Tag Archives: Melanie Watt

It’s Monday What Are You Reading? New Picture Books for Fall – Part 2

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

The Way to School – Rosemary McCarney and Plan International

Just what would you go through to get to school? This stunning book explores how, in some countries, children often have to travel through disaster zones, cross dangerous waters, climb mountains and maneuver zip-lines just to get into the classroom. Some of them even carry their own desk!   The determination in the children’s expressions and in their body language as they make their way to school would be perfect for practicing inferring. An important book to share with children and one that could stimulate a conversation about the desire for education and the physical commitment so many children face each day.  Simple text and stunning photographs – this book is a gem!  Proceeds from the sale of this book go to Plan Canada, one of the largest international development agencies in the world.

The Good Little Book – Kyo Maclear

I admit that I got a little teary-eyed reading this book… It is a classic love story of sorts: Boy finds book, boy falls in love with book, boy takes book everywhere, boy loses book… But truly this is the story about the transformation that books can have in our lives: the adventures, the relationships, and the memories. Amazing whimsical illustrations. This is definitely a book to start off your school year.

The Little Book of Big Fears – Monica Arnaldo

Simple, rhyming text introduces 16 children who share their fears – from raccoons to the dark.  Alphabet book of sorts – but the missing letters spell out GUTSY and BRAVE.  Perfect book for making connections with K-2!  My only thought was that there was no reference to how you can conquer these fears – but an important “after reading” discussion!

Waiting – Kevin Henkes

Love. Love. Love.  I love this book so much.  Soft, simple, quiet, wise, gentle, whimsical – Kevin Henkes is a master storyteller.  Waiting is about five toy friends who sit on the windowsill of a child’s home waiting for their turn at play.  I already have a plan for reading this book to a primary class, focusing on visualizing:  read through, without interruption and allow the students to delight in the sounds of the words and let their minds imagine.  After the book is finished, I will ask them, “Hmmmm, what do you think the friends are waiting for?  Turn and talk to your partner.”   Hug this book.  Love this book.  It’s “waiting” to be read.

Friendshape – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

 This latest book by the clever, creative Amy Krouse Rosenthal, about the friends who “shape” our lives, is filled with fun word play, great illustrations and would make a wonderful read-aloud for a primary classroom!  Not my very favorite Rosenthal book but certainly worth a look!

With A Friend By Your Side – Barbara Kerley

National Geographic photographer Barbara Kerley captures images of friends from around the world and pairs them with simple, touching text.  Wonderful book for making connections and also learning about different places in the world.  Map and background information about each photo are included in the back.

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That’s (NOT) Mine – Anna King

Two cute fuzzy bears want the same chair but they do not want to share. Great illustrations, a lesson on manners and a lot of laughs! 

Lizard from the Park – Mark Pett

Adorable story of a young boy who finds a lizard egg in the park.  Crack!  It hatches into a pet lizard… who grows… and grows.. .and grows!  Charming illustrations by the author/illustrator of The Boy and the Airplane and The Girl and Bicycle.  Lovely surprise ending!

I (Don’t) Like Snakes – Nicola Davies

Fun blend of fiction and non-fiction about snakes.  Although the narrator is convinced that she doesn’t like snakes, for every negative she identifies, her snake-loving family come up with the positives!  Interesting information and great illustrations!  I love anything Nicola Davies writes! 

Bug in A Vacuum – Melanie Watt

This clever picture book explores the 5 stages of grief through the eyes of a bug who gets sucked up by a vacuum.    Sounds strange, but it’s brilliant and emotional and the illustrations are hilarious.  I would definitely read this to older students.  Another winner by the author of Scaredy Squirrel.

Thanks for stopping by!  Would love to know which book(s) has caught your eye?

 

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Filed under 2015 releases, Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading – Christmas Classics (part 2)

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.

Last week, I shared some of my old favorites from my Christmas collection.  This week, I’m excited to share some “holiday versions” of some of my favorite characters and stories.

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It’s Christmas, David! – David Shannon.   David Shannon wrote a book when he was five using the only two words he knew how to spell:  “no” and “David”.  When his mother passed along his keepsake box when he was an adult, he discovered the book… and the rest, as they say,  is history!  In this holiday version of the popular “David” series, we follow David as he snitches Christmas cookies and peeks in closets, and as usual, has trouble staying out of trouble!  A delightful, funny read-aloud with lots of possibilities for “making connections”.

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Christmas Cookies – Bite Size Holiday Lessons – Amy Krouse Rosenthal   I adore anything that Amy Krouse Rosenthal writes.  I loved her original Cookies: Bite Sized Lessons so was thrilled when this book came out in time for the holidays a few years ago.  In these books, Rosenthal cleverly uses the analogy of making and eating cookies to define and illustrate important concepts such as respect, trustworthiness, patience, politeness, loyalty, etc.  The book reads a little like a dictionary – each page sharing a new word and example.  In the Christmas Cookies version, she includes holiday-related words like joy, patience, believe, celebrate, peace and tradition.  One of the things I love about Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s books is how simple they are – and this one is a perfect example – she  incorporates larger words that indirectly teaches children the meaning through the text.  This book is a perfect Christmas read-aloud in a classroom and would also make a wonderful holiday gift!  Adorable illustrations!

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The Christmas Quiet Book – Deborah Underwood   How many different kinds of quiet leading up to Christmas are there?  How about – “Searching for presents quiet,” “Getting caught quiet”, “Hoping for a snow day quiet” and the “shattered ornament quiet“.   I made connections to every page!   I loved the original The Loud Book and The Quiet Book so again, was excited to see the Christmas version.  The illustrations in this book are adorable – soft, gentle and quiet.  LOVE this book!

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Snowmen at Night – Carolyn and Mark Buehner  In this delightful follow-up to Snowmen at Night, we follow snowman on a Christmas adventure while the rest of the world is sleeping.  The illustrations are magical – every time I read the book I see something new!  A wonderful, fun read that would lead to great art and writing activities

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Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas – Melanie Watt   Christmas would not be complete without Scaredy Squirrel!  My students have grown to love his insecurities, his worries, his cheesy grin and all his fears.  This holiday safety guide is filled with practical tips and step by step instructions to help readers prepare for a perfect Christmas, Scaredy style! From making Christmas crafts to dressing “holiday style” to choosing the perfect tree – this witty, laugh out loud book will delight Scaredy fans everywhere!  I love using these books to teach students about text features – labels, maps, fact boxes!  Have your students create a “Scaredy Squirrel” version of instructions for their favorite holiday activity!

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Carl’s Christmas – Alexander Day   The “Carl” books were, for me, my first real experience with the wordless picture book genre.  The original Good Dog, Carl book was published in 1996.  The premise of the books is a Rottweiler named Carl who is left in charge of the baby while the parents go out.  Sounds ridiculous, I know, but somehow, it works.  Day’s illustrations require no words – they tell the story seamlessly.  In this book, Carl and baby prepare for Christmas, go shopping, do some Christmas baking and have a reindeer encounter!  My boys LOVED Carl books when they were younger.  If you have never read a Carl book – you are missing something special!

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Pete the Cat Saves Christmas – James Dean and Eric Litwin   Pete the Cat is cool!  He’s groovy!  He’s charming!  And in this book, he is saving Christmas by helping Santa, who has a bad cold and needs help delivering presents.  I love Pete – he is a character on the opposite end of the worry scale from Scaredy Squirrel and serves as a great role model for younger kids.   This book is a parody of Twas’ the Night Before Christmas and includes the classic free song download.  (the song isn’t my favorite but my students always want to sing along with Pete!)  This book is an uplifting message of “giving it your all” that is an important one to share with children.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas – Karen Wilson.   Bear’s friends wake him up from his hibernation to include him in the Christmas preparations.  Bear does and when his friends all fall asleep – he stays up to give his friends a special Christmas surprise.  I am not a huge fan of rhyming texts as I often feel that they are forced.  Karen Wilson manages to create rhyme in such a natural way that you don’t even notice it rhymes!  The story flows in a lovely, lyrical tempo that makes it such an enjoyable read-aloud.  I enjoyed many of her previous books featuring Bear – and this one includes the giving spirit of Christmas as well as friendship.

Well… there you have it!  Some favorite stories and characters  “dressed in holiday style”!  What are your favorite “holiday versions” of familiar stories?

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Filed under Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Picture Book

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – More great books!

 

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.

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The book blogging community has been going “wild” about Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown so I was anxious to get my hands on a copy!  This book is really all about letting loose and letting your inner “wild side” come out.  Mr. Tiger lives in a very proper society and conforms to what is expected of him.  One day, he decides to loosen up a little and walks on two legs instead of four.  Despite the frowns of disapproval from those around him, he continues to let loose a little more each day, jumping from rooftops and even taking off his clothes!  Eventually he is banished to the woods to be wild on his own.  When he returns, he discovers the others have followed his lead and “loosened up” a little!  Great illustrations and lots of humor makes this a wonderful read.  Great discussions about “getting wild” at the appropriate time and place.

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Up! Tall! and High! by Ethan Long is a hilarious introduction to the concepts of “up”, “tall” and “up” told in three separate short stories.   The cast of bird characters in this book are hilarious and the lift the flap pages make for an even more appealing read.  The bright, colorful illustrations remind me of Mo Willems.  Great for Pre-K and K.

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Diverse writer Linda Sue Park amazed many with her powerful novel last year A Long Walk to Water.  She has now released this delightful picture book  Zander’s Panda Party which describes the challenges of planning a birthday party.  The lyrical, rhyming text follows Xander as he tries to decide who to invite to the party.  He starts with inviting all the pandas, then all the bears, then is informed by the Koala that she is not really a bear but a marsupial.   Not only is this book a pleasure to read (some of the rhymes are rather unconventional!) but it’s a great introduction to different types of animals.  Top it off with the message of the importance of not wanting to leave anyone out – and you have a winner!

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If you are teaching your students about following rules, making good choices, consequences of action or being conscious of your community  – here is a book for you;  What if Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick   Simple, up-beat text and colorful illustrations is entertaining as well as putting a new perspective on how our choices impact the world around us.  A good reminder to us all – before you do anything or say anything, ask yourself, “what if everybody did that?”

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Caldecott winner Philip Stead is inching higher and higher up on my “favorite author” scale.  Everything he writes is heartfelt and his soft, whimsical illustrations add to tenderness to the text.  Bear has a Story to Tell is one of my all time favorites and Home for Bird  was a book I reviewed this summer.  In his latest book, Hello, My Name is Ruby, Stead once again touches the heart with his words and pictures.  Ruby is delightful  – she is tiny, brave, curious and compassionate.  She attempts to find her place in the world by making friends, introducing herself to different animals and birds and asking them thoughtful questions in order to learn more about them.   Could there be a better role model for children?   I felt a true sadness when one of the birds did not want to be her friend.  There is nothing not to love about this book.

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For all you Scaredy Squirrel fans out there – here’s the latest – just in time for Halloween!  In Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween,  Scaredy helps us plan for the spooky night – with everything from costume choices, making treats, pumpkin carving and safety tips!  In his familiar overly anxious approach to everything, Scaredy uses lists, maps, diagrams, charts and webs (love those nonfiction text features!) to get ready for the spookiest night of the year!

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Memoirs of a Hamster by Devin Scillian is a follow up to Memoirs of a Goldfish (published in 2010).  In a similar style as Diary of a Worm, this book is written in the voice of Seymour the Hamster.  Seymour is at first content with his life and describes the coziness of his cage.  But after a chat with a cat, he begins to feel he may be missing out on something beyond the confounds of his cage.  Great anchor book for writing “in person” as an animal and for developing voice.

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I Want a Dog! by Helga Bansch was published a few years ago but I came across it while searching for anchor books for persuasive writing lessons.  There are several books with a theme of a child trying to convince their parents to buy them a pet.  I was immediately drawn to this book by the cover – and the delightful images of different breeds of dogs.  Lisa desperately wants a dog but her parents don’t feel it realistic as they live in an apartment.  Lisa tries many different persuasive tactics to change her parents mind, but with no luck.   In the end, she doesn’t give up and comes up with a creative plan to solve her dog desire!  Great for predicting, problem solving and to introduce persuasion.

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I have a huge author crush on Chris Raschka.  Ever since his Yo! Yes! book topped my Infer book list – I have been using his books to teach inferring and questioning.   Chris Raschka won the Caldecott award in 2010 for  A Ball for Daisy.  As with many of his books, it was a perfect wordless picture book for practicing inferring with younger students.  I had many Daisy fans in my class so I know there will be much excitement when they see Daisy in a new adventure in the book Daisy Gets Lost.  I’m not sure how he does it, but Chris Raschka always manages to capture emotion with his swirly impressionistic illustrations and this book is no exception.  Daisy chases a squirrel at the park and suddenly finds herself in unfamiliar territory – and we can see the fear on her cute little face.  A great book for making connections to feeling lost and afraid.

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I adore anything Georgia Heard writes. I have likely used  For the Good of the Earth and Sun for teaching poetry more than any other professional resource.  I am starting a poetry unit with a grade 6 class this term so have been  gathering poetry books from my collection.  Amongst many amazing poetry anthologies and collections, I rediscovered Falling Down the Page, Georgia Heard’s amazing collection of list poems by contemporary poets (including Eileen Spinelli and Avis Harley – who was my teacher for one of my poetry classes at UBC many years ago!)   I sat and read through the every poem and marveled at how a simple list can tell so much.   A great anchor book for writing list poems!

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I am in the middle of reading two amazing novels.  First – is The Real Boy by Anne Ursu – a magical adventure.   (You can read a great review of this book by Linda Urban posted in  Nerdy Book Club )  So far, I am LOVING this book.  I adore Oscar, the main character, and the writing is wonderful.  Oscar is an orphan who works for a magician, gathering herbs and helping to prepare his potions.  He is quite content in his life until things start to suddenly change in the town when everyone starts to get sick and Caleb, the magician, is no longer around.   I have just met Callie, a girl who is going to help Oscar.  I can’t wait to find out what happens.  I think this will be a GREAT read-aloud to grades 4-6!

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I am a huge Kate Messner  fan and follower and first learned about her latest book Wake Up Missing  when she wrote about it on her website just before its release date on September 10th.  I have not finished this book yet but not because I don’t have time – but because I don’t want it to end!  All  I can say is WOW!  Four teens – a hockey star, a football star, a horse lover and a bird watcher – all meet when they arrive at an elite Brain Science center in Florida.  The four have nothing in common – except they have all experienced head injuries and have gone to the center for some concussion testing.  (Being a mom of two boys who play hockey, I make a lot of connections to the concussion discussion!)  But after a while at the center, the four begin to suspect that there is more to these “tests” – and they begin to suspect they are part of some strange experiment that may steal their identities.  How exciting does this sound?  SO EXCITING!  My son wants to read this but I’m not letting him until I finish it and find out how they escape!      12991201[1]

I have been inspired by reading other IMWAYR posts and particularly  Holly Mueller of Reading, Teaching and Learning, who always includes non-teaching books she and her family are reading.  I’m blessed to part of a wonderful book club that meets once a month.  (And yes, we DO read and discuss the books!)  So I’ve decided to share my book club books each month.  This month, we are reading The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan.  This historical novel is set in Paris in 1856 and is the story of two sisters whose lives are upended when their father is murdered.  This is the story of one of the girls who becomes a model for artist Edward Degas, while her family struggles to survive.  I have not read too far into it yet, but certainly getting a different perspective on the artist Degas!

Well, there you have my latest reads of the week.  What have you been reading lately?

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

Summer Reading – Day 22 – IMWAYR! The Power of Persuasion

Excited to be publishing my second post for IMWAYR!

As I continue to write the draft of my new book, Nonfiction Writing Power, I’m on a continuous search for anchor books to support the lessons. I’m astounded by how many titles I’ve discovered which lend themselves so well to the various nonfiction text structures. While some titles I was already familiar with, my list keeps growing as I discover more and more treasures (that some people refer to as books!) that model different text structures.

Today I thought I’d share some of picture books I have discovered that model the structure and language of persuasion. Here is a sneak peak at some of my favorites…

           961711[2]            8581550[2]Karen Kaufman Oroff has given us two excellent examples of persuasive letter writing.  In I Wanna Iguana, a young boy writes letters to his mom, trying to convince her to let him have a pet iguana.  His mom responds  to each letter, with reasons of her own why she doesn’t want him to have one.  Similar back and forth letter writing between this boy and his mother, this time in his plea for his own room, are found in her recent book I Wanna New Room.  I love the idea of using these books to inspire students to write persuasive letters to their parents asking them for something they really want.

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The power of persuasion is in full force in this witty book written and illustrated by the great Mark Teague. Many of us are familiar with Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters From Obedience School, but I have a new-found appreciation for this book as I am now reading it from a persuasive perspective.  This naughty dog has been sent to Obedience School by his owner, Mrs. LaRue.  The book is a series of letters from the dog persuading his owner that he should be brought home IMMEDIATELY because he DOES NOT belong there.  Hilarious voice as the dog describes (and embellishes) the conditions at the school.

Free as the Wind - by Jamie Bastedo

For a more serious look at the power of persuasion, Free as the Wind by Jamie Bastedo tells the fascinating and true story of the plight in the early 1960’s to save the wild horses of Sable Island, a remote island in the Atlantic just off the coast of Nova Scotia.  At that time, it was decided that the horses would be removed from the island and auctioned off, many would be slaughtered and used for dog food.  This book focuses on the dozens of school children who wrote persuasive letters to the Prime Minister, pleading with him to save the horses.  This is an inspiring true example of how the persuasive voice of a small group of children made a huge difference through writing and carved out a little piece of Canadian history.

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In Hey, Little Ant, by Philip M. Hoose, an ant and a boy have a back and forth conversation.  The ant is trying to persuade the boy not to step on him; the boy is giving the ant his own reasons why he should.   Thought provoking and an excellent example of how to back up your argument! I have used this book many times over the years as it is a perfect segue into a “Whose side are you on?”/ “What would you do?” discussion.

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In Click, Clack, Moo – Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, a group of literate Cows and Chickens type letters to the farmer with a list of demands and reasons why they feel they should have better living conditions.  Hilarious and a great example of persuasive letter writing.

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I focused on this book a few blogs ago, but will highlight it again here as it is another excellent example of persuasive letter writing.  The Day the Crayons Quit is about a boy named Duncan who discovers a stack of persuasive letters written by each of his crayons, expressing their reasons for quitting and presenting their argument for better working conditions.

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My Brother Dan’s Delicious, by Steven L. Layne, is about a boy who is home alone and becomes very worried that a monster is going to eat him.  He comes up with some excellent and hilarious reasons why the monster should eat his brother, Dan, instead of him, including the fact that his brother is much more tasty than he is!  Very persuasive!

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Scaredy Squirrel author Melanie Watt, once again, provides us with a character that makes you laugh out loud.  In Have I Got A Book For You, a very cheesy salesman (mouse) is trying to sell the reader a book – this book!  Excellent example of persuasive voice and a great anchor book for teaching how to give engaging “Book Talks”

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A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea – Michael Ian Black.  Ever had the idea to host a pig parade?  Think it might be a great idea and a whole lot of fun?  Well…. think again!  This hilarious book gives all the reasons why having a pig parade is a BAD idea!

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Duck for President by Doreen Cronin would make an excellent book for teaching students about government, elections or prior to student council nominations.  Duck is tired of the chores he is made to do on the farm, so he decides to hold an election and take over the farm.  He wins, but discovers that the job is much harder than he anticipated!

So if you are thinking of teaching “persuasive writing” to your students in the months ahead, I’m hoping you discovered a few new titles that you’re excited to use for your lessons!  I’d also love to hear about any other anchor books you have used for persuasive writing.

Check out the other IMWAYR! posts at:   Teach Mentor Texts  or Unleashing Readers. 

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