Monday, January 30, 2017

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

I love the illustrations in this book. The story shows how adults in a child's life can help them to feel great about themselves. The world can be cruel, but the message they get at home can overcome that. I adore Molly Lou Melon's confidence and wish every child could have this.

Goodreads summary:

Molly Lou Melon is different, but this doesn't slow her down.

Grumpy Bird (Jeremy Tankard)

We seem to have a lot of books about grumpiness lately in our classroom. Not sure why this trend. Maybe I need to analyze my interests. :)  

I like the theme in this book that shows that when you get up and get going there is less grumpiness.

Goodreads summary:

Bright and fresh with an innovative art style, this debut picture book from a huge new talent is sure to win lots of fans!

Bird wakes up feeling grumpy. Too grumpy to eat or play -- too grumpy even to fly. "Looks like I'm walking today," says Bird. He walks past Sheep, who offers to keep him company. He walks past Rabbit, who also could use a walk. Raccoon, Beaver, and Fox join in, too.

Before he knows it, a little exercise and companionship help Bird shake his bad mood. This winsome, refreshingly original picture book is sure to help kids (and grown-ups) giggle away theirs, too!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Snurtch (Sean Ferrell)

When we read this book, everyone listened very intently. It seemed to touch all the kids.

Topics we discussed:

  • Everyone feels a little snurtchy sometimes
  • Sometimes people act snurtchy towards you but it isn't about you. Something might have happened previously in the day to make them react in a snutchy way
  • Ways we can help people that are feeling snurtchy
  • Ways we can control our own snurtch

Goodreads summary:

Some days are Snurtch days. Ruthie is having one of those.

Ruthie has a problem at school.

It is not the students. It is not the classroom. It is not the reading or the writing or the math. It is something scribbly, scrunchy, grabby, burpy, and rude. It is the Snurtch.

From the team behind I Don’t Like Koala, this clever picture book takes a discerning look at the challenges of behaving and controlling your emotions—especially when your own personal monster keeps getting in the way.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Flock of Shoes (Sarah Tsiang)

I totally get this kid! I have things I love and can't let go of even when it is time.

Goodreads summary:
Abby loves her pink and brown sandals with the lime green trim, and she wears them wherever she goes. But as summer draws to a close, Abby’s mom announces that it’s time for the sandals to go. Abby is determined to keep them on—until one day, while swinging at the park, her sandals flip off and fly away. All winter long, Abby wonders what her sandals are up to. Postcards of sandy white beaches and glorious sunsets reassure her that they are having a wonderful time in far away places. Come February, Abby realizes that she has also grown to love her cozy, comfy boots. As the warm weather comes, she watches sadly as they march off, but a swish in the sky announces the return of her pink and brown sandals—all ready for another summer of fun. Full of whimsy, this circular tale is enhanced by rich, evocative language and delicate pastel illustrations that are sure to delight any young child. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Baa Baa Smart Sheep (Mark and Rowan Sommerset)

This book was a huge hit in my class. I'm sure a lot of people will look down their nose about this book since it involves poop and tricking. Perhaps a conversation about harmless tricks and not appropriate tricks would be a good follow up (or introduction). Or perhaps a lesson in gullibility?

All I know is they really loved it when I read it. Later in the week we had Family Literacy Day. They picked it to read with one of the dads. There was howls of laughter. Fun!

Goodreads summary:

Little Baa Baa is bored. When Quirky Turkey comes along, the opportunity to make some mischief proves too hard to resist.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Goodnight Already! (Jory John and Benji Davies)

Ever feel like no one around you understands you? This is a good one for that! I think this book is actually about me and Mr. Ackroyd. We seem to be opposite style sleepers. *sigh* Or is it about kids and adults?

Goodreads summary:

Meet Bear. He's exhausted. All he wants is to go to sleep. Meet Duck, Bear's persistent next-door neighbor. All he wants is to hang out . . . with Bear.

Jory John, author of All My Friends Are Dead, and Benji Davies join together to create this standout hilarious picture book that will make bedtime memorable.

This Is Not a Picture Book (Sergio Ruzzier)

I love how how the pictures could tell an entire story. When he says this one is difficult the pictures are all tricky and complicated objects. When he says some are funny everything on the page is weird and funny. When he same some are very sad, everything on the page is dead and burnt out and seems to have just endured a war.

Goodreads summary:

In this quirky yet sweet picture book about the joy and power of reading, Duck learns that even books without pictures can be fun. While he and his friend Bug may struggle at first to decipher their book, they stick with it, and before long they discover that not only can they read it, but it deserves a place on the shelf with all their favorite picture books. Author-artist Sergio Ruzzier has created a fanciful tribute to books of all kinds. It includes both words AND pictures.

Look Up! (Jung Jin-Ho)

There are very few words in this story. You have to pay attention to little details to get more from it. It is hard to notice that the main character is a girl in a wheelchair. You can really only tell in one picture, as far as I can see. Once one person looks up and notices her, other people do as well. Interesting symbolism about how we miss things and it just takes one person to make a difference for someone we don't usually see?

Goodreads summary:

Dramatic aerial views and an expressive, subtle palette tell a story about a wheelchair-bound girl looking down from her balcony at passersby below and urging them to Look up!

Dog walkers, a bike rider, a kite flier, and dozens of commuters walk by without taking any notice. Then a boy stops and looks up. He lies on the sidewalk so the girl can see him better. A woman joins him. Soon nine people and one dog are lying down and looking up. The girl looks up at the reader and smiles.

Art and text that are dramatic and elegant tell a story of kindness, compassion and friendship. This book was awarded an Opera Prima Honor at the Bologna Book Fair."

Postcards from Chicago (

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Splat the Cat (Rob Scotton)

Read January 5, 2017 Cute story! It would be great to read this book in September when school starts. Splat has many of the feelings kids have when they're starting school. His attempts at trying to not go to school are quite funny and relate-able. The teacher is hilarious. Splat has a pet mouse, which of course, is going to cause a problem at cat school. We could see that one coming! We noticed that all the other cats are grey in this book and Splat is black.

Reread Sep 1, 2018 - My students mentioned that perhaps we should have read this on the first day of school. They caught on to the subtle humor where Splat is knocked over and it says "splat!" on the page. Many students were familiar with other books in the series and had comments about patterns in the series.

Goodreads summary:

It's Splat's first day of school and he's worried. What if he doesn't make any new friends? Just in case, Splat decides to bring along his pet mouse, Seymour, and hides him in his lunchbox. The teacher, Mrs. Wimpydimple, introduces Splat to the class and he soon starts learning all his important cat lessons. But when Seymour escapes and the cats do what cats do (they chase mice!), Splat's worried again. Maybe now he'll lose all his friends, old and new! Just in time, wise Mrs. Wimpydimple takes charge and teaches everyone an important new lesson. Maybe Cat School is going to be okay after all! 

The House that George Built (Suzanne Slade)

This book was a great introduction for our Structures and Design in science. It is a good mix of facts and poetry! It talks about problems in building it, its stability (they use the word sturdy), etc. It's great! We could easily have a discussion about quality of life from this book. It also gives some good history lessons on the US breaking away from England and becoming a nation.

Goodreads summary:

THE HOUSE THAT GEORGE BUILT takes readers through the process of how the president’s house came to be—starting with the contest George held to choose the perfect design for this legendary landmark, all the way to President John Adams’s move into the grandiose home. Cleverly written in the familiar format of "The House That Jack Built," author Suzanne Slade supplements her rhyming verse with lively conversational prose, describing how George was involved in this project from beginning to end, from selecting the location to figuring out how to get the thousands of heavy bricks to the construction site. Rebecca Bond’s watercolor illustrations help readers follow the steps to what became the White House as we know it today.(

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Princess and the Pony (Kate Beaton)

To celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, I set a goal this year to read 150 books by Canadian authors. This was my first! I took some of Kate Beaton's other books out of the library. Hark! A Vagrant was a comic book style book full of wit. I can't really include it in my list of books read though because I lost interest part way through. She's a clever author though, for sure.

The princess in this story is midunderstood. No one is realizing the potential she has quite as quick as she would like. The books is irreverent, using the word fart now and then. (We loved that in my class!) Princess Pinecone wants to be a warrior, but in the end, she gets the other warriors to join her side, of sorts. They start wearing sweaters and helps them show their warm cuddly side. If it is a story to encourage girls to be stronger and accomplish more, it fails. If it is meant to solely be entertaining, it wins.

Goodreads summary:

Princess Pinecone knows exactly what she wants for her birthday this year. A BIG horse. A STRONG horse. A horse fit for a WARRIOR PRINCESS! But when the day arrives, she doesn't quite get the horse of her dreams...

From the artist behind the comic phenomenon Hark! A VagrantThe Princess and the Pony is a laugh-out-loud story of brave warriors, big surprises, and falling in love with one unforgettable little pony.

Ruby's Wish (Shirin Yim Bridges) Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)

We've listened to this story a number of times on Tumblebooks. My students are always captivated by it. The idea that girl's don't just automatically get an education, unlike boys, is a totally foreign concept to them. It makes no sense...and that is a wonderful thing. :)

Goodreads summary:

Ruby is unlike most little girls in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. Based upon the inspirational story of the author's grandmother and accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, Ruby's Wish is an engaging portrait of a young girl who strives for more and a family who rewards her hard work and courage. 

A Child of Books (Oliver Jeffers)

This is ones of those books I want to look at again and again. I'm not as skilled as my students at taking the time to really soak up all that is in the illustrations of a book, but this one definitely made me want to stop and pause. Love it!

Goodreads summary:

I am a child of books.

I come from a world of stories.

A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy. She invites him to go away with her on an adventure into the world of stories... where, with only a little imaginaton, anything at all can happen.

Irresistibly engaging characters by Oliver Jeffers set sail and chart their way through Sam Winston's fascinating typographical landscapes in this extraordinary ode to the power and promises of storytelling. Forty treasured children's classics and lullabies are featured in the pictures, providing endless opportunities for discovery, memories and sharing.

Woven together by a simple story line, the one-of-a-kind illustrations in a A Child of Books provide an unforgettable reading experience that will inspire and encourage readers of all ages to explore, question, and imagine timeless stories of their own.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Boy on the Brink (David McPhail)

This book reminded us of Where the Wild Things Are. My students noticed the change in font when he starts to dream. All of his dreams had something to do with something that happened to him that day or something that had been said to him. When he wakes up, there are several items in his room that were in his dream. My students noticed this right away. We talked about how pictures tell a lot about the story and sometimes the words don't seem to make sense when it is something like a dream. Dreams are crazy!

Goodreads Summary:

That night there was a storm. Thunder shook the boy's bed and sent it flying . . . and when it landed, the bed was transformed into a world of mountains and valleys, with a river that spilled over a waterfall into a vast green sea. 

A little boy is always the hero in his adventurous dreams...

After a fun-filled day of fishing, playing on the beach, and riding ponies at a carnival, a young boy goes to sleep and dreams of adventures inspired by the day's events. The boy rescues a yellow-haired girl from the castle guards, patches a crack in the dam, and saves a giant ship from falling off the edge of a waterfall, always managing to escape from the brink of disaster.

Award-winning author and illustrator David McPhail's distinctive artwork casts nighttime dreaming in a new light.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Reason I Jump (Naoki Higashida)


If I were only as self-aware as this thirteen year old seems to be! It was an interesting read. I was hoping for a clearer picture that would help me understand autism better - but I was left with what I have always thought. It's very difficult to understand and it isn't easy living life with autism. I was glad to read the book though. His ability to describe why he does or thinks certain things was fascinating.

Goodreads summary:

You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.

Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.

In his introduction, bestselling novelist David Mitchell writes that Naoki’s words allowed him to feel, for the first time, as if his own autistic child was explaining what was happening in his mind. “It is no exaggeration to say that The Reason I Jump allowed me to round a corner in our relationship.” This translation was a labor of love by David and his wife, KA Yoshida, so they’d be able to share that feeling with friends, the wider autism community, and beyond. Naoki’s book, in its beauty, truthfulness, and simplicity, is a gift to be shared.