Category Archives: Question

Favorite Picture Books of 2017

Happy New Year, everyone!  It’s been months since I last posted… any spare writing time was spent trying to finish my new book so I  didn’t have time to blog.  But now the book is FINISHED!  (what a relief!)  So I hope to get back into my routine of regular blog posts!

Before launching into some of the new books for this year, I thought I would do a recap of my favorites from 2017 –  in case you have missed any of these great titles!  Nearly impossible to narrow it down – and I’m sure I’ve missed many but, in no particular order, here my favorite picture books of the last year….

 

King of the Sky – Nicola Davies

King of the Sky is a beautiful, moving story that touches on immigration and inter-generational relationships.   It is the story of a young, displaced boy from Italy and a retired, elderly Welsh coal miner who races pigeons. The book is a gentle meditation on loneliness, courage, and finding your place in the world when you feel out of place.  I love everything Nicola Davies writes – this sweet story is one of my favorites.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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Now – Antoinette Portis

Love this peaceful book about mindfulness, living in the moment, and appreciating what’s in front of you.  A little girl takes readers on a delightful journey that shows all her favorites and ends with an especially lovely one.  Love the bright autumn pallet.  This would be a perfect book for primary students for making connections to favorite things; with intermediates, I would use it for inferring a deeper message.

Questions Asked – Jostein Gaarder

Any book that promotes deep thinking and deep questions is going to be on my list of favorites!   This gorgeous book poses some of life’s most difficult, unanswerable questions in quiet and nonthreatening ways, opening the possibility for further thought and discussion.  A perfect book for introducing deep thinking questions.

A Different Pond – Bao Phi

This book combines family and cultural traditions, inter-generational relationships, and the challenges of the immigration experience all in one.  Beautifully crafted – so quiet and honest, with subtle text and beautiful imagery.  Bao Phi tells the story of an early early morning fishing trip with his father. The trip is not for recreation; it is for food.  There are so many quiet references to the challenges of the immigration experience (Bao makes reference to his father’s English, how hard his parents have to work, how everything costs so much).  This would make an excellent book for inferring and a focus on the hardships of immigration.

The Antlered Ship – Dashka Slater

A gorgeous epic filled with equal parts adventure and philosophy, this is one of those books that caught me by surprise when I first read it.  This sweet story features a curious fox who seeks answers to many big questions. Together, with his unlikely group of animal friends, they embark on a wondrous adventure.  Stunning illustrations by the Fan brothers – each page is its own piece of artwork.   Love the lessons in kindness, boldness and friendship.

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Crown – An Ode to the Fresh Cut – Derrick Barnes

This book made me smile a big wide smile and brought a bit of a tear to my eye at the same time.  It is just that good.  In a simple way, it is the story of a young black “tween” getting a haircut from the local barber.  But underneath it is a powerful message about dignity and empowerment and the feeling of importance.  Rich, beautiful, and joyful.

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Here We Are:  Notes for Living on Planet Earth – Oliver Jeffers

“Some things about our planet are pretty complicated, but things can be simple, too: you’ve just got to be kind.”   This beautiful book is a message to our little citizens about the mysterious world that they live in and how to understand and take care of it. Originally written as a message to his new born son, add this to your shopping list for any new babies being born, or for birthday presents for the littlest ones in your life!  Simple message for children but equally important and surprisingly deep message for grown-ups.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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Windows – Julia Denos

A warm little book about neighborhoods and the people within them. It’s a story about a child walking through a neighborhood and noticing people in the windows.  Comfort, belonging, community – all wrapped up in this beautifully illustrated book.

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    That Neighbor Kid – Daniel Miyares

In this almost wordless picture book, a young girl curiously watches her new neighbor begin a creative project.  While he struggles with his plans, she offers her help.   A celebration of creativity, friendship, collaboration and determination.  Love the way the illustrations begin as black and white and, as the friendship blossoms, so does the color.

The Bad Seed – Jory John

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

                                                    Why Am I Me? – Paige Britt

Another stunning book that poses philosophical questions – this one with a deep pondering on identity and diversity.  Gorgeous mixed-media illustrations in an urban setting and great examples of point of view and inner dialogue.  Great discussion starter.

Life – Cynthia Rylant

Cynthia Rylant is definitely one of my top favorite children’s writers. I find her books to be so life-affirming, full of wonder and hope. Her new book “Life” is simply stunning. “What do you love about life?” is the question asked to many different animals. Through their responses, we are gifted with a wonderful message about life: how it constantly changes, the beauty of it, the darkness, and the wonders all around it. Simple, lyrical text and beautiful illustrations by Brendan Wenzel – it is a calm and reassuring book. Love.

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Wolf in the Snow – Matthew Cordell

So many great moments, great emotions and great sound effects in this moving, nearly wordless picture book about friendship, kindness, and compassion.  So much to love about this tale of a young girl who gets lost in the woods in deep winter as a wolf cub gets separated from her pack. The cub is afraid and in danger and the girl carries her to her mother. But the girl is now hopelessly lost, and in even greater danger. The pack, sensing this danger, howls to help the girl’s parents find her.  This is a must read, must share and must have little book.   (Kleenex required)

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Come With Me – Holly M. McGhee

What can we do to make the world just a little bit better, despite the fear, devastation and hatred we see everyday?  In this timely book, a young girl, frightened by what she is seeing on TV, asks her parents what she can do to make the world a better place. They respond by telling her and showing her that every person can make a difference by being kind, brave and showing compassion.  “Come with me…we can make this world better together.”  A wonderful book for launching a compassion project.

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When’s My Birthday? – Julie Fogliano

I so enjoyed this enthusiastic celebration of all things birthday!  Perfectly captures the agony and ecstasy of waiting for that one special day.   This book has rhyme and repetition; it’s bouncy and infectious and full of joy!  A great connect book for children – and even better one for parents!  “How many more days til my birthday?”

This House, Once – Deborah Freedman
Thought-provoking and beautifully poetic story about a house – and the oak tree, bricks and stones that it once was.  Though-provoking book invites readers to think about where things come from and what nature provides.  Soft, quiet, dreamy.  A note to readers at the back is great for promoting discussions.
There you have it!  So many more I could add but have to stop somewhere!  What were your favorite picture books of 2017?  Would love to hear your titles!
Watch for upcoming lists featuring favorite novels and early chapter books of 2017!

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Filed under 2017 releases, Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Question

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Book Covers for Inviting Questions!

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I always tell students, when practicing the strategy of questioning, that ‘good readers start asking questions even before they start reading’   Book covers are a great way to get your students thinking and wondering about a story.   There are some books that invite readers to wonder; captivating illustrations that stimulate our thinking, our imagination and our curiosity.  One look at the cover and questions come tumbling out.  Below are my top 10 books to use for questioning – the first five are new releases and the remaining five are old favorites.  I guarantee, if you hold up one of these books and ask your students, ‘What are you wondering?” you will be amazed at what happens!

(Just for a change, rather than summarizing each book, I have included authentic student-asked questions for each.  You will just have to read the books yourself to find the answers!)

1. The Whale – Ethan Murrow

What are they looking at?  Where are they?  Do they know where the whale is?  Are they in a boat or on land? Are they brother and sister or friends?  Are they scared?  Is the whale coming closer?

2. The Bear and the Piano – David Litchfield

Does the bear know how to play the piano?   How long has the piano been sitting there?   Is the bear going to play a sad song or a jazzy one?  Are they on a stage?  Is this a pretend play or is it real?  Is this a magical piano?  Do any other animals know there is a piano out there?

3. The Night Gardener – The Fan Brothers

Who is that boy?  Is he the gardener?  How old is he?  Is that owl going to come to life?  How did the tree get that way?  Does the tree only look like that at night?  Can the tree owl talk?  Can it fly?  Is the boy telling the owl a secret?

4. The Parachute – Danny Parker

Is that a boy or a girl?  What is he looking at?  Where is the bottom?  Is that a tree house?  How tall is that ladder?  Is he stuck?  Does he have the parachute or does he need one?  How is he going to get down?  Is he scared to be so high up or does he like it up there?

5. The Typewriter – Bill Thomson

What is that?  Why is the bee so big?  Is that a real bee or kind of a fake one?  What is that black thing?  Is that a briefcase?  Is that a clown bee?  Is that kind of one of those bee rides?

6. Phileas’s Fortune: A Story About Self-Expression Agnes de Lestrade

Is that a boy or a girl?  What is the fortune?  What is that shadow ?  What is coming out of that mountain?  Is that a horn?  What’s coming out of that horn?  What is in her hand?   Is she going to try to catch those things?  Where does she live?  

6. June 29, 1999 – David Wiesner

What’s in those baskets?  Why are the plants flying?  Hey – that’s my birthday!  How long have they been in the air for?  How big are those balloons?  Is someone controlling them?  Where are they going?  How many balloons are there?  

7. The Wretched Stone – Chris Van Allsburg

Who is that guy?  Is he flying or jumping?  Is he dreaming or really happening like that?  Is he magic?  What is a wretched stone?  What does wretched mean?  Is he going to fall in the water?  Is someone going to catch him?  Is he scared?

8. Mr. Bear and the Bear – Frances Thomas

Who is Mr. Bear?  Is this Mr. Bear or the bear?  Is this bear wild and dangerous?  What is the bear looking at?  Does the bear turn into Mr. Bear?  Is the bear mad or sad?

9. Two Frogs – Chris Wormell

What’s going on with these two guys?  I mean frogs but they kind of look like guys.  Is that one gonna hit the other one with that stick?  Why is one of them smiling and then the other one looks kind of scared?  Do they know each other?  How do frogs float like that like they are just kind of hanging there?  Is that the bully frog?

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10. The Egg – M.P. Robertson

What’s in that egg?  Does his mom know there is a gigantic egg in his room?  Is the boy reading to the egg or just reading to his quiet self?  How long does the boy have to sit on the egg?  Is it going to hatch soon?  Where did the egg come from?  What book is he reading?  

What are your favorite books to inspire “COVER QUESTIONS”?

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

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Filed under 2016 releases, Picture Book, Question

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? New Fairy Tales for the New Year

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

Happy New Year, everyone!  Over my winter break reading and book brousing, I noticed a number of recently released fairy tales. Some are original and some are re-telling of classics – but all are wonderful stories with gorgeous illustrations.   Whether I’m teaching and practicing Questioning or reading aloud for pleasure –  these would definitely be books I would recommend sharing with your students!

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Jack Frost – William Joyce

The third in Joyce’s Guardians of Childhood series, following The Man in the Moon and The Sandman, this is a charming and engaging story about the origin of Jack Frost.  Stunning illustrations.

Imelda and the Goblin King – Briony May Smith

Beautiful and inventive illustrations with a lovely story filled with humour sprinkled with subtle life lessons about bullying.  Complete with fairies, goblins, a Fairy Queen, this is a delightful, whimsical fairy tale.

The Tiger Who Would Be King – James Thurber

This book was on many “Best of 2015” lists last month, but I had not read it.  Now I know why!  This is an intense, rather dark fable about a tiger who wants to overthrow the lion as king and subsequently starts a war in the jungle. A thought-provoking book to spark discussion about war, pride and costs.  I could see reading this book for Remembrance Day and would definitely use it for questioning, inferring and transform.

Toby and the Ice Giants – Joe Willington

The Fox and the Star – Coralie Bickford-Smith

A sweet, magical story about the friendship between a fox and a star.  Gorgeous book – stunning illustrations, beautiful design – even the binding is lovely!  Simple enough for a beginning reader and would be an excellent read-aloud for a grade 2/3 class (it’s 64 pages).  Perfect book for questioning.  LOVE this one!

Winter’s Child – Angela McAllister

A delightful tale about a little boy who loves the winter.  When he befriends the “Winter” child, their friendship prolongs the cold months, delaying Spring’s arrival.  The world freezes, nothing grows, and the little boy’s grandmother is becoming sicker, eventually leading to the realization that the friendship needs to end.   Beautifully written and illustrated.

The Wild Swans – Jackie Morris

Exquisitely beautiful book. A wonderful lyrical version of Han’s Christian Anderson’s classic tale.  Jackie Morris – one of my favorite author/illustrators!

Vasalisa the Beautiful – A Russian Folktale – Anna Morgunova

Another retelling of a classic Russian fairy tale about a heroine who conquers the terrifying Baba Yaga with the help of her magical doll.  This would be more appreciated by older students.  Memorizing illustrations.

The Sleeper and the Spindle – Neil Gaiman

Captivating, dark and slightly twisted tale of Sleeping Beauty (with a sprinkling of Snow White)  told by the amazing Neil Gaiman – as only he can.  The detailed metallic illustrations by Chris Riddell are stunning.  This would be an excellent read-aloud for an intermediate class.  Ah-MAZING!  Great for Text-to-Text connections.

The Most Wonderful Thing in the World – Vivian French

Perfect text, perfect illustrations, and a perfect message that family is truly the most wonderful thing in the world. Lovely read-aloud for primary students.

Happy reading in 2016, everyone!

Thanks for stopping by!  Which Fairy Tale caught your eye?

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Filed under 2015 releases, Fairy Tales, New Books, Question, Reading Power

IMWAYR – A Whale, A Bear, a Finch – and a whole lot of QUESTIONS!

IMWAYR

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

It’s been a busy fall for me so haven’t been posting as often.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been READING!  Many of the books I’m featuring this week would make excellent choices when teaching and practicing QUESTIONING with your class.  Enjoy!

Imagine A World Rob Gonsalves

“Imagine a world where you can cut mountains out of curtains.” Sigh.  Another breath-taking, imaginative journey into astounding world of Rob Gonsalves – master of magical realism.  (I have used other books in the series for both Questioning and Visualizing:  Imagine a Day, Imagine a Night, Imagine a Place). Stunning illustrations that will draw you in and fill your mind with wonder.  Every time I look at the pictures I see, feel and wonder something more.  Boundless and beautiful.

Beautiful Hands Kathryn Otoshi

From the author of One and Zero comes this colorful and creative book explores the use of handprints and fingerprints, in adult and child sizes.  This book is wonderfully interactive and would make an excellent book for parents to share with their young ones.   I love the quiet inspiration and challenge to seek and create love, beauty, kindness and art in our world.  Would make a great companion book to The Handiest Things in the World – Andrew Clements. 

I Am Henry Finch – Alexis Deacon

Here is an “Adrienne” book if there ever was one! A philosopher finch named Henry breaks away from the flock and inspires others to do the same.  It is a MUST add to your Reading Power collection – and a perfect book to inspire questions and rich discussion: What is thinking? Can birds think? Can others influence our thoughts? Can we change our thoughts? Are thoughts powerful?   So many questions!   Inspiring, funny, surprising.  I LOVE Henry Finch!

Cinderella's Stepsister and the Big Bad Wolf

Cinderella’s Stepsister and the Big Bad Wolf – Lorraine Carey

Fun, fractured Fairy Tale with retro illustrations that reminded me of The Golden Books.  Great read-aloud!

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The Bear Report – Thyra Heder

A delightful new “connect” book about a young girl who thinks her “Arctic Animal Research Report” homework is boring!  That is, until a Polar Bear named Olafur swoops her away to the Arctic and shows her wintery habitat.  This book is witty, imaginative, interesting and elegantly illustrated!

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Where’s The Baboon? A Two-In-One Book Game – Michaël Escoffier

Delightful, engaging game of hide-n-seek through words!  I  love books that use any kind of wordplay and am excited about sharing this with  students and having them “hide and seek” some of their own words!

The Stranded Whale – Jane Yolen

I find stories based on true events lend themselves well for practicing questioning.  This is a gorgeous, tender and heart-tugging story of a young child’s desperate effort to rescue a beached whale.  Gorgeous writing, breath-taking illustrations, this brave book touches on grief and wonder in a thoughtful, inspiring way.  Very emotional read for me.

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Tricky Vic: The Impossible True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower – Greg Pizzoli

Lots of book buzz about this one – and now I know why!  This is the fascinating biography of the con-artist Robert Miller,  aka Tricky Vichas,  who pulled off  the most daring con in 1925 and managed to “sell” the Eiffel Tower to one of the city’s most successful scrap metal dealers!   It has everything from counterfeiting, professional gambling, a prison escape, and a guy who met Al Capone and spent time at Alcatraz!  A perfect read-aloud for grade 4’s and 5’s and great book to practice questioning.  The mixed media illustrations are amazing – I love the way Pizzoli uses a fingerprint for Vic’s face!  This is a MUST have biography!

Thanks for stopping by!  Which book(s) caught your eye?

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Filed under 2015 releases, Art, Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Visualize

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – More New Books for the New Year

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 new books just keep on coming and I have am happy to share a few more that have caught my eye this week!

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Sometimes You Barf – Nancy Carlson

It’s flu season!  And if you didn’t think it was possible to smile or even giggle at the thought of barfing – you will change your mind when you read this book!  A young girl narrates us through her nasty flu bug and, in the process, explains how everyone barfs, even animals.  The message?  Sometimes you barf, sometimes in embarrassing places – but life goes on!  Nancy Carlson has been writing books for kids for FOUR decades!  She always manages to write simple, playful books that we can all connect to!  Kids will LOVE this book, especially because it has the word “BARF” in it!  Great book for making connections!

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Pirate, Viking and Scientist – Jared Chapman

Viking is a friend of Scientist; Pirate is a friend of Scientist; Pirate and Viking are NOT friends!  So what happens when your two friends get along with you but not with each other?   Why, use your scientific brain, of course!   This is a wonderful story that not only focuses on the issues of friendship and conflict resolution but introduces the basic scientific method to readers.   Clever, fun, great “triple scoop words” and a lots of examples of how to use grid paper!  I loved this one! 

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Bunjitsu – John Himmelman

This book has a LOT going for it – big font, fun illustrations, beginning chapter book, martial arts, child-friendly scenarios, strong, feisty female character all woven together with Eastern philosophy! Each chapter is a subtle lesson about values such as creative thinking, hard work, and persistence.  Zen philosophy for beginning readers – what more could you ask for?

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Mr. Squirrel and the Moon –  Sebastian Meschenmoser

If you loved Waiting for Winter as much as I did, you will be thrilled to see Squirrel is back!  This time, he discovers the moon has fallen from the sky and landed in his tree.  Squirrel is worried others may think he has stolen the moon, so he attempts, with his woodland friends, to return it.  This story is hilarious – with classic Maschenmoser detailed, pencil illustrations that often tell a different tale than the text.  A perfect book for practicing inferring with the younger students.  LOVE!

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When Otis Courted Mama – Kathi Appelt

What happens when your mom starts dating a man you don’t really like?  Cardelll the coyote,  isn’t exactly thrilled when his mother begins dating Otis, the neighbor.  This great book would be a great anchor to introduce children about accepting and adjusting to a new step-parent.  I loved the dessert setting and the colorful illustrations.

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The New Small Person – Lauren Child

Many emotions are explored in this story of learning to accept a new sibling.  I love Lauren Child’s signature style and her way of capturing situations children can connect to.  Elmore – great name, great character, great book!

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Earmuffs for Everyone!: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs – Meghan McCarthy

This non-fiction biography describes the evolution of he earmuff and the story of Chester Greenwood – credited with being the inventor of the earmuffs.  However, the earmuffs were actually invented before he was even born!  He was born with big ears that were sensitive to the cold so his grandmother made him some earmuffs out of wire and cloth.  At 19, he patented the design and was credited with the invention.  I liked how this book shows the actual evolution of the invention and how different inventors improved on each other’s designs.

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Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain – Harriet Ziefert

This WONDERFUL book combines a fictional mystery about a girl searching for her cat during a rain storm with nonfiction facts about rain.  As we search for Kitty, we discover such things as what makes a duck waterproof and where do butterflies go to stay dry.  Beautiful art and lovely rhyming text. I loved the combination of mystery and science.  This is a little gem!   

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Wall – Tom Clohosy Cole

This book was written to mark the 25th anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall.  It tells the story of a young boy, mother and sister who are separated from the father during the building of the wall and follows their journey as they try to re-unite.  The digital illustrations are stark and striking.  This is a thought-provoking book and would be a great introduction to the Berlin Wall for older students.  (Warning:  Sometimes the blue print on black page was hard to read.) A good book for Questioning. 

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Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter

My book club just finished reading this book and loved it.  It weaves together two stories – one set in an Italian fishing village in 1962 and the other in present day Hollywood.   At the heart of this book is a tender love story of the Italian hotel owner, Pasquel, who falls in love with the Hollywood actress who comes to his hotel to recover from an illness.  Fifty years later, he shows up at a movie set in Hollywood, searching for her.   This book is romantic, tender, funny and a colorful mix of travel, music, books, movie pitches, acting, movie stars, relationships, Hollywood, Italy.   An amazing cast of characters, sub-stories and a wonderful setting.  Pasquel fell in love with a movie star – I fell in love with Pasquel.

What are YOU reading this week?  Thanks for stopping by!  Please leave a comment and let me know which book caught your eye!

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Filed under It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Question, Science

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

IMWAYR       b4f78-pb2bmonth2blogo

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!

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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?

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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?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – I Can’t Keep Up!

IMWAYR

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

Well… we are back in full swing at school but my Pro. D. workshops this week were still cancelled (or post-poned) as teachers were just getting settled into their new classes.  This meant I had a bonus day off – most of which I spent at one of my favorite places – United Library Services!  There, I get to fill a SHOPPING CART with BRAND NEW picture books to read through!  Heaven!  But there are SO many great new books – I’m having a hard time keeping up!  Here are a few of my favorites from the top of a very tall pile!

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As an Oak Tree Grows – G. Brian Karas

This book is filled with so many teaching ideas I can hardly stand it!  The story follows the life of an Oak Tree from 1775 to present day.  Each page shows what has changed in the past 25 years – both in the tree and in the surrounding landscape.   I loved the timeline at the bottom of the page, showing each new era.  The illustrations are remarkable – and the book is large which allows the reader to take in all the details on each page.  The Oak tree grows while history transforms around it – from methods of agriculture,  transportation to uses of energy.  The poster included at the back of the book shows the rings on the oak tree representing the growth of the oak tree labeled and dated with many events and inventions that occurred while the tree grew.  This book is creative, unique and interesting!  A perfect link to a unit on growth and change in nature and in our world.

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The Right Word – Roget and His Thesaurus  by Jen Bryant

Sigh.  Sigh again.  I love this book.  So so much.   This amazing picture book biography is about the life of brilliant scientist and word collector Peter Mark Roget. The book explores his extraordinary journey that turned his love of words into the publication of the most important reference books of all time. The illustrations are stunning! If you love words as much as I do – this is a must have for your biography collection!  Watch the book trailer here.

Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream – Bob Graham

I am a fan of Bob Graham books – I admire his ability to leave room for lots of deep thinking within his subtle text and detailed illustrations.  This book follows an endearing, curious sparrow on an unexpected journey as he travels across the world in a bag of rice from India to an urban setting (Australia?) The sparrow finds a family and invites a child to taste vanilla ice cream for the first time.  The soft pallet illustrations are classic Graham and I like how he uses a variety of closed panels with open drawings.  Don’t read this book too quickly – there is a lot to take in!

Uni the Unicorn

Uni the Unicorn – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

When I see Amy Krouse Rosenthal has a new book – I KNOW it’s going to be brilliant.  But I admit, when Maggie (from Kidsbooks) first showed me the cover  the cover of Uni the Unicorn, my heart sank a little bit.  Oh, I thought, these illustrations are not my thing.  They appeared too “Disney” like – rainbows, butterflies and unicorns.  What was she thinking?  But then I read the story and realized just how brilliant a story it was and how perfectly matched the illustrations were!  Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s latest book is a delightful twist to a familiar story. Uni is a unicorn who believes in her heart that little girls are real, despite the fact that her friends and parents say otherwise. Love the page where Uni is drawing pictures of “imaginary” little girls! Little girls will LOVE this story and make LOTS of connections! The illustrations are reminiscent of Pixar/Disney and will most certainly appeal to the unicorn loving children!   I was also thinking that if you added a cute little stuffed unicorn you have the perfect birthday party present!

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If Kids Ruled the World – Linda Bailey

If Kids ruled the world, birthday cake would be good for you.  Your doctor would say “Don’t forget to eat your birthday cake so you’ll grow up strong and healthy!”  And so the story goes – page after page –  a “wish list” of a kid’s paradise!  This book is fun, playful, imaginative and I can just hear the “YES’s” coming from the class!   A perfect anchor book for inspiring writing and art!  Love!

Penguin and Pumpkin

Penguin and Pumpkin – Salina Yoon

I fell in love with Penguin when I first met him in Penguin and Pinecone.  There have been a few Penguin books since, but none have quite come close to that emotional connection I had with that first book.  This story is sweet with familiar bold block colored illustrations.  Penguin and friends take a journey to explore fall outside the North Pole. He brings a few sights and sounds for his baby brother to experience.  I loved the last page when it’s “snowing leaves”  but the story fell a little flat for me.

Brothers of the Wolf

Brothers of the Wolf – Caroll Simpson

This is a beautifully illustrated West Coast First Nations legend about two wolf cub brothers found and raised  as human children in a village on the Pacific.  One cub feels at home in the forest and the other – the sea.  They are separated when supernatural forces change them into Sea Wolf and Timber Wolf.  Although separated, they howl together into the night sky, waking up the moon and bringing light to the darkness of the world.  The story is visually stunning and is a perfect book for questioning. It would also be a great inspiration for creating first nations paintings.

I Wanna Go Home

I Wanna Go Home – Karen Kaufmann Orloff

I have shared Karen Orloff’s first hilarious book, I Wanna Iguana, for many years with students and teachers as an anchor book for persuasive writing. In it, young Alex writes letters to his mother, trying to convince her to let him have a pet iguana.  His mother writes back, with all the reasons why an iguana would not make a good pet.   In the second book,  I Wanna New Room, Alex is trying to persuade his mom to let him have his own room.  In this third book, and possibly the funniest, Alex is sent to his grandparent’s retirement community while his parents go on vacation.  His desperate emails to his parents go from complaining about being dragged to his grandpa’s bridge games to delight in eating ice cream before dinner!  I love the connection to grandparents in this book and the fact that Alex is now sending emails!   Hilarious read-aloud!

The Orchestra Pit

Orchestra Pit – Johanna Wright

What happens when an endearing snake accidently wanders into an orchestra pit instead of a snake pit?   A whole lot of playful chaos!  The snake proceeds to investigate various instruments and causes quite a commotion among the musicians.  This book is hysterical and would be a perfect way to introduce the different instruments in an orchestra to young children.  Lively, colorful illustrations and endearing expressions on the snake!  Love this!

Lucky

Lucky – David Mackintosh

I LOVED Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School when it first came out so was excited to see this new book by British author/illustrator David Mackintosh.  This book is hilarious and one that children who have ever “jumped to conclusions” will make connections to!  When Leo’s mom tells him that there will “be a surprise” at dinnertime – Leo and his brother, desperate to find out, begin coming up with all sorts of possibilities – a bike? a new car? a new TV? a swimming pool?  By the end of the day they are convinced that the surprise is an all-expense paid two week trip to Hawaii!  And of course when they get home from school and discover the real surprise, they are left feeling let down.  All children have experienced the feeling of getting their hopes up and then being let down  – but it’s how you handle your disappointment that creates the teachable moment in this book.   David Mackingtosh handles it with humour and the subtle message of how being grateful for what you already have is enough to make you feel “lucky”.  Brilliant!

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The Boy on the Porch – Sharon Creech

I always tell my students that the greatest writers don’t tell us everything, but  “leave spaces for our thinking”.  Sharon Creech’s book is a perfect example of this – she doesn’t tell us evetyhing but provides us with spaces for asking questions and for thinking.  This book is beaurtifully written – simple, tender and powerful.  It is the story of a couple who discover a boy on their porch with only his name pinned to his shirt – “Jacob”.  (What are you wondering?… Who is he?  Where did he come from?  Why did his parents leave him?  Will they come back for him?   (So many questions!)  The boy does not speak but communicates through his extraordinary gift in music and art. Eventually, he is able to communicate with animals.  I read this book in one sitting and then I cried – not because it was sad but because it was so beautiful.  And because as I read it, I could not wait to hear my students filling in the spaces.   There is no better book to read.

Well, that’s it for now!  My pile of new books is only a little smaller now but I’d better stop!  Thanks for stopping by and please share the book that caught your eye!

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Filed under Art, celebrating words, It's Monday, making connections, Music, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Social Studies, What Are You Reading?, Writing Anchors