Category Archives: Refugee

GEARPICKS Holiday Book Gifting 2020 Part 2 – Book Gifting for Tweens

Last week, I posted PART 1 of my Holiday Book Gifting ideas, focusing on books for your younger readers. You can read the post HERE. This week, I am excited to share my picks for gifting those tweens in your life! I’ve tried to include books for all interests and hoping one will be a perfect match for that reader in your family!

For the Sci-Fi Fan

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Bloom by Kenneth Oppel

Kids ages ten and up will get sucked into this unputdownable science-fiction novel about a strange rain that causes alien plants to sprout. The plants climb up buildings, destroy crops, and devour animals and people. Only three teens are immune to the mysterious plants, and nobody knows why. This action-packed book is the first in an exciting new series that will keep kids up all night.

For Your Imaginative Animal Lover 

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The Elephant’s Girl by Celesta Rimington

Kids that like animal stories will likely get lost in this magical book. Lexington can speak telepathically to elephants, and they can speak to her. When the elephant Nyah sends her a mysterious message, Lex gets caught up in a spooky and magical adventure that may provide answers about her past.

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Skunk and Badger Amy Timberlake

Skunk and Badger join a list of literary “odd couples” in children’s literature, much like Frog and Toad or Elephant and Piggie. If you’re looking for an early middle-grade book to read with the kids, this is a great one. Reminiscent of the 100 Acre Wood and Wind in the Willows, and filled with quirky, memorable animal characters, this friendship story has both humour and thoughtful themes. Jon Klassen’s illustrations add to the fun.

For your Budding Environmentalist

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Music for Tigers Michelle Kadarusman

A coming-of-age story set in the dense rainforest of Tasmania. This book explores so many different themes – family, legacy, friendship, animal extinction, autism, and environmental conservation. Louisa is sent to spend some time at her Uncle Ruff’s bush camp in Tasmania when she would much rather practicing her violin for her big audition. While at the camp she meets her great-grandmother, through her journals, a new friend in Colin, and a once thought extinct Tasmanian tiger named Ellie. Ah-Mazing! Love this book and love that it incorporates Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

For your Historical Fiction Fan

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The Blackbird Girls – Anne Blankman

This is a moving story about two girls whose friendship develops during the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Told in alternating perspectives and different periods in history, this story shows that hatred, intolerance, and oppression are no match to the power of friendship. Fascinating and innovative.

Folklore and Fairy Tale Fans

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When You Trap A Tiger – Tae Keller

Know someone that likes family legends, folklore, and fairy tales? If so, you’ll definitely want to add this middle grade novel to your shopping list. Filled with magical realism, a magical tiger, Korean folklore, challenges and deals and family ties, this novel is about finding the courage to speak up.

Humour

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Wink – Rob Harrell

Ross Maloy just wants to be a normal seventh grader but with his recent diagnosis of a rare eye cancer, blending in is not an option. Based on author Rob Harrell’s real life experience, this book is packed with comic panels and incredibly personal and poignant moments. It is an unforgettable, heartbreaking, hilarious, and uplifting story of survival and finding the music, magic, and laughter in life’s weirdness.

For Fans of Realistic Fiction

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The List of Things That Will Not Change – Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead is known for her realistic middle grade stories and her latest book is amazing. Bea is thrilled that her Dad is going to marry his boyfriend and that she’ll finally get a sister. As the wedding draws closer, Bea learns that nothing is simple when you’re forming a new family.

For Your Adventurer

The Last Kids on Earth: June's Wild Flight by Max Brallier

The Last Kids on Earth: June’s Wild Flight – Max Brallier

It’s not hard to see why The Last Kids on Earth series is such a popular series. These action-packed books are full of monsters and adventure with black and white illustrations splashed across every page. The series has even been adapted into a Netflix show. This book, featuring June, is set between the events of The Midnight Blade and the upcoming sixth book in the series.

Fans of Survival Stories

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Red Fox Road – Frances Greenslade

A thirteen-year-old girl on a family vacation becomes stranded alone in the wilderness when the family’s GPS leads them astray. A compelling survival story for ages 10 to 14, for fans of Hatchet and The Skeleton Tree. Exquisite sensory detail!

For Graphic Novel Fans

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Doodleville – Chad Sell

Calling all artists! This magical graphic novel is for readers with a big imagination and a love of art from the creator of Cardboard Kingdom. It’s a funny, imaginative world called Doodleville created inside main character Drew’s sketchbook. The only problem is that her doodles don’t stay in the sketchbook, including a not-so-friendly monster named Levi. Full of friendship, humor, and fun, this graphic novel will be a big hit!

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Nat Enough – Maria Scrivan

Delightful graphic novel about navigating friendships in middle grades – making friends and losing them.
This is a great graphic novel for middle grade readers. It not only teaches kids what real friendship looks like, but it also teaches them to focus on who they are instead of who they aren’t. This is the first book in the Nat Enough series, but the second book in this series has just been releasedForget Me Nat

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When Stars Are Scattered – Victoria Jamison

Based on the real-life experiences of Omar Mohamed, this heartbreaking yet hopeful graphic novel gives readers insight into the life of a refugee. When Omar gets the opportunity to go to school, he is excited. He knows an education could enable him and his younger brother to get out of the refugee camp where they’ve spent most of their lives. But going to school also means leaving his brother behind to fend for himself every day. This book is a perfect example of how graphic novels can introduce important and timely issues that will resonate with readers. EXCELLENT!

For Hockey Fans

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Hockey Super Six on Thin Ice – Kevin Sylvester

Lots to love about this series! It’s not only about a group of six friends who love to play hockey, but also an evil genius, some mutant squids who form an opposing team, and a magical blue light that gives everyone some unexpected skills on the ice. It’s funny, entertaining, and also focuses on the importance of teamwork.

Thanks for stopping by! I do hope you found 1 or 2 titles that you can gift to the tween in your life.

Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday and well deserved break. Enjoy this time to recharge, reflect, and read-read-read!!!

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Animals, Art, Diversity, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Holiday books, Literature Circles, Middle Grade Novels, Novels, Refugee, Sci-Fi, social justice

Picture Book 10 for 10 (2019) – New Books for Your Reading Power Collection

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I’m excited to be, once again, participating in this summer’s 10 for 10 Picture Book celebration! #pb10for10   This annual celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning.  Hard to believe this is my seventh year of participating in this event! (you can read my 2018 here,  2017 post here,  2016 post here2015 post here2014 post here and 2013 here. )  Each year, the blogging community chooses 10 picture books on a range of themes – from diversity, to community building, to writing, to conservation.  It is an amazing opportunity to explore new picture books related to a wide range of themes.  (It can also be a little hard on your bank account, if you are anything like me!)

Keeping with tradition, I have organized my #pb10fo10 post to feature new releases that support Reading Power strategies.  I have included two books for each: Connecting, Questioning, Visualizing, Inferring, and Transform (synthesizing).   For those who are already using RP, these would be my recommendations for adding or replenishing your collection this year!

CONNECT

Where Are You From?  – Yamile Saied Mendez

When looking for Connect books, I am now drawn to books that can also double for anchors for my Powerful Understanding lessons.  This is a beautiful book for making connections and exploring identity.   We journey with a little girl, Abuelo, as she explores the important question, “Where are you from?”  Gorgeous illustrations, this book is heartwarming, uplifting, and important.  A perfect anchor book to launch an exploration of family, culture and identity.  LOVE!

Remarkably You Pat Zieltow Miller

I was so excited to share this new book by the author of Be Kind,  one of my favorite books from last year.  I would definitely use this book for making connections with early primary students, as well as it being a great anchor for exploring self identity and making a difference.  I love how the author encourages children to use their talents to do good things in the world.  Whatever their personalities, whatever their interests: “Don’t sit on the sidelines. / Be part of the fray. / Go after your passions a little each day. / Find what needs fixing. / Repair what you can. / Then choose a new problem and do it again.”   

VISUALIZE

Run Wild – David Covell

This book celebrates the freedom and fun of running wild and free in the great outdoors.  With rhyming text, we run with two children through a variety of “wilds” – from cool forests to hot sandy beaches.  I love the energy and spirit of this book and the playful language is perfect for reading aloud and practicing visualizing.

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My Forest is Green – Darren Lebeuf

This book follows a nature-loving boy as he keenly observes and explores “his forest” and uses different artistic techniques to record them.  I love how this book combines excellent information about woodlands with an appreciation of nature, art, and imagination.  This book is filled with descriptive language and would be an excellent anchor book for sensory writing and using descriptive adjectives.

QUESTION

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Why? – Laura Vaccaro Seeger

I like books centered around curious characters to promote the power of asking questions.  In this new book by a favorite author of mine,  two friends spend time together through spring, summer, and into fall.  Rabbit persistently and simply asks Bear, “Why?”   Bear patiently answers over and over until there’s a question he has no answer for.  I so love the simplicity of the story but the emotional impact it left was surprising.  Perhaps it was the hugely expressive characters, curious rabbit and patient bear, interacting so beautifully together.  I also loved how there is room for the reader to infer what question the rabbit is exactly asking.  

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Lubna and Pebble – Wendy Medour

Wow.  This beautiful and heartbreaking story of refugees brought tears to my eyes many times.  Lubna and her father have come to a refugee camp. As they arrive, Lubna finds a smooth pebble that becomes her closest friend (think  Tom Hank’s “Wilson” in Cast Away).  This is a such an important story and a perfect book to open up a discussion with younger students as to why immigration is so important and why so many people “choose” to leave their homes.  There were lots of unknowns that leave the reader wondering –Where is the rest of Lubna’s family? Why doesn’t Lubna have a real doll? “What happened in the war?” “Where is Lubna’s home?” “What will happen to Amir?   The illustrations are gorgeous and fill the pages with emotion.  This is a MUST HAVE book for your school library.

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Camp Tiger – Susan Choi

Okay, I cheated a little here and added a third QUESTION book, but I just couldn’t leave this wild and wondrous book off my list!  I love books that don’t tell the reader everything – and this one leaves us wondering all the way through.  With just a perfect blend of realism and fantasy, this coming of age story focuses on a little boy who goes camping with his family one summer.  Out of nowhere, a tiger walks out of the woods, starts talking, and ends up joining them on their camping trip.  Weird?  Yes, a little.  Did I completely understand why the tiger was there?  No.  Did it matter? NO!  It left me with so many unanswered questions and I was completely hooked.  Absolutely stunning illustrations!  I can’t wait to do a Question lesson with this book!

INFER

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A Stone Sat Still – Brendan Wenzel

Like many other readers, I adored Brendan Wenzal’s previous picture books They All Saw a Cat and Hello Hello.   In this new book, he explores perspective again, this time focusing on a stone and how it means different things to different creatures, depending on their perspective.  For some of it, it’s quite large, but for others, they are overwhelmed by it’s size.    Stunning mix of cut paper, pencil, collage, and paint illustrations and a gentle,  meditative rhythm in the text.   While seemingly simple, it invites readers to infer their own ideas about perspective, home, and the environment.  

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Carl and the Meaning of Life – Deborah Freedman

I fell in love with Carl when I first read this book.  He asks deep-thinking questions about the meaning of life and sets out on a search to find his true purpose. And what he discovers is that he, like all living things, is connected to an ecosystem and, while small, plays an integral part. Can you say adorable illustrations? Can you say science lessons? Can you say making a difference? I was debating whether to list this for Transform, but decided it fit well with Inferring because the message is subtle and invites readers to question and infer – How are we all connected? What is our job here on Earth? Why do we do the things we do? Who do we do them for?

TRANSFORM

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Say Something! – Peter H. Reynolds

I LOVE this book by the great Peter H. Reynolds and have shared it many times since it was released last spring.  This simple book packs a lot of power, encouraging readers to use their voice to make a difference. What I liked is how Reynolds shows different ways of “saying” something – with words, with kindness, with creativity.  This book is a great anchor to launch a unit on global stewardship.

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All the Ways to be Smart – Denise Bell

One word activity – “Smart”!  This book will help transform young readers thinking about what it means to be smart, celebrating different forms of “smartness” and talents children bring to the world.  “Smart is not just ticks and crosses, smart is building boats from boxes. Painting patterns, wheeling wagons, being mermaids, riding dragons.”  This book is as important as it is delightful.

My Heart – Corinna Luyken

Yes, I know, I cheated again and added a third book for Transform but this book is a must share book for teachers.  An ode to the strength of our hearts, this book transforms our thinking about love and self-acceptance.  Focusing on the “one word” activity using the word “heart”, I believe we would see many “transformed thoughts” about our hearts after reading this book.  Simple text and a soft pallet of illustrations. I like how the author uses light and dark to show the different feelings of the heart. There are also hidden hearts found within the illustrations.  I would recommend this book for older students as well as younger ones.

And there you have it!  My #pb10for10 selections for 2019!  Thanks for stopping by and hope a title or two have caught your eye!  Happy reading and thinking, everyone!

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Filed under 2019 releases, Connect, Identity, immigration, Infer, New Books, Picture Book 10 for 10, Question, Reading Power, Refugee, Transform, Visualize

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Great Book Finds from Toronto!

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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

Last week, I was presenting at RFTLOI (Reading For the Love Of It) conference in Toronto.  One of my favorite parts about the conference is book browsing (and buying) at the publishers displays.  Here are some of my favorite new books I squished into my suitcase!

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I am Josephine (and I am a living thing) – Jan Thornhill

A charming introduction to the concept of classification in the natural world for early primary students.  The combination of science and search-and-find works brilliantly and I love the colorful cheerful, cheery illustrations!

The Tree: An Environmental Fable – Neal Layton

When a family wants to cut down a tree and build a house, what will happen to the animal nests and burrows?  A sweet, simple tale about harmony in the natural world with a gentle message of taking care of the environment.

Teacup – Rebecca Young

Stunningly beautiful book about loss, redemption, adventure, hope – so breathtaking that it made me quite teary.  A young boy leaves his home and sets off to begin again.  Before he leaves, he fills a teacup with soil  from his home.  This is a book filled with subtle messages and would be an excellent choice for teaching inferring, symbolism and metaphor.  Gorgeous illustrations and poetic language – LOVE this book.

The Wolf-Birds – Willow Dawson

This book is fascinating!  Set in the winter woods and based on scientific data and anecdotal reports from Aboriginal hunters, the book explores the fascinating symbiotic relationship shared by wolves and ravens.  Gorgeous, calming illustrations and beautiful language – a perfect introduction to survival and the circle of life.

Abigail, the Whale – David Cali & Sonja Bougaeva

I was immediately attracted too the cover of this book and the adorable illustrations.    As a child, I was very chubby and was teased a lot for being a “butterball”.  I completely connected to this heartfelt story of Abigail, who is teased at swimming lessons because of her round frame and called “a whale”.  Her swimming teacher gives her some support and advice on how to “think light”.  This is a tale of positive thinking and would be a great starting point for a discussion about teasing, self-esteem, empathy, and perspective.

A Change of Heart — Alice Walsh

This year, I have been developing a unit called “Reading and Thinking Across Canada”, using picture books that tell true stories of Canadian events.  This book fits perfectly into the theme – and tells the remarkable true story of Lanier Philips, a US soldier in WWII who escaped the racism and segregation of his hometown in Georgia, survived a shipwreck, became an honorary Newfoundlander and went on to become a civil rights activist.  REMARKABLE!

The Stone Thrower – Jael Ealey Richardson

Another remarkable true story about an unknown Canadian hero..The Stone Thrower is the true story of Ohio-born Chuck Early who, despite his outstanding record as a high school and college quarterback, is rejected by racist NFL and instead plays for the Canadian Football League where he is named a Most Valuable Player. Themes of segregation, poverty, resilience and civil rights all tied up into an inspiring sports story – what more could you ask for?

My Beautiful Birds – Suzanne Del Rizzo

When Canadian author Suzanne Del Rizzo was looking for something to read to her own children that would explain the Syrian Civil War, she came across an article about a young Syrian refugee who found solace in a connection with wild birds at the Za’atari refugee camp. And so she wrote this book.  This book is gorgeous – textured filo illustrations reminiscent of Barbara Reid and a gentle, moving story that illuminates how this crisis is impacting children. It shows the reality of refugee camps and the struggle of families uprooted who are trying to redefine “home”. 

Lost and Found Cat – Doug Kuntz & Amy Shrodes

A true, heartwarming story about an Iraqi refugee family who is separated from and eventually reunited with their beloved family cat.  Such an amazing story it is hard to believe it is true – but it is.  Your students will break into spontaneous applause when you read the last page!   Will also inspire discussions about what it means to be a refugee.

Bob, Not Bob! (to be read as though you have the worst cold ever)   – Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick

This book made me laugh so much!  A little boy is stuffed, snuffly and sick in bed with a terrible cold.  All he wants is his mom – but when he calls his mom – it comes out “bob” – and soon the slobbery family dog comes running!  LOL!  A great read aloud!  Cracked me right up!

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

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Filed under 2017 releases, Canada, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Links to content, New Books, Refugee, Science, social justice