been to several different districts this month, including North Vancouver, Prince George, northern Saskatchewan and a workshop in my own school, J. W. Sexsmith, for our district Pro. D.  Each visit is an adventure and I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given to share my learning journey with others.


Images from my trip to La Loche, Saskatchewan.  (Yes!  I flew on that tiny plane!)

2) Learning joys – “JOY is one letter away from JOB”! This was the final message from Katie Keier,  co-author of Catching Readers Before They Fall, in her Key Note address at yesterday’s Primary conference in Prince George. As a presenter myself, I don’t often have an opportunity to listen to other speakers but was fortunate enough to listen to Katie and her inspiring message about creating classrooms that “Inspire, empower, motivate, support, nurture and celebrate” students. She shared photos from her kindergarten classroom in Virginia and I got many practical ideas from her including three kinds of classroom problems: “glitch, bummer and disaster” – I’m going to use that one!  My breakout sessions, that focused on Primary Writing, were filled with enthusiastic teachers, many of whom I have worked with before. It was a wonderful conference to be a part of.


Katie Novak’s Key Note presentation in Prince George and one of my break-out sessions.

2) Classroom joys – Although I only see my class briefly each week, I love the precious time we spend together.  I love the hugs, the laughs, the excitement I see in each child.  I celebrate the fact that I can actually HEAR them learning.

3) Publishing joys Reading Power in SWEDISH!   The Swedish publishing company who is translating my book sent me a sneak peak of the cover.  It’s strange seeing my name on the cover when I can’t read the title!  I do love the photo they chose for the cover and I’m SOOO excited.  I will be travelling to Stockholm in April for the release of the book and to present at their Teachers Conference! Can you say “glada”? (I think that is Swedish for “excited”!!)


4) Family joys – I love my boys – two of whom are growing into fine young men.  I am now officially the shortest member of the family.  My eldest is learning to drive – he is thrilled; I am a little sad and a little scared!


What are you celebrating this week?


Filed under Celebration Saturday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – More New Books for the New Year


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

The new books just keep on coming and I have am happy to share a few more that have caught my eye this week!


Sometimes You Barf – Nancy Carlson

It’s flu season!  And if you didn’t think it was possible to smile or even giggle at the thought of barfing – you will change your mind when you read this book!  A young girl narrates us through her nasty flu bug and, in the process, explains how everyone barfs, even animals.  The message?  Sometimes you barf, sometimes in embarrassing places – but life goes on!  Nancy Carlson has been writing books for kids for FOUR decades!  She always manages to write simple, playful books that we can all connect to!  Kids will LOVE this book, especially because it has the word “BARF” in it!  Great book for making connections!


Pirate, Viking and Scientist – Jared Chapman

Viking is a friend of Scientist; Pirate is a friend of Scientist; Pirate and Viking are NOT friends!  So what happens when your two friends get along with you but not with each other?   Why, use your scientific brain, of course!   This is a wonderful story that not only focuses on the issues of friendship and conflict resolution but introduces the basic scientific method to readers.   Clever, fun, great “triple scoop words” and a lots of examples of how to use grid paper!  I loved this one! 


Bunjitsu – John Himmelman

This book has a LOT going for it – big font, fun illustrations, beginning chapter book, martial arts, child-friendly scenarios, strong, feisty female character all woven together with Eastern philosophy! Each chapter is a subtle lesson about values such as creative thinking, hard work, and persistence.  Zen philosophy for beginning readers – what more could you ask for?


Mr. Squirrel and the Moon –  Sebastian Meschenmoser

If you loved Waiting for Winter as much as I did, you will be thrilled to see Squirrel is back!  This time, he discovers the moon has fallen from the sky and landed in his tree.  Squirrel is worried others may think he has stolen the moon, so he attempts, with his woodland friends, to return it.  This story is hilarious – with classic Maschenmoser detailed, pencil illustrations that often tell a different tale than the text.  A perfect book for practicing inferring with the younger students.  LOVE!


When Otis Courted Mama – Kathi Appelt

What happens when your mom starts dating a man you don’t really like?  Cardelll the coyote,  isn’t exactly thrilled when his mother begins dating Otis, the neighbor.  This great book would be a great anchor to introduce children about accepting and adjusting to a new step-parent.  I loved the dessert setting and the colorful illustrations.


The New Small Person – Lauren Child

Many emotions are explored in this story of learning to accept a new sibling.  I love Lauren Child’s signature style and her way of capturing situations children can connect to.  Elmore – great name, great character, great book!


Earmuffs for Everyone!: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs – Meghan McCarthy

This non-fiction biography describes the evolution of he earmuff and the story of Chester Greenwood – credited with being the inventor of the earmuffs.  However, the earmuffs were actually invented before he was even born!  He was born with big ears that were sensitive to the cold so his grandmother made him some earmuffs out of wire and cloth.  At 19, he patented the design and was credited with the invention.  I liked how this book shows the actual evolution of the invention and how different inventors improved on each other’s designs.

kitty rain

Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain – Harriet Ziefert

This WONDERFUL book combines a fictional mystery about a girl searching for her cat during a rain storm with nonfiction facts about rain.  As we search for Kitty, we discover such things as what makes a duck waterproof and where do butterflies go to stay dry.  Beautiful art and lovely rhyming text. I loved the combination of mystery and science.  This is a little gem!   


Wall – Tom Clohosy Cole

This book was written to mark the 25th anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall.  It tells the story of a young boy, mother and sister who are separated from the father during the building of the wall and follows their journey as they try to re-unite.  The digital illustrations are stark and striking.  This is a thought-provoking book and would be a great introduction to the Berlin Wall for older students.  (Warning:  Sometimes the blue print on black page was hard to read.) A good book for Questioning. 


Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter

My book club just finished reading this book and loved it.  It weaves together two stories – one set in an Italian fishing village in 1962 and the other in present day Hollywood.   At the heart of this book is a tender love story of the Italian hotel owner, Pasquel, who falls in love with the Hollywood actress who comes to his hotel to recover from an illness.  Fifty years later, he shows up at a movie set in Hollywood, searching for her.   This book is romantic, tender, funny and a colorful mix of travel, music, books, movie pitches, acting, movie stars, relationships, Hollywood, Italy.   An amazing cast of characters, sub-stories and a wonderful setting.  Pasquel fell in love with a movie star – I fell in love with Pasquel.

What are YOU reading this week?  Thanks for stopping by!  Please leave a comment and let me know which book caught your eye!


Filed under It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Question, Science

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? New Books for the New Year


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 been a busy week and I hit the ground running after two weeks off!  But there is always time to read (and sniff!) some brand new books!  I am happy to be able to share some new releases with you this week…


First Snow – Peter McCarty

This book is adorable- filled with the joys and magic of a first snowfall woven together with a gentle story of trying new things for the first time.  The illustrations are breathtaking.


A Library Book for Bear – Bonny Becker

Hilarious tale of a picky Bear, who does not want to go to the library and does not think he needs to read any book.  Despite his friend Mouse’s effort to help him find the perfect book, Bear manages to make up every excuse why each book is not right.  Will Mouse ever find the perfect book for bear?  Delightful giggles will emerge when you read this book to your class!


Please, Mr. Panda – Steve Antony

Can you stand how cute this cover is? An adorable panda holding a box of donuts? Not only is it cute – but it teaches an important lesson about manners. Panda (who reminded me a bit of “grumpy cat”!) is offering donuts to his hungry animal friends – all of whom seem to have forgotten their manners! Adorable! This book was released on Jan. 1st – a MUST for the New Year!

Watch the book trailer here:

Photo: Featured Book of the Day #bookaday<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Why We Live Where We Live - Kira Vermond<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Suggested audience - Intermediate/Middle grades<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Suggested anchor - Transform, Social Studies, Environment, Geography, Politics, economics... the list is endless!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
You will be amazed at how many cross curricular subjects are jam packed into 42 pages!    A fascinating look at human habitation, this book takes readers on a tour of how humans choose places to live, how we adapt to our environments or change them to suit our needs.  An historical look back at the history of "home" - from nomadic hunting to the rise of cities to the future of living in space.  This book will transform the way you think about where you live.  </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Amazon Link:

Why We Live Where We Live – Kim Vermond

You will be amazed at how many cross curricular subjects are jam packed into 42 pages! A fascinating look at human habitation, this book takes readers on a tour of how humans choose places to live, how we adapt to our environments or change them to suit our needs. An historical look back at the history of “home” – from nomadic hunting to the rise of cities to the future of living in space. This book will transform the way you think about where you live.


Oliver and Patch – Claire Freedman

Oliver finds a lost dog and longs to keep it for his own.  But his conscience tells him that someone out there is missing their dog and he begins to help the dog find its owner  Touching story about doing the right thing, even when your heart is tugging in the opposite direction.  This is a very dear story and I’m a bit of a sucker for books with characters named Oliver!

Last Stop on Market Street

Last Stop on Market Street – Matt de la Pena

Celebrating kindness and beauty in small things. Beautiful, tender story of an afternoon bus ride with a young boy, CJ,  and his wise grandmother who helps CJ celebrate beauty and kindness in small things.  Powerful story of looking and finding silver linings.


The Dinner that Cooked Itself  – Jennifer Hsyu

An enchanting and imaginative fairytale set in Ancient China about a lonely man, a magical snail and a lot of wonderful magical meals!   Beautiful illustrations and a truly magical story.   


Silence – Lemniscates

Stop. Listen.  What can you hear in the silence?  This book encourages children to pause, listen and reflect on the sounds of the world around them.  Simple, beautiful, gentle.  Love the collage illustrations.  This is a wonderful book for visualizing and for using the senses in writing.


Architecture According to Pigeons – Speck Lee Tailfeather

I discovered this book on display in the public library and it caught my eye.  While not a new release, it was new to me and one I’d definitely recommend!  Speck, the pigeon, takes us on a world tour of famous buildings including the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House and the Taj Mahal.  Literally a “bird’s eye view” of these structures with Spek’s information about the different types of architecture.  A perfect book to start a unit on structures!


Rain Reign  – Ann Martin

This book has been getting a lot of buzz and now I know why. Brilliantly written book by the author of the “Babysitter’s Club” series, this book  is powerful, emotional and beautiful. Rose Howard has Asperger’s, OCD and an obsession with homonyms. She lives with her often impatient father and her beloved dog whom she names Rain Reign. Rose is an amazingly complex character and tells the story from her own strong, unique voice. Heart-breaking, tear-jerking and spirit lifting – this is a book that gives insight and understanding into those who experience emotional/mental challenges. Grab your Kleenex and read this book!

Thanks for stopping by!  Which book or books have caught your eye?  What new books have you been reading recently?


Filed under It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Read-Aloud, Visualize

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books of 2014


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

Last week, I posted my favorite fiction picture books from the past year.  This week,  I’m excited to share my favorite Nonfiction Books of 2014.  Again, book selection is challenging as there are SO many to chose from.  I have also been taking a rather long break from any form of computer work over the Christmas break so I could focus on family and as a result, my descriptors are relatively short! But here they are…



Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla – Katherine Applegate

A nonfiction companion to the amazing novel The One and Only Ivan.


Creature Features – Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins is a master at capturing information in a captivating way both visually and descriptively.  In this book, the creatures describe their OWN features!  Great for teaching “voice” and a wonderful writing anchor.


Animalium – Katie Scott and Jenny Broom

This is an amazing look into the world of animal classification.  Oversized book – wonderful for sharing with students and is made to feel as if you are walking through a museum.  Gorgeous and unique!


Mama Build a Little Nest – Jennifer Ward and Steve Jenkins

Who knew there was such diversity when it came to nest building?  Fascinating to read and look at!


The Slug (from the Disgusting Critter Series) – Elise Gravel

What can I say except that kids LOVE this series!  Interesting facts told with humorous illustrations and slap-stick comments.  A MUST for your classroom library!


Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands  – Katherine Roy

Up-close and personal with the world’s most deadliest shark!  Captivating and surprising!


A Baby Elephant in the Wild – Caitlin O’Connell

Excellent photographs and informative and interesting text.  Perfect for questioning and a great introduction to narrative nonfiction for younger students.



Nelson Mandela – Kadir Nelson

Every child should know the story of this most important, courageous, inspiring man and what he did to end apartheid.  Amazing story, amazing illustrations, amazing man.


Shakleton’s Journey – William Grill

Sir Ernest Shacklton’s amazing scientific expedition across the Antarctic.  Stunning pencil crayon illustrations.  A fascinating account of a great adventure.


Mr. Ferris and His Wheel – Kathryn Gibb Davis

Amazing facts and stunning illustrations describing George Ferris’s remarkable creation.


The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus – Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet

Stunning illustrations and a fascinating story of Peter Mark Roget – the man who created the thesaurus.  Inspires list making!


Families Around The World – Margriet Ruurs

Wonderful look at different families: cultures, food, homes, clothing and customs.  Simple and interesting text – perfect for grade 2-3!



 IF:  A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers – David J. Smith

Author of If the World Were A Village, David J. Smith, creates a unique book that shrinks down concepts that are hard to wrap your brain around into a familiar and smaller scale.  Perfect book for linking with Math.


 Tiny Creatures:  The World of Microbes – Nicola Davies

 An accessible introduction to microbes for primary students.  A great NF read aloud that will invite lots of  “oooos” and “aaahs.” LOVE this book!


Gravity – Jason Chin

Through simple text and stunning illustrations,  Jason Chin explains what gravity does and why it is so important. A complex concept made simple. 


As an Oak Tree Grows – G. Brian Karas

SOOOO many different teachable layers to this book including history, timelines, and life cycle of trees.  This unique book depicts the life of an oak tree spanning 200 plus years and how the world changes around it as it grows.  A perfect book to teach TRANSFORM. 

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Clever Concept Books – Jane Brocket

Apparently, there are other books in this wonderful series, but these two titles were released this year.  LOVE them for early primary classrooms – perfect link to teaching science concepts.  Simple text and bright, colorful photographs.



Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems – Paul B. Janeczko (editor)

Creating images using only a few words can be challenging but every poem in this collection succeeds in doing so. An lovely collection of short poems – and a perfect illustration to children that sometimes, less is more.


Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons – Jon J. Muth

Soft watercolor illustrations and a charming panda bear, along with 26 haiku poems to celebrate seasons.  A treasure of a book.


Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold – Joyce Sidman

I adore Joyce Sidman’s poetry and love how she weaves learning into her poems.  This is a beautiful collection of fascinating poems about how animals stay alive during winter.  LOVE.

And there you have it – my list of favorite Nonfiction Books of the past year.   Thanks for stopping by!  What were some of your favorites?


Filed under Biography, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Nonfiction