Thursday, February 23, 2017

Those Shoes (Maribeth Boelts)

Great story. Have you ever just wanted something because you felt like life would just be better? You'd just be a little cooler? We could all relate. Often, everyone just wants to fit in. In our school kids wear uniforms and they're well aware that one of the benefits of uniforms is that we don't seem to have those issues as much - but they still got the concept. We all had empathy for Jeremy when he just wanted to have the same shoes as everyone else. We felt excited for him when he found some in the second hand store and we understood the crazy idea of squishing your feet into the shoes he finally found even though they were too small. When he gives the shoes away, our hearts sang. There is a great lesson in this story about learning the difference between wants and needs and what really matters when it comes to fitting in.

Goodreads summary:
But all the kids are wearing them! Any child who has ever craved something out of reach will relate to this warm, refreshingly realistic story.

"I have dreams about those shoes. Black high-tops. Two white stripes."

All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. But Jeremy’s grandma tells him they don’t have room for "want," just "need," and what Jeremy needs are new boots for winter. When Jeremy’s shoes fall apart at school, and the guidance counselor gives him a hand-me-down pair, the boy is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy comes to realize that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.

Boy Soup (Loris Lesynski)

Great Tumble Book story! The kids loved the trick. I loved the verse. Great rhymes. In the end, the giant is glad he didn't eat the boys. Lots of good descriptive adjectives in here!

Goodreads summary:

When Giant wakes up with a big hurting head and a sore raspy throat, he finds the cure is a bowl of Boy Soup! Giant captures five boys and Kate, who all protest his plan. But Kate soon comes up with her own remedy and convinces the Giant that the soup should be made, not of boys, but by boys.

In a Sunburned Country (Bill Bryson)

Before this, I didn't know about Bill Bryson. When I was carrying this book around people would comment, "Oh! I love Bill Bryson. Have you ever read...."

I definitely have some more reading to do.

I really didn't know anything about Australia before this. His book was a great way to learn about Australia. I learned that you could die there. They have some seriously unique animals and plants and a lot of danger. I think I'll stick to the coastal areas, if I go there. Although, the lure of undiscovered gems and minerals in the wide open outback is a bit of a temptation!

I really enjoyed his humour. I found myself chuckling often. I read this while hanging out in the lodge on our school's ski days and my friends around me would often ask what I was chuckling about. We enjoyed it together. I was glad I had those two days to sit and read. I wouldn't want to spread this one out over too many more could take forever to read this one, if you let that happen. Instead, I totally immersed myself. It isn't that long, but the font is quite small....very dense!

It is interesting to me that so many countries have a part of their history where they were abusive to the indigenous people that were there when they arrived. There doesn't seem to be much shame in that on the part of Australians though. I found that quite curious.

I did find him a little more verbose than necessary. He does like to go on and on and on. Mavericks was the same way. (I never did finish that's more of a long term project type book) It had a lot of great information, but there was just so much of it! I wondered if more people would read these kinds of books if only they were a little more succinct. He also likes to use crazy words. At first I'd look them up. Then I just started making a list to look up later. Most of the time I discovered that there was usually a word that would be just as effective that he could have used.

Goodreads summary:

Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the WoodsIn A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiousity.

Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Storytelling Princess (Rafe Martin)

This was a great read aloud! My students gasped at the right times and chuckled at the right times. They really got a kick out of the story. It kind of reminded me of a Bill Peet story. There are lots of twists and turns and it's longer than you might think a picture book should be - but it sure works well!

I loved that the princess was a strong character. I also loved that they both loved to read and knew many many stories!

At the end, we talked about the lesson from the story. I said perhaps the lesson was that we should always listen to our parents, after all, she ended up marrying the prince that they had picked for her. One student wisely responded that maybe the lesson is that we should trust kids because they'll make the right decision if we let them. Wisdom!

Goodreads summary:

Having survived a shipwreck, a princess tries to tell a prince a story whose ending he does not know and thus qualify for his hand in marriage.

Don't Cross The Line (Isabel Minhos Martins)

This was a strange story. It was a little difficult as a read aloud. There is a lot in every illustration. We loved the illustrations.  This story seemed right for this bizarre Donald Trump era...but no one really made that connection in my class. They just thought it was funny. It is cool how the illustrator made the line the half of the book. We chuckled as the people started to cross the line.

It would be a good book to read to talk about standing up for injustices and creating change peacefully.

Another reader's summary:

 There is a wonderfully subversive tone to the entire book, winking and laughing at the threat of not being able to cross what is not usually a boundary in a book. Still, there is a real general and a real threat that is disarmed by numbers and action. It is a wonderful book to share when talking about the importance of demonstrating and standing for causes.

Goodreads summary:

This slapstick postmodern tale is also a profound statement about dictatorship and peaceful revolution, from an award-winning author/illustrator team.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Yuck! A Love Story (Don Gillmor)

A perfect story for Valentine's Day! We have been focusing on friendship and so this one worked well too. My students were captivated by the story. It made total sense to them that one could lasso the moon and that it would taste terrible like blue cheese. After all, it has been around for a long time.

The jacket claims it is a romance. It is pretty subtle, if it was meant to be a romance. I'd say it's more simply focused on friendship. The trip around the world didn't phase them either.

I got to hear Marie-Louise Gay speak once. She was a lovely woman and I am always interested in anything she illustrates!

Goodreads summary:

Every great romance begins with Yuck, a Love Story. Austin_s life is perfect until Amy moves in next door. He doesn_t understand why a girl has to live beside him, or why girls have to live anywhere for that matter. Despite having no use for Amy, Austin seems to be strangely affected by every comment she makes and everything about her - right down to the bows on her shoes. Yuck, a Love Story will touch the heart of anyone who has survived that earth-shattering first crush, and is written with the wit and wisdom of one who has been to the moon and back. Marie-Louise Gay_s charming illustrations express a youthful innocence that matches the text perfectly.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Happiness Equation (Neil

I read this book because I loved The Book of Awesome. When I first started this book, I wasn't that impressed. The more I read the more I loved it though. I even loved it enough to keep it two days past when it was due at the library (this morning you could have seen me outside the library finishing off the last chapter as I attempted to return it before yet another day of overdue fines accrued). Some books are definitely worth keeping past the due date. I think this is one worth buying.

I am a goal oriented person. In the beginning, he talks about how you just need to be happy where you are. Just decide. Just decide to be happy. Quit pushing yourself. This idea didn't fit in my picture of self-improvement. However, the more I read, the more persuaded I became that he is right.

He says that success does not lead to happiness. I think he's right. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to be successful. It means that if you aren't happy along the way, when you arrive at the destination, it is likely that you still won't be happy because when you drill down, happiness is a choice. I would agree.

His theory that multitasking is a myth is also very persuasive. I'm going to quit trying to pursue that (although, I have to balance that with Gretchen Rubin's Coupling Tasks theory).

He also says that retirement is a broken theory. He talks about having something worthwhile to do. In our world we seem to esteem leisure over everything else, and really, it is a false happiness. I like his idea of always having something you're working on. I think it keeps you young.

He also talks about three tests to measure life: The Saturday Morning Test (what do you do when you have nothing to do on a Saturday morning...that reveals what you really love), The Bench Test ( ) and the Five People Test (you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

I like his advice on making fewer decisions. I am going to follow his advice by planning less variance in meals. It will make life much easier if I'm not spending time labouring over things that really don't deserve the time. I'm okay with eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day (might have to remain in creative mode for dinner though just to be safe). He says the elimination of options actually leads to more choice. Irony at it's finest.

I thought it was ironic that he ends the book with the idea that you should never take advice. The translation is the D&C 9:7-9 principle. Study it out in your mind then follow your gut (or the spirit...however you want to put it).

Goodreads summary:

What’s the formula for a happy life?  

Neil Pasricha is a Harvard MBA, a Walmart executive, a New York Times–bestselling author, and a husband and dad. After selling more than a million copies of his Book of Awesome series, he now shifts his focus from observation to application.

In The Happiness Equation, Pasricha illustrates how to want nothing, do anything, and have everything. If that sounds like a contradiction, you simply haven’t unlocked the 9 Secrets to Happiness.

Each secret takes a common ideal, flips it on its head, and casts it in a completely new light. Pasricha then goes a step further by providing step-by-step guidelines and hand-drawn scribbles that illustrate exactly how to apply each secret to live a happier life today.

Controversial? Maybe. Counterintuitive? Definitely.

The Happiness Equation will teach you such principles as:
· Why success doesn’t lead to happiness 
· How to make more money than a Harvard MBA 
· Why multitasking is a myth 
· How eliminating options leads to more choice

The Happiness Equation is a book that will change how you think about everything—your time, your career, your relationships, your family, and, ultimately, of course, your happiness. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

People (Peter Spier)

This book is full of amazing facts and illustrations. We just touched the tip when we read it aloud. My class was very eager for it to be put in our library corner so that they could take in more of the details in all the illustrations. I loved that it also touched on how some people are afraid of or hate other people because they're different than what they're used to. Good topic for our political world today!

Goodreads summary:

With updated statistics and current geographical information, People by Peter Spier, first published in 1980, is a solid addition to any collection. Detailed facts and figures as well as a focus on the issue of diversity make this a great book for reference and a basis for discussion, both at home and in the classroom.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

They All Saw a Cat (Brendan Wenzel)

This is one of those books that makes you think, gee, kids are sure smart! They totally got it. We had a good discussion about how people see things differently and even though we may all be together all day, we all have our own experiences in that day.

The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .

In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what do you see?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Count the Monkeys (Mac Barnett)

This book is so fun! I thought it might be too young for my class, but they loved it. They zig zagged and yelled and whispered as they were encouraged to in the text.

Mac Barnett nails it again.

Goodreads summary:

Kids will giggle as they count all the animals that have frightened the monkeys off the pages. Full of fun reader interactions and keeps readers guessing until the very last page! Matching Mac Barnett's brilliant wit are Kevin Cornell's luminous illustrations, which will have young readers begging to count the monkeys all over again.

King Baby (Kate Beaton)

I can't really recommend this book. I didn't like the theme of the baby running everyone's world. The baby seems like a tyrant. He doles out commands. There really isn't a plot in this story.

Kate Beaton does have a sharp sense of humor...I just don't always buy into it.

Goodreads summary:

The next picture book by Kate Beaton – Hark! A Vagrant creator and author of The Princess and the Pony – has been announced. Scholastic's Arthur A. Levine Books will release King Baby on September 13, 2016.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Duck On a Bike (David Shannon)

This was a delightful read in our class. My students were tickled by the idea of a duck on a bike. They loved the sounds of the animals as the duck passed by each one. When we got to the page where all the kids showed up they knew what was coming...and when all the animals got on the bike the roar of laughter was wonderful!

Goodreads summary:

Caldecott Honor winner David Shannon applies his wonderful off-beat humor to the story of a duck who decides to try riding a bike--and loves it! Another young, funny book perfect for reading aloud.

One day down on the farm, Duck got a wild idea. "I bet I could ride a bike," he thought. He waddled over to where the boy parked his bike, climbed on and began to ride. At first he rode slowly and he wobbled a lot, but it was fun! Duck rode past Cow and waved to her. "Hello, Cow!" said Duck. "Moo," said Cow. But what she thought was, "A duck on a bike? That's the silliest thing I've ever seen!"
And so Duck rides past sheep, horse, and all the other barnyard animals. Suddenly, a group of kids ride by on their bikes and run into the farmhouse, leaving the bikes outside. Now ALL the animals can ride bikes, just like Duck!