Category Archives: Infer

Top 10 Remembrance Day Books

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With Halloween behind us, there are only a few school days before Remembrance Day. There are many books we can share in our classes to help children understand the significance and importance of this day and why we remember the men and women from all wars who have given their lives for our freedom. Some literal, some symbolic, some fictional, some factual –  here are my top Remembrance Day books for reading and sharing with students:

I love the inter-generational theme of this book as a young boy asks his grandfather questions about the war.  A perfect book for younger students that quietly honors the brave men and women who have fought for our freedom.
2. A Poppy is to Remember – Heather Patterson
Moving text and stunning illustrations by Governor General’s Award-winning artist Ron Lightburn explains the symbolism behind the poppy.  Bonus 5 page spread all about poem “In Flanders Fields” and Canada’s peace-keeping practices.
3. The Poppy Lady – Barbara Elizabeth Walsh
Why do we wear a poppy on Remembrance Day?  Against all odds,  in a day when women had few rights and opportunities Moina Belle Michael almost single-handedly launched a national campaign to establish the red poppy as the symbol of sacrifice and courage of America’s soldiers.  Gorgeous illustrations.
A tribute to the famous World War I poem, “In Flanders Fields”.  Informative and moving, weaving the words of the poems with fascinating information and stunning illustrations. This is the 2015 special edition that marks 100 years since the poem was written and includes additional information and a new cover.
5. Feathers and Fools – Mem Fox
A powerful, moving allegorical tale intended for older students.  This modern fable is about peacocks and swans who allow the fear of their differences to become so great that they end up destroying each other.  An excellent book for inferring and for text-to-world connections.
6. Why? – Nikoli Popov
A frog picks a flower;  a mouse wants it… and so begins this simple, profound tale about how war starts and ends.  This wordless picture book is one I have shared with many classes – perfect for practicing inferring and stimulating important discussions.
7. Enemy – A Book About Peace – David Cali and Serge Bloch
This poignant book has many layers of meaning but ultimately, it is the story that shows the humanity behind war.  Two soldiers, each in their own solitary bunker, wonder what the other is doing and eventually learn they are more alike than they are different.  Simple but oh, so powerful.
8. No!  – David McPhail
The word “No” repeated three times is the only written text in this otherwise wordless book with a powerful message.  In simple terms that anyone can understand, McPhail tackles the weighty subject of war and its effects on people. What’s more, he shows us what we can do to stand up and say NO.
This is a  very sad picture book that tells the true story of a tragedy at the Tokyo zoo during World War II and the painful decision one zoo-keeper has to make.  This story really shows the impacts of war not just on humans, but on animals.  Warning – Kleenex required.

10. What Does Peace Feel Like? – Vladamir Radunsky
What does peace feel like?  Sound like?  Look like?  An anti-war message told subtly through the five senses using similes and metaphors.   Great anchor book for writing!
 
11. Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan and Jon. J. Muth
Blowin’ in the Wind is a popular song during Remembrance Day assemblies.  Bob Dylan wrote the powerful lyrics to this iconic 1960’s song in 10 minutes; Jon Muth’s illustrations are stunning.  Together they create a wonderful way to introduce this message of protest, peace and freedom to younger students.
What books do you share with your students for Remembrance Day?
Thanks for stopping by!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – New for Spring Part 2!

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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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Wolfie, the Bunny – Ame Dyckman

I have heard a lot of positive things about this book since its release in February but I had not read it.  Now I know why everyone loves it so much!  It is a charming tale of a family of bunnies who discover a wolf on their doorstep.  While the parents are overjoyed and welcome the new baby, Dot, their only daughter, is more than a little skeptical about her new sibling and fears they will all soon be eaten!  This book is so much fun to read, full of wonderful illustrations and hilarious lines. Dot is a great character – full of spunk and insight.   I love the way she keeps shouting about how Wolfie’s going to eat them with slight variations, finally just giving up.  “Oh, skip it!”   A brilliant book about new babies, sibling rivalry and unconditional love.  Laughs, surprises, suspense – this book has it all!  Perfect read-aloud and would also make a fantastic Reader’s Theater!

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Zoo – Suzy Lee

This is an interesting almost wordless picture book about a girl visiting the zoo with her parents and ends up getting lost.  The two parallel stories, one told in words from the girl’s perspective, the other totally different story is told through the pictures from the parents’ perspective.   Reminiscent of “Voices in the Park” by Anthony Browne,  there is distinct contrast of the cooler tones for the parents’ perspective and the warmer, brighter, more energetic tones for the girl’s perspective.  I would definitely recommend this book to use with older students to practice inferring.

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By Mouse and Frog – Deborah Freedman

This charming story is about two friends who co-write a book together.  Thoughtful Mouse has his quiet ideas for writing, while exuberant Frog has his own great ideas he wants to include.  This is a wonderful book to teach kids about working together and the importance of listening and valuing others’ opinions.  The illustrations are adorable.  This is definitely a book for sharing with a class.   

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Fisherman Through and Through – Colleen Sydor

This was a book that stayed with me after I finished with it.  (Always a good sign for me that there was some “transformed thinking” occurring!)  It tells the tale of three dedicated fisherman – Peter, Santiago and Ahab – who fish the waters every day but long for a more interesting life.  During their long days, they share their dreams of better days.  One day, they catch an extraordinary and unusual fish they have never seen before – a lobster.   The lobster attracts much attention and soon they are surrounded by photographers and are offered a great sum of money for it, enough money to fulfill all their dreams.  (major connections to John Steinbeck’s The Pearl)   But the fisherman realize it is impossible to imagine their life without the water, their fishing rods and each other — and return their special catch back to the sea.  Whimsical illustrations, rhythmical text and for older students, could be the starting point for discussion on sustainability and human interaction with the environment. 

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 Outstanding in the Rain – Frank Viva

Oh!  The creative cleverness of this book!  The story of a young boy and his mother spending the day at an amusement park is told through a series of die-cut “holes”.  As you turn the pages, different cut shapes reveal different scenes and different words.  Balloons become frozen treats, for example.  Clever word play and crafted illustrations.  Lots of fun to read and re-read!

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Prickly Jenny – Sibylle Delacroix

This book is a perfect “connect” book for younger children.  We have all had “prickly” days – when we just can’t make up our minds what we want!  Jenny wants to be left alone, but she cries when her mom goes away; she wants to wear her old T-shirt instead of her new dress, and that’s that.  Jenny wants things her way, but she’s not always sure what her way is.  I loved the small format of this book and the lovely chalk pastel illustrations focusing on Jenny’s expressive face. And my new favorite word for grumpy is “prickly”!

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Welcome to the Neighborwood – Shawn Sheehy

Oooooo – you must see this stunning pop-up book that focuses on the interconnectedness of animal homes.  (Hummingbird builds a nest with Spider’s webs, Spider eats Honeybee, etc).   This is an impressive debut picture book with dramatic pop-up paper-collage illustrations,  similar to Steve Jenkins.  Readers are introduced to seven woodland animals, each of whom uses unique construction to build their home independently, yet live together as part of an ecosystem.  This one is a show-stopper!

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Math at the Art Museum – Group Majoongmul (author’s collaborative)

Math concepts can sometimes be difficult to explain or illustrate to young children. This is a charming and very clever picture book that introduces math concepts through concrete examples found in art. Two children and their parents are viewing famous artwork (including Picasso, Kandinsky and Seurat) in a museum. Their father explains that there is math, both hidden and visible, in works of art. While at first the young boy doesn’t believe him, as he begins to look at the art in a new way, he begins to discover the “hidden” math. Hands-on activities and elementary mathematical concepts that relate to perspective, composition, symmetry, patterns are included. This is certainly a book that can be used for both Art and Math lessons – a “2 for 1 text”! Love it!

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Tell the Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt

For Book Club this month, we are reading this debut novel by Carol Rifka Brunt.  The story is set in 1987 and is told through the voice of June, a 14 year old girl who has just lost her favorite uncle to AIDS.  Her uncle was an artist and right before he dies, he paints a portrait of June and her older sister, Greta.  Her uncle leaves behind his partner, Toby, who forms an unlikely friendship with June after Finn’s death.  Together they find comfort in sharing their grief for the person they each loved most in the world.  There is also a story line of June’s fractured relationship with her troubled sister Greta.   The book kind of snuck up on me – I wasn’t expecting to feel so much when I first started reading it.  At times, it was difficult to read and I felt overwhelmed with emotion.  This book is haunting, beautiful, tragic, powerful, gut-wrenching, complex, poignant.  The writing is achingly beautiful – with so many lines and quotes I marked as I read.  This book has earned a coveted place on the “top shelf” of my book club collection.

 

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

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Filed under Book Club, Connect, Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Picture Book Month Favorites

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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 hard to believe that November is almost over and in a few hours, the countdown to Christmas will begin!  It has been wonderful celebrating picture books this month with you and I hope that you have been inspired to use some of these wonderful books to enhance your lessons and bring some picture book joy to your students!  Here are some of the books I’ve featured on my Facebook page this month plus a few extras!

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The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Class – Justin Roberts

I know a book is going to be great when the word “transform” is written in the last line: “And now the world could transform and a change could be made by the smallest girl in the smallest grade.” This is a wonderful story about Sally, who, despite her small size, notices things going on around her – hurtful things. An inspiring story about making a difference and standing up for change – no matter what size you are! Vibrant pencil-crayon illustrations and rhyming text. A perfect primary read-aloud! Love!

If You Give a Mouse an iPhone – Ann Droyd

Getting sucked into screen time is certainly a topic we can all connect to! This is a hilarious spin on the classic series by Laura Numeroff. A boy gives Applesauce, the mouse, an iPhone to keep him quiet for 10 minutes. Of course, Applesauce wants the phone for much longer and ends up missing out on the fun activities surrounding him. If you are a parent trying to explain to their children why they should NOT get an IPhone – this might help your cause! Great illustrations, great fun! A great companion to Anne Droyd’s “Goodnight Ipad” (similar spin on Goodnight Moon)

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3nVxt6_lAc

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The Storm Whale – Benji Davies

This beautifully illustrated book invites readers to infer both from the carefully selected words and stunning artwork. The story is about a Noi, a young boy who discovers a whale on the beach after a storm. His father is a busy fisherman (and is a great hugger) and, despite their 6 cats, Noi is often alone. He decides to take the whale home and hide it in his bathtub. There is a tenderness to this quiet tale of loneliness, family and friendship.  Will make a wonderful book to practice questioning and inferring. 

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Blizzard – John Rocco

This book is based on John Rocco’s childhood experience duing the now infamous blizzard of 1978, which brought 53 inches of snow to his town in Rhode Island. Brief text and dynamic illustrations: the wonder of a winter storm told through the eyes of young boy. I LOVED John’s Rocco’s book Blackout (2012 Caldecott Honoree) about a family’s experience one summer during a power outage. I think I may love this one just a little bit more.

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Louise Loves Art – Kelly Light

This is a book that celebrates creativity, imagination and the challenges and joys of having a younger sibling!  Louise loves art – when she is not drawing, she is thinking about what she is going to draw next.  One day, she is preparing her latest masterpiece for the “Gallery du Fridge”, when her younger brother wants to join in but has a slightly different plan for her painting!  I liked the way the text told Louise’s story and the illustrations told her brother’s.  The illustrations are bright and lively and I liked how Louise modeled self control when her brother clearly ruined her special art.  This would be a perfect “connect” book!

elephant and piggy

Waiting is Not Easy – Mo Willems

Love this latest in the Elephant and Piggy series by the great Mo Willems.  This one deals with the challenges of having to wait for something!  Poor Elephant  is not having an easy time waiting for a special surprise that Piggy has in store for him.  This would be a perfect book to practice making connections with your primary class – especially with the Christmas season coming up… Who doesn’t have a hard time waiting for Christmas to arrive?

hockey sweater

The Hockey Sweater – 30 Anniversary Edition by Roch Carrier

With the passing of Pat Quinn, one of the most beloved faces of Canadian hockey this month, it seemed fitting to post a book celebrating this great sport. The Hockey Sweater is a true classic Canadian book and this year they have re-issued it as an “anniversary edition” (30 years!) Same classic story but filled with extra materials, still photos from the animated movie and best of all, quotes from celebrities who have read and loved the book. The story centers around a boy living in a small town in Quebec, his hockey hero #9 Maurice Richard, and the famous rivalry between the Montreal Canadians and the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is a story of hockey, family, community, heroes, passion and dreaming big.  This book would make a perfect Christmas present for the special hockey players in your life. (All three of mine have their own copy!) LOVE this book.

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What We See When We Read – Peter Mendelsund

Visualizing, or “making metal pictures” when you read is a strategy I have spent years teaching students about. In this fascinating book, graphic and book jacket designer Peter Mendelsund explores how we are better able to understand the act of reading through visualizing. In a “scrapbook” approach, a collage of short text, pictures, sketches and concepts he creates a visually interesting and thought-provoking look at the process of reading. Lively, quirky and thought provoking. This is a quick read (I read it cover to cover on the Victoria ferry) and reinforced the very foundation of what I know to be true: “The reader writes the story” (Annie Proulx)

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The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie – Chris Van Allsburg

It is actually painful for me to admit this – but I did not really like this book.  I love everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) that Chris Van Allsburg has EVER written.  I was SO excited seeing this new release on display in my favorite book store, but after reading it, I was left feeling so very disappointed.  Sweetie Pie is a pet hamster who longs to be free and run wild with other wild creatures. We follow Sweetie from the pet store to the owner’s house and finally to the classroom when he becomes the class pet.   Over Christmas, one of the students takes Sweetie Pie home – and forgets about him! I felt as if this whole book was about the abuse of this poor animal and about selfish children who didn’t care about him or anything!  I could not see myself reading it to my class as I don’t think there would be anything positive to discuss.   I am often teased by friends and colleagues that I “love every book” I read.  This book,  sadly, I did not even like!

 Hooray – this is my 100th Post!    Thanks for stopping by today!   Please leave me a message and let me know which book caught your eye!

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Filed under Friendship, Infer, It's Monday, making connections, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Reading Power, Visualize, What Are You Reading?

Picture Book Month – Celebrating my favorite PB’s for Intermediate/Middle Grades

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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

“A children’s story that can be enjoyed only by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” —C.S. Lewis

Are picture books are not just for Primary students?  No, no, no!  In fact, there are MANY picture books far too sophisticated and complex for younger students.  Over the years, I have been astounded and moved by the rich conversations and deep thinking that emerges from sharing these books with older students.  They also include many powerful themes with topics that link to content areas.   I love using picture books to model different comprehension strategies and the fact that they are shorter in length means that I can read them for single lessons.

Soooo… today I am happy to celebrate my favorite picture books for your older readers…

Voices in the Park

Voices in the Park – Anthony Browne

Anthony Browne is a brilliant author/illustrator and this is one of my favorites of his.  I love the way he combines sparse text and detailed illustrations to tell his story, while always leaving spaces for our thinking.  I often use his books to practice inferringVoices in the Park follows four different narrative voices  (depicted by Browne’s signature gorilla characters) as they visit the same park one day.  What makes this book special is that, although at first glance it appears a simple story, it explores many adult themes including poverty, class and diversity.  Anthony uses different “voices”, font, language, body language, color and backgrounds to represent the different characters.  This is a book with many layers – and a perfect invitation for close and careful reading. 

Flotsam

Flotsam – David Wiesner

David Wiesner’s known for his highly inventive, creative wordless picture books.  This book earned him the Caldecott in 2007.   In in this story, a young boy, while searching for  flotsams (any floating object washed up on shore) on the beach, discovers an old-fashioned underwater camera.  The roll of film inside reveals some remarkable and magical surprises!  Breath-taking illustrations that can be poured over again and again.  A perfect book for practicing inferring with older students.  Delightful!

Sparrow Girl

Sparrow Girl – Sara Pennypacker

This book is based on a true event that happened in China in 1953 during the rule of dictator Mao Tse-Tung when he “declared war” on the sparrows.  Over a 3 day period, he ordered every person in china (women, children, the elderly) to take to the streets and make as much noise as possible to scare away the sparrows.  The result was horrific, as the sparrows were so frightened by the noise that they had heart attacks and fell down dead from the sky.   This event led to a famine that killed between 20-30 million Chinese over the next 5 years.  This is the story of a young girl who saves 7 sparrows and hides them in her barn.  This book would be a wonderful anchor to introduce students to different forms of government.

Mr. Peabody's Apples

Mr. Peabody’s Apples – Madonna

Madonna’s re-telling of an ancient proverb is one I often use to practice how sometimes a book can “transform” or change our thinking in some way.  The story centers around Mr. Peabody, a popular teacher and baseball coach in the small town of Happville.  When one of the children on his team witnesses what he believes is Mr. Peabody stealing an apple from a local deli, he begins to spread the rumours that his coach is a thief.  This book has stimulated a great many thoughtful classroom conversations about the consequences of spreading false rumours.   Lauren Long’s illustrations are amazing – especially the last page… “What can you infer from those few leftover floating feathers?”

Bully

Bully – Patricia Polacco

The amazing Patricia Polacco targets middle school students in this excellent book.  While there are many books about school bullying, this is the first I’ve read that focuses specifically on cyber and facebook bullying.  This is an important book to share and discuss with your middle school students – and a great book for practicing making connections. 

The Stamp Collector

The Stamp Collector – Jennifer Lanthier

Wow – this thoughtful book is truly beautiful – to read and to look at. A book that celebrates the power of stories and how they bind us together and set us free.  This is the story of a two friends – one grows up to be a prison guard, the other a writer imprisoned for something he writes.  Great to explore issues of government oppression and freedom of speech with older children. This book is haunting – it will stay with you long after the book is finished. 

Fox

Fox – Margaret Wild

This book is dark, disturbing and haunting –  definitely NOT for younger students.  A magpie with a burnt wing, a one-eyed dog and a jealous fox.  Even after the book is finished, it will stay with you for a long time.  I have had amazing journal responses from students after reading this book – so many unanswered questions.  The word choices, the art, the story – by far one of the BEST picture books in my intermediate collection!

The Arrival

The Arrival – Shaun Tan

The Arrival is a stunning wordless graphic picture book.   Shaun Tan captures the experience of an immigrant brilliantly.  The story follows the journey of a man leaving his family and his home country to his arrival in confusing new world.  The reader experiences the fears and challenges of this man as he tries to make his way in a new land, unfamiliar with the language and customs.  It is a surprisingly moving story of hope – perfect for questioning and inferring. 

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom – Shane Evans

The story of the underground railway, told through the eyes of voices of the slaves.  While there are few words on each page, the reader is left to infer much of the story.  As the slaves begin to “find the light”, so too, do the illustrations become brighter.  I love using sharing the words of the poem with students first without telling them the title or showing them the pictures and invite them to infer the possible meaning of “Freedom”

The Promise

The Promise – Nicola Davies

Nicola Davies is one of my favorite Nonfiction picture book writers so I was excited to see this book when it came out last year.  It is a “pay it forward” type of story  of hope, of renewal, of promise.  In a colorless city where the people have become as ugly as their surroundings, a young girl steals a bag from an old woman and makes a promise to plant what is inside the bag… acorns.   As trees begin to grow, green joy is spread throughout the desolate city and others are inspired to also do some planting of their own. The mixed media artwork  takes the reader from darkness to light as the change in the girl also begins to change the world around her.  I love Nicola Davies simple, direct language and message. 

The Composition

The Composition – Antonio Skarmeta

Wow – this powerful picture book for older students was originally published in Spanish.  It tells the story of Pedro, who lives in a police state and is forced to choose between his own family and the state.  One day,  a policeman comes into Pedro’s class and asks the students to write a composition about what their families do at night. The pressure on children to betray their own parents brings fear and terror to Pedro and his classmates;  many know their parents meet at night in secret and are planning some kind of a revolt.   I love to pause and ask the students – what would you do?  A  final note explains what it’s like to live under a dictatorship.

Just a Dream

Just a Dream – Chris Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsburg is a master story teller.   He seems to tell a story by not telling us the story!  In other words, he crafts his stories carefully to allow spaces for our thinking.  His books are my “go to” books for teaching and practicing inferring with intermediate students.  While ANY book by Chris Van Allsburg could be on this list, I chose Just A  Dream because of it’s subtle but important message about the environment.

To This Day: For the Bullied and Beautiful

To This Day: For the Bullied and the Beautiful – Shane Koyczan

Spoken word poet, Shane Koyczan provides us with a glimpse into his childhood of bullying and ridicule through this powerful book adaption of his poem.   Raw, heartfelt and inspirational – his words bring hope for all those who have been bullied.  This is a must share with your middle school students.

 

Thanks for stopping by!  What are your favorite picture books to use with Intermediate and Middle school students?

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, Picture Book, Reading Power, Transform, wordless

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Picture books, Graphic Memoir and a Novel!

 

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I’m happy to be joining in the weekly IMWAYR posts, hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers. 

Dolphin SOS

Dolphin SOS – Roy Miki

This powerful story is based on a true event that occurred off the coast of Newfoundland.  It is the story of some children who, after following the sound of cries, discover 3 dolphins trapped under the ice.   When the government does not supply the proper support, (hmm… connections anyone?) the children take it upon themselves to rescue the distressed dolphins themselves. This is a powerful story of perseverance and I know my students will be captivated as the story unfolds.  The illustrations are stunning and reminded me of Steven Jenkins’s collage style.  I LOVED this story and I have added it to my collection of QUESTIONING books!

Hug Machine

Hug Machine – Scott Campbell

This simple heart warming book will inspire hugs from everyone!  This adorable little boy has mad hugging skills and finds a way to hug everyone and anyone!  (even whales and ice cream trucks!)   The illustrations are soft and simple and the expressions on this hugger’s face are delightful – I was smiling on every page!  I HUG this book!

The Flat RabbitThe Flat Rabbit – Barour Oskarsson

Well, I was a little unsure of this book when I first started reading it as the “flat” rabbit is referring to a dead rabbit.  But after a second and third read, I came to the realization that this book is really about death but deals with the concept with a quirky, gently and compassionate way with just a touch of humour.  This book is about caring and thoughtfulness and how a dog and rat pay respect to their “flat” friend.  I loved the illustrations and the fact that the story is told in simply and with little text.  Another great choice for inferring as there is lots of space for readers to add their thinking.

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 Fox’s Garden – Princesse Camcan

This is a beautiful (and I mean BEAUTIFUL!) wordless picture book (think INFERRING!)  that tells the story of a lost fox who, when turned away from by the adults of the village, is treated with kindness and care by a small boy.  It is a gentle story of compassion, kindness and gratitude.  The soft illustrations made me sigh… ahhhh… this is a gem.

Telephone

Telephone – Mac Barnett

Remember the game of “telephone” you played as a child?  Whispering a message down a line and then laughing at how it changes? In this book, Mama bird wants her son Peter to come home for dinner, so she sends the message down the telephone line, literally! The message moves down the line from bird to bird but gets garbled as it goes. What makes the book fun is seeing how each bird adds their own interest to the message – which makes it a perfect book for practicing INFERING!  The illustrations give hints too!  Lots of fun!

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (Tales from Deckawoo Drive, #1)

 Leory Ninker Saddles Up – Kate deCamillo

Yippie-Kai-Eh!  What is not to love about this book?  It has action, great characters, humour, and fabulous illustrations by Chris Van Dusen.  Leroy dreams of becoming a cowboy – he has hats, boots and a lasso and he is ready to stand up for justice!   All he needs is a horse!  Enter Maybelline – the horse who puts an add in the paper to find a new owner.  And there you have the makings of a delightful first book in a new beginning chapter series by the brilliant Kate deCamillo!  Would make a great read-aloud for Gr. 2-3!

El Deafo

El Deafo  by Cece Bell

When author/illustrator Cece Bell was 4, she contracted meningitis and lost the hearing in both ears.  Nicknamed “El Deafo”, when she began school in the early 70’s, she was “hooked up” to a awkward and very unattractive, bulky boxed hearing aide.  But with it, Cece discovers she has super sonic ear powers!  This inspiring graphic memoir recounts the story of Cece’s real life experiences trying to come to term with her disability and trying to develop both confidence in herself and in her ability to make friends.  The characters, depicted as rabbits, are delightful, the writing is poetic and Cece is brave and beautiful.  I could not put this book down – it is tender and insightful and I loved every frame.

Dark Lord. Teenage Years

Dark Lord –  The Teenage Years – Jamie Thomson

This book is hilarious!  When Dark Lord hurls down to earth unexpectantly, he lands in a parking lot trapped in the body of a 13 year old.  When Medics arrive, he mumbles,  “I am the Dark Lord” – but what comes out sounds like “I am Derk Llyod”!  I was laughing out loud when I read this!  So the poor “Dirk Lloyd” gets placed into a foster home – where he proceeds to try to prove who he is, while dealing with a cast of characters from the foster home!  Clever, funny, great writing!

 

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

 

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Filed under Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Novels, Question, Reading Power

Picture Books – 10 for 10 (2014)

I am excited to be participating in the Picture Book 10 for 10 event for the second time!  This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning

Choosing only 10 picture books is a huge challenge for me as there are SO many amazing new ones to chose from.  Last year I focused on new books that can be used for Reading Power – 2 books for each of the 5 Reading Power strategies:  Connect, Question, Visualize, Infer and Transform.  (You can check out my 10 for 10 2013 post here) The response was very positive, so I have decided to continue this trend.   Below are my favorite 10 picture books from 2014 that could be added to your reading power collections.

CONNECT

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It’s OKAY to Make Mistakes – Todd Parr   

I love Todd Parr books – they are bright, colorful and positive and perfect read-alouds for  younger students.  In this new book, he reassures children that mistakes are okay – from spilling milk to coloring outside the lines – children will make connections with every page!

What If…? –  Anthony Browne                                                                                                                                                                                             

Anthony Browne is an amazing author/illustrator and I was excited to see this brand new book on display in my favorite book store.  In this story, he focuses on the anxieties of a young boy who is on his way to a party. His mum is taking him but not staying with him – What if I don’t know anyone? What if nobody talks to me?  What if I don’t like the food?  While walking to the party, his imagination begins to take over and in classic Anthony Browne surrealist style – his illustrations lead us through some of his scary thoughts.  It all turns out in the end, reminding us that our imaginations can be scarier than our world.  I loved the firm, reassuring mother who helps the boy overcome his fears.  A perfect book for any child who has found themselves feeling anxious about a new experience.

QUESTION

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Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman

There is so much to love about this book – the adorable characters, the detailed illustrations, the epic adventure and the slightly surprising ending.  After breaking their mother’s favorite blue shell, rather than telling her, the three siblings set off to try to find a replacement shell!   This is a delightful book – from the first page to the very last and I know that younger students will be filled with questions about just what will become of these delightful bears and if they will ever find that perfect blue shell.

Norman, Speak!  by Caroline Adderson

This is a wonderful and thought provoking book that invites a lot of questions.  When a family adopts a dog from an animal shelter, they quickly discover he doesn’t understand even simple commands like “sit” or “come”.  The family (and the reader) conclude that their new dog (who they name Norman) is not very smart but he is friendly and lovable.  During a chance encounter at a park, the family discovers that Norman understands Chinese and that is why he has not been able to follow their commands.  The family starts taking Chinese lessons so that they can communicate with their beloved dog.  There is so much to love about this book – and many important messages about language and communicating.  The book is long but a perfect read-aloud for grades 3-5. 

VISUALIZE:

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Following Papa’s Song – Gianna Marino

I LOVE this book!  The stunning illustrations are amazing and I loved how the fictional story weaves in many scientific facts about whales and migration.   I considered including this as a book for Questioning but after several reads, I realized that the magic of the book lies with the images created by the journey these whales take through the depths of the ocean.  Lovely images to invite visualizing:  “…through the liquid light and deep into the mysterious black”    A wonderful book to launch a unit on whales and an anchor book for an art lesson for students to capture some of the images they visualized.

Hi, Koo! – A Year of Seasons – Jon Muth

Icicles.
reach down with dripping fingers
will they touch the ground?

What is not to love about this book?   Jon Muth is one of my favorite writer/illustrators.  I adore his soft watercolor pallet of colors and his gentle words.  This book is a charming collection of haiku poems to celebrate the seasons.  From careful observations of nature to insightful moments to nudge our thinking , I love every corner of this book.   Because haiku poems are short, I find they lend themselves well to capturing single visual images.  Try giving one haiku poem from this book to a group of students and inviting them each to create a visual picture.  The results will amaze you!

INFER

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Quest – AaronBecker

I use wordless picture books to help scaffold the strategy of inferring with my students.  Last summer, Aaron Becker’s breath-taking book Journey had just been released and was included on my top 10 picture books of last year.  (It went on to receive a Caldecott honor last year!)  My students spent HOURS pouring over the illustrations in that book and inferring endlessly!   So I just couldn’t resist including his new book Quest on my list this year. It’s hard to believe that Aaron Becker could match the magic he created in his first book, but I thought this one was even more magical!  It follows the same characters from Journey as they begin a quest to rescue a king and his kingdom from darkness. The illustrations are, once again, stunning.  Readers will be captivated and have endless opportunities to infer and practice creative problem solving.  This book is MAGIC!

Flashlight – Lizi Boyd

Another unique, magical book takes readers through a dark forest with a flashlight.  What magic hides in the darkness?  What hidden treasures can be discovered by the beam of a flashlight? I loved Lizi Boyd’s Inside Outside so was thrilled to discover her latest creative wordless masterpiece.  A boy takes a walk through the dark woods, shining his flashlight into the wonders of the woods.  The effective illustrations shows the beam of the flashlight and the hidden discoveries found in the forest – small creatures, flowers, moss.  I love this book makes the dark inviting and friendly and would be a perfect book to read before heading out on a nature walk.  A celebration of exploration and wonder! 

TRANSFORM

Sometimes a book can change the way we think about something. When searching for books to use to teach this strategy, I look for books that deal with an issue that students have some experience.  We “take stock” of our thinking about the issue or topic before and after reading, so that the students can visibly notice how their thinking has changed.  These books have the ability to “change your thinking”

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What Do You Do With An Idea? – Kobi Yamada  

This lovely book explores the notion of paying attention to your ideas and just what can happen when you befriend and attend to your ideas.  I see so many possibilities of how this book can change our thinking and can remind us that ideas are possibilities waiting to happen.

The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires

There are so many things I love about this book, not to mention it is a Canadian author!   This book invites us to revist our thinking about so many things – perseverance, creativity, collaboration, communication, dealing with frustration and being able to adapt to change.  It is so well written and is a perfect book for inviting students to revisit their thinking of what it means to be creative.  A must have for your classroom!

Extraordinary Jane – Hannah E. Harrison

OK – I know I have gone over my limit but I could not resist adding this heartwarming book to my top 10 list.  I have seen many reviews about Extraordinary Jane but I am not a huge circus fan so I suppose I was not particularly drawn to it.   But now I can’t stop hugging it!  This book is such an important one to read to children.  Many children feel the pressure to be the best, fastest, smartest, prettiest.  This book reminds us that you can be extraordinary just by being ordinary.  It is not the skills or talents on the outside that makes us special – but the tenderness inside.  You will fall in love with Jane – I promise!

Well there you have it – my top 10 picture books (plus 1!) for 2014.  I hope you found some new titles that you can use in your classroom!  What are your top picks of the year so far?

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Filed under Connect, Infer, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Reading Power, Transform, Visualize

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Early Summer Sensations!

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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers

It’s amazing to me how many wonderful new books keep appearing!   I can’t seem to keep up with all the amazing picture books being released and my collection keeps growing!  Here are some of the new treasures I have fallen for in the last few weeks:

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What Do You Do With an Idea? – Kobi Yamada

Every once in a while I discover a book that floods my heart with emotion and my mind with deep thoughts.  Here is such a book.  This is a book that celebrates ideas – no matter how small and how insignificant they may seem.  A little boy has an idea.  At first he doubts it, worries about it, almost rejects it – but the idea follows him around and slowly begins to grow and take shape.   I love how the idea is an actual “thing” that you can see.   The illustrations are wonderful; I loved how when the story begins, only the idea is in color – everything else in black and white.  As the idea grows, so does the color on the page.  So much to love about this book.  A great book to discuss the power of never giving up on an idea.  I would definitely use it for helping students understand how a book can change our thinking.  (TRANSFORM)

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Norman, Speak! – Caroline Adderson

This is a delightful story of a family who adopts a dog from an animal shelter.  They love this dog so much but discover that he is “not very smart”.  He does not respond very well to his new home and has a hard time learning to do what other dogs do.  While at a park one day, they discover why – this dog speaks Chinese!  They watch in amazement as he responds to the Chinese commands from another dog owner at the park.   Now it is the family who doesn’t feel very smart and decide to take Chinese lessons so they can communicate with their beloved dog.  A wonderful story to  promote questioning about animal adoption and animal communication.   My only issue was the length of the story – almost too long for a single sitting – but certainly worth reading over a few days.

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Whimsy’s Heavy Things – Julie Kraulis

This beautiful and thought-provoking books deals with depression as a simple metaphor:  “heavy things” that can weigh you down.   Whimsy carries around her “heavy things” until she discovers that by breaking them into smaller pieces, they become easier to manage.  I love the soft illustrations and the gentle tone of the story.  I can see this being an excellent book for discussion and using to infer (What do you think “heavy things” are?)  and connect (What are some heavy things that weigh you down?)

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Same, Same but Different – Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Comparison writing is one of six nonfiction text structures I focused on in my new book Nonfiction Writing Power.  Since using anchor books (mentor texts) is an important part of writing instruction, I am always on the look-out for new books that model the different writing structures.  While this book would be classed as fiction, not only does it work well as a model for comparative writing, it is an excellent book for teaching diversity and multiculturalism.    The book features two boys:  Elliott who lives in America and Kailash who lives in India.  They begin their friendship as pen pals and through their letters, learn about the many similarities and differences between their two lives.  A great book for making connections to culture, family and lifestyle.  Colorful, cheerful illustrations.

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Whale Shines – An Artistic Tale – Fiona Robinson

Beautifully illustrated story of Whale trying to find something he can contribute to the upcoming undersea art show.  All his sea creature friends have artistic talents, but whale feels like he has nothing to offer.  I loved the illustrations and the great message of perseverance and creativity. Also a great link to science – learning about different sea creatures as well as whale’s discovery of bioluminescent phytoplankton that he uses to create his art.  I also love how each sea creature uses their own natural characteristic to develop their artistic talent.    

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The Numberlys – William Joyce

Once upon a time there were no numbers – only the alphabet. And so begins the latest visually stunning book by master creator William Joyce.  The text is simple but the illustrations add a layer of sophistication to this story of the world before numbers were created. The book starts out with only numbers in the world and the world is gray, lifeless and dull. Then The Numberlys decide that change is necessary and they create Letters !   And then the world comes to life and the pages have color!  The value of both numbers and letters is reminiscent of 1, 2, 3 Versus A, B, C by Michael Boldt, but Joyce manages to add a sophisticated flair to the concept.  This would be a great book to illustrate the value of numbers and letters in learning.

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 The Winning Goal – Sally Rippin        The Birthday Mix-Up – Sally Rippin

It’s often hard to find books for emergent readers that are both age and language appropriate.  Sally Rippin‘s series are excellent for children who are transitioning into very easy chapter books.  There is a series of books featuring Jack and another featuring Billy Brown (who is a girl). But the fun part is that Jack is a character in the Billy books and Billy is a character in the Jack books.  Very simple vocabulary and stories children will find many connections to.

 

Thanks for stopping by!  I’d love to know which book has caught your eye!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Art, Connect, Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Multicultural, New Books, Picture Book, Reading Power, Science, Transform, Writing Anchors