Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Leo A Ghost Story (Mac Barnett)

My students loved this story. Many of them have imaginary friends. The idea that an imaginary friend might actually be real was a little mind-bending for them. Quickly following whether or not a pretend friend could be real was whether or not ghosts are real. In true Mac Barnett style, the book really captured them. It was a big hit. We're really looking forward to reading it to our reading buddies!

The fact that the little girl in the story can see the ghost because she believes reminded me of Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher. There's a lot to be said for believing!

You would like being friends with Leo. He likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can't even see him. Because Leo is also a ghost. When a new family moves into his home and Leo's efforts to welcome them are misunderstood, Leo decides it is time to leave and see the world. That is how he meets Jane, a kid with a tremendous imagination and an open position for a worthy knight. That is how Leo and Jane become friends. And that is when their adventures begin. This charming tale of friendship—from two of the best young minds in picture books: the author of the Caldecott Honor–winning Extra Yarn and the illustrator of the Bologna Ragazzi Award–winning Josephine—is destined to become a modern classic that will delight readers for years to come.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Chester The Worldly Pig (Bill Peet)

This is a picture book that reads like a chapter book in that it is more suited to a mature child who can handle longer stories. The words in the story are challenging. The story is delightful. We had a lot of good laughs while we read this book.

Goodreads Summary:

Chester longs to be a performer in the circus, but the road to stardom is rocky until someone discovers Chester's true "worldliness."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Dave's Down-To-Earth Rock Shop (Stuart J. Murphy)

This was read to us by a guest teacher we had in for a Teacher's Pet presentation on Rocks and Minerals. This book is a great summary of what we learned in this unit. It touches on most of the concepts in our Grade 3 science unit.

Goodreads Summary:

Josh and Amy are learning everything about rocks from their friend Dave. And to organize their rock collection, they must practice the math skill of classification -- grouping objects by attributes such as color, shape, or size.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Caboose Who Got Loose (Bill Peet)

A great story of a caboose who is forced to live life in the fast lane when what she really wants is to enjoy peace and solitude with a good view. We talked about how some people like to be out and busy and with people all the time and how some people prefer time alone. One of my wise students reminded us that most people need a little bit of both.

You simply can't go wrong with Bill Peet. This book is in prose and some of the words/phrases were a little tricky for my class, but it was a good way to introduce them to something a little more challenging to read. I even noticed one child chose it as a book to read to his reading buddy later in the day.

I love Bill Peet!

Katy Caboose is tired of being last, and one day a freak accident allows her to realize her dream of peace and solitude.

A Night Divided (Jennifer Nielsen)

This is by the same author that wrote The False Prince trilogy.

I had never thought of what it was like when the Berlin wall went up. The author tells this story in a gripping way that teaches a lot about that time. It was very hard to put down.

I have recommended this to many students and many of them have said they are reading it and loving it.

Goodreads summary:

From New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can't help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf (Mark Teague)

My students are quite familiar with the idea of a story having different version since they do a lot of work on that in grade 2. They read different versions of Cinderella and then write their own story, applying it to places they study in Social Studies. They really enjoyed this version of The Three Little Pigs. The illustrations are bold and beautiful and it really captured their attention.

I thought it was interesting that the smartest pig - the one who built the house from bricks, was a girl in this version.

Goodreads summary:

Three little pigs, a somewhat bad wolf, sody-pop, chips, hay, mortar, bricks, and some huffing and puffing!

Award-winning author and illustrator Mark Teague tells his humorous version of "The Three Little Pigs" with a zany twist!

Three pigs spend their money on different things: potato chips, sody-pop, and building supplies. It comes as no surprise that a wolf is able to blow down the first two pigs' houses. When the wolf can't blow down the third pig's brick house, everyone comes together and the fun begins. The first two pigs give him potato chips and sody-pop, and the third pig makes everyone a healthy meal. Since only one pig has a house left, the other two pigs and the wolf move in with her. The somewhat bad wolf is no longer hungry.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Dinosaur vs School (Bob Shea)

Cute story, but too young for my Gr. 3 crowd.

Dinosaur is starting preschool today. ROAR! There are new friends to meet, dress-up outfits to wear, glitter and googly eyes to paste, musical instruments to play, and snacks to eat. What's not to like? But then, oh, no! It's Dinosaur vs. Clean-up Time! Fortunately, when friends work together, EVERYONE WINS! With all the bright colors, bold lines, and toddler-like exuberance that have made the previous Dinosaur vs. books irresistible, DINOSAUR VS. SCHOOL will both amuse and reassure anyone going off to school for the first time.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Dad Runs Away with the Circus (Etgar Keret)

This is just plain old silly - a good book for a Friday. Who ever heard of a dad running away to the circus. Some dads are crazy. This one definitely made us laugh!

Goodreads Summary:

"The circus is in town!" Dad roared.
"And we're all going to see it!"

Audrey and Zach are still half-asleep — and can't help stifling yawns — when Dad bursts in with his announcement. Dad is so excited, he starts practicing daring stunts before they even leave for the show. Under the big top, Dad's enthusiasm is downright embarrassing, and Audrey and Zach suspect it has something to do with the generation gap. But even they could never guess just how carried away their dad is going to get! With striking graphic artwork by one of Israel's top illustrators and comic-book artists — splendidly showcased in a double gatefold spread — an acclaimed Israeli author brings his talents to the world of picture books for the first time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sam's Pet Temper (Sangeeta Bhadra)

A really good way to teach children strategies for controlling their temper.

I was a little torn at first about the idea that "the temper" is a separate being from the child. I thought it might appear that it is something a child cannot control - but it seemed to be really thought provoking for my class. We don't have big temper issues in my class, but it was still a good read and provided for a good discussion.

Goodreads Summary:

The hero of this picture book, Sam, has to wait for everything on the playground one day, and this makes him mad. "He got madder and madder until he was the maddest he had ever been in his whole life." And then, suddenly, an unusual thing appears. It runs around, shoving and tripping and pinching and stomping, until all the other children have run away. "It was hanging upside down from the monkey bars, grinning at him. Sam had never seen anything like it before, but he knew what it was. It was a Temper." At first, having a pet Temper is fun. But before long, the Temper starts causing trouble for Sam. And eventually, Sam comes to the realization that his Temper is something he needs to learn to control. This funny but poignant title by Sangeeta Bhadra offers a perfect representation of just how frustrated and angry small children can get when circumstances in their lives make them feel helpless. Though never heavy-handed, Bhadra also manages to convey what the consequences can be when that anger takes over a child's behavior. The quirky yet stunning illustrations by Marion Arbona keep the emotional focus on the Temper, as a way to help children identify that their anger is not who they are. The emphasis on feelings makes this a terrific tie-in for character education lessons on self-discipline and taking responsibility for your actions, as well as on patience and perseverance when solving your own problems.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Boomer's Big Surprise (Constance W McGeorge)

Animals seem to teach stories oh so well! A wonderful discussion starter for when one is feeling left out.

Goodreads Summary:

Boomer knows something's up the day a shiny new bowl appears next to his, but imagine Boomer's surprise when he finds himself nose to nose with a new puppy! Just when Boomer thinks he's no longer top dog, he discovers there's room for two, and that the puppy is more than a new sibling—he's a new friend. Boomer's Big Surprise is filled with the same warmth and humor as the first two books in the Boomer series, and will have special appeal to any child facing the arrival of a new baby. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Nanny Fox (Georgie Adams and Selina Young)

Really, these are big concepts in this story. My class had a chuckle. We talked about how foxes are usually depicted in stories: Sneaky, mean and sly. This fox doesn't seem to follow the traditional family roles set out for him though. Sometimes some people just aren't like the rest of the people in their family. It can be hard when your family does things you just can't with with any more. In our class we did talk about how you don't have to be the same to be friends (foxes COULD be friends with hens, if only....) 

Arnold Fox, a young fox with a love for chickens, takes a job as nanny to Mrs. Buff Orpinton's brood of six chicks and proves his courage when his hungry siblings stop by one night for a chicken dinner.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bears Don't Read (Emma Chichester Clark)

I love this bear! He isn't afraid to do things different from everyone around him. Something aches inside of him for books. I'm kind of a bear too, I'd say!

"His brothers and sisters never wondered about anything. They were perfectly happy chatting, fishing - doing the usual bear things - and telling the same old stories over and over again.
But George was bored. He didn't want to do the usual bear things anymore. He wanted other things. "But what?" he wondered."

I love how the people respond. They judge him and are afraid. However, one little girl isn't afraid of him. She's learning to read and teaches him to read.

This story reminded me of Kenny and the Dragon. It is good that some people see the good in others!

Goodreads Summary:

George isn't happy doing the usual bear things like chatting and fishing. But what else is there? Then one day, he finds a book beneath a tree and knows, more than anything, he wants to learn to read! But, arriving in town, George soon discovers that it's not easy to be a bear at school! If only he could find someone to teach him the alphabet and change his life forever. Perhaps a little girl called Clementine can help? 

Dragon's Extraordinary Egg (Debi Gliori)

Very well written. Captured my student's attention immensely. It was interesting to have a discussion after. The book doesn't use the word adoption, however, it came up in our discussion. Some kids figured the dragon must have been a penguin wearing a costume. Their experience told them penguins have penguins for parents. One boy in our class, however, knows about adoption and suggested that they could be adopted. We had a great discussion about what adoption means.

In this heartwarming story, a dragon in need of an egg finds an abandoned egg in need of a mommy. It seems like the perfect fit, but when that egg hatches, the little baby doesn't look like all the other dragons. In fact, he looks a lot like a penguin! Of course, his mommy loves him no matter what. But the other young dragons aren't so sure. Little do they know that their feathered friend's differences will save the day! Sometimes things happen for a reason . . . and some families are just meant to be together.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sneezenesia (Deb Lucke)

I chose this book because I have a cold. Also, when I read, my dog likes to lie on me, but if I sneeze, he runs away - no matter how hard I try to make it a little sneeze. Maybe I just don't have little sneezes.

My class was rather mesmerized by this book. It's hilarious and so easy to imagine all those things falling out of your brain, especially with some of the sneezes we hear around here!

Our favorite part was at the end when his mom wipes the long green thing from his nose - which is actually a dinosaur!


Once there was a boy who sneezed so hard, he forgot his own name. Then he sneezed again, and he forgot where he was, and who his mom was, and a whole bunch of other important stuff. Pretty soon he’d sneezed out everything he learned the entire year. ACHOO! . . . and spelling, math, and all the U.S. presidents came flying out of his nose. And things just got worse from there. . . .
     Humorous, understated text and outrageous, vividly colored illustrations tell how the boy gets everything he’s forgotten back into his head where it belongs, making for a tale that is truly sneezesational.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (Jan-Philipp Sendker)

This book is a great story of trusting despite life being unjust. I found myself wanting to slow down and soak it all up. I loved the serenity of Tin Win and Mi Mi. I loved how even though their lives truly weren't fair, they accepted what came and were the best they could be in those situations.

This is a wonderful love story too. I was a little leery to read it because I don't like books about men who step out on their wives - but this story isn't that, even though it seems that way in the beginning.

I totally recommend this book. It would be a great book club book too.

A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present.  When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.

Friday, October 2, 2015

John Jensen Feels Different (Henrik Hovland)

This book first caught my eye because of the name Jensen - my maiden name! And besides, why in the world would an alligator be named John Jensen. Looked cute - and it was.

My kids loved the alligator. The story has a message that it is okay to be different. The story is set in Norway. I haven't run into a lot of picture books set in Norway.

John Jensen, a crocodile, cannot quite understand why he feels so different from everyone else, but a kindly doctor reassures him that no one is exactly the same as anyone else.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Mouse's First Night at Moonlight School (Simon Puttock)

The timing of this book was great. We had just read Angel Child Dragon Child and talked a lot about what it would be like to be the new kid at school. Mouse is the new "kid" at his school. His answer to dealing with his nervousness is to hide - perfectly logical!

I had to chuckle that the other two classmates are a cat and an owl - two animals that feed on mice. No wonder Mouse hid!

The teacher actually is a witch in the story. Mouse is hidden on most of the pages. It is a fun book to read.

Goodreads Summary:

—It's Mouse's first night at Miss Moon's Moonlight School, but Mouse is shy—too shy to even say hello. Luckily, with help from Miss Moon and her new friends Bat, Cat, and Owl, a game of hide-and-seek makes Mouse feel right at home.