Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mog the Forgetful Cat (Judith Kerr)

We liked the cat, Mog, and we enjoyed his forgetfulness. It made the kids chuckle. Again, some of the wording was pretty British and it was odd to my class. In the end, Mog saves the family from a burglar. Handy cat to have around!

A special 30th anniversary edition of the debut of Judith Kerr's Mog stories. Mog always seems to be in trouble because she is such a very forgetful cat. She forgets that she has a cat flap and she forgets when she has already eaten her supper. But one night, when an uninvited visitor turns up at the house, Mog's forgetfulness comes in very handy!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Tiger Who Came to Tea (Judith Kerr)

I would love to know more about how Judith Kerr comes up with her stories. These stories are funny and perfectly logical in the minds of children!

Some of the figures of speech in this book were a little different to us. They seemed quite British. We had a good laugh about buns (for some reason my children hadn't heard that word!) and we talked about why we sometimes call our bums buns! We also talked about how in England they have "tea" rather than dinner. It was an interesting introduction to a different culture.

While Sophie and her mother are sitting down to tea one afternoon, the doorbell rings. A big, furry, stripy tiger has come for tea...and sandwiches, and buns, and biscuits...and eats all the food in the house until there's nothing left to cook for Daddy's supper.
Judith Kerr's reassuring and funny story with just a hint of anarchy has been delighting children since its first publication thirty-five years ago. This modern classic has gone on to sell over three million copies worldwide, making it one of the most popular picture books for children ever written.
Author Biography: Judith Kerr was born in Berlin, the daughter of a distinguished German writer. She left Nazi Germany with her family in 1933 and fled across Europe, eventually settling in England. Years later she wrote about her experiences in her best-selling novel for middle-grade readers When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. She is also the author and illustrator of numerous picture books, including The Tiger Who Came to Tea, which was first published in 1968 and has since sold more than one million copies worldwide. She lives in England.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Crocodile Under the Bed (Judith Kerr)

Another Judith Kerr win! Judith Kerr's ability to tap into children's imagination is delightful. As we were reading this book, my students were horrified at first that the boy couldn't go to a birthday party. Truly unfair! They felt sad for him and you could see it in their faces. Then when the crocodile was under his bed they were a little bit scared. Those are dangerous animals. Then the crocodile took him to an even better party - of course! They loved the fun things that happened at the party. It seemed totally logical that a kid would end up at the King's party! In the end they all agreed that even though crocodiles are dangerous, they'd definitely keep this one!

A magical new classic in the making from the creator of the beloved favourite, The Tiger Who Came to Tea.
Once there was a little boy called Matty, and he was very sad…
From the creator of the iconic picture books The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Mog the Forgetful Cat, comes a brand new story about joy, parties… and crocodiles!
Matty is sick, and very sad because he’s too sick to go to the Queen’s birthday party! But when he gets an unexpected visitor, it seems that Matty might not miss out after all…

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Other Goose (Judith Kerr)

My students really felt for poor Katerina. They also chuckled at her silliness and enjoyed being smarter than her. Lovely story with a happy ending.

This book contains many characters, so maybe 3-5th grade. This book could lead into a cause/effect lesson, or simply things that happen accidentally can have good results, even though we may not realize it until later.

Katerina is sad because she's the only goose in town, but sometimes she sees another goose in the side of a shiny car. She thinks: One day that goose will come out. Then I'll no longer be the only goose on the pond. Suddenly one day . . . it does! Full-color illustrations.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

One Night at the Zoo (Judith Kerr)

This book is by the same author as the Great Granny Gang, which we loved. On Goodreads, there were a number of comments about the author. I wasn't familiar with her so I went and found a bunch of her books at the public library.

Really fun story. We have had stuffies in our classroom that some of us are SURE move when we're not looking, so the things the author writes that animals might do after the zoo closes makes perfect sense.

I didn't point out the number pattern, but my class noticed it right away. We talked about how it was a pattern increasing by one. We also liked the rhythm of the words and caught on to the pattern of words quite quickly.

Beautiful illustrations. We will really enjoy reading this book to our Reading Buddies.

So, what did the other animals do? You can count on them to astonish you! It's the beginning of an extraordinary night of wild antics, high spirits and unthinkable surprises from all the zoo animals, and still nobody knew --except of course, YOU!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Lunch Lady and the Picture Day Peril (Jarrett J Krosoczka)

Every week I hope to introduce a new author or series of books to my class since I have a number of kids who don't love reading yet. This week it is Lunch Lady to the rescue!! These books might be targeted to a slightly older crowd than Grade three, but I don't think it will matter. I know they'll love this series.

This is a hilarious story. A seemingly lovely photographer comes to the school for picture day - while at the same time everyone's face is breaking out like crazy. Lunch Lady has a funny feeling something is going on and looks into the matter. I had a good chuckle all the way through this book.

Goodread summary:

It's picture day at Thompson Brook, but the students are plagued by a freak acne epidemic. While the Breakfast Bunch scrambles to put their best faces forward, their hifalutin photographer raises Lunch Lady's eyebrows. She suspects the photographer may have an underhanded plan to break into the world of high fashion that puts the students in danger! Will Lunch Lady be able to storm the runway and stop the vogue rogue without blowing her cover?

Oliver and his Alligator (Paul Schmid)

Kids are so funny. When I read this book to my class no one baulked at the idea that a kid would pick up an alligator on his way to school. Actually, that's a perfectly reasonable way to deal with a day that you're nervous about! Who couldn't use an alligator to eat up all your fears?!

Goodreads summary:

Oliver is nervous about the first day of school, so he picks up an alligator at the swamp, just in case. And boy, does it come in handy! Whenever anything scares Oliver--be it a teacher, a classmate, or the prospect of learning "everything"--the alligator makes the problem go away. Quickly, school becomes much simpler . . . and a little lonely. But Oliver knows just what to do! Paul Schmid's gentle, funny tale about overcoming first day of school jitters is destined to become a modern classic that fans of "Olivia" and Kevin Henkes' books will love. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

House Held Up By Trees (Ted Kooser/Jon Klassen)

Our classroom was full of the sillies today and I was a little worried that this book would be way too much for the moment. However, as we got reading they slowed down the sillies and started to really listen. In the end, the big question was whether or not that could really happen. The debate between the yes and no votes was interesting.

Might be a good book to reading during our City Wildlife unit in Open Court. The illustrations are beautiful and we could talk about how buildings that are not cared for start to fall apart.

Goodreads summary:

When the house was new, not a single tree remained on its perfect lawn to give shade from the sun. The children in the house trailed the scent of wild trees to neighboring lots, where thick bushes offered up secret places to play. When the children grew up and moved away, their father, alone in the house, continued his battle against blowing seeds, plucking out sprouting trees. Until one day the father, too, moved away, and as the empty house began its decline, the trees began their approach. At once wistful and exhilarating, this lovely, lyrical story evokes the inexorable passage of time — and the awe-inspiring power of nature to lift us up.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Highest Number in the World (Roy MacGregor)


It must be my Canadian roots. This picture book was difficult to read! On the last page when we decides she and her Grandmother will proudly wear the number 9, I could hardly finish it!

My class loved this story. They had plenty of stories to share about their favorite number, about hockey teams they've watched at the Saddledome, about other teams they've seen, and even about Lanny McDonald's #9 jersey that was retired here in Calgary.

Fun story! We loved it! I especially loved that it talks about the great Hayley Wickenhauser. Yea for girl hockey players!

A riff on The Hockey Sweater for girls, an intergenerational story of the shared love of the sport, and a celebration of the storied Number 9 in hockey. 
     9-year-old Gabe (Gabriella) Murray lives and breathes hockey. She's the youngest player on her new team, she has a nifty move that her teammates call "the Gabe," and she shares a lucky number with her hero, Hayley Wickenheiser: number 22. But when her coach hands out the team jerseys, Gabe is stuck with number 9. Crushed, Gabe wants to give up hockey altogether. How can she play without her lucky number? Gabe's grandmother soon sets her straight, though--from her own connection to the number 9 in her hockey-playing days to all the greats she cheered for who wore it, she soon convinces Gabe that this new number might not be so bad after all. 

     A lovely intergenerational tale and a history of the storied number 9 in hockey, The Highest Number in the World is a must-have for any hockey fan.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Dot (Peter Reynolds)


We celebrated Dot Day this year at my school, thanks to our fabulous art teacher. We all read the book and she had us leave our mark. So cool!

Originally posted Nov 28, 2014

GoodReads summary:

Her teacher smiled. "Just make a mark and see where it takes you."

Art class is over, but Vashti is sitting glued to her chair in front of a blank piece of paper. The words of her teacher are a gentle invitation to express herself. But Vashti can’t draw - she’s no artist. To prove her point, Vashti jabs at a blank sheet of paper to make an unremarkable and angry mark. "There!" she says.

That one little dot marks the beginning of Vashti’s journey of surprise and self-discovery. That special moment is the core of Peter H. Reynolds’s delicate fable about the creative spirit in all of us.

We read this book as part of our character lessons on influence. The children pointed out how the teacher was an influence on Vashti and helped her realize her talents, and then Vashti was able to be an influence on someone else.

Now, everytime one of my students gives me a drawing and I ask them to sign it, they smile. :)

The Great Granny Gang (Judith Kerr)

Really cute story. It made us laugh to think of an actually granny gang. Some of the words/phrases were a little tricky and the rhymes a little awkward...but easily overlooked. We really enjoyed this story.

On Goodreads there were many glowing reviews about Judith Kerr. I wasn't aware of any of her other books. Must check them out.

About Judith Kerr, Wikipedia says:

Judith Kerr is a German-born British writer and illustrator who has created both enduring picture books such as the Mog series and The Tiger Who Came To Tea and acclaimed novels for older children such as the autobiographical When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit which give a child's-eye view of the Second World War.

Kerr was born in Berlin but left Germany with her parents and her brother, Michael Kerr, in 1933, soon after the Nazis first came to power. They were forced to leave as her father, noted drama critic, journalist and screenwriter Alfred Kerr, had openly criticised the Nazis. His books were burned by the Nazis shortly after the family fled Germany. They travelled first to Switzerland and then on into France, before finally settling in Britain, where she has lived ever since. She subsequently became a naturalised British citizen.

Monday, September 14, 2015

I'm Not Reading (Johnathan Allen)

I'm not reading seemed a silly title at first. Why would anyone be NOT reading??

Our class really enjoyed the humor. Imagine having more and more and more chicks come and want to read a story with you. Owl is a littel bothered but we thought it was quite delightful!

Goodreads summary:

Adorable, irresistible Baby Owl (I'm Not Sleepy!) is back! This time, he has a beloved book in hand and he's eager to begin. But then along comes Tiny Chick, who begs Baby Owl to read to him. Before you can say “once upon a time,” they're joined by a crowd: Tiny Chick's brothers and sisters and cousins and friends all want a story, too. Soon Baby Owl is smothered by lots of fluffy chicks. How can he EVER read? Fantastic fun with a favorite character. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Meet the Dullards (Sara Pennypacker)

At first, when we read this story, my students weren't quite sure how to take it. Why in the world would someone WANT to be so dull? As we got more into the story they began to really enjoy the irony of it all. Who really wants to watch paint dry? Who chooses to watch the black screen on the tv? Do parents really want to inflict boring lives on their children? Well, the Dullards do! This is an entertaining story with sophisticated humor.

In the tradition of The Stupids, Meet the Dullards is a clever and irreverent picture book about a comically boring family, from bestselling author Sara Pennypacker and illustrator Daniel Salmieri.

Their home is boring. Their food is plain. Their lives are monotonous. And Mr. and Mrs. Dullard like it that way.

But their children—Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud—have other ideas. . . .

Never has dullness been so hilarious than in this deadpan, subversive tale.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I Just Don't Like the Sound of No! (Julia Cook)

We had a little incident in our classroom where I had asked a student not to take something out at recess. He put it back and then when I wasn't looking, snuck it out to play with anyway. Not good. Not good at all.

Luckily, we have a brilliant and resourceful librarian. I asked her if she had any books on this kind of situation and she came up with this one. I had the student take the book and read it and answer some questions:

What is this book about?
What is the lesson we learn in the book?
Why do you think I picked this book for you to read?

He and I then talked about what he had done and how relationships are strengthened when we are respectful towards one another.

Today I read the book to our class and we talked about it again. It was an opportunity to reinforce the lesson with the one student and to teach everyone else as well (without singling out this child, of course!)

The book teaches how to accept no as the answer:

LOOK right at the person who is telling you "no".

Say 'OKAY' to the person, he's running the show.

STAY CALM on the inside and don't disagree.

You can ASK him why later, this is how you should be.

The book also talks about how to respectfully disagree:

LOOK right at the person when you disagree.

Don't scream or use mean words, be the BEST you can be.

Tell why you feel differently, give your REASONS with facts.

LISTEN closely to what she says, this is how you should act.

Goodreads summary:

NO is RJ s least favorite word . . . and he tries his best to convince his dad, his mom, and his teacher to turn No into Maybe or We ll see or Later or I ll think about it. Even though he doesn t have much success, RJ keeps arguing until his teacher suggests that he try to join her classroom s Say YES to NO Club. If RJ can learn how to accept No for an answer and to disagree appropriately with his teacher and parents, he can add his name to the club s Star Board. RJ finds that lots of praise and some rewards come his way when he uses these skills the right way!
Author Julia Cook helps K-6 readers laugh and learn along with RJ as he understands the benefits of demonstrating these social skills both at home and in school. Tips for parents and educators on how to teach and encourage kids to use the skills of accepting No for an answer and disagreeing appropriately are included in the book.
I Just Don t Like the Sound of NO! is another title in the BEST ME I Can Be! series of books from the Boys Town Press to teach children social skills that can make home life happier and school more successful.
This book is also available with an accompanying CD audio book, read by the author. Winner of the 2011 MOM's Choice Award Honoring Excellence and the National Parenting Center's 'Seal of Approval.'

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Any Questions? (Mary Louise Gay)

We read this book as part of the International Reading Association's read aloud day. They get everyone to read the same book the same day and then calculate how many kids read the book. It's fun. We got everyone in our school to read it.

This book is kind of like having an author visit. Marie-Louise Gay speaks about how she writes, what it's like to be a writer, etc., and takes us through the writing process. It was a long story to read, but my class enjoyed it.

Many children want to know where stories come from and how a book is made. Marie-Louise Gay’s new picture book provides them with some delightfully inspiring answers through a fictional encounter between an author and some very curious children — together they collaborate on writing and illustrating a story. Marie-Louise Gay has scribbled, sketched, scrawled, doodled, penciled, collaged, and painted the words and pictures of a story-within-a-story that show how brilliant ideas creep up on you when you least expect it and how words sometimes float out of nowhere, asking to be written. Any Questions? presents a world inhabited by lost polar bears, soaring pterodactyls, talking trees, and spotted snails, with cameo appearances by some of the author's favorite characters — a world where kids become part of the story and let their imaginations run wild, becoming inspired to create tales of their own. At the end of the book, she provides answers to many of the questions children have asked her over the years, such as "Are you Stella?," "How did you learn to draw?," "Can your cat fly?," and "How many books do you make in one day?"

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Best Friend Trouble

We listened to this book on Tumble Books. It fits in nicely with our friendship unit. The kids mentioned that the narrator doesn't do a great job of using expression (kids can be so funny about that!) .

Good story about solving problems and recognizing that even good friends have times where they need to work things out.

Hanna is fed up with her best friend, Lizzy, who is always trying to be better than her. When Lizzy tells Hanna she can throw her ball farther and succeeds, it's the last straw. Hanna is tired of feeling second best, but what she doesn't realize is that sometimes she makes Lizzy feel that way too. Maybe there's a way they can still be best friends after all.
A funny and relatable story about best friends, competition and learning to see things from another's point of view.

Friday, September 4, 2015

How To Read a Story (Kate Messner)

There is no better book to read the first day you start Reading Buddies!! My class loved the step by step instructions and totally agreed with many of the points along the way: reading outside is wonderful, snuggle up together, read with great expression, say "the end" when you're finished, and if it's really good, start all over again!

Loved it!

Kate Messner totally gets kids and books.

Goodreads summary:

Step One: Find a story. (A good one.)
Step Two: Find a reading buddy. (Someone nice.)
Step Three: Find a reading spot. (Couches are cozy.)
Now: Begin.
Accomplished storytellers Kate Messner and Mark Siegel chronicle the process of becoming a reader: from pulling a book off the shelf and finding someone with whom to share a story, to reading aloud, predicting what will happen, and—finally—coming to The End. This picture book playfully and movingly illustrates the idea that the reader who discovers the love of reading finds, at the end, the beginning.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Matchbox Diary (Paul Fleischman)

Beautiful story! We used this as an introduction to an All About Me project where students are given a paper bag and asked to bring five items. The five items are something will give us information about that person. The students were totally taken by the beautiful pictures, the stories of life long ago, and the unique things that the Grandpa put in the match boxes.

Bagram Ibatoulline also illustrated The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. He does some wonderful work!

"Pick whatever you like most. Then I’ll tell you its story." 
When a little girl visits her great-grandfather at his curio-filled home, she chooses an unusual object to learn about: an old cigar box. What she finds inside surprises her: a collection of matchboxes making up her great-grandfather’s diary, harboring objects she can hold in her hand, each one evoking a memory. Together they tell of his journey from Italy to a new country, before he could read and write — the olive pit his mother gave him to suck on when there wasn’t enough food; a bottle cap he saw on his way to the boat; a ticket still retaining the thrill of his first baseball game. With a narrative entirely in dialogue, Paul Fleischman makes immediate the two characters’ foray into the past. With warmth and an uncanny eye for detail, Bagram Ibatoulline gives expressive life to their journey through time — and toward each other.

My Teacher is a Monster (Peter Brown)

This is a great book to start off our friendship unit. It reminds students that once you get to know someone they're not quite so scary. Depicting the teacher as a monster makes them laugh. I'm amazed at how every time I read this book to a group of kids they notice as soon as the teacher starts losing her monster-ish green hue.

Goodreads summary:

Bobby has a problem.

You see, his teacher is a monster.

But when Bobby runs into his teacher outside of school, he learns there is more to her than meets the eye.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Noni Is Nervous (Heather Hartt-Sussman/Genevieve Cote)

We started Reading Buddies today. The grade three children were VERY excited, but the grade one children were VERY nervous. Noni is nervous was a good way to start talking about how really, we don't need to feel nervous, we just need to get to know each other better because there are friendships just waiting to be found in our school (and Noni's too).

A unique hardcover picture book for two to five year olds, this is the story of a lovely little girl who is nervous about many things. Noni finds a way to control her nerves and work through her anxiety, making life much more bearable for everyone!

Noni is nervous about playdates, and global warming, and most of all, about the first day of school. Her parents are worried too, and even her brother is a little wary. But Noni finds a friend, someone a little more outgoing than herself, and discovers that through friendship, she can belong and succeed in a world that once filled her with dread. The story is a universal one about the power of friendship and belonging, delightfully illlustrated by award-winning illustrator Genevieve Cote.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

You're Finally Here (Melanie Watt)

Great book to start the year off with! I'm so excited my class is finally here.  It is the first book in our Book A Day Challenge. 

They thought the story was hilarious. Some asked, "Who is he talking to?"

At the end, I told them how happy I was that they're finally here. I'm thrilled to spend this year with them.

Hooray! You're finally here! But where were you? A bunny bounces through a range of emotions in this funny picture book about how difficult it is to wait. At first he's ecstatic that you, the reader, has arrived. But then he can't help letting you know that waiting for you took too long, was way too boring, and even became insulting. The bunny is ready to forgive everything if you will promise to stay. But hold on--he has to take a phone call. Wait! Come back !Where are you going? Underneath this book's silly, in-your-face humor are feelings true to every child who has had to wait for someone's attention.