Posts Tagged ‘Canadian illustrator’

Getting Ready to Read Plus – Day Two

Posted on July 10th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Today was our second session of Getting Ready to Read Plus. Today’s theme was “Boats Afloat” and the letter of the day was “B.” The children were able to come up with all sorts of words that begin with the /b/ sound – bumblebee, bear, brown, blue, black, boat, boy, baby and more.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Rowboat

Boating theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Letter B - pictures and words

Our story today was The Deep Cold River Story, written by Tabatha Southey and illustrated by Sue Savor. This is a very good read aloud for four and five year olds. I like using it with the “boats afloat” theme because there are several rowboats in the illustrations.

The Deep Cold River Story written by Tabatha Southey and illustrated by Sue Savor

Imagine a deep, cold river running through a small town. One day, for no apparent reason, the river overflows its banks and floods the entire community. Many possible solutions to the unrelenting flooding are proposed but it takes a little girl to solve the problem and save the town. The Deep Cold River Story features a positive message about bedtime stories and offers a great opportunity for children to propose their own creative solutions to the problem.

A charming story featuring a young heroine and appealing illustrations, The Deep Cold River Story is 28 pages and will be enjoyed by children aged 3 to 6.

The Deep Cold River Story at Amazon.com

The Deep Cold River Story at Amazon.ca

The Red Scarf, Award Winning Wordless Picture Book

Posted on June 7th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Anne Villeneuve's award winning wordless picture book, The Red ScarfThe Red Scarf – created by Anne Villeneuve
Almost Wordless Picture Book published by Tundra books





Turpin’s day is altogether too gray until an imposing figure climbs into his taxicab. Turpin delivers the gentleman to his destination and shortly thereafter discovers a bright red scarf on the seat of the cab.

Turpin chases after the mysterious man but is detained by a lizard on a unicycle. Once he explains his purpose, the lizard allows him to pass. Turpin soon finds himself surrounded by a bear on roller skates, and a ravenous lion. Fortunately, the lion tamer is not far away and rescues him before the worst can happen.

Now, surrounded by amazing colour and exotic creatures, Turpin’s day grows stranger and stranger until he finds himself in the middle of a brightly lit circus tent. A parading elephant, a fire breathing juggler, a playful monkey, a tightrope and a magic trick all add to the hijinks as Turpin struggles to return the scarf. The Red Scarf, Award Winning Wordless Picture Book

Originally published as L’echarpe rouge, this almost wordless picture book won the 2000 Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration.

Best suited to children kindergarten age and up.

The Red Scarf at Amazon.com

The Red Scarf at Amazon.ca

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books


Here Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-Sussman

Posted on April 18th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at a picture book about family life, emotions and social situations, Here Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-SussmanHere Comes Hortense! written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Georgia Graham
Picture book about jealousy, emotions and blended families, published by Tundra Books



When a six year old boy, his grandmother and her new husband go on vacation to a theme park, all is well until Hortense arrives. Hortense is Bob’s granddaughter and she is suddenly a threat. Nana shares her hotel room with Hortense, she sings “Lavender’s Blue” to her and she sits next to her for all the scary rides. To add insult to injury, Hortense even devises a special name for Nana!

Nana’s grandson is despondent. He can’t believe that Hortense has taken his special place with his grandmother.

It is not until Nana and Gramps take a ride in the Tunnel of Love that the two children are able to gain perspective and learn to like each other.

Note: Here Comes Hortense! is a follow up to Heather Hartt-Sussman and Georgia Graham’s picture book titled Nana’s Getting Married

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.com

Here Comes Hortense! at Amazon.ca



Seal Song by Andrea Spalding and Pascal Milelli ‘Enchants’

Posted on March 7th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Seal Song, a picture book by Andrea Spalding and Pascal MilelliSeal Song written by Andrea Spalding and illustrated by Pascal Milelli
Picture book published by Orca Book Publishers



You will also be interested in our page highlighting picture books about caring for our environment, recycling, reducing our environmental footprint and more. Terrific resources for Earth Day and Arbor Day.


In folklore, selkies are mythological creatures that can change shape. Selkies live in the ocean as seals and on land as humans.

Each morning Finn helps his father fish but he is secretly anxious for the opportunity to slip away from the wharf and the cannery. He wants to swim with the seals.
“Sing to me.” said Finn. “Sing the seal song that brings good fortune.”
The seal blew a fish breath and disappeared below the waves.
But, despite Finn’s pleas, he does not hear the seals sing.

One afternoon, while enjoying his usual swim with seals, Finn notices a commotion in the waves, his favourite seal has been caught in an old fishing net. Finn dives into the ocean, rescues the seal, feeds it and nurses it back to health. He has made a new friend. Finally his wish is granted; he hears the seals sing.

Father is not happy with Finn and does not believe that a seal song will bring good fortune. He is suspicious when a mysterious child appears near the wharf. The other fishermen warn, “That child will never let salt water touch her skin. If it does, she must return to the sea.”

Sheila becomes a good friend to Finn but she does not swim in the ocean with him nor does she allow salt water to touch her skin. Meanwhile, the salmon fishing is good, Finn and his father are especially lucky and the old fishermen attribute their good fortune to Finn’s new friend.

Richly illustrated with beautiful, evocative oil paintings, Seal Song is a thought provoking look at what it means to be a friend.

For older children, Seal Song could lead to an exploration of folklore, shapeshifting, friendship, sacrifice, social responsibility and/or salmon fishing.

Seal Song at Amazon.com

Seal Song at Amazon.ca

Updated June 19, 2012 — Seal Song has been nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award



Eddie Longpants – Anti Bullying Picturebook

Posted on February 25th, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at anti bullying picture book about teasing, coping with bullies, celebrating differences and self acceptance

Storytime Standouts looks at an anti bullying picture book, Eddie Longpants by Mireille Levert.Eddie Longpants written by Mireille Levert
Anti bullying picture book published by House of Anansi Press Inc. | Groundwood Books



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Eddie is much, much taller than his classmates and his teacher. He is far too big for his school. At recess time, he endures endless name-calling and teasing. He deals with the abuse by isolating himself, he stands near a tall tree and is visited by happy, chirping birds.

When Eddie’s mom arrives for a visit with the teacher, Miss Snowpear promptly climbs onto the roof.

Miss Snowpea and Mrs. Longpants talk. They look each other straight in the eye. They say nice things. They smile big smiles. They shake hands.”

The two adults model good behavior despite their differences in stature.

At recess time the following day, the teasing resumes but this time Pete makes comments about Eddie’s mom and this time Miss Snowpea overhears the insults,

She feels anger rising inside her, It makes her insides growl and her toes curl up. All this because Eddie is big!

Pete knows that he is in trouble. He wants to escape so he climbs up, up, up into a very tall tree. Suddenly, he realizes what he has done and he is frightened. He needs help to get back down from the tree.

Eddie Longpants is an anti bullying picture book that is best suited to children four and up. It delivers a lovely message about acceptance and is sure to prompt a discussion about teasing and ways to deal with it.

Ms. Levert’s illustrations are warm and engaging. She makes great use of each two-page spread to show us just how tall Eddie, his mom and his dad are.

Eddie Longpants at Amazon.com

Eddie Longpants at Amazon.ca

Walrus’s Gift – Anti Bullying Picture Book

Posted on February 23rd, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at a picture book with an important anti bullying message…

Storytime Standouts looks at an anti bullying picture book, Walrus's Gift by H.E. StewartWalrus’s Gift written and illustrated by H.E. Stewart
Antibullying picture book published by Tudor House



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

When a young walrus notices a sad child sitting and looking out at the ocean, the walrus wonders why the boy is unhappy. He turns, first to his mother and then to his grandfather, for help. His grandfather gives the little walrus an important and unusual present… The gift allows the curious walrus to discover why the human boy is alone and unhappy.

The young walrus discovers that the boy is not like his peers; his hair is different and he is not interested in their games. The boy is being teased and bullied by the children around him. Armed with information about the problem facing the boy, Grandfather Walrus calls many sea creatures together, seeking their assistance and suggestions. Before long, a plan is made and the young walrus steps forward to help the boy. Over time, the young walrus suggests four possible ways the young boy could deal with bullying.

The Walrus’s Gift anti bullying suggestions match those recommended by the WITS program: Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it Out, Seek Help.

It is important to note that the young walrus’s actions to help the boy are not only successful, they are celebrated by the sea creatures. This exploration of what it means to notice a problem with another person, be concerned and to take action should encourage young readers to consider how, in a similar situation, they might help child in difficulty.

Gentle, soothing illustrations match the thoughtful, caring tone of Walrus’s Gift.

Best suited to children aged five and up, additional content outlines ways Walrus’s Gift is a story that echos the animal characters and wisdom typical of native legends.

Walrus’s Gift at Amazon.com

Walrus’s Gift at Amazon.ca

Anti Bullying Fiction – How to Tame a Bully

Posted on February 21st, 2012 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at an anti bullying chapter book, How to Tame a Bully

Storytime Standouts looks at anti bullying fiction for primary-aged children

How to Tame a Bully written by Nancy Wilcox Richards and illustrated by Drazen Kozjan
Anti bullying chapter book published by Scholastic



Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Lauren is excited to begin grade three. She is thrilled with her teacher and delighted to be in a class with her best friend. Lauren’s happiness dims quickly when she discovers that she is seated next to Bethany.

Bethany is a giant. She is almost as tall as Ms. MacArthur. And that’s when she’s sitting down… Her eyes are always moving. Watching everyone. I know what she is doing. She’s looking for her next victim. Someone she can force to do her homework. Someone she can beat up.

It is not long before Lauren and Bethany tangle. Bethany writes a message about Lauren on a washroom mirror and Lauren responds by giving Bethany a snack tainted with far too much salt and pepper. Bethany calls Lauren “Shrimp”, extorts recess snacks from her and splatters red paint on her new top.

When forced to work together on a school project, Lauren reachers her breaking point. She tells Bethany to stop calling her “Shrimp” and is surprised when Bethany agrees. They manage a temporary cease-fire while working together on their project but it is not until Lauren speaks up again that the relationship improves.

“Because you’re always bullying kids.”

Bethany stared back at me. Hard. Her eyes narrowed. But before she had a chance to say anything and before I ran out of courage, I continued. “You took some little grade one kid’s lunch money. You put gum on Rachael’s seat and she ruined her brand new pants. You threw a big rock through the gym window. And,” my voice started to get louder, “you keep taking my recess snack! That why you don’t have any friends. Bethany, you are just plain mean!”

Rather than resolving the bullying with an unrealistic “magical solution,” author Nancy Wilcox Richards has the girls work out a truce. Bethany’s bullying tactics subside and the girls learn to tolerate each other.

Last year, in our post titled Five Ways Young Children Can Say “No” to Bullying , we referred to Health Canada’s suggestion that one way to reduce bullying is to ask the bully to stop – a tactic that is used with success in How to Tame a Bully.

Suitable for readers in grades two or three, How to Tame a Bully is a 75 page, generously illustrated chapter book that encourages speaking up against bullying.

How to Tame a Bully at Amazon.com

How to Tame a Bully at Amazon.ca


Ella May and the Wishing Stone – a picture book about wishes, friendship and imagination

Posted on November 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Ella May and the Wishing Stone written by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Geneviève Côté
Picture book about friendship, problem solving published by Tundra Books





While on a trip to the beach, Ella May is fortunate to find an extra special stone – a stone that has a white line all around it. Certain that her extra special stone has the power to grant wishes, Ella May decides that her first wish should be to show the stone to all of her friends. Before long, Ella May’s friends have gathered ’round her, hoping to touch the magical stone. When Ella May refuses to let them hold it, they decide to find their own special stones. Although the children find all sorts of interesting stones, none is equal to Ella May’s.

  • “You’re not nice,” Manuel said. He put his stone in his pocket and tromped down the sidewalk to his own house.
  • Ella May watched him go, “Hey,” she said, “I wanted Manuel to go home and he did. Thank you again, wishing stone.”
  • Unable to find their own wishing stones, Ella’s friends come up with a creative but short-lived solution to the problem. Unfortunately, nothing resolves the conflict amongst the children; Ella May wants to be the only person with a wishing stone and she wants to keep her friends. The other children are resentful of the stone and of Ella May.

    When Ella May finally realizes that having a wishing stone is not nearly as special as having friends, the stage is set for a happy and imaginative solution that reunites the group.

    A great choice for children aged four and up, Ella May and the Wishing Stone is a (32 page) story that invites readers to think about what it means to be a friend, how best to share treasured items and imaginative ways to solve problems.

    Note – illustrations and children’s names depict a racially diverse group of friends.

    Ella May and the Wishing Stone at Amazon.com

    Ella May and the Wishing Stone at Amazon.ca



    I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen – A Surprisingly Dark Picture Book

    Posted on November 29th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts looks at I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen - A Surprisingly Dark Picture BookI Want My Hat Back written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
    Picture book published by Candlewick Press



    Poor Bear, he has lost his pointy, red hat. He searches the forest, politely asking, “Have you seen my hat?” He meets Fox, Frog, Rabbit, Turtle, and Snake. None has seen his hat. Bear is bereft and despondent. He frets that his hat is gone forever.

    When Deer finally asks, “What does your hat look like?” Bear remembers something important.

    Picture book, I Want My Hat Back is a breath of fresh air with a hint of mystery and a touch of revenge.

    Best suited to older readers, adults and children (aged five and up) will thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to “read between the lines” and enjoy Klassen’s gallows humor.

    Would I read it to a group of three year olds? “Maybe not.” Would I read it to a group of jaded six year olds who think they know all there is to know about picture books? “You betcha!”

    Storytime kit from Candlewick Press – includes I Want My Hat Back activities.

    I Want My Hat Back at Amazon.com

    I Want My Hat Back at Amazon.ca


    Also check out my comments about Jon Klassen’s Cat’s Night Out


    A Fresh Look at a Frog Prince – Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince)

    Posted on November 13th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Kiss Me I'm a Prince written by Heather McLeod and illustrated by Brooke KerriganKiss Me! (I’m and Prince!) written by Heather McLeod and illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan
    Picture book published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside





    When young Ella chances upon a talking frog, she is not altogether sure that kissing his puckered froggy lips is a good idea. For Ella, the idea of a talking frog is much more appealing than the prospect of kissing him and turning him into a boring frog prince. Ella is a fan of play – she likes basketball, swimming and Simon Says. Ella’s reluctance to kiss her new froggy friend means that he has a chance to enjoy traditional childhood games and to behave in some ways that are not at all royal. Eventually, representatives of the palace arrive. The royal frog is returned to a life of fencing and studying but not before Ella’s ideas have made a lasting impression. The frog negotiates with his parents for more playtime before returning to ask Ella for a magical kiss so he can join the neighbourhood baseball team.

    An enjoyable read aloud for children aged four and up, Kiss Me! (I’m and Prince!) provides many opportunities for children to make predictions and also invites comparisons with other versions of The Frog Prince.

    Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince) at Amazon.com

    Kiss Me! (I’m a Prince!) at Amazon.ca

    Giving Voice to Willow’s Whispers

    Posted on November 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts recommends Willow's WhispersWillow’s Whispers by Lana Button, illustrated by Tania Howells
    Picture book about finding one’s voice published by Kids Can Press



    Willow is a lovely soft spoken girl with ideas, opinions and dreams. Unfortunately, her quiet voice is so soft that it is often overlooked. As a result, her teacher and her classmates miss hearing Willow’s thoughts and choices. For Willow, this means lost opportunities for companionship at lunchtime, being fiven orange juice instead of applie juice, disappointment at playtime and standing at the end of the line once again.

    Dad has very good advice for Willow. He tells her, “Your big, strong voice got stuck way inside you, Willow. That happens sometimes. But one day your voice will wiggle its way out.”Lana Button picture book Willow's Whispers

    Thinking about Dad’s words gives Willow an opportunity to devise a plan. The following morning, Willow gathers some materials together and designs her very own magic microphone. Initially, the microphone helps Willow to express herself but before long she must manage without it and does so very successfully.

    Willow’s Whispers is a charming story that will be enjoyed by boys and girls ages four and up.

    Note, although Willow’s Whispers invites discussion of finding one’s voice and having confidence when speaking, it does so very sensitively and without reference to “shyness.”

    Willow’s Whispers Facebook page

    Willow’s Whispers at Amazon.com

    Willow’s Whispers at Amazon.ca

    You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform us about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.



    Remembrance Day for Young Children – A Poppy Is to Remember

    Posted on November 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Remembrance Day is observed annually in Canada, on November 11th. In the days leading up to November 11th, it is particularly important for adults to find ways to make Remembrance Day meaningful to young children so that they can join with all Canadians in honouring our Veterans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

    Storytime Standouts looks at a Remembrance Day resource for young children, A Poppy Is to Remember by Heather Patterson and Ron LightburnA Poppy Is to Remember written by Heather Patterson and illustrated by Ron Lightburn



    A Poppy Is to Remember is a wonderful picture book resource for Canadian families, classrooms and libraries.

    A Poppy Is to Remember explains, Once there was a long and terrible war – a war some called the Great War. Many young men went off to fight, and many did not return home to their families. As the battle raged, poppies grew in the battlefield and were seen by a Canadian army doctor, John McCrae. McCrae was inspired to write In Flanders Fields, a poem often read at Remembrance Day ceremonies.

    Beautifully illustrated, A Poppy Is to Remember salutes John McCrae and shows readers how poppies are used today when remembering the contributions of present day members of the armed forces as well as veterans, those who care for them and those who mourn their loss.

    32 pages, suitable for children aged four and up. Additional materials for older children or adults include The Story of the Poppy and Remembrance Day in Canada.

    Remembrance Day writing paper for children

    image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Remembrance Day Poppy

    Remembrance Day theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

    A Poppy Is to Remember at Amazon.com

    A Poppy is to Remember at Amazon.ca

    Follow Remembrance Day – November 11th by Storytime Standouts on Pinterest




    No Pets Allowed – Matthew and Fred Will Win You Over

    Posted on November 2nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    .Storytime Standouts write about No Pets AllowedNo Pets Allowed
    Written by Irene N. Watts and illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker
    Generously illustrated chapter book published by Tradewind Books



    When eight-year-old Matthew and his mom move from their rural home to the West End neighborhood of Vancouver, Matthew is forced to leave his beloved dog behind. Matthew’s grandparents will care for Lucky as he and his mom establish themselves in a downtown apartment building that does not allow pets. Matthew begins school and tries to adjust to city life but he misses his pet terribly. He is hopeful that, before long, they will move again and be reunited with Lucky.

    One night, after settling for sleep, Matthew hears a familiar sound; he is sure there is something under his bed. Moments later, he feels a rough tongue, licking his cheek. Some refer to ‘Fred’ as an imaginary dog but, for Matthew, he is very real indeed. It is not long before the apartment landlord is convinced that Matthew is hiding a pet in the apartment.

    This generously illustrated, eleven chapter book will be thoroughly enjoyed by boys and girls aged seven to nine. I particularly appreciated the realistic portrayal of the relationship between Matthew and his mother; Matthew wanting Lucky to live with the family, his mother unable to find an apartment that will allow the dog. Her nervousness in dealing with an wary apartment manager and the compassion of neighbors all contribute to making No Pets Allowed a good choice for young readers.

    No Pets Allowed at Amazon.com

    No Pets Allowed at Amazon.ca


    Splinters is an Icy, Hard-Hitting Take on Cinderella

    Posted on October 31st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts looks at Splinters, a picture book with a modern day hockey take on the Cinderella storySplinters – written and illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
    Picture book published by Tundra Books



    Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

    Cindy loves to play hockey but it is an expensive sport to play and her family is poor.   Showing great determination and resourcefulness, Cindy is excited to finally earn enough money to join a neighbourhood team.  Unfortunately, at the rink, Cindy encounters three nasty Blister Sisters who make playing hockey very unpleasant. 

    At her very first practice, she met the Blister Sisters. They could tell she was one good hockey player, and they were jealous.

    They insulted her old equipment… Then they made her look bad on the ice… They could do this because their mom was the coach

    Thank goodness Cindy has a fairy goaltender watching out for her. The fairy’s magic provides Cindy with a dazzling new uniform, gleaming skates and a Zamboni – to transport her to the all-star team tryouts. Cindy rushes to the rink and does not disappoint – she is a star.

    Knowing that the magic spell will end once the final buzzer has sounded, Cindy rushes away from the rink, leaving a shiny skate behind.

    Coach Prince is determined to match the shiny skate to the player who wore it during the tryouts.

    Coach Prince went from locker room to locker room, trying the skate on every girl she could find. Finally she arrived at Cindy’s rink ensuring a happy ending for Cindy and her new team.

    Splinters will have greatest appeal for children who are familiar with Cinderella. We love the idea of taking a familiar story, like Cinderella and retelling it with new characters and a contemporary setting. In a primary classroom, we suggest using Splinters as a jumping off point, inspiring young writers to imagine other situations for Cinderella to encounter.

    Splinters at Amazon.com

    Splinters at Amazon.ca


    A Special Gem – Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time

    Posted on October 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    A Special Gem for Newly Independent Readers Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet TimeHoundsley and Catina and the Quiet Time written by James Howe and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
    Chapter book series for kindergarten – grade three published by Candlewick Press





    When Houndsley and Catina are unexpectedly snowed in, Houndsley is quite happy to relax and enjoy The Quiet Time. Catina is not nearly as content. She has things to do and places to go. Eventually the two settle in and spend an enjoyable day playing board games, baking cookies and writing poetry. In the evening, they join their friends for a snowy outdoor concert. The musicians

    began to play so softly that the notes fell on the listening ears like snowflakes on waiting tongues, gently, softly, there for a flicker before melting away.

    Beautiful language and equally special illustrations are terrific for newly independent readers, the Houndsley and Catina books are also a very good choice for younger children who are ready to enjoy a longer read-aloud book.

    Highly recommended.

    Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time at Amazon.com

    Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time on Amazon.ca


    Establishing a sense of community in my split grade classroom, I will try something different this year

    Posted on September 4th, 2011 by Jody

    One of my favourite parts of the school year is the first few weeks. I love mapping things out and getting to know my students. I love choosing my first read aloud and getting them hooked. In the past I have done Tuck Everlasting (I just love this story), Zebra Wall, and Sixth Grade Secrets (one of the funniest books). This year I have decided, thanks to a great workshop I attended, to try something different.

    I generally start with a novel as a way of introducing reading strategies, such as predicting, questioning, and summarizing. However, instead of a novel, I am going to start with a book called,  Shi-shi-etko by Nicola I. Campbell and  illustrated by Kim LaFave. It is actually a picture book recommended for ages 4-7. I am teaching grade 4/5 this year but I think that in addition to being able to introduce reading strategies, this story will allow me to establish a stronger sense of community right from the start.

    Shi-shi-etko tells about a child’s experience with residential schools. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful. It will give me the opportunity to introduce themes of community, diversity, anxiety, family, and inclusion. These are all topics that need to be present in any classroom, but more so in a split grade classroom I think. In general, split classes are viewed negatively. Parents don’t want their child working below or beyond their capabilities and kids who have waited to experience certain things offered to their grade (like field trips) resent having to share these adventures. These thoughts seem at odds with the growing awareness of the need for differentiation in the classroom. Split grade or straight, more than one level of need is being met in all classrooms. It is important for teachers to find a way to motivate all learners and to do this, a community of acceptance needs to be established as quickly as possible. A classroom that students feel accepted, trusted, and safe in will promote positive learning experiences.

    When my students come to my class this year, I want them to worry less about whether or not the work is really grade four work or grade five work. I want them to focus on contributing to a positive community atmosphere. I want them to feel safe to explore what kind of learning best suits them. I want them to accept the ideas, feelings, and beliefs of others and have this reciprocated. While I have grade level curriculum to teach, my hope is that we will go beyond that. I want them to be able to achieve academic success, but more importantly, I want them to acquire the tools that will help them become lifelong learners that accept and appreciate the unique backgrounds of others. I hope that in addition to powerful reading strategies, Shi-shi-etko will pave the way to a safe, strong sense of community in our class, built on trust, tolerance, and acceptance.

    Shi-shi-etko at Amazon.com

    Shi-shi-etko at Amazon.ca

    Storytime Standouts recommends picture books that celebrate diversity

    Grade One Chapter Book: Being friends is better than being famous

    Posted on August 31st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    When my boys first ventured into reading grade one chapter books, they were delighted to discover Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel. Featuring a wonderful friendship and many happy adventures, the Frog and Toad series has been a favourite with young readers for decades.

    James Howe’s latest book, Houndlsey and Catina is very reminiscent of the Frog and Toad series. Howe is famous for Bunnicula (Today Vegetables… Tomorrow the World). Houndlsey and Catina will appeal to younger readers who prefer shorter, generously illustrated chapters and less text. It will likely suit a child reading at a mid to late grade one level.

    Grade One Chapter Book: Being friends is better than being famous Houndsley and CatinaHoundlsey and Catina written by James Howe and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
    Chapter book series for kindergarten – grade three published by Candlewick Press





    Illustrated beautifully by Marie-Louis Gay, Houndlsey and Catina tells of Catina’s desire to write a prize-winning book and Houndleys’ wish to win a cooking contest. Together, they help us see that being friends “is better than being famous..” This is a lovely tribute to friendship.

    Houndsley and Catina at Amazon.com

    Houndsley and Catina at Amazon.ca

    The Frog and Toad Collection Box Set (I Can Read Book 2) at Amazon.com

    The Frog and Toad Collection Box Set at Amazon.ca



    Laughter is the best medicine…even for writer’s block: Chester’s Masterpiece by Mélanie Watt

    Posted on August 16th, 2011 by Jody

    Storytime Standout's review of Chester's Masterpiece by Mélanie WattI don’t know if it’s typical for adults to love picture books as much as I do. Many of the adults in my life; my husband, best friend, and co-workers, love them, but we’re all teachers, so maybe it’s just us. However, I think that children’s books are one of the best stress releases ever. The best ones are those that literally make you laugh out loud.

    Chester’s Masterpiece written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt
    Picture book published by Kids Can Press






    For me, this week, that laugh out loud book was Chester’s Masterpiece by Mélanie Watt. I’ve had writers block all week and just happened to read this to my girls and their two friends. I had read Chester, but not his Masterpiece. If you haven’t read either, Chester is a cat that thinks he is much more capable of writing a great book than his creator, Mélanie Watt.

    In this particular book, Chester appears to be struggling with some writer’s block as well! His was much funnier than mine. He hides Mélanie’s writing tools so she cannot do her work. They have a witty back and forth through post it notes and sketches. Chester tries hard to create a Masterpiece with Mélanie trying to offer him helpful hints and strongly suggesting he return her tools so she can actually get to work.

    This book is truly funny. I am in awe of authors that can create such rich characters without a lot of back story. I am working on a couple of children’s books myself and I always find myself adding in details that don’t need to be shared. Mélanie’s talent for jumping into the story and attracting you to the larger than life characters is inspiring. You can’t help but love Chester, or Scaredy Squirrel, another of her awesome characters. You jump into these books, laugh out loud, and feel better just for having read them.

    So, if you need to laugh out loud this week, or just distract yourself from your own writer’s block, pick up a Mélanie Watt book and you won’t be disappointed.

    Kids Can Press Chester’s Masterpiece Free PDF Download learn how to draw Chester plus storytime ideas and a wordsearch

    Chester’s Masterpiece at Amazon.com

    Chester’s Masterpiece at Amazon.ca


    Beginning to Read – Day 1

    Posted on August 15th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

    In our first Beginning to Read class for this week, our theme was ‘the beach.’ We read a story by Marie-Louise Gay titled, Stella Star of the Sea. We talked about Stella and her little brother, Sam. We noticed that Sam is afraid and that Stella is not. We also talked about the fact that Sam asks many, many questions. Sometimes Stella’s answers are correct and sometimes her answers are not. Most of the children were able to make connections between this story and experiences they have had. Many talked about going to the beach and seeing shells or sea stars, some talked about being on boats and seeing killer whales. I think Sam’s hesitance to dive into the water is something we can all relate to.

    You might be interested to hear some of the children’s responses to my question, “Why might it be noisy at the beach?” I thought they would answer, “The sound of the waves is loud.” Actually, they mentioned that crabs make quite a bit of noise, sperm whales are also loud. Others mentioned sea gulls. With some prompting, some of the children thought that the waves (caused by boats) are loud.

    By the way, we love it when children make connections with the books they read! Whenever possible, try to match books to your child’s experiences; starting school, travelling, going to the dentist, planting a garden, visiting a fire hall.

    Also, just a gentle reminder, reading aloud to children continues to be important – even when they begin reading independently. When your child begins to read, make sure that you continue to read books that s/he is not yet able to manage. You will motivate your child to become a better reader!

    In today’s class we talked about vowels (A, E, I, O, U, Y). The children learned a little song about vowels. We will use one vowel each day and today’s vowel was “a.” We combined “a” with “t” to make the work “at.” Once we had read “at,” we added b, c, f, h, m, p, r, and s to make words. We also tried some “tough” words: flat, that and splat.

    In the 2:15 class and the 4:00 class, we played a game that reinforced today’s word family. The children threw ‘seaweed’ at ‘shark fins’ and then we read the words on the shark fins. The shark fin words were ‘at’, ‘bat’, ‘cat’, ‘fat’, ‘hat’, ‘mat’, ‘pat’, ‘rat’, and ‘sat.’

    I will write again tomorrow. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please email me at [email protected]

    Also, just a quick note to say that none of our classes are full this week. There are places available at 12:30, 2:15 and 4:00. If you have a friend who is interested, please have them call the Registration Call Centre or stop by Steveston to register. It would be my pleasure to see the last few spaces filled.

    Downloads from Marie-Louise Gay’s website
    Click here for Stella and Sam stickers, colouring sheets, posters, bookmarks and more

    Downloads from this Website

    image of PDF icon  The "At" Word Family

    Free -at word family printable for young readers in kindergarten and grade one.

    image of PDF icon  Beach Picture Dictionary

    Free printable picture dictionary for readers and writers in kindergarten and grade one.

    image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Sandcastle

    Beach theme interlined paper for beginning writers.


    Stella, Star of the Sea at Amazon.com

    Stella, Star of the Sea at Amazon.ca

    Next to Impossible – Choosing My Top Ten Picture Books

    Posted on August 5th, 2011 by Jody

    While thinking about what to pack for a mini family vacation next week, it struck me that I should come up with a list of my TOP TEN picture books. As soon as I began trying to choose, it became my TOP TWELVE.  I thought it’d be a good exercise because whenever we go away, we have to be very firm with our youngest child about what she can and cannot pack. If you have ever read Robert Munsch’s Too Much Stuff (see how I snuck an extra book in there that’s great but won’t be on my top ten twelve?) you’d have great insight into how my five year old packs. I don’t like limiting how many books our girls can bring, but if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have enough room to bring our clothes! Hopefully it’ll be a while before they figure out that I have NO limit thanks to my Kindle. But if, like them, I was stuck picking ten stories for bedtime or any other time, I wondered which ones would make my list. These are not in order by favourite because that’s just asking too much of myself.

    Olivia written and illustrated by Ian Falconer

    Olivia is the funniest pig ever! She’s determined, stubborn, and highly amusing. I love the simplicity and the truth of Olivia. She’s tiring, she’s demanding, but she’s so loved. I only wish that Ian Falconer and Kevin Henkes would write a book together so that Olivia could play with Lilly (see below).

    Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

    Lilly is perhaps my favourite story book character. She perfectly encapsulates the ego centric child in such a charming, fun way. I love the way Henkes uses simple sentences in his writing to tell you so much. “Lilly loved school. She loved the pointy pencils. She loved the squeaky chalk”. I love Lilly.

    The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen

    I’m not sure what makes this story one of my favourite fairy tales, but it is. I love the queen piling on all of the mattresses and bedding and I love the version where the prince realizes he loves her, even if she isn’t a real princess.

    Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki and Stephane Jorisch

    This is a beautiful story about independence and confidence. It’s not easy for Suki to wear her kimono to school when even her sisters are wearing brand new clothes and all the kids stare at her. But she’s not afraid to be who she is and wear what she wants. I read this book, the first time, years ago and still enjoy it every time I read it to my daughters or to a class.

    The Paper Bag Princess written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko

    My kids love this book because Elizabeth says Ronald is a “bum”. I love it because Elizabeth is clever and strong and not only defeats the dragon, but gets her happily ever after by NOT getting her happily ever after.

    Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb written by Al Perkins and illustrated by Eric Gurney

    I love the simple rhyme and rhythm of this book. To this day, whenever I cross a street and say to my kids “Hand”, they both reply “hand, fingers, thumb”. It’s delightful.

    You are Special written by Max Lucado and illustrated by Sergio Martinez

    This book makes me smile every time I read it. I love the message that believing in oneself comes from inside, not from the beliefs of others. The symbolism of the stickers falling off of the Wemmicks when they stop caring about how others see them is beautiful.

    The Seven Silly Eaters written by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Marla Frazee

    This book is adorable. The pictures are fantastic and I love the pickiness of the kids. The rhyme is awesome and the chaos and love projected in the words and the pictures are realistic and amusing.

    Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

    Just so you understand how difficult it was for me to pick only 12 favourites, I should mention that I absolutely LOVE,  LOVE,  LOVE every Kevin Henkes book I’ve ever read, including Zebra Wall, which is a novel that I didn’t even know, until last year, that he had written. Wemberly is me. She is my oldest daughter. She is every kid who hates uncertainty and is comforted by the familiar.

    The Kissing Hand written by Audrey Penn with illustrations by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak

    The first time I read this story, I cried a little. Our oldest daughter was almost three when I bought it and read it to her. It was exactly what I wanted and still want for my children- to know that wherever they go and whatever they do, I love them and I’m with them.

    Goodnight Moon written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd

    I can recite this book word for word. I love the line “Goodnight nobody”. When our youngest daughter was born, we decorated her bedroom as the ‘great green room’. We had all of the details; “the old lady whispering hush” drawn on the wall,” two kittens and a pair of mittens”. For a border, we wrote the words of the story.  It will forever be one of my favourites.

    Guess How Much I love you written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram

    I loved this book even before I really understood it. I gave it to my mom before I had kids and she nodded as though she had some sage understanding of something I did not. Then I had kids and I really got it; because even though they love me to the moon, I love them to the moon and back.

    There. I did it. I narrowed it down and chose twelve favourites. I’m so very proud of myself for not even mentioning Sleepy Bears by Mem Fox, Pocket Full of Kisses by Audrey Penn, every other Kevin Henkes book, or Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss. It’s probably safe to say that I, too, need strict guidelines for what I can and cannot pack.

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