Category Archives: Novels

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Great MG Novels for Isolation Vacation!

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“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley

Well, since my last post, the world has kind of turned upside down.  Many are finding themselves at home looking for things to do so why not… READ!   I see this as a wonderful opportunity to connect with a great book!  We may not be able to hug our friends, but we can always hug a good book!

Here is a list of my favorite new novels for your middle grade readers (grades 5-8) to get lost in.   Perfect for reading aloud, reading together, or escaping quietly in a favorite chair.

Check out more #IMWAYR posts on  http://www.teachmentortexts.com/ or http://www.unleashingreaders.com/

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Here in the Real World – Sara Pennypacker

This is a story for anyone who has ever felt left of center.  It is a tale for all those that march to the beat of their own drum, often times to the dismay of friends/family.  This book is filled with compassion, truth and a little magic.  Centered around Ware, an awkward introvert who doesn’t “fit”, who doesn’t like sports, has no friends by choice, and has no desire to hang with the popular crowd. He prefers disappearing into his room or hanging out at his grandmother’s retirement center.  When she falls and breaks her hip, his summer plans are ruined.  He ends up finding refuge in an abandoned church lot, which he imagines is a castle.  There, he befriends Jolene, who is using the space to grow papayas for extra money… and then the summer of imagination begins.  I am a huge fan of Sara Pennypacker’s writing – so filled with gorgeous prose, quotable phrases and metaphors.  Her book Pax is one of my all-time favorite read-alouds.  

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Chirp – Kate Messner

I was fortunate enough to meet Kate Messner and get an autographed ARC of this book at the NCTE in Baltimore this past November.  Kate Messner is a master of presenting difficult material to middle-grade readers in an accessible, age-appropriate way.  I love the gentle and appropriate way that she handles the topic of sexual harassment with respect for her readers. There is also a mystery to solve, insects to eat, and new friendships, as well as an important message about how to deal with inappropriate contact. The mystery centers around Mia, who used to be a gymnast, until the “accident”. Now she doesn’t even want to think about gymnastics and  instead is focusing on helping at her grandmother’s grasshopper farm. Strange things are happening that could ruin her grandmother’s business and Mia is determined to figure out why.  Why a grasshopper farm, you ask?  Male grasshoppers chirp, female grasshoppers are silent.  Fantastic middle grade novel – appropriate for grade 5 and up.

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Me and Bansky – Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Dominica and her best friends, Holden and Saanvi, are determined to find out who is hacking into the security cameras in their private school and posting embarrassing images of them online.  They begin an art-based student campaign against cameras in the classroom.  Love that this book was set in Vancouver and weaves art into the story, along with themes of friendship and issues of  privacy and security.  Great characters and a cute little romance in the mix as well.

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Birdie and Me – J.M.M. Nuanez

After their mother dies, Jack and her gender creative brother Birdie are sent to live with their uncles; but Uncle Carl isn’t reliable, and Uncle Patrick doesn’t like Birdie’s purple jacket, skirts, and rainbow leggings. All Jack wants is somewhere they can both live as themselves.  While this book wasn’t weepy, it is an endearing story with charming characters and a beautiful sibling relationship. Hope, family love, and acceptance.  It’s a little longer (304 pages) but hey, time we got!

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When You Trap a Tiger Tae Keller

For the reader who enjoys a little magical realism – this book beautifully tackles grief, loss, family dynamics and cultural heritage.  What I loved was the seamless way the book combines relate-able contemporary events with traditional Korean folk stories and family traditions.  Te main character, Lily, is spending the summer before grade 7 with her sister and mother visiting her very sick grandmother.  But the summer takes an interesting turn when a magical tiger straight out of her favorite Korean folk tale appears and offers Lily a deal to return a stolen item in exchange for her grandmother’s health.  Deals with tigers, as it turns out, are not as simple as they seem!

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Prairie Lotus – Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park admits freely that this story was inspired by the Little House books.  I LOVED Little House books as a child so was excited and curious to see how she would interpret them.   With a similar setting, readers relive a pioneer story from the viewpoint of a half-Chinese, half-white 14 year old girl, Hanna.  Hanna is resourceful, courageous, smart, and resilient, and throughout the story learns to find the courage to stand up against racism, and stand up for her own goals and dreams. Loved the author’s notes at the end to learn how the story was born from her childhood wondering if she and Laura Ingalls could have been friends.  A great choice for fans of historical fiction.

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Bloom Kenneth Oppel

For those looking for a little sci-fi, dystopian thriller – check out the first book in Kenneth Oppel’s new trilogy.  The story, set on Salt Spring Island, BC,  is fast paced, taking place over a two week period.  After an unusual heavy rain, indestructible black plants begin growing at an unbelievably rapid rate.  People begin to have strong allergic reactions to the strange new pollen in the air except for three teenagers.   Anaya, Petra, and Seth each have something a bit different about them aside from their immunity to the toxic pollen and these differences bring them together, at the same time setting them apart from the rest of the world.  Weird science, evil plants, and non-stop action – what could be better?  (and, squee! –  I have an autographed copy!)

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Music for Tigers – Michelle Kadarusman

Beautiful coming of age story woven with themes of animals, protecting the environment, musical passions, friendships, autism, anxiety, fitting in, family relationships.  Basically, there is something for everyone to identify and connect with!  Louisa, a violin playing teen from Toronto, is sent to the lush Tasmania rainforest in Australia to spend the summer with her uncle who runs a wildlife reserve.  Beautifully written, engaging characters, this gentle story follows a girl demonstrating unexpected heroism as she moves out of her comfort zone.   Great for animal lovers and budding musicians and activists.  (Please note – this book is not available until the end of April)

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The List of Things that Will Not Change – Rebecca Stead

Wow.. This book is such a beautiful story of love, life, and family.  When Bea’s parents tell her they have decided to divorce, they give her a green notebook with a green pen to record those things that will not change in her life.  On the first page, they have recorded the first thing that will not change:  they both love her and always will.   This book touches on a few current, sensitive topics including divorce, same-sex marriage, blended families and, most important, childhood anxiety.  What I love about this book is how the author so captures Bea’s anxious voice trying to navigate all the changes she is experiencing.  This book beautifully captures both the pain and joy of growing up.

GRAPHIC NOVELS

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Go With the Flow – Lily Williams and Karen Scheemeann

A wonderful, beautiful, important, relevant graphic novel which is centered around menstruation.  It is both approachable and grounded and a story that illustrates beautifully what its like to be a teenage girl in a way that is relate-able, inclusive and diverse.   Amazing characters who are such wonderful, healthy examples of female friendships – modelling communication, forgiveness and compassion.   SUCH a great book!

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la guerre de Catherine – Julia Billet

I was not able to read this book as it was in French but it is getting a lot of attention so wanted to include it for my French immersion teacher friends!  Based on a true story, this graphic novel set during World War II in France the story recounts the journey of a Jewish girl moved from location when Germans occupy Paris.  To protect them, the teachers of her progressive school help students gain new identities.  Catherine’s photography passion provides her a unique perspective of World War II .  Great read for WWII historical fiction fans.  Also available in English:  Catherine’s War 

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The Runaway Princess – Johan Troilanowski

Adorable characters.  Quirky.  Adventurous.  Hilarious.  Endearing.  I was instantly drawn in by Johan Troianowski’s art style.  And the best part about this book is that it’s completely interactive.   The reader is asked to shake the book three times before turning the page to help Robin escape a wolf, use their finger to help the characters find their way through a maze, search for a missing character on a crowded page, and so much more.  LOVE this one!

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Cub Cynthia L. Copeland

This graphic novel memoir, set in the 1970’s, is complete with bullies, bell bottoms, and possibilities!  Cindy is in grade seven and dealing with seventh grade issues including boys, hair, fashion and particularly a group of “mean girls”.   A teacher suggests she might one day become a writer and connects her with a local female newspaper reporter who becomes her mentor.  This is based on the author’s life and

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Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed – Laurie Halse Anderson

“A modern retelling of a young Wonder Woman coming into her powers and her legacy.” So this book really suprised me.  I am not a huge DC comic/Wonder Woman fan but I found it to be such an interesting take on the Wonder Woman origin myth that incorporates many contemporary issues including the refugee crisis, humanitarian issues, homelessness, human trafficking, etc.  Beautiful illustrations.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone!  And remember, you may not be able to hug your neighbour right now, but you can always hug a book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Friendship, graphic novel, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Novels, New Books, Novels

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Read-Alouds to Link to Your Content Areas

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Using novels to link to your content areas is a great way to introduce an area of study or inquiry to your class. Reading these books aloud during your unit will keep your students engaged, build their background knowledge and give them many opportunities for making connections, questioning and inferring. While there are many to chose from, here are my top ten novels (plus 2!) for both primary and intermediate grades with links to content:

(Please note that the grades listed are only suggested and that pre-reading any book before reading it aloud to your class is strongly recommended.)

                     1.    Appleblossom, the Possum – Holly Goldberg Sloan

                            Content Link: science, animals, marsupials    Gr. 2-3

Delightful glimpse at the world from a charming little marsupial’s point of view.  Beautiful illustrations and a perfect read-aloud for a grade 2-3 class learning about animal families.

2. The Prince in the Pond:  Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin – Donna Jo Napoli

Content Link – science, frogs, life cycles    Grade 2-4

A delightful fairy tale about a frog having been turned from a prince by a hag, making the best of his new life as he mates, has children, and instills a new kind of thinking into his his frog family.  Lots of frog life-cycle facts woven into this charming story.

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3. Nuts to You  -Lynne Rae Perkins

Content Link: nature, animals, tree conservation, environment     Gr. 2-4

Two courageous squirrels set out on an adventure to save their friend from a hawk.  Funny, heartwarming, suspenseful story of friendship.

4. Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue – Paige Braddock

Content – science, biology, pond life, conservation     Grades 2-3

A hilarious graphic novel for young readers featuring a cast of memorable animal characters who live in a small pond.  When they discover their home will soon be bulldozed to make way for a new highway, Stinky Cecil and his friends attempt to save their pond.

5. The Wild Robot – Peter Brown

Content: adaptation; environment; survival; community; climate change  Gr.  4-6

A robot discovers she is alone on a remote island.   This is an amazing survival story that would make a great read-aloud to stimulate rich discussions about what happens when nature and technology collide.  Heart-warming and action packed!

6. Ghost Voyages II: The Matthew – Cora Taylor

                           CONTENT – Social Studies, Canadian history, explorers, John Cabot   Gr. 4-6

When he touches his grandfather’s old stamp, 11 yr. old Jeremy travels back in time and finds himself sailing on a tall ship with John Cabot as he claims Newfoundland for England.   An exciting adventure story filled with important moments in Canadian history.

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7. Inside Out and Back Again – Thanhha Lai

         Content – Social Studies, immigration history, Vietnam war       Gr.  5-7

A beautifully written, moving story of immigration told in verse through the eyes of a young girl during a year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from her home country of Vietnam to Alabama.

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8. The War That Saved My Life – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Content links – historical fiction, WWII; disabilities, survival.   Gr.   5-7

A heartbreaking and emotional story Ada, a young girl with a club foot who escapes with her brother from their abusive mother.  This novel is set in WWII England and weaves historical moments throughout.  I was particularly struck by the remarkable character development.

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                                               9.  Fatty Legs – Christy Jordan-Fenton

                        Content – Aboriginal issues, residential schools, social justice     Gr. 5-7

Fatty Legs tells the true story of an eight-year-old Inuit girl named Olemaun Pokiak and her experience with residential school.    Short, lyrical and straightforward memoir recounting the cruel treatment she endured and the hope, resilience, and unbreakable spirit she showed.

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10 . The Boundless – Kenneth Oppel

  Content link – Canadian history, building of the CPR    Suggested Grade  6-8

An action packed, rags-to-riches, adventure story of a boy on the maiden voyage of a cross country maiden journey of The Boundless – the world’s longest and most luxurious train. Sprinkled with facts about the history of the expansion of the Canadian railroad, facts and scenes from Halifax to Victoria, including some mythology of Sasquatches and the Hag of the Muskeg.           

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11 . Zombie Baseball Beatdown – Paolo Bacigalup

Content -Food safety, racism, immigration, activism     Gr. 7-9

A high-energy, high-humor look at the zombie apocalypse that has underlying messages about the health of our meat supply and how policies on illegal immigrants allow employers to take advantage of them.   And how could you not like a zombie cow head?

12  . Paper Wishes  – Lois Sepahban

Content: historical fiction, WWII, Japanese internment camp.   Gr. 6-8

A fascinating and often painful truth of WWII’s Japanese internment camps is the setting for this beautifully written story of a loving family supporting each other through unimaginably difficult circumstances.

Thanks for stopping by!  Would love to know which book has caught your eye!

 

 

 

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Filed under Canada, Content links, Links to content, Middle Grade Novels, Novels, Read-Aloud, Science, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Last day of summer reading

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

Well, summer is officially over.  School begins tomorrow and, to be honest, I’m actually excited.  As much as I enjoyed every moment of the summer break, I am looking forward to the new school year ahead.  I read so many wonderful new books this summer that I’m looking forward to sharing… So here is the last of my summer book bliss…

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A Family is a Family is a Family – Sara O’Leary

The way schools care about children is reflected in the way schools care about the children’s families. – Joyce L. Epstein

Wow.  This book.  This book.  When a teacher asks her students to think about what makes their family special, the variety of answers have one thing in common.  This book celebrates all that family is – every shape, size and every kind of relation.  Diversity at its finest, this is a special book that needs to be shared.

  Because of an Acorn – Lola M. Schaefer

A poetic look at the inter-connectedness of an ecosystem and the circle of life.  A simple introduction for primary students.

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Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn – Kenard Pak

Gorgeous illustrations in this book about the transition from one season to another.  As a  young girl takes a walk, she notices changes in weather, animals, and landscape.  Lovely book for visualizing!

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What Do Grown-Ups Do All Day? Virginie Morgand

A great book for exploring different occupations of grown-ups in the community.   Explore fifteen detailed, busy scenes set in diverse work places, then turn the page to find out what each person’s job entails. This is a book you can pour over and find something new every time.

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The Lines on Nana’s Face – Simona Ciraolo

Lines on a grandma’s face hold her memories – each wrinkle a precious moment in her life.  This book made me miss my mum.

Branch, The by [Messier, Mireille]

The Branch – Mireille Messier

When an ice storm breaks a young girl’s favorite branch, she refuses to throw it away until a kind neighbour helps her transform it into something special.  Vibrant illustrations.  I would pair this book with Solomon’s Tree by Andrea Spalding.

The Not So Quiet Library – Zachariah Ohora

You gotta love books about libraries – and here is the perfect new book for your school library this fall!  An entertaining, quirky read-aloud following Oskar and Theodore as they are dropped off at the library while dad goes to the ‘nap section’ (LOL!)  Lots of things to love about this book, including a very enthusiastic librarian, an unlimited check-out rule and an awesome car!

They All Saw A Cat – Brendan Wenzel

“And the cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws”.  And so this repeating phrase grounds us through a wonderfully effective lesson on perspective as it delivers a whimsical little story about a wandering cat.    Clever, unique, enchanting, poetic.  LOVE!

Super Happy Party Bears: Gnawing Around by [Colleen, Marcie]

Party Bears: Gnawing Around – Marcie Colleen

The first book in a funny new beginner chapter book series filled with full color illustrations and adorable animals!  To the Super Happy Party Bears, everything is a good thing. They love doughnuts, dancing – basically their entire attitude can be summed up in one word: YAY!

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by [Baskin, Nora Raleigh]

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story – Nora Raleigh Baskin

This moving middle grade novel addresses themes of racism, prejudice, terrorism, fear, love, and healing.  In it, we follow four middle graders in the days and hours leading up tot the 9/11 and how the day impacts their lives.  Beautiful, heartfelt, important.

Thanks for stopping by!  Would love to know what book has caught your eye!

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Filed under Beginning Chapter Book, Diverse Children's Books, Fall, Family, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Novels, Picture Book, Read-Aloud, Seasons

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Immigration, Autumn, Spiders and a Jellyfish!

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 start to the school year – with school and workshops!  But there is always time for new books!  Here are a few of my latest discoveries…

I’m New Here – Anne Sibley O’Brien

The school where I teach is made up of over 30 different cultures so this book is a must have “connect” book for our library!  We follow three immigrant children as they face the challenges of adapting to their new school and community while trying to maintain their  language, identity and sense of “home”.  Thoughtful, heartfelt and realistic with simple text and colorful illustrations. 

P’esk’a and the Salmon Ceremony – Scot Ritchie

With First Peoples being an important and integral part of BC’s new Education Plan, I’m on the look-out for authentic picture books to support the curriculum. P’esk’a is excited to celebrate the first day of the salmon ceremony, a custom of the Sts’ailes people, who have lived on the Harrison River in BC for 10,000 years. This celebration includes honoring and giving thanks to the river and the salmon.  This book includes an illustrated afterward, glossary and an introductory letter from Chief William Charlie.

My Leaf Book – Monica Wellington

Fall is my favorite season – changing leaves, apples, crisp mornings!  Last fall, I did a post of my favorite fall books.  (You can read that post HERE)  This new book is definitely be one I’ll add to my list!  This charming book follows a little girl as she hunts for fall leaves to press into her book.   An interesting look at different sizes, shapes, colors and patters of different leaves.  Simple text, bold, colorful illustrations and includes lessons on leaf rubbing and leaf art.

My Autumn Book – Wong Herbert Yee

It’s finally here!  I’ve been waiting for the final addition of Fall to Wong Herbert Yee’s adorable season collection!  (Other books include:  Tracks in the Snow, Summer Days and Nights, and Who Likes Rain? A little girl explores the outdoors and observes the gentle signs of the changing of the seasons and the arrival of fall. Soft, watercolor illustrations and lovely, simple text.  LOVE!

How to Be A Dog – Jo Williamson

Heart-warming and humourous “how to be”  book written from a dog’s perspective.  From choosing the right “owner” to learning where you should sleep, this book is delightful!  I would definitely use this as an anchor for a creative instructional writing piece.

I’m Trying To Love Spiders!  – Bethany Bartum

This humourous, creative non-fiction would make a great read-aloud!  It’s filled with interesting facts but written in a playful tone.  Great art! 

The Hugging Tree: A Story About Resilience – Jill Neimark

Wow. This is a powerful story that I can see being used at many levels.  It is the story of a tree, growing alone on a cliff.  The tree is faced with many challenges including thunder storms, freezing winters and vast, crashing waves, but the kindness and compassion of one little boy and protected by the natural world, the tree grows and eventually becomes a shelter for others.  The entire story could be seen as a metaphor for the hope and resilience we can show when faced with life’s struggles.  A great book for inferring and transform!

The Thing About Jellyfish – Ali Benjamin  (FREE Kindle PREVIEW of Chapter 1-11)

This book made my heart ache and my eyes sting. In fact, I think it should come with a box of Kleenex. Suzy is a smart, “different” grade 7 student who is dealing with the drowning death of her best and only friend, Franny.  As the story progresses, we learn the depth of Suzy’s grief: the end of her only friendship; her guilt for not being there; the terrible last conversation she had with Franny; – all too much for a young soul to carry.  Through her grief, she searches to find the reason why her friend drowned and becomes convinced that a jellyfish must have been the cause.  She stops speaking and becomes obsessed with jellyfish. This book is so, so beautiful, so emotional, so sad – at times, I had to stop reading it. I’m not sure how – but the weaving of jellyfish facts through Suzy’s sadness works seamlessly. I thought Fish in a Tree was my favorite novel of the year for middle grades – until I read this book.

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

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Filed under dogs, Fall, Grief, immigration, instructions, jellyfish, New Books, Novels, Picture Book, Seasons

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

 

IMWAYR

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Exciting Releases for Fall!

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

Despite my heartbreak at the fact that I will not be sharing these books with my students tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day after that due to the ongoing teacher’s strike in B.C., I am happy to share them with you in the hopes that you are not on strike and can share them with YOUR students! I’ve had a little more reading time this past week so was able to read a few longer books.

The Boundless

The Boundless – Kenneth Oppel

WOW!  This is an action packed adventure that I could not put down!  It tells the story of a young boy, Will Everett who is a first class passenger on The Boundless, the greatest train ever built.  (Think Titanic only a train!)  I loved how Kenneth Oppel has woven Canadian history and famous Canadian personalities (including Sasquatch!)  throughout the book, making it an excellent link to Social Studies.  Add a little magic and a few creepy bits and you have a fast-paced read-aloud!

Egg and Spoon

Egg and Spoon – Gregory Maguire

Another wow for this YA book!  Egg and Spoon reads like a Russian fairy tale.  It is filled with exquisite writing, laugh out loud humour, fascinating and often twisted characters. It is the story of two young woman: a city girl born of privilege and a country girl suffering from poverty and loss.  After a case of mistaken identity, both Elena and Ekaterina, or Cat,  begin an adventure across Russia and up to the North Pole on a quest to save their country.  I really liked how Maguire wove Russian culture, legends and characters, including Baba Yaga,  through the story.  At times, I felt the plot was more suited for younger children but the writing style and complex plot makes it definitely one for the older crowd.  If I’m being completely honest, I felt that some parts were a little confusing and complicated and other parts went on too long – but overall well worth the read!   

The Swallow: A Ghost Story

The Swallow – A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter

Interesting that I happen to read two books featuring two female characters whose lives become entwined.   This one is AMAZING – I could not put it down!  It tells the story of the friendship of two 12 year old girls living in Toronto in 1963.  Polly – outgoing, bubbly, passionate… Rose – introverted, quiet and loves to sing and who, we discover, can see and talk to ghosts!  The story goes back and forth between the two different points of view.  This is truly a MUST READ book!  Enchanting, magical, mysterious – a great ghost story and a wonderful story of friendship.  I LOVED it!

Everybody Bonjours!

Eveybody Bonjours!  by Leslie Kimmolman

This book follows a little girl and her family on a trip to Paris. The text is simple, the illustrations are charming.  Lots of French sites, sounds, smells and tastes – a peak into French life.  I think this would be a wonderful anchor book for writing about Canada or other countries.  There is more detailed information at the back of the book.  I want to go to Paris now, please! 

And Two Boys Booed – Judith Viorst

This new Judith Viorst book was released this week! It is an adorable story of a little boy who gets an extreme case of nerves when he has to sing in the talent show. Perfect for making connections! This book rhymes, it has lift the flaps and has a song that you will all be singing after just one read! Love Judith Viorst and I LOVE this book!

Bluebird

Bluebird – Lindsey Yankey

I was totally drawn to this book by the cover.  A bird’s eye view from a bird’s eye view.  This is a charming story about a bluebird who is searching for her friend, the wind.  The repetitive text and the extraordinary details in each picture makes this a perfect read-aloud or quiet bed-time sharing.  I love how determined the little bird is.   As soon as I got to the last page, I went back and read it again!

Take Away the A

Take Away the A – Michael Escoffier

What fun this book is to read!  It’s a delightful alphabet book goes through the alphabet and offers words where you take away a letter and get a new word. So, for example, for letter A, “beast” becomes “best” when you take the A out. The concept is a simple but so clever and humouous! I have already thought about ways of using this in class – having the students try to create their own “take away” words! 

I'm Gonna Climb a Mountain in My Patent Leather Shoes

I’m Gonna Climb a Mountain in My Patent Leather Shoes – Marilyn Singer

Sadie is all packed for her rustic family camping trip:  patent shoes? check!  ballerina skirt? Check!  Sparkly suitcase? Check!  I loved the spunk of this girl, who despite her “girlie-girl” appearance is a great role model for girl power!  She is fearless and determined to find Bigfoot and protect her family.  Great rhyming pattern and bright, colorful illustrations!

 

Dojo Daycare

Dojo Daycare – Chris Tougas

Six rowdy children spinning out of control in their Dojo daycare, despite their master’s effort to demonstrate “honor, kindness and respect”. Fun, great illustrations, wonderful rhyme – a perfect read-aloud. Kids will LOVE this one!

The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing

The Writing Thief – Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing – Ruth Culham

“It’s been said that mediocre writers borrow, but great writers steal” Using children’s literature to teach writing – could there be a more perfect book for me? And since it would appear that I may have some more time on our hands next week, I’m excited to be spending it exploring this new book by Ruth Culham! 

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

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Filed under Alphabet book, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Novels, Professional Books, Read-Aloud, Social Studies, Writing Anchors

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – New picture books and novels

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

This week, I’m featuring a collection of recently released picture books and novels!  Hope you find a few titles that you will be able to use in your classroom!

Monday, Wednesday, and Every Other Weekend

Monday, Wednesday and Every Other Weekend – Karen Stanton

So many students I teach come from divorced families and share their time between parents.  While some may view this as challenging, the positive and realistic viewpoint portrayed in this book allow the reader to understand the many different emotions that are a part of living in two places.  I loved the detailed acrylic artwork and the gentle tone of the text.  A great Connect book for children experiencing a similar situation and a great book for discussing families and feelings.

Sophie Sleeps Over

Sophie Sleeps Over – Marisabina Russo

Sophie is excited to be going to her first sleep-over at her “best friend’s” house.  But after carefully deciding what to bring and packing many treasures and goodies, she arrives at her friends’ house only to discover she is not the only “best friend” who was invited to sleep over.  This book is charming and deals with the ever so sensitive  best friend dilemma in a light-hearted and realistic way.

 

A Gift for Mama

A Gift For Mama – Linda Raven Lodding

Oskar is looking for the perfect gift for his mother’s birthday.  He takes to the bustling steeets of Vienna to search for possible gifts and begins to trade one gift for another and another.  This is a wonderful story and I enjoyed the circular structure of ending where it began.  The illustrations by Alison Jay (The Cloud Spinner) are wonderful.  (How does she make that crackle texture?)  A simple, heartwarming story about kindness and what really is the most precious gift.

 

Following Papa's Song

Following Papa’s Song – Gianna Marino

I LOVED this book!  The vibrant illustrations are amazing and I loved how the fictional story weaves in many scientific facts about whales and migration.  Little Blue has many questions for Papa as their pod of whales prepares for migration – How will they know the way? Will he be able to keep up? What will they see along the way?   Papa answers all the questions, but Little Blue’s curiosity leads him away from the group on his own exploration and eventually loses Papa.  Whale calling reunites the two.  A wonderful book filled with interesting whale facts and stunning illustrations.

 

Big Bug

Big Bug – Henry Cole

This concept book introduces younger readers to the idea of scale and comparison.   The book begins with a beautiful close up of a ladybug and then zooms out from bug, to flower, to a cow and eventually ends at the expansive sky,  then zooms back in from the sky to a tree, a house to a window and finally ends with a dog.   Each page compares the previous size to the next.  Very few words but vibrant and colorful illustrations.

 

The Green Line

The Green Line – Patty Farquharson

This book is so clever and original!   In it, you follow a child’s path on a walk through the park by putting your finger on the line and tracing the path – across a street, down hills, splashing through puddles, and rolling down a hill.  The photographs are amazing and combine with the doodle line that the child is making.  I LOVED this book and am excited to have my students make their own “line” walk.  I also like that there is an underlying theme about noticing wonders around you. 

Nine Words Max

Nine Words Max – Dan Bar – al

This book is quirky, funny and a tribute to words!  I loved it!  Max is a Prince who loves to talk – and talk and talk!  His brothers, on the other hand, are of the “less is more” mindset when it comes to words.  When the King and Queen go away on a trip,  they leave the brothers in charge of Max.  They cast a spell on him, which permits him to speak using only nine words at a time.  But when a dignitary arrives, the brothers come to realize the importance of Max’s words.  This book is a clever satire on the impending loss of language that occurs when social media limits communication to characters 140 characters or less!

Millhouse – Natale Ghent

A wonderful book for reading aloud to a grade 3-5 class!  Millhouse is a charming hairless guinea pig who loves everything to do with the theater, especially Shakespeare.  When his actor owner dies, he is left in a pet store, surrounded by a cast of animal characters – some nice and some not so nice.  (Think Charlotte’s Web’s barn animals only in a pet store!)  Millhouse is ridiculed by the other pets and is made an outcast in the pet store (actually it was VERY sad!) but through a series of events (fortunate and unfortunate) he eventually finds happiness.  I found this book to be quite emotional in parts as the pets were very cruel to Milly and I think would lead to some great class discussions.  Great illustrations!

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire!

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire – Polly Horvath

LOL!  This chapter book was hilarious!  Wacky and weird and so much fun to read!  Madeline’s hippy, self-absorbed parents have been kidnapped by the foxes.  Madeleine, on a search to find the, hires Mr. and Mrs. Bunny to help her.  Mr. and Mrs. Bunny drive a Smart Car and wear Fedoras and the cast of other characters are equally as quirky!  Filled with adventure, mystery and humor – I know that my students will love this as a read-aloud

The ACB with Honora Lee

The ACB with Honora Lee – Kate De Goldi

SOOO many things to LOVE about this book!  A young girl, Perry, whose parents seem too busy to really spend any time with her, develops a beautiful relationship with her gran, Honora Lee. during her weekly visits to the Senior’s home where she lives.  Honora suffers from some form of dementia and has an unusually keen interest in the alphabet.  During her weekly visits, Perry decides to make an alphabet book.   She and her grandmother begin to make it together, but soon, everyone in the home becomes interested and wants to contribute.   The writing is beautiful – simple and easy to read yet leaves spaces for our thinking. This story touched my heart in many ways – I made connections to my own grandmother.  I loved the relationship between Perry and her gran and how, despite her gran’s memory loss, they formed such a strong connection through the stories they shared while making the alphabet book.  A truly touching book.

Thanks for stopping by this week!  Please leave a comment and let me know which books caught your eye!

 

 

 

 

 

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

It’s Monday, What are you reading? – Favorite Books of 2013

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 been an amazing year of books!  So many great books were published this year that have  become “favorites” that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few.  Which books did I hug extra tightly or put under my pillow just to keep them with me a little longer?

Inspired by my friend and book blogger extraordinaire Carrie Gelson,  I have decided to choose 13 books (for 2013) and organize them into categories I read the most of:  picture books, nonfiction books and novels.

Picture books:

1. Journey – Aaron Becker

Mesmerizing watercolor illustrations that take the reader on a journey of adventure, self discovery, courage, hope and unexpected friendship.  This book will likely top many 2013 lists and it certainly tops mine.

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2.  The Man With the Violin – Kathy Stinson

This book, based on a true event, celebrates the power of music and reminds us that in the business of our lives, we need to stop and appreciate the beauty around us.  (also 3 cheers for Canadian authors)

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3. The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt

Oh, how I love clever  books!   Oh, how I love a book that makes me laugh out loud and wish I had written it myself!  Oh, how I love a book that I read and immediately start thinking of ways I will be able to use it in my classroom.  This book has all my loves tied up together.

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4. Ben Rides On – Matt Davies

Ben loves his bike.   Ben’s bike is bullied away.  Ben figures out a way to get his bike back.  There is tenderness amidst the lightheartedness and Ben is my hero.

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5. The Dark – Lemony Snicket

 This is the story of how dear Little Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark. My oh my,  there is something magical about this book.  Personification at its best.

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6. Water in the Park – Emily Jenkins

Community, neighborhood, water, time;  From dawn to dusk we witness the comings and goings in a park. Simple. Beautiful.

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7. Silver Buttons – Bob Graham

(or “The Silver Button” )

The celebration of a single moment and all that happens – from one moment in a an apartment room to that same moment all over the world.  Extraordinary.  Brilliant.  Hugging this book.

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8. Hello, My Name is Ruby – Philip C. Stead

I fell in love with Ruby this year.  She is all that represents fearlessness, curiosity, courage, adventure, wisdom all wrapped up in a sweet little bird body who asks questions.  By far my favorite character of 2013.

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9.  The Matchbox Diary – Paul Fleischman

This book is a celebration of memories, keepsakes, treasures, life stories and relationships.  A grandfather opens his matchboxes of memories, his life story and his heart to his granddaughter.   My favorite “connect” book of the year.

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Nonfiction:

10.  The World is Waiting for You – Barbara Kerley

Following your passion amidst all that the world has to offer.  Imaginative and inspiring.

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11. Walk this World – Jenny Broom

A celebration of the everyday similarities and differences that exist between cultures around the world.  A new country on every page – with windows to peek under and many surprises to discover!  Wow!  An adventure from cover to cover!

12. What Does it Mean to Be Present? – Rana DiOrio

Carpe Diem, seize the day, appreciate the moment, be present, be grateful, give back.  How could anyone NOT want to share this message with children.  Love x a lot for this one.

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12. The Animal Book – Steve Jenkins

Happiness is a new Steve Jenkins book.  Happiness is being amazed by his signature collage illustrations and the intriguing facts he wows us with.  Happiness is adding this book to my Nonfiction Book list for 2013.

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Novels:

The Runaway King – Jennifer A. Nielsen

When a grade 6 boy tears up with joy because his back order Scholastic Book order copy of The Runaway King has just come in – you know it is a great book.  This follow-up is equally as good as the first.  I will get my box of Kleenex ready for the 3rd installment!

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Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library – Chris Grabenstein

Funny, crafty, twists and turns, puzzles and adventures.  Some were less impressed with the “too close for comfort” to legendary Charlie Bucket but both my students and I LOVED it!

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Wake Up Missing – Kate Messner

Concussions, Treatment centers, stolen identities and friendships = fast paced, page turner, grab-the-book -from-your-son’s-room-while-he’s-sleeping-because- you-can’t-wait-to-find-out-what-happens -book!

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The Real Boy – Anne Ursu

A magical  fantasy –  beautiful, enchanting, mysterious, sad, hopeful.  This one ended up under my pillow.

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Well, there are my top books for 2013.  (And for anyone who happened to be counting – I believe I went way over my original “13 picks for 2013” by several titles!)  It was, indeed, a very good year for books!  What books did you celebrate in 2013?

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Filed under It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Nonfiction, Novels, Picture Book

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – More great books!

 

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.

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The book blogging community has been going “wild” about Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown so I was anxious to get my hands on a copy!  This book is really all about letting loose and letting your inner “wild side” come out.  Mr. Tiger lives in a very proper society and conforms to what is expected of him.  One day, he decides to loosen up a little and walks on two legs instead of four.  Despite the frowns of disapproval from those around him, he continues to let loose a little more each day, jumping from rooftops and even taking off his clothes!  Eventually he is banished to the woods to be wild on his own.  When he returns, he discovers the others have followed his lead and “loosened up” a little!  Great illustrations and lots of humor makes this a wonderful read.  Great discussions about “getting wild” at the appropriate time and place.

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Up! Tall! and High! by Ethan Long is a hilarious introduction to the concepts of “up”, “tall” and “up” told in three separate short stories.   The cast of bird characters in this book are hilarious and the lift the flap pages make for an even more appealing read.  The bright, colorful illustrations remind me of Mo Willems.  Great for Pre-K and K.

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Diverse writer Linda Sue Park amazed many with her powerful novel last year A Long Walk to Water.  She has now released this delightful picture book  Zander’s Panda Party which describes the challenges of planning a birthday party.  The lyrical, rhyming text follows Xander as he tries to decide who to invite to the party.  He starts with inviting all the pandas, then all the bears, then is informed by the Koala that she is not really a bear but a marsupial.   Not only is this book a pleasure to read (some of the rhymes are rather unconventional!) but it’s a great introduction to different types of animals.  Top it off with the message of the importance of not wanting to leave anyone out – and you have a winner!

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If you are teaching your students about following rules, making good choices, consequences of action or being conscious of your community  – here is a book for you;  What if Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick   Simple, up-beat text and colorful illustrations is entertaining as well as putting a new perspective on how our choices impact the world around us.  A good reminder to us all – before you do anything or say anything, ask yourself, “what if everybody did that?”

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Caldecott winner Philip Stead is inching higher and higher up on my “favorite author” scale.  Everything he writes is heartfelt and his soft, whimsical illustrations add to tenderness to the text.  Bear has a Story to Tell is one of my all time favorites and Home for Bird  was a book I reviewed this summer.  In his latest book, Hello, My Name is Ruby, Stead once again touches the heart with his words and pictures.  Ruby is delightful  – she is tiny, brave, curious and compassionate.  She attempts to find her place in the world by making friends, introducing herself to different animals and birds and asking them thoughtful questions in order to learn more about them.   Could there be a better role model for children?   I felt a true sadness when one of the birds did not want to be her friend.  There is nothing not to love about this book.

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For all you Scaredy Squirrel fans out there – here’s the latest – just in time for Halloween!  In Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween,  Scaredy helps us plan for the spooky night – with everything from costume choices, making treats, pumpkin carving and safety tips!  In his familiar overly anxious approach to everything, Scaredy uses lists, maps, diagrams, charts and webs (love those nonfiction text features!) to get ready for the spookiest night of the year!

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Memoirs of a Hamster by Devin Scillian is a follow up to Memoirs of a Goldfish (published in 2010).  In a similar style as Diary of a Worm, this book is written in the voice of Seymour the Hamster.  Seymour is at first content with his life and describes the coziness of his cage.  But after a chat with a cat, he begins to feel he may be missing out on something beyond the confounds of his cage.  Great anchor book for writing “in person” as an animal and for developing voice.

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I Want a Dog! by Helga Bansch was published a few years ago but I came across it while searching for anchor books for persuasive writing lessons.  There are several books with a theme of a child trying to convince their parents to buy them a pet.  I was immediately drawn to this book by the cover – and the delightful images of different breeds of dogs.  Lisa desperately wants a dog but her parents don’t feel it realistic as they live in an apartment.  Lisa tries many different persuasive tactics to change her parents mind, but with no luck.   In the end, she doesn’t give up and comes up with a creative plan to solve her dog desire!  Great for predicting, problem solving and to introduce persuasion.

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I have a huge author crush on Chris Raschka.  Ever since his Yo! Yes! book topped my Infer book list – I have been using his books to teach inferring and questioning.   Chris Raschka won the Caldecott award in 2010 for  A Ball for Daisy.  As with many of his books, it was a perfect wordless picture book for practicing inferring with younger students.  I had many Daisy fans in my class so I know there will be much excitement when they see Daisy in a new adventure in the book Daisy Gets Lost.  I’m not sure how he does it, but Chris Raschka always manages to capture emotion with his swirly impressionistic illustrations and this book is no exception.  Daisy chases a squirrel at the park and suddenly finds herself in unfamiliar territory – and we can see the fear on her cute little face.  A great book for making connections to feeling lost and afraid.

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I adore anything Georgia Heard writes. I have likely used  For the Good of the Earth and Sun for teaching poetry more than any other professional resource.  I am starting a poetry unit with a grade 6 class this term so have been  gathering poetry books from my collection.  Amongst many amazing poetry anthologies and collections, I rediscovered Falling Down the Page, Georgia Heard’s amazing collection of list poems by contemporary poets (including Eileen Spinelli and Avis Harley – who was my teacher for one of my poetry classes at UBC many years ago!)   I sat and read through the every poem and marveled at how a simple list can tell so much.   A great anchor book for writing list poems!

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I am in the middle of reading two amazing novels.  First – is The Real Boy by Anne Ursu – a magical adventure.   (You can read a great review of this book by Linda Urban posted in  Nerdy Book Club )  So far, I am LOVING this book.  I adore Oscar, the main character, and the writing is wonderful.  Oscar is an orphan who works for a magician, gathering herbs and helping to prepare his potions.  He is quite content in his life until things start to suddenly change in the town when everyone starts to get sick and Caleb, the magician, is no longer around.   I have just met Callie, a girl who is going to help Oscar.  I can’t wait to find out what happens.  I think this will be a GREAT read-aloud to grades 4-6!

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I am a huge Kate Messner  fan and follower and first learned about her latest book Wake Up Missing  when she wrote about it on her website just before its release date on September 10th.  I have not finished this book yet but not because I don’t have time – but because I don’t want it to end!  All  I can say is WOW!  Four teens – a hockey star, a football star, a horse lover and a bird watcher – all meet when they arrive at an elite Brain Science center in Florida.  The four have nothing in common – except they have all experienced head injuries and have gone to the center for some concussion testing.  (Being a mom of two boys who play hockey, I make a lot of connections to the concussion discussion!)  But after a while at the center, the four begin to suspect that there is more to these “tests” – and they begin to suspect they are part of some strange experiment that may steal their identities.  How exciting does this sound?  SO EXCITING!  My son wants to read this but I’m not letting him until I finish it and find out how they escape!      12991201[1]

I have been inspired by reading other IMWAYR posts and particularly  Holly Mueller of Reading, Teaching and Learning, who always includes non-teaching books she and her family are reading.  I’m blessed to part of a wonderful book club that meets once a month.  (And yes, we DO read and discuss the books!)  So I’ve decided to share my book club books each month.  This month, we are reading The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan.  This historical novel is set in Paris in 1856 and is the story of two sisters whose lives are upended when their father is murdered.  This is the story of one of the girls who becomes a model for artist Edward Degas, while her family struggles to survive.  I have not read too far into it yet, but certainly getting a different perspective on the artist Degas!

Well, there you have my latest reads of the week.  What have you been reading lately?

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