#IMWAYR 4/24/17

This is my weekly contribution to an excellent community of kidlit lovers who post their reading wrap-ups each Monday at unleashingreaders.com and teachmentortexts.com. This is an excellent place to build your towers of to-read books.

This week I read some really great picture books and one novel that will stick with me and make me think for some time.


I really enjoyed this picture book’s amazing painted illustrations with the very expressive animals experiencing their perfect days. I had hoped that this would be great to discuss with little ones, talking about the interconnectedness of these “perfect days” and how the actions of one can impact others. The words are subtle, but strong with some repetition that my young readers enjoyed. It also proved to be very good for them to make predictions. There is a wordless page that turns the plot around a bit and kids loved making guesses and also imagining what the animals might be “saying” or what was in their “speech bubble.” Although the plots are not too similar, this aspect of our reading reminded me of reading Horrible Bear by Ame Dyckman last year. Their is also a cute pic and story on the back flap of the book jacket that my groups found interesting.


I enjoyed how the Dad taught that it was okay to be afraid, and the way they focussed on solving the boy’s problem rather than the more expected, “You’re just being silly.” Dan Santat’s illustrations were predictably great. For some reason, I just love it when he draws authors as on the back flap (what was it about checking that part of books out this week?!). Santat did one of Adam Gidwitz for the new version of the series A Tale Dark and Grimm that was amazing. I digress though, in this book I thought it was interesting the way the parents seemed like separate entities. They were not really together very often, and seemed to handle things slightly differently. Part of me liked it in the sense that I know families that fit this description, but part of me thought the Mom was really marginalized (maybe the title gives this away).


I felt this was a really smart book that broached the topic of residential schools in a way that would be easy to share with young readers, and introduce them to this important chapter of Canadian history. It has really beautiful, colourful illustrations, but the real great thing here is the child’s curiousity mixed with the grandparents desire to share her story.


This is an older book than the others but one that I hadn’t read before. As two boys determine who might win a battle between their toys, the parameters of the battle are key to both the humour and determining the “winner.” Easy to picture two boys having this type of throw-down and the art is very funny.


I think this will be really popular with the girls in our K-2 classes and maybe other students as well, but unicorns are kind of, okay, very popular with that group of students right now. This book is about a girl, who against the beliefs of others, believes in unicorns, and a unicorn, who against the beliefs of others, believes in little girls. This would be enough to capture the attention of many readers, but the pictures are also very colourful and will attract much attention.


This last picture book, I had my six year old daughter read to me this weekend. It is a really cute story about a unicorn who grows up believing she is a narwhal until she is able to reach the surface. Once there, she sees a completely different world and a different perspective on what she is. In the end, she seems to find a place in both worlds. There are some clever and funny illustrations throughout, but particularly on the last page.


This one kind of built like a slow burn. It felt a little like To Kill a Mockingbird in the way that it deals with prejudices. My copy looks different (came from UK) instead of all the words on this cover it has only the line, “The year I turned twelve, I learned how to lie.” While I did find part of this book to be about truth and lies, I also found it to be more about people’s perceptions and how they can be sculpted through truth or fictions. These perceptions become people’s reality, particularly in a small town such as this in which everyone knows everyone else’s business. These perceptions lead to action. The plot of this book becomes a messy situation for many involved, and solutions are messy too. Maybe life is just a little more messy than we might hope.

Currently reading: I am re-reading My Name is Seepeetza in preparation for my Battle of the Books, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with my family, the BFG with my youngest (although not much since she found the Amulet series of graphic novels this weekend), and tomorrow I will start A Monster Calls. I am also hoping to start a shorter, early chapter book this week such as the Cody series by Tricia Springstubb or Alvin Ho. I also plan to read at least one graphic novel, either the third Amulet or the Star Wars Jedi Academy series (my older daughter and I were discussing why neither of us see these being read by students despite the new movies, I have never read them so …). Happy Reading to all!

It’s Easter Monday, what are you reading 2017

It has been nice to have a little extra family time on a four day weekend, including some time to read as well. Here is my contribution to the weekly meme hosted by Jen at teachmentortexts.com and Kellee at unleashingreaders.com. I have been lucky enough to have an unknown revenue source fall into my lap this month and it led me straight to my favourite independent bookstore, Mosaic Books in Kelowna. This will lead to more picture books this week and next, as they usually have great selection in the Children’s and Bargain sections.



First though is a re-read and one of my favourite books. I read this and nominated it for my district’s Battle of the Books, our quiz show style competition we are running in May. All elementary schools will be entering teams of students that are preparing to answer questions on six books. I re-read this to write some of the questions and it was just as amazing the third time I read it. It is such a powerful, emotional, and inspiring historical fiction set with World War 2 in the backdrop, but the real battle is the one in the heart and psyche of a young girl named Ada. I write this knowing that most people who will read it have long since read this book, but it is so good that if even one person is prompted to read The War That Saved My Life it will be well worth the effort. I am actually quite pleased to have had the excuse to re-read this before the sequel comes out in the fall.


This is a Rapid Read as the top corner suggests. A short, little adventure. It is to a novel as a TV show is to a movie. It was enjoyable but leaves me wanting a little more. Richard Wagamese was a great writer we recently lost, much too soon. I haven’t read many of his books, but this will encourage me to read more of his books, probably those geared to adults. A thriller with elements of Ojibway culture and a supernatural slant, it is a little too short for the kind of character development that I normally look for. However, if one is looking for quick text for a reader who appreciates light supernatural without world building and maybe some First Nations culture, this would be a good choice.


This book has so many of its character’s feelings embedded into the pages. And it’s a range of feelings. This is yet another book I have finished while shaking my head and wondering why I did not read it sooner. It is another book I will want to share with all the kidlit readers I know so I can talk more about it with others. It reminded me a little of The War That Saved My Life, and maybe The Honest Truth in that its range of emotions as Timothy tries to deal with his family breaking apart, health issues in his family, his own mistakes and trials, and some of the normal (yet tough parts about growing up- here it reminded me of The Crossover, but NOT because its also a novel in verse). I think many readers will want to devour this in one gulp, if they have not already. Not to be missed is the acknowledgments at the end in which you get an idea of how this story came to be.


I have been reading a lot about this collaboration between Drew Daywalt, whose The Day the Crayons… stories are so well loved, and Adam Rex, whose School’s First Day of School dominated the month of September in my library. I was grateful to be able to pick it up at last. A tale of the origin of the famous game it is as epic as could be, and very funny. Fantastic illustrations too. Our family read aloud predictably ended in a rock-paper-scissors tournament. I am thinking of planning one for next week to launch the book at my school.


To the Sea is a very cute friendship story that my early primary groups will flip for. We have loved several of author/illustrator Cale Atkinson’s previous works both for their stories and his distinct artwork too. Maxwell the Monkey Barber and Explorers of the Wild both went over really, really well and his illustrations, along with Vikki Van Sickle’s text in If I Had a Gryphon were a hit at my last book fair. Here, there is an explicit theme of feeling alone/not seen by others as well as the idea of being a dependable friend. There is some repetition of these messages for young readers and the pictures make the story very cute, in particular one page in which the boy is drawing many pictures while trying to figure out how to solve a problem for his blue whale friend.


I really love this series from Kate Messner and artist Christopher Silas Neal. A reviewer commented last week that the art work did not really stand out for her in the smaller version, so I made sure that I purchased the larger format and I am happy to have done so. In this series, this is the third, the writer and artist take us on an exploration of nature. Here, they manage to capture the mood of a quiet paddle on a pond or lake. Fantastic illustrations include one from the bottom of the pond looking up at the boat with the pond teeming with life, and another features a bird’s eye view from the tree tops looking down. The text is a light touch, drawing your attention to features and details but letting you explore with your eyes. The end is filled with great facts about pond life and an Author’s Note about ecosystems.

Currently Reading:

I am reading My Name is Seepeetza by Shirley Sterling for our Battle of the Books, The BFG with my six year old, although not very much this week with picture books and our family read aloud taking priority. Our family is reading Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, and today I started Wolf Hollow (finally).

Up Next:

I have a few picture books to read including Dad and the Dinosaur, When we Were Alone and A Perfect Day. I will be re-reading Chasing Secrets as part of my review of my classes Literature Circle books (the same titles the district uses for Battle of the Books), and if I finish Wolf Hollow I will start an early chapter book as I have not read one in a while or A Monster Calls if I am more in the mood for something YA. Happy Easter to everyone, and happy reading as well!

It’s Monday, what are you reading? 4/10/17

I am squeezing in a late afternoon Monday reading post. The group of bloggers that post weekly on kidlit at unleashingreaders.com and teachmentortext.com provide a great selection of books to add to your To-read piles.


Here is the reading I was able to complete this week:


This early chapter/graphic novel has been really popular with late primary and early intermediate students. Pictures and words both contribute to the humour. Its a Scholastic publication so it is easy to acquire in their book clubs and book fairs. Its also the beginning of a series that seems to have my students looking for the next book.


I have had so many students, and my oldest daughter recommend this series that I decided to read it before the next one is published in 2018. It is a really solid graphic novel/fantasy series, neither of which is a genre I am generally drawn to, but there is lots to like here. The story is really detailed and imaginative and the art is beautiful. If you are like me and have seen this fly off the shelves for years and wondered what it is like, it is certainly worth the read.


This is another very funny picture book from the author of Mother Bruce and Hotel Bruce. I loved this funny tale of Rupert the mouse, whose one goal is to make an artistic, wordless picture book. Things do not go according to plan thanks to a few other mice that we first saw in the Bruce books. There are also cameos from a couple other characters my students loved from both Bruce books. With a very clever plot, and the “visually stimulating” pictures this one is full of checklist for everyone and lives up to the high expectations young fans of Ryan T. Higgins books.


I enjoyed the humour in this early chapter book. There were a lot of zany creatures, particularly the title character, and his trusted assistant (a goat). The team attacks “big deal” mysteries. The pictures were funny and I liked how the four cases that were solved came together at the end of the book. Similar to The Bad Guys in terms of reading ability and interest level.


This is a MG novel of middle schoolers trying to “find the moves that fit”. Our main character is involved in dance, but other characters go through similar issues in their own ways. There is heart and humor here, and even though you can see some of the conclusions coming, the characters are likable enough that I was happy enough to make the trip. There is a diverse cast of characters and their interests are also diverse and that will likely also appeal to some students.


Currently Reading:

Next for me is a Richard Wagamese book for teens called Him Standing. I am finishing my re-read of The War That Saved My Life this week (its kind of been on the back burner). I am reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with my family and The BFG with my six year old. I am also hoping to read House Arrest by K.A. Holt and maybe Wolf Hollow. Happy Reading everyone!

#MustReadin2017 Update #1 The Longest Winter Ever (Plus a tiny bit of Spring)

Thanks to Carrie Gelson at There’s a Book for That for organizing this  great challenge. I started the year with a list of 66 books. After three months, I was hoping to have read between a quarter and a third of the total number of books (17-22). Last year I did a great job (if I do say so myself) in the first three months and then really lost focus so I was hoping to get off to a good start and read about 20 of my books. Turns out I have read exactly 20!

Here are the books that I have read:

Middle Grade and Young Adult Novels

Horizon (Horizon, Book 1)ScytheCounting on HopeScar IslandSamurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune

These are the most recent five that I read. I am evaluating books for a Lit Circle unit and Battle of the Books that I do each year. Counting on Hope and Samurai Rising are on the long list for next year. I like the setting and curricular ties for Counting on Hope and the fact that Samurai Rising is non-fiction (although a tad violent for grade 5). I read Scar Island because we are using The Honest Truth this year, and I know kids will love the action of that book. Horizon was a book we discussed at our school when Jennifer Nielsen visited. She is writing book two of the series. Scythe was a book I won on Goodreads, and it was super interesting. A very grim topic, but I think some of my mature grade seven students (I see them in library and was their classroom teacher last year) would enjoy it.

The Seventh WishWrath of the Storm (Mark of the Thief #3)Auggie & Me: Three Wonder StoriesAn Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

The Seventh Wish was a book I wanted to read for possible use in my Lit Circle/Battle of the Books next year. I think it is a strong contender, but it may get selected for Global Read Aloud, in which case I would not use it. It handled a relevant subject in a great way. I had to read Wrath of the Storm to finish the exciting Mark of the Thief series by Jennifer Nielsen. Auggie & Me was recommended last year by students and I was happy to read the back story of Julian in particular. I don’t read as much YA as I did when I was at a middle school, but Ember in the Ashes was a book I kept seeing online and I really enjoyed the plot and setting. I am not racing for book two only because I can’t see a place for it in my elementary setting and also the love triangle aspect of some YA just seems a little forced. The Inquisitor’s Tale is one of my favourite books right now. I am not sure how it is going to work with for grades 5/6. It will be a challenging read, but rewarding for those with high ability or perseverance.

Early Chapter/Emerging Readers:

This is an area I am trying to focus on a little more. My oldest kind of skipped this stage with the exception of Magic Treehouse, so I am hoping to build a better knowledge of these books.

Weekends with Max and His DadThe Princess in Black Takes a VacationDory FantasmagoryRescue on the Oregon Trail (Ranger in Time, #1)Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs (Roscoe Riley Rules, #1)

I really enjoyed all of these books. Most of them are first in a series except The Princess in Black, which is the fourth. I have read the previous three with my youngest, who at six is just starting to read some of these books on her own. She read all of The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation to me (a first for us, and so this is officially one of my favourite books ever). Weekends with Max and His Dad is, I think, a stand alone and a good addition to any library. Roscoe Riley and Dory are really funny characters and I have been able to hand Roscoe to a number of students already. I very much want to read more in these series with my children and students. I have been really enjoying Kate Messner’s writing lately and the Ranger in Time series is no exception. I am handing it to lots of late primary students.

Picture Books:

You Don't Want a Unicorn!Up in the Garden and Down in the DirtBorn in the Wild: Baby Mammals and Their ParentsIf I Had a Gryphon

You Don’t Want a Unicorn was one of the funniest picture books I have read for a while. My grade five/six class really enjoyed it (they saw me cataloging it for the library and insisted that I read it to them). If I Had a Gryphon is similar and attracts readers as well. Up and Down in the Garden and Down in the Dirt is the third Kate Messner book on this list, and I really love this whole series and they way the books explore nature with readers. Born in the Wild is a second NF picture book (another area that I do not feel I have read enough) and it is really good, but I enjoyed Lita Judge’s How Big Are Dinosaurs? a little more.

Graphic Novels:

The Stonekeeper (Amulet, #1)

This is a series I really should have checked out sooner. I have never had to sell this to students because they always recommend it to each other, so I hadn’t picked up until recently. My oldest was amazed that I had not read it yet, and that was another reason. I really enjoyed it, and read the second as well. I not dying to read the rest of the series like many of our students, but I am interested enough to pick one up when I want a quick read.

Progress to Date 20/66

Likely to read soon:

The Whispering Skull (Lockwood and Co. #2)

Me and Marvin Gardens

Snow White

Wolf Hollow


These are either student recommended or potential Lit Circle books for next year.

Here is a link to my full list if you have any recommendations for what I should not miss out on. Thanks for reading!



It’s Monday, the Back to School (April 3 edition)

I look forward to being able to post as part of this weekly meme hosted by Jen at http://www.teachmentortexts.com and Kellee and Ricki at http://www.unleashingreaders.com. I haven’t been very good about finishing a post each week but I am completing this one after school on the first Monday back after Spring Break. This is always an exciting time, and usually I am able to stock up on books during the break as well. There are no bookstores in my hometown so I am excited to be able to get to some book stores. I was able to get to Munro’s in Victoria, which is an amazing building and store, and Kidsbook in North Vancouver, also great, with excellent staff to chat with about kidlit.

Here is a pic of Munro’s front display, dedicated to Jon Klassen. I know someone else tweeted a similar picture (Carrie Gelson) a couple days after my visit, but it really is great so I post it here in the event you have not seen it before.


Here is what I was able to read this week:

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)

The first book I read was Scythe, which I won on Goodreads. I should have read this much sooner, as I really enjoyed it, but it being YA, I had more pressing needs in the K-7 section of my classroom library and school library. The premise here is that in a “post-mortality” society, all forms of natural death have been eliminated, Scythes are employed to control the population. These Scythes have pretty much unchecked power to complete their job in the whatever fashion they deem appropriate. These unchecked powers and the different ways that characters handle death become very interesting and important. A little grim at times, but not anymore than what you would expect from the title and cover, but an interesting read from a writer I really want to read more of. I liked the ending of this book, and I might read the sequel, but I probably won’t move it to the top of my pile. I think a mature elementary student could read this one.

The Fairy-Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, #1)

This was a re-read for me. I was asked to pick a chapter book with magic and action (could even be fighting) by my youngest daughter and this was my pick. She now holds this series as her #2 series (behind Harry Potter). My not quite seven year old loves the fairy tale characters that are forced to stay together and populate the fictional town on Ferryport Landing. Keeping the peace is Relda Grimm and her two granddaughters Sabrina and Daphne. This was ideal as a read aloud, as my daughter can read short chapter books on her own and wants something more complex during our reading time. If you haven’t checked out this nine part series it is really great for about grades 3-5.

The Great Big Boom (HiLo #3)

This is the third in the HiLO graphic novel series. It is a very funny, other wordly series. I really loved book two with the addition of the hilarious cat you see on the front (Polly) and the cliffhanger ending. The series continues to have humour, interesting worlds, and good relationships between characters. As good as it was, I enjoyed the second a little more. Probably the most interesting for me this time was that much of it takes place in a new setting. This was a good one for fans of the series, but would not likely work at all for those that have not read the first two. I have had kids from grades 2-6 read this one, but it seems that the grade fours are the most interested.

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea  (Narwhal and Jelly)

Another graphic novel, but this is one is better suited to early chapter readers. Its very cute and funny, but also has many facts about sea creatures in it. It reads more like a series of stories and it reminded me of an old comic book in that way with unrelated episodes and some facts distributed randomly. I haven’t given this to students yet, but I think it will be very popular with grades one and two at my school.

Horizon (Horizon, #1)

Normally, I am not drawn to multi-platform series featuring different authors. There is an online game associated with this series which starts with Scott Westerfeld at the helm and Jennifer Nielsen on deck. However, I really like both of those writers so I had fairly high expectations for this one. The survival theme has worked for many other books too. I liked this, but it was not as good as I was hoping for either. I think the plot is going to confuse some and have readers looking for more of an explanation as to why some of these things happen. I did feel that way while reading The Maze Runner though, and of course the suspension of disbelief was no problem for kids who needed to read the rest of that series. Very likely to be the case here too, but it will be tough for readers to wait a year between books so I am hoping they come out on a speedy schedule. What I did like was the diverse cast of characters and the creepy creatures that inhabit the world in which in takes place (reminded me of Westerfeld’s Midnighters series, which I think was stronger than this book- but full disclosure, I really loved that one).

The Horse and His Boy (Chronicles of Narnia, #5)

This was our family read aloud that we read over the break. We are trying these in a suggested reading order. We read The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and really enjoyed both. I am sure that I read this whole series as a child, but not since. I had strong memories of the first two we read, but not really any of this book. I did not get too invested in the new characters and I just wanted them to hurry up and get back to Narnia. There were some good moments near the end of the book, but it just did not grab any of us the way the first two did.

Currently Reading:

I just started Brooks Benjamin’s My Seventh Grade Life in Tights, and I hope to finish it this week. Also, I am re-reading The War That Saved My Life (one of my favourites from last year) as I start using it with my literature circle group. I am also reading The Bad Guys with my youngest and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with my family. I am hoping to squeeze in one more MG novel with a student clamouring for me to read The Whispering Skull (#2 of Lockwood and Company by Jonathan Stroud) and me wanting to add more early chapter books to my list (Inspector Flytrap has been popular in one class and I have yet to read it).

Happy Reading to everyone!




It’s Monday, What are You Reading! 3/26/17

I have been kind of busy on Sunday/Monday the last few weeks and have missed out on participating in this weekly meme with a kidlit focus hosted by http://www.teachmentortexts.com and http://www.unleashingreaders.com. I am going to attempt to summarize a few of the books I have enjoyed since I was last here.

Middle Grade Novels-

Scar IslandCounting on HopeBecause of Mr. Terupt

I have loved all three of Dan Gemeinhart’s novels to date. Scar Island is his newest, and could be his best. Many have commented that it reminds them of Lord of the Flies, and while there is one plot point that will make many recall that there are many other things going on here. The last third of the book is really gripping and just as he did in his previous two efforts, Dan Gemeinhart really has you thinking and feeling along with likable and fallible characters. Counting on Hope is a story written from the perspectives of two youths (one First Nations, and one Caucasian) whose families are interconnected during the time of first contact between Europeans and First Nations in the Gulf Island region of British Columbia. I think this book could really open up some great discussions of this time period with students. I enjoyed the setting and the plot. The two girls develop a friendship (to me, it was a little rushed) but the political life around them makes their friendship quite challenging and pushes the characters in many directions. I enjoyed this read. I had Because of Mr. Terupt recommended to me by another librarian who was kind enough to lend it out to me (Thanks Mr. Anscomb at Central!). I think fans of Dan Gemeinhart’s (and I have plenty at my school!) would also love this book as it pulls at your heart quite a bit. There are seven different perspectives of students in a grade 5 who are all touched by the work of their unconventional teacher. I know that description could be true of several books and movies and this may turn some readers off. Also, at times the students seemed to read each others thoughts and feelings far more successfully than the students I deal with. However, this is still a very fast, compelling read. I may pick up the two sequels.

Masterminds (Masterminds, #1)Criminal Destiny (Masterminds, #2)Masterminds: Payback (Masterminds, #3)

Speaking of sequels! I re-read Masterminds because it is a part of my upcoming literature circle and Battle of the Books I am co-planning for the Spring and I picked up the rest of the series because I know my students will want to read them right away. Also, I just really enjoyed the whole series. Its kind of a dystopia for tweens and a very exciting series. I thought I would lose a friend and colleague when I failed to lend #3 to next door neighbour at school (apparently, I was supposed to loan #3 to her and not take it on vacation with me). Her reaction was further proof of how good this series is.

Transitional/Early Chapter and Graphic Novels-

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie Bucket, #1)Weekends with Max and His DadSaving the Whole Wide World (HiLo #2)

I re-read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with my family. It was as fun as I remember it, and while I am sure my children enjoyed it, just not as much as I had hoped. My fourth grader probably wanted a little more action. Weekends with Max and his Dad is a cute tale of a boy and his dad navigating the new world of weekend visitations after a separation. Over three weekends the boy comes to terms with having two homes. The characters are endearing too, and there is warmth and humour. HiLo #2 is, to use the language of the title character, “Outstanding!” My wife would call it a “cookie stealer” (I think she stole the expression from Jordan Stratford) typical of book two in a series in which at least one character is going to have a tough time. There will be a long line for book three as the relationships got stronger and the action is ongoing. I loved the hilarious cat in this book too. I think it was even better than the first graphic novel in this series.

Picture Books-

We're in the Wrong Book!Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book)

These were two very funny books. We’re in the Wrong Book is one of three Richard Byrne picture books that all feature audience involvement and humour as the characters navigate a small problem within the book. Snappsy the Alligator is a character that does not appreciate being nudged through the story by the narrator and the back and forth between the two is witty and will have young ones giggling. Both are likely to be solid read alouds in my primary library periods.

The SnurtchThe Friend ShipWe're All Wonders

I am also hoping that these three are story time favourites in the library. The Snurtch was, I read it in one of the final weeks before Spring Break and the teachers reported that many of their students were still talking about it a week later. Best question from a student: “Do teachers have a Snurtch?” Of course we do. Hopefully, we control ours and our students cannot tell. The Friend Ship is a really cute story of finding friends and being a friend to those around you. We’re all Wonders is a solid follow up to R.J. Palacio’s novel. The staff at Kidsbooks in North Vancouver (what a great group they have at that store) asked my wife how kids would receive this one if they were unfamiliar with Wonder. A very good question, and for sure I think the book will require more explanation and discussion. I don’t believe it will have the impact on people that the novel has. It would be a real challenge to get that in the short format here, and while I like this book I don’t think it is quite up to that challenge. I am curious what people who have read this with little ones have to say though, I only just got my hands on it.

Currently Reading- 


The Fairy-Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, #1)The Horse and His Boy (Chronicles of Narnia, #5)Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)

I am re-reading The Fairy Tale Detectives with my six year old. She wanted a book with magic, and action so I chose this one. We really love it. I have long loved the cover of this one. The Horse and His Boy is our family read aloud. We are half way through it, and honestly not really enjoying it as much as the first two Narnia books (we chose reading order so this is book 3). I am reading Scythe and finding it fascinating. I really enjoy speculative fiction and this is a thought provoking read (although dark for some). I am also re-reading The War That Saved My Life for my upcoming literature circle/Battle of the Books unit (just as good the second time). I am hoping to finish all of these books this week while I am still on Spring Break. Next, I hope to continue with series such as HiLo (just got Book 3), Dory Fantasmagory and Lockwood and Co. (both Book 2) and begin new series such as Horizon and Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea. Happy Reading to all!

It’s Monday What are you Reading 2/20/17


So, I thought this would be an empty blog unless you count the report card writing related reading but I finished some books with my family and another one late last night. Actually, it was not nearly as bad a reading week as I thought it would be. Please visit the excellent hosts of this weekly meme at http://www.teachmentortexts.com and http://www.unleashingreaders.com

Books I Finished This Week:


I am a huge fan of Amy Dyckman’s books from some of the older ones like The Tea Party Rules and Boy + Bot to her collaborations with Zachariah O’Hora (Horrible Bear, and Wolfie the Bunny), so I was really looking forward to this one with Liz Climo. Liz has some extremely funny cartooning work including some with The Simpsons. This book did not disappoint, it is laugh-out-loud funny. However, if you have any die hard very young unicorn fans, they may not be happy with how the unicorns are portrayed (very poorly behaved). My older primary students loved it, its the Kindergarten class I worry about (just one student).


I read this outloud to my six year old who is a huge fan of this series. Her favourite scenes are the ones that involve Quidditch. We watched the movie on the weekend and she was disappointed in how much of the Quidditch was cut. I really enjoyed the book, particularly the increased role in the resolution for characters not named Harry, and the peek into Hogwart’s past through some new characters. My youngest is pushing for our next family read aloud to be the fourth installment, now that she has caught up to her big sister.


I did not intend to read this, but I was returning some public library books and there it was. I thought it was a follow-up to This Book ate my Dog, which I read a couple weeks ago and enjoyed. I was unaware that there is one more book in between by Richard Byrne called We’re in the Wrong Book. I found the two I have read to form a cute series of pic books in which young readers will interact with the story. I am going to try to get that second one.


This book was kind of special for me as it is the first chapter book my youngest requested to read TO me. I had read the first three in this series to her, and we have really enjoyed reading them together. There is a blend of action and humour. My youngest says that she needs books with action, fighting and magic (thus her love of Harry Potter). Here, we really liked the acorn shaped monster drawn by LeUyen Pham and some of the other new characters as well. This has been a great early chapter series for us, as having listened to the first three books, my little reader can access some words she would not otherwise have been able to. Also, a fifth is on the way. I know someone that can’t wait.



I picked this up at the library at the same time as This Book is out of Control. Nice work librarians for making a display of new books. Now, I know why I do that, it works! This one has cute illustrations. You can see from the cover that the girl is going to be using her brain for something, and that is the case. She is thinking about the important parts of her dog, not the looks. There is a message to go with the pictures, but it is subtle so it will inspire/require discussion.


 I think this is one of the most underrated covers and maybe series for MG readers. My wife chose it for our family read aloud and the kids really liked it (its a re-read for me). The cupboards lead to different worlds and we had just read two Narnia books so that was a big hook for my children when they read the back and looked at the cover and realized it could be similar. The eyes of the cat are a big draw as well. This one has action, some creepy parts, and some hidden details in the background that are expanded on later in the series. I had several grade five and six students read this last year. A sign of a potentially good book: my copy looks like it has been through the blender from last year’s class.


I don’t read a lot of non-fiction so I had been wanting to try this one for a while, and its mention at the YMA was the final boot to my rear. The back cover gives a warning that generally people do not die of natural causes here, and there are many violent ends for people in this account of the life of a 12th century samurai. I thought it was really interesting the ways in which Pamela Turner let you know when her source was really good, and when she had to speculate a little. At times, I felt like I was sitting in on her research. The story itself is exciting and I think those that can handle the violence will enjoy the peek into medieval Japan including well described battle scenes that could play out as a cinematic daydream in the mind of a reader.

Currently Reading:

I am still re-reading The War that Saved my Life and Masterminds in preparation for my literature circle unit.

Upcoming Reads:

I am going to start Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart tonight (hopefully after some report cards get done) as I will likely use it as a recommendation to other lit circle students who choose to read The Honest Truth. My daughter looked after my early chapter goal last week, so this week it might be The Bad Guys, the second in the Amulet series or Weekends with Max and his Dad. Happy Reading to all!