It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? was initiated by Sheila at Book Journey, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus – perfect for a children’s librarian like me. This weekly roundup is a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.


I’m back from Tokyo and ready to get back to blogging!!


Title: Pepper & Poe
Author/Illustrator: Frann Preston-Gannon
Publisher: Orchard Books
Publication Date: 2015
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
Publisher’s Summary: Maurice Sendak Fellowship Award Winner Frann Preston-Gannon makes her US picture book debut with this hilarious yet touching story about two soon-to-be sibling cats, Pepper & Poe. Pepper is an old cat. He’s set in his ways, and used to his normal routine in the house that he rules–or thinks he rules, anyway! Yup, he’s got everything down to a science, including how to manipulate the house dog. That is until a new kitty named Poe comes along and starts messing up everything! Can Poe get Pepper to accept him as part of the family? This hilarious story reinvents the age-old new sibling topic with a furry twist, taking an emotionally heavy subject and masking it with humor–all while reinforcing the days of the week!

My Two Cents: There’s nothing particularly special about the storyline of Pepper & Poe. Older animal/child meets younger animal/child. Initially, there is tension. There is frustration. There is even animosity. Eventually, though, there is understanding. Pretty standard “dealing with a new sibling is hard” stuff. Still, what makes Pepper & Poe so much fun is its delightful twist ending, in which the two cats are suddenly united by a common goal, one that will ring particularly true to cat lovers. Preston-Gannon’s simple text is complemented by her unique illustrative style, putting a refreshing spin on a familiar story.

Title: Such a Little Mouse
Author: Alice Schertle / Illustrator: Stephanie Yue
Publisher: Orchard Books
Publication Date: 2015
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
Publisher’s Summary: Explore the world of such a little mouse–from the bestselling author of LITTLE BLUE TRUCK! With Alice Schertle’s sweet descriptive language and touching illustrations from Stephanie Yue, a little mouse interacts with the world around him. Every season of the year, “such a little mouse” pops out of his hole and goes out to explore the wider world.

My Two Cents: This is a wonderfully sweet book about the simple pleasures of life and the beauty that can be found all around us in the natural world. Nothing really happens in this book – the little mouse goes about his every day life in the forest, changing his routine in harmony with the changing seasons. But it’s this simplicity that creates such a gentle, reassuring story, which serves as a refreshing alternative to some of the more frenetic, hyper-energetic comedic picture books on the market. Such a Little Mouse,  with its calm tone and warm illustrations, would likely make for a lovely bed time story.

Title: One Spotted Giraffe
Author/Illustrator: Petr Horacek
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: 2012
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
Publisher’s Summary: Count from one spotted giraffe to ten darting fish in this perky pop-up book from renowned illustrator Petr Horácek. Very young children can identify animals, count them, and discover numerals in this stand-out selection. Spreads filled with realistic depictions of colorful creatures — everything from pandas to lemurs — entice readers to count the animals, then flip the flap to reveal a corresponding pop-up numeral. And then the surprise: the numeral looks just like the animal — fur, spots, stripes, and all! Toddlers and preschoolers will delight in this bold, innovative concept book, a fantastic tool for making numbers noticeable for little learners

My Two Cents: I just had to include this stunning animal counting book after I shared it to a rapt audience at baby time this week. All little eyes were absolutely glued to the huge, brilliantly-coloured animal illustrations, and lifting each flap to reveal an animal-shaped pop-up letter brought coos of excitement and delight. I like that Horacek has included some more unusual animals in the counting book, which makes a nice departure from the typical cows and dogs and other animals featured in most kids’ counting books. The intended audience on the back of the book is “age 3 and up”, but I would definitely suggest giving this one a try at your next baby time.

So, what have you been reading this week?

Snapshots from Tokyo

There has been a bit of radio silence on this blog, due to the fact that I am temporarily in Tokyo! I’ve been visiting libraries (photos to come soon) and revelling in the multitude of book shops that just seem to be everywhere in this glorious city. The book still reigns supreme in this technologically-obsessed city, which is a thrilling and reassuring discovery.

Here are a few snapshots from the city I’ve fallen in love with, and hope to visit again someday!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – November 11, 2016

nonfictionNonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2015 is a weekly celebration of imaginative children’s nonfiction materials hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.

Title: Hello World! Greetings in 43 Languages
Author/Illustrator: Manya Stojic
Publisher: Boxer Books (England) / Scholastic (United States)
Publication Date: 2009
Genre/Format: Nonfiction/Picture Book 
Publisher’s SummaryTake a trip around the world and learn to say “hello” in 42 different languages! This book features vibrant paintings of children from across the globe, simple translations, and pronounciation keys! Bonjour! Hola! Konnichiwa! Learn how to say “hello” in French, Spanish, Japanese—and many more languages! Children from all around the world say “hello” each in their own languages, each and every day. Each page includes a greeting translated in a different language with easy-to-pronounce phonetic spellings.

My Two Cents: This simple picture book is a collection of greetings from around the world – 43 beautiful, happy children saying hello in their different languages. Each picture includes a handy pronunciation guide, but it would have been helpful if Stojic had indicated where each language originates (some of the languages are less familiar to Western readers, like Mandika and Bafia, and teachers/librarians might want to prepare themselves by consulting an atlas, as they are likely to get questions from curious readers!) I like that the illustrations show children in generic contemporary clothes – books about countries around the world often depict children in traditional clothing, which is informative but doesn’t necessarily reflect their modern reality. It’s easy for kids to relate to the children in these pictures, because the emphasis is on their faces, rather than on their costumes. My one finicky little caveat is that most of the Asian children are shown with thin slits for eyes, which is a little stereotypical. Still, I like that there is a bit of variety in how the children are depicted, that is, not all the Europeans are shown with pale skin, blond hair and yellow eyes, which I think better represents the realities of modern Europe.

Title: If…..A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers
Author: David J. Smith

Illustrator: Steve Adams
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: 2014
Genre/Format: Nonfiction/Picture Book 
Publisher’s SummarySome things are so huge or so old that it’s hard to wrap your mind around them. But what if we took these big, hard-to-imagine objects and events and compared them to things we can see, feel and touch? Instantly, we’d see our world in a whole new way.” So begins this endlessly intriguing guide to better understanding all those really big ideas and numbers children come across on a regular basis. Author David J. Smith has found clever devices to scale down everything from time lines (the history of Earth compressed into one year), to quantities (all the wealth in the world divided into one hundred coins), to size differences (the planets shown as different types of balls). Accompanying each description is a kid-friendly drawing by illustrator Steve Adams that visually reinforces the concept. By simply reducing everything to human scale, Smith has made the incomprehensible easier to grasp, and therefore more meaningful. The children who just love these kinds of fact-filled, knock-your-socks-off books will want to read this one from cover to cover. It will find the most use, however, as an excellent classroom reference that can be reached for again and again when studying scale and measurement in math, and also for any number of applications in social studies, science and language arts. For those who want to delve a little deeper, Smith has included six suggestions for classroom projects. There is also a full page of resource information at the back of the book.

My Two Cents: Woah…This book is mind-blowing! Abstract concepts or massive numbers are made tangible through real-life examples and illustrations. For example, if your whole life could be represented by a pizza divided into twelve slices, 4 slices would represent the time you spend at work or school, 4 slices would represent time spent in bed, and 1 slice would represent the time spent cooking and eating (among other slices!!) How cool is that?? As I child I really struggled to visualize numbers – the weight of a blue whale in tonnes meant nothing to me, but I could visualize an equivalent number of African elephants. This is a particularly valuable books for visual learners like myself, who learn best through through observing. The author has included a number of extension activity suggestions to help students explore and understand concepts of scale.

So, which nonfiction books have caught your eye this week?

Top Ten Tuesday – Book-to-film adaptations I’m curious about….

Top Ten Tuesday is an original meme from the awesome team at The Broke and The Bookish. 

toptentuesdayOK, here they are, a handful of book-to-film adaptations that have caught my eye. Some of my favourite books are getting the big screen treatment or have recently made their Hollywood debut, and while I am hopeful that the directors and writers will do justice to these stories, I find myself waiting with baited breath….

In no particular order….

1. In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick


One of my favourite nonfiction titles,  In the Heart of the Sea recounts the story of the whaling ship Essex, which was sunk by a whale, leaving the crew stranded in the middle of the ocean for several months. A harrowing tale, wonderfully written and carefully researched, I fear that this will be yet another “inspired by actual events” kind of film that sacrifices history for entertainment. Still, it’s directed by Ron Howard, so I am cautiously optimistic.

2. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson


I love Bill Bryson. He’s a fiercely intelligent comedic writer, with a sometimes acerbic sense of humour.  I’m really hopeful that this adaptation won’t just devolve into a generic buddy/road trip comedy. Still, Robert Redford as Bill Bryson?! Not sure I can picture that one.

3. Left For Dead by Beck Weathers


Renamed Everest and featuring the all-star cast of Jake Gyllenhall, Keira Knightley, Josh Brolin, and Sam Worthington, this adapted account of an ill-fated mountain expedition looks promising.  I didn’t find the book as gripping as the classic Into Thin Air, but I still think it would make for an exciting film.

4. The Lost City of Z by David Grann


I’m always delighted to see nonfiction titles adapted for the big screen, but all too often the film becomes but a shadow of the original true story. Still, this is a gripping tale of exploration and madness in the mysterious jungle, so I think it would make for a pretty exciting film even with a bit of Hollywood fact-fudging.

5. The BFG by Roald Dahl


This is one for my inner child – I loved this story growing up. Steven Spielberg will hopefully do my childhood memories justice.

6. Console Wars: SEGA, Nintendo and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris


This book pretty much sums up my childhood. Growing up, the battle between Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog was EPIC, with kids divided between the console camps. I’m really hoping this is made into a documentary, rather than a feature film, as there are a lot of personalities I would love to see interviewed.

7. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness


I’m really looking forward to seeing Liam Neeson in a film that doesn’t have the word “Taken” in it. I highly respect and admire Patrick Ness, and I’m hopeful that the adaptation of this powerful story will be done with care.

So, have you seen any of these adaptations, or read any of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

It’s Monday – What Are You Reading? 09/11/2015

t’s Monday, What Are You Reading? was initiated by Sheila at Book Journey, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus – perfect for a children’s librarian like me. This weekly roundup is a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.


This week is a bit of a special edition of IMWAYR – today I’ll be sharing a few upcoming picture books that I’m really excited about. I had the opportunity to attend a preview of 2016 picture books and get my hands on a couple of ARCs, and I am so inspired by all the amazing picture books that will be gracing our shelves in the new year. Before working in a library I had no idea just how many new books are published every year – it really just boggles the mind!! These are just a couple of the many books that were previewed at the event, and the only ones I was able to get ARCs of.

Goose Goes to the Zoo

Title: Goose Goes to the Zoo
Author/Illustrator: Laura Wall
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 2016
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
Publisher’s Summary: Sophie and Goose are best friends, but Sophie thinks Goose might be lonely while she is at school. So the pair set off for the zoo to find another friend for Goose to play with… A charming story about an unusual and heart-warming friendship. Laura’s often laugh-out-loud illustrations make Goose an instant favourite with readers young and old! One of a series of 4 published together: Goose, Goose Goes to School and Happy Birthday, Goose

My Two Cents: This new addition to the Goose series by British picture book author/illustrator Laura Wall is already available in Britain, and will be arriving in North America in 2016. I love Laura Wall’s colourful illustrations, with their vivid colours and simple lines. This is a sweet story about friendship, in which a little girl named Sophie helps her friend Goose make new friends. Like a true friend Sophie puts Goose’s happiness first, even if it means she could lose her best friend. Children will be gently reassured that they can make new friends without having to sacrifice their existing friendships. These books are just a riot of colour, with simple text popping against the bold, eye-catching, brilliantly-coloured backgrounds, making it a really fun series for young readers.


Title: Silly Wonderful You
Author: Sherri Duskey Rinker

Illustrator: Patrick McDonnell
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 2016
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
Publisher’s Summary: From the bestselling author of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, Sherri Duskey Rinker, and the award-winning creator of Me . . . Jane and The Skunk, Patrick McDonnell, comes this funny and tender love letter from a parent to her child. Before YOU came along, so many things were different! But now there’s a giggly baby, a house full of adventures and toys, a million little surprises. . . . And so much love.

My Two Cents: I really enjoyed Patrick McDonnell’s Me….Jane and The Skunk, as well as his Mutts newspaper comic, so I was definitely excited to get my hands on this picture book. Silly Wonderful You is a lovely story for baby time, and a gentle celebration of the silly, messy, noisy, tiring yet wonderful world of parenthood. This would be a beautiful gift for a new parent or caregiver, as it’s really written more for parents than for children. As usual McDonnell’s illustrations really shine, managing to be cute without being saccharine, and keeping a bit of that old-fashioned newspaper cartoon feel. I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit of a sap, but the final few pages of this story did get me a bit misty eyed. It’s loving and genuine without being cloying or tooth-achingly syrupy-sweet, which is a something I find plagues too many picturebooks aimed at parents. I really enjoyed Silly Wonderful You, and would definitely recommend having a look!


Title: Worm Loves Worm
Author: J. J. Austrian

Illustrator: Mike Curator
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 2016
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
Publisher’s SummaryPerfect for fans of And Tango Makes Three and The Sissy Duckling, this irresistible picture book is a celebration of love in all its splendid forms from debut author J. J. Austrian and the acclaimed author-illustrator of Little Elliot, Big City, Mike Curato.

You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of a worm . . . and a worm.

When a worm meets a special worm and they fall in love, you know what happens next: They get married! But their friends want to know—who will wear the dress? And who will wear the tux?

The answer is: It doesn’t matter. Because Worm loves worm.

My Two Cents: YES! I was really happy to get my hands on this book, which  joyously celebrates the all-encompassing power of love. When worm and worm decide to get married, all of their friends have an opinion as to how things should be done (anyone who’s ever been engaged can tell you a thing or two about that…..). Worm and worm just want to get married, but things have always been done a certain way, and not everyone is comfortable doing things differently. In the end, though, love triumphs over doubt, and worm and worm celebrate their special day the way it should be celebrated – their own way.

Worm loves worm is a story about love conquering all, and about staying true to yourself, even in the face of opposition. It can be interpreted as a story about gay marriage or interracial or intercultural marriage, but it’s also a story about standing up for yourself when everyone around you has an opinion, and not losing your sense of self. It’s a story about accepting change, and about being gracious when other people have different opinions. The story of Worm loves worm is a simple one, but one that has a very positive spirit. Lots of fun and highly recommended.

So, what have you been reading this week?

Friday Favourites – November 6, 2015

Untitled designNeed some help procrastinating on this grey and gloomy (at least in Vancouver) Friday? I’m here for you.

Beloved naturalist David Attenborough narrates Adele’s “Hello” video. It’s a thing of beauty.

Amazon has just opened a brick and mortar book store. Maybe it’s not as crazya move as it sounds.

Attempting NaNoWriMo? Here are some tips to get you started.

I found a new-to-me Canadian book blog! So many posts to catch up on!

Wondering what the best tea in the world is? Here’s one tea drinker’s opinion. I might just have to try them all, in the name of science of course…

Canada’s cabinet finally reflects Canada’s population. We have achieved gender parity, our health minister is actually a physician, our minister of defense served in the armed forces,our minister of the status of women is actually a woman,  and our minister of transportation is AN ASTRONAUT. Yeah, our cabinet is cooler than your cabinet.

Have a great weekend!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – 11/3/2015

nonfictionNonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2015 is a weekly celebration of imaginative children’s nonfiction materials hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.

I missed Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday last week, and I missed it terribly, so I made sure to block aside some time for my favourite post of the week!


Title: Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World
Author/Illustrator: Steve Jenkins
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Reader
Publication Date: 2012
Genre/Format: Nonfiction/Picture Book 
Publisher’s SummaryIn his latest eye-popping work of picture book nonfiction, the Caldecott Honor–winning author-illustrator Steve Jenkins explains how for most animals, eyes are the most important source of information about the world in a biological sense. The simplest eyes—clusters of light-sensitive cells—appeared more than one billion years ago, and provided a big survival advantage to the first creatures that had them. Since then, animals have evolved an amazing variety of eyes, along with often surprising ways to use them.

My Two CentsI don’t think it’ll surprise anyone when I say that I really enjoyed this book! I love Steve Jenkins – his nonfiction picture books are consistently impressive. This one, all about the anatomy of animal eyes, is indeed eye-popping (ha ha..), thanks to Jenkins’ signature blend of paper cut illustrations and engaging facts. The natural world is just so breathtaking, and I think nonfiction picture books like this work so well because they seem to share and indeed validate children’s natural curiosity and sense of wonder. There’s also a bit of a gross factor via the illustrations of the inner workings of animal eyes, which is always a kid pleaser. :)

Side note: There’s a brilliant adult nonfiction book that touches on evolution, including the evolution of the eye across different species: You Inner Fish by Neil Shubin.


Title: When I Was Eight
Author: Christy Jordan-Fenton, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

Illustrator: Gabrielle Grimard
Publisher: Annick Press
Publication Date: 2013
Genre/Format: Nonfiction/Picture Book 
Publisher’s SummaryNothing will stop a strong-minded young Inuit girl from learning how to read. Olemaun is eight and knows a lot of things. But she does not know how to read. She must travel to the outsiders’ school to learn, ignoring her father’s warning of what will happen there.The nuns at the school take her Inuit name and call her Margaret. They cut off her long hair and force her to do chores. She has only one thing left — a book about a girl named Alice, who falls down a rabbit hole. Margaret’s tenacious character draws the attention of a black-cloaked nun who tries to break her spirit at every turn. But she is more determined than ever to read. By the end, Margaret knows that, like Alice, she has traveled to a faraway land and stood against a tyrant, proving herself to be brave and clever. Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and complemented by stunning illustrations, When I Was Eight makes the bestselling Fatty Legs accessible to young children. Now they, too, can meet this remarkable girl who reminds us what power we hold when we can read.

My Two Cents: This adaptation of Jordan-Fenton’s novel Fatty Legs is a semi-autobiographical account of the author’s experiences as a child in a residential school. Although made gentler for young audiences, Olemaun’s story is a deeply painful one –  a story of separation, neglect, cultural destruction, and abuse, but it is also a story of strength, determination, and hope. In a particularly heartbreaking twist on the residential school story, Olemaun actually begs her father to allow her to go to the school, believing that the “outsiders” will teach her to read. Instead she faces an almost unending series of attacks, both physical and psychological, not only from the nuns running the school but from the other students, as well. It takes all of Olemaun’s inner strength not to lose her sense of self or her dream or reading. When I Was Eight is an important story, beautifully presented, that should be shared with children in a supportive environment- children will likely have questions about Olemaun and her experiences, and this information needs to be shared in a sensitive and respectful way. This would be perfect as part of Canadian history studies or a unit on residential schools or Aboriginal history. Beautiful, and highly recommended.