Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Library Gingerbread Man (Dotti Enderle)


This would be a great book to use at the beginning of the year when we teach kids how to use the library...or at least that is what I plan to do this next year! It would be a great way to introduce kids to the Dewy Decimal system.

Goodreads says

The Gingerbread Man ran into a crowd at 920, the biography section. Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, and Amelia Earhart tried to stop him. "Stop! Stop, Gingerbread Man! You're a long way from home."

The Gingerbread Man sped around them. "Run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man! I ran away from the librarian, a Word Wizard, a giraffe, a robot, a paper bird, and a jokester, and I can run away from you, too."

Even Jesse Owens, a record-breaking Olympic runner, couldn't keep up.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I Wish I Could Draw (Cary Fagan)

This would be a great book to read when you're working on a writing project that you want your class to illustrate, especially with kids who say they don't draw well. This is a delightful story about creating a story.

Goodreads says:

The narrator of I Wish I Could Draw shares a name with creator Cary Fagan and has the same curly hair and glasses. Perhaps most interesting of all, though, the narrator believes he has no artistic talent — just like the Cary Fagan, who not only wrote but also bravely and exuberantly illustrated this book. Fortunately for readers, both Cary-the-narrator and Cary-the-children’s-book-creator refused to let self-doubt stop them from trying to tell (and draw) the funniest and most exciting story they could think of. The result is a book that delivers plenty of excitement, silly jokes, and fun — and also an important message about self-confidence and perseverance. Designed to look like a child’s notebook, I Wish I Could Draw will inspire readers to pick up a pencil and let their imaginations do the rest.

The Clever Boy and the Terrible, Dangerous Animal (Idries Shah)

The lesson: Just because you have never seen something before doesn't mean it is terrible or dangerous.

"And just think. It all happened because a clever boy was not afraid when a lot of silly people thought something was dangerous just because they had never seen it before."

Goodreads says:

When a boy visits another village, he is amazed to find the townspeople terrified of something that--just because they have not seen it before--they mistake for a terrible, dangerous animal. With his own knowledge and by demonstration, he helps them overcome their fears.

This tale is one of the many hundreds of Sufi developmental stories collected by Idries Shah from oral and written sources in Central Asia and the Middle East. For more than a thousand years this story has entertained young people and helped to foster in them the ability to examine their assumptions and to think for themselves.

Rose Mary Santiago's illustrations accentuate the surprise in this story in a clever way that will delight youngsters. This is the second book in this series illustrated by her, following the award-winning best seller, The Farmer's Wife.

This story is part of an oral tradition from the Middle East and Central Asia that is more than a thousand years old. In an entertaining way, it introduces children to an interesting aspect of human behavior and so enables them to recognize it in their daily lives.

One of the many tales from the body Sufi literature collected by Idries Shah, the tale is presented here as part of his series of books for young readers. This is the second book in the series illustrated by Rose Mary Santiago, following the award-winning bestseller, The Farmer's Wife.

Ivan (Katherine Applegate)

I need to remember this book for when we do the novel in Grade 3 Book Club.

Goodreads says:

In a spare, powerful text and evocative illustrations, the Newbery medalist Katherine Applegate and the artist G. Brian Karas present the extraordinary real story of a special gorilla.
     Captured as a baby, Ivan was brought to a Tacoma, Washington, mall to attract shoppers. Gradually, public pressure built until a better way of life for Ivan was found at Zoo Atlanta. From the Congo to America, and from a local business attraction to a national symbol of animal welfare, Ivan the Shopping Mall Gorilla traveled an astonishing distance in miles and in impact.
     This is his true story and includes photographs of Ivan in the back matter.

Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? (Tanya Lee Stone)

This is a great book. It feels like you're talking to a friend when you read it. It has a fabulous message. It is amazing how things have changed for women. I love how kids are always surprised when they hear how things used to be for women. Everyone should know about Elizabeth Blackwell.

Goodreads says:

In the 1830s, when a brave and curious girl named Elizabeth Blackwell was growing up, women were supposed to be wives and mothers. Some women could be teachers or seamstresses, but career options were few. Certainly no women were doctors. 

But Elizabeth refused to accept the common beliefs that women weren’t smart enough to be doctors, or that they were too weak for such hard work. And she would not take no for an answer. Although she faced much opposition, she worked hard and finally—when she graduated from medical school and went on to have a brilliant career—proved her detractors wrong. This inspiring story of the first female doctor shows how one strong-willed woman opened the doors for all the female doctors to come.

Book of Big Brothers (Cary Fagan)

Everyone should write a story like this and share it with their kids. Fun!

Goodreads says:

In this episodic tale that's rich with Cary Fagan's characteristically dry humor, a boy tells the story of his life with two older brothers. When he is only a week old, his brothers argue over who can hold him first and drop him onto the porch. But they aren't all bad: they chase away the mean girls who call him names, and they perform a play starring the neighbor's dog to cheer him up when he has the measles. Later on these troublesome boys set fire to neighbor's tree, play football in the living room, and even attempt to ride their banana bikes all the way to the Rocky Mountains. Inspired by Cary Fagan's childhood experiences, this story is a spot-on portrayal of the crazy, mishap-filled, yet undeniably fun and affectionate life in a family with three boys. Luc Melanson's wonderfully lively and extremely funny retro-style illustrations are a perfect complement to the text.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Little Blue Chair (Cary Fagan)

This is a beautiful story. We loved how it came full circle. It reminded me a lot of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and would be a great introduction to it. It would be fun to read both and have a discussion comparing the two.

Goodreads says:

Boo's favorite chair is little and blue. He sits in it, reads in it and makes a tent around it...until the day he grows too big for it. His mother puts the little blue chair out on the lawn where a truck driver picks it up. The truck driver sells it to a lady in a junk store where it sits for many years until it's sold and put to use as a plant stand. In the years that follow, the little blue chair is used in many other ways -- on an elephant ride, in a contest, on a Ferris wheel, in a tree...until the day it flies away, borne aloft by balloons, and lands in a garden of daffodils where a familiar face finds it. 
A charming, beautifully illustrated read-aloud that follows the adventures of a little chair, beginning as the seat of a small child who loves books and circling back to that child's child many years (and bottoms) later.

Jeffrey and Sloth (Kari-Lynn Winters)

Good story about inner voices and speaking positively to ourselves. This would be a great story to read in September when we start writing narrative stories.

Jeffrey makes a fun reference to Canada in the story too...which made sense when I found out the author was Canadian. Yea for Canadian authors!

It is illustrated by the same guy who did Richard Was A Picker.

Goodreads says:

Jeffrey can't think of a thing to write, so he doodles instead, only to have his doodle begin to order him about. Jeffrey struggles with the situation until he discovers that the most strong-willed doodle is powerless against a well-told tale. Jeffrey and Sloth is bound to have children rushing for their colored pencils and their pens to see who and what they can create.


One more week of school, then my book a day summer project begins! Can't wait!!

This week I'm finishing off my book club book (The Elegance of the Hedgehog) and planning to read a couple more (Looks Like Daylight....another by the great Deborah Ellis and Better Than six month review)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Banjo of Destiny (Cary Fagan)

Great little story about following your passions. If you ever were forced to play an instrument you didn't love, you'll relate to Jeremiah. Jeremiah has a good friend, Luella, who encourages him on in his pursuit to play the banjo. Jeremiah isn't the cool kid. He's picked last for sports. He messes up at the piano recital. Other boys like to pick on him and tease him. However, he continues on doing what he loves.

Goodreads summary:

Jeremiah Birnbaum is stinking rich. He lives in a house with nine bathrooms, a games room, an exercise room, an indoor pool, a hot tub, a movie theater, a bowling alley and a tennis court. His parents, a former hotdog vendor and window cleaner who made it big in dental floss, make sure Jeremiah goes to the very best private school, and that he takes lessons in all the things he will need to know how to do as an accomplished and impressive young man: etiquette lessons, ballroom dancing, watercolor painting. And, of course, classical piano.

Jeremiah complies, because he wants to please his parents. But one day, by chance, he hears the captivating strains of a different kind of music -- the strums, plucks and rhythms of a banjo. It is music that stirs something in Jeremiah's dutiful little soul, and he is suddenly obsessed. And when his parents forbid him to play one, he decides to learn anyway -- even if he has to make the instrument himself.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Best Books to Read (Debbie Bertram and Susan Bloom)

This would be a great book to use to kick off a book-a-day project. The illustrations are cute and students always love the rhythm of rhyming books (although some of the rhymes in this book were suspect).

Goodreads says:

THE LITTLE BOY who loves to read is back, and this time he and his classmates are visiting a big public library! In their signature catchy, rhyming verse, Debbie Bertram and Susan Bloom give readers a taste of the variety of books that can be found at the library. Michael Garland’s bright, graphic illustrations bring to life the array of fantastic and hilarious scenes that can result from finding the best book to read! 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ella May and the Wishing Stone (Cary Fagan)

This may be my favorite Cary Fagan story yet. My class was captivated by it as well. It definitely had some gasp of my favorite things when reading to my class. This would be great one to read while we're doing our Rocks and Minerals unit.

Goodreads says:
One day, Ella May finds a stone that has a line going all-all-all the way around it. Surely a stone this special must grant wishes, she decides. Soon she is busy making wishes and bragging about them. When her friends want to share the fun, Ella May objects. But she soon learns that keeping the stone for herself is a sure way to lose friends. By using her imagination – much more powerful than any stone – she is able to grant everybody’s wishes, including her own.

Cary Fagan’s witty and sharply observed story will delight young readers who are beginning to explore the pleasures and challenges of sharing and friendship.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ten Old Men and a Mouse (Cary Fagan)

I kind of thought this book had too much of an adult feel to it - but my students really did enjoy it. Another Cary Fagan great!

Goodreads says:

The synagogue was once a busy, bustling place, but now only ten old men come to tend it and pray each day. Then one day, a little scritch-scratch betrays the first new member in years: a tiny mouse who has taken up residence among the holy books. Of course, a trap must be set, but who will do it? Al volunteers, but in the morning the mouse is still there, and is just a little more appealing than he was before. 

Day after day, the men become more engaged, until the mouse has a bed, pictures on the wall, and a little carpet, not to mention all the treats the men bring. Then comes the biggest surprise of all. He is a she, giving the ten old men reason to celebrate with peach schnapps — and to plan a trip to the country where they find the perfect place to release their numerous charges. Back at the synagogue, fall turns to winter. The ten old men miss their mice until a little scritch-scratch….

Full of gentle humor and witty truisms, Cary Fagan’s Ten Old Men and a Mouse will delight both the young and old. Illustrations by Gary Clement heighten the fun.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tornado Slim and the Magic Cowboy Hat (Bryan Langdo)

This is a hilarious story. Very well written and a joy to read aloud. It's fun to use a cowboy twang when reading it. It was an interesting mix of magic, cowboys, talking animals, danger and heroes.

Goodreads summary:

Tornado Slim is just your regular cowboy . . . until the day he meets the coyote. The coyote gives Slim his special hat and asks him to deliver a letter to the sheriff of Fire Gulch City. Slim has never been to Fire Gulch City, but he figures he can handle it. As Slim travels from town to town, disaster seems to follow. Pretty soon Slim learns that his new hat is NOT your average cowboy hat. Will Slim ever make it to Fire Gulch City? And what did the wily coyote put down in that letter, anyway? Watercolor illustrations add lively humor to this original tall tale. 

Monday, June 12, 2017


This week I need to finish this for my book club!


I also have a big book club event with  my grade threes. Can't wait! 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Alice in Pastaland (Alexandra Wright)

We read/watched this on tumblebooks. The animation was not quite as robust as other tumble books, but there were interesting things that happened along the way: especially numbers and equations that kept scrolling on the bottom of the page or side of the pages here and there. The different voices in the story were great too.

I'm not usually a fan of books with math concepts embedded in them, but this one was quite enjoyable! Unfortunately they were imperial (inches and feet) instead of metric. There was a cat that had numbers on his nametag and it was actually a math family diagram. Funny word play on characters like a snake, an adder that sits adding numbers all the time. There was even an introduction to Soduko! The play on the story of Alice in Wonderland is super cute. There was even good science information.

Goodreads summary:

Suppose that Alice had fallen into a wonderland where pasta was the only common denominator. In this clever parody of Lewis Carroll's classic tale, Alexandra Wright presents a mathematically aware Alice whose adventures are an appetizing combination of numbers, humor, and fun. With the Math Hatter dishing it up, the Adder using his noodle, and the Quantum Cat adding spice, arithmetic is full of pastabilities.


I'm reading Cary Falange books this week. I'm hoping that we can have him visit our school next ear during Word Fest.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wolfie and Fly (Cary Fagan)

I loved the main character, Renata Wolfman (also known as Wolfie). She's an independent kid who doesn't need friends for approval or for fun. However, she does end up in some interesting situations iwth her neighbor, Livingston Flott, also known as Fly. I can see these two having a lot of interesting adventures together. Looking forward to reading more!

Goodreads Summary:

A classic story of imagination, friendship, adventure and speeding through the ocean in a cardboard box. For fans of Ivy & BeanJudy Moody or Nate the Great. Wolfie and Fly is an early chapter book at its simplest and best. Our heroine, Renata Wolfman (Wolfie) does everything by herself. Friends just get in the way, and she only has time for facts and reading. But friendship finds her in the form of Livingston Flott (Fly), the slightly weird and wordy boy from next door. Before she knows it, Wolfie is motoring through deep water with Fly as her second in command in a submarine made from a cardboard box. 
Out on a solo swim to retrieve a baseball vital to the mission, Wolfie is finally by herself again, but for the first time, she finds it a little lonely. Maybe there is something to this friend thing...