Category Archives: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? “How To” Books for “How To” Writing

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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

Sometimes the discovery of a new book leads me to making many connections to other books and that sparks me to want to make a new blog post!  Such is the case for this week’s post – focusing on books written as “How To’s”, inspired by the new book The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog by Paul B. Janeczko.

One of the tendencies for students writing instructions is including too many words:  “First, you have to ….”  When teaching “How To” Writing – I tell students to follow the S.A.D. FormulaSequence word, Action word, Detail.  For example, First, (sequence word) squeeze (action word) a little toothpaste on the bristles (detail).  If you don’t follow the S.A.D. formula, your reader will be SAD because they won’t know what to do!

While it is important to learn how to write realistic “how to’s”, I also love to invite students to add a little creativity and imagination to their instructional writing.  The following are books to inspire creative “How To” writing.

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The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog Paul B. Janeczko

This delightful collection of “How To” poems, from practical (how to mix a pancake or how to bird-watch) or fanciful (how to scare monsters or how to be a snowflake) are written by a collection of amazing writers including Kwame Alexander, Ralph Fletcher, Karla Kushkin, and Douglas Florian.   There is creativity, gratitude, and joy in these poems and the soft, watercolor illustrations make it delightful to look at.  Love this brand new book!

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How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps Nicola Winstanley

Laugh out loud, hilarious new “how to” book features a little girl, a know-it-all narrator, and a cat who refuses to take a bath.  This book will have your students cracking up and would inspire a lot of funny “how to’s” in your class!

How To Be – Lisa Brown

I LOVE this charming book and have used it as an anchor book for many writing lessons.  Simple instructions on how to be various animals, written in a clear “how to” format.  Added clever bonus is that it doubles as instructions on how to be a person – brave, clever, friendly, curious, and charming.  Delightful illustrations.

Writing Idea – students write about an animal they researched in a “how to” instructions format.  Include diet, habitat, behavior, special skills, enemies and a human character trait.

Live___________,  Eat____________,  Catch _________________,  Fly______________, Swim_______________, Beware___________, Be _________________  and _______________________

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How To Lose All Your Friends – Nancy Carlson

Hilarious tongue-in-cheek “how to” guide to loosing your friends.  Lots of connections to the child-like behaviors Carlson describes:”Be a bad sport – When someone touches you playing tag, lie and say they missed” (LOL!)  This is a great book to use at the beginning of the year.  I like to have the class ‘re-write” the instructions, focusing on positive behaviors –  “How to Keep Your Friends”.

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How to Read a Story – Kate Messner

Step One: Find a story. (A good one.)
Step Two: Find a reading buddy. (Someone nice.)
Step Three: Find a reading spot. (Couches are cozy.)
Now: Begin.

Delightful book to encourage reading and sharing, with the steps on how to read a book to a friend.  Simple but effective reminders to use expression, make predictions and read with feeling.

Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle Chris Raschka

A young girl provides step by step instructions to learn to ride a bicycle…complete with some falls and lots of practice and determination…but ultimately with success!
Could be used to discuss determination or to discuss growth mindset.  Signature Chris Raschka watercolor illustrations.

The Astronaut Handbook – Meghan McCarthy

Delightful guide to becoming an astronaut.  Interesting and entertaining, full of fascinating facts and adorable illustrations. (Kids are particularly fascinated by bathroom instructions!)  Back notes provide more detailed information about space life.  Fun read-aloud and great anchor for writing “How To Become” with different occupations.

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Things to Do – Elaine Magliaro

 Things to Do If You Are A Honeybee

    Flit among flowers

    Sip nectar for hours

    Be yellow and fuzzy.

    Stay busy.  Be buzzy. 

I remember being surprised by how much I loved this book when I first read it.  Whimsical  illustrations and gorgeous, rhyming text.  This book is really a collection of poems focusing on the small moments and secret joys of a child’s day, including animals and insects they encounter.  This book is delightful invitation to write!

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Eddie Gets Ready for School David Milgrim

Morning routines are different for everyone, including Eddie!  While Eddie’s check-list says one thing, the illustrations tell a different story!  Fun read aloud and perfect anchor book for younger writers to write their own “How to Get Ready for School” (or hockey practice, swimming lessons, soccer game) instructions.

How to Teach a Slug to Read – Susan Pearson

Clever, witty, delightful, useful and engaging – full of practical advice for teaching slugs (and human kids) to read.  Adorable illustrations and hilarious “sluggish” titles and slug-related stories (think Little Miss Muffet with a slug instead of a spider!)

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How to Make Friends with a Ghost – Rebecca Green

A great book to share at Halloween but with a universal story of friendship and kindness, it could be read anytime.  A whimsical story about ghost care, this story is a perfect combination of offbeat humor, quirky and sweet illustrations, and written in lovely “how to” format.

How to Read a Book – Kwame Alexander

This book will not be released until June, but I’m so excited about it, I just had to include it!  Created by the dream team of extraordinary poet Kwame Alexander and collage-style illustrations of Melissa Sweet –  this ode to reading is a must have for me!  “Once you’re comfy, peel its gentle skin, like you would a clementine…Next, put your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and POP the words out.”   Squeeeee, can you stand it?

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found a book that caught your eye!

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Filed under 2019 releases, How To Writing, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Lesson Ideas, New Books, Poetry, Read-Aloud, Writing Anchors

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? New books from RFTLOI conference!

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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 presenting in Toronto at Reading For the Love Of It Conference.  This was my 4th conference and I’m always THRILLED to participate.  Not only are there amazing presenters (and many fan-girl moments for me!) but there is also a HUGE publishing display – which means (you guessed it!) BOOK BUYING!  My friend Tory McTaggart from Bound2Learn Publishing always brings the most amazing picture books!  My suitcase was FULL!   Here are the favorite finds I brought back:

Say Something! Peter H. Reynolds

“Your voice can inspire, heal, and transform.  Your voice can change the world.  Are you ready to say something?”  Amazing book inspiring young people to stand up, share their voice, and speak up for what they you believe in.  An inspiring, non-preachy call to action by the amazing Peter. H. Reynolds

Little Brown – Marla Frazee

LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!   So much potential for discussion with this book!  Is Little Brown left alone because he is cranky or is he cranky because he is left alone?  These are just two of the many questions readers will be faced with in this book.   I love that Marla Frazee doesn’t dummy down the story, includes great “grown-up” words like “dilemma” and ends the story without an ending – inviting the reader to come up with the best solution to help Little Brown.   I can already see writing activities, skits, and tips.  Adorable illustrations.

How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps – Nicola Winstanley

A perfect addition to your instructional writing anchor book collection!  Tongue in cheek spoof on a typical instructional manual because, SURPRISE!, cats don’t like to be bathed!  Super cute and giggle-worthy!

The Girl and the Wolf Katherena Vermette

The Girl and the Wolf is a sort of reversal of Little Red Riding Hood but with a lovely message. When a girl gets lost in the woods, a wolf guides her to finding her own way home. The wolf does not lead her home but asks the girl what she will do. When she answers, “I don’t know”, the wolf reassures her that she does, indeed, know. He encourages her to close her eyes and take a breath before trying again to determine her course of action. So many great themes in this book – problem solving, questioning, indigenous ways of knowing, mindful breathing, staying calm, nature, instincts, survival skills, inner strength. This would make an excellent addition to your indigenous book collection!

The Wall in the Middle of the Book Jon Agee

Wow.  This book is pretty much a metaphor for what is going on in the US at the moment.   Jon Agee does an amazing job with simple text and simple illustrations to share a strong message.  A knight is convinced that the wall is protecting him from all the dangers on the “other side”.  Great split screen illustrations show just how wrong the knight is!  I think kids will enjoy shouting out the “dangers” that are happening on the left side of the wall.  VERY clever and a great book for inferring!  (can’t help but wonder if Trump would actually make any connections!!!)

What If…. Then We…. Very Short, Shorter than Ever Possibilities – Rebecca Kai Dotlich

I LOVE “One Day… The End” and use it as an anchor book for teaching beginning-middle-end in writing lessons.  So when I saw this new book by Rebecca Kai Dotlich – I knew it would be just as delightful – and I was right!   Two polar bears embark on an adventurous journey – and encounter many “what if?” moments along the way with a little courage, friendship and problem-solving sprinkled in!  I’m definitely adding this to my writing anchor books!

From Tree to Sea – Shelley Moore Thomas

This soothing, peaceful patterned book is definitely going to be added to my new writing anchor books.  What does the earth show us?  Each page in this gentle book describes what nature shows us – “Stones shows me how to be strong.  If I am kicked around sometimes, like a rock on a road, I just keep rolling along.”    Gorgeous illustrations.  A great choice for Earth Day – or any day!  This is a KEEPER!

Everything is Connected – Jason Gruhl

Well, you can’t get more of an “Adrienne” book than this one!  A beautiful book with a beautiful message – we are all connected to everything in the universe – even the blobfish!  Playful, lyrical rhyming text will make for a wonderful read-aloud.   Thought provoking and empowering.

A Friend for Henry – Jenn Bailey

A delightful story that does an excellent way of reflecting the behaviors and challenges of a child on the autism spectrum.  Henry is looking for a friend in his new class but none of them seem to be the best fit for him…. until he meets Katie.  I love that this book does not focus on having to change to fit in, but finding a friend who fits you.  Delightful illustrations.

Tomorrow Most Likely – Dave Eggers

A child imagines the many ordinary things that await him tomorrow.  Tomorrow most likely…..Packed with lovely rhymes, repetitions and a sprinkle of silly!  Another great read-aloud and anchor book for writing!   Bold and blocked illustrations.

Look – Fiona Woodcock

So clever!  This story about a brother and sister visiting the zoo is told entirely through words that have the double “oo” in them.  Each word is embedded into the bright and vibrant illustrations.  Great for emergent readers for word recognition, but could also be a great inspiration for writing one word stories!

Crab Cake – Andrea Tsurumi

I love books with many layers.   Take this one, for example.  It is the charming story of a crab who makes crab cakes, explores sea life,  and includes a messagea of sustaining our oceans, using your gifts, working together as a community, and inspiring others.  Wow! This one is well worth it’s price in crab cakes!

Thanks for stopping by!

Hope you found a book or two that caught your eye!

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Filed under 2019 releases, Autism, Earth Day, IMWAYR, Indigenous Stories, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Read-Aloud, Writing Anchor book

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? First New Books for 2019

Image result for IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

It’s hard to believe that it’s already February!  Where did January go?  But with the start of a new year, there are always new books to read and share!  Here are just a few of the gorgeous new picture books (and one novel!) I’ve been reading over the past few weeks…

When Sadness is at Your Door by Eva Eland

When Sadness is At Your Door – Eva Eland

Children sometimes struggle to understand and cope with their emotions, especially the “big” ones like anger and sadness. Talking about our feelings helps us process them, and this book gives readers a tender and comforting way to work through sadness.  Excellent anchor book for lessons about feelings.

How To Give Your Cat A Bath: In Five Easy Steps – Nicola Winstanley

This book is laugh out loud hilarious! Take a little girl, her cat (who does not want a bath), and an empty bathtub. Add a multitude of silly shenanigans and very funny pictures and you have a MUST read aloud book for your class.  Perfect anchor book for instructional “How To” writing.  LOVE!

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All You Need is Love – John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Kind of hard to resist this one.  Beautifully illustrated book which brings John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s world-renowned classic song “All You Need Is Love” to life.  Would be a great way to introduce a younger generation to this classic song and these talented artists.  (I always think about the wedding scene in “Love Actually” when I hear this song!)

My Heart

My Heart – Corinna Luyken

“My heart is a window. My heart is a slide. My heart can be closed…or opened up wide.” Listening to, following, and caring for our hearts is the theme in this gorgeous book.  Meta-cognition of our hearts (if there is such a thing!), this book helps readers to see that our hearts (and our emotions) are always changing – can be open, closed, full, empty. Gorgeous metaphors for the heart written with lovely rhyming text and beautiful grey and yellow illustrations (look for all the hearts hidden in the pictures) A lovely book for the both younger and older students (great for inferring!) and would be a wonderful book to share around Valentine’s Day.  Empowering and hopeful.

No bears

There Are No Bears in This Bakery – Julia Sarcone-Roach

Spoiler Alert – There ARE bears in this  bakery!  Despite Muffin the Cat’s watchful eye, one small hungry bear does get into the bakery.  But Muffin has donuts. Which, as we all know, bears like an awful lot.  So much to like about this book – bright, colorful illustrations and great word choice.  This book would also make a great anchor for teaching similes, point of view, and the five senses.

good egg

The Good Egg – Jory John

I am SO excited about this follow up to hilarious and heartfelt The Bad Seed.   With the same hilarious voice and delightful illustrations, this is the charming tale of a VERY good egg who learns that it’s not always necessary to be perfect, and sometimes okay not to always be the good egg all the time. Great message about self care and not having to please everyone all the time.  (Released Feb. 12th)

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Say Something! – Peter H. Reynolds

LOVE LOVE LOVE this new book by the beloved Peter H. Reynolds which encourages young readers to find their voice and use it to make the world a better place.  A perfect anchor book for some of the lessons in my Powerful Understanding book (“The World”)  A powerful, empowering, inspiring call to action told in a none preachy way.  An absolute MUST READ!  (Released Feb. 27th but you can pre-order!)

rough patch

The Rough Patch – Brian Lies

Oh, this book.  This book.  Kleenex required. (extra if you are a dog lover)  Evan the fox is an avid gardener and he and his dog have created an extraordinary garden and take great joy in nurturing it. However, when Evan loses his best friend, the grief is almost unbearable.  Evan transforms his beautiful garden into “The saddest and most desolate spot he could make it.”  Such a beautiful story of love and friendship and loss and grief and hope.  Gorgeous art.  A roller coaster of emotions.  And did I mention Kleenex?

Birthday wish

Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish – Beth Perry

Birthdays are important days to celebrate. But before you do, you should make sure you’re following the ten important rules of your big day. Rule #1? Make sure it actually is your birthday.  A joyful celebration of every child’s favorite day!  Adorable illustrations.

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Perfect – Max Amato

Great anchor for growth mindset, creativity and getting along, despite your differences.  A fussy eraser tries to keep the pages clean, while a mischievous pencil keeps trying to scribble up the pages.  The two opposing forces finally come together and learn that they can have fun together, despite their differences.  Great illustrations – I kept trying to sweep away the pencil shavings!

dress like a girl

Dress Like a Girl Patricia Toht

What does it mean to “Dress Like a Girl”?  In this lovely new book by Patricia Toht (illustrated by Lorian Tu-Dean), a group of girls at a slumber party decide dressing up means following your passion, your creativity, and your heart.  An inspiring and empowering story for younger readers.  “Make your own rules in this big wide world, Set your sights high…and dress like a girl!”  

Noodlephant – Jacob Kramer

This book totally surprised me in many ways!  First of all, it’s longer than an average picture book – 80 pages.  Second, I thought it was about an elephant who loves pasta – WRONG!  It’s actually a story about injustice, civil rights, and peaceful protests.  But it’s also wacky, fun, and filled with great word play and delightful illustrations!  Noodlephant lives in an animal community where the Kangaroos in charge save special privileges for themselves and make unfair rules that impact the other animals.  Noodlephant and friends come together to protest these unfair rules, and work together to help make the community a place where every animal is treated kindly.  SUCH a great book to introduce younger readers to standing up for your rights and working together for change.  Lots to like about this one.

coyote sunrise

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise – Dan Gemeinhart

Sometimes making friends is tough, and sometimes it’s as simple as finding someone who loves books and kittens as much as you do.”

It seems silly to say that this is my favorite Middle Grade novel of 2019 – since it’s the only one I have read!   But my, oh my.  This book.  Wow.  I loved it so, so much.  Could not put it down.  Cried and cried.  It’s a compelling, heart-breaking story of Coyote, a 12 year old girl, and her dad, Rodeo, who set off in a re-furbished school bus after a tragic traffic accident kills her mother and her two sisters.  Along their journey, they gather an incredible cast of characters, all of whom, like Coyote and her dad,  are lost in some way or another.  Amazing characters, gorgeous writing – this is a remarkable story of loss and love and grief and so much more.  PLEASE read and share with your middle grade students.

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

Happy reading week, everyone!

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Filed under 2019 releases, Feelings, Grief, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Writing Strategies

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books of 2018

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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

Nonfiction picture books are invaluable read-aloud experiences and provide so many opportunities to link to content learning and inspire deep questions and rich discussions with your students! With 2018 coming to a close, I thought I would highlight my favorite Nonfiction picture books of the past year.  From animals, to insects, health, mapping, land and water, seasonal changes, ecosystems and biographies, there is sure to be a book on this list you can share with your students next term!

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Who Eats Orange? – Dianne White

Lots to love about this colorful, interactive concept book that introduces young children (Pre K- K) to different colors, animals and foods.  Engaging read-aloud filled with guessing-game pattern and rhyming text that students will enjoy, not to mention the stunning illustrations.  Lots of extra information at the back about what exactly the different animals eat and the biome they live in.

Image result for what do they do with all that poo

What Do They Do With All That Poo? – Jane Kurtz

You can’t really go wrong with a book about poop in a primary class.  This one is perfect for reading aloud and practicing “The Knew-New” connection activity.  (“I knew this, but this is new to me”) Great information in this book (I learned a lot) and I like the question-answer format:  Why is hyena’s poop white? Do lions hide their poo like domestic cats? What animal has square poo? And of course, what do zoo’s do with all that poo? Sure to be a hit in your classroom!

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Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth – Kate Gardner

This beautiful book which breaks down myths of “scary beasts” with gentle tenderness.  Gorgeous illustrations include subtle shift from black and white depictions of our negative first impressions to full color when we learn the importance about each animal.  Just enough facts for younger students and I love the use of the “one word” activity in this book!

Terrific Tongues! – Maria Gianferari

Who knew that world of animal tongues was so  full of fascinating facts?   Tongues can be like a sword, like a straw, like a mop, and more. The story is carried by a cute monkey who investigates the mechanics of his animal friends’ tongues.  The guessing game format makes this a great read aloud and hard to resist a book that encourages kids to  stick out their tongues in a positive way?!  Love!

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Beavers: The Superpower Field Guide  – Rachel Poliquin

An engaging, entertaining graphic novel nonfiction book for middle grade students.  Love this unique format packed with amazing information as well as great illustrations and text features.  Hilarious and fast paced and I love the “guide book” size.  I look forward to more Superpower Field Guides!  (“Moles” is being released in June!)

Bugs Don’t Hug: Six-Legged Parents and Their Kids – Heather L. Montgomery

How do insect mama’s and papa’s take care of their babies?  Believe it or not, they have more in common to us than you would ever expect!  Such a fun read filled with so many amazing  and surprising insect facts.  Large format and humorous scenes will make this a very popular read-aloud!

Water Land:  Land and Water Forms Around the World – Christy Hale

Creative, clever cut-outs help readers learn about different land and water formations.  Simple, spare text even younger readers will understand.  This would be an excellent anchor book for introducing geographical terms and includes information at the back.  An excellent concept book!  LOVE this one!

The Squirrel’s Busy Year: A First Science Storybook – Martin Jenkins

Readers follow two squirrels as they travel through the changes of the seasons.  This is a simple concept book and would be a good one for teaching changing weather, plants, and animal patterns. There are teaching tips in the front and back of the story and a small index.

Stretch to the Sun: From a Tiny Sprout to the Tallest Tree on Earth – Carrie A. Pearson

There is much to love about this picture book which introduces readers to a a 600 year old Redwood – the tallest known tree on earth.  Through stunning, detailed illustrations and beautifully written sparse text (lots of triple scoop words!) this book takes us on a journey through an old growth forest ecosystem and all inter-conectedness of nature.

See How We Move – Scot Ritchie

I am a fan of Scot Ritchie books so was excited to see his new book about health and well-being.  (His other books on Community BuildingMapping Skills, and Buildings and Structures are well worth having in your library!)  Set within a story of five young multicultural friends who are competing together at a local swim meet, this book introduces young readers to a wealth of healthy habits:  importance of safety equipment (goggles, bike helmets), importance of exercise for your body, warming up before exercising, teamwork, practicing skills, enjoying the exercise, handwashing to stop spread of germs, proper nutrition, interaction of the brain and the body, and visualization.  Several games that kids can play to keep moving are included at the back.  Another MUST HAVE for your classroom or school library!

Mapping Sam – Joyce Hesselberth

Excellent blend of fiction and nonfiction in this one.  Readers follow an adventurous cat named Sam as he journeys and maps his way through the neighbourhood at night.   This would be a great way to introduce different types of maps to young students.  More details about each type of map can be found in the back of the book.

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House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery – Liz Rosenberg

“Anne with an E” is one of my favorite characters from my childhood!   I so enjoyed reading and learning about the fascinating life of the author and creator of the beloved Ann of Green Gables books in this very readable biography.  I learned so much about Maud’s fascinating life, her relationships, her mental illness and her battle to overcome it.  Recommended for older students and I recommend teachers pre-read it for appropriateness if planning to read it out loud.

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Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement – Stephanie Roth Sisson

For those who may not have read Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring (first published in 1962), it was the groundbreaking book which introduced and exposed the impact of pesticides and herbicides on the life cycles of plants and animals. This picture book biography tells the true story of this inspirational environmentalist, leader, activist, scientist, and author Rachel Carson, highlighting and recounting her incredible accomplishments and contributions to science that changed the way the world thinks about our environment.  Timely and a great anchor to any unit on the environment.  Pay close attention to the amazingly detailed illustrations in this one!

The True Tale of a Giantess

The True Tale of a Giantess: The Story of Anna Swan – Anna Renaud

This is a fascinating picture book about one of the “exhibits of curiosities” of P.T. Barnum.  Anna Swan was born in the 1800s in Nova Scotia, and grew up to be extraordinarily tall.  As people whispered and pointed at her, she decided to make the most of her situation.   Well written, simple language, told from the point of view of Anna.  The author does an excellent job of comparing her size to plants and animals.  There are additional facts and real photographs at the back.  I plan to add this title to my “Reading and Thinking Across Canada” unit.

Shaking Things Up – 14 Young Women Who Changed The World – Susan Hood

Amazing collection of tributes to 14 extraordinary rebel girls and women who changed the world.  Written in verse, each poem is paired up with an amazing illustrator.  Uplifting, powerful and inspirational and would certainly lead to further reading.  Reading one per day to a middle grade class would stimulate great discussions, questions, connections and inferences!   (in other words…. a little Reading Power!)

Thanks for stopping by and hope you found a title or two that caught your eye!

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Filed under 2018 releases, Animals, Biography, Ecosystems, environment, Favorite Books of the Year, Health, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Mapping, New Books, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Award Winners and Recent Favorites

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

Well…..it’s that time of year when many book awards are being announced.  I am excited to share some of these books with you, along with a few of my recent favorites!  Happy reading week, everyone!

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      SWEEP – The Story of a Girl and Her Monster Jonathon Auxier.

WINNER:   Governor General Award for Best Young People’s Literature for 2018.

Wow. I can’t say enough good things about this stunning story of courage, sacrifice, child exploitation, unconditional love, and civil disobedience mixed with just the right amount of historical elements and sprinkled with magic. Set in the late 1800’s in Victorian England, it is the story of Nan Sparrow, a young chimney sweep who is struggling to survive after her father disappears. She befriends and forms a remarkable bond with Charlie, a golem made from ash, and in the process, they save each other. I cried. Yes, I did. And you will, too. It’s heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, funny and poignant and just beautiful in every way.  This is my new favorite middle grade read-aloud for 2018!  

“We are saved by saving others.”   (One of the MANY quotes from this book)

 

Town is the Sea – Joanne Schwartz Illustrated by Sydney Smith

WINNER:  2018 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.  

Beautiful, simple story of a young boy who spends his day in the bright village by the sea, contrasted with his own father’s day spent in the darkness of a coal mine.   A wonderful anchor book for exploring stories across Canada – this one capturing a mall mining town in 1950s’ Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

When the Moon Comes Paul Harbridge   Illustrated by Matt James

WINNER:  2018 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award

The author shares his own childhood memories of playing pond hockey on frozen backyard rinks.  Whether you are a hockey fan or not, this book celebrates a sense of adventure and the magic of time spent outdoors.  Gorgeous figurative language makes this a wonderful anchor book for descriptive writing and capturing small moments.  The illustrations are stunning.

They Say Blue Jillian Tamaki

WINNER:  2018 Governor General’s Literary award for illustrated literature for young people. 

Gorgeous, gentle, poetic exploration of colour and nature from a young child’s point of view.  This book would make an amazing anchor to stimulate writing about color.  Stunning illustrations.

Le Chemain de La Montagne – Marianne Dubuc

WINNER:  2018 Governor General’s Award for Young People’s Literature  (French).

While I don’t read or speak French, I did read the English translation of this book (see cover below) and can understand why it was selected for this award.  When Mrs. Badger becomes too tired to continue her daily friendship visits up the mountain, she passes the torch to Leo, an adorably cute cat, to the walk.  A gentle, tender little story that captures so many wonderful themes: the circle of life, friendship, learning from elders, sharing wisdom, and exploring and celebrating nature. Love this one.  Originally in French, translated into English.

Up the Mountain Path – Marianne Dubuc

A Big Mooncake for Little Star – Grace Lin

Such a gorgeous book!  A young child bakes a Mooncake with her mom. She’s told not allowed to eat it, but, she does nibble on it a little bit everyday.   A unique and intriguing way to explain the phases of the moon.  Simple black and yellow illustrations evokes a soothing feeling of nighttime.  Love Little Star’s and her mother’s black pajamas with big yellow stars on!  Don’t forget to check out the end papers!

Blue Picture book

Blue – Laura Vaccaro Seeger

I loved Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s celebration of the color green in her picture book “GREEN” using gorgeous illustrations and clever cut-outs. (The book earned her a Caldecott award) In her companion book, “BLUE” she layers her celebration of color with a poignant story of a boy and his dog. I was astonished of the emotion this book – the sadness, love and hope I felt as I read it. Watch the video below (may require Kleenex) A beautiful story to share. Great anchor for inferring and also would be a wonderful anchor for color writing. Brilliant.    Watch the book video here. 

Zola’s Elephant – Randall de Seve

A girl imagines the new neighbors have an elephant — surely that is what must be in the large moving box – so there is no need to go over and introduce herself.  This is a charming, whimsical story about a new friendships and a wild imagination.  Rich, detailed illustrations by Caldecott Honor illustrator Pamela Zagerenski weave uniquely into the story.

Thank you, Omu! – Oge Mora

One of my favorite new reads this week, this is a beautiful picture book about community and the spirit of sharing told with a lovely folk tale rhythm.  A generous grandmother makes a delicious stew and shares it generously with various members of her diverse community.  When she ends up having nothing left for her own supper, the community comes together to return the favour and bring delicious food to her.  This has the feel of a classic tale and will make a perfect read aloud.  Beautiful, colorful, cut paper collage illustrations.

Imagine – Juan Felipe Herrera 

I was drawn in by the cover of this book and the illustrations by one of my favorite illustrator, Lauren Castillo.  This is a picture book biography of US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera…written as a poem.  It is filled with beautiful language and a beautiful message about following your dreams.  The poet’s journey begins as a child of a migrant family, then a boy feeding chickens, a youngster recording new words, a teenager turning those words into songs.  Lauren Castillo is a favorite illustrator of mine and her pictures bring this book to life.

The Patchwork Bike – Maxine Beneba Clarke

“This is the village where we live inside our mud-for-walls home. These are my crazy brothers and this is our fed-up mum.”

And so begins this joyful, uplifting testimony to ingenuity and the ability of kids to have fun and hope even in challenging circumstances.   This is a simple story of a girl talking about her neighborhood, her family, and her most prized possession – a bike made up of bits and pieces of scraps she and her brothers found.  The illustrations by Van Thanh Rudd are so creative – scraps on cardboard.  This book exudes JOY!

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope a few books caught your eye!

 

 

 

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Filed under 2018 releases, Award Winner, Community, Diversity, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Novels, Moon stories, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Best Books for Building Class Community

Well… for many of us – tomorrow we head back to school to begin a new year.  These first few days and weeks are filled with many emotions, new routines, and, let’s face it – a fair share of chaos!  But nothing is more important in these first weeks than establishing your class community.  Creating a positive, welcoming, accepting place will help students feel more connected, empowered, and invested in learning.  Reading stories to your class and engaging in discussions is one of the best ways I know to begin this process.  While there are dozens to choose from, here are a few of my favorite picture books for building a positive learning environment in your class:

(Note:  This is not intended to be a list of “Back to School” books – which are really only shared during the first few DAYS of school.   This list is meant for sharing and discussing over the first few WEEKS of school, while you focus on building your classroom community.   For favorite “Back to School” books, see my post here.)

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

Oh my.   This book.  It’s a must read for every teacher to share in the first days or week of school.  A wonderful, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity, inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures in a school community.   I hope this book ends up in EVERY library in EVERY school EVERYWHERE!  If you are familiar with my “One Word” transform lesson – the one word I would use with this book is, of course, “Welcome”.

The Day You Begin – Jacqueline Woodson

“There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.”  And so begins this poignant, powerful story by the amazing Jacqueline Woodson (Each Kindness, The Other Side, Brown Girl Dreaming).  If there is only ONE book you read this summer – this is it.  This is a must-own book for teachers,  librarians, and parents, and a must-share for all kids, no matter their ages.  I am absolutely in love with this story of pride in self, fear of not fitting in, and ultimately belonging.   A PERFECT book for sharing at the beginning of the school year to help build a welcoming community in your classroom and a perfect reminder that we are more alike than different.

Each Kindness – Jacqueline Woodson

Another one of my favorite books by the amazing Jacqueline Woodson is about bullying – the subtle kind of bullying –  the ignoring and whispering and refusal to acknowledge someone. I think this kind of bullying can be the worst. This book is heart-breaking and poignant.   I love the metaphor of the stone making rippling waves in the water representing the effects of kindness upon others and the not so happy but very realistic ending.   Such an important story to share and talk about.

The Invisible Boy – Trudy Ludwig

This powerful, heart-breaking story is one of my very favorites.  Brian is so quiet, he is “invisible”.  He is not included, invited to birthday parties or is really noticed.  Then Justin, the new boy, arrives and works with Brian on a class project, giving him a chance to shine.  This gentle book is a valuable one to include in your class collection, showing children how small acts of kindness can help others feel included.  The illustrations by Patrice Barton are soft and gentle, just like Brian.  LOVE!

Quiet Please, Owen McPhee! Trudy Ludwig

From the amazing team who brought us “The Invisible Boy”, Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton’s new book “Quiet Please, Owen McPhee!” is a must have for a first week read-aloud to help build your classroom community. Owen McPhee loves to talk… and talk and talk and talk! (connections, anyone?) But when he develops laryngitis one day, he discovers the the value of being a good listener. Wonderful depiction of the social dynamics of a busy classroom with a gentle message about the importance of listening. LOVE!

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We Don’t Eat our Classmates – Ryan T. Higgins

Oh my goodness – SUCH a funny book!   Yes, there will be many “back to school” books being released this month… but this is definitely the one I recommend.  So fresh and funny, but teaches empathy so beautifully.  A perfect read-aloud or gift for that young one who might be experiencing “back to school jitters”.

                                                 How to Be a Lion  Ed Vere

Melt my heart.  I love this book.  SO simple yet such an important message:  there is more than one way to do something. Or be something.   Leonard is not your typical lion. Leonard is not fierce but enjoys the great outdoors and loves words.  He befriends Marianne, a poetic duck and, together, they compose poems.  When other lions hear about unconventional Leonard – they confront the pair.  A unique and beautiful story about celebrating individuality and diversity; for standing up for your gentle self and befriending who you want.  SUCH a great book for building classroom community!

I’m the Best! Lucy Cousins

Some children like to brag.  And while the line between being confident and being a “swagger-bragger” is often thin, it is an important distinction to discuss with your students.   This cheerful, humorous book is a wonderful way to spark that discussion.  Dog is “the best” at everything and likes to tell his friends all about his “amazingness”!  Eventually, his friends are tired of his bragging so they start a little bragging of their own, helping Dog realize how it feels to be on the receiving end of a “swagger-bragger”.   I love how this book gently shows how bragging impacts others.

Steve, Raised By Wolves – by Jared Chapman

LOL!  This book is hilarious and would make a brilliant back to school read-aloud for any grade! Young Steve is literally raised by wolves.  Mother wolf sends him on his first day of school with this advice:  “Just be yourself!”.   So Steve proceeds to do just that – howling in class, shredding homework, marking his territory, drinking from the toilet and pouncing on his classmates!  His behavior does not go over well!  In the end, Steve saves the day and helps to find the class pet.  Great book for discussing appropriate school behavior as well as what it means to “be yourself”

Do Unto Otters:  A Book About Manners – Laurie Keller

Based on The Golden Rule, this book reminds young readers to treat others the way you would like to be treated. Simple message that being kind and using your manners will go a long way when interacting with other people.   Love the word play and puns and quirky, fun illustrations.

A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices – Sally Derby

I love this unique look at the first day of school told through the voices of six diverse children, ranging in age from kindergarten to grade 5.  Each child tells the story of their first day of school, beginning with the night before where readers will see that even children who are older worry about school and who their teacher will be.  Excellent book for inferring, voice and point of view.

The Bad Seed – Jory John

This humorous tale of a bad sunflower seed who eventually turns good makes a great read-aloud for primary students.  Sunflower is a BAAAAAAAAAD seed!  How BAAAAAAAAD?  He cuts in line, lies, doesn’t listen, has no manners…the list goes on!   I like how this book explores how he got to be so bad as well as focusing on his transformation to the “good side”.   Expressive illustrations – lots of laughs but great message.

What if Everybody Did That? – Colleen M. Madde

A wonderful book for teaching your students about following rules, making good choices, consequences of action or being conscious of your community – perfect for the beginning of the year.   What if Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick has simple, up-beat text,  colorful illustrations and gives a new perspective on how our choices impact the world around us.  A good reminder to us all – before you do anything or say anything, ask yourself, “what if everybody did that?”

 This School Year will Be The BEST! – Kay Winters

Fantastic beginning of school read-a-loud. Great for starting the conversation about what students are nervous about, thinking about, and hoping to get from school.  Also a great anchor for writing about school goals and wishes for the new school year ahead.

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Be Where Your Feet Are! – Julia Cook

A simple, child-friendly book about mindfulness and creating a positive classroom environment.  Too often, our students are overbooked with school, homework, projects, sports, extra-curricular activities, family time and so much more.  The main character in this book is so focused on his band tryouts that he can not focus on anything else.  Mindfulness tips are included in the back of the book and would be great to kick off a class created list of ways students can work together to be present as individuals, supporting each other throughout the year.

Thanks for stopping by!  What is your favorite book for building class community?

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Summer Picture Book Picks 2018 (Part 2) Family, Friendship, and Inclusion

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

Well my intention of blogging more this summer has certainly not unfolded as planned!  But I have discovered I have only two speeds – Fast Forward and STOP!  And when I stop – I literally get nothing done!  But I’m enjoying the lazy (hot) days of summer immensely!  Here is my “Part 2” of some my favorite summer picture books.  This week I’m featuring books that focus on Family, Friendship and Inclusion – all themes and lessons you will find in my new book Powerful Understanding.  Enjoy and happy reading!

Drawn Together (Hyperion Picture Book (eBook)) by [Lê, Minh]

Drawn Together – Minh Le

Beautifully touching story celebrating the power of unspoken language and bridging the gap between ages, languages, and cultures.  A young boy and his aging grandfather can’t communicate due to a language barrier but eventually find a new way to communicate through drawing together.   Lots of connections here.  Stunning story… stunning illustrations.  I see award nominations coming for this one.

Islandborn – Junot Diaz

“Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.”  A perfect book for exploring immigration, community, family, traditions and culture.  WOW!  Great book for sharing and making connections to family origins.  Bright, bursting illustrations.  LOVE!

Alma and How She Got Her Name – Juana Martinez-Neal

Who named you?  What does your name mean?  What connection does your name have to your family?  These are questions I love to ask my students as we explore identity  (and the first lesson in my Powerful Understanding book!) Alma has six names – each one connected to people in her family.   A perfect anchor for a lesson on exploring our names!

Funeral – Matt James

I love books that invite questions from the cover… “What’s a funeral?” …“Who died?”…  “Why do the kids look so happy when the book is called The Funeral?”  “Why are the letters in the title in different colors?”   A refreshing look at a “FUN-eral” of a beloved uncle – celebrating life rather than mourning death.  It’s simple, honest and affirming.   This one grew on me.

FRIENDSHIP

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Little Robot Alone – Patricia Maclachlan

Can’t ever miss reading a book by the great Patrica Maclachlan…  Little Robot Alone is a lovely story about a Robot who decides to use his creativity to make himself a friend – a robot dog!  Repetitive segments and sing-song elements make this a charming read-a-loud for Pre-K-Gr. 1.  Would be a great anchor for inviting students to create their own “friend”.   (Would also be a great anchor for my MMT school project – based on The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires.  See my blog post here.)

Hoot and Olive:  Brave Enough for Two – Jonathan D. Voss

Mix a little Goodnight Moon, Winnie-the-Pooh, and The Night Gardner…. and you have this delightful story of two inseparable friends – a little girl and her stuffed Owl. Gorgeous, whimsical watercolor illustrations.  A tale of bravery, adventure and hope.  Love this one.  (I know I say that a lot but I really did love this one!)

Rescue and Jessica – A Life-Changing Friendship – Jessica Kensky

Written by two of the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing, this picture book is the true story of one of them and their service dog, Rescue.  But it is really the story about overcoming life’s challenges and the hope we find during times of overwhelming adversity.  I love the parallel stories of both Rescue, a dog that thought he would grow up to be a seeing eye dog, but life had a different responsibility for him and Jessica, a young girl whose life also turned out differently than she imagined. Together they rescue each other.

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We Don’t Eat our Classmates – Ryan T. Higgins

Oh my goodness – SUCH a funny book!   Yes, there will be many “back to school” books being released this month… but this is definitely the one I recommend.  So fresh and funny, but teaches empathy so beautifully.  A perfect read-aloud or gift for that young one who might be experiencing “back to school jitters”

                                                       How to Be a Lion – Ed Vere

Melt my heart.  I love this book.  SO simple yet such an important message:  there is more than one way to do something. Or be something.   Leonard is not your typical lion. Leonard is not fierce but enjoys the great outdoors and loves words.  He befriends Marianne, a poetic duck and, together, they compose poems.  When other lions hear about unconventional Leonard – they confront the pair.  A unique and beautiful story about celebrating individuality and diversity; for standing up for your gentle self and befriending who you want.  This is a great book for building classroom community.

                                               Niblet & Ralph –  Zachariah OHora

Two look-alike pet cats switch places in this humorous, sweet story of mistaken identity.  A little like “The Parent Trap” for cats!  Love the retro illustrations.  I like how, while the cats look alike, their owners slowly discover their differences.  Very sweet story.

Friendship is Like a Seesaw – Shona Innes

Great rhyming read-aloud for your younger students.  Sweet illustrations and gentle text explores friends at their best–sharing, laughing, and playing together–as well as friends who sometimes say hurtful things, leave others out, or get a bit bossy.  I love how the story introduces specific “friendship fix” strategies (another lesson in my Powerful Understanding book!) like talking about our feelings, looking at our own friendship skills, or taking a break.  A great anchor book for talking about the ups and downs of friendships!  

INCLUSION 

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

Oh my.   This book.  It’s a must read for every teacher to share in the first days or week of school.  A wonderful, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity, inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures in a school community.   I hope this book ends up in EVERY library in EVERY school EVERYWHERE!

The Outlaw Nancy Vo

Wow.  This book is powerful, so powerful.  Set in the old west, it tells the story of an Outlaw who, after many years of terrorizing a town, disappears.  When he returns, years later, he must begin the long process of making amends.   While not really about inclusion, it is a story about forgiveness, acceptance and second chances.  Simple text but this is definitely going to be added to my list of Inferring books for intermediate students. Would make a great book to spark conversations about forgiveness.   Love the “old west” feel to the mixed-media illustrations.

We are All Dots:  A Big Plan for a Better World –  Giancarlo Macrì

If you attended any of my workshops this past spring, you will have heard me going on and on about this amazing, powerful picture book that introduces, in simple format, many important social issues.  Intended for an older audience, this book would stimulate great discussions about equality and diversity with older students.   SO many inferences can be made from the many different dot images.  This is one of my favorite books of 2018.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found a book or two that caught your eye!

 

 

 

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Filed under 2018 releases, Connect, Diversity, Family, Friendship, Grief, Identity, immigration, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, New Books