Category Archives: Science

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

Top 10 Tuesday -Top 10 Nonfiction Picture Books of 2016!

From snow, to frogs; from giant squids to seeds and monsters – 2016 has been an amazing year for new Nonfiction picture books.  Here is a list of my favorite top 10 (well, okay… I’ve gone over a little!) books for sharing and reading aloud to your class.  These books would make excellent additions to your classroom or school library!

Canada – Year By Year – Elizabeth MacLeod

With Canada’s significant birthday coming this spring, this is a perfect book to explore the timeline of Canadian history from its beginning on July 1, 1867 to the upcoming 150th anniversary in 2017. It includes famous people, politics, sports, culture and significant events.  Accessible and interesting.

Best in Snow – April Pulley Sayre

Stunning photographs and simple, poetic text describes the beauty of winter in its various states and the way animals respond to the coldest season. Snow/meteorology facts included in the back. A great read aloud for Pre-k – Grade 2 and excellent anchor for word choice and imagery for Gr. 2-4.

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snow Day – Andrea Davis Pinkney

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney is a wonderful tribute to the author of this iconic book. Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day helped open the door to children’s books being published with diverse main characters. I love learning the “story behind the story” – of how Ezra Jack Keats pinned a series of photographs of an adorable African-American boy to his wall. Twenty years the boy in the photos became “Peter” and inspired him to write his first children’s book. Andrea Davis Pinkney writes with such poetic and lyrical language. Mark this as an anchor book for word choice!

The Darkest Dark  – Chris Hadfield

The Darkest Dark by beloved Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is probably my favorite biography of the year.  Inspired by Chris’s childhood and his dreams of becoming an astronaut and his fear of the dark. So much to love about this book: themes of facing and overcoming your fears, dreaming big, not to mention the extraordinary illustrations by the Fan brothers, the adorable family pug, and the short bio at the back. Delightful!  

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Fabulous Frogs – Martin Jenkins

There are so many kinds of frogs in the world — more than 5,000! — and all of them are fabulous.  Gorgeous illustrations combined with great scientific information makes this a fantastic read-aloud for your primary classroom.  I love Martin Jenkins conversational style of writing and have used his previous books  (Emperor’s Egg and Chameleons Are Cool) for modelling “voice”.

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Fish Flying Frogs and Walking Fish: Leaping Lemurs, Tumbling Toads, Jet-Propelled Jellyfish, and More Surprising Ways That Animals Move   – Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

I am a huge fan of Steve Jenkins books as they make for such engaging read-alouds (perfect for practicing “Knew-New Connections”)  The collage illustrations and the fascinating tid-bits and details about creatures are eye-catching and brain busting!  LOVE!

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Animals By the Numbers – A Book of Animal Infographics – Steve Jenkins

How many species are there across the globe?   How much do all of the insects in the world collectively weigh? How far can animals travel?  This second Steve Jenkins book will appeal to your science buffs and makes for a great WOW read-aloud!  Informative and engaging, this amazing book is chocker-block full of scientific research, Jenkins signature collage illustrations and computer graphics.  Ah-mazing!

Giant Squid – Candace Flemming

Wow!  This book is filled with amazing facts, incredible imagery, and gorgeous, rhythmic text.   This introduction to the mysterious Giant Squid is a perfect book for questioning as it is filled with so many unknowns about these creatures. Incredible!

Metropolis – Benoit Tardif

Benoit Tardif introduces young readers to some of the major cities of the world. Each city contains basic facts (country where located, primary language(s) spoken, population) and then spotlights the city through colorful blocked simple illustrations of landmarks, sports, culture, food, and people.  Will inspire your young geographers!  This is a great anchor book for NF text features.

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Green City: How One Community Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future – Allan Drummond

This interesting and inspiring nonfiction picture book would be a great starting point for discussions about what “going green” and sustainability mean. Told in a narrative style, this book tells the story of a small Kansas town that decides to build a “green city” after it was devastated by a tornado.

The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around the World – Nancy F. Castaldo

Wow!  Wow! Wow!  This book about the history and future of seeds is fascinating, inspirational and important. I learned so much from it – things about seeds I had never heard of: crop diversity, GMOs, biopiracy, how seed diversity affects the food on your plate, and how to get involved in saving the planet’s seeds.   Important call to action – this book would make an excellent resource for an inquiry into seeds in a middle school or high school.

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Monster Science – Could Monsters Survive (and Thrive!) in the Real World? –  Helaine Becker

A totally unique way of exploring science, this book uses a collection of classic monster examples to cover a wide and fascinating range of real science, mostly relating to anatomy and biology.  Engaging, humorous and fascinating!

The Polar Bear – Jenni Desmond

Oh, this book.  This book is extraordinary in so many ways….stunning illustrations, information presented in such an artistic way…immersion into the world and knowledge of the Polar Bear with a quiet message about climate change.   For those of you who loved Jenni Desmond’s The Blue Whale, this book is a must have.  Amazing facts will fill you and your students with wonder and awe.

           There you have it – my favorite Nonfiction Picture books for 2016.                             

What are your favorites?    

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Filed under Animals, Biography, New Books, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Picture Books, Science

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

Top Ten Tuesday! Top 10 Nonfiction Poetry Collections

 

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In honour of National Poetry Month, I have decided to do a TOP 10 post that features poetry, in particular, nonfiction poetry!  Poetry can bring science to life for young children and any one of these books can be linked up to a unit you are studying.  From Space, to Bees, to the Arctic and the Savannah, here is my collection of favorite poetry books that combine fascinating facts, delightful language and gorgeous illustrations.

  1. Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold Joyce Sidman

If you have never read a Joyce Sidman book, you have been missing out!   In my opinion she is the true Queen of Nonfiction Poetry so I have included two of her books on this list.  Winter Bees provides insight and information on how plants and animals cope with the cold, winter months told through lyrical poetry and gorgeous lino-cut illustrations.

2. Song of the Water Boatman and other Pond Poems Joyce Sidman

From algae to a nymph to a frog to a turtle,  Joyce Sidman examines the living things in and around a pond through poetry.  This would be a perfect book to compliment a unit of study on ponds or habitats.

3. Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars Douglas Florian

This collection of whimsical, factual poetry about astronomy is by my #1 information poet – Douglas Florian.   The book includes poems about each planet, as well as the moon, the sun, black holes, constellations, and other space topics.  Includes die-cut pages and a glossary of space terms, making this a perfect anchor book for your study of space and planets.

4. Out of This World:  Poems and Facts about Space – Amy E. Sklansky

Love the variety of different poetic forms, combined with fascinating space facts and gorgeous illustrations.  A perfect addition to your Space book collection and great anchor to start your study of space!

5. Un-BEE-lievables – Douglas Florian

In fourteen funny, fact-filled poems about honeybees, Douglas Florian (major poet crush on this man!) explores the fascinating and often unexpected wonders of these insects’ lifestyles, families, communities and their importance on our ecosystems.  Delightful paintings that will inspire some bee-autiful paintings from your students!

6. Seeds, Bees, Butterflies and More! Poems for Two VoicesCarole Gerber

Kids will have a blast performing these child-friendly poems.  These funny, rhyming poems offer a close-up view of the plant and insect worlds, with an amazing amount of information about them. The art is bright, colorful and fabulous!  A great book for teaching and performing!

7. A Strange Place to Call Home – the World’s Most Dangerous Habitats and the Animals that Call Them Home – Marilyn Singer

Marilyn Singer’s fascinating poems, accompanied by Ed Young’s collage illustrations, feature unusual creatures whose adaptations allow them to live in challenging and often unappealing habitats.  There are helpful end notes which provide more information about each animal. I love how Singer uses a variety of poetic forms from free verse to haiku and sonnets (all defined at the back of the book).

8. When the Sun Shines on Antarctica and Other Poems about the Frozen ContinentIrene Latham

Brand new collection with poems about Antarctic life in the summer, including poems about plants, animals and landscape of this frigid climate.  Each page is accompanied by a paragraph of facts and an illustration that captures the frozen landscape.

9. Polar Bear, Arctic Hare: Poems of the Frozen North – Eileen Spinelli

Eileen Spinelli’s delightful collection of factual poems  about the Arctic can serve as an anchor for a more in-depth study of Arctic Animals (my favorite topic for nonfiction research writing!)  This collection is perfect for reading aloud to and with early primary students.  Spinelli’s playful writing style will tickle your tongue!    In the back of the book is a helpful list of Arctic facts about each animal.

10.  Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Watering Hole – Irene Latham

This collection of creative poems introduces a variety of grassland creatures who frequent this life-sustaining water source over the course of one day.  An accurate and vivid account of survival on the Savannah that  also includes a brief description of each animal on each double page spread.  Entertaining and fascinating!  I love the folk-art illustrations.

11. Silver Seeds – Paul Paolilli

While some may think acrostic poetry is easy to write, if done correctly, each new line is not necessarily a new sentence or word.  This collection of acrostic poems celebrating nature is my “go to” anchor book for teaching students how to write acrostic poems properly.  Simple, but profound poems and gorgeous illustrations.

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Marvelous melon, whole,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Or sliced,
Offering sweet flavor to the
Night.

12. Now You See Them, Now You Don’t: Poems About Creatures That Hide – David L. Harrison

This amazing book features nineteen different creatures organized into five categories, each poem highlights interesting facts about the behavior and habitat of a sea creature, reptile, amphibian, mammal, insect or bird. Laroche’s fascinating cut-paper illustrations bring the habitats to life.  A perfect book for introducing animal classification and adaptation to environment.

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

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Filed under Art, New Books, Poetry, Science, Social Studies, Top 10 Tuesday

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

IMWAYR

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

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

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Sometimes You Barf – Nancy Carlson

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

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Pirate, Viking and Scientist – Jared Chapman

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

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Bunjitsu – John Himmelman

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

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Mr. Squirrel and the Moon –  Sebastian Meschenmoser

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

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When Otis Courted Mama – Kathi Appelt

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

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The New Small Person – Lauren Child

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

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

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

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Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain – Harriet Ziefert

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

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Wall – Tom Clohosy Cole

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

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Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter

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

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

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

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

IMWAYR

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

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

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What Do You Do With an Idea? – Kobi Yamada

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

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Norman, Speak! – Caroline Adderson

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

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Whimsy’s Heavy Things – Julie Kraulis

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

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Same, Same but Different – Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

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

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Whale Shines – An Artistic Tale – Fiona Robinson

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

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The Numberlys – William Joyce

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

17941626                  Billie B Brown: The Birthday Mix-up

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – Holy Science, Batman!

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I’m excited to be joining Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy in this year’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014  I’m hoping to discover many new nonfiction books that I can share with my students at school and with other teachers at workshops.  Link up here to join in!

This week, I thought I would feature some new Nonfiction Series that have just been released or soon to be.  Many of these I am excited about bringing into our library as they are not only appealing for students but great for teachers as they can be used to support many different content areas.

Batman Science Series  – Tammy Enz

This new series by Capstone Press explores the facts behind some of Batman’s high tech gadgets.  What could be better than combining the famous super hero with science facts?  I can just imagine how popular these books will be, particularly with boys.  I really liked the way the book compared Batman technology with real-life facts and photos.  My only slight concern is that for the younger Batman fans, the information, language and content is rather sophisticated.  Despite my slight reservation, I will be purchasing the series for our library!

 

            

 

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Seasons Series – Lizanne Flat

While these look like books about the seasons – they are, in fact, more focused on math concepts than science.  (I should have paid more attention to the titles!)  But once I understood what the books were trying to do, I LOVED the idea!   They are interactive and with very colorful pictures and introduce the concepts of patterning, sorting, estimating, probability.  A WONDERFUL link to Math!

                   

                 

Adapted to Survive Series –  Angela Royston  (Captsone Press)

Another new great series by Captstone Press focuses on different animals’ common skill – flying, climbing, digging – and how they have adapted to survive in its own particular environment.   The photographs are wonderful and I love that the reading level is low enough for children to read independently.  For teachers looking for engaging high interest-low vocabulary books, I would highly recommend these books!

        

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Benjamin Blog and his Inquisitive Dog – Anita Ganeri  (Capstone Press)

WOW!  Another amazing brand new series by Capstone Press.  This one is a definite WINNER!  Not only is it filled with amazing photographs and interesting information – but it is written as a travel blog!  How great is that for all you bloggers out there?   Benjamin Blog and his inquisitive dog Barko Polo (ha!)  travel the globe blogging about the world’s most exciting habitats including  rivers, deserts, rainforests, coasts, coral reefs, and mountains.  There is also a series in the works for Benjamin and his dog to explore different countries.   I’m excited at the thought of using these books anchors for many different research and writing projects!

         

  

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 Infographics  – Chris Oxlade (Capstone)

For those of you, like me, who are unfamiliar with this term – “infographics” are creative graphic visual representation of information.  In this series, the author creates a variety of engaging infographics that teach readers all about  animals, environment, weather and population.   I love the simplicity of using creative visuals to share information and numerical facts about different topics and think that these would be wonderful books for children who may have difficulty accessing information from written texts.

           

Weather Infographics           

Well… there you have it!  And if you hadn’t noticed – most of these new series are published by Capstone Press – one of the best publishers of nonfiction books for kids!  Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Math, New Books, NFPB Challenge 2014, Nonfiction, Science, Seasons, Social Studies