Tag Archives: Jenny Ofill

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Favorite Picture Books of 2014 (Fiction)

IMWAYR

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

As 2014 comes to an end, many book bloggers are reflecting on the year of reading and highlighting books that made their “best of” list.  And so as we come to the end of the year, I am happy to do the same.  I have divided my list into categories:  Favorite Read-Alouds, Favorite Friendships, Favorite Adventures, Favorite Characters,  Favorite Family stories, Favorite Wordless, Favorite Thought Provoking, Favorite Mindful, and Favorite Author.

How do I chose which books make the list?  My criteria is simple:  these books lingered.

Here is my list of my favorite picture books from 2014:

Favorite Read – Alouds

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 Hooray for Hat!  – Brian Won

This book is a perfect read-aloud for an early primary class.  It is colorful, infectious and a true treat to read aloud.  Your children will be chanting “Horray for Hat” after only a few pages!

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The Book with No Pictures – B.J. Novak

B.J. Novak, actor on the hit TV series The Office, has created a simple and ingenious book.  This book will make you laugh and leave children saying “Read it AGAIN!”  Delightful and a joy to read out loud! Watch the author share the book with a group of children: http://thebookwithnopictures.com/

Favorite Friendships

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The Lion and the Bird – Marianne Dubuc

A quiet, tender story of friendship told through simple text and soft, beautiful  illustrations.  After a lion helps a wounded bird, they become instant friends and spend the winter together.  Spring comes and bird is able to fly.  Wonderful message of the need to give friendship wings.   

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The Farmer and the Clown – Marla Frazee

In this touching ,wordless picture book, a baby clown falls off the circus train and lands in a farmer’s field.  An unexpected friendship develops as the farmer and clown spend the day together and discover some surprising things about each other and the world.  Reminded me of Raymond Brigg’s The Snowman.  I don’t really like clowns but I LOVED this book!  Whimsical and moving. 

Favorite Adventures:

Three Bears in a Boat – David Soman

Three Bear siblings set off on an adventure to try to replace their mother’s blue shell that they broke.  On the way, they encounter whales, sailors, islands and a huge storm.  This is a classic picture book filled with adventure, breath-taking illustrations and a message about honesty and taking responsibility.  LOVE!

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Sam and Dave Dig a Hole – Mac Barnett

Clever, brilliant, quirky, witty, unique,  understated, open-ended, thoughtful  – there are not enough words to describe this book!  Two boys decide to dig a hole and try to find something spectacular. “It’s right there!” you will be shouting! The ending will have you scratching your head and starting the book all over again!

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Dolphin SOS – Roy Miki

Based on true events, Dolphin SOS recounts the story of  local children who rescue three dolphins trapped in an icecovered cove off the coast of Newfoundland.  Gorgeous illustrations, this book will have you holding your breathe and then cheering when the dolphins are finally set free.                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Favorite Characters (I hope will be made into stuffies!)

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Little Elliot in the Big City – Mike Curato

This is a sweet, simple story about an adorable little elephant named Elliot trying to make his way in the Big City.  Life is not easy for a small elephant but Elliot has a big heart and makes friends with someone even smaller than himself.  An adorable story of friendship and finding ones place in the world, not to mention cupcakes!  Amazing illustrations!

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 Sparky – Jenny Offill

This delightful story about an animal-loving girl who orders a sloth from a catalogue.  When the creature arrives, she names it Sparky – but sadly it does not live up to its name.  Sparky is not good at tricks or hide-and-seek or anything really.  But you, as I did, will fall in love with this charming,  irresistible sloth!

Favorite Family Stories

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Nana in the City – Lauren Castillo

Wonderful story of a young boy who spends the night at his grandmother’s house in New York City.   He is afraid of the noise and business of the city but Nana takes him for a walk and he soon sees the city through her eyes.  A heartwarming story of reassurance, family and being brave.  Love the illustrations in this book.

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The Troublemaker – Lauren Castillo

This book (yes, same author as Nana in the City!) is about family and sibling rivalry.  A young boy gets into trouble when he hides his sister’s bunny.  But when it goes missing a second time, they discover he is not the only troublemaker around.  Delightful story with a bit of a surprise ending, unless you have noticed the clues!

Favorite Thought – Provoking

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The Promise – Nicola Davies

Haunting, powerful, moving.  This story follows a child thief who lives in an empty, colorless place.  She steals a bag from an old lady and plants the seeds she finds inside, after making a promise, and in doing so, begins to change the world.  A story of hope and of promise.

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I Know a Bear -Mariana Ruiz Johnson

Wow – I think this just might be my favorite of my favorites and certainly the most thought-provoking.  Told in sparse text and gorgeous illustrations (I’ve been saying that a lot, it seems!) a young girl listens as a bear tells her of the wonderful place he used to live.  But he doesn’t experience the sweet berries or the cool water anymore; he lives in a zoo.  This is a book about listening, about caring and about doing what’s right.  Such a wonderful book for promoting discussions about animals in captivity.  AMAZING! 

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What Do You Do With An Idea? – Kobi Yamada

Inspiring and motivating story of nurturing ideas no matter how small and insignificant they may seem.    Great book to teach personification as the “idea” in the story is personified as an egg.  Brilliant!

Favorite Wordless

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Fox’s Garden – Princesse CamCam

Breath-taking illustrations tell the touching story of compassion and friendship.  A dreamy, wordless story about a boy who feeds a mother fox on cold winter’s night after she is lost and chased away by grown-ups.   Simple, wintery and wonderful. 

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Flora and the Penguin – Molly Idle

We first met Flora when she learned to dance ballet with a pink Flamingo.  In this follow-up, Flora delights us once again with her twirling, leaping, gliding and spinning her friend penguin as they skate their friendship across the ice.  Innovative, clever, captivating, charming.

Favorite Mindful/ Gratitude Books

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100 Things That Make Me Happy – Amy Schwartz

Written in the rhyming lyrics of “Raindrops on Roses” – this book celebrates the joy that can be found in everyday things.  A wonderful book to share with younger children and inspire them to make their own list of “happy” things!  Lovely, whimsical illustrations!

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Breathe – Scott Magoon

Follow a young whale exploring the ocean and finding joy in simple pleasure.  But remember – pause and breathe.  Sparse, lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations  – this inspiring book is a delight to read and helpful to teach children how to be calm and relax.

Favorite Author

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Taan’s Moons: A Haida Moon Story – Alison Gear

This book was written by my sister and so OF COURSE it is on my list of favorite books!  But aside from the fact that my sister wrote it, it is an exceptionally beautiful book!  The story follows the Haida moon cycle through a year in the life of Taan (Haida for “bear”).  We follow Taan as she experiences the changing of the season and the changes in the moon.  The felt  illustrations were created by a local artist and the children of Haida Gwaii.  Read the story of this remarkable book here:  http://www.kikivanderheiden.com/taans-moons.html

Well, there you have it!  There were SO many other books I could have included!   Thanks for stopping by!  Please leave me a message to tell me what are your favorite picture books from 2014?

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Filed under Favorite Books of the Year, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Read-Aloud

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? A sloth, a penguin, a fish and a few birds!

IMWAYR

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

The first weekend of spring break had me pouring over several recently released picture books!   Here are a few of my favorites…

Sparky!

Sparky – Jenny Ofill

 I loved the humor in Jenny Ofill’s previous books (17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore and 13 Experiments That Failed) and this book did not disappoint.  A young girl begs her mother for a pet and her exasperated mother insists that the pet needs to be one that does not need to be walked, fed or cleaned.  The determined girl heads to the library (love this part!) and with the help of the librarian (loved this part too!) researched a pet to meet her mother’s criteria – a SLOTH!  But when the mail order pet arrives, it isn’t good at tricks or hide-and-seek . . . or much of anything.  But Sparky is irresistible and I found myself wanting to mail order a sloth for myself!  The illustrations by Chris Appelhans were a perfect fit to this touching story.

Flight School – Lita Judge

Well, I fell in love with Sparky the sloth in the last book – and now I’m in love with this penguin!  This penguin claims to have “the soul of an eagle” and wants desperately to be able to fly so he registers for Flight School.  After many failed attempts and plunges into the sea, his teacher (love this part!) helps him derive a plan to help him fly, if only for a few short seconds.  This is a book about determination and dreaming big, and those who help along the way.  I LOVED the illustrations in this book!  Lita Judge captured the characters of so many different land and seabirds with lively colors and exhaggerated features.  Soft blues, sea greens and sand browns – beautiful pictures and a beautiful story.  (T-T connection to Learning to Fly – by Sebastian Meschenmoser)

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The Dandelion’s Tale – Kevin Sheehan

This is a poignant story about friendship and a powerful introduction to the cycle of life.  There is also a celebration of story woven into the story which I loved.  A sparrow and dandelion meet and become friends.  The dandelion explains that she used to be beautiful and bright and sunny yellow but now she has few pods left.  Her fear is that with one big wind, her pods will disappear.  Her new friend sparrow helps her write her story in the dirt and Dandelion tells Sparrow all the things she has seen and loved.  This is such a beautiful story (I got a bit teary when I read it)  and one I could see being used with both young and older children.  The illustrations are lovely.

Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale

Poor Doreen – A Fishy Tale – Sally Lloyd Jones

Doreen is a fish with a very optimistic disposition.  On the way to visit her cousin, who just gave birth to 159 babies, she nibbles on a dragonfly, which ends up being bait and catches a ride on a fishing pole.  In spite of her every optimistic outlook, Doreen is also a wee bit clueless – and so does not realize that she is in a dire situation.  There is humor as the reader is “in” on the situation that Doreen clearly does not seem to be aware.  Comical, fun and a character whom I admire because she sees the world with a “glass half full” approach.

Mama Built a Little Nest

Mama Built A Little Nest – Jennifer Ward

I can’t resist any book written or illustrated by Steve Jenkins.  This book is a delightful exploration of the diverse range of different nests that birds build for their babies.  Who knew there were so many different kinds of nests made from so many different things?  This book has playful, fun rhymes and of course, filled with Jenkins trademark paper collage illustrations.  A wonderful book for bird lovers (that’s you, Carrie!) and Jenkins lovers (that would be me!)

Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? – Rita Gray

Two children wander through the countryside listening to calls of common birds and wonder why the nesting robin does not make a sound.  The children carry on through the woods and begin to identify different calls from birds ranging from the chickadee to the blue jay.   While the previous book made us aware of the many different types of nests there are, this book introduces us to the wide variety of bird calls.  I found myself trying to replicate the calls myself!   The “Word with the Bird” Q-and-A at the back of the book explains in detail why the robin is silent while hatching her eggs and answers many other questions about the role of father bird and what happens to the babies when they leave the nest. 

Aviary Wonders, Inc – Kate Samworth

Wow – this book is gorgeous!  exquisite! remarkable!  It is an imaginary (sci-fi) mock catalogue of bird parts to choose from for the purpose of assembling your own bird.  The illustrations are stunning and some of the sidebar comments hilarious.  But the underlying tone of this book is rather somber – as it is meant to be a thought-provoking look at what happens birds become extinct.  My friend Carrie Gelson posted a detailed review of this book on her blog last week.  You can read it here:  There’s A Book For That.

Peggy – Anna Walker
Peggy gets an unexpected adventure in the city when a big gust of wind sweeps her up and drops here there.  She soon enjoys the sights and sounds of the unfamiliar place but begins to miss home.  She cleverly devises a plan to get home.  What I loved most about this book was the illustrations.  The text is very simple but the detailed illustrations tell the story beautifully.  They are soft, muted and pale but fit Peggy perfectly!
Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)
Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson
Oooooo…. this is a FANTASTIC book!  I am reading it with my 13 yr. old son and I am not sure who is enjoying it more.  It is a YA-Sci-fi-futuristic superhero-fast-paced-compelling-thrill-ride!  I’m embarrassed to say I had not heard of this writer before (sorry!) but I am most impressed by the writing so far.  I was hooked half-way through the prologue – and felt as if I were watching a movie!  Can’t wait to read more!
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The Glassblower’s Children – Maria Gripe
I came across this book in the library and was drawn to the title and the etching illustration on the cover.  This fairy tale by Swedish writer Maria Gripe was published in 1973 was awarded the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award the following year.  This story has all the components you could ask for in a fairy tale – A hard working glassblower and his wife,  their two children, a fortune teller, an evil governess whose only wish is to have children.  But it is more than a fairy tale – it is thought provoking and poignant with incredibly exquisite writing.  A little gem that I’m so glad I discovered!  It would make a wonderful class read aloud or a quiet read by the fire.
What have you been reading this week?

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