Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Book of Mistakes (Corinna Luyken)


Great book for talking about a growth mindset! My class was really curious about whether or not the author made the mistakes in the story on purpose. They asked me to tweet her to see if she made the mistakes on purpose.

Goodreads says:

Zoom meets Beautiful Oops! in this memorable picture book debut about the creative process, and the way in which "mistakes" can blossom into inspiration
One eye was bigger than the other. That was a mistake.
The weird frog-cat-cow thing? It made an excellent bush.
And the inky smudges... they look as if they were always meant to be leaves floating gently across the sky. 

As one artist incorporates accidental splotches, spots, and misshapen things into her art, she transforms her piece in quirky and unexpected ways, taking readers on a journey through her process. Told in minimal, playful text, this story shows readers that even the biggest "mistakes" can be the source of the brightest ideas--and that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress, too.

Fans of Peter Reynolds's Ish and Patrick McDonnell's A Perfectly Messed-Up Story will love the funny, poignant, completely unique storytelling of The Book of Mistakes. And, like Oh, The Places You'll Go!, it makes the perfect graduation gift, encouraging readers to have a positive outlook as they learn to face life's obstacles.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Chopsticks (Amy Krouse Rosenthal)


The other day when we read The Straight Line Wonder I was doing a little research to figure out if Marc Rosenthal is related to Amy Rosenthal. I still don't know the answer. Along the way though, I found a fun new book of Amy Krouse Rosenthal's!

There are a ton of hilarious little puns and jokes in here. My students have enjoyed reading it together and finding more and more laughs each time.

Goodreads says:

Meet Chopsticks! They've been best friends forever. But one day, this inseparable pair comes to a fork in the road. And for the very first time, they have to figure out how to function apart. From New York Times best-selling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and rising artistic talent Scott Magoon, this witty and inventive tale celebrates both independence and the unbreakable bonds of friendship. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Book of Mistakes (Corinna Luyken)


Great for a discussion on resiliency, making the best of situations, courage and creativity. No need to wad up that paper, throw it out and start again!

Goodreads says:

Zoom meets Beautiful Oops! in this memorable picture book debut about the creative process, and the way in which "mistakes" can blossom into inspiration
One eye was bigger than the other. That was a mistake.
The weird frog-cat-cow thing? It made an excellent bush.
And the inky smudges... they look as if they were always meant to be leaves floating gently across the sky. 

As one artist incorporates accidental splotches, spots, and misshapen things into her art, she transforms her piece in quirky and unexpected ways, taking readers on a journey through her process. Told in minimal, playful text, this story shows readers that even the biggest "mistakes" can be the source of the brightest ideas--and that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress, too.

Fans of Peter Reynolds's Ish and Patrick McDonnell's A Perfectly Messed-Up Story will love the funny, poignant, completely unique storytelling of The Book of Mistakes. And, like Oh, The Places You'll Go!, it makes the perfect graduation gift, encouraging readers to have a positive outlook as they learn to face life's obstacles.

Stuck (Oliver Jeffers)


Recently, I listened to a podcast by Gretchen Reuben called Happier. She loves children's literature and encouraged everyone to take some time to read some of this genre. This book is a great example of why adults should read picture books.  When I read this it made me want to sit and think about all the different want the book could be used.  I think it could be a great analogy for many RS or SS lessons. It is a great analogy for habits and problem solving. It would also be fun to hear what kids think the lesson in this book is.

I often read other people's comments on Goodreads about curious books like this. I especially loved this: 

Strangely the day after reading I picked up the Guardian and there was an article by Jeffers about the debt he owes to Maurice Sendak (that's why the boy in his first picture books has a stripey jumper, an homage to his favourite monster in Where the Wild Things Are) and also how his books are not children's books, but simply picture books. Because as he says I don't believe they are just for children. I have met countless adults that collect picture books for themselves, and they are growing in confidence about openly admitting this in a book-signing queue. It's not for my daughter, or a friend's nephew. It's for me. Exactly. 

Goodreads says:

From the illustrator of the #1 smash The Day the Crayons Quitcomes another bestseller--a giggle-inducing tale of everything tossed, thrown, and hurled in order to free a kite!

When Floyd's kite gets stuck in a tree, he's determined to get it out. But how? Well, by knocking it down with his shoe, of course. But strangely enough, it too gets stuck. And the only logical course of action . . . is to throw his other shoe. Only now it's stuck! Surely there must be something he can use to get his kite unstuck. An orangutan? A boat? His front door? Yes, yes, and yes. And that's only the beginning. Stuck is Oliver Jeffers' most absurdly funny story since The Incredible Book-Eating Boy. Childlike in concept and vibrantly illustrated as only Oliver Jeffers could, here is a picture book worth rescuing from any tree.

The Heart and the Bottle (Oliver Jeffers)


Wow. This book came along just at the right time. I have a little girl in my life who is going through something terrible. I will have to keep this book handy. This would be a great book to read when you have a child who has something difficult to deal with. It might be a great way to start a conversation.  It could be read to children who have a friend who has suffered a loss to encourage them to know how to help their friend. Donalyn Miller says this is a deceptively simple book with a great message. She hit the nail on the head.

The little girl likes to read with her grandpa in a big red chair. One day the chair is empty. The story doesn't say he died, but you can infer that. She is sad and stops doing the things she used to love until someone comes along and helps her enjoy that again.

The author illustrates his own books. They're beautiful. I ran across his books by chance when we read one in class.

Goodreads summary:

Once there was a girl whose life was filled with all the wonder of the world around her. Then one day something occurred that caused the girl to take her heart and put it in a safe place.

However, after that it seemed that more things were empty than before. Would she know when and how to get her heart back?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Maddi's Fridge (Lois Brandt)


I have a few stories I have a hard time reading. They usually come later in the year. I hadn't read this one before and it made me cry. It's beautiful!

We had a good discussion about how sometimes it isn't a good idea to keep a secret, even if you promised because parents can often help solve problems.

Goodreads says:

Winner of:
2014 Christopher Award, Books for Young People
2014 ILA Primary Fiction Award
2015 MLA Mitten Award Honor
Human Rights in Children's Literature Honor

With humor and warmth, this children’s picture book raises awareness about poverty and hunger

Best friends Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighborhood, go to the same school, and play in the same park, but while Sofia’s fridge at home is full of nutritious food, the fridge at Maddi’s house is empty. Sofia learns that Maddi’s family doesn’t have enough money to fill their fridge and promises Maddi she’ll keep this discovery a secret. But because Sofia wants to help her friend, she’s faced with a difficult decision: to keep her promise or tell her parents about Maddi’s empty fridge. Filled with colorful artwork, this storybook addresses issues of poverty with honesty and sensitivity while instilling important lessons in friendship, empathy, trust, and helping others. A call to action section, with six effective ways for children to help fight hunger and information on antihunger groups, is also included.

Monday, September 11, 2017


I'm really enjoying this. I was hoping to go to a new book club in my community but I'm not sure I'm going to get this read in time. Too bad. It seems like a great book so far and I would love to discuss it.

Books I plan to read with my class this week:

Monday: Aliens Love Underpants
Tuesday: The Library Gingerbread Man
Wednesday: The Cookie Fiasco
Thursday: Bill Peet....hmmm...which one??
Friday: More Bill Peet

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Aliens Love Underpants (Claire Freedman)


Cute story. We read a book a while ago where people hung their clothes out on the line. This is a totally foreign concept to children around here! It's funny that it keeps coming up.

Apparently, there are a bunch more about underpants. Will have to check them out. :)

We enjoyed the rhyming in this book.

Goodreads says:

This humorous tale describes how aliens, rather than visiting Earth to take over the planet, really visit to steal your pants.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Straight Line Wonder (Mem Fox)


I love this story. The play on words are hilarious. It is a simple story that beautifully expresses how important it is to just be you. I love the repeated responses from his friends who are aghast that he dare step out and not be a straight line. I also love stories like this that get my kids talking about big topics.

I wondered if Marc Rosenthal is related to Amy Rosenthal. What a story. Amy Rosenthal is the author of great books like Exclamation Mark and Little Pea. She died just this year and wrote an amazing essay called, You Might Want to Marry My Husband. It appears Marc isn't her husband though.

Goodreads says:

Stay straight, silly! People will stare!Three straight lines are the best of friends. But when one of them gets tired of being straight all of the time, his friends are embarrassed and run off, leaving him alone. What happens next will enchant and delight all who read this tale about the value of being true to yourself.

Working with bold exuberance, artist Marc Rosenthal captures perfectly the quirkiness of Mem Fox's joyful story.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Lost and Found (Oliver Jeffers)


I thought the illustrations in this book were beautiful. It's a lovely story about friendship and caring and reunions. The penguin is adorable. I love the idea that fate seemed to bring them together. One of my students said that she has lots of "those" books. Oliver Jeffers books are lovely and creative and even though they're silly, totally logical, it seems!

I didn't realize he wrote The Day The Crayons Quit. I have now put every one of his picture books on hold. Can't wait to read more!

Goodreads says:

From the illustrator of the #1 smash hit The Day The Crayons Quit comes a humorously warm tale of friendship. Now also an animated TV special!

What is a boy to do when a lost penguin shows up at his door? Find out where it comes from, of course, and return it. But the journey to the South Pole is long and difficult in the boy’s rowboat. There are storms to brave and deep, dark nights.To pass the time, the boy tells the penguin stories. Finally, they arrive. Yet instead of being happy, both are sad. That’s when the boy realizes: The penguin hadn’t been lost, it had merely been lonely.

A poignant, funny, and child-friendly story about friendship lost . . . and then found again.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Wonderful Towers of Watts (Patricia Zelver)


Kids love REAL stories. This one is a true story of a man with an interesting hobby (fettish?) for building towers. It turns out there really was a Simon Rodia and he built so many amazing things there is now a center called The Watts Towers Arts Center. I want to visit it the next time I'm in LA!

Goodreads summary:

One man's monument to his neighborhood.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Mitchell Goes Bowling (Hallie Durand)



There are great illustrations this book. The illustrator captured bowling and its ups and downs perfectly.

Battle on! Head to the lanes for another hilarious, high-energy story as four-year-old Mitchell and his obliging dad strike a winning deal.

Mitchell liked to knock things down.
That’s just how he rolled.

One Saturday, when Mitchell almost knocks down his dad, his dad catches him and puts him in the car. And when they step into the bowling alley, Mitchell feels right at home. Pizza! Giant crashing noises! Special shoes! But as Mitchell picks up the biggest ball and quickly learns the word gutter, and when Dad does a little kick with his leg and earns a big X on the scoreboard, Mitchell starts to get peevish. How can Mitchell get a chance to do a steamin’-hot-potato-dance too? With wit, warmth, and comedic charm, Hallie Durand and Tony Fucile roll another strike with this tale of a lovably rambunctious child and his doting dad.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Bears We Know (Brenda Silsbe)


This might be a good friendship story. We could talk about how we need to get to know people rather than make assumptions.

I think we all actually wish we were the bears. However, the narrator seems to be like an old grandma clucking her tongue and shaking her head at these bad neighbors...and she doesn't even know them.

I'm not sure how I feel about this book.

Goodreads says:
Does anyone really know the bears next door?

Every neighborhood has its black sheep... but this one has bears. Well, nobody has actually seen the inhabitants of the house at the end of the road, but that doesn't stop the gossip about The Bears We Know.

In colorfully mischievous illustrations, readers are invited to see for themselves these ursine neighbors living life as they see fit. They sleep late every day, and their house is a mess. They eat bagfuls of chips, and they jump on the furniture. They sing songs that make them cry, and they stay up way too late. Also, they growl if anyone gets too close, so nobody visits. But you don't need to visit to know all about these bears... right?

Originally published as a mini-book, The Bears We Know is back in a full-sized format with new illustrations that highlight the hijinks of these unsavory neighbors. This playful story promises to charm even as it challenges with the question "Does anybody really know their next-door neighbors?"

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Pigeon Needs a Bath (Mo Willems)

The pigeon saga continues. Kids love these books!

I have to read this to my class and see if we can start using "purely coincidental" and "that is a matter of opinion" to our repertoire.  

This is from Storytime with Ryan and Craig

Goodreads says:

The Pigeon really needs a bath! Except, the Pigeon's not so sure about that. Besides, he took a bath last month! Maybe. It's going to take some serious convincing to try and get the Pigeon to take the plunge.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Coyote's New Suit (Thomas King)


This story is long, but really fun. Kids with the ability to listen to a long story will love it. There's lots of silliness (animals taking off their "suits") and trickery on the part of Raven. Coyote, who is often in the family of sly foxes, isn't sly. He's not that bright. He is greedy and starts taking off with all the animals suits.

Goodreads summary:

Coyote’s mighty pleased with his soft, brown suit — until Raven slyly hints it’s not the finest in the forest. Now, Coyote is obsessed: Bear’s suit is much more impressive. Porcupine — sporty! Raccoon is chic, while Skunk’s suit is perfectly elegant. Perhaps he could just borrow the suits? The missing suits send the forest into an uproar. How can naughty Coyote make amends? 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Small Great Things (Jodi Picoult)

I haven't done a great job of reading this summer. One reason is I seemed to have this sub-conscious need to stay focused on my husband, which meant I couldn't really get lost in a book. I tried, but I was reading a book that I couldn't quite get into and I was dragging myself through it. I finally put it aside and decided to read Small Great Things. It was a great break!

Goodreads says:

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

My thoughts:

Right now there is some awful racial issue stuff going on in the states that totally parallel this story. It was surreal to be reading it at the same time.

It was crazy to see inside the mind of a white supremacist. Crazy.

I had to stop and take a break after this bit:

p. 377: Ruth talks about helping a mother who has just had a stillborn baby: Then I handed her a damp cloth I pressed it into her palm water shocked her into awareness, or if it was the baby. But with my hand guiding her she washed every fold and curve of her baby.She wrapped him in the blanket. She held him to her breast. Finally, with a Saab that sounded like she was tearing a piece of herself away, she offered the body of her child back to me.

.....speaking of the room in the hospital for grieving parents of newborns: I think I know now why it is called the kangaroo suite It's because even when you no longer have a child, you carry him forever

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Weekend with Wendell (Kevin Henkes)


This would be a great book to read when we read Stevie in our Open Court unit on friendship. Kevin Henkes is so good at thoughtful books. Love him.

Goodreads summary:

Wendell was spending the weekend at Sophie's house. Playing house, Wendell was the mother, the father, and the children; Sophie was the dog. Playing bakery, Wendell was the baker; Sophie got to be the sweet roll. Wendell shone his flashlight in Sophie's eyes when she tried to sleep. But when he gave her a new hairdo with shaving cream, it was the last straw, and Sophie made up a game that left Wendell speechless for a time -- and won the day for friendship.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Rainbow Fish (Marcus Pfister)


My daughter has a video of this movie when she was little and she watched it over and over and over. It really does have a great story. I've never really thought about reading it in my classroom because I have always thought of it as a book for pre-schoolers. I think it could work though.

These guys do a fabulous job reading it:

Goodreads says:

The Rainbow Fish is an international bestseller and a modern classic. Eye-catching foilstamping, glittering on every page, offers instant child-appeal, but it is the universal message at the heart of this simple story about a beautiful fish, who learns to make friends by sharing his most prized possessions, that gives the book its lasting value.

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.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

This House Once (Deborah Freedman)


This would be great to read at the beginning of our structures unit.

Emily Arrow shares what this book is about best of all:

Goodreads says:

Deborah Freedman’s masterful new picture book is at once an introduction to the pieces of a house, a cozy story to share and explore, and a dreamy meditation on the magic of our homes and our world.

Before there was this house,
there were stones,
and mud,
and a colossal oak tree—
three hugs around
and as high as the blue.

What was your home, once?

This poetically simple, thought-provoking, and gorgeously illustrated book invites readers to think about where things come from and what nature provides.

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.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mind Boggling Numbers (Michael Rosen)


This one is pretty much just like How Many Guinea Pigs..., only picture book form. All the questions are answered by a character named Miss Mary Math.

Goodreads says:

How many glasses of lemonade would fit in an Olympic-sized swimming pool? Find the answers to all sorts of mind-boggling math questions in this fun, engaging book.

Friday, July 7, 2017

How Many Guinea Pigs Can Fit On a Plane


As soon as I saw the cover, I knew I would love this book. Math people everywhere will love it! I can totally see my students pouring over it and discussing it. So fun! ....and now I finally get what pi means!

It answers all sorts of great questions and even has super good math tricks. This one is a keeper!

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Goodreads says:

How many bees does it take to make one jar of honey?

How many soccer balls would fit inside a hollow Earth?

How many pieces of gum would it take to stick you to a wall and keep you there?

Believe it or not, you can find out the answers to these questions yourself using math! Combining questions from real readers like you with surprising answers, How Many Guinea Pigs Can Fit on a Plane? proves that numbers can be fun and that math is power.

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.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Pig on the Hill (John Kelly)


What is it with ducks? This pig must be related to Jory John's bear from Goodnight Already and I Love You Already.  This one would be good to read with Treehouse in our Open Court unit on friendship because duck builds a bridge between their two houses.

There are some hilarious illustrations in this book!

Goodreads says:

The pig lives all alone in a house on top of a hill. He’s very happy with his quiet life. He has his books, his tidy tidy house and a lovely view.

Until one morning he opens the curtains to find a duck has taken up residence on the tiny pinnacle of rock outside his window. Much to the pigs annoyance the excessively friendly duck likes the spot and decides to build a house there. With a swimming pool. And a garden and patio.

The duck tries to be friendly. He’s very confident and outgoing. It seems he’s been everywhere (unlike the pig), done everything; skiing, mountain climbing, parachuting, scuba-diving, even brain surgery. The pig just wants to be left alone.

Eventually, after a particularly loud party, the pig shouts at the duck, and the next morning finds a note pinned to the duck’s front door. It reads:


At first the pig is pleased. But gradually realises that his life without the duck is quiet and slightly dull. He comes to miss the duck and regrets rejecting him.

One day there is a knock on the door and the pig opens it to find the duck wearing a som- brero and carrying a pinata. He’d only been on holiday in the South. He does it every year. Maybe next year the pig will join him.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Kitten's First Full Moon (Kevin Henkes)


Great story for our imagination unit. Things aren't always what they appear. The illustrations are black and white and beautiful. Another beautiful Kevin Henkes book.

Could also be a good springboard for a discussion about goals and how we sometimes run into problems as we try to reach goals. And sometimes, in the end, things end up differently than we expected, and that's ok.

Goodreads says:

The nationally bestselling picture book about a kitten, the moon, and a bowl of milk, written by the celebrated author and illustrator Kevin Henkes, was awarded a Caldecott Medal.

From one of the most celebrated and beloved picture book creators working in the field today comes a memorable new character and a suspenseful adventure just right for reading and sharing at home and in the classroom. It is Kitten's first full moon, and when she sees it she thinks it is a bowl of milk in the sky. And she wants it. Does she get it? Well, no . . . and yes. What a night!

A brief text, large type, and luminescent pictures play second fiddle to the star of this classic picture book—brave, sweet and lucky Kitten! "Henkes's text, reminiscent of Margaret Wise Brown's work in the elemental words, rhythms, and appealing sounds, tells a warm, humorous story that's beautifully extended in his shimmering, gray-toned artwork."—ALA Booklist

Winner of the Caldecott Medal, an ALA Notable Book, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book, and winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award

Supports the Common Core State Standards

Monday, July 3, 2017

My Old Pal Oscar (Amy Hest)


The illustrations in this book are beautiful. I am a fast reader and tend to skim though picture books but the topic of loss and the beautiful ocean pictures brought a sense of peace that made me want to slow down and really feel what the character was sharing. And also because dogs and oceans are good for the soul.

"I know what you want. You want to be pals. Well, we can't be pals. No sir. No way. Won't. Ever. Do. That. Again. Ever."

Goodreads says:

After a young boy’s beloved pet passes away, he encounters an adorable stray dog on the beach. The boy tries to walk away and ignore the cuddly creature, but the puppy continues to follow him, undeterred. Though the boy is still dealing with the pain of his loss and feels afraid to care about a new pet again, as the two walk the sand together, the boy slowly opens himself up to the joy of having a new dog in his life and making peace with the past.

New York Times bestselling Amy Hest and Amy Bates, the beloved team who created The Dog Who Belonged to No One, have created a touching story about new beginnings and how friendship and love have the power to heal.

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.