Category Archives: 2017 releases

Top Ten Tuesday – 10 New Spring Picture Books Worth Reading and Sharing!

top 10

It’s Tuesday and that means it’s time for another  Top 10 Tuesday post!  This week, I’m featuring some of the amazing new picture books I have discovered this Spring.  Enjoy!

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1. The Treasure Box – Margaret Wild

“When the enemy burned the library, everything burned.”   This extraordinary book tells the story of a young boy and his father who save a book after their library is destroyed by war.  Powerful and heart-breaking story of resilience in the face of the atrocities of war.  Haunting.

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2. That Neighbor Kid – Daniel Miyares

A gentle, nearly wordless picture book of a new friendship that forms when a young girl moves into a new neighbourhood just as the boy next door is planning to build a tree house.  Friendship develops as the tree house is constructed.  Charming!  I love how the soft black and white illustrations are gradually include color as the story develops.

3. The Book No One Ever Read – Cornelia Funke

Cornelia Funke, acclaimed author of the InkWorld series and The Thief Lord, shares what it is like to be a book- told through the minds of the books themselves.  Imaginative, enchanting,  and a great message!

4. Twinkle – Nick Bland

A charming,  tender and beautifully illustrated story about a shooting star that falls down from the night sky into Penny Pasketti’s back yard.  When it’s time for Star to “fall up” into the night sky, Penny finds a way to send her new friend home.

5. Places to Be – Mac Barnett

Two fuzzy friends explore a wide range of experiences and emotions in this adorable book, reminiscent of The Quiet Book and the Loud Book.  I love the whimsical illustrations and the introduction of new emotion vocabulary – jubilant, awestruck, or sullen.  Great Connect book!

6. Town is By the Sea – Joanne Schwartz

A simple, poetic story set in the early 1900’s in Cape Bretton, Nova Scotia tells of the challenging life of a mining family.  A young boy goes about his daily activities in the sunshine by the sea while, in contrast, his father works underground in the mines.  The writing is so beautifully descriptive and would be a great anchor book for descriptive, sensory writing or Visualizing, but also Inferring.  The words are lulling and almost haunting and the illustrations are gorgeous. 

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7. The Last Tree – Ingrid Chabbert

“When I got home, I lost myself in my books. To see some green, some leaves… some happiness.”   Simple, thought-provoking story about environmental awareness, reminiscent of The Lorax.    A father tells his son about the days when he used to run amongst the grass and trees, instead of living in the concrete world they both live in.  This is a must add to your “Earth Day” collection!

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8. Little Fox in the Forest – Stephanie Graegin

So much book love for this one!  Adorable wordless picture book in large graphic novel panels tells the story of a young girl who brings her favorite Fox stuffy for show-and-tell.  At recess, a sneaky fox snitches the fox from the bench.  Lots of details to pour over again and again.  Heart-warming!  Delightful!

The Thing Lou Couldn't Do

9. The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do – Ashley Spires

Lou is fearless, full of adventure and up for anything… except climbing trees.  Encouragement and perseverance are the themes of this latest delightful book by Ashley Spires (author of The Most Magnificent Thing).  Love the nameless sidekick cat!

10.  The Book of Mistakes – Corinna Luyken

Here’s the perfect book for the Creative Thinking competency!  Gorgeous illustrations and poetic language in a large format make this a great book for sharing. Corrina Luyken explores the creative process, perseverance, accepting mistakes, making the best of a situation… so much packed between the covers of this beautiful book!  Lots to think about, to infer, and to transform our thinking!  So inspiring!  A great “gifting” book for anyone who loves to draw, create or design.  LOVE!

10.  Green Green – A Community Gardening Story – Marie Lamba

This story by Marie Lamba is a wonderful and inspiring book about children who join forces together to build a community garden.  Gorgeous illustrations and lovely rhyming text.  Wonderful details on each page to inspire discussion with primary students about the environment, community, and taking care of our Earth.  Two page information spread at the back gives information about how to make more “green” in your world and the importance of gardens to bees and butterflies.  Great!

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10. The Good for Nothing Button – Charise Mericle Harper

Yellow Bird has a button that does… nothing!  If you need a good giggle – you will get it with this third Elephant and Piggie Like early reader series!  What a hoot!  The Imaginative, playful and a perfect read-aloud for an early primary class.

Thanks for stopping by!  What book has caught your eye?

( And yes,  I lost track of my book count!  Turns out it is Top 12 Tuesday today!)

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Filed under 2017 releases, Connect, Earth Day, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Visualize, Writing Anchors

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten New Middle Grade Novels Worth Reading

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With only a few months left until the end of the school year, you may be looking for that “just right” end of the year read-aloud for your class to send them off into the summer bursting with book love!  There are many amazing new books that I have fallen in love with and hope you do, too!  Here are my top ten favorite new books to fill your classroom and your hearts with book joy.

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1. A Boy Called Bat – Elana K. Arnold

Bixby Alexander Tam, or Bat, is great at Math and knows more about animals than anyone in his class, but he is not great at making friends. When his mom, a veterinarian, brings home a baby skunk, Bat becomes the best skunk care-taker ever, all while trying to navigate his world. A Boy Called Bat by Elana K Arnold is a charming story for your younger middle grades (Gr. 4-5, possibly gr. 3) I like that this book has a character most likely on the autism spectrum, without the book being about that. The story focuses more on Bat’s love of animals and how this empathy for animals helps him connect to his classmates. This book is tender, heartwarming and funny with an amazing character you and your students will fall in love with. Major warm fuzziness.

2. Orphan Island – Laurel Snyder

This  book is not available until the end of May but it is a MUST read!  So much to love about this deep, compelling, heartbreaking, and completely one-of-a-kind novel about nine children who live on a mysterious island.  I was completely captivated by the writing, the themes, the story – I could not put this book down.  So much emotion and pain and beauty.  WOW.   Perfect read-aloud for grade 5-6 level that will stimulate lots of discussions.

3. See You In the Cosmos – Jack Cheng

A “road trip” novel, narrated by space-obsessed 11 year old Alex through a series of Podcasts.  There have been a lot of books written through letters, emails, situation reports – but this is the first I have read that is written in podcasts. Protagonist Alex travels to a large rocket festival with hopes to launch a rocket into space carrying a golden iPod.  His a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe is funny and moving.  

4. The Ethan I Was Before – Ali Sandish

Gorgeous, Gorgeous, Gorgeous debut middle grade novel.  So much emotion in this hauntingly beautiful book – I cried in many places.  Ethan is a haunted, broken boy,  filled with grief and guilt about an undefined accident that happened to his best friend.  This is a book of loss, love, guilt, resilience and forgiveness.  It is a multi-layered plot but the story strands all weave together in the end.  Fast paced and beautifully written.

5. Short – Holly Goldberg Sloan

Counting By 7’s author Holly Goldberg Sloan’s new book is a endearing novel about a short girl who is cast in her first theater role as a munchkin in a summer production of Wizard of Oz.  Julia has such an authentic voice that had me laughing one minute and welling up the next.  Loved the realistic “musical production” setting and would be a great connect book for students involved in theater or school productions.

6. Hello Universe – Erin Entrada Kelly

So much to love about this book that takes place almost entirely in a single day with an unusual cast of characters who come together for a strange adventure.  I love the diversity of the characters, the combination of reality, adventure and magic, the weaving in of Filipino culture and stories (told by a whimsical grandmother), the charming, witty narrative, the themes of family, friendship and believing in yourself… I could go on and on but just read it!

7. Me and Marvin Gardens Amy Sarig King

This book is the perfect way to approach environmental issues with the middle grade audience!  (think Hoot by Carl Hiassen).  Me and Marvin Gardens is a cleverly written story about a changing world and the changing environment.  I believe I found a class discussion could come from almost every page!  While filled with important environmental issues, it is also a coming-of-age story as sixth-grade Obe must overcome fear and deal with bullies.  Excellent choice for a read-aloud!

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The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street – Lindsay Currie

Ahhhhhhh!  This book is CREE-PY!  But Oh, SOOOO good!  If you like history, mystery and scary stories – this is for you!  As well you will find…Friendship, humor, suspense, emotion, family, heart.  So well written.. and oh, and did I mention it was scary????

9. Amina’s Voice – Hena Khan

An excellent story filled with many issues middle grade readers will connect to – changing friendships, parental restrictions, having the courage to try new things and trying to find your own path.   I loved how Amina’s culture, faith and experiences being a Pakistani American Muslim are woven into the story in such a natural way.  Great writing and memorable characters. 

1o. Chester and Gus – Cammie McGovern

Written from the point of view of Chester, a therapy dog in training, as he tries to build a relationship with his human, Gus, who happens to be autistic. This book will make you laugh, cry and want to hug every dog you meet.  The power of this dog’s love for Gus will steal your heart.  LOVED this book SO much!

Thanks for stopping by!  Which book or books have caught your eye?

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Filed under 2017 releases, Middle Grade Novels, New Books, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Great Book Finds from Toronto!

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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 was presenting at RFTLOI (Reading For the Love Of It) conference in Toronto.  One of my favorite parts about the conference is book browsing (and buying) at the publishers displays.  Here are some of my favorite new books I squished into my suitcase!

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I am Josephine (and I am a living thing) – Jan Thornhill

A charming introduction to the concept of classification in the natural world for early primary students.  The combination of science and search-and-find works brilliantly and I love the colorful cheerful, cheery illustrations!

The Tree: An Environmental Fable – Neal Layton

When a family wants to cut down a tree and build a house, what will happen to the animal nests and burrows?  A sweet, simple tale about harmony in the natural world with a gentle message of taking care of the environment.

Teacup – Rebecca Young

Stunningly beautiful book about loss, redemption, adventure, hope – so breathtaking that it made me quite teary.  A young boy leaves his home and sets off to begin again.  Before he leaves, he fills a teacup with soil  from his home.  This is a book filled with subtle messages and would be an excellent choice for teaching inferring, symbolism and metaphor.  Gorgeous illustrations and poetic language – LOVE this book.

The Wolf-Birds – Willow Dawson

This book is fascinating!  Set in the winter woods and based on scientific data and anecdotal reports from Aboriginal hunters, the book explores the fascinating symbiotic relationship shared by wolves and ravens.  Gorgeous, calming illustrations and beautiful language – a perfect introduction to survival and the circle of life.

Abigail, the Whale – David Cali & Sonja Bougaeva

I was immediately attracted too the cover of this book and the adorable illustrations.    As a child, I was very chubby and was teased a lot for being a “butterball”.  I completely connected to this heartfelt story of Abigail, who is teased at swimming lessons because of her round frame and called “a whale”.  Her swimming teacher gives her some support and advice on how to “think light”.  This is a tale of positive thinking and would be a great starting point for a discussion about teasing, self-esteem, empathy, and perspective.

A Change of Heart — Alice Walsh

This year, I have been developing a unit called “Reading and Thinking Across Canada”, using picture books that tell true stories of Canadian events.  This book fits perfectly into the theme – and tells the remarkable true story of Lanier Philips, a US soldier in WWII who escaped the racism and segregation of his hometown in Georgia, survived a shipwreck, became an honorary Newfoundlander and went on to become a civil rights activist.  REMARKABLE!

The Stone Thrower – Jael Ealey Richardson

Another remarkable true story about an unknown Canadian hero..The Stone Thrower is the true story of Ohio-born Chuck Early who, despite his outstanding record as a high school and college quarterback, is rejected by racist NFL and instead plays for the Canadian Football League where he is named a Most Valuable Player. Themes of segregation, poverty, resilience and civil rights all tied up into an inspiring sports story – what more could you ask for?

My Beautiful Birds – Suzanne Del Rizzo

When Canadian author Suzanne Del Rizzo was looking for something to read to her own children that would explain the Syrian Civil War, she came across an article about a young Syrian refugee who found solace in a connection with wild birds at the Za’atari refugee camp. And so she wrote this book.  This book is gorgeous – textured filo illustrations reminiscent of Barbara Reid and a gentle, moving story that illuminates how this crisis is impacting children. It shows the reality of refugee camps and the struggle of families uprooted who are trying to redefine “home”. 

Lost and Found Cat – Doug Kuntz & Amy Shrodes

A true, heartwarming story about an Iraqi refugee family who is separated from and eventually reunited with their beloved family cat.  Such an amazing story it is hard to believe it is true – but it is.  Your students will break into spontaneous applause when you read the last page!   Will also inspire discussions about what it means to be a refugee.

Bob, Not Bob! (to be read as though you have the worst cold ever)   – Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick

This book made me laugh so much!  A little boy is stuffed, snuffly and sick in bed with a terrible cold.  All he wants is his mom – but when he calls his mom – it comes out “bob” – and soon the slobbery family dog comes running!  LOL!  A great read aloud!  Cracked me right up!

                            Thanks for stopping by!  Which book or books caught your eye?

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Filed under 2017 releases, Canada, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Links to content, New Books, Refugee, Science, social justice

IMWAYR – First New Picture Books of 2017!

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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

I haven’t posted a IMWAYR for a while…but I have been reading LOTS of new books!  So this Monday,  I’m happy to be sharing the first picture books of 2017!

A Greyhound and a Groundhog – Emily Jenkins

Delightful word playful, tongue twisting story about an energetic greyhound and a rolly-poly groundhog.  Charming illustrations and so much fun to read out loud.

Pen Pals – Alexandra Pichard

An octopus and an ant are paired up to write letters for a school project in this charming picture book.  Charming letters and lovely surprise ending.

A Perfect Day

A Perfect Day – Lane Smith

This book will be released on Valentine’s Day but I had a chance to read an advance copy and I loved it!  Lane Smith is such a clever writer.  This book is a delight – funny, charming and sweet.  All the animals and insects are having a perfect day, that is, until Bear comes along!

XO, OX A Love Story – Adam Rex

Charming book about a smelly ox and a refined gazelle writing letters to each other. Whimsical illustrations and beautiful prose and a perfect one to add to your Valentine’s collection.

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Hug it Out! – Louis Thomas

Fun story about siblings who are made to “hug it out” whenever they fight.  So to avoid another “icky hug”, they agree to call a truce.   Great story for conflict-resolution and for making connections to siblings spats!

Wolf in the Snow – Matthew Cordell

Care, kindness, cooperation, and discovery fill this delightful, almost wordless picture book about a little girl who gets lost in a snow storm, paralleled with a wolf pup who is lost in the same storm.  Oh, this  is a lovely book.

Egg – Kevin Henkes

This graphic novel format for very young readers is about 4 different colored eggs – three of them hatch and one doesn’t.  What to do?  Simple repeating text, large bold illustrations – another winner by Kevin Henkes.

The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling – Timothy Basil Ering

This is truly an unexpected and heart-warming story that I adored. It is fantastical tale of a farmer, a gentle old lady, a dancing dog, and one brave, tiny duckling.   Gorgeous illustrations and thrilling adventure story – this book is a must read and must share. (Loved Frog Belly Rat Bone – but I think I love this one more!)

Thanks for stopping by!  Which book or books have caught your eye?

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Filed under 2017 releases, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Valentine's Day