Friday, April 29, 2016

What Color is Ceasar ( Maxine Kumin)

We listened to this story on Tumblebooks.

I should pay more attention to Tumblebooks stories. I tend to use it when I need to be doing something else.

He's a dog trying to find himself?

Goodreads summary:

One dog’s quest for self-definition is anything but black and white in this delightfully droll, enlightening tale by an acclaimed former poet laureate.

Caesar is a large white dog with a great many black spots. Or is he a large black dog with even more white spots? That’s the trouble: he doesn’t know which, and though nobody in the family seems to care, he won’t rest until he uncovers the truth. So off he traipses, beseeching one animal after another to find out what color he is, basically. From celebrated poet Maxine Kumin comes a doggedly quizzical hero, brought comically to life by Alison Friend’s expressive watercolors — a lovable picture-book character who ultimately learns that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Teeny-Tiny Woman (Paul Galdone)

One of the boys in my class is really into scary stories, so  I was searching for more books he could read after finishing Haunted Canada. This one came up. I loved this book as a child! I really remember it well. I would laugh and laugh and how the teeny-tiny woman shouted at the voice, "Well take it!" when he kept badgering her about the bone she had taken.

Now I know it's something that was definitely better in my memories. What is it with kids these days?? When I finished it they stared blankly at me and said, "I don't get it."

Truthfully, I didn't either.

Maybe it'd be better at Halloween time. :)

....Next time I should review other people's reviews on Goodreads though. Good comments here!

Goodreads summary:

A droll rendition of the old English ghost story about the teeny-tiny woman who found a teeny-tiny bone in the teeny-tiny churchyard.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Max's Words (Kate Banks)

This book was recommended by our literacy expert trainer, Patti. It really is a cute book and great for writing and talking about planning words we use in our writing.

Goodreads summary:

Max’s brothers have grand collections that everyone makes a big fuss over. Benjamin collects stamps and Karl collects coins, and neither one will share with their little brother. So Max decides to start a collection of his own. He’s going to collect words. He starts with small words that he cuts out of newspapers and magazines, but soon his collection has spilled out into the hall. All the while, his brothers are watching. Benjamin brags that he has one thousand stamps. Karl is just a few coins short of five hundred. But a thousand stamps is really just a bunch of stamps, and a lot of coins is only a heap of money. A pile of words, however, can make a story.

Bright, bold pictures incorporating clever wordplay accompany this highly original tale about a younger brother’s ingenuity.

Max's Words is a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (William Steig)

This book is part of the book tournament we are doing at our school. It is a great story.

We were thrilled to figure out that William Steig also wrote Shrek!

When we discussed the story, the kids said they were impressed with the nice wishes that the main character made in the beginning. We were a little sad when the parents kept searching and searching and he was actually right there (he turns into a rock where the parents have a picnic). It was a relief to see the happy ending!

We learned a lesson. Be very very careful about what you wish for.

Goodreads summary:

One rainy day, Sylvester finds a magic pebble that can make wishes come true. But when a lion frightens him on his way home, Sylvester makes a wish that brings unexpected results.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ramie Nightingale (Kate diCamillo)

Nancy Clancy: Super Sleuth (Jane O'Connor)

One of my students has been reading Fancy Nancy books. I didn't know there were Fancy Nancy chapter books. I decided I should check one out....all part of my attempts to be up on the books my students are reading.

I was really happy with this book. The author does a great job of teaching. Nancy often uses big words, and then explains what they mean in a very direct way. She will have a sentence with a word like "trench coat" and then say: A trench coat is a long coat with buttons that spies often wear. Nancy Clancy also really loves writing. She talks about things she needs to do when she wants to write well, like use good descriptive words. I also love how Nancy talks about books she loves. She is a big fan of Nancy Drew, for example.

I also really liked the other characters in the book. Bree is a cool best friend (they have a rope between their houses where they send messages written in secret code in a bucket). Her little sister is cute and makes reasonable mistakes.  Mom is a good role model. Dad seems to have a great sense of humour. 

Goodreads summary: 

Nancy Clancy is growing up and ready for a whole new adventure . . . in her chapter book debut! 

Nancy and her best friend, Bree, have everything they need to solve a mystery, from their totally professional trench coats to their top-secret code. 

But when crime strikes in their classroom, will these super sleuths be able to crack the case?

Find out in the glamorous start to an all-new chapter book series featuring everyone’s favorite fancy girl!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Happy People Read and Drink Coffee (Agnes Martin Lugand)

was very excited to received an advance reading copy of this book from Harper Collins through The Reading Society at The National Post.

Now that I have read it, I am less enamoured. At least I didn't pay for this book!

Don't be fooled by the title. This isn't about reading. It isn't about drinking coffee. It isn't about happy people. There is a bookstore called Happy People that the main character leaves and comes back to...but that is about it. It kind of reminded me of a bad mix of Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Labor Day by Joyce Menard....but with terrible writing. The idea of escaping to somewhere beautiful to find oneself is lovely....but she came off as stupidly hooking up with a jerk, like in Labor Day. 

The first chapter was great. I gasped at the narrative about easy going fun banter between a husband and wife and their child suddenly ending with death:

"They left, laughing and feeling around as they went downstairs.

"I found out they were still fooling around in the car when the truck crashed into them. I told myself they were still laughing when they died. I told myself that I should've been with them."

It is all downhill from there. The story is flat and poorly developed and terribly predictable. I kept saying, "Are you kidding me?!" with chapter. 

Run away. Move into a place next to this inexplicably seriously grumpy and rude neighbor. He does one nice deed and the next thing you know (like....that day) he invites her to join him on his business trip and she strangely, accepts. Of course, they call in love. In walks in the old girlfriend with catty skills straight out of high school. Of course, he chooses the nicer girl after seeing through the manipulation a of the old girlfriend.....only to have her get a hold of herself and return to her bookstore and clean the place up.

Phew....that was a waste of a Friday night.

Glad it was a quick read.

Goodreads summary:

She fled Paris to lose herself. The love she found would change everything.

Diane seems to have the perfect life. She is a wife, a mother, and the owner of Happy People Read and Drink Coffee, a cozy literary cafe in Paris. But when she suddenly loses her husband and daughter in a car accident, her life is overturned and the world as she knows it instantly disappears. Trapped and haunted by her memories, Diane closes her shop and retreats from her friends and family, unable and unwilling to move forward.

But one year later, Diane shocks her loved ones and makes the surprising decision to move to a small town on the Irish coast, finally determined to heal by rebuilding her life alone-until she meets Edward, a handsome and moody Irish photographer who lives next door. At first abrasive and unwelcoming, Edward initially resents Diane’s intrusion into his life of solitude . . . until he can no longer keep her at arm’s length. Along windy shores and cobbled streets, Diane falls into a surprising and tumultuous romance. As she works to overcome her painful memories and truly heal, Diane and Edward’s once-in-a-lifetime connection inspires her to love herself and the world around her with newfound inner strength and happiness. But will it last when Diane leaves Ireland, and Edward, for good?

At once heartbreaking and uplifting, Diane’s story is deeply felt, reminding us that love remembered is love enduring.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Brief Thief

This is a hilarious story about a lizard who has to poo and has no toilet paper! When we read it, we laughed out loud when we saw what happened with the underwear. It isn't often you turn a page and everyone gasps. This is a fun book to read aloud!

Goodreads summary:

When Leon discovers that all the toilet paper is gone, he must find something else to use. He has no time to lose!

Spying something that looks just right, he goes for it and finished his business.

But what Leon hasn't counted on is that he'll begin to hear a little voice whose words will change just about everything!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Okay. It is actually Tuesday.  I am a day late!

I am all over the place with my reading these days. People keep giving me books. I got an ARC in the mail that I need to read. A bunch of great books I have been waiting for all came in at once at the library. I haven't been blogging our picture books we read each day. Ack!!!

Where is spring break when I need it??!! Time for another holiday!

This week's priorities (I will leave the long TBR list off for now):

Happy People Read and Drink Coffee....delightful so far!

The Brains Way of Healing......I might have to skip some chapters....some of it is just too science technical for me...but I am enjoying it!

Pax by Sara Pennypacker..... I am in love with this isn't often I want to re-read something right away. I feel like there is so much to this book....trying to soak it all up.

Princess Smartypants (Babette Cole)

Kids are smart. After we read this book we had a discussion about whether or not people have to get married. I was careful to not interject my opinions into the discussion and just let them talk. It seems that most kids think that you do need to get married when you grow up - but some were adamant that you don't have to. We didn't get into whether they meant living together is okay or not - just that some people get married and some don't. They were okay with that. It reminded me a lot of The Paperbag Princess.

I thought the book was quite hilarious. The illustrations are great and the message I liked to glean from it is that you're okay just the way you are. So many girls seem to think they need a man to make their life complete. I tend to think it should be that you get in a relationship because it makes your life better.

Goodreads summary:

Princess Smartypants doesn't want to get married; she'd rather live with her pets. Commanded by her parents to find herself a husband, the Princess sets tasks for her horde of suitors. All of the potential husbands fail miserably as the gleeful Princess looks on — until Prince Swashbuckle appears. . . .

Monday, April 11, 2016

Superworm (Julia Donaldson)

Initially, I didn't think this book would be very well received by my class - but they loved it. Who wouldn't love a worm who is actually a superhero?!

Goodreads summary:

Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler, the brilliant team behind The Gruffalo, have created a new exuberant character who is sure to delight young readers - and their parents - in this eagerly anticipated hardback, Superworm. The funny and fantastically-illustrated story is full of bouncy rhyming verses and has a fun chorus that is sure to have preschoolers joining in as they follow Superworm's adventures as he faces up to the wicked Wizard Lizard and his sinister servant Crow. When Superworm is kidnapped by them, it is up to his animal friends to save him. The quirky illustrations are full of charming details and the unlikely hero of the tale has immense appeal for children aged 3 and over. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ferdinand (Monro Leaf)

One of my students had this book at home and was so excited for us to read it.  We wondered if it was about a unicorn (he does kind of look like one!) and if the author was the same as the author of Mr. Prickles (Mr. Prickles is all read). We had a great pre-reading discussion. I love that my students are starting to make so many connections to other texts now that we have read SO many books. We also made many connections to the world and to ourselves. We talked about how some people are often more brave about doing what they want to do instead of doing what everyone else is doing. It's pretty common to do what everyone else is doing, but it's okay to stand out from the crowd and be yourself. That takes self-confidence.

Goodreads summary:

A true classic with a timeless message, The Story of Ferdinandhas enchanted readers since it was first published in 1936. All the other bulls would run and jump and butt their heads together. But Ferdinand would rather sit and smell the flowers. And he does just that, until the day a bumblebee and some men from the Madrid bullfights give gentle Ferdinand a chance to be the most ferocious star of the corrida—and the most unexpected comic hero. This cherished hardcover is perfect for those who love Ferdinand, and those who have yet to meet him.

Monday, April 4, 2016


It's Monday. What are you reading?

This week I'm breaking my rules. I decided this year that I wouldn't start another book until I'm finished the one I'm reading....but sometimes that just doesn't work!

I plan to re-read Pax. I learned about Notice and Note and I want to use the strategies in that book to find themes in Pax. I know I missed a lot! We have our book club meeting this week so I feel like a quick re-read is in order.

Which brings me to Notice and Note. I'm so excited about this! I learned about it on a podcast. I tweeted my English teacher inspiration, Pam and asked her if she'd heard of it and if she thought I needed it. She gave a big thumbs up for it. I ran out and bought it today!!

I'm also plugging away at my brain book. The brain is one of my recent obsessions.

I need to read this book for Battle of the Books. It is coming up soon!

AND I have to throw this one in too! I got an Advanced Reader's Copy of a book sent to me from Harper Collins. I am so excited to be considered to review an ARC!