Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Wall (Peter Sis)

The author of this book grew up in Prague. He tells the story of communism from 1948 to when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. It's the kind of book a kid would sit and read and look at pictures and think about for hours.

I have read a few books involving communism, and it is a difficult concept for them to understand, thankfully! This book would give them some good background on what was all involved in communism.

How They Croaked (Georgia Bragg)

This is a great book. It is not unlike driving by a train wreck. It's ghoulish and I find myself thinking I shouldn't be looking, but I can't help it!

The author of this book has a great sense of humor and entertaining writing style. The introduction is a warning, that if you don't have theguts for gore, you shouldn't read the book.

How to encite the curious, or what?!

The author says:

Remember when you watched Bambi for the first time and you got to the part where Bambi's mom dies? And the sweet movie about a family of deer turns into a horror flick? |What the heck was that?" you thought. And in that second ou realized that if Bambi's mom can do, so can everybody else.

How They Croacked is like reliving Bambi's mom's death over and over again. Except it's worst because it's the blood, sweat, and guts of real people. In this book are the true stories of how some of the most important people who ever lived - died.

The author tells the endings of King Tut, Julius Ceasar, Cleopatra, Christopher Columbus, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Pocahontas, Galileo Galilei, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Marie Antoinette, George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, James A Garfield, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, and Albert Einstein.

You've got to read this one!

Ivy and Bean (Annie Barrows)

Original Post: (August 30, 2012) This is the first book in the Ivy and Bean series. Ivy and Bean live on the same street. Their mothers always tell them they should play together - but they aren't that interested because they are so different from each other. They meet and have a fabulous time. This is the only book I've read in this series, but judging from this one, my guess is they have a lot of fun together, and the stories are great to read.

I decided to read this book after reading some blogs. Apparently Oct 13 is the first International Ivy and Bean day, so we might as well get ready. There are a number of bloggers writing weekly about Ivy and Bean. You can read one here, and it will take you to all sorts of other interesting book blogs. I am curious about how this came to be. Oct 13 is when the author's 9th book in this series come out. I just might have to go buy it that day to maintain/encourage some hype in my classroom!

One thing is for sure - it is a great way to get some attention for a series. I think this book is going to be the first book that I read aloud to my class. It fits well with our first unit on Friendship. I will get a bunch more from the Ivy and Bean series and hopefully they'll enjoy them!

5Sep2013 Update:

We just finished reading this in my class this year. The children in my class loved the humor in this book. When we finished, they had questions about the series. We decided to email the author:

Dear Ms. Barrows,


We just read Ivy and Bean in our class. Thank you for writing that book! We really loved it. We loved your book because it’s funny. Sometimes, reading funny books makes practicing reading easier. We liked Ivy and Bean because they’re just like us. Sometimes they get in trouble – and you know, so do we! We are wondering if you are planning to write more Ivy and Bean books. Do you think you might write one where Ivy and Bean are grown ups? We would be interested in that!


We want to read more of your books. They’re great. Keep it up!


Love, 3A


(Alyssa, Chloe, Ben, Dominic, Jai, Abdullah, Nathaniel, Excell, Jimmy, Ilma, Tanner, Trista, Kareem, Zoha, Patricia and Nelson….oh, and Mrs. Ackroyd too)

We were thrilled when we immediately got this reply:

Subject: [Auto-Reply] We Love Ivy and Bean


Hi Friends,


I am in a place with boats. I'll be back in the office on September 13.



Can't wait for September 13!! We are really anxious to hear her reply.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Timeless Thomas (Gene Baretta)

The sub-title for this book is "How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives". The author does a really good job of showing things we use today and connecting things Thomas Edison did to help bring that tool or item to fruition. Lots of interesting facts and great illustrations. This would be a good book to have during our Hearing and Sound unit as there are many things like the phonograph and the telephone.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Penelope Popper Book Doctor (Toni Buzzeo)

Penelope Popper really wants to be a doctor, but no one will take the time to let her practice her skills. Everyone is too busy for having their heart rate checked all the time, or their blood pressure. Penelope gets discouraged, until she is in the library one day and learns that there are many kinds of doctors!

This book might be a great way to start of the school year. I was thinking I might have to do a little book rant about reading...although I'm not sure if I have it in me to be quite as exuberant as Mr. Sharp. However, this might be a good lead in! This book teaches about how to treat books, how to repair them, and how valuable they are. Hmmm....might just be the right start to a rant!

And just in case you're interested, here's my rant inspiration:

The Hat (Jan Brett)

The Hat is very much like The Mitten. I guess if you have a good thing going, why not continue!

In The Hat, Lisa is hanging out her laundry when along comes a hedgehog to snatches her hat. He enjoys wearing it, but all the animals think he's funny. Well, they think he's funny at first, but then they decide to join in the trend. Poor Lisa is left chasing down all her missing laundry.

The illustrations in this book are amazing. There is a lot of detail and I can imagine kids sitting and looking at it all for great lengths of time. Really, a darling of a book!

Wandering Wanda (Margaret Atwood)

Can I be honest here? I've never really met a Margaret Atwood book I've loved.

The string continues.

This one is kind of like Rude Ramsay (I wasn't a fan of that one either) only this one is full of W's.

'Nuff said.

What Do Teachers Do After You Leave School (Anne Bowen)

All summer I've been looking for the right book to start the year of with. I think I found one I want to read the first day! We are kind of serious on the first day at our school. We go over rules and routines and we practice routines and we are stern (they say you have to be tough at first then you can lighten up....I have a hard time being stern....but I'm going to give it a go this year!) This book will be a great way to end the day and have a good laugh after being stern!

Don't all kids wonder what happens after school? This book puts on paper all the things kids figure really do happen. Teachers run down the halls, they don't wear their shoes, they have food fights, they are noisy, and they do crazy experiments in the science room! I love the funny pictures in this book. It's a quick read with rhyming words that are sure to make kids giggle.

Sep 25, 2013 Update:

I read this book to my class again today. They laughed at the funny pictures and stories. At the end someone asked, "Do teachers really do that?"

I asked who believed that they do.
Then who believed that they don't.

And then they said, "Well, do they?"

I said, "I can't say. Teacher's secret!"

hee hee....they hate that :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Off To Class (Susan Hughes)

Wow! This book really covers it all. It is about schools in different countries. They have schools on train platforms in India, they have schools in caves in China, they have schools connected by the internet in the Amazon, they have schools on boats in areas that get flooded,  they have schools next door to dumps where kids work in Cambodia....amazing!! They even talked about the most environmentally friendly school, sanctioned by David Suzuki, in Windsor, Ontario, as well as kids who do distance education through Alberta schools while they live in remote places.

It would be fun to read this book at the beginning of the year and focus on kids in different countries. It would be fun to pick a country and try to get some pen pals! hmm.....

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Secret Chicken Society (Judy Cox)

The Secret Chicken Society

Daniel's class is doing some hands on learning! They got chicken eggs and get to watch them hatch. After they hatch some kids get to take a chicken home, as long as their parents ok it. Daniel is an animal lover and really wants a chicken....only problem is one turns out to be a rooster and roosters are against the city by-laws.

This would be a fun read-aloud when the kindergartens are hatching ducks in their room across the hall! We learn about life cycles in Gr 3, and so this would fit well with that as well.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude (Kevin O'Malley)

I'm reminded of Chester books when I read this one. A girl and a boy are asked to write a story together. They differ on how the story should unfold and their conversation is included in the narration. You could include this book in a lesson perspective or point of view. She wants the story to be girly, he can't stand the girliness and wants there to be motorcycle dudes and gross stinky giants. It would make an interesting discussion on gender roles as well.

The illustrations in this book are dazzling. Kids will love this one!

Brothers At Bat (Audrey Vernick)

If my dad were still alive I'd buy him this book to read to kids!
The  Acerra family had twelve boys and four girls, and a dog named Pitch. They loved baseball. For 22 years in a row their high school baseball team had an Acerra on it! In 1938 they formed their own semi-pro team and completed against other teams in New Jersey. Their dad was the coach. It was a family game for them and they loved playing it together.

They were the longest playing all brothers baseball team ever.

I love the illustrations in this book too.

Chrysanthemum (By Kevin Henkes)

Read Aloud Lesson
Everyone will be able to relate to this book. Who hasn't had someone tease them about something. This is a story about a little mouse who loves her name, but when she starts school the other kids tease her.

There are a number of website that have activities for math and language arts for this book. Check them out here and here and here for starters. There are many more!

Just a Second (Steve Jenkins)

This is a great book for teaching time! It talks about what can happen in one second, one minute, one day, one week, one month, one year, and even what can happen in less than a second. It also talks about things that take a really long time and occur very rarely. Kids who love facts will love this book....on other words, all kids will love it!

We'll Paint The Octopus Read (by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen)

There are a lot of emotions when a family is having a new baby. Emma isn't sure she wants to share her parents with her new baby brother, but after thinking up all the things they could do together her heart softens and she is excited. When Isaac is born Emma's dad tells her the sad news that the baby has Down's Syndrome. It's a touching story that would help any child dealing with the surprise that a sibling or relative or friend's child has been born with Down's Syndrome.

There Is A Bird On Your Head! (By Mo Willems)

Cute book! It is an easy reader for young children, but could also be used in elementary classrooms to talk about communication. It has been awarded the Theodore Seuss Geisel award.

Elephant senses he has a bird on his head and Piggie confirms it is true. Elephant clearly isn't happy about this, but never actually asks the bird (and others that come along) to get off until the end. In the end he simply asks them to go and the little birds say, "No problem" and they find a new place to rest...on Piggie's head!

The summary at Good Reads says:

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.
Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.
Gerald and Piggie are best friends.
In There Is a Bird On My Head , Gerald discovers that there is something worse than a bird on your head--two birds on your head Can Piggie help her best friend?

Mo Willems has a whole series of Elephant and Piggie books. One of my favorite things I read about him is that he worked for Sesame Street from 1993 to 2002, but he has done a lot more than that!