It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.
This week, I have spent several days in Arizona at a hockey tournament with my younger son. Luckily, our hotel was right across from a shopping mall that included a Barnes and Nobel – the American equivalent of Chapters. So in-between hockey games, I snuck over to the mall to spend a few hours reading picture books! Here are the books that caught my eye!
Isabella Star of the Story – Jennifer Fossberry
There were so many things to love about this book! I love that Isabella loves books and the going to the library. I love the way she interacts and imagines her way through the books while she reads them. I love the references to classic children’s literature, including Peter Pan, Goldilocks, Dorothy, and Alice – perfect for Text-to-Text connections! I really appreciated the information about the authors of these classic works that the author included at the back of the book. (Did you know that the L. in L. Frank Baum stood for Lyman or that Dorothy’s shoes were originally silver?) Delightful illustrations by Mike Litwin. This is a WONDERFUL book! (Apparently, there are other “Isabella” books in this series – but this is the first one I’ve read)
Born From the Heart – Berta Serrano
I was drawn in by the illustrations but was surprised to discover that this is a very endearing story about adoption and about the power of love that creates a family. A lovely message that a child does not have to be born into a family, but that love is born when a new child arrives. The illustrations are quirky but I think the message is beautiful. This would make a lovely gift for adoptive parents.
Night Noises – Mem Fox
This book worked perfectly for a lesson I was doing with a grade 3 class who was learning the difference between inferring and predicting. Predicting – what do you think is going to happen next? Infering – what do you think is happening now. This book invites the reader to do both – to predict what the “night noises” are that the woman is hearing – and also to infer some of her past experiences she is dreaming about. After explaining the difference, we practiced predicting and inferring using the same book. A perfect book for both strategies!
How to Babysit a Grandpa – Jean Reagan
One of the chapters in my new book Nonfiction Writing Power is helping students with instructional (procedural) writing and I have included this book on my list of anchor books that model this form of writing. While the intent of this book is to entertain, I like that it is written in present tense and includes a variety of instructional adjectives. transition words and tips. I also liked the cleverness of the “reversed roles” of babysitting as the boy tells the reader how to take walks, eat snacks and provide entertainment. A great read-aloud and one to remember when you are teaching this form of writing.
Weeds Find a Way – Cindy Jessie Elliott
Ooooooo – I discovered a hidden treasure! This is a book that celebrates those pesky little weeds that grow in our gardens. But the language is BEAUTIFUL – alliteration, similes, metaphors – this book has every writing technique you could ask for! And the illustrations – GORGEOUS! This is a long overdue tribute to the lonely, unwanted weed that will make you think twice about using that weed killer this spring! Loved it! Great information included at the back about different types of weeds.
The Wreck of the Zephyr – Chris Van Allsburg
Chris Van Allsburg ranks high on my list of favorite authors. His books are an extraordinary combination of hauntingly life-like illustrations and subtle text. His books have been my “go to” anchor books when teaching my intermediate students how to question and infer because Van Allsburg is a master of telling a story by not telling a story. I always tell my students: “Some writers don’t tell us everything because they are leaving spaces for our thinking”. The Wreck of the Zephyr was first published in 1983 but has been reissued to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Thirty years later, the story still captivates students with the story of a boy, a magical island and boats that fly – Classic Van Allsburg.
Pride of Baghdad – Brian K. Vaughan
This book was recommended to me by a middle school teacher in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. It is a graphic novel that depicts the true story of a pride of lions that escaped from the Baghdad zoo during an American bombing raid. It is a heartbreaking account of these lions, finally free, but lost, confused and hungry – roaming the streets of Bagdad struggling to survive. So much can be inferred and paralleled to the circumstances that so many Afghans experienced during the war. This would be an amazing book for students in upper middle or high school and an amazing anchor book for inferring and illustrating metaphor.
The Orenda – Joseph Boyden
I loved Canadian writer Joseph Boyden’s book Three Day Road so was anxious to read his latest novel. I started to read this book on the plane. It had a jolting, intense and graphic opening that has caught my attention. So far, not a comfortable, but extremely compelling read that tells the epic story during the 17th century of the First Nations and European first contact. I’m only about 40 pages into the 500 plus page book but will keep you posted!
Thanks for reading my post! What have you been reading this week?