Tag Archives: Peter H. Reynolds

Picture Book 10 for 10 (2019) – New Books for Your Reading Power Collection

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I’m excited to be, once again, participating in this summer’s 10 for 10 Picture Book celebration! #pb10for10   This annual celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning.  Hard to believe this is my seventh year of participating in this event! (you can read my 2018 here,  2017 post here,  2016 post here2015 post here2014 post here and 2013 here. )  Each year, the blogging community chooses 10 picture books on a range of themes – from diversity, to community building, to writing, to conservation.  It is an amazing opportunity to explore new picture books related to a wide range of themes.  (It can also be a little hard on your bank account, if you are anything like me!)

Keeping with tradition, I have organized my #pb10fo10 post to feature new releases that support Reading Power strategies.  I have included two books for each: Connecting, Questioning, Visualizing, Inferring, and Transform (synthesizing).   For those who are already using RP, these would be my recommendations for adding or replenishing your collection this year!

CONNECT

Where Are You From?  – Yamile Saied Mendez

When looking for Connect books, I am now drawn to books that can also double for anchors for my Powerful Understanding lessons.  This is a beautiful book for making connections and exploring identity.   We journey with a little girl, Abuelo, as she explores the important question, “Where are you from?”  Gorgeous illustrations, this book is heartwarming, uplifting, and important.  A perfect anchor book to launch an exploration of family, culture and identity.  LOVE!

Remarkably You Pat Zieltow Miller

I was so excited to share this new book by the author of Be Kind,  one of my favorite books from last year.  I would definitely use this book for making connections with early primary students, as well as it being a great anchor for exploring self identity and making a difference.  I love how the author encourages children to use their talents to do good things in the world.  Whatever their personalities, whatever their interests: “Don’t sit on the sidelines. / Be part of the fray. / Go after your passions a little each day. / Find what needs fixing. / Repair what you can. / Then choose a new problem and do it again.”   

VISUALIZE

Run Wild – David Covell

This book celebrates the freedom and fun of running wild and free in the great outdoors.  With rhyming text, we run with two children through a variety of “wilds” – from cool forests to hot sandy beaches.  I love the energy and spirit of this book and the playful language is perfect for reading aloud and practicing visualizing.

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My Forest is Green – Darren Lebeuf

This book follows a nature-loving boy as he keenly observes and explores “his forest” and uses different artistic techniques to record them.  I love how this book combines excellent information about woodlands with an appreciation of nature, art, and imagination.  This book is filled with descriptive language and would be an excellent anchor book for sensory writing and using descriptive adjectives.

QUESTION

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Why? – Laura Vaccaro Seeger

I like books centered around curious characters to promote the power of asking questions.  In this new book by a favorite author of mine,  two friends spend time together through spring, summer, and into fall.  Rabbit persistently and simply asks Bear, “Why?”   Bear patiently answers over and over until there’s a question he has no answer for.  I so love the simplicity of the story but the emotional impact it left was surprising.  Perhaps it was the hugely expressive characters, curious rabbit and patient bear, interacting so beautifully together.  I also loved how there is room for the reader to infer what question the rabbit is exactly asking.  

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Lubna and Pebble – Wendy Medour

Wow.  This beautiful and heartbreaking story of refugees brought tears to my eyes many times.  Lubna and her father have come to a refugee camp. As they arrive, Lubna finds a smooth pebble that becomes her closest friend (think  Tom Hank’s “Wilson” in Cast Away).  This is a such an important story and a perfect book to open up a discussion with younger students as to why immigration is so important and why so many people “choose” to leave their homes.  There were lots of unknowns that leave the reader wondering –Where is the rest of Lubna’s family? Why doesn’t Lubna have a real doll? “What happened in the war?” “Where is Lubna’s home?” “What will happen to Amir?   The illustrations are gorgeous and fill the pages with emotion.  This is a MUST HAVE book for your school library.

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Camp Tiger – Susan Choi

Okay, I cheated a little here and added a third QUESTION book, but I just couldn’t leave this wild and wondrous book off my list!  I love books that don’t tell the reader everything – and this one leaves us wondering all the way through.  With just a perfect blend of realism and fantasy, this coming of age story focuses on a little boy who goes camping with his family one summer.  Out of nowhere, a tiger walks out of the woods, starts talking, and ends up joining them on their camping trip.  Weird?  Yes, a little.  Did I completely understand why the tiger was there?  No.  Did it matter? NO!  It left me with so many unanswered questions and I was completely hooked.  Absolutely stunning illustrations!  I can’t wait to do a Question lesson with this book!

INFER

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A Stone Sat Still – Brendan Wenzel

Like many other readers, I adored Brendan Wenzal’s previous picture books They All Saw a Cat and Hello Hello.   In this new book, he explores perspective again, this time focusing on a stone and how it means different things to different creatures, depending on their perspective.  For some of it, it’s quite large, but for others, they are overwhelmed by it’s size.    Stunning mix of cut paper, pencil, collage, and paint illustrations and a gentle,  meditative rhythm in the text.   While seemingly simple, it invites readers to infer their own ideas about perspective, home, and the environment.  

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Carl and the Meaning of Life – Deborah Freedman

I fell in love with Carl when I first read this book.  He asks deep-thinking questions about the meaning of life and sets out on a search to find his true purpose. And what he discovers is that he, like all living things, is connected to an ecosystem and, while small, plays an integral part. Can you say adorable illustrations? Can you say science lessons? Can you say making a difference? I was debating whether to list this for Transform, but decided it fit well with Inferring because the message is subtle and invites readers to question and infer – How are we all connected? What is our job here on Earth? Why do we do the things we do? Who do we do them for?

TRANSFORM

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Say Something! – Peter H. Reynolds

I LOVE this book by the great Peter H. Reynolds and have shared it many times since it was released last spring.  This simple book packs a lot of power, encouraging readers to use their voice to make a difference. What I liked is how Reynolds shows different ways of “saying” something – with words, with kindness, with creativity.  This book is a great anchor to launch a unit on global stewardship.

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All the Ways to be Smart – Denise Bell

One word activity – “Smart”!  This book will help transform young readers thinking about what it means to be smart, celebrating different forms of “smartness” and talents children bring to the world.  “Smart is not just ticks and crosses, smart is building boats from boxes. Painting patterns, wheeling wagons, being mermaids, riding dragons.”  This book is as important as it is delightful.

My Heart – Corinna Luyken

Yes, I know, I cheated again and added a third book for Transform but this book is a must share book for teachers.  An ode to the strength of our hearts, this book transforms our thinking about love and self-acceptance.  Focusing on the “one word” activity using the word “heart”, I believe we would see many “transformed thoughts” about our hearts after reading this book.  Simple text and a soft pallet of illustrations. I like how the author uses light and dark to show the different feelings of the heart. There are also hidden hearts found within the illustrations.  I would recommend this book for older students as well as younger ones.

And there you have it!  My #pb10for10 selections for 2019!  Thanks for stopping by and hope a title or two have caught your eye!  Happy reading and thinking, everyone!

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Filed under 2019 releases, Connect, Identity, immigration, Infer, New Books, Picture Book 10 for 10, Question, Reading Power, Refugee, Transform, Visualize

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? New books from RFTLOI conference!

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

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Last week, I was presenting in Toronto at Reading For the Love Of It Conference.  This was my 4th conference and I’m always THRILLED to participate.  Not only are there amazing presenters (and many fan-girl moments for me!) but there is also a HUGE publishing display – which means (you guessed it!) BOOK BUYING!  My friend Tory McTaggart from Bound2Learn Publishing always brings the most amazing picture books!  My suitcase was FULL!   Here are the favorite finds I brought back:

Say Something! Peter H. Reynolds

“Your voice can inspire, heal, and transform.  Your voice can change the world.  Are you ready to say something?”  Amazing book inspiring young people to stand up, share their voice, and speak up for what they you believe in.  An inspiring, non-preachy call to action by the amazing Peter. H. Reynolds

Little Brown – Marla Frazee

LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!   So much potential for discussion with this book!  Is Little Brown left alone because he is cranky or is he cranky because he is left alone?  These are just two of the many questions readers will be faced with in this book.   I love that Marla Frazee doesn’t dummy down the story, includes great “grown-up” words like “dilemma” and ends the story without an ending – inviting the reader to come up with the best solution to help Little Brown.   I can already see writing activities, skits, and tips.  Adorable illustrations.

How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps – Nicola Winstanley

A perfect addition to your instructional writing anchor book collection!  Tongue in cheek spoof on a typical instructional manual because, SURPRISE!, cats don’t like to be bathed!  Super cute and giggle-worthy!

The Girl and the Wolf Katherena Vermette

The Girl and the Wolf is a sort of reversal of Little Red Riding Hood but with a lovely message. When a girl gets lost in the woods, a wolf guides her to finding her own way home. The wolf does not lead her home but asks the girl what she will do. When she answers, “I don’t know”, the wolf reassures her that she does, indeed, know. He encourages her to close her eyes and take a breath before trying again to determine her course of action. So many great themes in this book – problem solving, questioning, indigenous ways of knowing, mindful breathing, staying calm, nature, instincts, survival skills, inner strength. This would make an excellent addition to your indigenous book collection!

The Wall in the Middle of the Book Jon Agee

Wow.  This book is pretty much a metaphor for what is going on in the US at the moment.   Jon Agee does an amazing job with simple text and simple illustrations to share a strong message.  A knight is convinced that the wall is protecting him from all the dangers on the “other side”.  Great split screen illustrations show just how wrong the knight is!  I think kids will enjoy shouting out the “dangers” that are happening on the left side of the wall.  VERY clever and a great book for inferring!  (can’t help but wonder if Trump would actually make any connections!!!)

What If…. Then We…. Very Short, Shorter than Ever Possibilities – Rebecca Kai Dotlich

I LOVE “One Day… The End” and use it as an anchor book for teaching beginning-middle-end in writing lessons.  So when I saw this new book by Rebecca Kai Dotlich – I knew it would be just as delightful – and I was right!   Two polar bears embark on an adventurous journey – and encounter many “what if?” moments along the way with a little courage, friendship and problem-solving sprinkled in!  I’m definitely adding this to my writing anchor books!

From Tree to Sea – Shelley Moore Thomas

This soothing, peaceful patterned book is definitely going to be added to my new writing anchor books.  What does the earth show us?  Each page in this gentle book describes what nature shows us – “Stones shows me how to be strong.  If I am kicked around sometimes, like a rock on a road, I just keep rolling along.”    Gorgeous illustrations.  A great choice for Earth Day – or any day!  This is a KEEPER!

Everything is Connected – Jason Gruhl

Well, you can’t get more of an “Adrienne” book than this one!  A beautiful book with a beautiful message – we are all connected to everything in the universe – even the blobfish!  Playful, lyrical rhyming text will make for a wonderful read-aloud.   Thought provoking and empowering.

A Friend for Henry – Jenn Bailey

A delightful story that does an excellent way of reflecting the behaviors and challenges of a child on the autism spectrum.  Henry is looking for a friend in his new class but none of them seem to be the best fit for him…. until he meets Katie.  I love that this book does not focus on having to change to fit in, but finding a friend who fits you.  Delightful illustrations.

Tomorrow Most Likely – Dave Eggers

A child imagines the many ordinary things that await him tomorrow.  Tomorrow most likely…..Packed with lovely rhymes, repetitions and a sprinkle of silly!  Another great read-aloud and anchor book for writing!   Bold and blocked illustrations.

Look – Fiona Woodcock

So clever!  This story about a brother and sister visiting the zoo is told entirely through words that have the double “oo” in them.  Each word is embedded into the bright and vibrant illustrations.  Great for emergent readers for word recognition, but could also be a great inspiration for writing one word stories!

Crab Cake – Andrea Tsurumi

I love books with many layers.   Take this one, for example.  It is the charming story of a crab who makes crab cakes, explores sea life,  and includes a messagea of sustaining our oceans, using your gifts, working together as a community, and inspiring others.  Wow! This one is well worth it’s price in crab cakes!

Thanks for stopping by!

Hope you found a book or two that caught your eye!

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Filed under 2019 releases, Autism, Earth Day, IMWAYR, Indigenous Stories, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Read-Aloud, Writing Anchor book

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? First New Books for 2019

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

It’s hard to believe that it’s already February!  Where did January go?  But with the start of a new year, there are always new books to read and share!  Here are just a few of the gorgeous new picture books (and one novel!) I’ve been reading over the past few weeks…

When Sadness is at Your Door by Eva Eland

When Sadness is At Your Door – Eva Eland

Children sometimes struggle to understand and cope with their emotions, especially the “big” ones like anger and sadness. Talking about our feelings helps us process them, and this book gives readers a tender and comforting way to work through sadness.  Excellent anchor book for lessons about feelings.

How To Give Your Cat A Bath: In Five Easy Steps – Nicola Winstanley

This book is laugh out loud hilarious! Take a little girl, her cat (who does not want a bath), and an empty bathtub. Add a multitude of silly shenanigans and very funny pictures and you have a MUST read aloud book for your class.  Perfect anchor book for instructional “How To” writing.  LOVE!

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All You Need is Love – John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Kind of hard to resist this one.  Beautifully illustrated book which brings John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s world-renowned classic song “All You Need Is Love” to life.  Would be a great way to introduce a younger generation to this classic song and these talented artists.  (I always think about the wedding scene in “Love Actually” when I hear this song!)

My Heart

My Heart – Corinna Luyken

“My heart is a window. My heart is a slide. My heart can be closed…or opened up wide.” Listening to, following, and caring for our hearts is the theme in this gorgeous book.  Meta-cognition of our hearts (if there is such a thing!), this book helps readers to see that our hearts (and our emotions) are always changing – can be open, closed, full, empty. Gorgeous metaphors for the heart written with lovely rhyming text and beautiful grey and yellow illustrations (look for all the hearts hidden in the pictures) A lovely book for the both younger and older students (great for inferring!) and would be a wonderful book to share around Valentine’s Day.  Empowering and hopeful.

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There Are No Bears in This Bakery – Julia Sarcone-Roach

Spoiler Alert – There ARE bears in this  bakery!  Despite Muffin the Cat’s watchful eye, one small hungry bear does get into the bakery.  But Muffin has donuts. Which, as we all know, bears like an awful lot.  So much to like about this book – bright, colorful illustrations and great word choice.  This book would also make a great anchor for teaching similes, point of view, and the five senses.

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The Good Egg – Jory John

I am SO excited about this follow up to hilarious and heartfelt The Bad Seed.   With the same hilarious voice and delightful illustrations, this is the charming tale of a VERY good egg who learns that it’s not always necessary to be perfect, and sometimes okay not to always be the good egg all the time. Great message about self care and not having to please everyone all the time.  (Released Feb. 12th)

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Say Something! – Peter H. Reynolds

LOVE LOVE LOVE this new book by the beloved Peter H. Reynolds which encourages young readers to find their voice and use it to make the world a better place.  A perfect anchor book for some of the lessons in my Powerful Understanding book (“The World”)  A powerful, empowering, inspiring call to action told in a none preachy way.  An absolute MUST READ!  (Released Feb. 27th but you can pre-order!)

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The Rough Patch – Brian Lies

Oh, this book.  This book.  Kleenex required. (extra if you are a dog lover)  Evan the fox is an avid gardener and he and his dog have created an extraordinary garden and take great joy in nurturing it. However, when Evan loses his best friend, the grief is almost unbearable.  Evan transforms his beautiful garden into “The saddest and most desolate spot he could make it.”  Such a beautiful story of love and friendship and loss and grief and hope.  Gorgeous art.  A roller coaster of emotions.  And did I mention Kleenex?

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Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish – Beth Perry

Birthdays are important days to celebrate. But before you do, you should make sure you’re following the ten important rules of your big day. Rule #1? Make sure it actually is your birthday.  A joyful celebration of every child’s favorite day!  Adorable illustrations.

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Perfect – Max Amato

Great anchor for growth mindset, creativity and getting along, despite your differences.  A fussy eraser tries to keep the pages clean, while a mischievous pencil keeps trying to scribble up the pages.  The two opposing forces finally come together and learn that they can have fun together, despite their differences.  Great illustrations – I kept trying to sweep away the pencil shavings!

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Dress Like a Girl Patricia Toht

What does it mean to “Dress Like a Girl”?  In this lovely new book by Patricia Toht (illustrated by Lorian Tu-Dean), a group of girls at a slumber party decide dressing up means following your passion, your creativity, and your heart.  An inspiring and empowering story for younger readers.  “Make your own rules in this big wide world, Set your sights high…and dress like a girl!”  

Noodlephant – Jacob Kramer

This book totally surprised me in many ways!  First of all, it’s longer than an average picture book – 80 pages.  Second, I thought it was about an elephant who loves pasta – WRONG!  It’s actually a story about injustice, civil rights, and peaceful protests.  But it’s also wacky, fun, and filled with great word play and delightful illustrations!  Noodlephant lives in an animal community where the Kangaroos in charge save special privileges for themselves and make unfair rules that impact the other animals.  Noodlephant and friends come together to protest these unfair rules, and work together to help make the community a place where every animal is treated kindly.  SUCH a great book to introduce younger readers to standing up for your rights and working together for change.  Lots to like about this one.

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The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise – Dan Gemeinhart

Sometimes making friends is tough, and sometimes it’s as simple as finding someone who loves books and kittens as much as you do.”

It seems silly to say that this is my favorite Middle Grade novel of 2019 – since it’s the only one I have read!   But my, oh my.  This book.  Wow.  I loved it so, so much.  Could not put it down.  Cried and cried.  It’s a compelling, heart-breaking story of Coyote, a 12 year old girl, and her dad, Rodeo, who set off in a re-furbished school bus after a tragic traffic accident kills her mother and her two sisters.  Along their journey, they gather an incredible cast of characters, all of whom, like Coyote and her dad,  are lost in some way or another.  Amazing characters, gorgeous writing – this is a remarkable story of loss and love and grief and so much more.  PLEASE read and share with your middle grade students.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope one or two books caught your eye!

Happy reading week, everyone!

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Filed under 2019 releases, Feelings, Grief, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Writing Strategies

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Books to Promote Critical Thinking

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With the re-designed curriculum in B.C., teachers are preparing to launch the school year with a lot to think about.  The best advice I have for wrapping our heads around the big ideas is to ‘start small’ and choose one area for your school to focus on.  At my school, we have decided to focus on critical thinking.  I’ve spent some time this summer thinking about what will be helpful for supporting my students to think critically – and so, of course, I think of picture books that connect to the three phases of critical thinking – Analyze-Question-Develop.

Here are my top 10 books for promoting Critical Thinking!

1. More-Igami – Dori Kleber

Learning something new takes practice and patience.  In this charming story, a boy tries to figure out how an origami crane is made – he analyzes, questions and develops a plan! What a perfect story for introducing critical thinking!

Most Magnificent Thing, The by [Spires, Ashley]

2. The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires

One of the important stages of critical thinking is to analyze a situation and re-direct your thinking if things are not working.  When the little girl in this book decides to make a ‘most magnificent thing’, it doesn’t exactly go the way she had plans, resulting in a whole lot of frustration- making this a perfect book to begin the conversation about the importance of thinking critically.

3. What To Do With a Box?– Jane Yolen

What can you turn a simple box into?  This simple, charming book by the great Jane Yolen will inspire your students to analyze, question and develop their box into something amazing!

4. What Do You Do With An Idea? – Kobi Yamada

Nurturing ideas and making thinking visible – this story will inspire you to welcome an idea, give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next!

5. Your Fantastic, Elastic Brain – JoAnn Deak

Metacognition is a huge part of being a critical thinker and knowing how your brain works is a great first step in helping making thinking more tangible.  I love how this simple book explains how your brain works and how you can shape it.  I especially like the focus on how making mistakes, practicing, and gaining new knowledge can “stretch” your brain!

 

5. The Thingamabob – Il Sung Na

When a curious elephant finds a ‘thingamabob’ – he uses critical thinking to figure out exactly what it is!  Simple, playful, delightful!  I love how he asks LOTS of questions during the process!

6. Rosie Revere, Engineer – Andrea Beaty

A young girl with big dreams – this text highlights creativity and perseverance with delightful rhyming verse and whimsical illustrations.

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Shh!  We Have A Plan!  – Chris Haughton

Hilarious story of four friends trying to catch a bird.  Their plans turn into a ridiculous, tangled mess until the younger uses some critical thinking skills!  Fun read-aloud and eye-catching illustrations.

7.  Going Places – Peter and Paul Reynolds

This book celebrates the creative spirit and thinking outside the box – both figuratively and literally!

8..  On A Beam of Light – A Story of Albert Einstein – Jennifer Berne

When this picture book biography about the extraordinary life of Albert Einstein was released, I talked about it ALL THE TIME!  Big questions, deep thinking, thoughtful reflection – my favorite topics!  This book will inspire your students to  wonder, think, imagine, and be curious.

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9. Learning to Fly – Sebastian Meschenmoser

A simple, charming story about a penguin who believes he can fly and the man who helps him.  They plan, design, analyse, re-design… it’s the perfect combination of critical thinking, determination and friendship  Love the illustrations so much!

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1o.  A Home For Bird – Philip C. Stead

While stories about creating something concrete can be used to introduce children to critical thinking, it is important for them to see how critical thinking can be applied to other aspects in our life- including friendship.  A Home for Bird is a sweet, tender story of a shy bird and and his thoughtful friend who is determined to help his quiet companion.  Vernon, the toad, uses critical thinking to figure out just what Bird needs.  Love this book!

                            What books do you like to share that inspire critical thinking?

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Filed under Critical Thinking, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – New Releases for Summer Reading (PART 2)

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

Last week, I posted the first of a two part blog featuring 2016 picture books.  (You can read that post here)  This week, I’m excited to be continuing with Part 2 – and happy to be sharing MORE amazing new books for 2016!

The Whale – Vita Murrow

Two children are out to prove that the rumored Giant Spotted Whale in their town is either real or a myth.  Amazing, captivating wordless picture book.  My, oh my – the illustrations are amazing, each page filled with extraordinarily detailed black and white images Can you say Caldecott nomination?

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Ollie’s Odyssey – William Joyce

A beautifully written and illustrated story about the love between a boy and his favorite toy.  (Think Edward Tulane and Velvatine Rabbit) Bravery, friendship, loyalty – this book is magical.

Everyone –  Christopher Silas Neal

A simple exploration of empathy – this is one to add to your collection of “feeling” books!  What makes it different is that it not only invites young readers to explore how we feel and what we feel but introduces the notion of how others feel. Wonderful retro-illustrations.

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Jack’s Worry – Sam Zuppardi

A lovely ‘connect’ book to talk about worries with kids and not letting them overwhelm you. I enjoyed how the worry was depicted as a ‘thing’ (think Whimsy’s Heavy Thing) making it a great anchor for personification.

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Frank and Lucky Get Schooled – Lynne Rae Perkins

WOW!  One of my favorite books of the year so far!  A profound and delightful exploration of the subjects we learn in school, told through the eyes of both a boy and a dog.  Endearing friendship between the two – this book brings me joy!  (Thanks for introducing this to me Leslie!)

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Lionheart – Richard Collingridge

Excellent ‘facing your fears’ story.  Gorgeous illustrations and little text tells the story of a boy and his stuffed lion as they explore lost cities and jungles while running away from a monster.

Barnacle is Bored – Jonathan Fenske

Bored barnacle is bored of his uneventful life stuck to a pier and wishes for a more exciting life – like those fish.  Until…. be careful what you wish for!  This one had me laughing and would be great book to introduce ‘theme’ or ‘message’ to younger readers.

Playing From the Heart – Peter H. Reynolds

A little sad, a little sentimental, Peter H. Reynolds is pulling on our heartstrings once again.  This time, the story is about a young boy who loves to play piano and who is eventually trained to become a classical pianist.  Later he learns that the joy he felt from playing was when he played from the heart.  Might be more for adults and piano teachers but I enjoyed it.

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood – F. Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell

 Inspiring,  beautiful story about mural painting bringing beauty to a drab neighborhood. Based on the true story of the transformation of the East Village near downtown San Diego.  Simple text and vibrant, colorful illustrations by illustrator Rafael Lopez who did the original mural.

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Finding Wild – Megan Wagner Llyod

Finding nature and “wild” in the spaces and places around us. Stunning. Beautiful. Mysterious. Another favorite picture book so far this year! Love, love, love this story & the STUNNING illustrations. I want to keep it under my pillow!  Gorgeous figurative language and vivid imagery – this book is a magnificent anchor book  for writing. A feast for all the senses!

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Have You Seen Elephant? – David Barrow

Lighthearted game of hide-and-seek between a boy and an elephant.  I can see how this book would be a very entertaining read-aloud with a younger group as they help the boy ‘find’ the elephant.  Even includes a ‘plot twist’ at the end!  Pallet is muted but lots of textures and details.   Delightful.

The Dead Bird – Margaret Wise Brown

Simple and sensitive approach to death and the celebration of life by a small community of children after they discover a dead bird in the park.  Would be a good book to begin a conversation about death with primary children.  many will connect to loss of a pet or possibly to a grandparent.

Well, I may need an Part 3 next week as there are STILL so many books I have not yet shared.  But for now.. thanks for stopping by and would love to know which book has caught your eye!

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Filed under 2016 releases, New Books

It’s Monday – What Are You Reading? New Books for 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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

After an extremely busy and eventful week (some amazing events and a few not!)  I am grateful I had the chance to take some time out to read some fantastic new picture books that I will be sharing with my students and staff in the coming weeks as we prepare for spring break and the last term of school.

Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons

Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons – Jon Muth

What is not to love about this book?   Jon Muth is one of my favorite writer/illustrators.  I adore his soft watercolor pallet of colors and his gentle words.  This latest book is a charming collection of haiku poems to celebrate the seasons.  From careful observations of nature to insightful moments to nudge our thinking , I love every corner of this book.  Delightful.

Maple

Maple – Lori Nichols

In another charming book about seasons, we meet Maple – a sweet girl who is has a special bond with her namesake tree that her parents planted when she was born.  As Maple grows, the tree becomes an important part of her life and as she grows and changes through the seasons, so does her tree.  And when a baby sister arrives and won’t stop crying, Maple takes her outside and introduces her to her tree.  This is a wonderful book to celebrate a new baby.  An impressive debut picture book!

A Book of Babies – Il Sung Na

I loved Il Sung Na’s book Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit so was excited to see this new picture book about baby animals.  I am so drawn into his soft, charming illustrations  and simple, poetic text.  A baby duck takes the reader on a tour of different baby animals.  I like how each animal is distinguished by one unique feature:  father seahorse carry babies in their pouch, a baby zebra walks right away, baby fish are born with lots of brothers and sisters.  This would be a wonderful share for kindergarten and grade one students.

Spring is Here!

Spring is Here – Heidi Pross Gray

While there are numerous books about spring, I love the way this one weaves together both nature and family time.  The watercolor illustrations (have you inferred I am drawn to watercolor?) and rhythmic text creates a book that feels wholesome and excited about the coming of spring.

Poppleton In Spring

Poppleton in Spring – Cynthia Rylant

 I have so many wonderful memories of dear Poppleton and his friends Cherry Sue, Filmore and the wonderful characters in these beginning chapter book series by the profound Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Marc Teague.  Each book has three chapters – 3 short stories written featuring Poppleton the pig and his neighbours.   Some are funny, others tender and thoughtful.  In this book Poppleton does some spring cleaning, buys a new bike and stays up all night in a tent “noticing”.  I have many fond memories of reading Poppleton stories to my boys when they were younger and continue to spread Poppleton joy to the children at my school.  If you have never read a Poppleton story – I highly recommend it.

The Highest Number in the World

 The Highest Number in the World – Ray MacGregor

I live in a household where hockey takes precedent over pretty much anything else!  We were all up at four am to watch Canada play for gold at the Sochi games.  The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier is one of my all time favorite picture books.  There have been many hockey stories since but I have yet to find one that compares to it – until now.  This book is a gem.   It tells the story of a little girl who obsesses over the number 22 for her hockey jersey because it’s the number of her hockey hero, Hayley Wickenheiser.  Unfortunately, her new hockey team gives her the number 9 instead. She hates the jersey and wants to quit.  Enter her grandmother, who explains the important history of the number nine in hockey.   This is so much more than a hockey story – and the relationship between the granddaughter and grandmother brought tears to my eyes.  The illustrations are wonderful and full of detail – down to the NHL quilt set on her bed!  Whether you love hockey or not, this is a wonderful story.

Going Places

Going Place – Peter and Paul Reynolds

Peter H. Reynolds pairs up with his brother for a their first book together, filled with the same creative free-spirit theme of Reynolds’s other books.  It’s time for the annual “Going Places”  go-cart contest.  Time to grab a kit, put together your go-cart and race to the finish line.  Each child grabs a “go-cart kit” and puts together identical carts.  Maya, however, decides to be creative and think outside the box, creating her own version and crossing the finish line in her own way.  A perfect book for encouraging children to march to their own drum on their way to the finish line!

Say Hello Like This

Say Hello Like This! – Mary Murphy

The Kindergarten teachers at my school do a farm unit in the spring so I was excited to find this new book by Mary Murphy for them to use!  It is a wonderful, interactive book that will make a perfect read-aloud to introduce the different sounds that animals make.  I love the funny adjectives Murphy uses in this book which is a follow up to her book  A Kiss Like This!  A wonderful book for younger students – prepare yourself for a noisy read-aloud!Orangutangled

Orangutangled – Sudipta Bordham-Quallen

This book is simply a fun, frolicky, read-aloud!  Two hungry orangutans climb a tree for some mangoes and end up falling together in a sticky, goey mess.  Other animals try to help but end up getting tangled up as well.  The rhyming text works perfectly and I love the word play and the bright illustrations.  Another great read-aloud choice for the younger folk!

Hokey Pokey

Hokey Pokey – Jerry Spinelli

I am a big fan of Jerry Spinelli – Maniac Magee one of my favorite books to read to my class.  This one took me a while to get into – I was very confused at first and had to go back and reread several sections. I was once again amazed at his ability to weave characters we can identify with so well into a completely imaginative setting.  Hokey Pokey is an adult-less world of childhood and play – where kids play games, ride bikes, have adventures and follow the simple laws of the land.  Jack, the main character, experiences his world turn upside down when his beloved bike is stolen by a girl.  Without his bike, Jack feels lost and things start to go very wrong for him.  This book is reminiscent of Peter Pan – a boy who is struggling in the place between childhood and adolescence.   This story is unusual, it’s confusing in parts, and I’m still a little on the fence about it.  But it is certainly a book that is lingering in my thinking – a place where many great books have taken up residence.  I’d love to know what you think about it!

The Bear: A Novel

Bear – A Novel – Claire Cameron

This book is quite extraordinary.  It is written in first person, present tense in the voice of a 5 year old girl.  She and her brother are left alone to survive the elements after their parents are killed by a bear while out camping.  I was riveted by this story – many reminders of the child’s voice in ROOM.  I was also caught up by the emotional roller coaster of the story.  The description of the bear attack in the first 40 pages was completely terrifying – I had to stop reading it a few times.  While this book is considered an adult novel – I could really see it being read to a middle school class.  It is a story of survival and courage and I loved every moment of it.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  What have you been reading lately?

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Filed under It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Poetry, Read-Aloud, Seasons

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