Friday, July 14, 2017

Looks Like Daylight (Deborah Ellis)

Earlier in the Spring, I went to what I thought was a reading at the Calgary Public Library. It was during the Children's Festival and Deborah Ellis was a speaker! I was so excited to go listen to her. It turned out it really wasn't about Deborah Ellis. It was about students who are doing cool projects in Calgary to better the world. Their projects were centered on First Nation's issues. I found it all quite inspiring. After the presentations, I asked Deborah Ellis if she'd ever considered writing a book about First Nations and it turns out she had! I got straight on to the library website to get a copy of the book.


This isn't a novel. It is interviews with First Nations youth that Deborah Ellis had met over the course of two years. Each chapter is a different story. Stories are told in first person. After a while, I figured I got the gist of the book, but something told me I should continue on. After reading story after story after story, there is a great impact on the reader's heart. There are so many amends to be made for all the First Nations people have gone through. I think they will rise up though. I feel like times are changing for their entire culture. Perhaps that is why it is called Looks Like Daylight. The last page is a story about Waakekom, an Ojibwe boy who is 16 from Saugeen First Nation in Ontario. He says:

 “My spirit name (“Waasekom”) means ‘when it’s night and lightning fills the sky and it suddenly looks like daylight,’”.

Like she has in the past, all the royalties from this book go to the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (

Some parts that really struck me:

p. 117 The US government referred to the Cochtaw Nation as one of the Five Civilized Tribes, along with the Cherokee, Creek, Chicksaw and Seminole. They were called civilized because many had begun to adopt European ways - living in log cabins, wearing European style clothing and attending school. But in 1829, President Andrew Jackson decided that assimilation wasn't good enough. He launched a plan to remove all Native Americans from the US South to places west of the Mississippi River. The idea was to move 60,000 Native Americans who had been living in the Eastern Woodlands since time immemorial and put them in an area vastly unsuited to their traditional way of life. The bulk of the Five Tribes were rounded up at gunpoint and then forced to walk, leaving behind farms and homes. One in four died along the way.

p. 151 Lacrosse originated with the people of the Ongwahonwe Haudenosaunee, or Six Nations, the people of the Longhouse....also known as The Ancient Game/the Creator's Game, its purpose was- and still is-spiritual. It's offered up to the Creator asa prayer for healing or as an expression of gratitude. Some people are given miniature lacross sticks when they are born, & when they pass, a lacrosse stick is placed beside them. 

*Lacrosse = Canada's National Sport

p. 175American Indians have a higher percentage of enrollment in the armed services than any other group. The first Native American recipient of the Medal of Honor (1869) was Co-Rux-Te-Chod-ish, or Co-Tux-Kah-Waddle, who served with the Indian Scouts. In WWI, a law was passed requiring all Native American men to register for the draft even though they were not considered citizens and could not vote .Many thousands voluntarily joined the military. Many others protested this law. In Utah, for instance, the protests were so vehement that the army was called in to stop them.More than 44,000 Native Americans served in WWII, where Navajo Code Talkers played a pivotal role. Ten thousand served in Korea and 42,000 in Vietnam. Ten thousand of those who have served have been women. 18,000 have been sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. First Nations people in Canada have also served with great distinction.In Canada, Aboriginal veterans were for a long time not entitled to the same benefits granted to soldiers of European descent. Native veterans were told that since they were not considered Canadian citizens (First Nations people did not obtain the right to vote until 1960), they were not eligible for veterans' benefits. And it wasn't until 1992 that Aboriginal vets were allowed to lay a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Remembrance Day.At powwows, veterans are treated with special respect, and a ceremonial dance is done in their honor.

Goodreads says:

After her critically acclaimed books of interviews with Afghan, Iraqi, Israeli and Palestinian children, Deborah Ellis turns her attention closer to home. For two years she traveled across the United States and Canada interviewing Native children. The result is a compelling collection of interviews with children aged nine to eighteen. They come from all over the continent, from Iqaluit to Texas, Haida Gwaai to North Carolina, and their stories run the gamut — some heartbreaking; many others full of pride and hope.

You’ll meet Tingo, who has spent most of his young life living in foster homes and motels, and is now thriving after becoming involved with a Native Friendship Center; Myleka and Tulane, young artists in Utah; Eagleson, who started drinking at age twelve but now continues his family tradition working as a carver in Seattle; Nena, whose Seminole ancestors remained behind in Florida during the Indian Removals, and who is heading to New Mexico as winner of her local science fair; Isabella, who defines herself more as Native than American; Destiny, with a family history of alcoholism and suicide, who is now a writer and powwow dancer.

Many of these children are living with the legacy of the residential schools; many have lived through the cycle of foster care. Many others have found something in their roots that sustains them, have found their place in the arts, the sciences, athletics. Like all kids, they want to find something that engages them; something they love.

Deborah briefly introduces each child and then steps back, letting the kids speak directly to the reader, talking about their daily lives, about the things that interest them, and about how being Native has affected who they are and how they see the world.

As one reviewer has pointed out, Deborah Ellis gives children a voice that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to express so readily in the mainstream media. The voices in this book are as frank and varied as the children themselves.

Monday, July 10, 2017

This Is Not My Hat (Jon Klassen)

This is the perfect book for these guys. It's hilarious. I seriously love Jon Klassen. As Donalyn Miller says: #teamfish!

Goodreads says:

When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it's a good thing that enormous fish won't wake up. And even if he does, it's not like he'll ever know what happened...
Visual humor swims to the fore as the best-selling Jon Klassenfollows his breakout debut with another deadpan-funny tale.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

I Want My Hat Back (Jon Klassen)


This reminds me of a problem in our house. Our dad is always losing his back scratcher. Have you seen my back scratcher??

This is a great one to be read by a dad, for sure! It has to be read aloud and enjoyed together.

Then you have to read the next one: This Is Not My Hat

Goodreads says:

A picture-book delight by a rising talent tells a cumulative tale with a mischievous twist.

The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear’s memory and renews his search with a vengeance. Told completely in dialogue, this delicious take on the classic repetitive tale plays out in sly illustrations laced with visual humor-- and winks at the reader with a wry irreverence that will have kids of all ages thrilled to be in on the joke.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Muriel Barbery)

My goodness. I started this book in April and it took me until July to finish it. I had a hard time getting into it. One of the problems was the words. oh the words in this book!! There were so many words I'm just unfamiliar with. Is all the wordiness really necessary??

page 1 There he stood, the most recent eructation of the ruling corporate elite-a class that reproduces itself solely by means of virtuous and proper hiccups....
eruct (verb) to belch forth, as gas from a stomach or to emit or issue violently, as matter from a volcano
"You ought to read The German Ideology," I told him. Little cretin in his confer green duffle coat.
cretin (noun) a stupid, obtuse or mentally defective person

Then there was the rambling. It rambles on and on and seems to not be about anything. One of the great readers I admire and follow in Goodreads is Donalyn Miller. She abandoned the book and said:

Abandoned on page 145. I could not connect to the characters at all and did not care what happened to them. Perhaps, I would have liked it better if I was French-- the book was originally published in France.

However, this is one of those books that makes me glad I"m in a book club. I did finally finish it. I had to re-start it a number of times and it took a deadline to get me to finish it. And in the end, I'm glad I did.

The story is set in France and I have a great love affair with everything French. Despite their social awkwardness and preference to be invisible, I really did enjoy getting to know Renee ( "a widow, short, ugly, chubby", with "bunions on my feet and, on certain difficult mornings, it seems, the breath of a mammoth") and Paloma. There's something about those two that we all live.

You have to be really smart to read this book, I think. I'm glad I have my book club to help me get more out of it than I could ever get on my own.

Goodreads says:

We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renée, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Renée is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence.
Then there's Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.
Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma's trust and to see through Renée's timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

I Love You Already (Jory John and Benji Davies)


The friendship between Bear and Duck continues precariously. Goodnight Already was hilarious. So is this one. I think Jory John is secretly writing to help people understand introverts. Introverts are ok with being alone. Let it be!  This would be an interesting discussion during our friendship unit.

Goodreads says:

From the creators of Goodnight Already!, Jory John and Benji Davies, comes another standout hilarious picture book about Bear and Duck. Bear can't wait to spend a pleasant day by himself. His persistent next-door neighbor, Duck, wants to take a morning stroll . . . with Bear. He just wants Bear to like him already. . . .

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Cage Went in Search of a Bird (Cary Fagan)

The illustrations in this book are beautiful. The idea of a cage searching for fulfillment in his life to find a bird to cage was a little disturbing. I'm sure kids would just think it was funny. For me, it bordered on my fear for women who get into abusive relationships. This is a great metaphor for that.

Goodreads says:

A long-empty birdcage takes a chance and leaves behind its attic home to find a bird to keep. Out in the world, the cage encounters many birds and offers shelter to each of them. One by one, they refuse, explaining why they belong elsewhere. The cage feels lonelier than ever – until the cage in search of a bird finds a bird in search of a cage.

Based on an aphorism by Franz Kafka.

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...

Monday, May 29, 2017


Yes. I'm still reading this one. I'm not being very serious about it though. I do need to get serious.

The latest Newberry winner! I'm excited to read this one.
Last week I heard Deborah Ellis speak. With all the work AB Ed is doing to get teachers to understand first nations' issues, I thought this would be a great read to start with.

Upside Down Magic (Sarah Mlynowski)

One of my grade 4 students gave this book to me MONTHS ago because he thought it would be good for book club. He'd ask me what I thought of it and I'd embarrassingly say I wasn't quite finished it yet (Why didn't I just say I hadn't started it yet??!) I finally started reading it and he's right! It is a great book.   Even better, when the kids in my class saw it on my desk, they were all excited. One, who NEVER comes to book club came to me and said, "Mrs. Ackroyd, I'd so excited about what we're reading next for book club!" Turns out, it is Upside Down Magic she is excited about. Guess we better read it!

It's a bit of Harry Potter and a bit of The Quirks. In this one adults are definitely on the outskirts of the story. I was a little sad that they never got their magic under control so that they could go to the school they wanted to go to. Although, maybe I should read the rest of the books in the series....

The magical characters, as told by Nory, the main character:

p. 87 This is Upside-Down Magic class, she thought. A Freezer, A Fierce, a girl who shrinks things, a girl who wets things, a boy who sees sound waves, two wonky Fluxers and a Flyer who can't come down from the ceiling.

Goodreads summary:

From New York Times bestselling authors Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins comes the hilarious and heartfelt story of a group of magical misfits.

Nory Horace is nine years old. She's resourceful, she's brave, she likes peanut butter cookies. Also, she's able to transform into many different animals. Unfortunately, Nory's shape-shifting talent is a bit wonky. And when she flunks out of her own father's magic academy, Nory's forced to enter public school, where she meets a group of kids whose magic is, well, different.

This new, offbeat series from hit authors Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins chronicles the misadventures of Nory and her oddball friends, who prove that upside-down magic definitely beats right side up.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Darkest Dark (Chris Hadfield)

This is a beautiful book! It is by the astronaut, Chris Hadfield. It talks about his fear of the dark, being inspired by other astronauts and overcoming his fear of the dark. And best of all: he has a pug!

 Chris Hadfield is very inspiring. And best of all, he is a great advocate for literacy. McLeans's magazine wrote a great article about him.

“For the first time, Chris could see the power and mystery and velvety black beauty of the dark.

And, he realized, you’re never really alone there.
Your dreams are always with you, just waiting.
Big dreams, about the kind of person you want to be.”


Inspired by the childhood of real-life astronaut Chris Hadfield and brought to life by Terry and Eric Fan's lush, evocative illustrations, The Darkest Dark will encourage readers to dream the impossible. 
Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending he's a brave astronaut, exploring the universe. Only one problem--at night, Chris doesn't feel so brave. He's afraid of the dark.
But when he watches the groundbreaking moon landing on TV, he realizes that space is the darkest dark there is--and the dark is beautiful and exciting, especially when you have big dreams to keep you company.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair (Patricia Polacco)

Another great Patricia Polacco! And once again, there were gasps when they started to figure out the story. These are a joy to read to a class!

Goodreads summary:

How much TV is too much TV? Welcome to Triple Creek, where the townspeople watch TV day and night. They watch it when they're eating, working, playing, and sleeping. They even use TVs to teach the kids at school. But when Eli's eccentric Aunt Chip (who refuses to own a TV) discovers that her nephew and her neighbors don't remember how to read, she pulls the plug on the whole town?using books that have been piled high to build a dam to spread the magic of reading all around.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Something About Hensleys (Patricia Polacco)

Patricia Polacco has a magic story telling gift. Every my toughest students who don't seem to enjoy story time get drawn into her stories. My students even gasped as the two girls were walking down the street and came across a kitten while having just what they needed to catch the kitten.

I started off telling my class how my husband's family lives in a very small town and everyone loves to go to The Merc. You find all sorts of cool things at The Merc....just like at Hensley's. This is a historical fiction book. The author says she is still loyal to Hensley's because of her great experiences there.

Goodreads summary:

There's something about Hensley's! No matter what you need, that general store is sure to have it. It's almost magical the way the manager, Old John, seems to know what the townsfolk need before they do! But then a new family moves to town. The youngest child, Molly, has asthma--but her mother doesn't have money to treat her, or for anything else. But leave it to Old John to find a way to use Hensley's to give the family exactly what it needs, even if it can't be boxed or bagged.
A true--and truly moving--story about an unforgettable general store and about the extraordinary power one person's acts of kindness can have on another.
About the Author: Patricia Polacco lives in Union City, Michigan.

Monday, May 22, 2017


One of my grade 4 students gave this book to me MONTHS ago because he thought it would be good for book club. He'd ask me what I thought of it and I'd embarrassingly say I wasn't quite finished it yet (Why didn't I just say I hadn't started it yet??!) I finally started reading it and he's right! It is a great book. 

I will probably always be working on this book. I need to just get serious and read it and get on with life! I know it's a good one. Why do I hesitate??

Sunday, May 21, 2017

El Deafo (CeceBell)

This is our grade 3 book club book this month. It's perfect timing because in science we are doing a unit on Hearing and Sound.

I appreciate being able to read books like this and hear about things from someone's perspective. I hope I'm not as insensitive as people she knew growing up!

Goodreads summary:

Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece's class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school--in the the teacher's the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it's just another way of feeling different... and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Something From Nothing (Phoebe Gilman)

This story fits well with our Open Court unit on money.

We loved the little story under the story.

Goodreads summary:

The blanket Joseph's grandfather made him is transformed into many things as the years go by: a jacket, a vest, a tie, a handkerchief--and finally a button. Gilman's modern adaptation and lively illustrations turn this favorite Jewish tale into a contemporary classic.

Buy this book

Monday, May 15, 2017


It's the same as last week.
It makes me sad. I just haven't had time to read!
It must be May :(
Hurry up summer!! I need my reading time.

Friday, May 12, 2017

What Moms Can't Do (Douglas Wood)

Warning: Don't read this book with a bunch of kids if you're not ready to hear some funny mom stories. Almost every page, someone said, "That's true! You know, my mom...." and they'd have something that related to each page. The story goes through a mom's day from a kid's perspective. Quite well done. Apparently, there's a What Dads Can't Do as well. We will have to find it.

Goodreads summary:

Shows a child pondering the many problems that mothers must deal with in the course of a normal day.

Buy this book

I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard (Jennifer K. Mann)

I should have read this one ahead of time. It made me sad. I didn't like that this kid is working so hard for public recognition and feels like she will just measure up. In the end, she does get recognized for her talents. I wondered what my students thought about it. It has potential for a great discussion.

Goodreads summary:

Rose’s teacher gives stars for spelling and neatness and giving the right answer, but Rose can’t manage to do any of those things right. Will she ever get a star from Mrs. Benson?

Rose is a distracted and creative soul. She does her best at school, but sometimes her mind wanders, and she answers the wrong question. Her reading voice is quiet, not strong and loud. And her desk—well, keeping her desk neat is a challenge. When it’s time to make thank-you cards for a class visitor, Rose’s art supplies turn her workspace—and her—into a colorful mess. But her artistic skills shine through in the gorgeous oversize card she creates. Could she possibly get a star after all? A cheerful and empowering picture book for the child whose talents lie in unconventional areas, and those still searching for their strengths.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors (Adam Rex)

This is hilarious. Great illustrations. Fabulous word play. We got a lot of good laughs out of this book. We especially loved that our AP came in to read it to us! Afterwards, spontaneous games of rock paper scissors broke out all over the place.

Goodreads summary:

From New York Times bestselling creators Drew Daywalt, author of The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home, and Adam Rex, author-illustrator of Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, comes a laugh-out-loud hilarious picture book about the epic tale of the classic game Rock, Paper, Scissors.

You’ve played the game. Now read the legend of how it all began . . .

Long ago, in an ancient and distant realm called the Kingdom of Backyard, there lived a warrior named ROCK.

Meanwhile in the Empire of Mom’s Home Office, a second great warrior sought the glory of battle. And his name was PAPER.

At the same time, in the Kitchen Realm, in the tiny village of Junk Drawer, lived a third warrior. They called her SCISSORS.

These three were the strongest, smartest, and fastest in all the land. Time and again they beat the most fearsome opponents they could find: an apricot, a computer printer—even frozen, breaded, dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets! But when the warriors finally meet each other, the most epic round of battles begins . . . and never ends. That is why, to this day, children around the world honor these worthy adversaries by playing ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Oddrey (Dae Whamond)

So cute! My kids said, "I get it! I know why she's called Oddrey."

Reminded me of Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon.

Be proud of who you are! There's no one like you.

Goodreads summary:

From Blue Spruce Award–winning author-illustrator Dave Whamond comes the story of Oddrey, a young girl who is a little bit different from everybody else. Every aspect of Oddrey’s world is a study in playful curiosity. Her adventures and flights of fancy, however, are often a source of some teasing at the hands of her classmates. Her technicolor snow sculpture has the rest of the playground gaping in disbelief. Her drawing of blue apples is met with a stern look from her teacher. But Oddrey, never one to let anything get her down, faces all of these discouragements with optimism and offhanded grace.
So when her class production of The Wizard of Oz is cast and Oddrey is given the rather spiritless role of a tree, she decides to make the best of the situation and vows to be the most unique tree ever. Sadly, her teacher has other ideas, and Oddrey dons an uninspired costume and sways in the back row. But when her classmates start forgetting their lines, knocking down props, and suffering from stage fright, Oddrey steps in to save the show — not by stealing it, but by helping her classmates rise to the occasion. 

Read Anything Good Lately? (Susan Allen and Jane Lindaman)

This would be a great introduction to a lesson on genres or the importance of reading. 26 different ideas for kinds of books and where to read them. Great illustrations!

Goodreads summary:

Readers, have you ever thought about the many kinds of books or periodicals or brochures or other things that you read? This charming picture book takes you on an alphabetical stroll through a surprising variety of forms that you reading can take--and suggests some very nice places where you can do that reading.

Monday, May 8, 2017


I'm not doing a good job of carving out time for reading lately. These are two books I'm still working on:

This is our Grade 3 book club book. It's a quick read. I just need to get the time to focus on it.

This is my book club book this month.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Alphabet Thief (Bill Richardson)

Clever! Great for phonemic awareness. It is full of all sorts of puns too, which are great for discussion in class.

It was interesting to see who could quickly figure out what the new words would be when the letters were taken by the alphabet thief.

And best of all, it's a Canadian author! Thanks for helping me get to my goal of 150 Canadian books this year :)

Goodreads summary:

The alphabet thief stole all of the B’s, and all of the bowls became owls…

When night falls, along comes a peculiar thief who steals each letter of the alphabet, creating a topsy-turvy world as she goes. It seems that no one can stop her, until the Z’s finally send her to sleep so that all the other letters can scamper back to where they belong.

Bill Richardson’s zany rhymes and Roxanna Bikadoroff’s hilarious illustrations will delight young readers with the silly fun they can have with language — and may even inspire budding young writers and artists to create their own word games.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Princess and the Pizza

This story is quite funny. I like the independence the princess shows. My students loved the twists on the Princess and the Pea (the princess rolls her eyes at the fact that they're using the old pea under the mattress trick to see if she really is a princess). A bunch of princesses show up to compete for the chance to marry the prince. There's the one whose always tripping on her hair, the one who has all these strange little men with her, etc. In the end, she turns down the chance to marry the prince (he was named you can imagine how much personality he had) and opens her own pizza shop instead.

Goodreads summary:

An out of work princess must prepare a feast fit for a prince.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe (Megumi Iwasa)

As I read this book I kept thinking, there must be something deeper and more meaningful than I'm getting. I'm not entirely sure there really is. It's a cute and fun little story that makes you think about things a little differently. How would you describe someone if you had never seen that type of person, err, animal.

This would be a good beginning of the year read aloud. Lots of pictures and simple text and a few chuckles along the way. Would also be a good introduction to the letter writing we do for special students every week.

Goodreads summary:

Giraffe is bored, as usual. He'd love a friend to share things with. So he writes a letter and sends it as far as possible across the other side of the horizon. There he finds a pen palPenguin.

Monday, April 24, 2017


Boy, I have a bunch of reading to do this week! I haven't done enough reading lately. My husband has had health issues and I'm having trouble concentrating on books. Instead I worry about him!

Book club book for this month.

This is an issue in so many people's lives! Fascinating read.

I keep taking this one out of the library and then not reading. Stop it! Just read it!

One of my students gave this to me and I never have got around to reading it. He asked me about it the other day so I better get it read!

Passed to me by one of my reading friends and co-workers. Intriguing.