Category Archives: 2020 Releases

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #10: Dusk Exploring!

Hello everyone!  This will be my LAST OLLI lesson for the school year as I believe classes are wrapping up this week.

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5(WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

Before my lesson, I just wanted to say WELL DONE, everyone!  You did it!  You juggled online and in person teaching AND supported your family AND wrote report cards AND learned how to ZOOM and so many other things!  Great job!!!

THE INSPIRATION:

Summer is here!  School is almost over!  The days are longer (last night it was starting to get light at 3:30 am – yes, I was awake!) and the weather hopefully warmer. (Can you say “NO MORE RAIN”?)  With some restrictions being lifted, we want to encourage children to spend more time outside enjoying the outdoors during the summer.  I have many happy childhood memories of playing outside in the summer with my sisters.  The endless days and evenings playing in the back yard, riding bikes to the park, the back alley, the neighbour’s house – outside until the streetlights came on or my mum called us in for supper – whichever one came first.   This week’s OLLI, I wanted to share a lesson that is an ode to these outdoor summer adventures!

THE ANCHOR:

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Dusk Explorers – Lindsay Leslie

This beautiful new book invites children (and parents) to enjoy playing outdoors on a summer evening.  The story winds through the neighborhood streets, with lyrical, descriptive language and encourages readers to head out for bike riding, tree climbing, playing, and wonderful exploring.   It’s like a hit list of childhood’s best memories!  I can’t imagine any child who wouldn’t want to try out all the outdoor “dusk explorer” activities after reading even just the first pages of this book.  Beautiful illustrations by Ellen Rooney.  This book came out in early June (warm book alert!) so it is not one that I was able to find as an online read-aloud, unfortunately.  But if you order it soon, you could read it online to your class before school breaks for summer.

Watch the book trailer HERE: 

THE LESSONS:  

This is one of those books that can inspire MANY different reading and writing lessons.  Below are just some of the ideas I thought about while reading this book.

NOTE:  I would recommend discussing the word “dusk” (and “dawn”) with students before reading this story!  In my experience, some have never heard of the word!

  1. VISUALIZING – Because of the author’s use of sensory details, this is a perfect book for visualizing.  I would read this story and invite students to listen for different sensory words and images.

Click HERE for the Six Senses Visualizing Template

Click HERE for the Single Image Visualizing Template

TIP – When practicing visualizing, I don’t show the pictures to the students the first time I read.  I want the words from the story to help them create their own visual images.

       2. BECOME A DUSK EXPLORER –  It’s hard to read this book without wanting to immediately run outside and start exploring your neighbourhood!  I think the author really wanted readers to feel that outdoor summer excitement so think this would be a wonderful “enjoy your summer” send off activity to give your students!

After sharing the story, invite students to make connections to their “dusk exploring” experiences.  Ask what their favorite “outdoor” games are?  (climbing trees, running races, kick the can, hide-and-seek, lane-way hockey or basketball, firefly catching)

Tell the students that now that summer is here, there will be more time for outdoor adventures.  Invite them to become “dusk explorers” in their neighbourhood this week.  Use the “Dusk Explorer” template to record things they saw, heard, played, felt.  Encourage them to try something new like a new game.

Click HERE For the Dusk Explorer template.

NOTE:  Remind them to ALWAYS be with a parent or tell a parent where they are going.

3. WRITING – I will definitely be adding this book my list of Writing Anchor books  as it is such a great example of an author who uses senses to create images.  I was also excited to find a video from the author, Lindsay Leslie, talking about writing sharing how to develop sensory details in writing.  It’s a video I would definitely share with students!

Watch the author talk HERE: 

After watching the video, reflect on what the author was saying.  I like to explain that in science, we talk about “the FIVE senses”, but writers actually use “SIX” senses – adding the sense of “emotional feelings” in additional to physical feelings.

Invite your students to go outside at dusk one evening this week.  Have them sit quietly in one spot and pay close attention to their senses.  What are you noticing?  What do you see? hear? smell? taste? feel? (physically), feel? (emotionally).  Have them record their observations on the Six Senses of Dusk template.   Invite them to write a descriptive paragraph, using as many of the sensory words as they can.  Remind them not to just write a list “I saw… I heard…” but to use similes and interesting detail words in their descriptions such as “sometimes”, “once”, “if”, and “when”.

ie – I see the pink clouds, fluffy like cotton candy.  Sometimes, I pretend the clouds are animals playing in the sky.  

Click HERE for the Six Senses of Dusk template

For younger students, they could write about dusk using the 5 finger planner:  TOPIC, DETAIL, DETAIL, ONE TIME…, FEELING.  (one sentence for each of their five fingers)

ie.  I like to play outside when it’s dusk. (topic)  The clouds are pink like cotton candy. (detail)  The leaves rustle in the wind. (detail)  One time, my brother and I played badminton until we couldn’t see the birdie. (one time).  I like being outside when it’s dusk.  

For more mini lessons for adding details, see my new book Powerful Writing Structures.  

Additional Books to Support the Lesson:

I hope you find one or two ideas you could share with your students this week, either online or in person.  Below is a list of more summer books – some new releases and some old favorites.  Many of these would also make great anchor books for writing sensory details.   Check YouTube as some of these are available as online read-alouds.

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And Then Comes Summer – Tom Brenner

A lovely, lyrical ode to summer fun.  Great for making connections and sensory details.

Summer Song – Kevin Henkes

So excited about this brand new book – the last of Henkes’ seasonal series.

Summer Color – Diana Murray

Love this book for younger and older students – beautiful details of nature.

Summer Days and Nights – Wong Herbert Yee

Beautiful small moment details about summer with great sensory words.

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Rules of Summer – Shaun Tan

Master artist and storyteller Shaun Tan’s book about summer rules is weird, mesmerizing, dark in places but a great choice for older readers.

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Hooked – Tommy Greenwald

Beautiful descriptions of fishing, some dad bonding, and I love David McPhail’s illustrations.

Jules Vs. the Ocean – Jessie Sima

Brand new book about a young girl who attempts to build elaborate sandcastles to impress her older sister.

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Down Under the Pier Nell Cross Beckerman

Beautiful descriptions of the inter tidal zone with a dreamy, magical “endless summer” feel.

Cannonball – Sacha Cotter

Love this new summer story about family, overcoming fears, and the importance of being oneself, all in the pursuit of performing the perfect cannonball!

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The Little Blue Cottage – Kelly Jordan

Lovely story about returning to that special summer cottage year after year.

You’re Invited to a Moth Ball – A Nighttime Insect Celebration – Loree Griffin Burns

Love this idea of having a summer event to celebrate nighttime moths!  Stay up late one night this summer and discover the amazing world of moths in your own back yard.  This would be a great summer family event!

 

Teacher friends… you have been through a lot of challenges these past few months and have faced them all with determination, dedication, open minds, and open-hearts. You have supported your students through through all the ups and downs, the online and in person, and all the “wash your hands” and “don’t stand so close to me” moments!  And in case it wasn’t clear before, you have shown the world just how important the role of a teacher is in the life of a child.   Thank you.

I will be continuing to post book lists over the summer, and will return with more OLLIs in the fall!  Thanks to everyone who has been using and sharing my posts.

Have a safe, happy, and healthy summer, everyone!

Enjoy your holiday – you have earned it (x 100!)

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Connect, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book, Seasons, Summer

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #5 WANTED! Criminals of the Animal Kingdom

Hello everyone!  Hope you all had a restful long weekend and are enjoyed time away from school.  Things seem to be “opening up” slowly,  with “in person teaching”  scheduled to start in a few weeks.  I know that the thought of being back in schools with children brings with it a range of emotion and I am sending you positive thoughts and energy as you transition to yet another version of our “new normal”.

Thank you for the positive responses to my weekly OLLI  posts “Online Learning Lesson Ideas“.  I’m happy that you are finding them helpful for your distance lessons.  You can see my first OLLI HERE (The Hike), my second HERE. (If I Could Build A School).  My Mother’s Day lesson is HERE.  And last week, my OLLI lesson based was based on the book Everybody Needs a Rock.  You can view that lesson HERE.

Wanted! Criminals of the Animal Kingdom

Anchor Book:

This week, I’m excited to share WANTED!  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom a new nonfiction book, written by Heather Tekavec and published by Kidscan Press.   This book is a such a genius idea! I love it!  I can see it being a HUGE hit with kids. (Attention TL’s!!!)  The book combines facts about rather uncommon, quirky animals and turns them into a hilarious memorable Fact File Rap Sheets.  Each double page introduces a ‘criminal’ and gives details of their ‘crime’, for example, the cuckoo who steals other bird’s nests and “lets the other mother do all the work to hatch the eggs.”

Lesson:

Of course, while reading this book, I immediately thought about how much kids would enjoy making their own MOST WANTED page about a unique, weird and wacky animal criminal.  Unfortunately, this book is so new that there is no online version, so you may need to share one of these images with them as a reference if you do not have your own copy to read aloud online.  I have also included several additional anchor books that can be found online.  After learning about some of these weird and wacky creatures, students can choose one from a list (see list below) and do a little research about them.

Click HERE for the Weird Animal Research Page

Here’s the website where I found many of these strange animals that students may find helpful for their research:  https://www.travelchannel.com/interests/outdoors-and-adventure/photos/15-of-the-strangest-animals-in-the-world-and-where-to-see-them

There are also many “Weird Animal” educational videos students could view including this one:  https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/videos/really-weird-animals/

Some key teaching points to this activity:

  • identifying the crime – helping the students turn one of the animal features into a “CRIME”.
  • criminal vocabulary: dangerous, frightening, sneaky, shady, sketchy, identity theft, bribery, burglary, hides, corruption, crime, fraud, loots, steals, pick-pockets, smuggles, disguises, trespasses, vandalizes, chases, 
  • Criminal name and Aliases – helping students come up with a clever criminal name for the animal

After students have gathered facts about their “criminal animal” (can I invent a new word: “craminal”?)  they can use the template I created based on the anchor book, to make their own “WANTED Weird Animal Rap Sheet” poster.

Click HERE for the WANTED Weird Animal Rap Sheet template for Primary.

Click HERE for the WANTED Weird Animal Rap Sheet template for Intermediate.

If you or your students prefer, they could design their own WANTED poster.  Here is a great site for free WANTED posters templates:  http://templatelab.com/wanted-poster-template/

Other anchor books you could use to support this lesson, all featuring odd or ugly animals with interesting, unusual features.  Check Epic Books or YouTube for online versions of these books.

Animals Nobody Loves – Seymour Simon

What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You? – Steve Jenkins

Creature Features – Steve Jenkins 

Ugly Animals Laura Marsh

National Geographic Readers: Odd Animals (Pre-Reader) by [Rose Davidson]

Odd Animals – Rose Davidson

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The Ugly Animals – We Can’t All Be Pandas – Simon Watt

 

Have a great week, everyone!  Hope this lesson is one that you can possibly use for your online teaching this week.

You are doing an amazing job!  There is a light at the end of this tunnel! You can do it!!!

 

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Animals, New Books, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book, Science, Writing Anchor book

Adrienne’s Anchor Book and Lesson Ideas #1 – Happy Earth Day!

I’ve been asked to start posting some simple lessons teachers can use for their online learning.  So here I go….

Happy Earth Day, everyone!  But as I tell my students “Everyday is Earth Day!”  We should not just be acknowledging and giving thank to the Earth once a year – but every single day!

The Hike by Alison FarrellIn honour of Earth Day, I’m excited to share this new book “The Hike” by Alison Farrell    , Published by Chronicle Books.  (I have checked and there are several versions of this book being read aloud on YouTube).  I love hiking and I LOVE this book!  Not only is it written in beautiful, lyrical language with adorable illustrations, but it inspires children to get outside and notice things around them.  What I love most is that there are examples of “sketchbook notes” directly in the book, perfect for linking to scientific observation and teaching labelled diagrams.  There is also a surprise hidden under the jacket cover!

Why not invite your students to go on a walk or hike with their family to celebrate Earth day and create some field notes about the wonderful examples of nature they see?  Maybe everyone in the family can add one page of field notes!  And it doesn’t have to be a hike – this book is proof that epic things can happen right in your own backyard!

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

A Conversation With Alison Farrell About THE HIKE — Hello Small Empire

Thanks for stopping by!

Stay safe, everyone!

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Earth Day, environment, New Books, Online Books and Lessons, Science

A New Book, Covid19, and Advice from a Friend

Powerful Writing Structures: Brain Pocket Strategies for ...

My new book, Powerful Writing Structures, published by Pembroke Publishing, was released this past February.  This book, like my previous ones, was a labour of love.  It is a culmination of everything I love about teaching writing:  writing joy, writing goals, mini lessons, brain pockets, writing structures, anchor books, responsive teaching, formative assessment.. it’s all there!  It is a book I wrote for my first-year teacher self; a book I wish I had had in my early teaching days when the only writing I remember doing with my students was “I’m Thankful For…” stuck onto a paper turkey in October and “Peace is…” stuck onto a paper poppy in November.

I presented my book officially at the Reading for the Love Of It conference in Toronto on February 20th, 2020.  My dear friend Cheryl (who is also a teacher) was there, as she always is, cheering me on from the front row.  The response from participants was overwhelming and I felt a surge of pride and excitement.  (“Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Teachers are going to LOVE this book!”)  The book sold out at the conference and, needless to say, my publisher was thrilled.  (Isn’t that right, Mary?)

This spring, I was scheduled to present workshops on my new book at many schools and districts across BC and at several larger conferences including ones in Banff, Whistler, Whitehorse, and Melbourne, Australia.  Among other events, I was invited to do a book talk at United Library Services in Burnaby in April for their spring book sale and my good friend Sue, a principal in Kelowna, was planning a district book launch for me in May.

Enter Covid19.  And just like that, everything stopped.  Literally stopped.  At a time of  year when my inbox is usually flooded with workshop requests for the following school year, it is overflowing with cancellations.  The boxes of my new book I had ordered to sell at these upcoming workshops sit unopened in my garage.  All workshops for the foreseeable future have, in fact, been cancelled and none are being booked.  Let’s face it – Pro. D. will certainly not be held again for months, if not years, and will most likely never look the same.  And so I am slowly coming to the realization that the profession I love as a literacy consultant, educational public speaker, and workshop presenter is no longer.  This is my new reality.  And, if I’m being honest with you, it kind of sucks.  Yes, there are ways to present virtually, I have been told.  Yes, I can learn to do webinars and Zoom workshops and online in-services. But nothing compares to the joy I feel standing in front of a group of educators (second only to students), sharing my passion, my lessons, and my stories.  And with just a few weeks into the online teaching experience, you know first hand that the reciprocal energy, laughter, and emotional connections that are ever present in person can never be replicated through a screen.

Now, the thing I’ve learned about a global pandemic is that it sucks the wind out of an ocean full of sails – artists, athletes, actors, public speakers, performers, chefs, shop keepers, servers, priests and pastors, beauticians and stylists, therapists and counselors – any sailboat where groups of people gather, large or small, has been forced to dock.  And many of the boats that have involuntarily and abruptly stopped sailing are far more important than mine and, in many cases, completely life altering.  It’s also hard to wallow in self pity when so many are suffering.  So for some time, I have been keeping to myself about my disappointment that I am out of a job (hey, you’re not the only one), that I’m going to have to reinvent myself somehow (what the heck am I going to do now?) and nobody is buying my new book (seriously, Adrienne? no one cares about your book right now).   

Like you, I have done my best to adjust to the new normal:  I am amused by and participate in the constant stream of self-isolation and online teaching memes and posts (I am obsessed with pluto.living); I am enjoying this gift of time with my family; I’ve experienced my first Google Hangout Book Club meeting and taken part in several virtual happy hours; I have purchased a supply of not so effective root cover up; I listen to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s updates religiously every day and admire her shoes and her grace; I join my neighbours every night at 7 pm to honor the front line workers, ringing my dad’s old school bell from our front porch;  I cry at the thought of people not being able to hold the hand of a loved one and say their last goodbyes.  And so the excitement and pride I usually feel when a book is finally out of my head and out into the world has become so terribly insignificant in comparison to the disruption and devastation going on, it feels completely inappropriate to be even mentioning it.

But yesterday during my daily 6-feet-apart-run in the woods with Cheryl and our dogs (aka- my morning fix of friendship and forest), she gave me some advice.  She told me that I should NOT stay silent about my new book any longer.  It’s time, she said. Teachers will want to know about your new book and will want to read it.  And so, after some reflecting,  I have taken her advice because she is my oldest (not in age but in friendship years) and dearest, and that’s what friends do.  And also because I love my new book and I want you to love it, too.

This was her advice…

BLOG POST:  She said I should write a blog post about my new book so that at least people know that the book is out and that it’s available. (You are reading that post now)

BRAG:  She said I should not be shy to brag about the book.  Here is my brag:

My new book, Powerful Writing Structures:  Brain Pocket Strategies for Supporting a Year Long Reading Program, is a practical, user-friendly book that includes everything you need to know about teaching writing in elementary school.  It is an excellent professional resource.  I highly recommend it.  

BOOK TRAILER:  She said I should make a little video book trailer telling people about it.  But don’t make the video too long because people will lose interest.

I tried to make a short trailer – but this one is 16 min.

https://www.loom.com/share/e646db2799ff4fc4bc08d88e29d84124

And then I tried to make a shorter one but this one’s even longer one… 23 minutes.

https://www.loom.com/share/961372129667413088988a7219df5ad4

BUY THE BOOK:   She said I should add a link to the blog post so people could buy the book if they want.  But make sure to give a discount because everyone is giving discounts right now. 

Here is my link to buy my book.  Yes, there is a discount.

https://www.readingpowergear.com/store

TESTIMONIAL:  She said I need some testimonials.  She offered to write one.  She may be a little bias, but here it is.

Powerful Writing Structures is an excellent combination of Adrienne Gear’s previous two books on writing; Writing Power and Writing Power Non- Fiction. Powerful Writing Structures is a teacher friendly total writing program. It is well organized, practical and easy to use. It is all you need to help your students develop their writing skills. I wish I had this resource when I began my teaching career. I will definitely be using this book in my classroom.​                                    – Cheryl Burian   (Gr. 1-2 teacher, SD 38-Richmond, B.C.)

MORE BLOGS: Finally, she said after this blog post about my new book,  I should really think about posting lesson ideas for online teaching because that is what teachers need most right now.  Stay tuned.

I know that the health and safety of all those you love and cherish is and should be at the forefront of your heart and mind during this time.  Many of you may also be struggling with the new reality of online teaching and the many challenges that brings, particularly if you have young children at home.  But if you have read to the end of this blog post, whether or not you are interested in my new book or not, I thank you for reading it.  I also thank you for all you are doing to support your children at home, your students, your family, your neighbours, and your pets during this strange and challenging time.  We are in this together and together I believe we will come through it a little wiser, more compassionate, and without a doubt, more grateful.  Be well, everyone.

And thank you, Cheryl.

 

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, New Books, Powerful Writing Structures, Teacher Books, Writing Strategies

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Great MG Novels for Isolation Vacation!

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“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley

Well, since my last post, the world has kind of turned upside down.  Many are finding themselves at home looking for things to do so why not… READ!   I see this as a wonderful opportunity to connect with a great book!  We may not be able to hug our friends, but we can always hug a good book!

Here is a list of my favorite new novels for your middle grade readers (grades 5-8) to get lost in.   Perfect for reading aloud, reading together, or escaping quietly in a favorite chair.

Check out more #IMWAYR posts on  http://www.teachmentortexts.com/ or http://www.unleashingreaders.com/

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Here in the Real World – Sara Pennypacker

This is a story for anyone who has ever felt left of center.  It is a tale for all those that march to the beat of their own drum, often times to the dismay of friends/family.  This book is filled with compassion, truth and a little magic.  Centered around Ware, an awkward introvert who doesn’t “fit”, who doesn’t like sports, has no friends by choice, and has no desire to hang with the popular crowd. He prefers disappearing into his room or hanging out at his grandmother’s retirement center.  When she falls and breaks her hip, his summer plans are ruined.  He ends up finding refuge in an abandoned church lot, which he imagines is a castle.  There, he befriends Jolene, who is using the space to grow papayas for extra money… and then the summer of imagination begins.  I am a huge fan of Sara Pennypacker’s writing – so filled with gorgeous prose, quotable phrases and metaphors.  Her book Pax is one of my all-time favorite read-alouds.  

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Chirp – Kate Messner

I was fortunate enough to meet Kate Messner and get an autographed ARC of this book at the NCTE in Baltimore this past November.  Kate Messner is a master of presenting difficult material to middle-grade readers in an accessible, age-appropriate way.  I love the gentle and appropriate way that she handles the topic of sexual harassment with respect for her readers. There is also a mystery to solve, insects to eat, and new friendships, as well as an important message about how to deal with inappropriate contact. The mystery centers around Mia, who used to be a gymnast, until the “accident”. Now she doesn’t even want to think about gymnastics and  instead is focusing on helping at her grandmother’s grasshopper farm. Strange things are happening that could ruin her grandmother’s business and Mia is determined to figure out why.  Why a grasshopper farm, you ask?  Male grasshoppers chirp, female grasshoppers are silent.  Fantastic middle grade novel – appropriate for grade 5 and up.

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Me and Bansky – Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Dominica and her best friends, Holden and Saanvi, are determined to find out who is hacking into the security cameras in their private school and posting embarrassing images of them online.  They begin an art-based student campaign against cameras in the classroom.  Love that this book was set in Vancouver and weaves art into the story, along with themes of friendship and issues of  privacy and security.  Great characters and a cute little romance in the mix as well.

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Birdie and Me – J.M.M. Nuanez

After their mother dies, Jack and her gender creative brother Birdie are sent to live with their uncles; but Uncle Carl isn’t reliable, and Uncle Patrick doesn’t like Birdie’s purple jacket, skirts, and rainbow leggings. All Jack wants is somewhere they can both live as themselves.  While this book wasn’t weepy, it is an endearing story with charming characters and a beautiful sibling relationship. Hope, family love, and acceptance.  It’s a little longer (304 pages) but hey, time we got!

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When You Trap a Tiger Tae Keller

For the reader who enjoys a little magical realism – this book beautifully tackles grief, loss, family dynamics and cultural heritage.  What I loved was the seamless way the book combines relate-able contemporary events with traditional Korean folk stories and family traditions.  Te main character, Lily, is spending the summer before grade 7 with her sister and mother visiting her very sick grandmother.  But the summer takes an interesting turn when a magical tiger straight out of her favorite Korean folk tale appears and offers Lily a deal to return a stolen item in exchange for her grandmother’s health.  Deals with tigers, as it turns out, are not as simple as they seem!

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Prairie Lotus – Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park admits freely that this story was inspired by the Little House books.  I LOVED Little House books as a child so was excited and curious to see how she would interpret them.   With a similar setting, readers relive a pioneer story from the viewpoint of a half-Chinese, half-white 14 year old girl, Hanna.  Hanna is resourceful, courageous, smart, and resilient, and throughout the story learns to find the courage to stand up against racism, and stand up for her own goals and dreams. Loved the author’s notes at the end to learn how the story was born from her childhood wondering if she and Laura Ingalls could have been friends.  A great choice for fans of historical fiction.

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Bloom Kenneth Oppel

For those looking for a little sci-fi, dystopian thriller – check out the first book in Kenneth Oppel’s new trilogy.  The story, set on Salt Spring Island, BC,  is fast paced, taking place over a two week period.  After an unusual heavy rain, indestructible black plants begin growing at an unbelievably rapid rate.  People begin to have strong allergic reactions to the strange new pollen in the air except for three teenagers.   Anaya, Petra, and Seth each have something a bit different about them aside from their immunity to the toxic pollen and these differences bring them together, at the same time setting them apart from the rest of the world.  Weird science, evil plants, and non-stop action – what could be better?  (and, squee! –  I have an autographed copy!)

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Music for Tigers – Michelle Kadarusman

Beautiful coming of age story woven with themes of animals, protecting the environment, musical passions, friendships, autism, anxiety, fitting in, family relationships.  Basically, there is something for everyone to identify and connect with!  Louisa, a violin playing teen from Toronto, is sent to the lush Tasmania rainforest in Australia to spend the summer with her uncle who runs a wildlife reserve.  Beautifully written, engaging characters, this gentle story follows a girl demonstrating unexpected heroism as she moves out of her comfort zone.   Great for animal lovers and budding musicians and activists.  (Please note – this book is not available until the end of April)

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The List of Things that Will Not Change – Rebecca Stead

Wow.. This book is such a beautiful story of love, life, and family.  When Bea’s parents tell her they have decided to divorce, they give her a green notebook with a green pen to record those things that will not change in her life.  On the first page, they have recorded the first thing that will not change:  they both love her and always will.   This book touches on a few current, sensitive topics including divorce, same-sex marriage, blended families and, most important, childhood anxiety.  What I love about this book is how the author so captures Bea’s anxious voice trying to navigate all the changes she is experiencing.  This book beautifully captures both the pain and joy of growing up.

GRAPHIC NOVELS

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Go With the Flow – Lily Williams and Karen Scheemeann

A wonderful, beautiful, important, relevant graphic novel which is centered around menstruation.  It is both approachable and grounded and a story that illustrates beautifully what its like to be a teenage girl in a way that is relate-able, inclusive and diverse.   Amazing characters who are such wonderful, healthy examples of female friendships – modelling communication, forgiveness and compassion.   SUCH a great book!

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la guerre de Catherine – Julia Billet

I was not able to read this book as it was in French but it is getting a lot of attention so wanted to include it for my French immersion teacher friends!  Based on a true story, this graphic novel set during World War II in France the story recounts the journey of a Jewish girl moved from location when Germans occupy Paris.  To protect them, the teachers of her progressive school help students gain new identities.  Catherine’s photography passion provides her a unique perspective of World War II .  Great read for WWII historical fiction fans.  Also available in English:  Catherine’s War 

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The Runaway Princess – Johan Troilanowski

Adorable characters.  Quirky.  Adventurous.  Hilarious.  Endearing.  I was instantly drawn in by Johan Troianowski’s art style.  And the best part about this book is that it’s completely interactive.   The reader is asked to shake the book three times before turning the page to help Robin escape a wolf, use their finger to help the characters find their way through a maze, search for a missing character on a crowded page, and so much more.  LOVE this one!

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Cub Cynthia L. Copeland

This graphic novel memoir, set in the 1970’s, is complete with bullies, bell bottoms, and possibilities!  Cindy is in grade seven and dealing with seventh grade issues including boys, hair, fashion and particularly a group of “mean girls”.   A teacher suggests she might one day become a writer and connects her with a local female newspaper reporter who becomes her mentor.  This is based on the author’s life and

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Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed – Laurie Halse Anderson

“A modern retelling of a young Wonder Woman coming into her powers and her legacy.” So this book really suprised me.  I am not a huge DC comic/Wonder Woman fan but I found it to be such an interesting take on the Wonder Woman origin myth that incorporates many contemporary issues including the refugee crisis, humanitarian issues, homelessness, human trafficking, etc.  Beautiful illustrations.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone!  And remember, you may not be able to hug your neighbour right now, but you can always hug a book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Friendship, graphic novel, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Novels, New Books, Novels

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? New for Spring 2020 (Read, Sniff, Share!)

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It’s actually Tuesday but better late than never!  Sniff! Sniff!  Can you guess?  I’m in book sniffing heaven!  I am extremely fortunate to receive copies of new books from exceptional Canadian publishers twice a year.  Thank you to Orca Books, Raincoast Books, and Kids Can Press for sharing your new spring titles with me so I can share them with everyone!  Hooray for new books!  Check out more #IMWAYR posts on  http://www.teachmentortexts.com/ or http://www.unleashingreaders.com/

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What If Bunny’s Not a Bully?  – Lana Button (Kids Can Press)

I loved this book! Unique and important look at bullies through the lens of inclusion, empathy and second chances.  Lovely rhyming texts and adorable illustrations are delightful making this a perfect read-aloud for your Pre-K, K, and Gr. 1 students.

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Why Do We Cry? – Fran Pintadera

A little boy asks his mother why we cry and she gently explains all the different emotions expressed by tears: sadness, anger, loneliness, frustration, confusion, and happiness. Wonderfully expressive illustrations and so many beautiful moments.  LOVE!  Oh my.  This is definitely an “Adrienne” book!  Filled with poetic language, imagery, metaphors, deep thinking questions – a perfect anchor for writing and also for teaching “Transform” and nudging our thinking about the concept of crying.  (I would use this book with the “one word” activity -“cry”).

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A Stopwatch from Grampa – Loretta Gabutt (Kids Can press) 

A simple and touching story about a child coming up to terms with his/her grandfather passing away.  This book features a gender-neutral main character (no first name or pronouns used) experiencing the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in a sensitive and subtle manner.  This is a perfect choice for discussions with children about their emotions, particularly the feeling of loss.

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What Grew in Larry’s Garden – Laura Alary

A lot of punch packed into 32 pages of this book, based on a true story of an elderly man and his “pay it forward” attitude.  While gardening is a big part of the story,  you could use it for so many themes including friendship, problem solving, small acts of kindness, community action and the power of kids to help make change in the world.   I would use this book to launch a unit ways to support our local community.

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I Got You a Present! – Susanne McLennan and Mike Erskine-Kellie

Fast-paced, lively story for younger primary students about a Ducky who is trying to buy his friend the perfect birthday gift.  Bright, fun illustrations – this would make an engaging read-aloud, great for making connections and illustrating the concept of “determination”.  LOVE the surprise ending!

We are Water Protectors – Carole Lindstrom

This book focuses on the indigenous perspective and would be a great one for discussing pipeline issues and standing up for environmental injustices.  I enjoyed the story but equally the back notes, which provided important background information about the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Gorgeous, colorful illustrations.  I would pair this with The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson.

Hike Pete Oswald

Beautiful celebration of parent-child relationships and the magic of the wilderness.   This story follows a child and father as they experience a hike together.  It is nearly wordless and a perfectly paced adventure that invites readers to appreciate the beauty of nature along with the child and father; to pause, wonder, and marvel at the views they experience on their hike.  Gorgeous watercolor illustrations.   I LOVE hiking and I LOVE this book!

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Snow White and the Seven Robots – Stewart Ross

Cute sci-fi twist on Snow White with robots instead of dwarves.  When the wicked step queen abandons snow white on a planet, she uses the space ship to build herself some robot helpers.  I was not aware of this “twisted fairy tale” series by Stewart Ross until now but am excited to check his other books including Octo-Puss in Boots and The Ginjabread Man.  

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Help Wanted: Must Love Books – by Janet Summer Johnson

A book about loving books?  Yes, please!!!!  This is such a delightful story about a young girl who sets out to interview potential “bed-time story readers” to replace her dad (she fired him!)  Next comes a string of familiar fairy tale characters applying for the job, but each one seems to have a problem (Sleeping Beauty falls asleep during the interview;  Gingerbread man steals her books and runs away).  Such a cute premise and I love the determination and spunk of Shailey, the main character.  Lots of chuckles with this one!

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The Boreal Forest: A Year in the World’s Largest Land Biome L.E. Carmichael.

Beautifully illustrated reference book about the seasonal changes of plants and animals in the Boreal Forest.  Not so much a “sit down and read in one setting” book but a perfect one for “snip-it read alouds”.   Lots of great descriptive, triple-scoop words (there is a lot of onomatopoeia) and amazing details about the forest.  I learned a LOT!

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Bringing Back the Wolves – How a Predator Restored an Ecosystem – Jude Isabella

Fascinating description of the 1995 reintroduction of wolves into the ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park, after they were all but eliminated by hunters in the late 1800’s.   Gorgeous illustrations and simple nonfiction narrative style that younger readers will understand.  This is an excellent book to illustrate the concept of inter-contentedness of ecosystems.  I would pair it with Sparrow Girl by Sara Pennypacker.

The Keeper of Wild Words – Brooke Smith

Shocking true story: the most recent Oxford Junior Dictionary, widely used in schools around the world, removed 40 common ‘wild words’ (words connected to nature) from their dictionary.  Their justification was that “wild words” like apricot, blackberry, dandelion, and buttercup were not being used by enough by children to warrant their place in the dictionary. (Seriously?)  One might infer from this drastic decision that children are becoming less and less engaged with the natural world so less likely to have the need to use these words.  GULP!  YIKES!  HELP!  I first learned about this shocking removal of words from the exquisite book “The Lost Words” by Robert Macfarlane and illustrated by the amazing Jackie Morris.   While this book is stunningly beautiful, its sheer size (and cost) makes it less of a classroom book and more of a coffee table or gift book.  But the story itself needs to be be shared and so I am THRILLED to see this more accessible version for younger readers.  It weaves the story of a grandmother electing her granddaughter as the “Keeper of Wild Words” because the only way to save words is to know them, use them, and cherish them.   This book is a celebration of shared love between generations, nature, and words.  I can’t wait to share it, to inspire children to become more familiar with “wild words”, and to encourage some “wild writing”!!!  Buy this book.  Share this book.  That is all.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hoping one or two books have caught your eye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Activism, bullying, Community, Emotions, Grief, IMWAYR, Indigenous Stories, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, JK-K, New Books, Picture Book, Transform, Writing Anchor book, Writing Anchors

IMWAYR – It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? First new picture books of 2020!

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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

Three cheers for Mondays and long weekends and new picture books!  I’m excited to share my first blog post of 2020 (thanks Susan from Kidsbooks for some of these titles!) featuring a few 2019 titles I missed and many 2020 #warm book alert releases!

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Maybe: A Story About the Endless Potential in All of Us

Kobi Yamada

From the author of What Do You Do With A Problem? and What Do You Do with An Idea? comes another inspiring book.  “Have you ever wondered why you are here?” I SO love books that begin with a deep thinking question.  And so begins this story about making your own way in the world,  marching to the beat of your own drum, and making a difference in the world.  Could there be a more perfect anchor book for Powerful Understanding?  I don’t think so!  LOVE!

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Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots Michael Rex

Don’t trust everything you read! Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true. A humorous, informative book to show students that for some things you need more information to make a choice.   A great introduction to the difference between facts and opinions – a MUST for every library!

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The Old Truck – Jarrett Pumphrey

Loved the simple, retro feel and the lino cut illustrations of this “The Giving Tree” like story.   A simple poetic narrative about family, farming, perseverance, dreaming, and the passage of time.  An old truck works hard on a farm for years for the family, until it finally stops and is abandoned. Years later, the daughter of the farmer who owned the truck (now grown up) returns to live on the farm, repairs the truck and puts it back to work on the farm. Great circular story with themes of hard work, industrious women, and taking care of “old stuff”.  Great writing anchor for point of view, imagery and personification.

Snail Crossing – Corey R. Tabor

Give a little kindness – and kindness will come back to you.  Snail spots a cabbage patch across the road, and is determined to taste of that delicious cabbage. Snail has a few set backs during his journey, but in his steadfastness to have that cabbage, he shows a little kindness to others, and receives in-turn something more than just a plump cabbage. Adorable story of friendship.

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Old Rock (is not boring) – Deb Pilutti

This book surprised me!  Spotted Beetle, Tall Pine, and Hummingbird think Old Rock’s life must be boring because he just sits there in the same place, but as Old Rock tells the story of his life, the three are amazed with all he’s done and seen.  So many things you could use this book for – a great read aloud, introducing geology, timelines, not to mention a great anchor book for teaching point of view, predicting, descriptive narrative or autobiographical writing.  Lovely, gentle illustrations.

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Humpty Dumpty Lived Near a Wall – Derek Hughes

Incredible, political and edgy, dark but strangely uplifting.  This fractured fairy tale picture book is definitely one I’d use with older children.  A great anchor book for questioning and inferring and would spark great conversations about author’s intent.  I was mesmerized by the incredible pen and ink detailed illustrations.  Leaves readers with lots of questions at the end – another reason why I would recommend it!

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In a Jar – Deborah Marcero

If you could capture something in a jar – a memory, a place, a feeling – what would it be?  Is there anyone who has not thought of bottling a favorite moment, a favorite day, a beautiful sight?  This gorgeous, heartwarming picture book begins with one little bunny who loves collecting things in jars and unfolds into a beautiful story of friendship.  Charming, joyful story.  I can’t wait to read this aloud to children and talk about what they would “bottle up” to share!

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Lawrence – The Bunny Who Wanted to Be Naked – Vern Kousky

If the title doesn’t trigger giggles, this story will!   Lawrence’s mother likes dressing him up in fashionable, unusual outfit!    Lawrence just wants to be naked and hop in the grass like the other bunnies.  Lawrence doesn’t want to hurt her feelings, so comes up with a plan to help her see things from his point of view.   I laughed a lot and know that many children will be able to make connections!

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The Heart of a Whale Anna Pignotaro

Sigh.  Wipe the tears.  This is such a beautiful story of kindness and empathy, loneliness and love.  Poetic (think similes and metaphors), imaginative, exquisite watercolour illustrations.  When whale sings his song, some feel calm,  others cheer up, some drift off to sleep.  But Whale is lonely and longs for the company of another whale.  The ocean listens to his lonely sighs and carries his wish into the ears and hearts of some other whales – who soon find him and fill his empty heart.  Such a beautiful story of the need to be loved.  Stunning.

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Almost Time Gary D. Schmidt

Ethan is waiting for the sap to run so he and his father can make a new batch of maple syrup.  He marks the time by going to school, sledding, and waiting for his loose tooth to come out.  Finally, the big day arrives; his tooth comes out and the sap is running – and he helps his father make the syrup.  A tender father-and-son story about waiting for something, the passage of time, the change of seasons, and the excitement of reaching a goal.  Great for making connections to having to wait for something, as well as learning where maple sugar comes from.

Thanks for stopping by!

I hope one or to two of these new books have caught your eye!

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Connect, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Kindness, New Books, Picture Book, Point of View, Powerful Understanding, Question, Read-Aloud, Writing Anchor book