Tag Archives: Marla Frazee

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? – Christmas Classics – part 3

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.

This is my third and final post of holiday books.  In Part 1, I shared my favorite Christmas  “classics” that I have loved for many years, Part 2 was looking at holiday versions of favorite or known characters and this week I will be sharing some of my more recently discovered and/or published holiday books.

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My Penguin Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

Be careful what you wish for!  is the message of this delightful book!  There are many things I love about this book.  The illustrations are cute, and the story very sweet, but my teacher side is always thinking about ways to use books for a lesson!   The story begins with young Joe in the process of writing a letter to Santa asking him for a Penguin for Christmas. In the past, Santa has misinterpreted his letters and often brought him the wrong gift (the “flashback” examples are VERY funny!)  so this year, Joe is VERY specific with what he wants.  Turns out Santa delivers this year – and Joe gets a brand new penguin.  But he soon discovers that having a penguin is a little different than what he expects!  This is a very funny book – a perfect read-aloud – and a great anchor book for letter writing and the importance of being specific and precise with your words.

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The Christmas Owl – Angela Muse

This beautifully illustrated book is filled with the wonderful message of kindness and gratitude.  On Christmas eve, an owl is injured and he has to rely on other animals to help him find shelter and food until he gets better.  At first, not all the animals are willing to help, especially his prey!  But in the end we witness each one opening their hearts and homes to help the owl.  When the owl is healed, he returns kindness to each of the animals who helped him.  This book is a GEM!

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A Wish to Be A Christmas Tree – Colleen Munroe

Oh, how I LOVE this book!  The illustrations are amazing – I could look at them for hours!  But the story itself is so beautiful!  A too tall fir tree is always overlooked each year at Christmas time.  He longs to be chosen by a family and taken home to be decorated and wonders why he is passed by year after year.  When he becomes so discouraged,  the animals from the woods begin to tell him all the things they like and appreciate about him.  In the end, the fir tree starts to truly believes in himself and his self-worth. This is a tender story with a wonderful message about valuing your strengths and also about the kindness of friends.

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Little SantaJon Agee

Have you ever wondered what Santa was like as a child? Did you know he is one of seven children?    Well this book tells you all about “Little Santa” and how he grew up and became the person everyone loves.  Along the way you learn the “why” behind elves, chimneys and reindeers.  This is a little gem of a Christmas story – cute but not sugary.  Delightful illustrations!

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The Deep and Snowy Wood – Elwyn Tate

 A deer, a mole and a squirrel are making their way through the deep and snowy wood.  They are heading somewhere, but you don’t know where they or going or why.  (I won’t spoil it for you – but a hint is that it has something to do with Christmas!)  This rhyming book is aimed at a younger audience (K-1) and would be perfect for questioning or predicting.  The art is lovely and rhyming text flows and never feels forced.  Because we are kept guessing until the last page, it makes for a very engaging read-aloud!

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Gifts of the Heart – Patricia Polacco   All I can say is that Patrica Polacco did it again.  She managed to write a Christmas story that is joyful and heartwarming.  In Gifts of the Heart, she shares the magic of Christmas through a delightful story that celebrates the joy of homemade gifts.  I made many connections to sitting around the kitchen table with my sisters making homemade gifts for relatives.  (And yes, I made my own boys make peanut butter – bird seed pine cones, too!)  This is a beautiful story of what truly matters at Christmas – not gifts that come from a store, but gifts that come from the heart.  Classic Polacco.

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The Christmas Magic – Lauren Thomas

Oh, how I adore this book!  It fills my heart with such joy and captures, to me, the magic of Christmas.  Santa feels the Christmas magic first with a twitch of his beard.  He then begins to make preparations to spread this magic to everyone.   Lauren Thomas’ text makes my heart smile and Jon Muth’s soothing watercolors are worth the price of admission.  Another gem to add to my collection.

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 The Smallest Gift – Peter H. Reynolds

Ever since The Dot and Ish – I have been a huge Peter H. Reynolds fan.  In his recent Christmas book, we meet Roland.  On Christmas morning, Roland discovers a very small present under the tree.  Disappointed, he wishes for something bigger and bigger and ends up flying to the moon in a rocket ship.  But his journey brings him back to where he started  – home – reminding him that what is under the tree is not as important as who you are with.

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Santa Claus – the World’s Number One Toy Expert – Marla Frazee

Any book by the great Marla Frazee is sure to bring a smile to everyone – this book is no exception.  Although it came out in 2005, I discovered it only a few weeks ago in my local library.   Have you ever wondered just how Santa knows how to match the exact right toy with the exact right kid every Christmas?  How?  He works HARD at it!  He researches for the ENTIRE YEAR, taking notes, thinking, testing, re-guessing, analyzing and compiling his research!  Finally, when he has it all figured out by Christmas morning – he brings magic to everyone!  This book is funny and tender with a rather surprising ending.  A classroom library is not complete without a Marla Frazee book – and it will be hard not to keep this one out until June!

And there you have it – hopefully some new Christmas books for you to enjoy!  Which book will you add to your collection?

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Filed under It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Writing Anchors

Summer Reading – Day 19! Royal Baby Books!

With all the royal baby buzz, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite baby books – not books FOR babies but books ABOUT babies!   And they just might provide some insightful tips for Duchess Kate and Prince William!

931906[1]Babies, Babies Everywhere – by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Marla Frazee is a celebration of all the babies who are born everyday, everywhere and the joy they bring to everyone, everywhere.  (I have borrowed that repetitive phrase from the book!)  This rhyming story follows a baby through many stages – from birth to first birthday – sleeping, sitting, eating, walking, talking.   I am a huge fan of Marla Frazee’s work, her illustrations as well as her stories, and she captures, with incredible details, the sensation of babies. (the only thing missing is the delicious smell of a baby’s head!)  I longed to hold a baby after I read this!

7171946[1]Boss Baby – written and illustrated by Marla Frazee is hysterical. “From the moment the baby arrived, it was obvious that he was the boss.”  This story follows two parents trying to keep up with the daily (hourly!) demands of their new baby “boss” – from beverages, to meetings, to baths and meals.  The parallels Frazee makes between the life of an adult “boss” and a baby are so clever (this baby even wears a one-ze suit!) It’s surprising to see how similar they actually are!  New parents will make many connections to this book, but students I’ve read this book to (particularly the ones who have recently become “big brothers” or “sisters”) laugh out loud at Boss Baby and always want to hear the story over again!

705429[1]Walk On:  A Guide for Babies of All Ages by Marla Frazee (for those of you who are keeping track – this is the THIRD book about babies written and/or illustrated by Marla Frazee!) is written in the form of an entertaining guide book for babies who are about to take their first step.  The illustrations, in the usual Frazee fashion, are delightful.  The book itself could also be interpreted as metaphor for the many “first step” experiences we encounter in our adult lives – from graduating, marriage, new job, and of course – welcoming a new baby.  This book would make a great gift for anyone about to take that “first step”.  This one’s for you, Will and Kate!

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Filed under Connect, New Books, Picture Book