Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Princess in Black (Shannon and Dean Hale)

This book is perfect for those girls stuck inbetween wanting to be a princess and wanting to be a rough and tumble tomboy. You CAN have it all! I love the Goodreads Summary:

Who says princesses don’t wear black? When trouble raises its blue monster head, Princess Magnolia ditches her flouncy dresses and becomes the Princess in Black!

Princess Magnolia is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when . . . Brring! Brring! The monster alarm! A big blue monster is threatening the goats! Stopping monsters is no job for dainty Princess Magnolia. But luckily Princess Magnolia has a secret —she’s also the Princess in Black, and stopping monsters is the perfect job for her! Can the princess sneak away, transform into her alter ego, and defeat the monster before the nosy duchess discovers her secret? From award-winning writing team of Shannon and Dean Hale and illustrator LeUyen Pham, here is the first in a humorous and action-packed chapter book series for young readers who like their princesses ot only prim and perfect, but also dressed in black.

There are even monsters in this book - but they're pretty cute. It does eat plates of toe nail clippings though!

However, in this story there is a snoopy Duchess around who believes everyone has secrets. She is determined to find the princesses' black secret.

Great blog post on Jen Robinson's book blog: 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Eerie Elementary: The Locker Ate Lucy (Jack Chabert)

We are really loving these Branches books in my classroom. It's true. They do give kids confidence!

Goodreads summary:

Sam Graves's school is ALIVE!

This series is part of Scholastic's early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

In the second book in the series, Sam Graves's friend Lucy disappears into her locker! Sam and his friend Antonio follow a trail of clues that leads them through the locker and deep inside the school. Will they find Lucy? Will they learn why the school is ALIVE? Sam and Antonio must rescue Lucy from this scary school before it's too late!

In this book we also learn why the school is alive. It is a quick read and there's plenty of humor.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Quirks in Circus Quirkus (Erin Soderburg)

The first book in the Quirks series was a great success with my little grade three book club. I spent a lovely couple of hours this Sunday afternoon enjoying the second book. It is equally as delightful as the first.

Goodreads Summary: 

Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages... Just as the Quirk family was settling into Normal... Ta da! The circus comes to town! At school, Molly, Penelope, and Finn are all learning circus skills in gym class. At home, they are putting similar skills to good use; it takes fancy footwork and stellar detective work to keep their nosy neighbor from snooping around and uncovering the Quirk family secrets. Each day in their new town makes one thing very clear: Life in Normal is a high-flying adventure! 

I don't think you would need to read the first book before embarking on this one. The author is careful to explain characters and ideas carried over from the first book.

Finn is really a delight in this book. He learns about the idea of pranking people and he and grandpa have a few really good belly laughs after they pull off some good pranks. We also get to know the little fairy grandmother in this story a little better. There is a great lesson on not judging people (I.e. Their neighbor, Mrs. DeVille, for example). 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nana in the City (Laurel Castillo)

Lovely story. My kids thought it was kind of old fashioned because of the pictures and said they weren't that interested. We had a good discussion about how you can be happy anywhere if you look at things the right way. Good lessons on fears and perceptions.

Goodreads Summary:

A 2015 Caldecott Honor Book
In this magical picture book, a young boy spends an overnight visit with his nana and is frightened to find that the city where she lives is filled with noise and crowds and scary things. But then Nana makes him a special cape to help him be brave, and soon the everyday sights, sounds, and smells of the city are not scary—but wonderful. The succinct text is paired with watercolor illustrations that capture all the vitality, energy, and beauty of the city.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Peace Week in Ms Fox's Class (Eileen Spinelli)

Now and then we get to have the counsellor in our school come in for character lessons. Today was one of those days. She read Peace Week in Mrs. fox's class and had a really good discussion. We talked about good ways to solve problems and how we can turn a situation into a problem by how we react. Or we can turn it around and react in a way that gets rid of any of the tension or bad feelings. This is a great skill to learn!

Funny: the kids I have seen really responding to things other kids say or do claimed they don't care what others say.

One student mentioned he had aroblem with someone but he didn't have enough courage to say anything to solve it.

One student told us her dad says if you keep mean feelings in your heart instead of solving the problem, it is like keeping s poison in your heart.

Good ideas: 

- instead of reacting, just give a compliment back and walk away
- apologize and ask if you can do anything to make it better
- find a way to solve the problem.....like make a chart!

Things that came up in our discussion today:
What if...

Someone laughs at you when you make a mistake in math?
What if someone buds in when you are trying to solve a problem with someone?
What if someone pushes you in line and isn't paying attention?

The author of this book is married to the great author, Jerry Spinelli of Star Girl fame! 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ingraine the Brave (Cornelia Funk)


I love love love this book!

Even though the main character is a girl, I think boys and girls would really like this book. Igraine has some very interesting and exciting adventures. In the beginning of the book Her parents are turned into pigs by accident. Igraine has to go get some ingredients for the spell to turn them back into people. Meanwhile, a mean old nasty guy named Osmund is trying to take over their castle and get their magic books. Igraine has to get her parents turned back into people before the bad guy ruins everything. The book also has really great pictures in the margins here and there. 

Major themes:

  • Age is just a number.
  • A girl can do the same stuff a guy can do. Perhaps sometimes even better.
  • Always follow your dreams.
  • Like the girl and books, never judge a book by it's cover.
p. 188 Igraine didn't want to watch. She just wanted to close her eyes; she wanted it to be over. This time her heart was beating fast, but not with excitement. She suddenly knew only too well what fear felt like. Terrible, breathtaking fear. The snorting of the horses hurt her ears, and when the lances crashed as they s ruck the knits' armor, Igraine clenched her fists so tightly that her fingernails cut into her hands.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The School is Alive - The Eerie Elementary Series (Jack Chabert)

Scholastic has something fantastic going on with the new "Branches" series. There are so many great and easy chapter books! We are loving these in my classroom.

Who isn't creeped out when they're alone in a school? This might not help me go in on weekends nad get work done!

I'm guessing my kids are going to love this book - and they'd rather be caught DEAD than alone in our school at night.

This would make a great read-aloud in October. It's quick, has great pictures and the story is captivating. And to top it off, the main character is in 3rd grade. Perfect!

Goodreads summary:

Eerie Elementary is one scary school!

This series is part of Scholastic's early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!
In this first book in the series, Sam Graves discovers that his elementary school is ALIVE! Sam finds this out on his first day as the school hall monitor. Sam must defend himself and his fellow students against the evil school! Is Sam up to the challenge? He'll find out soon enough: the class play is just around the corner. Sam teams up with friends Lucy and Antonio to stop this scary school before it's too late!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sparky (Jenny Offill and Chris Appelhans)

This story is so cute. Children love pets. If you don't have one you really really wish your parents would let you have one. And if you do have one, you certainly don't understand why you can't have just one more. Every child knows about sloths, too it seems. What an unusual and fun pet!

I've read other books by this author. 17 Things I'm Not Allowed To Do Anymore is hilarious! I didn't realize she was involved in Coraline as well. Another brilliant story!

Goodreads summary:

The ingenious author of 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore and a brilliant illustrator and production designer of the Coraline movie have created a hilarious, touching picture book perfect for young animal lovers. Like the Caldecott Medal-winning Officer Buckle and Gloria, Sparky stars a pet who has more to offer than meets the eye. When our narrator orders a sloth through the mail, the creature that arrives isn't good at tricks or hide-and-seek . . . or much of anything. Still, there's something about Sparky that is irresistible.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Flashlight (Lizi Boyd)

I took a speed reading course. It changed my reading - not for the better. I tend to rush through books. I have grown to love wordless books because they make me stop and really look and think about what is happening.

This book did that. The boy is camping and ventures out with his flashlight. Scary!! However, soon fun and interesting discoveries are made and an interaction with a silly racoon make it even more interactive.

Goodreads Summary
Inside a tent it's cozy. But what is going on outside? Is it dark? Is it scary? Not if you have your trusty flashlight! Told solely through images and using a spare yet dramatic palette, artist Lizi Boyd has crafted a masterful exploration of night, nature, and art. Both lyrical and humorous, this visual poem—like the flashlight beam itself—reveals that there is magic in the darkness. We just have to look for it.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen)

When I read this book to my class, I realized I don't know that much about kids. I read it and thought it was a fun book. Kids like to dig holes. When I read it to my class though, they laughed and slapped the ground and pointed and gasped.

The boys dig a hole to find treasure. As they're digging they get discouraged and decide to change direction just as they're actually inches away from a huge treasure. My students loved it!

Apparently, there are others who realize how great it was too. It just received the Caldecott!

Best of all, Jon Klassen is a Canadian.

Canadian Authors
Chasing Dreams - what kid doesn't want to find a treasure!
Humor - They're so close. Interestingly, the dog seems to always be pointing to the treasure, but they don't notice
Imagination - it almost seems wrong to tag this with imagination. Adults would say it's imagination that keeps kids digging for treasure. This book shows the treasure is real though.
Point of View - the dog's point of view seems much more informed than the boys