Adrienne’s Anchor Book and Lesson Ideas #1 – Happy Earth Day!

I’ve been asked to start posting some simple lessons teachers can use for their online learning.  So here I go….

Happy Earth Day, everyone!  But as I tell my students “Everyday is Earth Day!”  We should not just be acknowledging and giving thank to the Earth once a year – but every single day!

The Hike by Alison FarrellIn honour of Earth Day, I’m excited to share this new book “The Hike” by Alison Farrell    , Published by Chronicle Books.  (I have checked and there are several versions of this book being read aloud on YouTube).  I love hiking and I LOVE this book!  Not only is it written in beautiful, lyrical language with adorable illustrations, but it inspires children to get outside and notice things around them.  What I love most is that there are examples of “sketchbook notes” directly in the book, perfect for linking to scientific observation and teaching labelled diagrams.  There is also a surprise hidden under the jacket cover!

Why not invite your students to go on a walk or hike with their family to celebrate Earth day and create some field notes about the wonderful examples of nature they see?  Maybe everyone in the family can add one page of field notes!  And it doesn’t have to be a hike – this book is proof that epic things can happen right in your own backyard!

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

A Conversation With Alison Farrell About THE HIKE — Hello Small Empire

Thanks for stopping by!

Stay safe, everyone!

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Earth Day, environment, New Books, Online Books and Lessons, Science

A New Book, Covid19, and Advice from a Friend

Powerful Writing Structures: Brain Pocket Strategies for ...

My new book, Powerful Writing Structures, published by Pembroke Publishing, was released this past February.  This book, like my previous ones, was a labour of love.  It is a culmination of everything I love about teaching writing:  writing joy, writing goals, mini lessons, brain pockets, writing structures, anchor books, responsive teaching, formative assessment.. it’s all there!  It is a book I wrote for my first-year teacher self; a book I wish I had had in my early teaching days when the only writing I remember doing with my students was “I’m Thankful For…” stuck onto a paper turkey in October and “Peace is…” stuck onto a paper poppy in November.

I presented my book officially at the Reading for the Love Of It conference in Toronto on February 20th, 2020.  My dear friend Cheryl (who is also a teacher) was there, as she always is, cheering me on from the front row.  The response from participants was overwhelming and I felt a surge of pride and excitement.  (“Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Teachers are going to LOVE this book!”)  The book sold out at the conference and, needless to say, my publisher was thrilled.  (Isn’t that right, Mary?)

This spring, I was scheduled to present workshops on my new book at many schools and districts across BC and at several larger conferences including ones in Banff, Whistler, Whitehorse, and Melbourne, Australia.  Among other events, I was invited to do a book talk at United Library Services in Burnaby in April for their spring book sale and my good friend Sue, a principal in Kelowna, was planning a district book launch for me in May.

Enter Covid19.  And just like that, everything stopped.  Literally stopped.  At a time of  year when my inbox is usually flooded with workshop requests for the following school year, it is overflowing with cancellations.  The boxes of my new book I had ordered to sell at these upcoming workshops sit unopened in my garage.  All workshops for the foreseeable future have, in fact, been cancelled and none are being booked.  Let’s face it – Pro. D. will certainly not be held again for months, if not years, and will most likely never look the same.  And so I am slowly coming to the realization that the profession I love as a literacy consultant, educational public speaker, and workshop presenter is no longer.  This is my new reality.  And, if I’m being honest with you, it kind of sucks.  Yes, there are ways to present virtually, I have been told.  Yes, I can learn to do webinars and Zoom workshops and online in-services. But nothing compares to the joy I feel standing in front of a group of educators (second only to students), sharing my passion, my lessons, and my stories.  And with just a few weeks into the online teaching experience, you know first hand that the reciprocal energy, laughter, and emotional connections that are ever present in person can never be replicated through a screen.

Now, the thing I’ve learned about a global pandemic is that it sucks the wind out of an ocean full of sails – artists, athletes, actors, public speakers, performers, chefs, shop keepers, servers, priests and pastors, beauticians and stylists, therapists and counselors – any sailboat where groups of people gather, large or small, has been forced to dock.  And many of the boats that have involuntarily and abruptly stopped sailing are far more important than mine and, in many cases, completely life altering.  It’s also hard to wallow in self pity when so many are suffering.  So for some time, I have been keeping to myself about my disappointment that I am out of a job (hey, you’re not the only one), that I’m going to have to reinvent myself somehow (what the heck am I going to do now?) and nobody is buying my new book (seriously, Adrienne? no one cares about your book right now).   

Like you, I have done my best to adjust to the new normal:  I am amused by and participate in the constant stream of self-isolation and online teaching memes and posts (I am obsessed with pluto.living); I am enjoying this gift of time with my family; I’ve experienced my first Google Hangout Book Club meeting and taken part in several virtual happy hours; I have purchased a supply of not so effective root cover up; I listen to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s updates religiously every day and admire her shoes and her grace; I join my neighbours every night at 7 pm to honor the front line workers, ringing my dad’s old school bell from our front porch;  I cry at the thought of people not being able to hold the hand of a loved one and say their last goodbyes.  And so the excitement and pride I usually feel when a book is finally out of my head and out into the world has become so terribly insignificant in comparison to the disruption and devastation going on, it feels completely inappropriate to be even mentioning it.

But yesterday during my daily 6-feet-apart-run in the woods with Cheryl and our dogs (aka- my morning fix of friendship and forest), she gave me some advice.  She told me that I should NOT stay silent about my new book any longer.  It’s time, she said. Teachers will want to know about your new book and will want to read it.  And so, after some reflecting,  I have taken her advice because she is my oldest (not in age but in friendship years) and dearest, and that’s what friends do.  And also because I love my new book and I want you to love it, too.

This was her advice…

BLOG POST:  She said I should write a blog post about my new book so that at least people know that the book is out and that it’s available. (You are reading that post now)

BRAG:  She said I should not be shy to brag about the book.  Here is my brag:

My new book, Powerful Writing Structures:  Brain Pocket Strategies for Supporting a Year Long Reading Program, is a practical, user-friendly book that includes everything you need to know about teaching writing in elementary school.  It is an excellent professional resource.  I highly recommend it.  

BOOK TRAILER:  She said I should make a little video book trailer telling people about it.  But don’t make the video too long because people will lose interest.

I tried to make a short trailer – but this one is 16 min.

https://www.loom.com/share/e646db2799ff4fc4bc08d88e29d84124

And then I tried to make a shorter one but this one’s even longer one… 23 minutes.

https://www.loom.com/share/961372129667413088988a7219df5ad4

BUY THE BOOK:   She said I should add a link to the blog post so people could buy the book if they want.  But make sure to give a discount because everyone is giving discounts right now. 

Here is my link to buy my book.  Yes, there is a discount.

https://www.readingpowergear.com/store

TESTIMONIAL:  She said I need some testimonials.  She offered to write one.  She may be a little bias, but here it is.

Powerful Writing Structures is an excellent combination of Adrienne Gear’s previous two books on writing; Writing Power and Writing Power Non- Fiction. Powerful Writing Structures is a teacher friendly total writing program. It is well organized, practical and easy to use. It is all you need to help your students develop their writing skills. I wish I had this resource when I began my teaching career. I will definitely be using this book in my classroom.​                                    – Cheryl Burian   (Gr. 1-2 teacher, SD 38-Richmond, B.C.)

MORE BLOGS: Finally, she said after this blog post about my new book,  I should really think about posting lesson ideas for online teaching because that is what teachers need most right now.  Stay tuned.

I know that the health and safety of all those you love and cherish is and should be at the forefront of your heart and mind during this time.  Many of you may also be struggling with the new reality of online teaching and the many challenges that brings, particularly if you have young children at home.  But if you have read to the end of this blog post, whether or not you are interested in my new book or not, I thank you for reading it.  I also thank you for all you are doing to support your children at home, your students, your family, your neighbours, and your pets during this strange and challenging time.  We are in this together and together I believe we will come through it a little wiser, more compassionate, and without a doubt, more grateful.  Be well, everyone.

And thank you, Cheryl.

 

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, New Books, Powerful Writing Structures, Teacher Books, Writing Strategies

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? New for Spring 2020 (Read, Sniff, Share!)

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It’s actually Tuesday but better late than never!  Sniff! Sniff!  Can you guess?  I’m in book sniffing heaven!  I am extremely fortunate to receive copies of new books from exceptional Canadian publishers twice a year.  Thank you to Orca Books, Raincoast Books, and Kids Can Press for sharing your new spring titles with me so I can share them with everyone!  Hooray for new books!  Check out more #IMWAYR posts on  http://www.teachmentortexts.com/ or http://www.unleashingreaders.com/

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What If Bunny’s Not a Bully?  – Lana Button (Kids Can Press)

I loved this book! Unique and important look at bullies through the lens of inclusion, empathy and second chances.  Lovely rhyming texts and adorable illustrations are delightful making this a perfect read-aloud for your Pre-K, K, and Gr. 1 students.

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Why Do We Cry? – Fran Pintadera

A little boy asks his mother why we cry and she gently explains all the different emotions expressed by tears: sadness, anger, loneliness, frustration, confusion, and happiness. Wonderfully expressive illustrations and so many beautiful moments.  LOVE!  Oh my.  This is definitely an “Adrienne” book!  Filled with poetic language, imagery, metaphors, deep thinking questions – a perfect anchor for writing and also for teaching “Transform” and nudging our thinking about the concept of crying.  (I would use this book with the “one word” activity -“cry”).

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A Stopwatch from Grampa – Loretta Gabutt (Kids Can press) 

A simple and touching story about a child coming up to terms with his/her grandfather passing away.  This book features a gender-neutral main character (no first name or pronouns used) experiencing the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in a sensitive and subtle manner.  This is a perfect choice for discussions with children about their emotions, particularly the feeling of loss.

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What Grew in Larry’s Garden – Laura Alary

A lot of punch packed into 32 pages of this book, based on a true story of an elderly man and his “pay it forward” attitude.  While gardening is a big part of the story,  you could use it for so many themes including friendship, problem solving, small acts of kindness, community action and the power of kids to help make change in the world.   I would use this book to launch a unit ways to support our local community.

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I Got You a Present! – Susanne McLennan and Mike Erskine-Kellie

Fast-paced, lively story for younger primary students about a Ducky who is trying to buy his friend the perfect birthday gift.  Bright, fun illustrations – this would make an engaging read-aloud, great for making connections and illustrating the concept of “determination”.  LOVE the surprise ending!

We are Water Protectors – Carole Lindstrom

This book focuses on the indigenous perspective and would be a great one for discussing pipeline issues and standing up for environmental injustices.  I enjoyed the story but equally the back notes, which provided important background information about the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Gorgeous, colorful illustrations.  I would pair this with The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson.

Hike Pete Oswald

Beautiful celebration of parent-child relationships and the magic of the wilderness.   This story follows a child and father as they experience a hike together.  It is nearly wordless and a perfectly paced adventure that invites readers to appreciate the beauty of nature along with the child and father; to pause, wonder, and marvel at the views they experience on their hike.  Gorgeous watercolor illustrations.   I LOVE hiking and I LOVE this book!

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Snow White and the Seven Robots – Stewart Ross

Cute sci-fi twist on Snow White with robots instead of dwarves.  When the wicked step queen abandons snow white on a planet, she uses the space ship to build herself some robot helpers.  I was not aware of this “twisted fairy tale” series by Stewart Ross until now but am excited to check his other books including Octo-Puss in Boots and The Ginjabread Man.  

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Help Wanted: Must Love Books – by Janet Summer Johnson

A book about loving books?  Yes, please!!!!  This is such a delightful story about a young girl who sets out to interview potential “bed-time story readers” to replace her dad (she fired him!)  Next comes a string of familiar fairy tale characters applying for the job, but each one seems to have a problem (Sleeping Beauty falls asleep during the interview;  Gingerbread man steals her books and runs away).  Such a cute premise and I love the determination and spunk of Shailey, the main character.  Lots of chuckles with this one!

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The Boreal Forest: A Year in the World’s Largest Land Biome L.E. Carmichael.

Beautifully illustrated reference book about the seasonal changes of plants and animals in the Boreal Forest.  Not so much a “sit down and read in one setting” book but a perfect one for “snip-it read alouds”.   Lots of great descriptive, triple-scoop words (there is a lot of onomatopoeia) and amazing details about the forest.  I learned a LOT!

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Bringing Back the Wolves – How a Predator Restored an Ecosystem – Jude Isabella

Fascinating description of the 1995 reintroduction of wolves into the ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park, after they were all but eliminated by hunters in the late 1800’s.   Gorgeous illustrations and simple nonfiction narrative style that younger readers will understand.  This is an excellent book to illustrate the concept of inter-contentedness of ecosystems.  I would pair it with Sparrow Girl by Sara Pennypacker.

The Keeper of Wild Words – Brooke Smith

Shocking true story: the most recent Oxford Junior Dictionary, widely used in schools around the world, removed 40 common ‘wild words’ (words connected to nature) from their dictionary.  Their justification was that “wild words” like apricot, blackberry, dandelion, and buttercup were not being used by enough by children to warrant their place in the dictionary. (Seriously?)  One might infer from this drastic decision that children are becoming less and less engaged with the natural world so less likely to have the need to use these words.  GULP!  YIKES!  HELP!  I first learned about this shocking removal of words from the exquisite book “The Lost Words” by Robert Macfarlane and illustrated by the amazing Jackie Morris.   While this book is stunningly beautiful, its sheer size (and cost) makes it less of a classroom book and more of a coffee table or gift book.  But the story itself needs to be be shared and so I am THRILLED to see this more accessible version for younger readers.  It weaves the story of a grandmother electing her granddaughter as the “Keeper of Wild Words” because the only way to save words is to know them, use them, and cherish them.   This book is a celebration of shared love between generations, nature, and words.  I can’t wait to share it, to inspire children to become more familiar with “wild words”, and to encourage some “wild writing”!!!  Buy this book.  Share this book.  That is all.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hoping one or two books have caught your eye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Activism, bullying, Community, Emotions, Grief, IMWAYR, Indigenous Stories, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, JK-K, New Books, Picture Book, Transform, Writing Anchor book, Writing Anchors

IMWAYR – It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? First new picture books of 2020!

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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

Three cheers for Mondays and long weekends and new picture books!  I’m excited to share my first blog post of 2020 (thanks Susan from Kidsbooks for some of these titles!) featuring a few 2019 titles I missed and many 2020 #warm book alert releases!

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Maybe: A Story About the Endless Potential in All of Us

Kobi Yamada

From the author of What Do You Do With A Problem? and What Do You Do with An Idea? comes another inspiring book.  “Have you ever wondered why you are here?” I SO love books that begin with a deep thinking question.  And so begins this story about making your own way in the world,  marching to the beat of your own drum, and making a difference in the world.  Could there be a more perfect anchor book for Powerful Understanding?  I don’t think so!  LOVE!

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Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots Michael Rex

Don’t trust everything you read! Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true. A humorous, informative book to show students that for some things you need more information to make a choice.   A great introduction to the difference between facts and opinions – a MUST for every library!

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The Old Truck – Jarrett Pumphrey

Loved the simple, retro feel and the lino cut illustrations of this “The Giving Tree” like story.   A simple poetic narrative about family, farming, perseverance, dreaming, and the passage of time.  An old truck works hard on a farm for years for the family, until it finally stops and is abandoned. Years later, the daughter of the farmer who owned the truck (now grown up) returns to live on the farm, repairs the truck and puts it back to work on the farm. Great circular story with themes of hard work, industrious women, and taking care of “old stuff”.  Great writing anchor for point of view, imagery and personification.

Snail Crossing – Corey R. Tabor

Give a little kindness – and kindness will come back to you.  Snail spots a cabbage patch across the road, and is determined to taste of that delicious cabbage. Snail has a few set backs during his journey, but in his steadfastness to have that cabbage, he shows a little kindness to others, and receives in-turn something more than just a plump cabbage. Adorable story of friendship.

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Old Rock (is not boring) – Deb Pilutti

This book surprised me!  Spotted Beetle, Tall Pine, and Hummingbird think Old Rock’s life must be boring because he just sits there in the same place, but as Old Rock tells the story of his life, the three are amazed with all he’s done and seen.  So many things you could use this book for – a great read aloud, introducing geology, timelines, not to mention a great anchor book for teaching point of view, predicting, descriptive narrative or autobiographical writing.  Lovely, gentle illustrations.

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Humpty Dumpty Lived Near a Wall – Derek Hughes

Incredible, political and edgy, dark but strangely uplifting.  This fractured fairy tale picture book is definitely one I’d use with older children.  A great anchor book for questioning and inferring and would spark great conversations about author’s intent.  I was mesmerized by the incredible pen and ink detailed illustrations.  Leaves readers with lots of questions at the end – another reason why I would recommend it!

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In a Jar – Deborah Marcero

If you could capture something in a jar – a memory, a place, a feeling – what would it be?  Is there anyone who has not thought of bottling a favorite moment, a favorite day, a beautiful sight?  This gorgeous, heartwarming picture book begins with one little bunny who loves collecting things in jars and unfolds into a beautiful story of friendship.  Charming, joyful story.  I can’t wait to read this aloud to children and talk about what they would “bottle up” to share!

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Lawrence – The Bunny Who Wanted to Be Naked – Vern Kousky

If the title doesn’t trigger giggles, this story will!   Lawrence’s mother likes dressing him up in fashionable, unusual outfit!    Lawrence just wants to be naked and hop in the grass like the other bunnies.  Lawrence doesn’t want to hurt her feelings, so comes up with a plan to help her see things from his point of view.   I laughed a lot and know that many children will be able to make connections!

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The Heart of a Whale Anna Pignotaro

Sigh.  Wipe the tears.  This is such a beautiful story of kindness and empathy, loneliness and love.  Poetic (think similes and metaphors), imaginative, exquisite watercolour illustrations.  When whale sings his song, some feel calm,  others cheer up, some drift off to sleep.  But Whale is lonely and longs for the company of another whale.  The ocean listens to his lonely sighs and carries his wish into the ears and hearts of some other whales – who soon find him and fill his empty heart.  Such a beautiful story of the need to be loved.  Stunning.

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Almost Time Gary D. Schmidt

Ethan is waiting for the sap to run so he and his father can make a new batch of maple syrup.  He marks the time by going to school, sledding, and waiting for his loose tooth to come out.  Finally, the big day arrives; his tooth comes out and the sap is running – and he helps his father make the syrup.  A tender father-and-son story about waiting for something, the passage of time, the change of seasons, and the excitement of reaching a goal.  Great for making connections to having to wait for something, as well as learning where maple sugar comes from.

Thanks for stopping by!

I hope one or to two of these new books have caught your eye!

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Connect, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Kindness, New Books, Picture Book, Point of View, Powerful Understanding, Question, Read-Aloud, Writing Anchor book

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Final Favorite Picture Books of 2019

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As 2019 comes to an end, I wanted to focus on some of the picture books that were released late in the year,  but that can’t be missed!    From books about friendship, family and traditions, to celebrating nature and special places – there is something here for everyone!

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The Scarecrow  – Beth Ferry

He never rests.
He never bends.
He’s never had a single friend,
for all the woodland creatures know
not to mess with old Scarecrow.

And so begins “The Scarecrow”, my favorite picture book of 2019.  So much to love about this gentle, heart-tugging picture book. With gorgeous artwork by the Tan Brothers (The Night Gardner) and gentle rhyming text by Beth Ferry, (Stick and Stone) readers are pulled into the wheat field where an old scarecrow has stood throughout the passing of many seasons. The local animals are naturally afraid of scarecrow and the excluded scarecrow has never known a friend. But being excluded from community doesn’t stop the scarecrow from showing kindness to an injured baby crow. And as the scarecrow cares for the baby bird and a relationship forms, the lonely scarecrow discovers purpose.
This book invites conversations about being kind to neighbors in need and that everyone is capable of loving and caring for each other no matter who they are. Will be adding this to my Powerful Understanding “OTHERS” book list! LOVE this book SO SO much!

The Cool Bean Jory John

“It seemed like there were two types of beans in the world. There were the cool beans and the beans like me.”  It’s hard when the beans you used to hang out with are now the Cool Beans and you’re just you.  It happens.  But it’s never easy.  (I made many connections to this one!)  This “too-cool-for-school” theme is the third picture book from the bestselling author of The Bad Seed and The Good Egg. 

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My Ocean is Blue – Darren LeBeuf

“My ocean splashes and crashes / and echoes and squawks. // My ocean laughs and hums.”  Love this joyful seaside romp in the follow up to My Forest is Green.  This book is filled with gorgeous paper cut illustrations and overflowing with literary techniques – similes, personification,  and amazing sensory details.  Great anchor for exploring nature, visualizing and descriptive writing.  Not a focus, but certainly noticed and appreciated the girl exploring the ocean has a physical disability.   Many reasons to add this book to your collection!

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Fly! – Mark Teague 

Delightful wordless picture book about a mama bird trying to convince her little one to learn to fly while the baby prefers having food brought to him.  Young readers will enjoy the humorous ideas the little bird has about alternatives to flying and parents will relate to the frustration of the mama bird!  Mark Teague’s illustrations perfectly capture the actions and expressions of a defiant toddler and frustrated parent.

The Love Letter – Anika Aldamuy Denise

This book is SO adorable, I can hardly stand it!  Hedgehog, Bunny and Squirrel find a love letter, and each one thinks it’s meant for them.  But where did it come from, and who is it for?  So sweet seeing how feeling special made a difference in the lives of all the animals.  Such a great read-aloud and a perfect new book for Valentine’s Day!

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Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao – Kat Zhang

Perseverance and family traditions are the themes in this delightful, colorful story.  This little girl is trying so hard to make the perfect bao as others in her family can do but she just can’t get it right.  Charming characters and great illustrations!  This would be a great book for talking about family and cultural traditions.

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Sulwe – Vashti Harrison

Sulwe is a little girl whose skin color is darker than anyone else in her family.  She tries to do anything she can to change the color of her skin, but nothing works.  Breathtaking illustrations with a positive message in self esteem and learning that true beauty comes from within.   This will be added to my Powerful Understanding “Self” book list and also a great anchor book for teaching similes!

The Favorite Book – Bethanie Deeney Murgula

This book was so much more than I expected.  While its central theme is “having favorites”, it focuses more on HOW we go about choosing them and what influences our choices.  LOTS to discuss here and would make a great read-aloud when teaching personal preferences.

Caspian Finds a Friend Jaqueline Veissid

Gentle, imaginative story about loneliness and the friendship that develops between a boy and a polar bear.  Absolutely gorgeous illustrations and heart-warming story.   I loved this one and will be adding it to my “Friendship” book list.

Seeds and Trees Brandon Walden

A beautiful fairy tale for older students with a wonderful message on the power of words!  We always have a choice—we can speak up-lifting, healing words, or we can speak words that are dark and full of despair and hate.  We also have a choice of what we do with the words that are spoken to us.  Powerful message, lots to discuss, and great for inferring theme.  Great book for “Action-Reaction” lesson!

The Map of Good Memories – Zuzanna Celej

When war forces Zoe and her family to leave their city, she draws a “map of good memories,” so that they will always be with her. A simple, effective refugee story and a great anchor for connecting and writing about “Special Places”.  I love the idea of having students create their own “Map of Good Memories”.

I Wonder K.A. Hale

What do clouds taste like? Do my toys miss me when I’m gone? How do clocks know what time it is? Do tires get tired? What are boy ladybugs called? Do trees dream?
A delightful celebration of wonderings and questions to ponder.  The illustrations are magical. A wonderful book to inspire students to think deeply and wonder about the world! LOVE this one!

The Hike – Alison Farrell

Layers of love for this book that celebrates hiking, adventures, friendship and the great outdoors.  It’s tender yet lively, poetic yet scientific, magical yet natural.  Three friends and their dog head to the woods for a hike.  As they wander the woods, they record their observations in a sketchbook.  I love how the lyrical text is woven with detailed labelled diagrams of all that the children observe on their hike.  This would be a wonderful anchor book for observing details in nature and descriptive writing.  I love hiking and I love this book!

Fairy Science – Ashley Spires

Anything by Ashley Spires is sure to be a winner.  This book introduces young readers to to the scientific method in an easy-to-understand way. There’s even a little experiment in the back for budding scientists to try.  Esther examines the fairy world with a critical eye and tries to explain natural phenomena using science.  A great anchor book for science, critical thinking and fairy fans everywhere!

The Serious Goose – Jimmy Kimmel

Late Night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has written and illustrated this hilarious book aimed for the Pre-K and K readers.  This book will have readers giggling at this very serious goose who refuses to smile and the various attempts to make him do so.  Lots of fun and interaction with this one.

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Who Wet My Pants? Bob Shea

This book, while funny, includes many important themes that can stimulate connections and discussions:  embarrassment, blame, compassion, and forgiveness. Reuben the bear, while delivering donuts in the campgrounds discover that “someone” wet his pants.  And while he accuses his companions, one after another, of being the one responsible, his patient friends assure him that accidents can happen.  Very funny read-aloud and I really like how the friends show empathy rather than make Reuben feel worse by teasing him.

The Boring Book – Shinsuke Yoshitake

An interesting exploration of what it means to be bored.  We follow a young boy as he explores the how’s and why’s of being bored and eventually develops a new understanding – being bored is a choice.  Great illustrations.  For those familiar with my “One Word” activity for transform, this would be a great anchor book for that lesson, using the word “bored”.

Stretchy McHandsome – Judy Schachner

How can you not love a book called “Stretchy McHandsome”?  How can you not love a cat with the same name?  This delightful book is about the youngest of nine cats who sets out from his cardboard box to explore the world and meets a stretchy friend.  For cat lovers everywhere – but you don’t have to love cats to fall in love with Stretchy McHandsome!

 

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found one or two new books to add to your classroom or library collections!  This will be my last post of 2019.

Happy Reading and see you in the 2020!

 

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Filed under 2019 releases, New Books, Picture Book, Powerful Understanding, Reading Power

Holiday Book Gifting Part 3 – Picture Books for Christmas and Winter

Give Books

Welcome to Part 3 of my Holiday Gifting Posts!  Today I’m featuring picture books for Christmas and Winter!  When my boys were younger, I loved choosing a new Christmas book to leave under the tree and open on Christmas Eve.  I hope you find one or two books to gift to a special reader in your life this holiday season!

Happy reading and gifting everyone!

Christmas Picture Books

The Crayons’ Christmas Drew Deywalt

A cleaver festive addition to this series.  Not recommended for a library due to all the fancy flaps and moving parts – but great for gifting!  Fun for kids with much humour for adults, too!

One Wild Christmas – Nicholas Oldland

Cute and quirky! This “wild” book continues the adventures with these three hilarious animal friends.  In this story, they are trying to plan a perfect Christmas together and soon discover they are missing the Christmas tree.  Bright illustrations and filled with funny antics.

Dasher: How a Brave Little Doe Changed Christmas Forever

– Matt Tavaras

How did Santa end up with all those reindeer and why are there eight of them? Do they like living at the North Pole?  This origin story by the author of Red and Lulu will answer all of those questions and more.  Absolutely stunning illustrations.  This book has been mentioned in several best-of-the-year lists.  A great book for “Knew-New’s”!!!

The Tree That’s Meant to Be Yunal Zommer

A heartfelt, gorgeous Christmas picture book about a crooked little fir tree with a powerful message about love and embracing what makes you different.  Have your kleenex handy!  Stunning illustrations.

Nutcracker Night Mireille Messier

LOVE this unique twist of a night at the Nutcracker – telling the story entirely through the sounds of the theater.  This is a lovely gift book but also a great one for teaching onomatopoeia.   Charming and clever!

Little Robin’s Christmas – Jan Fearnley

This delightful story of celebrating generosity and the spirit of Christmas was first published in 1998 and was a favorite of my two boys.   Little Robin gives away his 7 warm vests to different animals in need.  Love the ending when Little Robin ends up getting a red vest for Christmas from Santa.

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The Most Wonderful Gift in the World – Mark Sperring

A sweet reminder that the best gifts aren’t wrappable.  Esme and Bear receive a present from Santa addressed to someone else, so they set off to deliver it themselves.  Adorable illustrations.  I really enjoyed this one.

How to Hide a Lion at Christmas – Helen Stephens

When Iris’s best Lion friend is not able to join them on their Christmas trip, the lion sets off on a snowy adventure to find her.  Charming holiday story of friendship and fun.  

Santa’s Story – Will Hillenbrand

Santa is ready for his big night but can’t find the reindeer!  Lovely story and perfect for any family who celebrates on Christmas Eve by reading  T’was The Night Before Christmas.  Turns out the reindeer have the same tradition!   Very cute!

Winter Picture Books

The Shortest Day Susan Cooper

This stunning, quiet picture book celebrates the Winter Solstice, the Yuletide season, and how throughout history, people have gathered to celebrate the magical return of seasonal light.  This book is a lovely, beautifully illustrated retelling of Susan Cooper’s Yule poem.

My Winter City James Gladstone

A gentle poem of winter in the city.  A young boy awakens to a blanket of freshly fallen snow, and shares his experiences of being out in it with his father.    Gorgeous details in the illustrations and sensory, lyrical text and a large book format, perfect for reading together.   Love, Love, LOVE this book so much (It is my favorite new Winter book!)

A Day So Gray – Marie Lamba

On a winter’s day, one child sees only the gloomy bleakness of the season until her  friend encourages her to see the hidden colors all around her.  Great book for growth mindset and also writing about colors!

My Footprints– Bao Phi

Wow. Wow. Wow.  SO much more than a book about winter.  (In fact it’s not about winter at all!)  I was drawn to the book because it was written by the same author of A Different Pond, which I loved.   It is about a young Vietnamese American girl who is being bullied at school because she has two moms.  She works through her sadness and anger in a creative way, making footprints in the snow of different animals she pretends to be.  I like that this book didn’t focus on the bullies but focused on positive and imaginative ways to deal with them.  Great illustrations.

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Snow Globe Wishes Erin Dealey

A gentle, rhyming picture book celebrating the magic of a snow day.  When a huge snowstorm hits and the power goes out, a young girl enjoys the slow pace of her family and neighbours spending time together.  Lovely illustrations.  The ending was a little sugary but a great book for making winter connections.

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Small in the City- Sydney Smith

Another amazing book by the author of Town is By the Sea and Sidewalk Flowers. Gorgeous illustrations of city scenes, sparse text, touching story of a child giving advice on coping with being “small in the city.”  Love the surprise ending.  Not really about winter but children will enjoy guessing who the advice is for and which clues informed their decision – a perfect book for inferring!

Happy Reading and Holiday Gifting, everyone! 

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Holiday Book Gifting 2019 – Part 2 Graphic and Middle Grade Novels

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Welcome to day two of “Book Gifting 2019”!  Yesterday, I focused on Early Chapter Books and Series, as well as Nonfiction and Activity books.  Today, I’m excited to focus on some of the most popular Graphic Novels and Middle Grade Novels perfect for gifting your middle grade readers!   Happy Book Gifting, everyone!

Graphic Novels

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Guts – Raina Telgemeirer

From the rock star graphic novelist Raina Telgemeirer comes her latest book, Guts.  This graphic memoir is targeted for middle grade/ young adult readers and explores the author’s issues with anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias.  I love how this author manages to always touch on subjects important to this age group in a respectful and appropriate way.  Heartfelt and compassionate with a sprinkle of humour.   Likely the most popular graphic novel of 2019.

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The New Kid Jerry Craft

This FANTASTIC middle grade graphic novel is getting a lot of award buzz!  It is an amazing book that approaches racism in an accessible & understandable way for young readers, while not holding back.  Told through the eyes of a new grade 7 student who is one of only a handful of students of color in an elite private school.  Great characters, lots of pop culture, funny, heartfelt… this one is a winner.

Minecraft Volume 1 (Graphic Novel) – R. Sfe Monster

Perfect book for anyone who enjoys middle grade graphic novels and playing Minecraft!   It takes place partly in the real world and partly inside a Minecraft game.  I can’t really imagine someone enjoying this who doesn’t know the game but those who do will make MANY connections!

Best Friends Shannon Hale

So good.  This standalone sequel to Real Friends dives in deep to Shannon’s grade 6 year and her struggles with friendships.  Her friends aren’t always nice and she’s not always nice either.  Why is friendship so hard?  Open and frank discussions of tween friendship, anxiety, and how friendships change.  Lots of connections here, I am certain!  (I made a lot!)

Just Jaime – Terri Libenson

The last day of Grade 7.  Friends.  Frenemies.  BFF’s.  Exclusion.  Inclusion.  Cliques. Peer Pressure. Forgiveness.  Acceptance.  This book has all of these and then some!  I made SO many connections to this book.  Middle school? – Terri Libenson NAILS it!

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Stargazing – Jen Yang

Moon and Christine are both Chinese, but while Christine’s family finds Chinese language school important and is part of a Chinese community, Moon and her mother don’t speak Chinese and are Buddhist.  This new graphic novel from the author of Prince and the Dressmaker is a sweet story of friendship, cultural and religious identity, and belonging.

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The Okay Witch – Emma Steinkellner

This book was recently awarded the School Library Journal Best Graphic Novel of 2019.  Think Sabrina the Teenage Witch meets Roller Girl.  It’s a hilarious story about a half-witch who has just discovered the truth about herself, her family, and her town all while trying to survive middle school.  A unique, charmingly weird graphic novel filled with humor and heart.  

Middle Grade Novels

Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever. – Betsy Bird

Betsy Bird asked very funny female writers for young people, ages 9-12, to create a story in any format they wanted – prose, memoir, poetry, or graphic novel format. The result of her edited anthology is a collection of hysterically funny, poignant, and heartfelt stories.  Target would be grade 4-5 readers.

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The Trials of Apollo – Book Four: The Tyrant’s Tomb – Rick Riordan

Fans of Rick Riordan will be excited to read this 4th enstallment in the Tyrant’s Tomb series.  I will admit I have not read it in its entirety but love the way Riordan mixes contemporary with mythology and his fast-paced action.  This book came out in September and was just awarded Reader’s Top Choice for MG Novel on Goodreads.  Be prepared – it’s 448 pages!

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Dear Sweet Pea – Julie Murphy

Sweet Pea is a 7th grader living in a small town struggling with the usual things—friends, school, and self-image.  Her parents have just divorced and, in an effort to keep life “normal,  live in almost identical houses on the same street.  This is such a delightful story about growing up, figuring your way through friendships, facing challenging family changes like divorce and finding your voice.  I loved the writing (hints of Kate De Camillo) and loved Sweet Pea.  Endearing and empowering.  Loved the advice columns sub-plot!

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Look Both Ways – A Tale Told in Ten Blocks – Jason Reynolds

This book is a series of short stories linked together because all of the characters go to the same school.  Some cross over and reappear, but this isn’t really about how they intersect but more about how they share the same common ground while living such vastly different lives.  Great characters dealing with difficult issues: some very mature and ready to take on the world; others are just learning to be independent.  Easy to read lots of connections.

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The Strangers: Greystone Secrets #1 – Margaret Peterson Haddix

Ooooo…. how I love the first book in a new series!  This one came out last April (now available in paperback – YES!) and is getting a LOT of buzz!  This book is a thrilling adventure with lots of mystery, suspense, and many plot twists and turns.  If your young reader enjoyed the City of Embers or A Wrinkle in Time – this is the perfect choice for them!  Chess, Emma, and Finn Greystone come home from school to find their mother staring at her laptop, where there is a news recording of three children in Arizona who have been kidnapped. Three children who have the exact same first and middle names as they do and who share their birthdays.  Their mother disappears…. and then it just never stops!  Book #2 is scheduled to be released in April 2020.

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Maybe He Just Likes You – Barbara Dee

This book explores the subject of #MeToo for the middle grade audience and the experiences of harassment and unwanted attention from classmates in an age-appropriate way.   It is a heart-wrenching—and ultimately uplifting—novel.  This one really hit me hard.  A universally important and timely book.

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Tunnel of Bones (Cassidy Blake #2) – Victoria Schwab

In this sequel to City of Ghosts, Cassidy finds herself in another adventure involving ghosts, this time in charming yet very haunted city of Paris (first book was set in Edinburgh) where her parents are filming another episode of their TV show about the world’s most haunted locations.   Perfect for fans of suspenseful ghost stories and paranormal adventures!

More to the Story

More to the Story – Hena Khan

Inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s classic, Little Women, and featuring four sisters from a modern American Muslim family, this is an incredibly wholesome and wonderful middle-grade story about illness, pursuing your ambitions, and family and sisterhood.  This new book by the author of Amina’s Voice (I LOVED that book!) truly is a modern retelling of Little Women, filled with strong, charming characters and contemporary issues.  LOVE this one!

    Thanks for stopping by!  Hopefully you found one or two great books to gift that special reader in your life!

 

 

 

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Holiday Book Gifting 2019 – Part 1 Early Chapter Book Series, Nonfiction and Activity Books

 

Christmas books

Well… it’s been a while since I last blogged about books.  But I had a good excuse and that is – I was writing my new book!  But I’m happy to say, I just finished the first round of editing and now waiting typeset and then that’s a wrap!  Powerful Writing Structures will be available February 7th!  Yippee!

So now I have a little more time to relax, enjoy the holidays, and get back to writing about and sharing great books!  I don’t know about you, but my book pile gets very big this time of year!  And if you are like me – you love gifting books as much as you like receiving them!  So if you are trying to do some last minute book buying for that special little or not so little someone in your life – you have come to the right place!

As there are too many books for one post, here’s the line up for the week:

Monday (today) – Beginning and Early Chapter Books and Series, Nonfiction and Activity book Gifting

Tuesday – Middle Grade and Graphic Novel Gifting

Wednesday – Picture Book Gifting (Christmas, Winter and Others)

Thursday – Book Gifting for teacher and book club friends

 

Beginning and Early Chapter Book Series

Hello, Hedgehog! 1: Do You Like My Bike?Norm Feuti

Hedgehog adores his new bike. He wants to share it with his friend, Harry. Oddly, Harry does not want to ride it. What’s going on?  Adorable early reader series, with simple text and repetition that builds fluency, and conversations.  This is the kind of book I can see children wanting to read this book over and over and over.

Chick and Brain: Smell My Foot Cece Bell

From the Newberry Honor author of El Defo comes a hilarious new graphic reader that will have your young reader in fits of giggles.  Chick and Brain. And their friend Spot. Chick likes to follow the rules, Brain might not be as smart as he looks, and Spot just wants to eat lunch.  Simple and oh, so silly!  LOVE!

For the unicorn lover in your family, here is a new early chapter book series by the author of Owl Diaries that is sure to be a hit when it is released on Dec. 26th.  (might have to include a book cover image in the stocking!) Every unicorn going to unicorn school has a magical power.  Lots of unicorn love for this one!

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Bea Garcia – My Life in Pictures – Deborah Zemke

A delightful early chapter book series with a lovely, likable narrator who happens to be an artist.  Would highly recommend to 1st-3rd graders who are transitioning to chapter books for the first time and doodlers everywhere!

Diary of a Pug #1 – Pug Blasts Off  – Kyla May

Another great new early chapter book series – this one for those furry friend lovers in your family!  Bub (Baron von Bubbles) is the self-proclaimed cutest pug on the planet who loves fashion, peanut butter, and his human, Bella.  He does not love Nutz the squirrel, baths, and the rain.  Funny, charming diary-format chapter book with colorful illustrations.

The Bad Guys in the Baddest Day Ever (The Bad Guys #10) – Aaron Blabey

This is such a popular series in school libraries and I know there will be many children thrilled to know that book #10 is about to hit the book stores!  These bad boys are BAAAAAD!  Released Dec. 26th.

Dog Man – Fetch 22 – Dav Pilkey

Fans of this extremely popular series by the creator of Captain Underpants will be thrilled to know that book #8 was just released on Dec. 10th!  This widely popular series while silly and fun, explores universally positive themes, including empathy, kindness, persistence, and the importance of being true to one’s self.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Wrecking Ball – Jeff Kinney

Book #14 in the Wimpy Kid series came out in November.  In this book, the Heffley family encounter all sorts of unexpected issues when they start a home renovation project.   This series continues to have a huge following of fans who have an appreciation for clever, amusing stories and enjoy seeing adult situations through the eyes of a kid.

Big Nate – Hug it Out!  – Lincoln Peirce

Book #21 in this series came out in September with everyone’s favorite sixth-grade prankster is back for more hilarious misadventures — and even a little romance!

 

Nonfiction and Activity Books

Truth or Lie: Sharks!Erica S. Perl

Easy reader and a great introduction for anyone interested in sharks.  What makes this unique is the engaging “find the lie” format of this book.  Would be a great one to read together!   Also available in Truth or Lie: Dinosaurs!

Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive! – Ammi-Joan Paquette

For slightly older readers (grade 4 and up) Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive! by Ammi-Joan Paquette is a highly engaging informational book that presents three unusual stories about plants and animals around the world, but only two of them are true!  Great family read-aloud and I I like how it urges readers to do their own research and fact-checking. Seriously?  Mind-control fungus? I mean, come on!  Also comes in Forces of Nature and Histories and Mysteries.  

Try Not to Laugh Challenge – Would You Rather? – OMG Edition: Hilarious, Shocking and Interactive Questions and Scenarios for Kids 

Great family fun with this thought-provoking conversation game where you and other players have to choose between two equally ridiculous and outrageous situations that you would never be faced with, in real life(hopefully).  Lots of laughs with this one.  Available in many different editions including: Would You Rather? Christmas and Would You Rather? – Ewww!

A Million Dots – Andrew Clements

For the Math trivia person in your family, Andrew Clements “A Million Dots” gives the reader a fascinating look into what “a million” actually looks like. Each page has 23,808 dots and includes a fun fact or two about one of the numbers represented on the page.  For example, at dot #186,000 we learn that light travels through space at about 186,000 miles per second. Some of the facts are completely bizarre but I was completely engaged!  (Andrew Clements sadly passed away a short time ago, so happy to include one of his books here)

Blank Comic Book for Kids – Create Your Own Story 

Kids love making their own comics and cartoons and this blank book is filled with comic frames just waiting to be filled!  Perfect gift for your budding cartoonist!


My Book With No Pictures – B.J. Novak

The Book With No Pictures meets Mad Libs!  Great way to inspire young readers and writers with this follow up to the hilarious and oh-so popular read-aloud.  Interactive and you get to write right in the book!  Bonus sheet of nonsense stickers included! A great gift to pair them together!

150 Christmas Jokes for Kids: Stocking Stuffer Edition – Lilly Winchester

Who delivers Christmas presents to dogs?  Santa Paws!!!  What is Christmas without someone telling really corny jokes?

Where Could the Animals Be?: A Fun Search and Find for 2-4 Year Olds 

“There are fourteen animals, wild and free… I wonder where they’re hiding, let’s go and see!”  A fun, interactive book where readers spot animals as they travel through farms, jungles, deserts, beaches and a winter wonderland.  Perfect for pre-schoolers!

And there you have my Holiday Gifting List!  Come back tomorrow when I will feature some great new Graphic and Middle Grade novels!

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Filed under 2019 releases, Beginning Chapter Book, Christmas, Early Readers, graphic novel, Middle Grade Novels, New Books

Top 10 (okay, 14!) Back to School Picture Books for 2019

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Well, it’s that time of year again.  Time to face the fact that summer is drawing to a close  and school is right around the corner.  Some of you, in fact, have already started teaching.  But there is an excitement that comes at this time of year – the anticipation of a new students to get to know and a new class community to build and nurture.  But while the start of school brings excitement for some, it can bring anxiety for others.  Sharing books about starting school and all that that entails is a wonderful way for making your students feel safe and connected. Here are my top new “back to school” picture books for sharing during “back to school”  week.

The Proudest Blue – Ibtihaj Muhammad

While it doesn’t appear to be by the cover, this is a powerful story about the first day of school that turns out to be so much more.  It is about rites of passage, the bonds of sisters, overcoming classmate cruelty and taunts, and the importance of culture and faith.  This book will be released on September 10th and I highly recommend it.  Gorgeous illustrations!   An important book to share about acceptance and pride in who you are.  (Great anchor for “Who Am I?” lessons from Powerful Understanding!)


Clothesline Clues to the First Day of School – Andy Robert Davies

You will have a lot of fun with this interactive book during the first week back.  Catchy rhymes and clear visual cues introduce young readers to the people they’ll encounter on their first day of school.  Perfect for Pre K – grade 1.

The School Book – Todd Parr

Todd Parr has done it again! With his signature bright, bold illustrations, “The School Book” is a must read for back to school this year. Positive and affirming step-by-step guide to a school day, from morning routines, to meeting new people, to learning and playing together. Love the way he weaves in a cheerful, child-friendly message of sharing, inclusion, and community. A perfect book for parents and teachers to read with any little one starting or returning to school.

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All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids starting and returning to school.    All children need to know they are welcome in their classrooms and feel a sense of belonging.  In rhythmic phrases, this story emphasizes the inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures.  The perfect book for the first week of school to promote a positive classroom and school community.

If I Built a School – Chris Van Dusen

Chris Van Dusen’s If I Built a House is one of my go-to read-alouds to inspire imaginative writing so I was thrilled to see his new book about an imaginary school!  Told in a bouncy rhyming text, a boy describes all the fantastic and amazing things he would include if he was building his own school – money and reality no object!  Puppies and zoo animals would greet you at the door, students would have movable hover desks, every library book would come to life when you opened it, you’d race on submersible bikes in the school’s pool!   What fun!  A perfect anchor book for some inspiring back to school imagination pocket writing and art!

Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten! – Lisa Robinson

Very sweet story about “Pirate Emma” transitioning from preschool to kindergarten and getting to know new classmates, a new classroom, a brand new teacher, and a new routine.  Packed with pirate language and lively illustrations, this story is a perfect “connect” book for any buccaneer that might not be feeling very brave when starting a new adventure.

Lola Goes to School – Anna McQuinn

A simple, comforting story about a little girl preparing for the first day of school.  While many similar books begin on the actual first day of school, I like how this one focuses on the preparation day before – choosing clothes, packing backpacks and lunches.   This one leaves you with such a positive, uplifting feeling that gently eases any worries young readers may be feeling about starting school.

Sorry, Grown-Ups!  You Can’t Go to School – Christina Geist

This book is an entertaining story with some reverse psychology intended to make kids want to go to school.   The role reversal outlines all the fun things that a child would be excited about – new backpacks (with secret pockets), playing games, reading on the cozy carpet, science experiments, and recess, all of which drive the adults nuts with longing!  Bright, playful illustrations. (the lack of diversity is my only criticism)  This book is fun and would certainly help to ease nerves as the school year begins.  

Butterflies on the First Day of School Annie Silverstro

Rosie is excited about the first day of school but then when the day actually arrives, she discovers she has “butterflies in her tummy.”   As the first day unfolds, each time Rosie opens up and talks to a new classmate or her teacher, butterflies – which only she can see – escape out of her mouth and fly into the sky.   As the butterflies fly out, Rosie’s confidence begins to grow, and new friendships and experiences are forged; she even finds the courage to help another shy little girl with butterflies of her own.  I love how this “butterfly” metaphor is developed into a clear analogy for kids – opening up to others to let the butterflies out.

The King of Kindergarten – Derrick Barnes

A gentle, joyful introduction to what to expect in a Kindergarten classroom and a sweet story about making friends, playing together, loving school, and putting positive energy into the world.  Such a lovely message in this one!   The artwork is stunning and the story is charming and uplifting.  Love this one!

The Pigeon Has to Go to School! – Mo Willems

Mo Willems is back with another pigeon book just in time for back to school! The Pigeon Has to Go to School is a laugh-out-loud hilarious story focusing on fears about going to school for the first time. Not preachy and a great ending. A perfect back to school read! LOVE this!

How To Read – Kwane Alexander

While not specifically about starting school, this ode to reading by the amazing team of Kwane Alexander and Melissa Sweet would make an excellent first week read-aloud.   I so loved the “how to” format filled gorgeous poetic language and literary techniques: “Once you’re comfy, peel its gentle skin, like you would a clementine…Next, did your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and POP the words out.”  Vibrant, collage illustrations but I did find the busy layout and embedded font sometimes difficult to follow on some pages.   Great for read-aloud and wonderful anchor book for writing similes, personification and imagery.

Back to School: A Global Journey – Maya Ajmera

I so love this beautiful, joy-filled book filled with stunning color photographs of children around the world studying, learning, exploring, and having fun together.  A perfect book for any lesson on global education and includes back notes and maps about each photograph.  Seeing children’s joy about school and learning is so inspiring!   I would pair this book up with The Way to School by Rosemary McCarney.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found on or two “Back to School” books that caught your eye!  Happy “New Year”, teacher friends!

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Filed under 2019 releases, Back to School, Connect, New Books, Top 10 Tuesday