Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wayside School is Falling Down (Louis Sacher)

I read this for our Gr 4 Battle of the Books. At first I thought it was just a cute story. It would make a great read aloud. As a matter of fact, I think I will read it to my class! As I read though, I realized all kinds of little things that are brilliant!
- the book has 30 chapters. Each chapter is its own story. The school has 30 stories/floors too. 
- there is a character in the book that has the same name as the author. He is the guy that fixes everything. He is a great resource for all sorts of problems. The first chapter says he is the yard teacher. What is a yard teacher?
- chapter 17 doesn't seem to make any sense....until you read it backwards, paragraph by paragraph. 

Chester (Melanie Watt)

...that moment when your class cheers about the book you're about to read.

Chester is a winner. Love it.

Goodreads summary:

Chester is more than a picture book. It is a story told, and retold, by dueling author-illustrators.
Melanie Watt starts out with the story of a mouse in a house. Then Melanie's cat, Chester, sends the mouse packing and proceeds to cover the pages with rewrites from his red marker, and the gloves are off. Melanie and her mouse won't take Chester's antics lying down. And Chester is obviously a creative powerhouse with confidence to spare. Where will this war of the picture-book makers lead? Is it a one-way ticket to Chesterville, or will Melanie get her mouse production off the ground?

Snappsy The Alligator (Julie Falatko)

When I first read this book it reminded me of the Chester books. I mentioned this to my class and they had no idea what I was talking about so we had to stop and read some Chester books before we read this one.

Books where a character in the story takes charge or speaks to the author are hilarious to kids.

Goodreads summary:
Snapppsy the alligator is trying to go about his very ordinary day when a pesky narrator steps in to spice up the story with slanderous claims. Is Snappsy making crafty plans? Is he prowling for defenseless birds and soft, fuzzy bunnies? Is Snappsy a big, mean alligator who’s obsessed with snack foods that start with the letter P? It’s no wonder Snappsy won't invite the narrator to his party! 

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) is an irreverent look at storytelling, friendship, and creative differences from a pair of rising stars in the picture book world.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Are We There Yet (Dan Santat)

My students have really loved this book. We talked a lot about how when we are bored it really is a personal decision and that your imagination can make all the difference in a boring situation.

My students really loved the illustrations. I have seen them take this book from our library corner again and again.

This author also wrote, Beekle, an award winning and very cute book from last year.

Goodreads summary:

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat takes readers on the road trip of a lifetime!"Are we there yet?" Every parent has heard this classic kid question on a long car ride--and after reading this astonishingly inventive new book (that even turns upside down for several pages!), you'll never look at being bored the same way again.

Let's face it: everyone knows that car rides can be boring. And when things get boring, time slows down. In this book, a boy feels time slowing down so much that it starts going backward--into the time of pirates! Of princesses! Of dinosaurs! The boy was just trying to get to his grandmother's birthday party, but instead he's traveling through Ancient Egypt and rubbing shoulders with Ben Franklin. When time flies, who knows where--or when--he'll end up.

Monday, November 21, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading #IMWAYR

Last week was a good week of reading. I read quite a few picture books and a couple chapter books. I'm working on report cards these days so any reading at all is a miracle. I'm grateful for any time I get.

Besides a picture book a day with my class, I have a feeling I will have to take it easy this week.

I plan to read The Memory Illusion, my book club's pick. I have been carrying it around for days. Time to actually crack it open!

I read a little of Healthy Body For Life every morning. I'm making changes slowly to take on a much healthier life. Besides, I know the author! She is amazing.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (Mindy Kaling)


I'm not one for watching TV, so I didn't know about Mindy Kaling. She was a writer for The Office and now has her own show, apparently. Someone recommended this book to me as being laugh out loud funny. They were right. This was an easy and fun read. It would be a great book to take on a trip.

She really covers it all in this book. I had to laugh at all her words for fat and the definitions. She has a great take on men and dating. Seriously funny stuff. I really look forward to her menopause edition!

Goodreads summary:

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?” 
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

Chester's Masterpiece (Melanie Watt)

 I was going to read Snappsy the Alligator to my class today. It reminds me of the Chester series because they both have characters that are aware of the author and those listening to the story. They are breaking the fourth wall. I said that to my class as I started in on Snappsy and realized they didn't know about Chester! How can we go on without first being introduced to Chester! I try to introduce my students to Canadian authors as much as possible. This series is also a good discussion starter for the work authors put into writing.

We laughed and laughed at his attitude. When we had Reading Buddies later in the day, it was snapped up quickly and passed around to many different partners. It is so fun to watch them share enthusiasm with grade one students that matches what I said to them when I introduced the book.

Goodreads summary:

Chester's finally ready to write his own masterpiece --- he just needs to get pesky writer-illustrator Mélanie Watt out of the way.

Chester's solo attempts at storytelling are messy, to say the least, but he's determined to go it alone. But where's his story going? After several alternative (but always unhappy) endings, Chester is confronted by a problem he never bargained for. A wry comment on the creative process and how good stories are constructed, this is the most uproarious Chester book yet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hungry Lion (Lucy Ruth Cummins)

I wonder what kind of person writes a crazy book like this??

At first we thought the lion was eating all the animals. Then he wasn't. They were sneaking off to give him a surprise party. But wait. Then he did eat them! (We think) But wait!! Then something bigger and nastier came along!

We read this one really quick at the end of the day. Everyone chuckled and talked about it as they got ready for home. It's a twisted sense of humor that loves this kind of stuff.

We loved it!

Goodreads summary:

Once upon a time there was a very hungry lion and some adorable little animals...

What do you think happened next?

The Vowel Family (Sally Walker)

This is a great way to review how important vowels are! We listened to it on Tumblebooks and I think that is probably the best way since reading it out loud  would actually be quite hard. It would take some practice.

Goodreads summary:

Come meet a very unusual family. Each of the 5 vowel children--Alan, E [etc]--represents one vowel. Until that child is born, his or her vowel is missing from the text of this silly story. As the Vowel family grows, pets from an [a] to a unicorn join their happy home. But then Otto goes missing. Thank goodness clever Aunt Cyndy comes to the rescue and makes the Vowels truly complete! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Flora and the Peacocks (Molly Idle)

I haven't read a wordless book to my class before though. As I started showing the pictures, they were puzzled. Why aren't there any words? Then one said: Hey! We read The Book With No Pictures and it was good. Now we have a book with no words! Soon they settled down and just watched as the story unfolded before them.

Flora does a dance of sorts with the peacocks. When she dances with one the other feels sad. They continue on in this little dance until the peacocks seem to break her fan and she is sad. They make it up to her though. On the last page the page folds out into beautiful peacock tails. My class literally gasped when I opened it up.

I read on Goodreads that there are more Flora books. I definitely need to check them out!

Goodreads summary:

The darling, dancing Flora is back, and this time she's found two new friends: a pair of peacocks! But amidst the fanning feathers and mirrored movements, Flora realizes that the push and pull between three friends can be a delicate dance. Will this trio find a way to get back in step? In the third book featuring Flora and her feathered friends, Molly Idle's gorgeous art combines with clever flaps to reveal that no matter the challenges, true friends will always find a way to dance, leap, and soar—together.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Frank and Laverne (Dave Whamond/Jennifer Stokes)

Cute stories! One story is told from Frank's perspective. One is told from Laverne's perspective. The author has the dog and cat personalities down pat. We loved these books!

Goodreads summary:

Every morning by 06:00 hours, Frank is awake and on duty for Squirrel Patrol. This pug takes his role seriously: basic training, neighborhood surveillance, and, most importantly, protecting his humans and the cat, Laverne, from the Great Dane next door.

Laverne, however, prefers a more refined lifestyle of napping, kneading her cat bed, and scorning humans’ ridiculous behavior. As much as Frank loves her, the deadpan Laverne loathes Frank. She dreams of sending him away forever and claiming his fish-shaped chew toy for herself.

Both pets report their perspectives separately, from opposite ends of the book, until the story comes to a head in the middle with a single encounter Frank and Laverne perceive in very different ways.

Written in the style of a daily log with text and illustrations interspersed, the story abounds with verbal and visual humor that will appeal to reluctant readers. Rich vocabulary, onomatopoeia, and the play on opposing points of view make this a smart, laugh-out-loud pick for critical reading.

It's Monday. What are you reading?

I'm reading Wayside School is Falling Down for my Battle of the Books group at school. It's a fun and silly book.


The Memory Illusion is the is my book club book for this month. I'm really intrigued by the concept.

This week the CEO of the Calgary Public Library is having a book discussion about Badlands. I really want to go so I'm going to try to get this read this week.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Shiloh Christmas


I almost didn't read this one. I read the other three books, Saving Shiloh, Shiloh Season, and Shiloh . I was going to skip this one for one reason: the cover of this one seemed a little too cheesy for me. I was also feeling like I'd had enough of the Shiloh story. Have I mentioned that I'm not much of a series reader? I get bored.

I'm so glad I did read this one though! It brings the Judd Travers issue full circle. I came close to a tear or two when he talked about his past. Definitely worth the read.

Warning: There are stories of abuse in here. It isn't anything graphic, but if this is a trigger for you, you might skip this one. They get a new preacher in their church and Marty and his family start to notice signs of abuse that concern them. Judd Travers also talks about the abuse he endured in his family. It all comes together well though and in the end, there is healing.

Favourite quotes: 

Page 1 "My dog's simple, all right, and next to getting his belly scratched, Shiloh's favorite thing in the whole world is rolling around in deer poop."

Page 7: "Problem, I guess, is that Judd's not changed enough to suit some people. Not fast enough to suit anybody, that's for sure. He don't keep his dogs chained and hugnry, the way they used to be, and they like romping around that fenced-in backyard. I haven't heard anymore complaints about him trying to cheat Mr. Wallace either, and he don't swear around Me, leastwise where she can hear it."

Page 55: "If there's a hell," he says, "I think it's what people make for themselves while they're living. Don't have to die to find that out .""

A rescued beagle and his boy owner seek love and understanding for their troubled small town in this holiday companion to the Newbery Medal–winning Shiloh, from Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

Christmas is coming and Marty and his rescued pup Shiloh are sure glad about that—for their town is sure low on love and understanding and they hope that the joy of the holiday will bring with it the generosity of spirit that’s so lacking.

It’s been a year since Marty Preston rescued Shiloh from Judd Travers and his cruel ways, and since then, Marty and Shiloh have been inseparable. Anywhere Marty goes, the beagle’s at his side, and Marty couldn’t be happier about that. Even Judd has been working to improve his reputation.

But just as townsfolk grow more accepting of Judd, a fire in the woods destroys many homes, including Judd’s, and Judd’s newly formed reputation. Doubt, blame, and anger spread faster than the flames—flames that are fanned by the new minister, who seems fonder of fire and brimstone than love and mercy. And why are his daughters so skittish around him? And what’s happened to Judd’s dogs? With Christmas right around the corner, Marty has a lot of questions, and how they’re answered might just take a Christmas miracle.

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s fourth book in the Newbery Award–winning Shiloh series—following ShilohShiloh Season, and Saving Shiloh—is full of heart-thudding suspense, as well as comfort and joy.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Girl With a Brave Heart - A Tale from Tehran (Rita Jahanforuz and Vali Mintzi)

Wow! This is a powerful book.

We had had some incidents in our classroom about making good choices. This book was a great conversation starter about how we need to take responsibility for our choices and what the fall out of our choices can be.

The story is kind of long, but my students didn't have trouble sitting still for it. It is a great story.

Goodreads summary:

After showing kindness to a strange old woman, Shiraz receives the gift of beauty but her lazy and unkind stepsister, Nargues, suffers a less pleasant fate in this adaptation of the Grimm's fairy tale, Mother Hulda, reset in Tehran, Iran.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Saving Shiloh (Phyllis Reynolds Naylor)

The saga of Judd Travers and Marty continues.

In this book we get more understanding of Judd and why he is the way he is. Marty's family tries to look at the best sides of Judd and they start to see good in him. This book is also full of mystery. It was a good page turner!

Just like Shiloh Season, the previous book in the series, I listened to this one on downloadable audio book. I liked the reader of this one much better.

Goodreads summary:

Marty Preston wonders why it is that despite Judd Traver's attempts to redeem himself everyone is still so willing to think the worst of him. Marty's friend David is sure that Judd will be named as the murderer of a man who has been missing. Others are sure that Judd is behind a series of burglaries in the area. But Marty's parents and, with some trepidation, Marty himself persist in their attempts to be good neighbors and to give Judd a second chance. Now that Marty has Shiloh, maybe he can help Judd to take better care of his other dogs. Then again, maybe folks are right -- there's no way a Judd Travers can ever change for the good. Then a terrifying life-or-death situation brings this dilemma into sharp focus. "Saving Shiloh" is a powerful novel that brings this trilogy to a close.

Kermit the Hermit (Bill Peet)

One of the reasons I'm doing the Book a Day challenge with my class is so that they have someone modelling reading of good books. As much as I love Bill Peet stories, these are very challenging reads and don't work well for Reading Buddies. They sure do lose listening to these stories though! They're quite amazing. My students call them chapter picture books.

Goodreads summary:

A little boy saves Kermit from disaster, and the once cranky crab works hard to repay him.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sad Book (Michael Rosen)

I picked up this book because we have looked at quite a few books lately that are illustrated by Quentin Blake. Our two book choices for book club this month were both illustrated by him. I wasn't sure about reading a book about being sad, but it went over well. My students were quite interested in whether or not the story was true. I told them I thought it was. It is probably a good topic to touch on now and then as kids can experience depression just as much as adults.

The first page surprised me - or in some ways, didn't surprise me:

With unmitigated honesty, a touch of humor, and sensitive illustrations by Quentin Blake, Michael Rosen explores the experience of sadness in a way that resonates with us all.

Sometimes I'm sad and I don’t know why.
It's just a cloud that comes along and covers me up.

Sad things happen to everyone, and sometimes people feel sad for no reason at all. What makes Michael Rosen sad is thinking about his son, Eddie, who died suddenly at the age of eighteen. In this book the author writes about his sadness, how it affects him, and some of the things he does to cope with it—like telling himself that everyone has sad stuff (not just him) and trying every day to do something he can be proud of. Expressively illustrated by the extraordinary Quentin Blake, this is a very personal story that speaks to everyone, from children to parents to grandparents, teachers to grief counselors. Whether or not you have known what it's like to feel deeply sad, the truth of this book will surely touch you.