Tag Archives: Kate Messner

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2018 Top Summer Picks for 9-12 yr olds (part 2)

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, my IMWAYR post featured some new middle grade novels that would make excellent choices for summer reading or end of the year read-alouds!  Turns out there were TOO MANY books to mention in one blog… so here is Part 2!

Heartseeker by Melinda Beatty

I actually haven’t read this first book in a debut series as it is not released until June 5th – but it’s certainly on my TBR summer list.  It’s getting a lot of great ARC reviews and I so like the concept behind this fantasy adventure about a girl named Only who can see lies.  When news of Only’s abilities reaches the king, he commands her to work for him to seek out traitors and corruption.  WOW!  Sounds like a winner!

The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn Heider

So this book may sound a little weird and morbid – parents who work in a cadaver lab, a tiger kidnapping, talking severed heads… but with such an original plot line, and laugh-out-loud humour – I think it will appeal to many middle grade readers.  Fovea (whose name means eyeballs, by the way), is a 7th grader – embarrassed by her parents, mocked by her peers and without a single friend. She spends the summer working in her parent’s cadaver lab with a whole lot of body parts and in the process, discovers herself, some new friends and a new “embrace the moment” approach to life.  Perhaps not for everyone – but would certainly appeal to middle grade readers (Gr. 6-7 range) who enjoy this type of “screw-ball comedy” and the “ickier” side of things!

Nightbooks by J.A. White

Another book I have on my MUST READ this summer (not released until mid July but I have my pre-order in!) is this scary (but apparently not too scary!) re-telling of The Arabian Knights that sounds like a mixture of Neil Gaiman’s books and Grimm’s fairy tales.  It is the story of Alex, a monster-loving boy, who finds himself trapped in a magical apartment building.  In order to stay alive, he has to tell the witch who captured him a scary story every night.  Sounds Ah-Mazing!

Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea – Lynne Rae Perkins

A charming, breezy read – perfect for summer!  A family with two young girls goes on vacation, spending a week on the ocean.  No huge dramas, life-threatening crises, or earth shattering issues – but a heart-warming celebration of small moments.  Walking on the beach, feeling the ocean waves for the first time, sand castles with different kinds of bucket mixtures, imaginative play, a new friend, horseshoe crabs and learning to be brave.  Sweet but not fluffy.  Love the addition of some wonderful illustrations!  This is the kind of book I would have LOVED when I was in grade 6 or 7 – and I love it now!

Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe –  Jo Watson Hackl

A charming coming-of-age story – this one with an endearing protagonist, lots of adventure and an added suspense, mystery and a treasure hunt.  I was hooked right away with the authentic voice of Cricket – a young girl dealing with the death of her father and the disappearance of her mother.  Cricket’s adventures are driven by a longing to heal her family and are filled with ups and downs and twists and turns.   Lots of life lessons in this one that will leave you filled with sadness, hope and love.

Where the Watermelons Grow – Cindy Baldwin 

WOW – a beautifully written, moving, sensitive story about families living with mental illness.  Gorgeous writing with wonderful descriptions of the charming characters in a small southern town and the sticky summer heat.   My heart ached for Della and her concern about her mother, who suffers from schizophrenia.  The author does not shy away from difficult, important issues that we often have no control over.  A wonderful, heart-wrenching story filled with hardships and harsh realities, yet also filled with love and hope.  Likely this would be more suited for older middle grades and even teen readers.  I recommend a box of Kleenex and a fresh watermelon close by – I started craving one while I was reading!

You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly

I was excited to read this second book by Erin Entrada Kelly, who won the 2018 Newberry for her book Hello, Universe.  She focuses on similar themes in this book – family stress, bullying and friendships.  Charlotte and Ben are two middle school students who connect through an online Scrabble game.  Their new friendship becomes invaluable as the chaos in each of their lives begin to spin out of control.   I enjoyed the alternating chapters that focus on the scenarios in each child’s life.   A great story about the importance of connecting with others for helping us navigate through life’s ups and downs.

36528200

Breakout – Kate Messner

A group of young students everyday lives are turned upside down when two inmates escape from the local prison.  This compelling story about prejudice and racism in a small town was inspired by the escape and subsequent search of two prisoners from the Clinton NY correctional facility in 2015.  Written in a very unique format depicting multiple points of view told through a series of letters, essays, articles, texts, newspaper articles and poetry.  Even though it is 400 pages, the format makes it a surprisingly fast read.  I really like how Kate Messner weaves important and current themes into her books and believe this one will spark many thoughtful and reflective conversations.

Sunny – Jason Reynolds

Sunny is the 3rd book in Jason Reynold’s popular Track series.  This book follows 12-year-old Sunny Lancaster, the #1 middle distance runner of the Defenders whose mother died the day he was born.  Sunny’s story is very different than  Ghost or Patina.  It is told in a series diary entries Sunny keeps to help control all the thoughts and ideas swirling around in his head.  It becomes clear through the stream of consciousness entries that Sunny’s brain doesn’t process things like other kids – he jumps from thought to thought, from subject to subject, rhyming and playing with words.  Sunny’s story is so authentic, so sad, so full of hope – I think it is my favorite in the series.

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

Charming story about overcoming obstacles and finding your place in the world.  Twelve year old Lucy was unharmed after she was struck by lightning strike four years ago.  But it left her with some compulsive behaviors and somewhat of a mathematical savant, making navigating, fitting in, and being accepted in middle school very challenging.  So much to love about this book… the short chapters make easy reading, great character conversations, very “connectable”,  lots of math and STEM connections, and love the dog!!!

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found one or two titles that caught your eye!

 

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under 2018 releases, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Novels, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Favorite Early Readers and Beginning Chapter Books of 2017

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

This week, I am highlighting my favorite early readers and beginning chapter books from 2017.  So many great books to read and share with your emerging and transitional readers!  Many themes were featured this year, including strong, culturally diverse characters who face adversity, solve conflict and think outside the box to resolve problems.  Each of these books would work well either as a read-aloud in a primary classroom or as an independent reader.  (For each selection, I have included number of pages.)

 

Fergus and Zeke – Kate Messner  (56 pages)

Meet two charming, mischievous mice:  Fergus – a lovable classroom mouse who sneaks into a backpack to join a class trip and Zeke – his streetwise counterpart whom he meets and brings back to school with him.  Short sentences, repetition, great sight words, four easy chapters, straightforward plot and colorful illustrations – this brand-new series is perfect for emerging readers! 

Ballet Cat – What’s Your Favorite Favorite?  – Bob Shae (56 pages)

A delightful celebration of family relationships is the theme in this humorous third book in the Ballet Cat series.  Grandma ends up in quite a predicament when her two grandchildren – Cat and Goat – try to outdo each other when they put on a show for her.  Cat thinks ballet is Grandma’s favorite; Goat is convinced she likes magic tricks best.  A perfect early reader, the text is done entirely in large word bubbles, highlighted by Shea’s signature style illustrations and bright bold colors.

Super Narwhal and the Jelly Jolt – Ben Clanton  (64 pages)

In this follow-up to the first A Narwhale and Jelly Book, Narwhal decides to become a superhero.  He already has a name, an outfit, a secret identity, even a sidekick. But he still needs to find out which his superpower is… Cute, funny and very heartwarming. Comic style illustrations.

The Good For Nothing Button – Charise Mericle Harper (64 pages)

Yellow Bird has a button. It does . . . nothing!  It is a good for nothing button. Red Bird and Blue Bird are excited to try the button. But when they press it, they discover that the button makes them happy.  Happy is something! A flabbergasted Yellow Bird insists the button does nothing. But it sure does seem to be making him mad. Mad is something! A great read-aloud and high on the giggle scale!

Princess Cora and the Crocodile – Laura Amy Schlitz (80 pages)

When an over-scheduled princess, tired of no time to play and discover, asks her fairy godmother for a dog she is surprised when a crocodile is sent by mistake.   But the hilarious plan that follows involves the croc swapping places with Cora – giving her some much needed freedom.  With a mop wig and frilly dress, the “princess” croc insults the Queen (“Reptile!” “Mammal!”) and gnaws on the fitness-obsessed King (just a little). Charming and so much fun to read.  (and I “inferred” a little lesson for helicopter parents!)

Bruno: Some of the More Interesting Days in My Life So FarCatharina Valckx (96 pages)    Six linked quirky stories are full of friendship, silliness, and the little moments that make life memorable and unpredictable.   Bruno, a small cat in a blue checked cap, recounts in turn the peculiar and often extremely silly goings-on of his life.  I loved that Bruno takes such delight in embracing any experience that come his way.

30316180

Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and MarshmallowsAsia Citro (96 pages)

What should you feed a baby dragon?  Zoey and her cat Sassafras use the scientific method and science journals to find out!  I LOVE this first book in a series that celebrates science and features a smart, strong, tenacious female character.  Also love the message that you need to work through mistakes and re-think your plan before you can succeed!  Cute illustrations, short chapters and a sprinkle of magic thrown in!  I can’t wait for more books in this series!
yours sincerely giraffe

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe – Megumi Iwasa (104 pages)

Sweet, quirky little book about a lonely giraffe and a lonely penguin who become pen pals.  A great early chapter book, first published in Japan, that touches on loneliness, friendship, letter-writing and understanding differences.  Love the playful line drawings which break the text into manageable chunks.

30312605

Heroes in Training – Hermes and the Horse with Wings – Tracey West (112 pages)

Not sure how I missed this series – but this is book #13!  Each book in the series features one of the Greek Gods as a child.  Ten chapters, simple text and single page black and white illustrations.  A perfect series for any young readers interested in Greek Gods and the exciting world of Greek mythology.

Ivy – Katherine Coville  (144 pages)

This short, delightful fantasy includes pixies, a sick dragon, a three legged griffin, and some nasty trolls! Ivy and her Grandmother, whom villagers call “Meg the Healer”, can relate to all the animals that live in and around the village of Broomsweep.  Her grandmother can heal all the animals, including the magical ones.  Enchanting and heartwarming!

Jasmine Toguchi – Mochi Queen Debbi Michiko Florence  (160 pages)

So much to love about a headstrong eight-year-old named Jasmine Toguchi and her Japanese-American family.  In this first book, Jasmine longs to be part of a cultural family tradition of making Japanese mochi – a small, round dessert ball made with soft, pounded sticky rice.  But she is told she is too young to help.  I loved Jasmine’s determination, the details about mochi, and the family’s traditions.  Great for making connections!  A mochi recipe is included at the end of the book.  Looking forward to more from this series.

Beatrice Zinker – Upside Down Thinker – Shelley Johannes (164 pages)

I so enjoyed getting to know Beatrice Zinker.  She’s got the right combination of quirky and spunk, as well as her share of bad luck (think Ramona Quimby). She thinks outside the box and upside-down!  Fast paced and delightful with lots of quirky illustrations (reminded me a little of Dory Fantasmagory).  Themes of individuality, optimism, and the shifting shapes of friendships. Can’t wait for more Beatrice!

Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers – John Dougherty (192 pages)

With an undertone of Monty Python, mixed with Captain Underpants, Geronimo Stilton, an abundance of hilarious slapstick silliness, and plenty of tremendous wordplay – I LOVED this goofy LOL British adventure!  I especially loved that the cast of  characters are aware that they are in a story, and occasionally comment on it: when the king realizes they are in a story he immediately goes and puts on his clothes.  HILARIOUS!

A Boy Called Bat – Elana K. Arnold (208 pages)

Bixby Alexander Tam, or Bat, is great at Math and knows more about animals than anyone in his class, but he is not great at making friends. When his mom, a veterinarian, brings home a baby skunk, Bat becomes the best skunk care-taker ever, all while trying to navigate his world.  A charming story perfect for students transitioning from early readers to chapter books. I like that this book has a character most likely on the autism spectrum, without the book being about that.  Also touches on divorce and single parents. The story focuses more on Bat’s love of animals and how this empathy for animals helps him connect to his classmates. Tender, heartwarming and funny with an amazing character you and your students will fall in love with. Major warm fuzziness! 

      Thanks for stopping by!

              What are some of your favorite beginning chapter books from the past year?

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under 2017 releases, Beginning Chapter Book, Cultural Celebrations, Early Readers, Family, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Read-Aloud, Science

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Picture Books to Inspire Winter Art!

Happy New Year!  We are heading back to school SO early this year… and I believe it is going to be a long, cold, and snowy month ahead!  If you are looking for some creative ways to integrate some great winter picture books into your Art lessons, you may find some inspiration in this week’s Top 10 list!

1.Once Upon a Northern Night – Jean E. Pendziwol

Lovely, lyrical lullaby celebrating the magic and wonder of an icy winter night.  This book can inspire some lovely winter tree art.  I love this idea from First Palettte to use a marble and paint  inside an empty coffee cup to create the “snowy” effect!

Snowy Day Collage craft

2.  Cold Snap – Eileen Spinelli

A charming neighborly tale about a small town determined to beat the deep freeze. Great book for your unit on community and for making CONNECTIONS!  (Vancouver is in a deep freeze this winter!)

Add icicles to a simple cut-out house or tree art by applying white paint and letting it drip down.  Or use glue and glitter to create the icicles.  (Thicker paper or card stock works best.)  I found this lesson on a blog called Reading Confetti.

cold-snap

3.   The Mitten Tree – Candace Christiansen

Touching message and beautiful, wintery illustrations.  This is the story of one woman’s generous heart, giving back, and random acts of kindness.  Perfect for sharing with your students.  The purples and blue palette can inspire your students to create their own patterned mittens.

Image result for mitten tree art lessons

4. A Perfect Day – Carin Berger

One of my favorite winter picture books with gorgeous mixed media collage illustrations is the perfect inspiration for some snow-angel art!  Based on the book, students paint a snowy background, and create paper snow angels.  Read more about this lesson from Deep Space Sparkle.

snow-angels

5.  Snowmen At Night – Caralyn Buehner

This book is a huge favorite with so many students!  The frolicking rhyming text and vibrant illustrations are delightful to read over and over.  I love following the different snowmen through their adventures – such personalities!   Inspired by this book, have your students create an “arts and crafts” collage by first making a tissue paper background and then adding a mixed media snowman.  This is another great lesson from Deep Space Sparkle. 

Alternatively, here is a different lesson, based on the same book.

Image result for snowmen at night art projects
6.  Snowflakes Fall – Patricia Maclachlan

This book is a tribute to the community of Newtown, Connecticut, site of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and childhood home of illustrator Steven Kellog . The  falling snowflakes described in the poem celebrate life’s uniqueness, beauty, joy, fragility, sorrow and renewal. Handprint Snowflakes can be found at : healthymamainfo.com

7. Over and Under the Snow– Kate Messner

This delightful book takes you down into the “secret world” of animals who live under the snow.   I love the link to science and the way this book introduces readers to different habitats and behaviors of winter animals, both common and uncommon.

This book can really lend itself to a “layered” art project – sky, above the ground, and under the ground.  Another great lesson from Deep Space Sparkle.

Winter Habitat art projects by third graders

8. Old Bear – Kevin Henkes

Old bear is dreaming and reflecting on the cycle of his life and the cycle of the seasons, his home in the forest and the beauty of his world.  This is a wonderful book for early primary students learning about the seasons.  I love the illustrations in this book and they will certainly inspire some lovely “old bear” art!

On black construction paper, students make leaf prints to create their background. The “Old Bear” is painted on white painting paper, then textured and outlined with black paint.  To make the bear “pop” off the page, have students leave a small edge of white around the bear when cutting it out.  Once the bear is glued on, the white outline on the black background creates a snowy 3D effect.

Image result for old bear kevoin henkes art

9.  No Two Alike – Keith Baker

Another one of my favorite wintery books!  Two little red birds discover “no two snowflakes are alike” as they explore a snowy landscape together.    Sparse, rhyming text and gorgeous illustrations. This is a gentle, quiet book.

When I was younger, I loved borrowing “how to draw” books and learning the steps to draw animals.  While some think this type of art is too restrictive and confining, there is something quite satisfying about learning how to draw something accurately!  You can find a great step-by-step lesson on drawing cardinals at artprojectsforkids.org

draw a cardinal

Image result for cardinal bird art for kids

This layered art project begins with painting a background of sky and ground.  Birch trunks are glued on top of the dried background. HINT:  Space the trunks unevenly across the page and have some of them “leaning” in different directions.  Cardinal birds are painted on a separate paper and cut out when they are glued.  Last step is “fingerprint” snow flakes.

10.  Owl Moon – Jane Yolen

The sensations of walking in the moonlight on a cold, crisp winter night is captured beautifully in this classic story of a girl and her father who are searching for an owl in the woods on winter’s night.

 Light, shadows, contrast, perspective and lines are some of the artistic techniques that are highlighted in the gorgeous illustrations. I particularly love the way John Schoenherr plays with shadows on the snow in his illustrations.  I found this Torn Winter Tree art project on artprojectsforkids.com that would be a great lesson for grade 3 and up.

And this lesson from the same site called “Sharpie Winter Landscape“, using sharpie pens, also produces a dramatic winter moon effective.

Sharpie Winter Landscape

 Thanks for stopping by!  Hope that you found a lesson or two to try!

What is your favorite picture book inspired art lesson?

3 Comments

Filed under Art, Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Favorite Middle Grade Novels (Gr. 5-8) of 2016 (So Far!)

top 10

It’s Tuesday, so I’m posting my own version of the Top 10 list!  I’ve been getting several requests from teacher friends for recommendations for middle grade read-alouds so I have put together a list of my top ten favorites from 2016.  There are so many extraordinary books to chose from and always difficult to narrow it down to just 10 (I ended up with 12!) Please note that even though I have included it on a list of my favorites, before reading aloud to your class, please read it through yourself to ensure it is a good fit for you and your class.

OK… grab a Kleenex box and here we go….

1. Raymie Nightingale – Kate DiCamillo

From one of my favorite writers comes a simple, strong and whimsical story of three friends during the summer of 1975.  A tale of friendship, perseverance, poverty, loss and growing up. I loved the characters, all of them – Love Raymie. Love Beverly. Love Louisiana. LOVE Louisiana’s Grannie.   While this is not my favorite KD book, it is high on my list of favorites of 2016.

2. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain – John B0yne

From the author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas comes another story depicting the horrors of WWII.  After his father, a drunken German soldier, is killed by a train and his French mother dies of consumption, seven-yr. old orphan Pierrot is eventually taken in by his aunt, a housekeeper in large mountain retreat in Austria. While younger readers may not realize without some prompting, adult readers quickly infer that the home is that of Adolph Hitler.  I read this book in one sitting – could not put it down.  I would suggest pre-reading it to ensure appropriate content for your class, as there are some violent and tense scenes.  For older students, it would stimulate discussions around innocence corrupted, the attractions of power, and the resilience of youth.

3. Pax – Sara Pennypacker

Oh, this book.  This book.  A boy, a fox, a war – tender, so beautiful, so emotional.  So many ideas and themes are wrapped around the words: friendship, love, trust, betrayal, loyalty, war, peace.  Please read and share this book.

4. The Seventh Wish – Kate Messner

I highly recommend this book as a read-aloud in a grade upper elementary class.  A modern day fairy tale about a young Irish dancer who, trying to make some money to buy herself a new dance dress, catches a magic fish that grants wishes if she’ll let it go.   Sounds a little simple – but this book is so much more.  At times you will laugh, at times your heart will be breaking.   This book looks at family dynamics, addiction, middle school, and Irish dancing with insight and tenderness.   I follow Kate Messner on social media and know that she received some backlash from some schools about her including the subject of heroin addiction.  While I understand some may not be comfortable with this subject matter, I admire the way she presents this real-life problem gently and honestly.

5. The Wild Robot – Peter Brown

What would happen if a robot happened to arrive on an island that is humming with wildlife?  How would it survive?  And so begins this unique, unexpected and delightful survival story that somehow manages to hit many ‘hot topics’ including: disability, climate change, civilization, violence in nature, gun violence, balance in nature. While this sounds heavy handed – it’s not!  Peter Brown has created a very readable, authentic story with a unique voice given to all the creatures on the island.  This book is powerful and gentle and would make a great read-aloud in a grade 4-5 class.

6. Ms. Bixby’s Last Day – John David Anderson

The story of a brilliant teacher who sees the good in every single student, especially the little things that others don’t see. When her career gets cut short because of a cancer diagnosis, three boys decide to give her a good-bye party to remember.  I love the different voices in this book, as we discover through each boy, just why Ms. Bixby is so special to them.  Yes, you will cry – but you will also laugh along with your students.   I love this book.

7. Maybe a Fox – Kathi Appelt

Wow.  This story of grief and loss is haunting and magical; sad and heart-wrenching.  It is the story of two sisters, Jules and Sylvie, who are being raised by their father after their mother dies.  I loved the exquisite writing; I loved characters; I loved the fox; I loved the way the human world and the animal/nature world intersect; I loved the way death and grief (one of the sisters dies early in the book) are treated with dignity, grace and love. I cried and so will you.

22453777

8. Hour of Bees – Lindsay Eager

I feel like a broken record but this book is extraordinary and lingers with you long after you finish it.  It has a wonderful setting (N ew Mexico desert), a fantastic group of characters, and completely enchanting magical elements. Oh, and did I mention beautiful writing? Instead of spending the summer before junior high with her friends in Albuquerque, Carolina is stuck in the New Mexico desert, with her mom, dad, little brother, half-sister Alta, and Grandpa Serge who she’s meeting for the very first time. Serge is suffering from dementia, and the family has come to help sell his house and move him to a seniors facility.  Caroline is drawn into Grandpa through his magical stories of the desert and soon the line between reality and magic becomes blurred.  Original, thought-provoking and beautifully written.

9. When Friendship Followed Me Home – Paul Griffin

Here is another book that takes you on an emotional roller coaster – one minute I was laughing, the next I was tearing up.  WOW.  Ben is a twelve year old, former foster child who has finally found a loving home and mother. Ben rescues a scruffy dog he names Flip and befriends a librarian’s daughter named Halley. When everything in Ben’s life suddenly changes, he discovers the true meaning of family and friendship.   I loved the characters in this book and the writing and dialogue is beautiful and authentic.  It’s a tear jerker and tackles some difficult issues, including foster care, physical abuse, cancer, and grief.  Recommended for mature grade 6 and up.

10. Save Me A Seat – Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan

This book is a realistic story set in a school and told in two different voices, making it a great choice for a read-aloud.  Joe and Ravi are struggling at school for completely different reasons: Ravi is a recent immigrant trying to fit in and Joe has some learning difficulties and is often bullied.  Over the course of a week, Ravi and Joe find common ground and a bond in their differences. Great book for making connections.  I loved the authentic voice and diversity of each character.  The added bonus was learning a bit more about their cultures from the descriptions of food – from school lunches to meals at home.   There are even recipes included at the end!

                                              AND BECAUSE I HAD TROUBLE COUNTING TO TEN…

11. The Land of Forgotten Girls – Erin Entrada Kelly

The school where I teach is attended by many Filipino families, so I was excited to read this book about two Filipino sisters. It is another heart-breaker but also a celebration of stories and sisters. Sol and her younger sister Ming live in poverty in Louisiana with their abusive stepmother after their father returns to the Philippines. Sol tells fairy tales which interweave with the plot and help give the sisters strength. A moving book for middle grade readers that highlights themes of sisterhood, friendship, survival and imagination.  As a mother, I found it difficult to read in parts, but the book is ultimately hopeful with strong female characters.

12. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary – Laura Shovan

Wow – this book, written in verse, is extraordinary, creative and unique.   You really need to read it to appreciate how amazing it is.  From start to finish, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary is completely delightful in every way. Through the voices of 18 very real and very lovable fifth graders, we experience their individual stories as well as the collective story of their class during a very momentous year in the history of their school – their school is being torn down.  So many authentic, diverse voices of family, culture, friendship and personality.  A perfect book for making connections and a must read-aloud book!

 There are SO MANY amazing new novels to read and share with your class this year!

Thanks for stopping by.  Would love to know which book has caught your eye!

4 Comments

Filed under 2016 releases, Middle Grade Novels, New Books, Read-Aloud

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Picture Books to Celebrate Spring!

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

Well it’s spring break and time so I have had some extra time to READ!   I love the start of a new season and spring books are a chance to celebrate the sights, sounds and smells of outdoors, colors, flowers, gardens, bugs and animals. These books are wonderful anchors for lessons to inspire writing, art, science activities and wonder walks!  Below is a list (yes, it’s quite long!) of fiction and nonfiction books celebrating spring, including  many wonderful new titles and some of my old favorites!   I have listed the books from most recent (2016) to oldest (1949!!!)   While some may be out of print, check your local or school library for the older titles.

When Spring Comes – Kevin Henkes (2016)

Kevin Henkes brand new book is a sweet, gentle ode to spring that focuses on both nature and a child’s activities.  The writing is filled with amazing images to help the reader feel, smell see and hear spring, making it a perfect book for visualizing.  I also appreciate gentle repetition and alliteration makes it a great anchor book for writing techniques.  Gorgeous illustrations!  Love this one!

Abracadabra, It’s Spring! – Anne Sibley O’Brien (2016)

Another 2016 release, this book includes many examples of the signs of spring hidden under large flaps perfect for story time with younger primary students.  Vibrant, colorful illustrations!

Hop – Jorey Hurley (2016)

A follow-up to the beautiful book Nest, this book follows a similar pattern of using only one verb per double page spread tells the story of the day in the life of a rabbit family.  Soft Spring-colored illustrations help to tell the story.

Puddle – Hyewon Yum (2016)

This wonderful book will inspire your next Art lesson!  A young boy is frustrated because the rainy day is preventing him from going out and having fun.  That is, until his mom encourages him to draw a picture of himself jumping in a big puddle.  Eventually, they venture out to experience the puddle jumping together.  Imaginative, simple and fun!

18264184

Crinkle, Crackle, CRACK! It’s Spring! – Marion Dane Bauer  (2015)

This book came out last year, but I only just discovered it!  This book explores the SIGHTS and SOUNDS of Spring as a boy, a  bear, and other woodland animals take a night time walk to investigate strange noises and observe the arrival of spring.   I enjoyed the repeating phrases and liked how it mentions the not-so-nice parts of spring  (mud, slush, etc) as well as the beautiful part of spring –  animals waking up, birds hatching and flowers blooming.

Flowers Are Calling – Rita Gray  (2015)

An introduction to flowers, animals, and the ways flowers attract pollinators.   Stunning illustrations and great information about nature’s interconnections. Interesting to read and gorgeous to look at.

Finding Spring – Carin Berger (2014)

 Multidimensional and magical!  This is a gentle story filled with information and visual clues exploring the change of seasons.  You will LOVE the warm, joyful art in this charming book!

 

Spring Is Here – Heidi Pross Grey (2013)

I Love how this wonderful book about the spring  ties family activities and nature together.  Gentle text, soft illustrations.  This is a book I use as an anchor for inspiring spring writing! 

And Then It’s Spring – Julie Fogliano (2012)

This book makes my heart smile.  Simple, sparse text, gorgeous, expressive illustrations.  A boy and his dog. tired of the brown of winter,  plant seeds and patiently wait for them to grow.   “Please do not stomp here. There are seeds and they are trying.”   This is one of my favorites.

Sorting Through Spring – Lizann Flatt (2013)

Nature comes to life to help children grasp “big ideas” in Math in this clever series.  In this book the concepts of patterning, sorting, and probability are explored.  This series of four books about Math concepts in seasons is perfect for the early primary students.  Other books include Counting On Fall, Sizing Up Winter, and Shaping Up Summer.

5982814

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms – Julie Rawlinson (2009)

Although not as charming for me as Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, I still am fond of this dear little fox who is, once again, confused by seasonal changes. In this story, he thinks that falling tree blossoms are snow and tries to get the animals to go back to their wintertime activities.  Cute read-aloud and colorful illustrations.

A New Beginning:  Celebrating the Spring Equinox – Wendy Pfeffer (2008)

A reprint soft cover edition of the classic book which can be paired with The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice.   This informative nonfiction book is filled with information describing seasonal changes.  I like the section that highlights the many cultural celebrations and festivals that welcome and honour springtime.

444671

Who Likes Rain? – Wong Herbert Yee  (2007)

Rain is a big part of springtime in Vancouver so this is a perfect “connect” book for my students!  Rich with rhymes and repetition of sounds, this story is about a young girl exploring the sights and sounds of rain.  This is the first in a four book series about the seasons.  Delightful illustrations!

HandSPRINGS – Douglas Florian (2006)

Douglas Florian is my favorite children’s poet.  His clever wit, playful way with words, and whimsical illustrations make his poetry books favorite read-alouds in my class.   This is one in a series of four poetry books about the seasons.

Spring’s Sprung -Lynn Plourde (2002)

In this 4 book series, which also includes Wild Child (autumn), Summer’s Vacation, and Winter Waits, Lynn Plourde uses personification to tell the story of each season.  In this book. Mother Earth rouses her three daughters, March, April and May.  They are so busy arguing with each other that they forget their job is to make the world beautiful.  Gorgeous illustrations and lovely rhyming text!

1638761

Poppleton in Spring – Cynthia Rylant  (1999)

I adore Cynthia Rylant and hold a special place in my heart for the Poppleton early reader series.   have such fond memories of reading them to my boys when they were young and have read them over the years to many primary classes.  This is a level three beginning reader that includes three delightful stories with simple-to-follow plot lines all about Poppleton the pig and his friends, Cherry Sue the Llama and Hudson, the mouse.  In this book there is a story about spring cleaning, buying a new bike and, my favorite – sleeping in the backyard in a tent and “paying attention” to Spring.   If you have not read any of the Poppleton books, you are MISSING OUT!

877658

The Happy Day – Ruth Krauss  (1949)

Woodland animals awake from their deep winter’s sleep to discover the first sign of spring’a flower blooming in the snow.  This timeless book was first published in 1949 and was a Caldecott honour book in 1950.  The illustrations in this book always makes me smile.

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

What is your favorite book to celebrate the coming of spring?

 

10 Comments

Filed under 2016 releases, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Seasons, Springtime

Top 10 Tuesday – Ten Favorite Snowy Titles

top 10

Here in Vancouver, the winter season brings mostly rain.  So when the snow does fall, as it did this morning, there is great excitement at school.  These are the opportunities to “cash in” on the winter excitement by reading and writing about SNOW!

Here are my top 10 books (some old, some new) to inspire snow writing, snow art and lots of snow connections.

1. Snow – Sam Usher

Delightful addition to your winter collection with an added bonus of grandfather-grandson relationship, toys that come to life and an unexpected ending.

2. Perfect Snow – Barbara Reid

This is the BEST connection book about a snowfall in a school yard and two boys’ plan to build a snow fort at recess.  Amazing signature Plasticine artwork by Barbara Reid.

3. Snow – Cynthia Rylant

I use this book to inspire writing and as an anchor to teach similes and personification.   It is filled with gorgeous language, gorgeous illustrations and I love Cynthia Rylant.

4. Over and Under the Snow – Kate Messner

Amazing link to science and winter habitats, this book looks at life under and over the frozen ground.  Great inspiration for an art lesson too!

5. Stella, Queen of the Snow – Marie Louise Gay

Oh, how I love Stella books!  Sam asks questions about the snow; Stella gives delightful answers.

6. The Snow Angel – Angela Mcallister

A snow angel comes to life.  Lovely story with a little excitement and mystery.

7. The Snowy Day – Ezra Jack Keats

No list of snow books would be complete without this classic tale.

8. A Perfect Day – Carin Berger

A charming, delicate, happy book. The illustrations are detailed and precious. Lots of connections and a great inspiration for art.

9. Once Upon a Northern Night – Jean E. Pendziwol

Gentle, lyrical poem about the wonder and beauty of a northern winter night.  Soft snow, twinkling stars, frost etched on a window pane.  Gorgeous.

10. Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening – Robert Frost

One of my favorite winter read-alouds.  Calm. Peaceful.  Perfect for visualizing.

10. The Snow Speaks – Nancy White Carlstrom

Gorgeous poetic language describes the magic of a first snowfall.  This is one of my favorite anchors for descriptive writing.

So there you have it!  (Yes, I cheated again!  There are actually 11 books listed! )

What’s your favorite snow or winter book to share?

2 Comments

Filed under Top 10 Tuesday, Winter Books

Top 10 Tuesday – Favorite Nonfiction Connect Books for Primary

top 10

It’s Top Ten Tuesday!  This week, I’m featuring my favorite Nonfiction “Connect” books!

When practicing “making connections” with your primary students, try alternating between fiction and nonfiction books so your students learn that we can connect to both stories and information.  When reading stories – we can make connections  to characters, feelings and events;  when reading information, we can make connections to background knowledge and experiences.  

Try using the “KNEW-NEW” connection after reading a nonfiction book to your class – “What was one fact from this book you already KNEW and one fact that was NEW information?”  Kids love the “KNEW-NEW”!

Here are my top 10 Nonfiction “CONNECT” books for Primary students…

  1.  The Handiest Things In the World – Andrew Clement

Connections to all the things our hands can do.

2.   With A Friend By Your Side – Barbara Kerley

Connections to the value of friendships all around the world.

Families Around the World – Margriet Ruurs

Connections to families and cultures.

3.   You and Me Together:  Mom, Dads, Kids Around the World – Barbara Kerley 

Connections to the strong bond between parent and child.  Stunning photographs!

4.  I, Fly:  the Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are – Bridget Haos

Connections to fly facts.

5. A Chicken Followed Me Home: Questions and Answers About a Familiar Fowl – Robin Page

Chicken connections!

6. Senses at the Seashore – Shelley Rotner

Connections to the sounds, smells and sights of the beach.

 7.  What in the World?  Numbers in Nature –  Nancy Raines Day

Connections to sets of numbers in the nature.

8.  Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain? – Harriet Ziefert

Connections to rain facts.

9.  Water Is Water Miranda Paul

Connections to the journey of water.

10.  Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt – Kate Messner

Connections to the hidden wonders in the garden.

What are your favorite Non-fiction books to teach and practice making connections?

1 Comment

Filed under Nonfiction, Picture Book, Read-Aloud, Reading Power, Top 10 Tuesday