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

IMWAYR

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.


IMWAYR

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

 

Monday, May 29, 2017

IMWAYR

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.”




Goodreads:

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

IMWAYR

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 hallway...in the teacher's lounge...in 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

IMWAYR


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

IMWAYR

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 Drupert....so 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

IMWAYR

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.

Monday, April 10, 2017

IMWAYR

I'm going to try to not read so many books at one time. I'm in the middle of The Elegance of the Hedgehog and hope to finish it early this week.



After that, I plan to start The Sleep Revolution and then The Wild Robot.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Patterson)

I love this book. I have read it a number of times and have even blogged about it before. It was our grade 3 book club choice for this month. In the middle of reading it this time, my husband had a stroke. I had a hard time getting back into it because  knew I wasn't eager to see Jess go through that loss again while I was going through something hard. As my husband improved though, I was able to finish it. Interesting how our own emotions and difficulties make some stories more difficult. 

This time I practice my Notice and Note skills. It was a great experience to find all the sign posts along the way! I have been dancing around the edges of the sign posts, always asking others what they are rather than searing for them myself. After I wrote them all down, I realized there could be some debate about what sign post they fit with. Clearly, there may be be overlap and some would put these ideas in other places. I guess that it what makes for a great discussion. 


I really enjoyed it though and plan to do this with more books. 


 

Our own beloved Storybook Theatre did the play recently too.  Jess was played by one of my son's friends, Gabe T. We loved the play as well.  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Emma and the Silk Train (Julie Lawson)

A great little piece of Canadian historical fiction! It was a great way to introduce this genre to my students. There is some great vocabulary in here as well.

My students were totally captivated by the story. They had a lot of questions after. I didn't know about silk trains at all so this was a learning curve for myself too!

Goodreads summary:

A young girl's longing for a piece of silk almost leads to disaster when she risks her life to recover a length of fabric from the churning waters of a river.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Leave Me Alone (Vera Brosgol)



Oh my gosh. I love this book! My book club is reading Quiet by Susan Cain this month and this book fits perfectly with it.

We had a lot of good chuckles as we read this in class. When the grandmother went to the moon to be alone one of the students shot up his hand and said that that was impossible. Someone else replied, "The point is, she sure wants to have some alone time!"

They got it. We had a great discussion about how important alone time is and that some people need more than others...and that's ok. I loved how this book ended...she came back and didn't say a word about anything.

That is just what many of us need.



Goodreads summary:

An epic tale about one grandmother, a giant sack of yarn, and her ultimate quest to finish her knitting.

One day, a grandmother shouts, "LEAVE ME ALONE!" and leaves her tiny home and her very big family to journey to the moon and beyond to find peace and quiet to finish her knitting. Along the way, she encounters ravenous bears, obnoxious goats, and even hordes of aliens! But nothing stops grandma from accomplishing her goal--knitting sweaters for her many grandchildren to keep them warm and toasty for the coming winter.
 

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 days...it 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 one...it'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!