Posts Tagged ‘school life’

You can be whoever you want to be – The Boy in the Dress

Posted on November 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts writes about middle grade fiction, The Boy in the DressThe Boy in the Dress written by David Walliams





I really didn’t know quite what to expect when I picked up The Boy in the Dress. I guess you could say I was pretty much, ‘ready for anything.’ What I discovered was a thoughtful, poignant and humorous look at the life of a twelve year old boy who loves to play football (soccer) and whose best friend is a young Sikh. Dennis lives with his older brother and his heartbroken father. He misses his mum (mom) terribly and can’t seem to come to grips with the idea that she won’t be coming back to the family. Dennis enjoys sports and has many friends but he finds his day to day existence extremely ‘ordinary.’

After accidentally heading a ball through a school window and into the headmaster’s office, Dennis is told he must go to detention after school. When he arrives in detention, he discovers that he won’t be alone. Lisa, the most beautiful girl in the school, is also in the room. Dennis finds Lisa extremely attractive. He is delighted when they become friends and he has an opportunity to walk her home after school. Lisa and Dennis discover a mutual love of fashion and Vogue magazine which leads to Dennis attempting to disguise himself as a girl and assuming a rather extraordinary identity at school.

Superbly illustrated by Quentin Blake, The Boy in the Dress is very reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s wonderful books. It provides a humorous, thoughtful affirmation that, “You can be whoever you want to be.”

The Boy in the Dress at Amazon.com

The Boy In The Dress 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.

Don’t miss our page of quotes about diversity.


Mysteries, Humor and School Life for Reluctant Readers

Posted on October 26th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Chapter Books for Reluctant Readers Mysteries Humor School Life




Almost every time I make a Parent Ed presentation, someone asks for recommendations for the preteen crowd. Sometimes the request is very specific, “My daughter loves skating. Could you suggest a chapter book she might like?” Very often the request is for something, anything that a reluctant reader will enjoy. Lately, I’ve been kept busy by Ready Set, Learn presentations. I’ve not had much time for reading. When the calendar is full to the brim, I often turn to short chapter books, looking for a new gem that will appeal to young readers.

Here are some of the books I’ve been reading…

The Clue At The Bottom Of The Lake written by Kristiana Gregory
Chapter book series for grade two/three readers published by Scholastic



Let’s begin with The Clue At The Bottom Of The Lake (Cabin Creek Mysteries). This is the second book in the new Cabin Creek Mysteries series. Appropriate for seven to ten year olds, it has a grade 3 Reading Level. I enjoyed the book and am confident that this is a series both boys and girls will enjoy. Set in a small, lakeside town, we follow three cousins as they investigate the dumping of a large and mysterious bundle into the lake near Lost Island. Young detectives will enjoy the twists and turns as Claire, David and Jeff work to discover the contents of the bundle and who is responsible for dumping it in ‘their’ lake.

The Clue at the Bottom of the Lake (Cabin Creek Mysteries) at Amazon.com

The Clue at the Bottom of the Lake (Cabin Creek Mysteries) at Amazon.ca

Sir Gadabout Out of Time written by Martyn Beardsley
Chapter book series for grade two/three readers published by Orion Children’s Books




Sir Gadabout is the ‘Worst Knight in the World.’ A creation of Martyn Beardsley, the series is illustrated by Tony Ross so we know that we are in for some fun. In Sir Gadabout Out of Time, disaster strikes when King Arthur allows Sir Gadabout to cut his hair. Before long, Merlin is enlisted to turn back time. Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly) the spell goes wrong and Sir Gadabout finds himself in a futuristic world with cell phones and cars. Good fun for nine to twelve year olds.

Sir Gadabout Out of Time at Amazon.com

Sir Gadabout Out of Time at Amazon.ca


Ivan the Terrible written by Anne Fine
Chapter book series for grade two/three readers published by Egmont Books Ltd


Poor Boris, he is in a real ‘pickle.’ He’s been asked to be a ‘chum’ and translate for a new classmate. They both speak Russian and Boris is asked to help the new boy adjust to life at St. Edmund’s, the civilized school. Before long, Boris realizes that Ivan is really quite nasty and the job of translating is going to be trickier than he had expected. A fine choice for nine to twelve year olds,
Ivan the Terrible won the silver medal in the 2007 Nestlé Children’s Book awards.

Ivan the Terrible at Amazon.com

Ivan the Terrible at Amazon.ca

Visit our page about reluctant readers for more information. You will find our posts about chapter book series here.

Super Series Books for Grade Four Boys

Posted on September 6th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Super Series Books for Grade 4 Boys




ABC Canada Literacy Foundation has identified ‘three potential reading slump times that can hinder a child’s reading development. ‘ Grade four is one of those times. Grade four is just about the time that readers encounter longer chapters, smaller print and more complex vocabulary.

We lose some readers in the transition. My two boys are nine and twelve – one loves to read and one loves to “do” so I know that finding engaging books is critical for this age group. As well, I probably read more kids’ books than most moms so I’m often asked for book recommendations for grade four boys. Many of the best series for this age group are funny (occasionally rude), action-packed, irreverent and very generously illustrated. The books often feature boys who find themselves in trouble – at school, at home, sometimes even in the library.

With nine, ten and eleven year old reluctant readers, we need to keep our goal in mind: get books (almost any books!) into their hands and encourage them to read.

Concurrently, in an ideal world, parents will continue to read aloud more challenging and diverse books – but that is for another day.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School is an excellent series for grade four boys
Sideways Stories from Wayside School – Written by Louis Sachar (author of Holes)
I have had great success with this book. The wacky humor and very short chapters are very appealing to boys. Each chapter tells about one student at Wayside School – you don’t have to read them in order so kids can jump around the book if they wish.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School at Amazon.com

Sideways Stories From Wayside School at Amazon.ca

Books in the Wayside School Series
Sideways Stories From Wayside School
Wayside School is Falling Down
Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger

The Adventures of Captain Underpants an excellent series for grade four boys

The Adventures of Captain Underpants– written by Dav Pilkey
Have you ever met a boy who didn’t enjoy the ‘Action, Thrills, and Laffs of a Captain Underpants book? With rude humor and tons of illustrations, this series is great for even the most reluctant reader. Just don’t tell your boys that the series is mom approved – that would spoil the fun!

The Adventures Of Captain Underpants Collectors’ Edition at Amazon.com

Captain Underpants Boxed Set: Books 1-4 at Amazon.ca

Books in the Captain Underpants Series silliness and rudeness are perfect for grade four boys
The Adventures of Captain Underpants
Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets
Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds)
Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants
Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman
Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets
Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2: The Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers
Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People
Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Re-Turn of Tippy Tinkletrousers
Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers
Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000


Legend of Spud Murphy an excellent series for grade four boys

The Legend of Spud Murphy – written by Eoin Colfer (author of the Artemis Fowl series)
When Will and Marty Woodman are told they must spend the summer in Spud Murphy’s Library, they know it will be a dangerous assignment. They’ve heard about the ‘gas-powered spud gun she keeps under her desk.’ Really good fun and a positive message about books and reading!

Eoin Colfer’s The Legend of Spud Murphy at Amazon.com

Eoin Colfer’s The Legend of Spud Murphy at Amazon.ca

Books in the Legends of Series – popular with grade four boys
Eoin Colfer’s Legend of Spud Murphy
Eoin Colfer’s Legend of Captain Crow’s Teeth
Eoin Colfer’s Legend of the Worst Boy in the World

Horrid Henry is an excellent series for grade four boys
Horrid Henry’s Wicked Ways – written by Francesca Simon
One of my nine year old’s favorites, Horrid Henry really is ‘awesomely wicked.’ It is the perfect antidote when you’ve had a rough day and you long to hear about someone who can relate to your troubles.

Horrid Henry at Amazon.com

Horrid Henry at Amazon.ca

Books in the Horrid Henry Series – great fun for grade four boys
Horrid Henry
Horrid Henry and the Secret Club
Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy
Horrid Henry’s Nits
Horrid Henry Gets Rich Quick
Horrid Henry’s Haunted House
Horrid Henry and the Mummy’s Curse
Horrid Henry’s Revenge
Horrid Henry and the Bogey Babysitter
Horrid Henry’s Stinkbomb
Horrid Henry’s Underpants
Horrid Henry Meets the Queen
Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine
Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend
Horrid Henry’s Christmas Cracker
Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman
Horrid Henry Robs the Bank
Horrid Henry Wakes the Dead
Horrid Henry Rocks
Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire
Horrid Henry’s Monster Movie
Horrid Henry’s Nighmare
Horrid Henry Krazy Ketchup


Time Warp Trio is an excellent series for grade four boys
The Time Warp Trio by Jon Scieszka
Featuring time travel, adventure, humor and a touch of fantasy, The Time Warp Trio is a great pick for grade four boys. Sam, Fred and Joe use The Book to travel through time from one exciting adventure to another. I’ve had very good success drawing boys into this series. There is something for everyone: pirates, knights, neanderthals and Egyptians.

Time Warp Trio #1 The Knights of the Kitchen Table at Amazon.com

Time Warp Trio #1 Knights Of The The Kitchen Table at Amazon.ca

Books in the Time Warp Trio Series – excellent for grade four boys
Knights of the Kitchen Table
The Not-So-Jolly Roger
The Good, the Bad, and the Goofy
Your Mother Was a Neanderthal
2095
Tut Tut
Summer Reading Is Killing Me
It’s All Greek to Me
See You Later Gladiator
Sam Samurai
Hey Kid, Want to Buy a Bridge?
Viking It and Liking It
Me Oh Maya
Da Wild, Da Crazy, Da Vinci
Oh Say, I Can’t See
Marco? Polo!

Be sure to check out…

35 Ways to Engage Reluctant Readers from Storytime Standouts

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

Fall Printables – Back to School, Autumn Leaves and More

Posted on August 22nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Highlighting our Fall Printables…

We have all sorts of goodies lined up for September but thought we would give you a taste today. Our Fall printables include interlined paper (Back to School and Fall themes), a special alphabet, “school” vocabulary and some “Squirrel” goodies.

We are currently pulling together our favourite picture books for autumn – colourful leaves, and crisp, cool days are not far away.

Our early literacy printables, including our Fall printables are in PDF format, if you don’t already used Adobe Reader, you will need to use it to access the downloads.


Please note: some of our early literacy printables are available to Storytime Standouts members only. To become a member of the website (without cost or obligation), please click on the “Members” tab and register as a user.

You will find our selection of free printable alphabets here and all of our early literacy printables here.


If you appreciate our free early literacy printables,
including these Fall-theme early learning materials,
please support this site by visiting and purchasing from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca
.






Enjoy these Fall printables and be sure to let your friends and colleagues know about Storytime Standouts.

image of PDF icon  A Fall Leaves Alphabet

Attractive alphabet printable features multi coloured Fall leaves

image of PDF icon  School Picture Dictionary

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

image of PDF icon  Brown Squirrel

An action rhyme celebrating squirrels

image of PDF icon  Five Little Squirrels

Use as a fingerplay or a felt board story (or both)

image of PDF icon  I'm A Little Acorn Brown

A fun addition to a squirrel circle time

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Back to School

Back to school theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Fall Theme incl. Tire Swing

Fall theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

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

Remembrance Day theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Fall Picture Dictionary

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

Our Newest Contributor Introduces A Great Summer Read: The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies

Posted on August 2nd, 2011 by Jody

The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies

It’s safe to say that reading a book that you can relate to provides a more enjoyable read. Add humour, sibling rivalry, sibling loyalty, and a little competition just makes it better. In The Lemonade War, Jacqueline Davies has created a book that not only encompasses all of these elements, but speaks to a variety of age groups. While her story details the ‘battle of the stands’ between brother and sister, Davies weaves in the topics of friendship, determination, ambition, and forgiveness. She does so through realistic characters, funny dialogue, and a number of interesting situations that the kids find themselves in as a result of their war.

The Lemonade War - Middle grade fiction that explores friendship, determination, ambition, forgiveness.Evan Treski loves and even likes his little sister…most of the time. Jessie Treski idolizes her big brother. While she is smart enough to skip a grade and go into grade four, the same grade her brother is going into, she knows that she’s not the best ‘people person’. That’s Evan’s gift; hers is math. When the two find out they will not only be in the same grade, but the same class, Jessie thinks this will just make things easier for them. She’ll help Evan with math and he’ll help her with friends. Evan feels differently. He’s mortified. How can he possibly go into the same class with his baby sister? How can he keep his friends if they find out how dumb he is compared to her? Rather than telling each other how they feel, they embark, in typical sibling fashion, on an entrepreneurial war. They will see what matters more; people skills and flexibility or strategic plans and organization. One of them will win The Lemonade War, but both of them are willing to do almost anything to come out ahead.

As a teacher, I thought this was a fun, light, close-to-summer read. Though it’s not new, I hadn’t heard of it and I didn’t expect to enjoy it nearly as much as I did. Once I read it to my grade five class, who enjoyed and connected with the sibling rivalry, I brought it home to read to my 8 year old daughter. Re-reading it, this time as a mom, I was able to connect to it on a new level. My 8 year old reminds me of Jessie with her thorough plans and detailed organization. My 5 year old daughter reminds me of Evan, with his charm and easy social skills. It was easy to imagine the two of them participating in a Lemonade War of their own. Jacqueline Davies realistically portrays the feelings of her main characters, making you connect with both Evan and Jessie. That connection has you turning the pages, unsure of who you want to come out the winner!

The Lemonade War website includes teachers’ guides, lesson plans, a wordsearch and more.

The Lemonade War book trailer

The Lemonade War at Amazon.com

Lemonade War at Amazon.ca


Pink by Nan Gregory and Luc Melanson – Simply Wonderful

Posted on June 9th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Pink by Nan Gregory and Luc MelandsonPink – written by Nan Gregory and illustrated by Luc Melanson

We’ve all seen them, “The Pinks,” Vivi calls them, but not out loud. Every day at school they parade their glory – from hair bows to tippy toes, every shade of perfect pink.”

Poor Vivi would love to be just like “The Pinks.” Her rather ordinary world is not at all pink. She lives, with her blue collar parents and her baby brother, in a brown working class world that leaves her yearning. Her parents are not unaware of her desire to be a “Pink,” they have had their share of disappointments but they have found ways to accept and live within their means.

One day, when Vivi is running an errand for her mom, she discovers the ultimate pink treasure. She sees a beautiful doll, dressed in a cascading pink bridal gown. It is displayed prominently in the window of an exclusive neighbourhood shop. Vivi feels she must have it so she does chores and small jobs all winter to earn money. She saves and saves in order to buy the beautiful doll. She is certain that having the spectacular doll will enable her to live like the wealthy “Pink” girls she sees at school.

Pink is a marvelous story that is both poignant and thoughtful. Vivi wants so much to be a “Pink” and her young heart is filled to bursting with desire for the doll. When Vivi witnesses one of the “Pinks” leaving the store with “her” doll, she is heartbroken but ultimately enriched by the experience.

It would have been so easy to create a magical happy ending and have Vivi’s world become a pink one. Thankfully, Ms. Gregory understands that life is not always fair and that if we take time to look, beauty (and especially pink) is all around us. When sharing this thoughtful story with a child, be sure to take note of Mr. Melanson’s illustrations and especially his masterful depictions of Vivi’s emotions.

Very highly recommended, for children four and up.

Pink at Amazon.com

Pink at Amazon.ca

Shining a Spotlight on Disappearing Desmond by Anna Alter

Posted on May 20th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

image of cover art for Disappearing Desmond, a picture book about shynessDisappearing Desmond -written and illustrated by Anna Alter
Picture book about shyness and friendship published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House

Desmond is the sort who likes to remain inconspicuous. Rather than stand out, he likes to blend in and he takes care to hide his true personality. “Then one day someone new came to school. Her name was Gloria and she liked to be noticed. ” Gloria is not at all like her classmates, she notices Desmond even when he is doing his very best to disappear. When Gloria notices that Desmond shares her taste in books, she asks if she can read with him. Gloria and Desmond companionably share the book and Desmond is transformed. The following day Desmond and Gloria play together, each respecting the other. Before long Desmond feels and looks different – he wonders why he ever wanted to disappear.image of illustration from Disappearing Desmond

Disappearing Desmond has a lovely message about finding new friends and respecting differences. Cheerful, acrylic illustrations will have strong appeal for young readers as they search for Desmond. Very observant readers will notice and appreciate the two posters on the library wall.

Activity kit from Anna Alter’s website

Disappearing Desmond at Amazon.com

Disappearing Desmond at Amazon.ca



Princess Marty McGuire Enchants

Posted on May 9th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Marty McGuireMarty McGuire written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Brian Floca

Marty is not yet impressed with grade three. Her former best friend has a new friend who likes dancing. Marty would rather catch frogs than waltz. She misses her friend very much. “Veronice Grace Smithers has stolen my best friend and taken over recess. I’d call Veronica Grace Princess Bossy-Pants if I were allowed to call people names. But I’m not. So I won’t.”

When their teacher announces that the class will be performing The Frog Prince and Marty will be cast as the princess, our young heroine is reluctant to take the stage. Portraying a princess is not for her! Marty McGuire accurately depicts the social challenges experienced by a group of grade three girls as they adapt to change. As well, Marty and her friends manage to find middle ground in this fun, generously illustrated chapter book.

Will be enjoyed by boys and girls, grade two and up.

Marty McGuire at Amazon.com

Marty McGuire at Amazon.ca


Surrounded by Testosterone: My Thoughts About The Loser List

Posted on April 25th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts writes about The Loser ListThe Loser List – written and illustrated by Holly N. Kowitt
Anti bullying (handwritten text, generously illustrated) 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

I spent the Easter weekend with three teenaged boys and so it was only fitting that I should reach for The Loser List when I had some time to read. It is a generously illustrated chapter book that is very reminiscent of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Danny Shine is twelve years old and in grade seven. He’s not good at sports but he loves to draw. When Danny runs afoul of Chantal Davis, she informs him that she’ll be adding his name to the loser list in the girl’s bathroom at school. Danny’s best friend, Jasper is not worried about being labelled as a geek and doesn’t care if his name is put on the loser list but Danny is bothered by the threat. A lunchtime tangle with the school’s biggest bully (Axl Ryan) followed by a failed attempt to remove his name from the loser list results in Danny joining Axl and other members of the Skull gang in an after school detention. “We stared at each other. Him: studded wristband, greasy blond hair stuffed into a do-rag, and army jacket. Me: Acme Exterminators tee, video watch and grandfather sweater.” Danny is terrified of Axl and is sure he will be beaten until Axl shows off his Sharpie tattoo and Danny knows that he can draw “Something really cool and unique, something that’s you know, worthy of the Skulls.”

It is not long until the threat of a beating subsides and Danny is creating cool tattoos for Axl and his sidekicks. Danny enjoys his new celebrity until Axl steals a comic book from a shop Danny frequents. Suddenly Danny finds himself accused of theft and regretting his association with the thugs.

A clever tactic by Danny and Jasper enables Danny to escape the clutches of the gang and restore his reputation.

Best for children aged eight through twelve, The Loser List has a positive message about self acceptance and friendship. It will have a special appeal for boys

The Loser List at Amazon.com

The Loser List at Amazon.ca

Henry has a Big Problem – Dealing with Bullying in the Schoolyard

Posted on February 18th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Meet Nancy Carlson, author and illustrator of Henry and the Bully

Henry and the Bully written by Nancy Carlson
A picture book about bullying in the schoolyard

Henry is in grade one and loves to play soccer during recess break. Unfortunately, Sam, who is older and considerably bigger spoils the game by teasing and stealing the soccer ball. In Henry and the Bully, Henry seeks help from Mr. McCarthy but his teacher is busy with other playground problems and does not help the grade one children. Soon, Henry feels terrible and thinks he is too sick to go to school.

A chance meeting at a department store provides Henry with an opportunity to surprise the bully and recruit a new soccer player.

Read the entire story online and give a book to a child who doesn’t have one by visiting We Give Books

Henry and the Bully at Amazon.com

Henry And The Bully at Amazon.ca

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



Tina and the Penguin Is Great Fun

Posted on February 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Tina and the Penguin – Written by Heather Dyer and illustrated by Mireille Levert
Picture book published by Kids Can Press


A thoroughly delightful picture book about a young girl and her very special penguin friend!

When Tina’s class from school visits the zoo, she finds herself helping a homesick penguin to escape an enclosure. Tina disguises her new feathered friend and they board the school bus together. When she takes the penguin home, Tina discovers that caring for her rather unusual houseguest is no simple matter. Mom wonders about the fishy smell and the feathers floating through the air in Tina’s bedroom and, wanting to ensure her new friend’s comfort, Tina discovers that sharing an ice water bath and sleeping with the window open is tough to take.

Distinctive, eye-catching and colourful illustrations make Tina and the Penguin a great book to share with a group.

Recommended for children aged 5 to 8, Tina and the Penguin would be a nice addition to a classroom zoo or penguin theme. The story also lends itself to making predictions.

Tina and the Penguin at Amazon.com

Tina and the Penguin at Amazon.ca


Two Shoes, Blue Shoes, New Shoes – These Shoes Really Dance

Posted on January 28th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at picture book Two Shoes, Blue ShoesTwo Shoes, Blue Shoes, New Shoes! -Written by Sally Fitz-Gibbon, Illustrated by Farida Zaman
Picture book published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside





Wearing new blue shoes to school, our happy heroine bounces through city streets with great enthusiasm. Delightful watercolor illustrations exude energy and compliment the simple, rhyming text beautifully.

Swinging from a rope, shoes,
With an antelope, shoes!
Riding on a whale shoes,
See him splash his tail, shoes!

Best for children aged three to six.

Two Shoes, Blue Shoes, New Shoes at Amazon.com

Two Shoes, Blue Shoes, New Shoes! at Amazon.ca

American Library Association Has Announced the Schneider Family Book Award and the Pura Belpré Awards for 2011 (Part 3 of 3)

Posted on January 12th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

This week the American Library Association announced the top books, video and audiobooks for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards for 2011. Following on my posts earlier this week of some award winners, the Schneider Family Book Awards and the Pura Belpré Awards for 2011 are as follows:

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience

The Pirate of Kindergarten, written by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Lynne Avril and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, wins the award for children aged 0 to 10.

The Pirate of Kindergarten at Amazon.com

The Pirate of Kindergarten at Amazon.ca


After Ever After, written by Jordan Sonnenblick and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., is the winner of the award for middle-school readers (aged 11-13).

After Ever After at Amazon.com

After Ever After at Amazon.ca


The teen (aged 13-18) award winner is Five Flavors of Dumb, written by Antony John and published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Five Flavors of Dumb at Amazon.com

Five Flavors Of Dumb at Amazon.ca


2011 Pura Belpré Award honoring a Latino writer whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience

The Dreamer, written by Pam Muñoz Ryan, illustrated by Peter Sís and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

The Dreamer at Amazon.com

The Dreamer at Amazon.ca

Three Belpré Author Honor Books were named: ¡Olé! Flamenco, written and illustrated by George Ancona and published by Lee & Low Books Inc.; The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba, written by Margarita Engle and published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC; and 90 Miles to Havana, written by Enrique Flores-Galbis and published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing.

Pura Belpré Award honoring a Latino illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience

Grandma’s Gift, illustrated and written by Eric Velasquez, is the 2011 Belpré Illustrator Award winner. The book is published by Walker Publishing Company, Inc., a division of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.

Grandma’s Gift at Amazon.com

Grandma’s Gift at Amazon.ca

Three Belpré Illustrator Honor Books for illustration were selected: Fiesta Babies, illustrated by Amy Córdova, written by Carmen Tafolla and published by Tricycle Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.; Me, Frida, illustrated by David Diaz, written by Amy Novesky and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS; Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin, illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.

Wasim’s a ‘Rising Star’

Posted on November 27th, 2007 by Carolyn Hart

Having finished reading The Alchemist’s Dream, I decided to take a look at some chapter books for younger readers. this week I read three books and enjoyed them all. Let’s begin with…

Wasim One-Star written by Chris Ashley, illustrated by Kate Pankhurst
Chapter book for primary to middle grade readers published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books





Wasim can hardly wait to pass a school swimming test and become a One-Star swimmer. Unfortunately, on the day of the test, Wasim finds himself in trouble. His concern for a new classmate whose English is not good causes him to speak more loudly than he should. Wasim is heartbroken when he is sent (untested) to the pool changing room because of his loud voice.

Wasim’s concern that Wayne’s poor English could cause him to get into difficulty is justified. Fortunately, Wasim is watching and responds quickly when Wayne gets in over his head.

Wasim is a great character – in fact, I’d call him a ‘rising star.’ His desire to pass the swimming test and his concern for a classmate are both genuine and admirable. I particularly liked the dynamics between the students, the swim instructor and the teachers. Recommended for boys and girls, aged 6 and up.

Wasim One-Star at Amazon.com

Wasim-One Star at Amazon.ca



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