Category Archives: making connections

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Much Needed Book Joy

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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

Well, it’s been quite a week.  Lots of emotion, lots of fear, lots of unknowns…  I found myself being drawn into the negative events on the news and became swept up by it all.

And so, this weekend I turned off the news and turned to books… A distraction? Perhaps. But reading these brand new picture books brought me pieces of joy, as they always do. And joy was what I needed this week.

(A big thank you to Raincoast Books for sending me a box of joy!)

How to Be A Hero – Florence Parry Heide

What does it mean to be a hero?  Fame?  Cover of a magazine?   What does it take?  Bravery? Brains? Kissing a princess?   Gideon learns a good hero keeps their eyes open to the world.  Empowering, delightful and love the boy-centered fairy tale.

The Storybook Knight – Helen Docherty

“Leo was a gentle knight in thought and word and deed. While other knights liked fighting, Leo liked to sit and read.”

A charming story with the perfect message – violence is not the answer – books are!  With a gentle rhyme, we meet a Leo, the mouse, whose parents would rather him be swinging his sword rather than turning a page.  So Leo heads off to tame the  dangerous dragon… with a stack of books!   Love!

  The Wish Tree – Kyo Maclear

Sweet seasonal book with a tender message about believing in something when no one else seems to.  Poetic text and lovely illustrations.

Good Morning, City – Pat Kiernan

This book is written by Pat Kiernan, well-known morning anchor on NY1, New York City’s 24-hour news channel.  (Being from the west coast of Canada, I was not familiar with him, but apparently he was born in Calgary!)  It describes a city waking up and all the activities from early to mid-morning.  I really enjoyed the short, poetic descriptions combined with sound words. A great choice for visualizing and is now on my list of anchor books for when I teach onomatopoeia!  Beautiful illustrations with amazing use of light gradually brightening on each page. This is definitely one to check out!

Sleep Tight Farm – A Farm Prepares for Winter – Eugenie Doyle

Gentle, lyrical story about a farm getting ready for winter. Helps children understand this season of the year, and how the work of one season prepares for another. Stunning illustrations.  Lovely author’s note at the back.

Real Cowboys – Kate Hoefler

I love this gentle telling of the wonders of the west.  Soft poetic text and lovely illustrations.  I really liked the focus on positive personality traits: real cowboys cry; they are good listeners, willing to ask for help, patient and hard workers.  This book is quiet and moving with a subtle, but important lesson on empathy. 

Before Morning – Joyce Sidman

I adore everything Joyce Sidman writes… so was excited to see her new book about a family’s anticipation of a “snow day” following a snow storm.   This book is one you will need to pour over – with much of the story being told through the details in the illustrations – perfect for inferring!  I appreciated that Joyce Sidman includes an explanation of what an “invocation” poem is (poem that invites something to happen) inspiriting students to write their own!  Gorgeous “scratch-board” illustrations by Beth Krommes.

First Snow – Bomi Park

This book, translated from Korean, is quiet and charming, and captures the magic of snow and childhood wonder.  Simple, soft, and beautiful. 

Samson in the Snow – Philip C. Stead

Another gentle story of friendship from Philip Stead, this one about a woolly mammoth, a bird, a mouse and some dandelions.  Oh, how I love the quiet, gentle, kind and hopeful way he tells a story.  Gorgeous illustrations.

It Is Not Time for Sleeping ( A Bedtime Story) – Lisa Graff

Rhythmic, cumulative text describes a young child going through his nightly bedtime routines.  A perfect bedtime story – but also great for making connections in an early primary class.  Charming illustrations by Lauren Castillo. 

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

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Filed under 2016 releases, Family, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, New Books, Winter Books

Diversity Saturday- Food Around the World!

I’m excited to be participating in Diverse Children’s Books, celebrating diversity in children’s literature hosted by Katie @ The Logonauts;  Myra @ Gathering Books, Mia @ Pragmatic Mom, Crystal @ Reading Through Life and co-blogger @ Rich in Color and Carrie @ There’s a Book for That.   If you have your own diverse children’s books you’d like to share, head over to Katie’s blog to link up.

Today I am celebrating diversity through picture books about FOOD – a delicious way to learn about different cultures!  Many of the students in my school come from diverse backgrounds, so these books are excellent anchors for making connections, a starting point for a inquiry unit on food and cultures around the world, or creating a multicultural cook book filled with recipes and stories.

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji – F. Zia  (India)

A lively, lovely story about grandparents visiting from India.  Many cultural traditions are shared through the grandfather’s stories, great illustrations and playful tone.  This is a perfect connect book for my students!

What Shall I Make? – Nandini Nayar  (India)

Sweet imaginative story originally published in India.  Neeraj’s mother gives him some chapati dough to play with while she cooks. “What should I make?” he wonders? His little ball of dough morphs into a snake, a mouse, a cat, and a lion, until finally – a big round chapati hot and puffy from cooking on the tavawho.

Bee-bim Bop! Linda Sue Park  (Korea)

This lively rhyming book follows a young girl as she and her mom make a traditional Korean dish called Bee-bim bop, which translates to “mixed-up rice.”  From the grocery store to the kitchen, this book shows diverse characters, foods and language. A wonderful recipe is included that even has parts for a child and parts for the grown up. Love the language in this one.

Duck for Turkey Day – Jacqueline Jules (Vietnam)

Excellent book for explaining diversity and inclusion as a young girl worries that her family is having duck on Thanksgiving instead of the traditional turkey.   A great message that no matter how you celebrate or what you eat, it’s the gathering of family that is important.  This would make a perfect book for making connections for my students.

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Dumpling Soup  – Jama Kim Rattigan (Hawaii)

Marisa gets to help make dumplings this year to celebrate the New Year.  Set in the Hawaiian islands, this story celebrates the joyful mix of food, customs, and languages from many cultures representing the diversity that is Hawaii;  Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, and haole (Hawaiian for white people, according to the book:)

Dim Sum for Everyone!– Grace Lin  (Asian-American)

Wonderful, simple story that follows a family sharing the many small  dishes in a traditional dim-sum restaurant.  I enjoyed the explanation of some of the dishes as well as the history of this Asian tradition.  A perfect connect book!

Too Many Tamales – Gary Soto (Mexico)

A touching story of a young girl named Maria who loses her mother’s wedding ring as she makes traditional tamales for a holiday celebration during the Christmas season. Problem solving, family support and culture all woven together.

What Can You Do with a Paleta? – Carmen Tafolla   (Mexico)

Children will make many connections to the ice cream truck when reading this book about a young girl who is waiting for the “Paleta truck” to arrive in her neighbourhood one hot summer day.  I love the colorful, lively illustrations in this book and the writing that focuses on the many senses of the “bario” (neighbourhood).  This would be an excellent anchor book for writing about place and using your senses.

Cora Cooks Pancit – Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore (Philippines)

This story is about a young Filipino-American girl, named Cora, who finally gets the chance go help her mother cook her favorite Filipino Dish,  Pancit.   I enjoyed how both the process of cooking and the heritage of the dish are woven through the mother’s stories while they are cooking.  Beautiful illustrations and recipes included!

The First Strawberries A CHEROKEE STORY – Joseph Bruchac

Traditional Cherokee legend which tells the story of how the first strawberries came to be.  Respect, kindness, relationships and nature are all themes included in this book.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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Eat, Leo, Eat! – Caroline Adderson  (Italy)

When Leo doesn’t want to eat Nonna’s lunches she comes up with an intriguing tale for each dish. The pages of this book are filled with vivid illustrations, tradition, and the love of food and family.  I loved the additional glossary of Italian words and the spread about pasta names with their Italian origins.

Mama Panya’s Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya Mary and Rich Chamberlin (Kenya)

When a young boy and his mother go to market to buy ingredients for her famous pancakes, he generously invites the whole village to join them!  Now Mama is worried they won’t have enough to go around.  Wow… this touching book contains so many themes besides food, it’s hard to list them all:  sharing, generosity, hunger, culture, community, Kenya, market.  An important book about sharing what little resources you have.

Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat! A Chanukah Story – Naomi Howard

Wonderful story celebrating Chanukah with a Russian Jewish version of the magic cooking pot. Would be great to pair with Strega Nona and the Magic Porridge Pot.  Colorful, expressive illustrations similar to Patricia Polacco.

Hiromi’s Hands – Lynne Barasch  (Japanese-American)

The true story of Hiromi Suzuki, a Japanese American girl who defied tradition to train at her family s restaurant, and became one of the first female sushi chefs in New York.  Great introduction to sushi and would be a great segue into a discussion about immigration with older students.

Everybody Cooks Rice – Norah Dooley    (Multicultural)

A young girl discovers a multitude of different traditional rice dishes in her neighbourhood from all different countries.   This book is from a series which includes Everybody Brings Noodles and Everybody Serves Soup.  It would be a great launch for an inquiry into the history and uses of rice around the world.

No More Beige Food – Leanne Shirtliffe (multicultural)

When Wilma Lee looks at her boring plate of beige food she decides it’s time to take action. She visits her neighbors where she learns how to cook colorful food from Thailand, Mexico, Lebanon, and Paris. Told in rhyme with vivid illustration this fun book is perfect for discussing diversity and trying new dishes.

Hungry yet?  Hopefully hungry for some of these delicious picture books to share with your students and celebrate diversity through food!  What are your favorite food books?

THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!

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Filed under Diverse Children's Books, Food, making connections

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading! New Books from Kids Can Press!

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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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I am fortunate to receive books every spring and fall to read and review from Kids Can Press, the largest Canadian-owned children’s publisher in the world.   It is like Christmas in my house when these boxes arrive!   This week, I’m excited (and proud!) to highlight some of my favorite new releases from our amazing Canadian authors and illustrators that arrived on my front porch last week!  Please note that many of these titles have not yet been released but most will be available early April and can be pre-ordered.

Toshi's Little Treasures

Toshi’s Little Treasures – Nadine Robert

Sigh.  I love this book.  Love it enough to want to make pajamas out of it and wear it to bed every night.   It is a unique search-and-find informational picture book about a little boy named Toshi and his grandmother. Together, they explore six of their favorite places — the riverbank, the town, the forest, the country, the park and the beach. At each location, Toshi finds treasures to add to his collection.  After you find the treasures with Toshi, there is a matching activity on the next page for Toshi to figure out where the treasures came from. There are SO many teachable moments in this book!   Interactive + thinking = a winner!

The Storm

The Storm – Akiko Miyakoshi

A young boy, excited to go to the beach, is disappointed when a big storm approaches and possibly ruins his plans.  That night, as his parents prepare for the storm, the boy listens to the sound of the rain and dreams an imaginary dream to try to drive the storm away.  This book has minimal text but the story is told mostly through the amazing charcoal drawings, which set the tone of gloominess and fear as the storm approaches.  This would make an excellent read-aloud book for practicing making connections.  

Life Without Nico

Life Without Nico – Andrea Maturana

Simple, poignant story about two best friends having to cope with parting ways when one must move away. Translated from Spanish, originally published in Mexico.  I  like how the book deals with not only the sadness when a friend moves, but how to “fill up the spaces” and what happens when the friend returns.  Lots of emotions here to connect to and charming illustrations.

The Not-So-Faraway Adventure

The Not-So-Faraway Adventure – Andrew Larsen

My dear teacher and blogger friend Carrie Gelson (There’s a Book For That) has a fondness for books that highlight inter-generational relationships so I immediately thought of her when I read this book!  It is an endearing story of a girl and her grandfather doing something special together.  I loved the message that  it is not necessary to leave home for an adventure.  Great mixed-media illustrations.  This book would make a great anchor for writing about adventures with grandparents.

Manners Are Not for Monkeys

Manners are Not For Monkeys – Heather Tekavec

Hilarious story that turns “good” and “bad” manners on it’s head!  Children behaving like monkeys and monkeys behaving like children!  This one will be sure to get a lot of laughs from both the story and the silly illustrations and also be a good discussion starter about manners with the younger ones.

Mr. King's Machine

Mr. King’s Machine – Geneviève Côté

There aren’t many books for younger students that focus on environmental issues in a simple, accessible way.  This is the third book in Geneviève Côté’s wonderful picture book series about a crown-wearing cat who, with a little help from his friends,  learns important environmental lessons.   This book focuses on air pollution and would be a great book to begin a discussion on the environment with early primary students.  The two other books in this series are Mr. King’s Things (impact of pollution and over-consumption) and Mr. King’s Castle (environmental stewardship and reducing your footprint)

Willow's Smile

Willow’s Smile – Lana Button

This book is a perfect book to share with students just before picture day!  (Great connections!)  Willow has a beautiful smile but she is shy and doesn’t always smile when she should.   Lovely message encouraging you to be yourself and about having a good self image.  I have enjoyed the other Willow books, but I think this is my favorite!

Fluffy Strikes Back

Fluffy Strikes Back – Ashley Spires

This is a fun graphic novel about a group of pets, led by Fluffy the cat, who try to rid the world of aliens (bugs).  It is an apparent “spin-off” of s is a spin-off from the  successful Binky series.  This book is filled with dry wit and slapstick tones, (along with the occasional bathroom break!) but with important underlying themes of courage, determination and taking responsibility.   A great graphic novel for early readers.

Feathered – Deborah Kerbel

Wow.  This book caught me by surprise, sucked me in and wouldn’t let go.  Powerful, sad middle-grade novel about an eleven year old girl named Finch who endures the recent death of her father, the depression of her mother, the nasty friend of her brother, the meanest teacher in the school and nasty-girl bullying. When a new family from India moves next door, Finch begins to find a friend and a find a purpose.  This book tackles so many issues facing adolescent girls and would be an excellent book for discussions on loss, bullying, mental health, learning difficulties.  It is powerful, compelling, raw, and you will not be able to stop reading it.  Right up there with The Thing About Jellyfish and Reign Rain.

Thanks for stopping by!  Which Kids Can Press book has caught your eye?

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Filed under 2016 releases, Canadian, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Lesson Ideas, making connections

It’s Monday What Are You Reading? New Picture Books for Fall – Part 2

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

The Way to School – Rosemary McCarney and Plan International

Just what would you go through to get to school? This stunning book explores how, in some countries, children often have to travel through disaster zones, cross dangerous waters, climb mountains and maneuver zip-lines just to get into the classroom. Some of them even carry their own desk!   The determination in the children’s expressions and in their body language as they make their way to school would be perfect for practicing inferring. An important book to share with children and one that could stimulate a conversation about the desire for education and the physical commitment so many children face each day.  Simple text and stunning photographs – this book is a gem!  Proceeds from the sale of this book go to Plan Canada, one of the largest international development agencies in the world.

The Good Little Book – Kyo Maclear

I admit that I got a little teary-eyed reading this book… It is a classic love story of sorts: Boy finds book, boy falls in love with book, boy takes book everywhere, boy loses book… But truly this is the story about the transformation that books can have in our lives: the adventures, the relationships, and the memories. Amazing whimsical illustrations. This is definitely a book to start off your school year.

The Little Book of Big Fears – Monica Arnaldo

Simple, rhyming text introduces 16 children who share their fears – from raccoons to the dark.  Alphabet book of sorts – but the missing letters spell out GUTSY and BRAVE.  Perfect book for making connections with K-2!  My only thought was that there was no reference to how you can conquer these fears – but an important “after reading” discussion!

Waiting – Kevin Henkes

Love. Love. Love.  I love this book so much.  Soft, simple, quiet, wise, gentle, whimsical – Kevin Henkes is a master storyteller.  Waiting is about five toy friends who sit on the windowsill of a child’s home waiting for their turn at play.  I already have a plan for reading this book to a primary class, focusing on visualizing:  read through, without interruption and allow the students to delight in the sounds of the words and let their minds imagine.  After the book is finished, I will ask them, “Hmmmm, what do you think the friends are waiting for?  Turn and talk to your partner.”   Hug this book.  Love this book.  It’s “waiting” to be read.

Friendshape – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

 This latest book by the clever, creative Amy Krouse Rosenthal, about the friends who “shape” our lives, is filled with fun word play, great illustrations and would make a wonderful read-aloud for a primary classroom!  Not my very favorite Rosenthal book but certainly worth a look!

With A Friend By Your Side – Barbara Kerley

National Geographic photographer Barbara Kerley captures images of friends from around the world and pairs them with simple, touching text.  Wonderful book for making connections and also learning about different places in the world.  Map and background information about each photo are included in the back.

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That’s (NOT) Mine – Anna King

Two cute fuzzy bears want the same chair but they do not want to share. Great illustrations, a lesson on manners and a lot of laughs! 

Lizard from the Park – Mark Pett

Adorable story of a young boy who finds a lizard egg in the park.  Crack!  It hatches into a pet lizard… who grows… and grows.. .and grows!  Charming illustrations by the author/illustrator of The Boy and the Airplane and The Girl and Bicycle.  Lovely surprise ending!

I (Don’t) Like Snakes – Nicola Davies

Fun blend of fiction and non-fiction about snakes.  Although the narrator is convinced that she doesn’t like snakes, for every negative she identifies, her snake-loving family come up with the positives!  Interesting information and great illustrations!  I love anything Nicola Davies writes! 

Bug in A Vacuum – Melanie Watt

This clever picture book explores the 5 stages of grief through the eyes of a bug who gets sucked up by a vacuum.    Sounds strange, but it’s brilliant and emotional and the illustrations are hilarious.  I would definitely read this to older students.  Another winner by the author of Scaredy Squirrel.

Thanks for stopping by!  Would love to know which book(s) has caught your eye?

 

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Filed under 2015 releases, Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, New Books

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? – Fantastic Fall Favorites (Part 1)

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

Ooooooo…. I just can’t help myself!  The new picture books that have been coming out in the last few weeks are SOOOOOO good – I am bursting with book love!   There are so many that I have decided to share a few each Monday this month.  Here we go with Part 1….

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 youself”.

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We Forgot Brock! – Carter Goodrich

A charming take on the imaginary friend story with delightful illustrations. Heart-warming and funny. A must read for anyone with an imaginary friend or for anyone who ever wanted one! Great story for making connections with younger students. 

I am YogaSusan Verde

Yoga is a wonderful practice to incorporate into your weekly classroom routine.  This book, written by a certified yoga instructor, would be a wonderful book to introduce your students to this calming, strengthening practice.  In this gentle introduction , children are encouraged to explore the world of yoga and to open their hearts to the world.  A child-friendly guide to 16 yoga poses is included in the back.  Icing on the cake are the illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds.

Words –  Lora Rozler

Wow. This book. So clever. So visual. So emotional. So provocative. So powerful. So transforming. I am almost speechless it is that good. It is the story of a lonely letter who sets off on a journey to find meaning. Through his various encounters, he combines with different letters, forming different words:  some hurtful and some helpful – eventually leading him to make a choice which word he would like to join.  On one level, it is a book about how letters become words and words become meaning but on another level, it is about the power of words and how words can build up or destroy. It is also about belonging, about making choices, about discovering and an underlying theme of anti-bullying.  This book is definitely one I would use for transform.  Watch a trailer for this book here.

Job Wanted – Teresa Bateman

This heart-warming book tells the tale of an elderly dog who shows up on a farm, inquiring about getting a job.  The farmer tells him he doesn’t need a dog because they just eat and never give anything back.  So the determined dog comes up with very creative ways to persuade the farmer that he is a useful addition to the farm.  A great read aloud with a subtle message about being determined and valuing others.  I fell in love with this dog – an adorable, creative, persistent hero.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox – Danielle Daniel

Wow – I was not expecting this book to be SO full of wonderful, teachable connections! It is introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals told through young children who explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver or moose. Delightful illustrations show the children wearing masks representing their chosen animal.  Simple text written as simple poems with a gentle reminder of how there are elements of all these animals in each of us.  In an author’s note, Danielle Daniel explains the importance of totem animals in Anishinaabe culture and how they can also act as animal guides for young children.  After reading the book, students could chose the animal they identify most with.  Also a wonderful link to a Social Studies, Art, Drama and Writing lesson.

Island Morning – Brenda Jones

A gentle story of a girl and her grandfather’s early morning walk through the fields of Prince Edward Island.  Beautiful descriptions of the scenery make this a perfect book for visualizing.  I also loved the special relationship between the grandfather and granddaughter as they enjoy the beauty together.

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West Coast Wild – A Nature Alphabet – Deborah Hodge

I am extremely fortunate to live on the West Coast of British Columbia. It is a majestic, magical place. This stunning alphabet book by local author Deborah Hodge explores the fascinating ecosystem of the Pacific west coast, from ancient       rainforests, to rugged beaches and a vast open ocean.  The book also explores the interconnectedness of the rich marine life found in and around the shores and forests.  Breathtaking illustrations, gorgeous descriptions, fascinating facts – this book is a must have for any West Coast teacher!

That’s all the books for this week!  Check out my “Part 2” next week!  Thanks for stopping by and I’d love to know which book caught your eye!

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Filed under 2015 releases, It's Monday, making connections, Mindfulness, New Books, Picture Book, Social Studies

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? May Day Reading!

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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

Reading is a great distraction so after a difficult few weeks, I’m happy to focus on some of the wonderful new books I’ve had a chance to read.

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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.

I have been waiting for weeks for this book to come out and it’s finally here! This is the most wonderful, charming, delightful book about reading I have seen in a long time. Not only is it an excellent anchor book for instructional writing, it is a beautiful book about the importance and pleasures of reading. This book would be a perfect one to start the school year and would also make a wonderful baby shower gift! Wonderful, entertaining illustrations enhance the text. (The only step that was missing for me was “Sniff the pages”!) This is a MUST have classroom book!

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The Cow Tripped Over the Moon: A Nursery Rhyme Emergency – Jeanne Willis

Such fun reading this hilarious book which follows an ambulance as it comes to the aid of characters in nursery rhymes!   Paramedics rescue the cow who tripped over the moon and cracked Humpty Dumpty – delightful!  Rhyming text and fantastic illustrations –  This book is idea for sharing and would be a great addition to a nursery rhyme unit. 

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Ballet Cat – The Totally Secret Secret – Bob Shea

Initially,  I didn’t think I would like this book because the illustrations didn’t appeal to me at first.  But after reading the story, I realized how they compliment the quirkiness of this delightful story.  Sparkles the Pony and Ballet the Cat are trying to decide what to do together but a secret may get in the way of their decision.  This is a wonderful beginning reader similar to the Elephant and Piggy books.  Lots of important themes in this simple story:  overcoming problems that arise when friends who have different interests and want to play different things; how to talk  about your feelings and showing empathy. Love the “talking bubbles”!

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This is Sadie – Sara O’Leary

Sigh.  I love Sadie.  I love this book and its simple message about the power of imagination.  Sadie is an adorable, whimsical little girl who doesn’t ever leave her room, but whose glorious imagination takes her to far away places, exotic places, magical places.  From sun up to sun down, silent Sadie has glorious adventures.  This book is so so lovely.  It had a soft, lyrical quality and phenomenal illustrations. (I could not stop running my fingers over the pages!)  This book is my new treasure book.

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Good Morning To Me! – Lita Judge

Although I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Flight School (loved that book!), this lively book tells the story of a cheerful, energetic parrot named Beatrix who can’t wait to start the day.  So she wakes up all her sleepy animal friends using her “outside” voice.  This book is fun, but I found the comic style panel illustrations a little busy and would be challenging to share with a whole class.

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Where Are My Books? – Debbie Ridpath Ohi

What is happening to Spencer’s books?  Spencer loves to read but when his favorite books start to disappear, and are replaced with flowers and nuts, he doesn’t know what to do. A fun, slightly odd but engaging story with a surprise ending. (Liked but didn’t love)

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Daddy Sat on a Duck Scott M. Cohn

Perfect timing for Father’s day – this book is a hilarious tribute to “real” dads.  What are those loud, strange noises?   A young girl is convinced they are wild beasts and not her dad.  Fun, heartwarming look at bodily functions that many children (and parents) will make connections to!  I only wish it wasn’t written in rhyming verse as I felt it took away from the content.

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 Butterfly Park Elly Mackay

Gorgeous, captivating, unique, charming!  My favorite book this week.   It tells the sweet story of a little girl who moves to a new town and discovers a place called “Butterfly Park”.  The only problem is, there are no butterflies to be found anywhere.  So the young girl sets out to find the butterflies, inspiring the entire town to join in the search.  Wonderful message about working together to build community and make a difference.   The paper-cut out illustrations are truly amazing!  This is a keeper!

Thanks for stopping by!  Please let me know which book(s) caught your eye!

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Filed under Beginning Chapter Book, Friendship, It's Monday, making connections

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Look What’s New for Spring!

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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.

It’s been a busy few weeks and I have not had a chance to do a post in a while!  I have, however, been discovering a lot of wonderful new picture books that I am excited to share this week!

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Swimming, Swimming – Gary Clement

“Swimming, swimming, in a swimming pool.  When days are hot, when days are cold, in a swimming pool”.  I love this almost wordless picture book by National Post’s political cartoonist Gary Clement as he shares his childhood memories of summer days swimming in the neighborhood pool with his friends. Delightful illustrations and a perfect book for making connections and inferring.

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I Don’t Like Koala – Sean Ferrell

What do you do when your stuffed animal creeps you out and won’t stop staring at you?  Adam does not like his cute, cuddly Koala.  No matter how many times he tries to get rid of it, Koala just keeps showing up!  A little scary, a little funny – and a great book about facing your fears.  Illustrations are hilarious – a little Tim Burton-ish!

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Look! – Jeff Mack

This clever book uses only two words but tells a great story – the perfect combination for practicing inferring!   A gorilla tries desperately to get the attention of a little boy,  who is transfixed by his TV, because he wants the boy to read to him.  Whoops!  Clumsy gorilla has broken the TV!  Now what will the little boy do?  Great messages in this one! 

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You Nest Here With Me – Jane Yolen

This book has soothing and rhythmic rhymes and the repeating phrase “You nest here with me”. A sweet introduction to different birds and different nests to young children. Gorgeous mixed media collage style of Melissa Sweet (The Right Word) add to the loveliness.  There are so many recent books about birds and nests that I think I shall do a special post just about birds soon!

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The Skunk – Mac Barnett

A skunk starts following a man around the city, resulting in a bizarre chase!  This book is a little weird, a little random but great fun to read.  The best part is that you have no idea what is going on until the end of the story!  Great for predicting and inferring!  Love Patrick McDonnell’s illustrations!

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Yard Sale – Eve Bunting

I loved this book before I even read it. Eve Bunting and Lauren Castillo?  Together?  In one book?  Then I read it and I loved it around the block and back again.  I think this just might be my favorite book of the year so far.  Beautiful, tender, heart-breaking, up-lifting story about a family who is down-sizing to a smaller apartment, due to economic circumstances.   The little girl is sad to see so many of their possessions for sale, but learns that what matters most is having each other.  This is a definite Kleenex book.  Love.

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Red – Jan De Kinder

An innocent playground incident grows into a full-blown bullying incident.  This book focuses on the pain of the victim and the victim’s friend who does nothing to help.  In the end, we see and feel the courage of a girl who makes a difficult choice and stands up to put a stop to it.  Beautiful black, white and red illustrations.  This book would be a good one for classroom discussion.

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Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry – Vern Kousky

If you are looking for a book to launch your poetry unit – here it is!  This adorable book that introduces poetry to younger students includes great lines from Dickinson, Eliot, Keats, and Rossetti.  I especially like the message it portrays that sharing poetry can be a joyful experience.  “Otto now knows that poetry should be shared with more than just the moon and the stars. Poetry should be shared with everyone.”

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Enormous Smallness – A Story of E. E. Cummings – Matthew Burgess

Sigh.  Sigh again.  I love this book so much.  I know I say that a lot but ever since I memorized “Maggie and Millie and Mollie and May” in grade 6, I have loved e.e. cummings’ poetry.  This is a gorgeous, illustrated biography of E. E. Cummings. (I loved the different type-set shown  as well!)  Interesting, engaging story of his life, woven together with some of his most wonderful poems. A quiet, sensitive introduction to his life and his poetry.  This book is simple, yet very engaging and I felt his spirit when I read it. 

So those are the treasures I discovered this week!  Would love to hear which ones caught your eye!  Thanks for stopping by!

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Filed under It's Monday, making connections, New Books, Poetry

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

 

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

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

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Eat, Leo! Eat! – Caroline Adderson

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

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Me, Too!  – Annika Dunklee

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

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The Bus Ride – Marianne Dubuc

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

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Walk on the Wild Side – Nicholas Oldland

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

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My Family Tree and Me –  Dušan Petričić

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

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Jasper John Dooley You’re In Trouble – Caroline Adderson

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

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

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The Confabulist – Steven Galloway

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

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Celebrating Family Day with Books

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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

Today is Family Day – a day in February observed in Canadian provinces.  This holiday celebrates the importance of families and family life to people and their communities.  In British Columbia, Family Day falls on the second Monday of February.  In celebration of Family Day, I have put together a collection of some of my favorite books that celebrate families, from picture books, nonfiction books and chapter books.  I have even included a few favorite titles from my childhood! These books would be a wonderful addition to your unit on families and are perfect books for making connections.

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The Family Book – Todd Parr

In his signature bright and colorful style, Todd Parr respectfully celebrates the many different types of families.

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The Great Big Book of Families – Mary Hoffman

This interesting book showcases all aspects of family life – from houses, holidays, schools, pets and family trees.  Each double page spread is filled with charming illustrations and fascinating facts to pour over.  A perfect book to compliment a unit of study on families at the primary level.

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All Kinds of Families – Mary Anne Hoberman

This picture book uses rhyme to talk about the different kinds of families that belong to not only people, but to animals and objects as well.   The rhyming text makes it a great read-aloud for younger students, and while it is not one of my favorite Hobberman books, I still enjoyed the celebration of different families and the retro-illustrations.

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Families Around the World – Margriet Ruurs

This is an excellent book to use for a unit on cultural diversity.  In it, we visit fourteen children from different countries around the world to learn about their families, homes, customs and family activities.  Each two-page spread is told in first person and begins with a greeting in the child’s native language. Bright, detailed illustrations and lesson suggestions are included in the back.

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You and Me Together – Moms, Dads, and Kids Around the World – Barbara Kerley

This is one of my favorite books for practicing making connections.  Short, sparse narrative and stunning photographs by National Geographic photographer Barbara Kerley, this book shares the simple joys of families being together and the message that no matter where you come from around the world – we all share a special bond with our family.

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Families, Families, Families!  – Suzanne Long

This brand new book takes on the topic of the diversity of families in a charming , humorous way.  Funny cartoon animals illustrate the idea that families come in all different forms.  Delightful, charming, clever!  

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 I Love You Like Crazy Cakes – Rose Lewis

Author Rose Lewis brings to lifer her true story of adopting a baby from China.  The story documents the adoption process, beginning with her letter to Chinese officials and ending with her bringing home a baby girl.  Touching and heartwarming.

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The Snow Globe Family – Jane O’Conner

I loved snow globes as a child so was immediately drawn to this book.  It tells the parallel story of two families – the old-fashioned “big” family inside their Victorian house and the almost identical little family inside the snow globe.  Both families are longing for a snow storm.  Charming, clever and a fun ending.

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Charlie Anderson – Barbara Abercrombie

This book is one of my all-time books for reading and practicing questioning and inferring.  While you think this story is about a cat who spends the days in one house and the nights in another, the message is really about children from separated or divorced families who live part time with one parent and part time with another.  Like Charlie the cat,  having two homes and two parents who love you is a good thing.

 

All-of-A-Kind-Family – Sydney Taylor

I could not complete a list of favorite family books without including this classic from my childhood.  I LOVED this book when I was young and read and reread it over and over again.  I loved reading about the adventures of five sisters (Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie – yes, I still remember their names!) from a Jewish family living in New York’s lower east side at the turn of the century during the turn of the century.  From bags of penny candy to searching for buttons in the front parlor  – I put myself into this book and lived every adventure with this family.

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Finn Family Moomintroll – Tove Janson

Another blast from my childhood past, these quirky, slightly strange collections of whimsical stories are centered around the magical Hobgoblin’s hat – which has the power to change things into something else.  I loved the characters – Moomintroll, Sniff, Snufkin, Thingummy and Bob and all their magical adventures and I still think about those floating clouds when I throw my eggshells into the garbage!

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The Borrowers – Mary Norton

The Borrowers—the Clock family: Homily, Pod, and their fourteen-year-old daughter, Arrietty are tiny people who live underneath the kitchen floor of an old English country manor.   As a child, I was fascinated at the thought of this tiny world of this tiny family who lived by “borrowing” things.  It was magical and whimsical and I wanted to be tiny and live with the Clocks!

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Year of the Dog – Grace Lin

Wonderful contemporary story of family and friendship, Year of the Dog chronicles a year in the life of Grace Lin’s Taiwanese/Chinese American family in upstate New York. I love using this book for Literature circles as there are so many connections to family, school and friendship that students will make. 

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The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher – Dana Alison Levy

Saving the best for last…. this is a brand new novel and I LOVED it!   So many wonderful themes are included in this fantastic story of a family with four boys including taking risks, caring for each other, making choices.  This would be such a great read-aloud to share as  the book stimulates so many connections that would lead to great discussions.  I loved how each chapter begins with a short note -a little clue of the misadventure that’s on the way.  I loved how much I cared for each of the characters.  I loved how this book made me smile.  Basically I loved everything about this book It is charming, funny, heartwarming, beautifully written and my favorite new chapter book of the year so far!

Happy reading and Happy Family Day everyone!

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Filed under Family, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections