Category Archives: New Books

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

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


1. The Treasure Box – Margaret Wild

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


2. That Neighbor Kid – Daniel Miyares

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

3. The Book No One Ever Read – Cornelia Funke

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

4. Twinkle – Nick Bland

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

5. Places to Be – Mac Barnett

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

6. Town is By the Sea – Joanne Schwartz

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

The Last Tree

7. The Last Tree – Ingrid Chabbert

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


8. Little Fox in the Forest – Stephanie Graegin

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

The Thing Lou Couldn't Do

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

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

10.  The Book of Mistakes – Corinna Luyken

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

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

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


10. The Good for Nothing Button – Charise Mericle Harper

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

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

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


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

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

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

Image result for a boy called bat

1. A Boy Called Bat – Elana K. Arnold

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

2. Orphan Island – Laurel Snyder

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

3. See You In the Cosmos – Jack Cheng

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

4. The Ethan I Was Before – Ali Sandish

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

5. Short – Holly Goldberg Sloan

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

6. Hello Universe – Erin Entrada Kelly

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

7. Me and Marvin Gardens Amy Sarig King

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


The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street – Lindsay Currie

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

9. Amina’s Voice – Hena Khan

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

1o. Chester and Gus – Cammie McGovern

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

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

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

Guest Post: Core Competencies and Student Self Assessment with Linda O’Reilly

I am very pleased to welcome Linda O’Reilly as my first “guest blogger”.  After retiring from the Vancouver School District, Linda is now busy with her own educational consulting business.  As well, she has worked as a sessional instructor at Simon Fraser University, was lead consultant on Nelson Literacy B.C., and is a School Liaison for the One-To-One Literacy Society.  Over the past three years,  much of Linda’s work has focused on BC’s new curriculum where she partners with teachers to bring the new curriculum ‘to life’ in their classrooms.  Her workshops and school in-service sessions are in high demand!   In this post, she shares some of her new thinking around the core competencies and student self-assessment and has included additional links to some of her documents and posters.  Thank you, Linda, for generously sharing your work with us!


Kids, Core Competencies and Self-assessment

By Linda O’Reilly 

This is an exciting time to be a teacher in British Columbia. As I travel about the province facilitating professional learning sessions, I am amazed with how teachers and students are jumping into the Core Competencies. Just think about this. In classrooms across the province, teachers have become thoughtful designers of core competency learning –creating opportunities for students to communicate, think critically and creatively, and act in socially responsible ways. On one hand, emphasis on core competency growth in BC classrooms is not new. On the other hand, many teachers are grappling with the core competencies and student self-assessment. With this in mind, and in the words of Maureen Dockendorf, “It doesn’t matter where you start, it matters that you start.”

A Place to Start

When students walk into our classrooms they bring their core competencies with them! The competencies are about how children go about ‘doing’ the job of learning. For example, how students communicate, work with others, and deal with conflict. When it comes to helping students develop core competencies, the teacher’s role is more like a coach –stretching and strengthening the core competency growth of their students. So where does one start?

  1. Discuss with students that different people have different capabilities and strengths (things they are good at, strong points, talents, skills) and stretches (things they need to work on). Encourage students to use ‘I can statements’ when they are describing their strengths. Let the students lead the discussion as much as possible.
  2. Introduce core competencies as the ‘six doing engines’. Explain to students that the core competencies have ‘job descriptions’. For example a critical thinker – explains why things happen, evaluates ideas, forms opinions, draws conclusions, understands the perspective of others, predicts what might happen in the future, and thinks of creative solutions.
  3. Create kid-friendly ‘doing’ definitions for each core competency. Post the competency definitions so you can refer to them and emphasize their importance with students.
  4. Create a competency word wall to display competency language for students to reflect upon as they engage with the core competencies. Children need to talk about their competency learning. Language and core competencies grow together and nurture each other’s development.
  5. Weave kid-friendly competency language as much as possible into all lessons, conversations, discussions and self-assessment activities.
  6. Create opportunities for ongoing reflection and self-assessment of core competencies.
  7. When you see your students being critical thinkers for example, point it out to them –‘notice it, name it’. Make clear what kind of thinking the student is being asked to show evidence of, for example, whether it is analyzing, comparing and contrasting, decision making, challenging an argument.

Student Self-assessment of Core Competencies

Ultimately, we want students to be the self-assessors of their competency learning. The process of self-assessment is what matters, not the format. The goal is to guide students toward the development of their own ‘learning to learn’ skills. Students are thus equipped with their own language and tools for competency learning and are more likely to transfer and apply these sets of skills into their daily life. Always keep in mind, students need to be living and doing the core competencies so when they are asked to assess their competencies, they can!

Steps to Student Self-assessment

  1. Address students’ perceptions of self-assessment including wishful thinking, over inflation, and under inflation.
  2. Teach critical thinking skills required for student self-assessment.
  3. Provide students with many opportunities to practise different aspects of the self-assessment process.
  4. Develop metacognitive skills. Metacognitive skills are important organizers of the tasks that students perform (e.g. planning, setting goals, adjusting what they are doing to improve the quality of their work).
  5. Encourage students to assess their own progress by asking themselves key questions about where they are in their learning (1) where am I now? (2) Where am I trying to go? (1) What do I need to do to get there? (4) How will I know I have accomplished what I set out to do?)
  6. Use the I Statements and ask students to assess their development by asking (1) Is this a bit like me? (2) Is this quite a bit like me? (3) Is this very much like me?

Student Goal Setting

Students should be encouraged to write their goals down during the self-assessment process, and be reminded of them regularly. The establishment of goals and having students track their progress toward these goals makes the learning process more transparent. To accomplish this with your students begin by asking a few basic questions:

  • What new competency skill will you work on?
  • What attributes/dispositions would you like to develop?
  • Set a Goal: I want to__ by__ so I will__.

Kids, Competencies and Student Self-assessment Resource

This is resource to open up a dialogue with students about the core competencies and self-assessment. The framework is not to be followed in a prescriptive way. Teachers are encouraged to use the framework in a way that works best for their students. Think of your students – you know them best. The resource includes:

  • Access to kid-friendly competency videos, links to excellent websites, and core competency bibliographies
  • Ways to get started with the core competencies
  • Ways to incorporate reflective thinking into the school day
  • Strategies for student-self assessment and goal setting
  • Growing my Core Competencies Self-assessment strategies
  • Six Doing Engines poster set
  • Icons for the ‘six doing engines’
  • I statements written in kid-friendly language (K-2)

I wish you a continued journey of inspired learning with the Core Competencies!

Links to Linda’s documents:   


(10) 2017 K-9 FEBRUARY 10 2017 COMPETENCY CONTINUUM copy (2)


Primary Competency Posters copy 2

Intermediate Competency Posters copy 2

About Linda:


More than anything, I am a teacher at heart. I thrive on confirming and challenging my colleagues’ thoughts about what’s possible in the world of teaching and learning. I have a rich background as a classroom and resource teacher, university instructor, workshop presenter, author, and educational coach. While I enjoy all aspects of consulting, I think my favourite part is collaborating with teachers. The ideas start to flow and that’s always when the fun begins.

Contact Information – or my LinkedIn accoun


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Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books to Celebrate Earth Day

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Earth Day activities are underway in many schools, leading up to Earth Day this Saturday.  What better way to celebrate Earth Day but to share Earth books with your students!  While there are MANY to chose from, these are ten of my old and new favorites…

1. The Earth Book – Todd Parr

With his signature colourful, playful illustrations and gentle message, Todd Parr gives readers tips and encouragement to “Go Green”.    (The hardcover book is on sale at Amazon this week for $10.79!)

2. Earth Dance – Joanne Ryder

I have loved using this book over the years as an anchor book for personification.  The book is written in first person and you, the reader, are planet earth travelling on a global journey through forests, oceans, deserts and mountains. Lovely message of taking care of the earth.  Poetic language and an excellent book to use for visualizing.

3. The Earth and I — Frank Asch

This story celebrates friendship that one child has with the Earth. It is beautiful and simple with an important message to appreciate our planet Earth by keeping it clean.  Vibrant, simple watercolor illustrations.

4. Earth Day: An Alphabet Book – Gary Kowalski

I love how this book focuses on gratitude for the wonders of nature – from apricots, to groundhogs, to june bugs, to zebras.  Gorgeous language and great triple scoop words!

5. Step Gently Out – Helen Frost

Stunning photography and gorgeous poetic language, encouraging us to stop, notice and wonder.  A wonderful book to read aloud to your class and then go on an Earth Day “wonder walk”.

6. 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World – Melanie Walsh

One of my very favorite Earth Day books, this simple text and engaging “lift the flat” format makes it an excellent read-aloud.  Filled with simple tips with a “small things make a big difference” message, this book will inspire your students to create their own instructional books to help the world!

7. The Lonely Giant Sophie Ambrose

Wow! Wow! Wow!  This brand new picture book is the PERFECT choice for Earth Day!  So much to love about this story about a giant who, thoughtlessly, destroys the forest he lives in just for the fun of it.  He slowly realizes that the forest was home to the animals and begins to feel lonely without them.  A great book to teach consequences of actions and taking care of the earth.  Great discussion starter!   Love!


8. Robins: How They Grow Up – Eileen Christelow

Two young robin siblings explain how robins live, build nests, lay eggs, and protect their baby birds.  Cheerful and whimsical.  (Be warned that one of the robin babies dies)


9. Watersong – Tim McCanna

Another new release, this gorgeous book is a perfect anchor for teaching onomatopoeia. This book takes the reader on a dazzling journey as a fox seeks shelter from a rainstorm.  Gorgeous sound words makes this a perfect read-aloud.

Image result for compost stew

10. Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth – Mary McKenna Siddals

A light-hearted introduction to composting.  The brightly patterned collage artwork features multicultural kids working together for a common goal.   Important information for kids (and parents) about creating your own compost.

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










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Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite new books and series for early readers

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Several teachers have asked me recently for recommendations of books for emerging readers in grades K-2.  After a few visits to book stores, I have discovered a few new series I believe fit the bill!  These books are all written in short chapters, easy to read text, and colorful, explanatory pictures.  Hope there are a few books here that you can add to your classroom and library collections.

Charlie & Mouse by [Snyder, Laurel]

  1. Charlie and Mouse – Laurel Snyder

Two lively, inventive brothers, four hilarious stories!  Lots of fun and imagination!

2. Barkus – Patricia MacLachlan

Beloved children’s author’s new series (out in June) about a spunky girl named Nicky and an adorable dog, Barkus, who she receives from her uncle.  Humourous and energetic.

3. Bradford Street Buddies – Jardine Nolan

Wonderful realistic series set in a multi-cultural neighbourhood with a focus on family and friends.  I love the diversity of the characters.  Each book includes four chapters.

Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog by [Meisel, Peter]
4. Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog – Peter Meisel

For those looking for a little adventure, here is a delightful series that includes dogs, pirates, stinky smells, and treasure!  What more could you want?

5. Bramble and Maggie: Horse Meets Girl – Jessie Haas

Especially for horse lovers  –  this is the story of a devoted girl Maggie and her wonderful horse friend, Bramble.  I especially love the colored illustrations.

6. Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea – Ben Clanton

Simple text in a graphic novel format make this a wonderful early reader choice.  Three entertaining episodes about the friendship between Narwhal and Jelly.  I like how we learn some interesting facts about narwhals and jelly fish along the way.  Simple line drawings that will inspire young artists!


7. Owl Diaries – Rebecca Elliott

I loved the colorful bright illustrations and the simple text.  Each book in the series gently teaches lessons such as time management, conflict resolution, delegating others to help get the job done.

9. Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same! – Grace Lin

I love Grace Lin’s books but had not seen this early reader series until now.  Adorable series about twin sisters who may look alike but are different in many ways.  I love how the book has six very short chapters, the colorful illustrations and the dumpling story!


10. The Bad Guys – Episode 1 – Aaron Blabey

Simple text, clear, explanatory pictures makes this a perfect choice for emergent readers. It is hysterical, a little “off” and includes lots of sharp teeth, a few farts, and a car powered by undiluted panther pee!  Captain Underpants fans will love this series!

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

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Filed under Beginning Chapter Book, New Books, Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books to Teach Global Justice

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Last term, I worked with the two grade seven classes at my school exploring different Global Justice issues.  Using historical picture books, students explored and responded to a variety of global justice issues including: colonization, emancipation, segregation, discrimination, persecution, dictatorship, censorship, immigration, racism and civil rights.   As I have come to believe about everything I teach – and to quote my friend Carrie Gelson’s blog  – there’s a book for that!   Each week, I read a picture book which focused on one of these issues.  Each week, there was rich conversation as the students “filled their fact pockets” and did a whole lot of deep learning and deep thinking!

Here are my top 10 books to teach global justice issues:

Image result for encounter - jane yolen

                      1.  Colonization             EncounterJane Yolen   

This powerful picture book shows an alternative perspective of Christopher Columbus’s first landfall in San Salvador in 1492.  The story is narrated from the point of view of a native Taino boy and readers learn how the Taino eventually lost their culture and language because of this encounter.


            2. Emancipation          The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom – Betty Stroud

This is an excellent book about the underground railroad, that helped slaves escape from slavery to freedom in Canada and the coded quilts that were used.  Students are captivated by the story, which really explains how the quilt squares were used to help  After reading it, we review what each of the quilt squares was called and what its code indicated to the runaway slave.  Beautiful illustrations.

                  Alternative choice –           Underground Christopher Evans    


         3. Segregation                   A Taste of Colored Water – Matt Faulkner

This thought-provoking story is set in the early 1960s and tells about segregation from the viewpoint of a young white girl, Lulu and her cousin Jelly.  When taking a trip to the “big city”, they are excited to take a drink from the “colored fountain” that their friends have been talking about.  They imagine this water is going to be many colors with many wonderful flavors. When they finally get to the city though, they discover the water is clear and they witness a march for civil rights.  I love how this book gives a glimpse of this difficult time in history to children in an appropriate and accessible way and promotes a lot of discussion. 

Alternative Choice:                        White Socks Only – Evelyn Coleman


4. Assimilation               I Am Not a Number Jenny K Dupuis (residential schools)

Based on the true story of the author’s grandmother, this heart-wrenching picture book captures the experience of First Nations people in Canada being sent to Residential Schools. Under threat of fines and jail time, First Nation parents were forced to give their children up to the government. When Irene is taken to her new “home”, she is forced to forget her name, her home, her family, her culture, and her language.  A powerful and important picture book.

Alternative Choice:                     When I Was Eight –  Christy Jordon Fenton


        5. Dictatorship                          Sparrow Girl – Sarah Pennypacker

In 1958, Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, dictator leader of China, declared war on the sparrows because they were damaging the crops.  Chairman Mao made an irrational decision to order everyone in China to drive away or kill all the sparrows by going outside and making as much noise as possible.  After three days, the sparrow population was eliminated, but his thoughtless disruption of the food chain resulted in locusts  doing more damage to the crops than the sparrows had done.  The famine that followed lasted six years and killed more than 40 million Chinese people.  This fictional account of the story has young Ming Li and her brother rescuing 7 sparrows and hiding them in the family barn.  This is a powerful, true story combining social studies (dictatorship), science (food chain), and Reading Power(questioning).

             Alternative Choice:        The Composition – Antonio Skarameta


6.  Censorship                The Stamp Collector – Jennifer Lanthier  (freedom of expression)

This is picture book about human rights violations in present day China was inspired by two writers: Nurmuhemmet Yasin and Jiang Weiping. Weiping spent 6 years in prison for exposing govt. corruption. Yasin is serving 10 yrs for writing a short story called “The Wild Pigeon”. In the story, a young boy from the country who loves words and a young boy from the city who loves stamp eventually meet.  The stamp collector becomes a prison guard; the writer is imprisoned for a story he wrote.  Eventually, they connect through the power of words and stories.      

     Alternative Choice:    Secret of the Dance – Andrea Spalding  (banning of  The Potlatch)


7.  Civil Rights                 Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged Jody Nyasha Warner

Viola Desmond, known as the “Canada’s Rosa Parks” was arrested and thrown in prison for sitting in the wrong section of the Roseland Movie Theater in Nova Scotia in 1946.  Her actions gave strength and inspiration to Canada’s black community and she became the pioneer for Canada’s Civil Rights movement.  The new ten dollar bill featuring Viola Desmond will be released in 2018, making her the first Canadian woman to be celebrated on Canadian currency.

                                                Alternative choice:  RosaNikki Giovanni


      8. Persecution                 The Harmonica – Tony Johnston (Holocaust)

Based on the true story of a young boy who survived the Nazi concentration camp in Poland during the Holocaust by playing Schubert on his harmonica every night for the commandant of the camp.  This is a chillingly effective and hauntingly beautiful written historical fiction.  Gorgeous writing with many wonderful examples of similes and metaphors. 

          Alternative Choice:    Baseball Saved Us – Ken Mochizuki    (Japanese Internment Camps)


     9. War                     Sami and the Time of the Troubles – Florence Parry Heide

“My name is Sami.  I live in the time of the troubles.  It is a time of guns and wars.  It is a time that has lasted all my life, and I am ten years old.”  This story depicts the Lebanon Civil War from a young boy’s point of view.  The “time of the troubles” refers to the many times when bombs are being dropped outside young Sami’s home. During the many hours they hide in the basement for safety, they pass the time by thinking about happier times they shared.  A wonderful book with amazing pictures to help depict life in a war-torn country.   


    10.   Immigration                           Gleam and Glow  – Eve Bunting

This amazing story is based on the true experience of a Bosnian family forced to flee their country during the recent civil war. Because they had to flee their home, their fish, Gleam and Glow, were left behind in a lake behind their home. When the family returned years later, they found that the fish had not only survived but thrived over the years. Gleam and Glow creatively retells this story and weaves in the trials and suffering of a family surrounded by the danger and destruction of war who are forced to flee their home.  Stunning illustrations. 

Alternative choice:              Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey – Margriet Ruurs

What are your favorite Global Justice picture books?



Filed under New Books

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Picture Books to Celebrate Spring!

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It’s the first day of spring!  So, to celebrate the end of winter, (we had a particularly snowy one here in Vancouver!) here are my top 10 new (and a few not so new) picture books to celebrate this season of new growth, new life, new colors, new hope.

  1. Spring for Sophie by Yael Werber

Sweet story of a young girl waiting for spring.  You might think, as I did, “been there, done that” – but, like me, you will be charmed and delighted by the gentle, detailed  story and lovely illustrations. After the long winter we have had, this book warmed my heart.

2. When Spring Comes – Kevin Henkes

Lovely, soft book about spring.  Gorgeous illustrations, imagery, repetition, and alliteration to introduce the changing of the seasons and the transformation from quiet, cold winter to the joy of spring.  Kevin Henkes is a master story-teller and Laura Dronzek’s illustrations are delightful.

3. Egg – Kevin Henkes

A graphic novel for emergent readers?  I think this is a first!  I love Kevin Henkes, and this almost wordless book reminds me why. Henkes tells a clever, interesting, suspenseful story about four eggs.  Gorgeous pastel illustrations – this page turner will have you guessing until the last page.

4.  And Then It’s Spring – Julie Fogliano

“Please do not stomp here. There are seeds, and they are trying.”  This is not a new spring book, but I believe it to be my favorite.  Tender, beautifully written story about a boy and his dog who dig and plant and wait away the winter.  Beautiful.

5.  Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt – Kate Messner

Well, you can’t get a better book for combining literature, science, spring, plants, nature, and don’t forget -art.  This book has it all!  With a clever “split screen” format, readers learn all the amazing things that grow and live under and over the dirt.  An amazing companion to Over and Under the Snow and Kate Messner’s latest Over and Under the Pond.

6. What Will Grow? – Jennifer Ward

This is such a clever, interactive book about seeds that will keep you guessing just what is growing.  Soft wonderful water colors and large and large fold out pages are delightful.  Repatative and lyrical language makes this a great choice for read-alouds.   I loved the end papers showing close ups of many of the seeds.

Robins!: How They Grow Up by [Christelow, Eileen]

7. Robins!  How They Grow Up – Eileen Christelow

Two juvenile robins narrate the story of their lives, starting with their father’s migration. So much interesting information about robins packed into this book: nest-building, egg-laying, nest-guarding, feeding, siblings, predators, development, flight, roosting – Wow!  I enjoyed the balance of silly parts with true parts, including the death of a sibling.

8.  Plant a Tiny Seed – Christie Matheson

Reminiscent of  Tap the Magic Tree, here is another interactive book by Christie Matheson which has readers pushing seeds into the dirt, rubbing leaves, and blowing seeds around the page. Adding the plant life cycle in the book is a bonus.  Kids will have fun with this one!

9. Bloom – Deborah Diese

Gorgeous, tender book that celebrates life, relationship, and growing up.  A mother and daughter plant a garden to see how something small blooms into something beautiful. Lots of love blooming in this one! Would make a wonderful Mother’s Day present!

10. Bee – A Peek-Through Picture Book – Britta Treckentrup

With clever peekaboo holes throughout, each colourful collage page in this book reveals new flowers and plants, plus a look inside a beehive as the bees work together to help a plants grow.  A perfect book for looking at nature, cycles and inter-connectedness.

Thanks for stopping by!  Which Spring book has caught your eye?





Filed under New Books