Monthly Archives: March 2015

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Kids Can Press – Part 2 (Nonfiction)

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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 shared some wonderful new releases from Kids Can Press, focusing on fiction books. (You can read that post here.)  This week, I’m happy to be sharing the nonfiction titles.

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                                                            Sport-O-Rama by Benoit Tardif

This book, originally published in French, is Montreal native Benoit Tardif’s first picture book. This is a playful, colorful guide to 23 different sports. Each double page spread features a different sport, depicting labeled visuals and humorous comments. There are fun puzzles to solve on the “half-time” page and detailed descriptions of the sports and a glossary are included at the back of the book. I can see kids loving to pour over the pages of this book, pointing and talking about the different sports and learning new vocabulary along the way. From badminton to golf to fencing to running a marathon – this book is a perfect for sports fans and, as the author states in his opening, may inspire you “to lace up your running shoes or strap on your skis and have fun!”

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Look Where We Live! A First Book of Community Building – Scot Ritchie
This book is perfect for classroom and school use and really does hit home with so many relevant topics connected to community. In this book, we follow five children who take us on a tour of their community, stopping in different places and introducing us to people, places and activities featured in their local community. I love the references to shopping locally, fundraising, the public library, community gardens and neighborhood car washes. At the back of the book is a glossary, activities and ways for children to get involved in their own local community. This would make a great book to launch a unit on community! 

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A Day in Canada – Per-Henrik Gurth

Wake up and spend the day exploring famous landmarks, festivals and activities across Canada!  Explore the hours in the day from coast to coast in this latest book in the popular Canada series by Per-Henrik Gurth. I love this series and this particular book would be a perfect way to launch a unit about Canada.  Gurth’s bold, colorful illustrations, reminiscent of Todd Parr, would also inspire some great art projects!  Each page includes a clock, so students can learn to tell time across the country. 

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School Days Around the World – Margriet Ruurs

 This is the third in the “Around the World” series by Canadian author Margriet Ruurs.  This book focuses on stories of real children around the world going to school – how they get there, what the school looks like,  favorite lessons, etc.  There is reference to different types of schooling including public, private, international and home schooling.   These books are wonderful resources to introduce children to different cultures and countries and also would be good anchors for comparative writing.   What do all these real children have in common? They all gather together to learn.    A world map at the beginning of the book shows the location of each of the countries, and a glossary contains definitions of the foreign words. Colorful collage illustrations are bright and inviting.

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The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle – Jude Isabella

The main character of this unique story is a bicycle. The story traces the journey of this bicycle and the lives it touches from Canada to Africa. (think “The Red Violin”) It begins its life journey with young Leo, who names it “Big Red”. When Leo outgrows his beloved bicycle, he donates it to an organization that sends used bikes to Africa. Big Red is then given to a girl who uses it to transport goods to the market and then is given to a man who uses the bicycle for his medical clinic. Information about donating bicycles is provided at the back of the book. An excellent story to show the power of one person, or one bike, to make a huge different and includes many themes including – pay it forward, re-cycling, donating, making a difference, giving back, cultural diversity.  The text is rather long but the story is very engaging. Would make a great companion to “Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed” (and they have almost the same title!) 

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Dinosaurs from Head to Tail – Stacey Roderick

When my son was four, he was obsessed with dinosaurs.  We would return from every library visit with a bag filled with dinosaur books.  I think he knew the names of all the dinosaurs before he knew the names of the days of the week!  This book would have been a HUGE hit with him!  It’s colorful, vibrant, simple and engaging.  The book contains 8 close-ups of different parts of a dinosaur’s body leaving you to guess which one it is.  When you turn the page you find the answer, along with fun facts about that particular dinosaur.  This is a great addition to a dinosaur collection – for home, for your classroom or library.

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The Queen’s Shadow – A Story About How Animals See – Cybele Young

I’m at a loss for words when it comes to this extraordinary book by Canadian writer/illustrator Cybele Young (Ten Birds). It is part nonfiction, part “who-done-it” mystery, part imaginary and a whole lot of WOW! During the Queen’s Ball, attended by animals, a major crime occurs – the Queen’s shadow is stolen! The Royal Detective, the Mantis Shrimp, begins interrogating all the animals in the hopes of finding the guilty party. Each creature provides the detective with their version of the scene of the crime based on their own unique eyesight. Sidebars provide factual information about how the eyesight of each animal works. As each animal gives their testimony, more clues are revealed. There is SO much to love about this book – you really have to experience it for yourself to appreciate just how amazing it is! Exquisite, detailed, textured illustrations; sophisticated humour, engaging story and layers upon layers of unique story-telling. This is a smorgasbord for your eyes, an extravaganza for the mind and the most unique book I have seen in a long time. WOW!

Thanks you to Kids Can Press for sending me their new spring releases for review!  I love promoting Canadian authors, illustrators and publishers and hope that you will too!  Thanks for stopping by and please let me know which book(s) caught your eye!  Happy reading week, everyone!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – New Books from Kids Can Press (part 1)

 

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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.

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Last week, I was thrilled to receive a box of new Spring Releases from Canadian children’s book publisher Kids Can Press.  I am on their list for previews.  There are MANY wonderful books that I am excited to share.  This week I will focus on the fiction books, and next week I will share the nonfiction titles.

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Eat, Leo! Eat! – Caroline Adderson

There is a lot to love about this one! Every Sunday, Leo’s large Italian family meet at Nona’s house for a big, noisy meal of her homemade pasta. Leo, who we infer is a bit of a fussy eater, does not want any. So Nona tells him a story about a little boy who is going to see his Nona, but she cleverly weaves the shape of the pasta into the story. As Leo listens to the story, his appetite grows. Each week, Nona tells a story connected to the shape of the pasta. One week stars, one week bow-ties. This book is a celebration of food, family, traditions and pasta! There is a glossary of Italian words at the front, an interesting pasta page at the back and charming illustrations. If you love pasta, family gatherings or anything Italian – this is the book for you! 

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Me, Too!  – Annika Dunklee

There are many books with a similar friendship theme:  what happens to best friends when a new friend comes onto the scene, the feeling of being left out, “three’s a crowd” scenario.   (Think The Worst Best Friend and Chester’s Way) What makes this one unique is the addition theme of international friendship – one of the girls is from Sweden and one is from France.  This book is also adorable – simple text, charming illustration, humor (Annie makes up words so she, too, speaks “another language”).  The author does an excellent job of showing girls how to express themselves in a productive & inclusive way.  Lovely book!

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The Bus Ride – Marianne Dubuc

This sweet book (first published in France) is reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood. This simple story is about a young girl, riding the bus alone for the first time, on her way to visit her grandmother’s house.  Along the ride, passengers including rabbits, a bear, a turtle, a mouse and a very sleepy sloth come and go at each stop.  This is not a book to rush through.  Much of the pleasure of is found in the soft, detailed illustrations.  Subtle things change on each page and children will want time to look closely at the pictures, particularly after the tunnel switches things around.  Pay attention to the newspaper headlines!

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Walk on the Wild Side – Nicholas Oldland

This book is adorable – so much to love about it!   It is the latest in a series of books that feature these loveable characters.  Moose, bear and beaver are all friends who love adventure but sometimes their competitive nature gets in the way of their fun.  The three set off one day to try to hike to the top of a mountain – and things begin to go sideways.  This is a wonderful story about friendship, compromise and working together to reach a goal.  There is humor, colorful illustrations and wonderful messages about working together and about stopping to appreciate the moment.

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My Family Tree and Me –  Dušan Petričić

This unique celebration of family ancestry traces four generations of a young boy. From the front of the book, we trace the family from his father’s side and from the back, you trace the family from the mother’s side. They all come together in the middle of the book to show the boy’s family tree.  A beautiful, simple introduction to the concept of family ancestry and I particularly like the cultural diversity of the boy’s family which shows both European and Asian ancestors. Includes amazing illustrations by the award winning Canadian illustrator (The Boy and the Violin). This book would make a wonderful springboard for having children research and create their own family tree. 

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Jasper John Dooley You’re In Trouble – Caroline Adderson

There is always a need for early chapter books for ages 7-9 that feature boys so I would highly recommend this series to have in your library!  This book is the 4th in a series that features the delightful Jasper John Dooley.  In this book, Jasper accidently choses an energy drink from the vending machine.  He knows it’s bad but he hides the drink and keeps taking sips from it, eventually learns important lessons about making good choices.  I love this book – it’s funny, age-appropriate, realistic characters, short chapters, larger font (I didn’t need my reading glasses!) and cute illustrations.

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                                             The Ghastly McNastys – The Lost Treasure of Little Snoring – Lyn Gardner
Ahoy maties!  If you are 7-10 year old and love a real rip-roaring tale of adventure, filled with nasty pirates, kid heroes, silly humor and jokes about slime, boogers and butts then this is the book for you!  The McNasty pirates are twin brothers, Captain Gruesome and Captain Grisly McNasty who sail in their ship, The Rotten Apple, in search of treasure. This is their first adventure in which they attempt to discover a lost treasure on the Island of Little Snoring.  This book is hilarious, includes great illustrations, some wonderful triple-scoop words and a surprisingly good plot.  While I may not chose this book for literature circles, I can see kids loving this first in a series featuring the Ghastly McNasty brothers!

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The Confabulist – Steven Galloway

For book club this month, we are reading The Confabulist by Canadian author Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo. This book is a fictionalized account of the life of Harry Houdini and the young man, Martin Strauss, who supposedly contributed to Houdini’s sudden death.  Strauss suffers from a memory disorder, called confabulation, in which one produces fabricated and distorted memories about oneself.  The person who experiences this is unaware that they are making up stories so are usually confident that they are speaking the truth.  The book moves from Strauss’s story to Houdini’s story, and much is left for the reader to fill in (lots of inferring!) how the two men’s lives connect.  This book is a mix of historical fiction, mystery, conspiracy theory, secrets behind magic and also about love, loss, truth and identity.  I’m not finished it yet, but so far, I am intrigued.  I love the two voices in the book and especially when the voice of Houdini reveals some of the secrets behind some of his magic tricks.  I’m fascinated by how these two stories are going to come together but will have to keep reading!

Thanks for stopping by!  Please leave me a message to let me know which books have caught your eye!

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Filed under It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Lesson Ideas, making connections, Multicultural, New Books, Picture Book

Celebration Saturday – Spring Celebrations

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 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 while since I posted my celebrations so I am excited to share some celebratory events….

1) Celebrating Spring – It’s springtime in Vancouver and the blossoms are blooming.  While we didn’t suffer the cold and snow like some parts of the country, the sign of spring is always a welcome one to me.  The shorter nights, longer days, color and fresh air gives me energy and lifts my spirits.

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2) Celebrating an Email – I give a lot of workshops in many different school districts and work with a lot of teachers, sharing lessons and anchor books which I hope will inspire.   While I don’t know for certain that what I say is impacting anyone, it is always my hope that someone somewhere will feel inspired, try a lesson or share a great book with their class.   Last week I received a “thank you”  email from a grade 3 teacher from Chilliwack.  She said she uses Reading and Writing Power with her grade 3 class.  During one of her Transform lessons, she read one of my favorite recommended books Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Jenkins.  After reading the book, she encouraged her students to perform “random acts of kindness” in their community.  One of her students went beyond the call to help his disabled twin brother.  You can read the newspaper article here.  I celebrate Christine Blessin, her wonderful class, Lane and his brother, kindness, and the power of books that can transform us.

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3) Celebrating books – This week I discovered a box of new spring releases from Kids Can Press on my front porch!  They send me a box twice a year with their new releases to read and recommend.  It feels like Christmas when I open the box and get to touch (and sniff!) all the new books!  I will be featuring them in a later post – but here they all are on my living room floor!  (Happy book dance!)

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4) Celebrating old friends – In the busy life of being a parent of two teens, teaching and giving workshops, I don’t often get a chance to “hang out” with friends.  During the beginning of my spring break, my dearest friend Cheryl and I went on a “girlie getaway” to Victoria, B.C.  We stayed two nights at the beautiful Oak Bay Beach hotel.  We walked, rented bicycles, went for runs, had tea and scones in bakeries, swam in the pool, had nice meals together, talked and talked and laughed a lot!  The highlight, of course, was spending hours and hours in my favorite books stores – Russell Books and Munro’s Books.  It is amazing what a couple of days away with a friend can do for your soul.

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5) Celebrating New Friends – I meet many amazing educators in my job giving workshops in many different school districts.  Two of these amazing educators, Lisa Wilson and Donna Kozak,  have become very dear friends.  Time spent in the company of my “literacy soul sisters” is a gift to me.  Whenever they come to Vancouver or I go to Kelowna, we try to connect.  Earlier this month, we met at the Secret Garden Tea Room and had a lovely afternoon drinking tea, talking about literacy, life and laughing a lot.  I am grateful for any time I have the pleasure of their company.  They are brilliant, kind and I feel as if I have known them all my life.

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5) Celebrating Snowboarding – Just before Spring Break, my eldest son travelled to Revelstoke, B.C. with his high school ski and snowboard team to compete in the provincial High School Races.  He was racing against students from all over the province – and he won a bronze medal in his second snowboard race!  His whole team did very well and combined for a 2nd place in the event.  Thrilled and proud!

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6) Celebrating family – My cousin got married earlier this month.  It was a beautiful wedding filled with love and tremendous joy.  It was wonderful to be together with cousins, uncles and aunts, sisters, nieces and nephews and friends celebrating together.  Family joy. My mum would have been overjoyed to see Andrew get married.  I miss my parents very much.

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Beautiful bride

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My cousin Andrew and new wife, Melissa.

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My uncle, aunt, two cousins (groom is far left) and two sisters.

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Love my sisters!

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Three Gear girls and their families.

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Uncle Dan and his 3 nephews (my boys are on far left and right….the ones who look as if they are drinking!)

 

I am grateful for all the moments in my life I have to celebrate.  What are you celebrating this week?

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Filed under Celebration Saturday, Family, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are Your Reading? New Books for Spring!

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.

Is it really March?  Well, the blossoms are blooming and so are the new books!  In the midst of report card writing, I have been taking breaks to read some amazing new books.  So here are some of the latest releases that have taken my breath away, made me laugh, cry, smile and sigh…

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If You Plant A Seed – Kadir Nelson

If you plant a carrot, a carrot will grow; if you plant a seed, a flower will grow. But if you plant kindness – what happens? If you plant selfishness – what happens? Thank you to Leslie Buffam at Vancouver Kidsbooks for introducing me to this new book by acclaimed author Kadir Nelson.  This book has simple, sparse text, breathtaking illustrations and a gentle message (with a splash of humour) about ways we can all make kindness grow. Excellent introduction to the concepts of “selfish” and “generous” and a perfect spring read-aloud for your primary class.

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The Queen’s Shadow: A Story of How Animals See – Cybele Young

I’m sort of at a loss for words when it comes to this oh-so-clever book by Canadian writer/illustrator Cybele Young (Ten Birds).  It is part nonfiction, part “who-done-it” mystery, part imaginary and a whole lot of WOW!  During the Queen’s Ball, attended by animals, a major crime occurs – the Queen’s shadow is stolen!  The Royal Detective, the Mantis Shrimp, begins interrogating all the animals in the hopes of finding the guilty party.  Each creature provides the detective with their version of the scene of the crime based on their own unique eyesight.  Sidebars provide factual information about how the eyesight of each animal works.  As each animal gives their testimony, more clues are revealed.  There is SO much to love about this book – you really have to experience it for yourself to appreciate just how amazing it is!  The exquisite illustrations are detailed and textured.  Sophisticated humour, engaging story and layers upon layers of unique story-telling. This is a smorgasbord for your eyes, an extravaganza for the mind and the most unique book I have seen in a long time. LOVE!

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Smick! – Doreen Cronin

Smile.  Author of the Click! Clack! books has created a delightful character Smick – a loveable dog who loves catching sticks and befriends a little chick!  Simple, rhyming text and bright simple illustrations.  Lots of repetition and rhyme and clever word combining (as in “stick” + “chick” = SMICK!)  would make this a great read-aloud and wonderful anchor for teaching rhyming words.

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 Sidewalk Flowers – JoArno Lawson

Sigh.  This moving, wordless picture book teaches us to notice the beauty around you and the impact of small acts of kindness.  A young girl walks through the park with her dad.  He is not paying attention because he’s on his cell phone; she notices the wildflowers and begins picking them and giving them away.  Stunning black and white illustrations that slowly introduce color as the story unfolds.  This book is tender, gentle, poignant, beautiful, transforming. 

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                                                                                   A Boy and a Jaguar – Alan Rabinowitz
This book came out last year and I can’t believe it took me so long to read it! WOW – so many things to love about this book. It tells the true story of young Alan, who struggles with a stutter. The only place he finds comfort is at the zoo, where he discovers that his stutter disappears when he talks to the animals.  “Animals can’t get words out, just as I can’t get he words out. So people ignore or misunderstand or hurt them, the same way people ignore or misunderstand or hurt me. I make a promise to my pets. I promise that if I can ever find my voice, I will be their voice and keep them from harm.”    Alan keeps his promise and grows up to become one of the world’s premier protectors of wild jaguars. Powerful, inspiring, gorgeous illustrations – this book is a gem!

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                                                                                         Blue on Blue – Dianne White
Beautiful folk art illustrations and simple, lyrical rhyming text – this is a perfect book for sharing out loud. The story takes you through a family’s experience on a farm during an unexpected rainstorm. I would definitely use this book for visualizing and sequencing a sudden storm. Beautiful detailed illustrations by Caldecott winner Beth Crommes (The House in the Night, Swirl by Swirl) would also inspire great storm art! 22747806

                                                                                                    Home – Carson Ellis

What is home? Is it a place? A space? A sanctuary? A sense of belonging? In this debut picture book, author/illustrator Carson Ellis gives readers a “transforming” perception of “home”. I loved the folk-art illustrations and the way she presents both real and non-traditional homes such as sea homes and hollow-tree homes. Simple, engaging text and a wonderful book to inspire students to create their own imaginary “homes”. Whimsical, imaginative and a loving look at the many places we call home. Love this book!

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                                                                                        All Four Stars – Tara Dairman
Attention foodies and fans of cooking shows! In this charming novel we meet 11 yr. old Gladys Gatsby who lives with a fast food, mircro-waving family. She, on the other hand, loves to cook! But when a Crème Brule disaster (small kitchen fire!) causes her to be banned from the kitchen, she ends up entering a writing contest at school. She writes about food, of course, and ends up being offered a job as a food critic! (They don’t know she is a kid!) This would make a fun read-aloud. I loved Gladys – she is an adorable character that you will be cheering for. Warning – don’t read this book when you are hungry! The food descriptions are mouth-watering!

Thanks for stopping by!  Which book caught your eye?  Write me a message to let me know!

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Filed under It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, wordless