Tag Archives: Jen Bryant

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books of 2014

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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 posted my favorite fiction picture books from the past year.  This week,  I’m excited to share my favorite Nonfiction Books of 2014.  Again, book selection is challenging as there are SO many to chose from.  I have also been taking a rather long break from any form of computer work over the Christmas break so I could focus on family and as a result, my descriptors are relatively short! But here they are…

FAVORITE ANIMAL BOOKS

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Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla – Katherine Applegate

A nonfiction companion to the amazing novel The One and Only Ivan.

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Creature Features – Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins is a master at capturing information in a captivating way both visually and descriptively.  In this book, the creatures describe their OWN features!  Great for teaching “voice” and a wonderful writing anchor.

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Animalium – Katie Scott and Jenny Broom

This is an amazing look into the world of animal classification.  Oversized book – wonderful for sharing with students and is made to feel as if you are walking through a museum.  Gorgeous and unique!

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Mama Build a Little Nest – Jennifer Ward and Steve Jenkins

Who knew there was such diversity when it came to nest building?  Fascinating to read and look at!

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The Slug (from the Disgusting Critter Series) – Elise Gravel

What can I say except that kids LOVE this series!  Interesting facts told with humorous illustrations and slap-stick comments.  A MUST for your classroom library!

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Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands  – Katherine Roy

Up-close and personal with the world’s most deadliest shark!  Captivating and surprising!

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A Baby Elephant in the Wild – Caitlin O’Connell

Excellent photographs and informative and interesting text.  Perfect for questioning and a great introduction to narrative nonfiction for younger students.

FAVORITE BIOGRAPHIES

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Nelson Mandela – Kadir Nelson

Every child should know the story of this most important, courageous, inspiring man and what he did to end apartheid.  Amazing story, amazing illustrations, amazing man.

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Shakleton’s Journey – William Grill

Sir Ernest Shacklton’s amazing scientific expedition across the Antarctic.  Stunning pencil crayon illustrations.  A fascinating account of a great adventure.

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Mr. Ferris and His Wheel – Kathryn Gibb Davis

Amazing facts and stunning illustrations describing George Ferris’s remarkable creation.

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The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus – Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet

Stunning illustrations and a fascinating story of Peter Mark Roget – the man who created the thesaurus.  Inspires list making!

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Families Around The World – Margriet Ruurs

Wonderful look at different families: cultures, food, homes, clothing and customs.  Simple and interesting text – perfect for grade 2-3!

FAVORITE CONCEPT BOOKS:

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 IF:  A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers – David J. Smith

Author of If the World Were A Village, David J. Smith, creates a unique book that shrinks down concepts that are hard to wrap your brain around into a familiar and smaller scale.  Perfect book for linking with Math.

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 Tiny Creatures:  The World of Microbes – Nicola Davies

 An accessible introduction to microbes for primary students.  A great NF read aloud that will invite lots of  “oooos” and “aaahs.” LOVE this book!

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Gravity – Jason Chin

Through simple text and stunning illustrations,  Jason Chin explains what gravity does and why it is so important. A complex concept made simple. 

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As an Oak Tree Grows – G. Brian Karas

SOOOO many different teachable layers to this book including history, timelines, and life cycle of trees.  This unique book depicts the life of an oak tree spanning 200 plus years and how the world changes around it as it grows.  A perfect book to teach TRANSFORM. 

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Clever Concept Books – Jane Brocket

Apparently, there are other books in this wonderful series, but these two titles were released this year.  LOVE them for early primary classrooms – perfect link to teaching science concepts.  Simple text and bright, colorful photographs.

FAVORITE POETRY BOOKS:

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Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems – Paul B. Janeczko (editor)

Creating images using only a few words can be challenging but every poem in this collection succeeds in doing so. An lovely collection of short poems – and a perfect illustration to children that sometimes, less is more.

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Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons – Jon J. Muth

Soft watercolor illustrations and a charming panda bear, along with 26 haiku poems to celebrate seasons.  A treasure of a book.

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Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold – Joyce Sidman

I adore Joyce Sidman’s poetry and love how she weaves learning into her poems.  This is a beautiful collection of fascinating poems about how animals stay alive during winter.  LOVE.

And there you have it – my list of favorite Nonfiction Books of the past year.   Thanks for stopping by!  What were some of your favorites?

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Filed under Biography, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Nonfiction

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Celebrating Picture Book Biographies

 

IMWAYR            b4f78-pb2bmonth2blogo

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

In celebration of Picture Book Month, I am posting some of my favorite picture book biographies!  I love sharing the true stories of extraordinary people with my students.  Gone are the days of boring biographies – these books are beautifully written, exquisitely illustrated and will inform and inspire you!

 

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela – Kadir Nelson

The courageous life of this man is a must share book.  Nelson Mandela – who stood up for his people and over time, won his fight because of his courage and his values.   He was, in my opinion, the bravest man who ever lived.

 

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau

Manfish A Story of Jacques Cousteau – Jennifer Berne

I remember my dad watching amazing Jacques Cousteau documentaries on TV when I was little.  This is a simple and beautifully told story of Jacques Cousteau, famous oceanographer – following his curiosity and infatuation with the sea as a child, to his inventions, his movies, his explorations and finally his conservation efforts.  This book will captivate your students!

 

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps

The Watcher:  Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps – Jeanette Winter

I am a long-time admirer of Jane Goodall.  This is a wonderful biography about her life’s work observing and protecting the chimpanzees in Africa.  I love how the theme of Jane being a “watcher” is the thread of the story.   Fascinating, intriguing details of her life without being overwhelming.  Jeanette Winter is a master at highlighting the interesting “chapters” of a life story. 

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The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art – Barb Rosenstock.
When young Vasya Kandinsky was a young boy in Russia, his aunt gave him a box of paints.  To Kandinsky’s amazement, when he opened the box, he “heard” the colors!  This is the fascinating story of the world’s first abstract artist  – the boy to whom colors were sounds.
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever
The Tree Lady:  The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever – H. Joseph Hopkins
The important and inspiring story of Katherine Olivia Sessions – the woman who in the 1860’s,  brought lush, green life to the dry desert landscape of San Diego.  I was so captivated by the gorgeous art on this cover – but loved the celebration of nature as well as discovering the life of a person I had never heard of before.
The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse
The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse – Patricia McLachlan
Well you can’t get much better than one of the greatest writers sharing the story of one of the greatest artists! This is a wonderful introduction of the early life of Henri Matisse – where his creative inspiration came from and the influence he had from his parents (his mother painted on dishes and always laid bright, colorful rugs on the floors of their drap cottage in the south of France; his father bought him pigeons) LOVE the title! 
 
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909
Brave Girl:  Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike of 1909 – Michelle Markel
A picture book biography about Clara Lemlich, the brave young girl who organized a strike in 1909 to improve working conditions for the young women employed in the garment industry factories. This is an excellent historical non-fiction biography to show children that one brave girl can make a huge  difference. 
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos – Deborah Helligman
And again, I find myself learning about a person I had never heard of before!  This is the extraordinary life story of Paul Erdos – the mathematician. As a child, Paul was fascinated with numbers.  This biography depicts his life as a young child to an old man as he embarks on a mathematics journey,  traveling all over the world and learning as much as he can from other mathematicians.
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Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller – Doreen Rappaport
This is a gorgeous, poetic, beautifully illustrated introduction to the life of Helen Keller.   Exquisite writing, large pictures and beautiful quotes woven throughout the book.  Inspiring.
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
The Right Word – Roget and His Thesaurus – Jen Bryant
I love words and I love this book!  This book tells the story of Dr. Peter Roget, doctor, inventor, scientist, list-maker, and creator of the thesaurus.  It is such an exceptionally beautiful book – both in the way the story is written and the extraordinary illustrations.  A celebration of triple scoop words – this book isn’t just “good” – it’s remarkable, extraordinary, staggering, incredible, stunning, astonishing, marvelous, phenomenal, outstanding and splendid! 
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Malala and Iqbal – two brave children from Pakistan – Jeanette Winter
This latest release by Jeanette Winter is two inspiring stories of brave children woven into one book.   From the front – we read the story of Malala who stood up for her belief that girls should be allowed to attend school; from the back, we read the story of Iqbol – the young boy who, alone, stood up against the inhumane child slavery conditions in the carpet industry.   Both were brave; both were heroes; both were shot. Their stories must be heard.
  Becoming Babe Ruth
Becoming Babe Ruth – Matt Tavaras
This is a wonderful introduction for younger students to the life of Babe Ruth.   I love the simple text and large life-like illustrations.  I knew Babe Ruth as a famous baseball player but didn’t know of his troubled life and how much he had to overcome as a child.  Life is what you make of it is the message behind this inspiring story.
What are YOUR favorite picture book biographies to share with your students?

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Filed under Biography, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Read-Aloud

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – I Can’t Keep Up!

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I’m happy to be joining in the weekly IMWAYR posts, hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers

Well… we are back in full swing at school but my Pro. D. workshops this week were still cancelled (or post-poned) as teachers were just getting settled into their new classes.  This meant I had a bonus day off – most of which I spent at one of my favorite places – United Library Services!  There, I get to fill a SHOPPING CART with BRAND NEW picture books to read through!  Heaven!  But there are SO many great new books – I’m having a hard time keeping up!  Here are a few of my favorites from the top of a very tall pile!

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As an Oak Tree Grows – G. Brian Karas

This book is filled with so many teaching ideas I can hardly stand it!  The story follows the life of an Oak Tree from 1775 to present day.  Each page shows what has changed in the past 25 years – both in the tree and in the surrounding landscape.   I loved the timeline at the bottom of the page, showing each new era.  The illustrations are remarkable – and the book is large which allows the reader to take in all the details on each page.  The Oak tree grows while history transforms around it – from methods of agriculture,  transportation to uses of energy.  The poster included at the back of the book shows the rings on the oak tree representing the growth of the oak tree labeled and dated with many events and inventions that occurred while the tree grew.  This book is creative, unique and interesting!  A perfect link to a unit on growth and change in nature and in our world.

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The Right Word – Roget and His Thesaurus  by Jen Bryant

Sigh.  Sigh again.  I love this book.  So so much.   This amazing picture book biography is about the life of brilliant scientist and word collector Peter Mark Roget. The book explores his extraordinary journey that turned his love of words into the publication of the most important reference books of all time. The illustrations are stunning! If you love words as much as I do – this is a must have for your biography collection!  Watch the book trailer here.

Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream – Bob Graham

I am a fan of Bob Graham books – I admire his ability to leave room for lots of deep thinking within his subtle text and detailed illustrations.  This book follows an endearing, curious sparrow on an unexpected journey as he travels across the world in a bag of rice from India to an urban setting (Australia?) The sparrow finds a family and invites a child to taste vanilla ice cream for the first time.  The soft pallet illustrations are classic Graham and I like how he uses a variety of closed panels with open drawings.  Don’t read this book too quickly – there is a lot to take in!

Uni the Unicorn

Uni the Unicorn – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

When I see Amy Krouse Rosenthal has a new book – I KNOW it’s going to be brilliant.  But I admit, when Maggie (from Kidsbooks) first showed me the cover  the cover of Uni the Unicorn, my heart sank a little bit.  Oh, I thought, these illustrations are not my thing.  They appeared too “Disney” like – rainbows, butterflies and unicorns.  What was she thinking?  But then I read the story and realized just how brilliant a story it was and how perfectly matched the illustrations were!  Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s latest book is a delightful twist to a familiar story. Uni is a unicorn who believes in her heart that little girls are real, despite the fact that her friends and parents say otherwise. Love the page where Uni is drawing pictures of “imaginary” little girls! Little girls will LOVE this story and make LOTS of connections! The illustrations are reminiscent of Pixar/Disney and will most certainly appeal to the unicorn loving children!   I was also thinking that if you added a cute little stuffed unicorn you have the perfect birthday party present!

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If Kids Ruled the World – Linda Bailey

If Kids ruled the world, birthday cake would be good for you.  Your doctor would say “Don’t forget to eat your birthday cake so you’ll grow up strong and healthy!”  And so the story goes – page after page –  a “wish list” of a kid’s paradise!  This book is fun, playful, imaginative and I can just hear the “YES’s” coming from the class!   A perfect anchor book for inspiring writing and art!  Love!

Penguin and Pumpkin

Penguin and Pumpkin – Salina Yoon

I fell in love with Penguin when I first met him in Penguin and Pinecone.  There have been a few Penguin books since, but none have quite come close to that emotional connection I had with that first book.  This story is sweet with familiar bold block colored illustrations.  Penguin and friends take a journey to explore fall outside the North Pole. He brings a few sights and sounds for his baby brother to experience.  I loved the last page when it’s “snowing leaves”  but the story fell a little flat for me.

Brothers of the Wolf

Brothers of the Wolf – Caroll Simpson

This is a beautifully illustrated West Coast First Nations legend about two wolf cub brothers found and raised  as human children in a village on the Pacific.  One cub feels at home in the forest and the other – the sea.  They are separated when supernatural forces change them into Sea Wolf and Timber Wolf.  Although separated, they howl together into the night sky, waking up the moon and bringing light to the darkness of the world.  The story is visually stunning and is a perfect book for questioning. It would also be a great inspiration for creating first nations paintings.

I Wanna Go Home

I Wanna Go Home – Karen Kaufmann Orloff

I have shared Karen Orloff’s first hilarious book, I Wanna Iguana, for many years with students and teachers as an anchor book for persuasive writing. In it, young Alex writes letters to his mother, trying to convince her to let him have a pet iguana.  His mother writes back, with all the reasons why an iguana would not make a good pet.   In the second book,  I Wanna New Room, Alex is trying to persuade his mom to let him have his own room.  In this third book, and possibly the funniest, Alex is sent to his grandparent’s retirement community while his parents go on vacation.  His desperate emails to his parents go from complaining about being dragged to his grandpa’s bridge games to delight in eating ice cream before dinner!  I love the connection to grandparents in this book and the fact that Alex is now sending emails!   Hilarious read-aloud!

The Orchestra Pit

Orchestra Pit – Johanna Wright

What happens when an endearing snake accidently wanders into an orchestra pit instead of a snake pit?   A whole lot of playful chaos!  The snake proceeds to investigate various instruments and causes quite a commotion among the musicians.  This book is hysterical and would be a perfect way to introduce the different instruments in an orchestra to young children.  Lively, colorful illustrations and endearing expressions on the snake!  Love this!

Lucky

Lucky – David Mackintosh

I LOVED Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School when it first came out so was excited to see this new book by British author/illustrator David Mackintosh.  This book is hilarious and one that children who have ever “jumped to conclusions” will make connections to!  When Leo’s mom tells him that there will “be a surprise” at dinnertime – Leo and his brother, desperate to find out, begin coming up with all sorts of possibilities – a bike? a new car? a new TV? a swimming pool?  By the end of the day they are convinced that the surprise is an all-expense paid two week trip to Hawaii!  And of course when they get home from school and discover the real surprise, they are left feeling let down.  All children have experienced the feeling of getting their hopes up and then being let down  – but it’s how you handle your disappointment that creates the teachable moment in this book.   David Mackingtosh handles it with humour and the subtle message of how being grateful for what you already have is enough to make you feel “lucky”.  Brilliant!

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The Boy on the Porch – Sharon Creech

I always tell my students that the greatest writers don’t tell us everything, but  “leave spaces for our thinking”.  Sharon Creech’s book is a perfect example of this – she doesn’t tell us evetyhing but provides us with spaces for asking questions and for thinking.  This book is beaurtifully written – simple, tender and powerful.  It is the story of a couple who discover a boy on their porch with only his name pinned to his shirt – “Jacob”.  (What are you wondering?… Who is he?  Where did he come from?  Why did his parents leave him?  Will they come back for him?   (So many questions!)  The boy does not speak but communicates through his extraordinary gift in music and art. Eventually, he is able to communicate with animals.  I read this book in one sitting and then I cried – not because it was sad but because it was so beautiful.  And because as I read it, I could not wait to hear my students filling in the spaces.   There is no better book to read.

Well, that’s it for now!  My pile of new books is only a little smaller now but I’d better stop!  Thanks for stopping by and please share the book that caught your eye!

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Filed under Art, celebrating words, It's Monday, making connections, Music, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Social Studies, What Are You Reading?, Writing Anchors