Category Archives: Social Responsibility

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2017 Fall Releases from Kidscan Press (part 1)

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

book pile

It’s like Christmas in August when I find a box of brand new picture books from the outstanding Canadian Publishing Company Kids Can Press on my doorstep!  I’m excited to share the first post featuring some of their new books for fall 2017!  This week I will be focusing on fiction picture books – next week nonfiction!

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No Room for Baby! – Emile Jadoul

A perfect fit for new big brothers and sisters.  Full of reassurance that there will always be room in our home and our hearts for a new addition.  Simple text and adorable penguin characters.  A great connect book for K’s and 1’s who may be “expecting” a new sibling.

goodnight hockey fans

Goodnight Hockey, Fans! – Andrew Larsen

Bedtime comes at the worst times – especially in the middle of a hockey game!  Of course, when this young hockey fan is told to go to bed, he can’t sleep!  After his parents tuck him in, he shines his flashlight on his hockey equipment and trophies and listens to the hockey announcer on the radio.  As he drifts off to sleep, he dreams his is playing hockey on his favorite team.  This is a must have book for young hockey fans and would make a perfect connect book for having kids share what they do when they can’t fall asleep!

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Middle Bear – Susanna Isern

Being “middle-sized” is not very fun – too young to hang with your older brother and too old to play baby games with your younger one.  This middle child is longing to feel special and be noticed.  I love the message that no matter what size or age, we all have our own unique gifts.  Heartwarming story and unique illustrations.

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Captain Monty Takes the Plunge – Jennifer Mook-Sang

A delightful tale of adventure and courage on the high seas!  Captain Monty is a scary pirate – and he also STINKS because he never takes a bath.  And he never takes a bath because he can’t swim!   A frolicking story with a great message about overcoming your fears.  Vibrant illustrations, lots of action and a sweet love story with a Mermaid named Meg!

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Me, Me, Me – Annika Dunklee

I was excited to see this follow up to Annika Dunklee’s book Me, Too!  This book continues the relationship of a delightful trio of multicultural friends – Annie, Lillemor and Lilianne.  In this story, problems arise when the girls enter a school talent show as a singing group and Annie starts making all the decisions about song choice, dance moves and costumes.  This is a wonderful connect book for talking about friendship issues, cooperation and teamwork.  I love the authentic dialogue and the snippets of other languages in the text.  Great read-aloud!

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The Elephant Keeper: Caring for Orphaned Elephants in Zambia Margriet Ruurs

This is a beautiful book based on a true story about a young boy named Aaron who rescues a baby elephant.  Gorgeous illustrations and with facts included about elephants and the dangers from poaching and destroying their habitat and information at the back about how we can help endangered animals.  Engaging story of compassion and hope for intermediate students.  The book is longer than most picture books and could be read over several days.  Great for inspiring passion projects or a study of endangered animals.

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Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament – Anne Renaud

In case you have ever wondered where the potato chip came from – this book has the answer!  Based on the true story of a chef who accidentally invents potato chips when a customer keeps returning his potatoes and asking for them to be thinner and crispier.   Clever, funny, entertaining!  Love the tongue-in-cheek humour.  (Be warned – you will crave potato chips after reading!)

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The Tiny Tale of Little Pea – Davide Cali

“Even the littlest among us can make a big mark.”  I loved this book and the adorable character of Little Pea!  Little Pea is very small, but very happy.  He doesn’t realize that his small stature makes him different from others until he gets to school (Think Will Farrell in Elf!) and discovers the world is not very inclusive of small people.  In the end, Little Pea remains true to himself and learns there is always something we can find that we are good at.  Great for discussion as there are many themes you could infer from this book.

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Shelter – Celine Claire

If I could pick a favorite from the pile, this would be it!  Such a beautiful illustrated book (reminded me of my childhood illustrated copy of Winnie the Pooh) with a meaningful message of kindness, compassion and community.  As animals prepare for a coming storm, two lone bears are searching for shelter, but no one offers to help, including the fox family.  When the storm arrives, the fox family must leave their den to find a safer shelter – and the turn to the two bears for help.  A perfect book for the start of the year with the message of “treat others how you would like to be treated”.  Gentle and heartwarming.  With older students you could compare this story to Stone Soup and discuss the different ways the community acts.

Thanks for stopping by!

Would love to know which book(s) caught your eye!

 

 

 

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Filed under 2017 releases, Animals, Connect, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Read-Aloud, Social Responsibility

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – A Seal, a lion, a picnic and a name!

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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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers

A trip to my favorite children’s bookstore this week, Vancouver Kidsbooks, resulted in the discovery a few new treasures that I’m excited to share with you!

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas

Elizabeth – Queen of the Sea – Lynne Cox

This is the amazing true story of Elizabeth, an elephant seal, who decides she wants to live in the warm Avon River near the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.  At first, it is delightful novelty to have a seal living in the river, especially when she takes to sun bathing in the middle of the flat, warm road!  But with the dangers of passing cars, the people decide to keep her safe and Elizabeth is towed out to sea.  But somehow, Elizabeth makes her way back to the river.  Each time she is carried farther and farther away, she comes back.  (making a connection to “The Cat Came Back” song right about now!)   The soft pen and ink watercolor illustrations by Brian Floca are lovely and the writing includes wonderful imagery that I would certainly use as an anchor book for writing:  “Moving up the soft shore like a giant inchworm”  (can you say simile?)  I loved how there was factual information about elephant seals gently woven into the text. Background information and a photo of the “real Elizabeth” at the back of the book.  A delightful book!

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The Change Your Name Store – Leanne Shirtliffe

Themes of respecting differences, global awareness, multiculturalism along a great spunky character make this book a must read for all primary teachers!  Wilma Lee Wu does not like her name. So she marches into the Change Your Name Store where she meets the outrageous owner Zeena McFouz.  Zeena soon convinces Wilma to try on new names in the magical store. Each time Wilma selects a new name, she is transported to the country from which the name originates. Isn’t that the greatest premise for a picture book?  (I wish I had thought of it!) The illustrations are delightful and the text is written in simple rhyme.  A GREAT read aloud, perfect for making connections to names, a link to social studies (I am already planning a lesson to plot Wilma’s journey on a world map with my students!) and wonderful addition to your multicultural collection!

Picnic

Picnic – John Burningham

I am a John Burningham fan.  I love his simple, sparse text and his pen and ink watercolor illustrations.  In this latest book, a boy and girl prepare for a picnic.  On their way to find their picnic spot, they meet various animals and invite them to join the picnic.  A uninvited bull interrupts and disrupts their picnic and there is a bit of a chase scene!  Eventually, exhausted, they go home to bed!  As the story unfolds, the reader is asked to spot lost items on the page.  The items are easy to find but add an interactive feature for younger readers.  Classic Burningham!

The Lion and the Bird

The Lion and the Bird – Marianne Dubuc

Sigh.  This is a beautiful, sweet and moving story.  A lion finds a wounded bird and brings it home to care for it.  When spring comes, the bird flies away to join his flock.  Lion is lost.  Bird returns to spend winter with lion.  Sigh again.  This book is a  treasure.   It is a story of friendship told in a very honest and simple way.  I loved the sparse text (one sentence per page)  that leaves room for a lot of thinking.  I loved the illustrations and the sweetness of the friendship that develops between these two unlikely creatures.  I felt a quiet calmness when I finished.  I wanted to hug it.  (I think I did)

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Pom and Pim – Lena and Olof Landstroem

OK – I’m a sucker for a cute cover – and this one definitely meets my criteria for cuteness!  The story reminded me a lot of  Michael Foreman’s”Fortunately – Unfortunately”.  Pom finds some money and buys an ice cream (that’s good) but eats too much and gets a tummy ache (that’s bad).  There is very little text and the illustrations are quite unique – lots of white space so you can focus on the action and Pom’s delightful expressions on each page.  This would be a great anchor book to read to an early primary class and then have them create their own mini version of the “That’s good – That’s bad” pattern.   This book is translated from Swedish – and I wish they had included a translation of exactly what type of toy Pim is!  A cute blob with arms and legs and I want one!
Thanks for stopping by!  I’d love to know which book caught your eye!

 

 

 

 
 

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Filed under Connect, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Mapping, New Books, Picture Book, Read-Aloud, Social Responsibility

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Boats, a moose and a panda!

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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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers

Toy Boat

Toy Boat – Randall de Seve

I love Loren Long’s illustrations so was immediately drawn to this new book.  It is the story of a little boy and his beloved homemade toy boat.  The boy and his boat are inseparable until a storm comes up and the boat blows away.  We then follow the boat as it begins its own adventure alone  excited at first to be “free” but encounters some dangerous situations and eventually is reunited with the boy.  The illustrations and colors are amazing – I loved the “face” on the boat!    This would be a great book for making connections to favorite toys for younger students and but older students may infer that the boy and boat could be a metaphor for a parent and child relationship.

Three Bears in a Boat

Three Bears in a Boat – David Soman

WOW!  I am IN LOVE with this book!  And quite a shift from Soman’s previous Ladybug Girl!  This story has it all – breathtaking illustrations an epic adventure and a subtle message.  Three sibling bears accidently break their mother’s favorite blue seashell.  So, rather than telling her, they set off to try to find her a new one.  Their search brings them adventure but they cannot find any blue seashells.  A rather unpredictable ending but a very forgiving mother makes everything right in the end.  A great book for questioning and predicting with a  few fun literary devises thrown in for adults!  I predict this will be the buzz book of the summer!

Once Upon a Balloon

Once Upon a Balloon – Bree Galbraith

Last week, I was “gifted” with a brand new picture book written by first time local Vancouver author Bree Galbraith.  Bree is graphic designer and a graduate from Emily Carr University.  Have you ever wondered where balloons go when they float away?  Theo does, when he accidently lets go of the string of his party balloon.  His older brother, Zeke, luckily knows everything about the land of lost balloons – they are collected by “Frank” and end up in the windy city of Chicago. After learning about what Frank does, Theo decides to send him a message of thanks. This story is whimsical and imaginative and the illustrations by Isabelle Malenfant are delightful.  A great book to celebrate gratitude and acts of kindness.

This is a Moose – Richard T. Morris

The setting of this hilarious story is a movie set where Director Duck is making a documentary about Moose.  But the Moose who is staring in the movie does not, in fact, want to be an actor, or a moose – he wants to be an astronaut!  Enter Moose’s zany forest friends to help him including a superhero chipmunk a lacrosse-playing grandma!  Lots of action, fantastic illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld and great message of following your dreams!

Chengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep– Barney Saltzberg

This book is adorable!  Poor Chengdu!  He cannot fall asleep no matter how hard he tries!  This book is adorable – and includes innovative, interactive fold out pages with wonderful artwork.  A great book for connecting and a perfect book for panda lovers!

Help! We Need A Title!

Help!  We Need a Title!  – Herve Tullet

The basic steps in writing a story is the premise of this book as quirky characters are about to go through their day but need help because their story hasn’t been written yet!  I really liked how the story was a “work in progress” and the readers interact with the characters to write the book.  Clever and cute!

The Boys in the Boat – Daniel James Brown

And now in keeping with my “boat” theme – I am currently reading the nonfiction book The Boys in the Boat.  Our book club pick for this month is the true story of University of Washington’s eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal in 1936.  I am only about 1/3 of the way through but am loving it!  It is the story of undeniable courage and a shared dream that 9 working class boys from the United States had.  Many of the stories came from the boys’ diaries and journals and the book includes real photographs.  The main  focus is Joe Rantz, a teenager without family who is not rowing for glory or fame but to regain his shattered self.  This is, by far, one of the best nonfiction books I have read in a long time.  Emotional, interesting, inspiring!

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you been reading this week!

 

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

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? Animals, Friends, a few darn Squirrels and a remarkable Bird

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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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

This week I discovered some new books that I’m very excited about!  Here we go…

What's Your Favorite Animal?

What’s Your Favorite Animal? – Eric Carle and Friends

All of my favorite authors and illustrators in one book!  What could be better?  This book is a delightful anthology of well-loved children’s authors/illustrators describing their favorite animal and why they love them, accompanied by his or her own signature style illustrations.  I did SO enjoy looking through to discover what everyone’s favorite animal was and why.  I can see how this would be a great anchor book for students to write about their favorite animal with an accompanying illustration.    I was also thinking my students could go around the school asking the teachers what their favorite animals are!  Authors included in this fabulous book are: Eric Carle, Nick Bruel, Luc Cousins, Susan Jeffers, Steven Kellogg, Jon Klassen, Tom Lichtenheld, Peter McCarty, Chris Raschka, Peter Sis, Lane Smith, Rosemary Wells and Mo Willems.   I am hugging this book.

Friends – Eric Carle

I am always on the lookout for new books about friendship as they lend themselves so well for having children practice making connections.  This story is about a young boy whose best friend moves away.  He then embarks on a journey over mountains and across rivers to find her.  This book is apparently based on Eric’s own journey to find his wife, whom he moved away from as a child and then searched to find her again.  This would be a great book to read to K’s and 1’s and I can see them acting out the movements of the boy’s journey – “climbing”, “swimming”, etc.   I loved the messages of determination and the importance of friendship.

Friends  – Miles Van Hout

I LOVED Miles Van Hout’s wordless book Happy and used it many times in many classrooms to help students infer feelings.  In Happy, Van Hout’s  uncanny ability to capture emotion through the  faces of fish was remarkable!  In her latest wordless book Friends,  she takes us one step further by showing emotional interactions.  Her vibrant chalk fish have been replaced with monster type creatures and she has illustrated them depicting different situations – cuddling, fighting, teasing, laughing and playing.  Another perfect wordless book for helping younger children practice inferring from illustrations.  Hugging this book too!

A Friend – Anette Bley

Sticking with the “friendship” theme, I saw this book in our local library on display and was drawn to the illustrations.  This book, published in 2009, (I have never seen it before)  is a perfect book for primary teachers who are looking for a great book about friendship.  The story begins with the simple question: What is a friend?  and goes on to illustrate many different examples of what friendship looks like and feels like.  The illustrations are charming and the text is simple and meaningful.  A perfect “connect” book.  (Note:  A few places I searched said it was out of print but I was able to order one on Amazon)

Those Darn Squirrels – Adam Rubin

This book is the perfect choice if you are looking for a or a great read-aloud/laugh-aloud story for  grades 2-4.  It tells the tale of  grumpy Old Man Fookwire who dislikes most things – except his wild birds.  So he builds a bird feeder and fills it with berries so his wild birds will stay with him through the winter.  Unfortunately,” those darn squirrels” raid the feeder and eat all the berries.  Apparently there are two more “Darn Squirrel” books in the collection.  (Warning – I stumbled over the name “Mr. Fookwire” a few times – so just be careful because when it comes out wrong – it comes out VERY wrong!)

Paper Dolls – Julia Donaldson

I loved paper dolls growing up.  My sisters and I would play for hours, folding the little flaps of clothing onto those cardboard dolls.  This book is whimsical, beautiful, playful, nostalgic, simple.  A little girl plays with her five paper dolls.  There are not many words, but the rhyming and repetition lend itself well to a read-aloud.  I love the mother/daughter play time highlighted in this book and I think it would be a great invitation to have students create their own paper doll and use alliteration and rhyme to name it.  A lovely book!

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Stand in My Shoes – Bob Sornson

Teachers frequently request books on social responsibility themes so I’m always on the lookout for new titles.  This book, produced by the Love and Logic Institute, focuses on empathy and clearly illustrates to younger children what empathy is and how easy it is to demonstrate this important social skill.  This book would also be great to include on a book list for parents.

Drac And The Gremlin

Drac and the Gremlin – Allan Baillie

One of the rewarding things about my work is visiting schools and meeting teachers who have been using some of the ideas from my books.  I especially love when they share new book titles with me!    This past Friday, I was in Calgary at Huntington Hills elementary and met a teacher who had been working on Visualizing with her students.  She took me into her classroom and shared this great book with me and showed me some of the visual images her students drew when she read this story to them.  Of course, she DID NOT share the illustrations with them until they had listened and visualized.  The great thing about this book is that the descriptions are very misleading – you think the author is describing some imaginative sci-fi creatures.  As it turns out, it is only two children and their pets as they play in their backyard.  A wonderful book for visualizing!

Bird – Crystal Chan

Wow.  Wow.  Wow.   This book left me breathless and speechless – and that is no easy feat for me.   Not since Wonder and No Fault in the Stars have I been so moved and so deeply touched by a book.  My soul is still aching.   I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC and I could not put it down.

The book begins:    Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John.

From the first line, you will be drawn in by the exquisite writing and heart-wrenching story of Jewel – a girl who lives in the shadow of her younger brother – who died the day she was born.  Her grandfather, blamed for the tragedy by Jewel’s parents, has not spoken since.  This is a story of love, of loss, of family and friendship – of a broken family who had to fall apart before they could put themselves back together.  This is a remarkable debut novel – and I KNOW one that will top many “best of 2014” lists.   “Book linger”  is my reference to books that stay with you and actually become part of you.  Bird is the ultimate in book linger.  I want EVERYONE to read this book!

Well, it was a great week of reading for me.  And just in case you didn’t follow the book award announcements this past week – here is the complete list from CNN:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/27/living/newbery-caldecott-awards-2014-kate-dicamillo-books/

What have you been reading this week?

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Filed under Connect, Friendship, Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Lesson Ideas, New Books, Picture Book, Social Responsibility

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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.

I have not been blogging lately as I have been focusing on trying to finish my book.  I am extremely pleased to have completed the first draft of my manuscript for Nonfiction Writing Power and it is now in the hands of  Kat – my extremely competent editor at Pembroke.  I know there is a lot of work still ahead but I am enjoying the temporary break from book writing and the chance to share some of the amazing new books I’ve read in the past few weeks.   51InOvbTzZL._SL500_AA300_[1]

David Wiesner fans – you will be happy to know that he has a new picture book out called Mr. Wuffles.  In his latest masterpiece, we meet a finicky feline called Mr. Wuffles who shows disinterest towards all the cat toys his owners have purchased for him.  He does, however, become interested in a tiny toy space ship.  After flicking it about, he discovers there are tiny aliens living inside – and now their space ship is damaged. The aliens eventually team up with household insects to repair their ship.    In his classic near wordless style, Wiesner illustrations are detailed and captivating, particularly capturing the movement and expressions of Mr. Wuffles.  Classic Wiesner!  51WL6EckLdL._SL500_AA300_[1]

How to Train a Train by  is a unique and hilarious “HOW TO” manual on how to take care of your “pet” train.  Any child who loves trains, or any who may prefer the mechanical toy rather than a real pet, will enjoy this book.  I was drawn to this book because of how well it fits into teaching students the form and language of instructional writing.  It is written as a handbook and includes everything from how to choose your train, feed, clean and care for your train.  I do not have a particular interest in trains but thoroughly enjoyed this book!

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This is Our House by Hyewon Yum is GEM!  It is one of those books that you could integrate into so many units of study – from family history,  to multiculturalism, to changing seasons, to immigration.  There is something so warm about this book as you follow a Korean-American girl and her family through seasons and generations.  Through their journey, we witness the true difference between a ‘house’ and a ‘home’.516qNkYtN9L._SL500_AA300_[1]A Single Pebble:  A Story of the Silk Road by Bonnie Christensen is the story of a little girl in 9th century China, who sends a small jade pebble to travel with her father along the Silk Road.  We follow the journey of the pebble along the Silk Road.  It ends up in the hands of a boy in the Republic of Venice – the end of the Silk Road.  The illustrations are lovely and the reference to the five “gifts” (reference to the five senses) which accompany the merchants along the silk road makes this a wonderful anchor book for writing as well as launching a unit in Social Studies.

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The Invisible Boy – Trudy Ludwig.  Brian is so quite he is “invisible”.  He is not included, invited to birthday parties or  is really noticed.  Then Justin, the new boy, arrives and works with Brian on a class project, giving him a chance to shine.  This gentle book is a valuable one to include in your class collection, showing children how small acts of kindness can help others feel included.  The illustrations by Patrice Barton are soft and gentle, just like Brian.

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Princess Tales:  Once Upon a Time in Rhyme with Seek and Fid Pictures by Grace Maccarone.  Ooooooo… you MUST see this book!  It is ingenious and splendid and clever!  Ten well known princess stories, from Princess and the Pea to Sleeping Beauty are retold with hidden pictures and extraordinary illustrations by Gail De Marcken.  Pour over each page and enjoy!  This book is on my Christmas list for several young girls I know!

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Speaking of Christmas… Peter H. Reynolds has released The Smallest Gift of Christmas just in time for the upcoming season ( I know it’s not even Halloween but I can’t help myself!)  I adore anything and everything Peter. H. Reynolds does so was thrilled to see his new book.  “Be careful what you wish for”  appears to be the theme of this book as Roland, after receiving a very small gift for Christmas, wishes for something bigger… and bigger… and BIGGER!  After his search takes him to outer space, he finally realizes that what is most important is waiting back on earth for him.  The true meaning of Christmas is shared as only Peter H. Reynolds can share it.  And in case he didn’t know, his books are enormous gifts to me.

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My dear friend Carrie Gels0n , who shares my passion for books, sent me this book recommendation last week and I am in love with it already.  What Does it Mean to Be Present? by Rana DiOrio has such an important message about being mindful, aware and grateful.  Amazing illustrations and the perfect book for transforming.  To help my students experience how a book can “transform our thinking”,  I started with the word “PRESENT” and asked my students what the word made them think about.  (I call this “taking stock of our thinking”)  Most connected the word  it to gifts, birthdays and Christmas.  After reading the book, we “revisited our thinking” about the word.  Many were transformed by the idea that “present” is not an object but a way of being.

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I love maps.  Any book that begins with a map has me hooked before I even begin reading.  I don’t know if it’s the physical shapes or the sense of adventure a map represents but whatever it is – I’m drawn in by a map.  And so when I saw the cover of MAPS by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski, I was fascinated.   This book is an illustrated children’s atlas – but not one that you have ever seen before.  It is utterly amazing, delightful, sensual, amusing and informative.  There are maps, illustrations and detailed drawings.   The pages are heavy and I couldn’t stop running my fingers over them.  I was completely consumed and mesmerized.   A book for children but no doubt will be loved by many adults.

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I loved A Wrinkle in Time by  Madeleine L’Engle as a kid – my first real experience with Sci Fi that I enjoyed.  50 years later,  Hope Larson’s work has created this graphic novel of the classic tale.  I’m not sure if I wanted someone else to create images of Happy Medium and Aunt Beast that have stayed in my imagination for all these years and the jury is still out.  I did enjoy revisiting the characters and the many layers and themes of this book and think that children who are not familiar with the original version will be captivated by the classic story through this format.  Be prepared – it’s very long!

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My 13 yr. old is reading this book and loving it.  Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi has everything a 13 yrs. old boy could possibly want in a book – humor mixed with horror, baseball, zombie cows, evil coaches, battles and blood.  It also has a lot of great themes for teachers – racism, immigration, corporations, food processing and, of course, friendship.  The setting of this book is a small Ohio town with a big meat packing plant that is pumping their cows full of bad things.  The effect is that the cows turn into zombies.   I loved that the main character Rabi – a boy from South Asian – because there are not many books with main characters from this culture.   This book would make a great read-aloud for an intermediate class – lots of laughs but great discussions too!

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And finally…. Sutton by J.R. Moehringer is my Book Club read this month.  It is based on the true story of notorious bank robber Willie Sutton,  one of the most infamous criminals in New York during the 1960’s.  He was a hero of sorts amongst the public and dubbed a modern Robin Hood because he never carried a gun – his only victims were the banks.   His motivation for robbing – his first love.  I am half way through the book and thoroughly enjoying the writing of a tender love story disguised as a crime novel.

Well – there’s my latest list!  Hope you found one or two new titles that sparked your interest.  What have you been reading this week?

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Filed under graphic novel, immigration, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Lesson Ideas, New Books, Novels, Picture Book, Social Responsibility, Transform, Writing Anchors

Summer Reading – Day 31! It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

It’s always a bit dangerous for me when I find myself surrounded by new picture books because I want to buy them all!  This past week, Surrey Kidsbooks came to one of my workshops and “set up shop” in the school gym!  As always, Maggie had new books set aside to show me and I’m excited to share them now.

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On the top of Maggie’s “A MUST for teachers” list this fall, and now on the top of mine, is Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale.  This book is themed around self regulation, a topic of growing interest in education thanks to the insightful work of Canadian educator  Stuart Shanker and others. In this book, we meet Clark – a shark with a very BIG personality.  Clark LOVES everything but sometimes his boisterous enthusiasm gets in the way of his friendships.  His teacher, Mrs. Inkydink, helps him to devise a strategy of making up simple rhymes to calm down and “stay cool”.   An excellent book to share with children – entertaining as well as an important message.

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The Very Inappropriate Word by Jim Tobin is a celebration of words.  I loved this book for so many reasons – it’s funny, has great illustrations and a wonderful subtle message about using appropriate language.  The best part for me is the fact that it’s also written for those, like me, who love words.  The boy in this book loves words – big words, interesting words, hard words.  Things go a little sideways for him when he learns a word that is inappropriate and tries using it.   I love words and I love this book!

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What Are You Doing? by Elisa Amado is a celebration of reading.  On his way to school, a young boy notices many different people reading.  “What are you doing?”  he asks, to which each responds with another reason for reading.  One person is reading instructions to fix their bike, another is reading a story, while another is reading a guidebook.  Later in the day, he borrows his own book from school to read.  The simple text is a reminder to all of us about the pleasures and purposes for reading.

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The Man with the Violin by Canadian writer Kathy Stinson is based on the true story of renowned American violinist Joshua Bell who gave a free concert one day in a Washington, D.C. subway station.  Thousands of commuters rushed by but only seven stopped to listen.  Dylan, the fictional character in the story, is one of the seven who did stop, although his mother did not want him to.  He is mesmerized by the beautiful sound of the music and the song plays in his head all day.  The illustrations are beautiful and the writing floats and dances like music.  This book is a celebration of music and a great reminder to take the time to appreciate beauty that surrounds us.  An interesting account of the real event is provided at the back.  This was such an interesting story and one that I can see would be the starting point for some excellent class discussions.  I can’t wait to share this with my students.  LOVE it!  81IKKWK3r0L._AA1500_[1]

Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler is another beautifully illustrated book that celebrates the cycle of seeds and seasons.  Miss Maple collects and cares for lost seeds, carefully searching for a place for them to grow when the time is right for them to find their roots.  I felt like I was walking through a garden when I read this book. A perfect book to launch a science unit on plants or seeds.

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In this witty book Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds, a group of misunderstood carnivores, tired of being made fun of by their plant-eating enemies, form a support group in their attempt to become more politically correct.  Their first plan is to think of converting to plant-eating but that plan does not go well because Wolf can’t find a berry bush without a bunny in it!  (hilarious!)  This book is meant to be read out loud – it is so funny.  Small children may not understand the humor but the bold, punch-line, slap-stick delivery would certainly be appreciated by older students.

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David Shannon latest book  Bugs in My Hair!   is a humorous look at head lice.  Let’s face it – most teachers have had the unwelcome experience of a lice outbreak in their classrooms.  This book deals with this situation in an informative and light-hearted way that would make children feel less embarrassed about this unpleasant experience.  A great book to have on hand – just in case you get a case!

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A Mountain of Friends by Kirsten Schoene is a heartwarming story of a penguin who has a dream to fly.  His friends work together to help him achieve this seemingly impossible goal.  The illustrations are beautiful and children will love how the book needs to be turned from landscape to portrait to view the “mountain” of friends.  A great book to teach children about working together to help others.

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The Road to Afghanistan by Linda Granfield is a moving book honoring those committed Canadian soldiers who fought in this war and experienced things none of us really can understand.  This is a reflective book about the successes and challenges of war and gives us a glimpse of Afghan people, culture and land to help us connect.  It is definitely a book I will add to my Remembrance Day collection, particularly given the Canadian focus.

Well, it’s been a great week of new books!  I’d love to hear about what you’ve been reading!

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Filed under Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Science, Social Responsibility

Summer Reading – Day 21! Bully Books

The issues associated with bullying have been the topic of many class discussions over recent years.  As with anything I teach, I try to find an anchor book as a starting point for these discussions.  Here are two of my more recent top picks for stimulating important connections, questions and conversations about bullying.

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Bully, by the prolific Patricia Polacco, is an excellent choice for middle school students.  This book, which came out last year,  is the first one I have come across that addresses the issue of cyber bullying with references to Facebook and texting.  Because it is so current,  it felt more credible when I read this to the older students.  It is a longer read, but the characters and story are so believable and the connections kids made, whether it was to the bully or the bullied, were thoughtful and heartfelt.  The story ends with the question:  What would you do? – the perfect segue into  a class discussion.  I would highly recommend this book if you are a parent or teacher of tweens and teens.

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Bully – by Laura Vacarro Seeger (Green, First the Egg, Lemons are Not Red ) is both tender and heartfelt but with a good deal of humor.  The”Bully Bull” character doesn’t have a kind word to say to any of  his friends, calling them “Chicken!” and “Slowpoke!” and telling them “You Stink!”.  This,  I’m sure, would stimulate several giggles from younger primary students.  Goat eventually stands up to Bully and tells him to stop being mean and Bully Bull eventually stops.   The story is relatively simple with minimal text but what I appreciated in this book is the subtle way Seeger uses the position and size of the Bull on the page to help tell the story.  This would be a great anchor book for  practicing inferring with younger students.  As Bully Bull moves across the pages, expanding and deflating as the story unfolds, inferences can be made as to how Bully Bull’s feelings change as he looses his bully power.

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Filed under Connect, Infer, New Books, Picture Book, Social Responsibility