Tag Archives: picture books

Finding Inspiration

29 Apr

I am always on the lookout for picture books that connect, however tenuously, to what we are doing in class. Today’s two books are all about imagination, inspiration and creativity, which connects to the Invention Convention we are working on.


Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking is written by Elin Kelsey and illustrated by Soyeon Kim. It encourages young readers to observe nature and think about how animals face their problems and use their imagination to solve the problems. The diorama like artwork here is spectacular, with each two page spread offering a source of inspiration in nature.


My Pen, written and illustrated by Christopher Myers, is an illustrated work of pure poetry. The text plants the seed of an idea as to what the narrator can do with his pen, but the shaded and detailed drawings in black ink on white background give wings to the text.


This is a deep, contemplative book full of rich ideas and creativity.


Mixed Media

28 Sep

I love finding really good books about art. Herve Tullet is back with fantastic follow-up to Press Here called


Just as the title suggests, readers are asked to mix up colors, sometimes in very fun ways, such as closing the book and pressing two colors together


or placing your hand on the page and making colors disappear.


Although intended for young readers, not so young readers will also find the book just as fun.

On a more serious note, Emily’s Blue Period, by Cathleen Daly, is about Pablo Picasso and changing family dynamics.


Emily is very crafty and interested in art, especially Pablo Picasso, but when her dad moves out, her life is as mixed up as some of Picasso’s cubist paintings.


“When Picasso was sad for a while,” says Emily, “he only painted in blue. And now I am in my blue period.”

 The book is written in short chapters and  addresses the different stages Emily goes through. When her art teachers assigns a project in which students have to collage what “home” means to them, Emily breaks free of her blues.

Lisa Brown’s illustrations for this book is light and friendly, despite the heaviness of the topics.  An excellent book all around.

Some Canadian Book Award finalists announced

4 Sep

2014 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Literature Awards: Finalists announced

Today, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre the nationally-renowned authority on all things related to youngCanLit, announced the finalists for the 2014 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards.
The seven major children’s book awards, which will be awarded at two invitation-only galas in October and November, include:
  1. TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award ($30,000) Sponsored by TD Bank Group;
  2. Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse ($30,000) Sponsored by TD Bank Group;
  3. Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award ($20,000) Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie;
  4. Norma Fleck Award For Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction ($10,000) Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation;
  5. Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People ($5,000) Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund;
  6. John Spray Mystery Award ($5,000) Sponsored by John Spray; and
  7. Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy ($5,000)  Sponsored by HarperCollins Canada.
Here are the short lists for each award category, as announced by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre today:
1. TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

Branded by the Pink Triangle
by Ken Setterington
Second Story Press

In the Tree House
by Andrew Larsen
Illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Kids Can Press

The Man with the Violin
by Kathy Stinson
Illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Annick Press

Once Upon a Northern Night
by Jean E. Pendziwol
Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Groundwood Books

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
by Teresa Toten
Doubleday Canada

 2.  Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse 

Destins croisés
par Élizabeth Turgeon
Les Éditions du Boréal

Le lion et l’oiseau
par Marianne Dubuc
Les Éditions de la Pastèque

Ma petite boule d’amour
par Jasmine Dubé
Illustré par Jean-Luc Trudel
Les Éditions de la Bagnole

Le Noël de Marguerite
par India Desjardins
Illustraté par Pascal Blanchet
Les Éditions de la Pastèque

La plus grosse poutine du monde
par Andrée Poulin
Bayard Canada

3. Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award

Fox and Squirrel
by Ruth Ohi

North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada

How To
by Julie Morstad
Simply Read Books

The Man with the Violin
by Kathy Stinson
Illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Annick Press

My Name Is Blessing
by Eric Walters
Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Tundra Books

Where Do You Look?
by Marthe Jocelyn and Nell Jocelyn
Tundra Books

4. Norma Fleck Award For Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction

Branded by the Pink Triangle
by Ken Setterington
Second Story Press

A History of Just About Everything: 180 Events, People and Inventions That Changed the World
by Elizabeth MacLeod and Frieda Wishinsky
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Kids Can Press

The Last Train: A Holocaust Story
by Rona Arato
Owlkids Books

Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids
by Deborah Ellis
Groundwood Books

My Name Is Blessing
by Eric Walters
Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Tundra Books

5. Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People
Brothers at War
by Don Cummer
Scholastic Canada

Graffiti Knight
by Karen Bass
Pajama Press
Little Red Lies
by Julie Johnston

The Manager
by Caroline Stellings
Cape Breton University Press
Me & Mr. Bell
by Philip Roy
Cape Breton University Press
6. John Spray Mystery Award

The Further Adventures of Jack Lime
by James Leck
Kids Can Press

The Metro Dogs of Moscow
by Rachelle Delaney
Puffin Canada

The Spotted Dog Last Seen
by Jessica Scott Kerrin
Groundwood Books

Whatever Doesn’t Kill You
by Elizabeth Wennick
Orca Book Publishers

Who I’m Not
by Ted Staunton
Orca Book Publishers

6. Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy

Curse of the Dream Witch
by Allan Stratton
Scholastic Canada

Rush (The Game, Book 1)
by Eve Silver
Katherine Teegen/HarperCollins

Sorrow’s Knot
by Erin Bow
Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic

The Stowaways
by Meghan Marentette
Illustrated by Dean Griffiths
Pajama Press

Slated (Slated Trilogy, Book1)
by Teri Terry
Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Young Readers Group

Hosted by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and TD Bank Group, the Children’s Literature Awards will celebrate great Canadian children’s books and present the winners of the awards on the evenings of October 28 and November 6, 2014 in Montreal and Toronto, respectively.  

Doggedly devoted

30 Aug

It has been whirlwind of a week. My classroom is set up enough to get me through the first week of school. Fiona and Lucy have readjusted to my return to work.


I have hardly read or knit all week. There’s just been too much to do and I returned home exhausted each evening. My stack of library books needs some serious attention. But here is a pair of picture books that I loved.

Gaston, written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Christian Robinson, is about family.


Gaston is not like his sisters. He sometimes exasperates his mother.


When a chance encounter reveals that a mistake has been made, things look right. But they do not feel right. This book is about families, belonging, and square pegs in round holes.

David Ezra Stein’s I’m My Own Dog,  is another story about reversals.


Narrated from the dog’s point of view, we learn about an independent dog who fetches his own slippers. He can do everything for himself, except scratch that one spot in the middle of his back. So, one day, he lets a human scratch it. That poor human follows him home and eventually, dog finds that the human is a good companion.

Kids will love both of these books and I think they’d inspire some very funny writing by kids. The could tell stories from their pets’ perspective, or from the perspective of an animal in a zoo or in the wild. They could write about interspecies families.  They could also right about how they are the Gaston in their family.

These are also just really great read alouds too, especially as school begins and sometimes, that can have kids and teachers feeling a little like fish out of water.

A picture Book Round Up

18 Aug

I was in Powell’s the other day and read a few picture books. They always have lovely displays and I find books I have on hold at the library and others I didn’t even know I wanted to read. Here are a few things I read.

I picked this one up because I thought it was a biography of Julia Child.


But if you look carefully, you will see that this book, written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad, there is a comma in the title Julia, Child. Inspired by the idea of Julia Child, this book is about butter, friendship and the art of childhood. Julia and her friend Simca love to cook but have no wish to turn into big, busy people who worry too much and watch too few cartoons. They decide to create a feast for growing and staying young. A playful, scrumptious celebration of the joy of eating,the book celebrates the importance of never completely growing up, and mastering the art of having a good time.

With the start of school around the corner (I have a 2-day training this week !) I have started wearing my mouth guard at night because stress and worry cause me to grind and clench my teeth while I sleep. Right now, I bet kids are wondering and worrying about which teacher they will get in a few weeks. Some will be disappointed, but most will find out that the scary/mean teacher they didn’t want isn’t as bad as they feared. Peter Brown tackles this feeling head on in My Teacher is a Monster.


Bobby thinks his teacher is a monster, but a chance meeting in the park transforms their relationship.  By the time the two separate, Bobby is no longer quite as afraid if Ms. Kirby as he originally was, and the illustrations show how she has morphed from monster to human being.

A random book that pleasantly surprised me was Ninja! by Arree Chung.


True ninjas can overcome all obstacles. And our protagonist, Maxwell, does his best, using his rich fantasy life to share his suggestions for becoming an awesome ninja as he goes on a mission for milk and cookies. Funny and heart-warming, this book celebrates imagination and the love of family. Chung has a website full of fun activities kids can do after reading the book.

Three Little Girls

5 May


I have a giant stack of picture books at home right now. It seems to have blossomed overnight, so the next few posts will be about multiple picture books that have some sort of connection.

Today’s books all have young girls facing difficult circumstances.

First up: Hidden by Loïc Dauvillier.


More and more kids don’t know much, if anything about WWII. As we stand on the brink of the 100th anniversary of WWI, it worries me that they won’t know about the Holocaust before too long. This graphic novel is written for young readers and would be a rest way to introduce them, gently, to this terrible part of human history.

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As you can see from the samples above, the story opens with a grandmother and her granddaughter, talking in the idle of the night, when both can’t sleep. And that is the tome of the book. MAny of the worst details are left out, because it is a story for young people. As they get older , they will learn of the terrible parts this book leaves out. For now, it is enough for them to know as much as Elsa does from her grandmother.

Next up:  Anna Carries Water by Olive Senior.


Set in the Caribbean, Anna Carries Water  is about a young girl who longs to carry water on her head like her older siblings. It is a simple story about  the power of determination, as Anna achieves her goal and overcomes her fear. Bright illustrations by Laura James really energize the text.

And finally:  The Girl From the Tarpaper School by Teri Kanefield


Goodreads Summary:

  Before the Little Rock Nine, before Rosa Parks, before Martin Luther King Jr. and his March on Washington, there was Barbara Rose Johns, a teenager who used nonviolent civil disobedience to draw attention to her cause. In 1951, witnessing the unfair conditions in her racially segregated high school, Barbara Johns led a walkout—the first public protest of its kind demanding racial equality in the U.S.—jumpstarting the American civil rights movement. Ridiculed by the white superintendent and school board, local newspapers, and others, and even after a cross was burned on the school grounds, Barbara and her classmates held firm and did not give up. Her school’s case went all the way to the Supreme Court and helped end segregation as part of Brown v. Board of Education.
Barbara Johns grew up to become a librarian in the Philadelphia school system. The Girl from the Tar Paper School mixes biography with social history and is illustrated with family photos, images of the school and town, and archival documents from classmates and local and national news media. The book includes a civil rights timeline, bibliography, and index.

All in all, three great books about young girls.

Seasonal Poetry for Poetry Season

7 Apr

It is April, and it is poetry season. What better time to look at poems about seasons.


Koo the panda, along with Jon Muth, present this delightful collection of haiku.Twenty-six haiku celebrate the unique natural wonders of each of the four seasons in this charming picture book. Some of the verses will prompt smiles while others will bring readers up short and gently nudge them to look at things from a different perspective. The watercolor illustrations are as expressive as the poems.


Firefly July and Other Very Short Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, looks out over a year in very short poems.


The poets in this collection range from Emily Dickinson and William Carlos Williams  to the unfortunately named Adelaide Crapsey (creator of the cinquain) and former poet laureate Ted Kooser.

There is much to love here. The selection of poems is a place to start. Each of the 30+ little gems can be enjoyed for its own sake. Couple with Melissa Sweet’s illustrations, they are astounding. As a reader, I want to linger with each poem, think of what I would illustrate, want to memorize that poem so I can share it at just the right time.


If you are nervous about poetry, start with one of these two books. They will ease you in. If you are already a fan, just simply enjoy.

Self help through picture books

2 Jan

Welcome to self-improvement season. It’s the one in which people make resolutions and try to be better in a variety of ways. Fortunately, picture books can help us navigate the sea of possibilities and discover what is most important.

Like Mo does, in Mo’s Mustache  by Ben Clanton.


When Mo decided to start wearing a mustache, everybody liked it.


Unfortunately, everybody included a lot of copycats, which was disappointing.


Mo worked his way through a series of fashion changes in an effort to be unique, only to be copied time after time. Finally losing his temper, Mo asked his copy-catting friends why they keep copying and is surprised by the answer, which gives him a new perspective and makes for a situation in which everyone can be happy.

In Carnivores written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Dan Santat, the beasts at the top of the food chain are feeling a little left out.


So, they set about on a self-improvement plan to fit in better with the other wildlife. The ones they used to eat.


It doesn’ t really work out very well for them and, ultimately, they embrace their carnivore nature.

So whether you are trying to make a change or embrace your essence, these two books are full of humor that will help you on your journey.

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