Monday, May 30, 2016

Mr. Lincoln's Way (Patricia Polacco)

When I asked my librarian for some recommendations for books this week she led me to the part of the library where the Patricia Polacco books are shelved. She raved on and on about her books. I was unfamiliar with them so decided to give them a try.

This was one of those stories that captivated everyone in the class. Everyone was sitting and listening and looking at the pictures intently. There is magic in this book!

Goodreads summary:

Mr. Lincoln is the coolest principal ever! He knows how to do everything, from jumping rope to leading nature walks. Everyone loves him . . . except for Eugene Esterhause. "Mean Gene" hates everyone who's different. He's a bully, a bad student, and he calls people awful, racist names. But Mr. Lincoln knows that Eugene isn't really bad-he's just repeating things he's heard at home. Can the principal find a way to get through to "Mean Gene" and show him that the differences between people are what make them special?

With Patricia Polacco's trademark illustrations and gentle text,Mr. Lincoln's Way celebrates the unforgettable school principal who touches the lives of his students and truly empowers them.


This week I need to read the chapters for book club for the amazing book: Mavericks, An Incorrigible History of Alberta by Aritha van Herk

These are the books we plan to read this week for our book a day challenge:

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Lightning Thief - Graphic Novel

This week I read the graphic novel of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, which was adapted by a team of people. Of all the graphic novels I've read, I'd say this is one of my least favorites. I love the story, but I didn't like the pictures and all the "pow! ugh! Hmmm! Whuff! Ya!" The text was pretty flat. It tells enough of the story that you would get it and if the chapter book is too overwhelming, this is a good compromise. Or, if you’ve read the chapter book and want a quick review, this would be a good thing to read.

It doesn’t have the encounter with Medusa. You really have to look at the pictures to get the story, and sometimes I don’t know if that is possible. For example, when they’re in the fun place in Las Vegas it doesn’t describe what was so cool about it. The pictures have it, but without all the description, you wouldn’t really know all about it.

All in all, I give it a 'meh'.

Goodreads summary:

You've read the book. You've seen the movie. Now submerge yourself in the thrilling, stunning, and action-packed graphic novel.
Mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking out of the pages of twelve-year-old Percy Jackson's textbooks and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Now, he and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus.
Series creator Rick Riordan joins forces with some of the biggest names in the comic book industry to tell the story of a boy who must unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mr. Lincoln's Way (Patricia Polacco)

When I asked my librarian for some recommendations for books this week she led me to the part of the library where the Patricia Polacco books are shelved. She raved on and on about her books. I was unfamiliar with them so decided to give them a try.

This was one of those stories that captivated everyone in the class. Everyone was sitting and listening and looking at the pictures intently. There is magic in this book!

Mr. Lincoln is the coolest principal ever! He knows how to do everything, from jumping rope to leading nature walks. Everyone loves him . . . except for Eugene Esterhause. "Mean Gene" hates everyone who's different. He's a bully, a bad student, and he calls people awful, racist names. But Mr. Lincoln knows that Eugene isn't really bad-he's just repeating things he's heard at home. Can the principal find a way to get through to "Mean Gene" and show him that the differences between people are what make them special? 

With Patricia Polacco's trademark illustrations and gentle text,Mr. Lincoln's Way celebrates the unforgettable school principal who touches the lives of his students and truly empowers them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tommaso and the Missing Line (Matteo Pericoli)

As we were reading this book, there were a lot of perplexed faces in my class. They didn't quite know what to make of this missing line.

...I didn't have much to offer them either.

It is a charming story. We have a boy who is Italian and he was eager to tell us the Italian word for Grandma and of the people he knew with the same Italian names. Beautiful illustrations. Mysterious and well, vague!

They liked how the line goes through the entire story and he finds lines everywhere.

But somehow, we couldn't quite get why he had lost the line and how he thought he could get help finding it.

Goodreads summary:

ON THE DAY the strange thing happens—the day his line goes missing—Tommaso knows what he must do: find it. It’s the line on the drawing he puts in his pocket every day, the line he drew of the hill by his nonna’s house, and he knows he must find that very one.

Is that it there in the curl of the cat’s tail? No. Is it there in the antenna of the car? No, not it. It suddenly dawns on Tommaso whom to ask: Nonna. Nonna will know.

In a spare story with a fable-like tone, Matteo Pericoli takes us through an Italian landscape in search of Tommaso’s line—and in doing so brings us along on a journey of discovery. Exquisitely detailed black-and-white art is punctuated by a bright ribbon of orange: Tommaso’s missing line (or is it?).

Monday, May 23, 2016


I finished The Lightning Thief but I'd still like to read the graphic novel.

I also need to get to my book club book for this month! I really love Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Lightning Thief (Rick Riordan)

When we announced we were reading this book for grade three book club cheers erupted throughout the room. Boys hugged each other. Frenzied conversations took off at lightning speed. 

Now that I have finished the book, I get it. This has all the ingredients boys love. It reminded me of when my son was little. I'd tell him to do something that would keep him safe and he would tell me that if this happened he'd just punch the bad guy in the face and run away and cut his legs off and....and on and on would go his dreams of victory. 

Percy Jacksons life is like that.  I found myself rolling at my eyes at crazy situation aft crazy situation. But if I was a 9 year old boy, I'd probably totally eat it up. Judging from the way my students are voraciously working their way through this series, they are clearly eating it up.

I think this book must be at the top of all the "if you loved Harry Potter, you'll love...." lists.

We had a great time at our book club meeting for this book. We watched some clips from the movie. We decided the movie is decidedly more freaky than the book. We also had a good time with some public kahoots. The discussion around the book was great. It was clear that everyone enjoyed it and learned a lot about mythology.

Goodreads summary:

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Wellington's Rainy Day (Carolyn Beck)

The kids in my class must have really well behaved dogs. No one knew of the crazy things dogs do like roll in poo, eat the garbage, barf, then lick up their barf!

This story has Wellington and his friend, Honey, the cat. Wellington just does things. He can't help it. He feels guilty though! In the end though, the cat ends up getting blamed. We loved it!

All through the store Sn-oooo-re is interspersed here and there. We had trouble figuring out why at first. Then we realized the owner must be sleeping while Wellington is getting into trouble. We had a good chuckle over his antics.

...and once again, Carolyn Beck makes me laugh! Who thinks to write books like this?!

I love it.

Goodreads summary:

It's a rainy day. Wellington is down in the dumps and can't resist the smell of his master's freshly made meatloaf. While his master snoozes, Welly devours every last bite. After he hides the empty pan, he eats the contents of the garbage can too. Honey, a sneaky kitty and Wellington's archenemy, threatens to tell on him. Welly's tummy begins to churn and out comes everything he has gobbled down. What a mess! But in this lively, rhyming picturebook, things have a way of turning out better than expected for Welly, and just this once he escapes being blamed for the missing meatloaf. 

Dog Breath (Carolyn Beck)

This book induced many interesting stories about crazy things dogs we have loved have done.

At the end of the book one of my students suddenly said, "Wait. I think that was a sad ending. Do you think her dog is dead?"

We had a good discussion about inferring after that!

Goodreads summary:

A comfy dog bed, a red rubber ball, a favorite bone: a collection of images left behind stirs up memories, both poignant and humorous, of a child’s best friend. This lovable, rambunctious dog will steal your heart just as easily as he once stole bites of food from the table or a whole birthday cake—candles and all—off the kitchen counter.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

One Hungry Heron (Carolyn Beck)

Interest in the author led me to this book. One of my colleagues told me about her controversial book, The Waiting Dog. I guess it's controversial enough that our public library decided to not buy it. They have a number of her other books though! We're going to go on a Carolyn Beck binge.

This one has great words. We especially loved the words as the storm started and all the animals took cover.

We figured it would be a great one to read with Reading Buddies. We also had a lot of great comments about experiences we have had with snakes, frogs, beavers and snails.

Goodreads summary:

One hungry heron, 
tall and still, 
crooks her leg 
and tips her bill. 

Two drowsy catfish, 
way down deep, 
snuffle through the muck, 
then go to sleep. 

Three darting dragonflies
hover and dip.
Whiz! Pause! Whiz!
Zoom! Zoom! Zip!"The scene starts out quietly enough, but soon the lone heron is joined by two lazy catfish and three darting dragonflies. Before you can say ten tiny turtles, the pond is alive with a great array of wetland wildlife.

Told in clever rhyme, this is a counting book with a difference. Numbers are spelled out in bold text, decorated numerals adorn each page, and amounts are depicted by groupings of swimming, flapping, paddling, darting pond creatures. Up to ten and down again, the count goes forwards and backwards, as thunder rumbles in the background. Plip, plop, the rain begins and lightning flashes. Everything dives for shelter and stays hidden -- until the sun comes out. Then life returns to the pond providing a delightful search and count last page.

Rarely is so much delivered in one spectacular counting book.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Richard Was a Picker (Carolyn Beck)

I would like to meet this Carolyn Beck! I read her book, A Waiting Dog. It is crazy! So is this one.

I thought my class would love it. They seem to be well indoctrinated  about what is and isn't appropriate at school. They thought this one was a little too crazy for their taste.

Darn kids.

Goodreads summary:

Richard picks his nose, until one day he discovers the perils of his habit. When his finger gets stuck up his nose, Richard panics. Then his nose sucks up his arm. Before he knows it, all of him slides up his nose. Richard has become a giant booger. He propels his booger-ball self out of his house. But as he rolls down the sidewalk things get worse, way worse. Soon the whole town is chasing after him and jabbing at him. Will Richard be poked to pieces? With some quick thinking and a little luck, Richard avoids a terrible end. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Bad Dog Marley (John Grogan)

This book is part of our book  club  tournament so we have read it a few times. Who wouldn't want a puppy? Who hasn't begged their parents for a puppy? We had many connections to this book. We also laughed at all the trouble he got himself into. Most of all, we were happy it had a happy ending.

Goodreads summary:

In John Grogan's memoir, Marley & Me, the world learned how one bad dog became the heart of the family that loved him. Now, in this original picture book, Mommy, Daddy, Cassie, and Baby Louie welcome the puppy Marley to the Grogan family. Marley grows and grows...and grows. His eagerness and energy grow with him, getting him into trouble in a great big way. And, in the end, Marley's over-the-top energy is just what's needed to save the day.

Marley is a hit with families and dog lovers everywhere. And Richard Cowdrey's warmly rendered illustrations bring the story of this rambunctious dog to a whole new audience.

Miss Nelson is Back

This book makes us laugh! We have read it a number of times because it is part of our book tournament. Every time we read it we shudder at the idea of having a boring principal take over teaching the class or of having a nasty substitute teacher like The Swamp!

It's all a very real fear.

Goodreads summary:

When their teacher has to go away for a week, the kids in Room 207 plan to "really act up."

Week in Review

We have had a great week of reading. These are the books we read this week:

The  Dullards
We read this book way back in September and it is now part of the book tournament. Every time we read it we learn to appreciate it even more. 

The Brief Thief makes us laugh out loud every time!
(well, except for those in the class who think bathroom humor isn't appropriate)

Being Responsible is helping us get ready for our assembly in June!

Our Open Court story this week is City Superheroes. We are amazed at rats and raccoons! 

Being Responsible (Mary Small)

We are doing the character assembly this month. This is a great discussion starter. We talked about why brushing your teeth is being responsible, why feeding your pets on time is being responsible, why wearing a helmet is being responsible, and more.

Goodreads summary:

Explains many different ways that children can be responsible and show responsibility.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Lily and the Mixed Up Letters

We have had a few kids in our class reading The Lightning Thief lately and we've talked about how the main character has trouble in school. My students have made connections with this challenge. It's been interesting to talk about how they have sympathy for children who struggle and how they feel when they struggle.

Goodreads summary:

When Lily was in kindergarten she enjoyed school and she was happy. Now, she’s in grade 2 and she doesn’t feel like she’s good at anything. The trouble is reading. Whenever she tries, the letters jump around and get all mixed up — and so does she.

When Lily’s teacher announces that the children will read in front of their parents, Lily finally finds the courage to tell her mother about her problem. By working together, Lily’s mom, teacher, and friend Grace find a way to help Lily understand that she has very important strengths and talents. With hard work and new confidence, Lily surprises everyone — even herself — by the time the parents come to hear the kids read.

Gentle illustrations by France Brassard realistically portray the fear, isolation, and low self-esteem that children with dyslexia can experience. Deborah Hodge’s Lily and the Mixed-up Lettersis a reassuring read for any child in need of a boost in confidence.

Monday, May 9, 2016


This is what I am reading this week:

I've been loving this book. We're getting ready to do a novel study and I need to finish this because I think the strategies could be great for our novel study.

This is our book club book. I need to finish it this week! Next I'm going to move on to book 2.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Gardener (Sarah Stewart and David Small)

Sarah Stewart and David Small have an amazing ability to create books with characters that I wish, deep down, were me. I loved The Librarian. I was that girl, walking along with her nose in a book.

I wish I was the character in this book who is able to create a beautiful garden. I want to be a gardener.

My class found a lot of connections with this book. We just read The Boy Who Didn't Believe in Spring and the mere mention of signs of spring and vacant city lots sent many hands shooting into the air to make a text to text connection. They were also quite intrigued by how the story was told through letters. We have been working on letter writing all year long.

The illustrations in this book are captivating and beautiful. The story is hopeful despite difficult situations. 

My favourite line:  "I truly believe that cake equals one thousand smiles." 

Goodreads summary:

Lydia Grace Finch brings a suitcase full of seeds to the big gray city, where she goes to stay with her Uncle Jim, a cantankerous baker. There she initiates a gradual transformation, bit by bit brightening the shop and bringing smiles to customers' faces with the flowers she grows. But it is in a secret place that Lydia Grace works on her masterpiece -- an ambitious rooftop garden -- which she hopes will make even Uncle Jim smile. Sarah Stewart introduces readers to an engaging and determined young heroine, whose story is told through letters written home, while David Small's illustrations beautifully evoke the Depression-era setting.

The Gardener is a 1997 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year and a 1998 Caldecott Honor Book.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Todd's TV (James Proimos)

As soon as I pulled this book out, one of my students said, "TV's bad."

I asked him what he meant. He said that, "If you watch too much TV you lose your skills. You can't read as good or learn as good."

Ha!! Good programming!

We got a chuckle out of how he becomes attached to the TV.

We also had an interesting discussion about what "....threw his parents for a loop" meant.

When we got to this page, I stopped and we discussed why he might be turning the light off and on.

Our predictions were:

  • Maybe he's trying to waste electricity so the TV will die.
  • Maybe he's trying to run away in the dark.
Finally, someone said, "Oh wait!! Maybe he's trying to suggest they should turn off the TV!"

It was a silly story, but pretty fun and it makes a good point.

It was funny that it ended with him getting a computer. We had commented in the beginning that some of us don't watch a lot of TV but we waste time other ways, like on the iPad or on YouTube. Ha!

This is Todd.

These are Todd's parents.

And this is Todd's TV.

Todd's parents are always busy. But Todd's TV isn't busy. It just sits there. So one day, Todd's TV decides to lend a helping hand. This is the heartwarming story of that day, and what happened afterward. You'll laugh, you'll cry—but most of all, you'll be giving your TV a break. It probably needs it.

Monday, May 2, 2016


This week I plan to finish The Lightning Thief. I have been hearing great things from the book club kids who have finished it. I'm surprised at how much am enjoying it. I might be convinced to finish the series over the summer.

I am also still reading Notice and Note. We always do a novel study at the end of the school year and u would like to teach some concepts from this for our novel study this year. Must get deeper in this!

I Want a Monster (Elise Gravel)

This was a big hit. My class loved the funny pictures of monsters and descriptions of different kinds of monsters. It seemed to make total sense that a kid would beg for a pet monster. They made connections, as we read, about times they have asked their parents for a pet.

In the end, one of the student said, "Hey! We should make our own monsters and write stories about them!" Every year we write a "gloopy", which is basically a story about a monster. It is all the better when the idea comes from them!!

Tomorrow we shall start our monster stories.

Goodreads summary:

Winnie wants a monster! Some monsters smell like pirate feet and some might read your diary, but they are so darn cute! All Winnie’s friends have one. But how much do Oogly-Wumps eat? Don’t they ever sleep? Can monsters get lonely?

I Want a Monster! is a humorous, energetic celebration of the responsibility and joy of owning your dream pet, perfect for fans of Peter Brown’s Children Make Terrible Pets or anyone who’s ever longed for or loved a pet of any kind.

Includes a “Would You Like to Adopt a Monster?” activity at the back of the book.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Long Walk to Water (Linda Sue Park)

This is a TRUE story of two children. At the end of the book it says that some of the details are fiction, but the main events of the story are historic.

I always find myself thinking back to what was going on in my life while these horrors were occurring. One story is of Salva that starts in 1985. I was graduating from high school, hanging out with friends a lot, working and thrilled with my new money making place in life. The other story is a girl in the year 2008. That year I was in mourning over the loss of our stillborn daughter, Destiny. People in Sudan never had the luxury to mourn for a day let alone a year or more like I did.

Walking is an important motif in this story. Salva walks from war to refugee camps. Then when they are no longer safe he walks to another country. He walks, sometimes just keeping his eye on a mirage ahead. He realizes that all he has to do is make it through the next hour and through this day.  He leaves Sudan and ends up in a refugee camp, alone, for 6 years. He often tells himself, just one more day. 

The girl in the story, Nya, is also forever walking. She spends half a day walking to a well to get her family some water and then carries it home on her head. She then turns around and does it again. Every day. In time, her village gets a well. This changes their lives. After the well is built they can grow crops. The children can go to school. Life truly changes.

Water has so much meaning for the people. Clean water means health. Unfortunately, not everyone has clean water. Water means life. Dehydrated men die as they try to walk away from the war. People move away from their homes during the dry season because there is no water. Water is life. Seeking water is life. Sometimes they have to dig below dry cracked ground that shows no sign of water, but if they dig deep enough they find it.

The story is really well told. In the end, the boy, Salva and the girl, Nya, meet each other. When this happened in the book, I gasped out loud. It made my heart race and emotion welled up inside me. It is a beautiful story!

Goodreads summary: 

The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.