Saturday, December 3, 2016

It is Book Award Season

I confess I have a liking for book lists! I find them useful in adding to my "Want to Read" list and to my shopping cart. I have particular blogs that I follow to peruse lists and find more gems for my own lists.

Today, I want to share some Canadian books with you that have received recent attention. The TD Children's Literature Awards have been announced recently in November.  You may recall Jonathan Auxier won the award last year for The Night Gardener (not to be confused with the picture book The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan).

The Night Gardener

The 2016 short list included five books you may wish to check out as additions to your library.
The Nest by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Jon Klassen
A Year of Borrowed Men by Michelle Barker, illustrated by Renné Benoit
That Squeak by Carolyn Beck , illustrated by François Thisdale
The Wolf-Birds by Willow Dawson
and the winner

Missing Nimama by Melanie Florence, illustrated by François Thisdale
Missing Nimâmâ
Here is the promo for the book:

Kateri is a young girl, growing up in the care of her grandmother. We see her reaching important milestones her first day of school, first dance, first date, wedding, first child along with her mother, who is always there, watching her child growing up without her.
Told in alternating voices, Missing Nimâmâ is a story of love, loss and acceptance, showing the human side of a national tragedy. An afterword by the author provides a simple, age-appropriate context for young readers. (From Clockwise Press)
 Melanie Florence's name has increasingly crossed my reading palette lately.  She has a new YA novel available entitled The Missing dealing with missing aboriginal young women. The story is set in Winnipeg and is advertised as suitable for upper high school students. (My copy is on order.)
Florence has also written two of the SideStreets series published by Lorimer:  Rez Runaway and One Night. She is an author who caught my attention and I expect she will become a very familiar name among Canadian authors.

I also found an audio interview done with Shelagh Rogers and Melanie Florence on The Next Chapter. Melanie shares how she created a children's book on the topic of missing and murdered aboriginal women. You can find it at this link  
On the same link, check out the lists of Indigenous Reads for Youth, A Reconciliation Reading List for Young Readers, and A Reconciliation Reading List: 15 Must-Read Books (for adults). You can also find out more about the TD Children's Literature Book Awards shortlist. 
Please share your comments on the books. I look forward to hearing student response to these Canadian books.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

PAX by Sara Pennypacker

If you are a Global Read Aloud participant, you will be very familiar with PAX by Sara Pennypacker. If you are not familiar with GRA, check it out using the link above or on Facebook. You will find excellent ideas and discussion to use with your students for this book.

PAX is the story of a boy and the fox he has raised from a kit.  Peter has to go live with his grandfather when his father goes to war and he is unable to take PAX, his fox, with him.  However, not long after arriving at his grandfather's, Peter decides he needs to return to find PAX. His journey is full of adventure and misadventure. PAX is a story about friendship and love, but it is also about war and conflict.

PAX would be a great selection for a read aloud for middle grade students and will have an effect on all who read it. The novel features illustrations by Canadian Jon Klassen (author of the Hat books).

You can find an interview with Sara Pennypacker at this link. (It will take you to the School Library Journal website.  Wait after clicking the link as an ad appears, but it disappears soon and provides the interview with the author.)

If you loved The One and Only Ivan, you will probably like PAX. See what Ivan's author Katherine Applegate says about PAX.

You can vote for PAX in the current Goodreads Choice Awards 2016. It has been suggested as a potential Newberry nominee as well.

Leave a comment if your students have been reading PAX. I am curious to know how they liked the book.  It is a novel that requires discussion--I think readers will want to talk about many issues encountered within the pages of the book.

Need New Book Recommendations?

I have been very remiss in posting recommendations over the summer. My only excuse is I have been reading! The good news is I do have some great books to recommend.

Ms. Bixby's Last Day

One of the very best books I read this summer was Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson. See the book promo here:

Everyone knows there are different kinds of teachers. The good ones. The not-so-good ones. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard. The ones you’ll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. But Ms. Bixby is none of these. She’s the sort of teacher who makes you feel like the indignity of school is worthwhile. Who makes the idea of growing up less terrifying. Who you never want to disappoint. What Ms. Bixby is, is one of a kind.

Topher, Brand, and Steve know this better than anyone. And so when Ms. Bixby unexpectedly announces that she is very sick and won’t be able to finish the school year, they come up with a plan. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand just what Ms. Bixby means to Topher, Brand, and Steve—and what they are willing to go to such great lengths to tell her.
John David Anderson, the acclaimed author of Sidekicked, returns with a story of three kids, a very special teacher, and one day that none of them will ever forget.

Here is my Goodreads review:

What a great middle grade read aloud. The three boys are in grade six so it would be perfect for a grade 6 class, but fine for a little younger or older. It is a laugh out load book, but a very tenderhearted story as well. I can't get the picture of Brand pulling a booger out of Steve's nose out of my mind, but I am trying very hard.
I love the Bixbyisms in the book and the references to literary figures (Atticus Finch) and poetry. Anderson provides a soft touch to spark curiosity and conversations about literature. I found the book to be a page-turner and I think students will as well.

I predict you will see this book on the "Best of 2016" lists.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Manitoba Reading Association Report

MRA began the year with a weekend retreat providing a time to reflect on our core values and to consider our journey for the coming year and the future. We had a very successful professional development day in April with Tanny McGregor and our local council @RCGW hosted the MTSPD Day in October with Donalyn Miller.

President Sandi Shaw-Lyons and the team led MRA to ILA’s  Award of Excellence Angie Burdette and Lisa Carlson provided an  I Love to Read initiative on Critical Literacy. You can find more information on our website  MRA will be hosting our 4th Adolescent Reading Summit April 12-13, 2017, chaired by our new President Susan Hayward. Save the Date as we have confirmed Pernille Ripp, John Schumacher, Linda Christensen, and Richard Van Camp as keynote speakers and have many other speakers joining us for the summit.  We will also be featuring an author’s panel and a student panel.

Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg also hosted a local clinician, Monica Wiebe, for a successful day program. Pembina Escarpment Reading Council hosted a successful workshop with Sally Bender. MRA Crocus Awards were combined with the RCGW Awards for a pilot and the evening was a lovely celebration for literacy leaders.

A highlight of the year was our increased social media presence.  Our website was updated more frequently and we have created a presence on Twitter.  Tanny McGregor co-hosted a twitter chat with us in January prior to her presentation on Reading Comprehension. Our local board members Susan Hayward and Lisa Carlson hosted a twitter chat in May for #mbedchat. You can find us on Twitter @mra_mb and our local councils @RCGWinnipeg @PercReads and @MCRConline.

Future PD in Manitoba-

Laurie Elish-Piper is coming to Manitoba Oct. 6-7 hosted by the Manitoba Council of Reading Clinicians 

The Two Sisters are coming for the RCGW MTS-PD event in October and the event is already filled to capacity. RCGW is also celebrating their 60th anniversary as it was one of the first councils formed after IRA in 1956.


Our Elmwood team from WSD are representing Manitoba at the CSIG-L presentation on Saturdayat ILA16. MRA Crocus Administrator of the year 2015 Award Winner Mike Babb, Leslie Dickson RCGW Certificate of Merit Award Winner and Joanne Sabourin presented on their School-Wide Literacy Plan. 

A number of our board members are attending #ILA16 in Boston! We are also working with our local Manitoba ASCD affiliate to be aware of speakers coming to Manitoba. Penny Kittle is an upcoming ASCD speaker in the spring of 2017.

We tip our hats to Carol Hryniuk-Adamov who has served as Provincial ILA co-ordinator for many years. She has brought so many of us to MRA and local councils and we sincerely appreciate her contributions and continued mentorship.  Appreciation is also sent to Louise Duncan, our outgoing past-president who has helped to guide MRA for the past number of years.

We will continue to work towards Every Manitoban, a literate Manitoban.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Apples With Many Seeds: Picture book Top 10 on the 10th - The World needs more Canada

Apples With Many Seeds: Picture book Top 10 on the 10th - The World needs more Canada

I am always looking for Canadian authors and Canadian picture books. Look at this gem! The blog mentions some of my favourite authors and characters: Stella and Sam from Marie-Louise Gay and Chester and Scaredy Squirrel from Melanie Watt. I like to have Watt's books in both English and French in my collection as I think it is a great way to promote reading in another language. (Also Dr Seuss books in French to promote reading!)

 I listened to Roy Henry Vickers speak in Winnipeg many years ago and have followed his art work since that time. I am going to add the Tomson Highway suggestions to my collection.

I can think of lots of opportunities to use O Canada by Ted Harrison and also his Sam McGee and Dan McGrew. I recall one of my ELA 40S students reciting Sam McGee. Having the picture book would have been a great addition to our experience.

What are your favourite Canadian picture books and authors?

Check out the #pb10for10 hashtag on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ignite Literacy

The Manitoba Reading Association is busy planning for their 4th Adolescent Literacy Summit in Winnipeg, April 12-13, 2017. Many national and international speakers are coming to present, but there is also an opportunity for local literacy leaders (that may be YOU) to ignite literacy with participants.

Do you have an idea or strategies that ignites your students' literacy skills? Then tell us about it in a 5-minute Ignite session at the Summit.

Get more information on what an Ignite session entails and complete the application form from this   Ignite link

The deadline for proposals has been extended to June 20th.  Email your proposal to
Barb Galessiere at

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Looking for a Book Club List?

Book Club List          May 2016                   S. Wright

Title                                                    Author                                   Genre
1.Girl Runner                                      Carrie Snyder                          Historical fiction
2.Ghost Boy                                        Martin Pistorius                     Biography
3.Orphan Train                                   Christina Baker Kline              Historical fiction
*4.100 Foot Journey                           Richard C Morais                  India/France realistic
5.The Bookman’s Tale                         Charlie Lovett                        Realistic/Hist fiction
6.The Thread                                       Victoria Hislop                          Greece--Historical Fiction
7.The Art of Racing in the Rain        Garth Stein                             Realistic fiction
8.Boston Girl                                       Anita Diament                         Historial Fiction
9. Inside the O’Briens                         Lisa Genova                             Realistic Fiction
10.The Nightingale                             Kristin Hannah                        WWII Historical Fic
11.Stella Bain                                      Anita Shreve                            WWII Historical Fic
12.The Lost Wife                                Alyson Richman                      WWII Historical Fic
13.Little Bee                                        Chris Cleave                            Realistic Fiction
14.The Golden Son                              Shilpi Somaya Gowda             Realistic Fic (India/US)
15.At the Water’s Edge                       Sara Gruen                              WWII Historical Fic
*16.A Dog’s Purpose                           W. Bruce Cameron                 Fantasy
*17.Room                                            Emma Donoghue                    Realistic Fiction
18.The Lake House                              Kate Morton                            Realistic/Hist Fiction
19.The Cuckoo’s Calling/Silkworm/Career of Evil-  Robert Galbraith           Mysteries  (BBC TV)
*20.Me Before You                             Jojo Moyes                              Realistic Fiction/Romance
21.All the Light We Cannot See          Anthony Doerr                     WWII Historical Fic
22.Girl on the Train                            Paula Hawkins                         Mystery

Other stuff
Fish In A Tree                                      Lynda Mullaly Hunt                 Children  (gr 6)
Fangirl                                                  Rainbow Rowell                      Young Adult
I’ll Give You  the Sun                           Jandy Nelson                          Young Adult
The Bookshop Book                             Jen Campbell                          Non-fiction
Winnipeg Cooks                                  Robin Summerfield                 Non-fiction
What’s Next!?
The Illegal                                            Lawrence Hill                          Realistic Fiction
His Whole Life                                     Elizabeth Hay                          Realistic Fiction
Vanessa & Her Sister                           Priya Parmar                           Historical Fiction
     *has been made into a movie

Thanks to Synthia Wright and the Brandon Reading Council for sharing!
Synthia shared her Book Club List with us and you will find some great recommendations.
The books in bold and italics are her personal favourites.

Don't Miss the AGM on May 30th

Pembina Escarpment Reading Council
Rock’s Restaurant-Morden
Monday May 30, 2016
4:45 p.m.


1. Call to Order
2. Attendance-sign in sheet
3. Approval of Agenda
4. Approval of AGM Minutes, May 2015
5. Celebrate Literacy, Celebrate Life—members please bring celebration for sharing
6. Business
Reports; President, Vice President, Treasurer, Membership
·         Election/Appointment of Executive: Vice-President
·         Declaration of Slate of Officers: President, Past President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Director, Members At Large

7. Adjournment

Please confirm your attendance by emailing

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Informational, Poetry and Graphica from Sally Bender

It’s All About the Books!
May 5, 2016
Informational, Poetry and Graphica Books
Sally Bender

Informational Books
Bean, Jonathan                                This is My Home, This is My School
Bond, Rebecca                                  Out of the Woods
Cousteau, Philippe                          Follow the Moon Home
Coy, John                                          Their Great Gift
Davies, Nicola                                   I Don’t Like Snakes
Desmond, Jenna                              The Blue Whale
Hopkinson, Deborah                      Beatrix Potter & the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig


Jenkins, Martin                               Fabulous Frogs
Jenkins, Steve                                  How to Swallow a Pig
Keating, Jess                                     Pink is for Blobfish
Kulling, Monica                               Clean Sweep: Frank Zamboni’s Ice Machine
London, Jonathan                           Otters Love to Play
Mattick, Lindsay                              Finding Winnie
McCloskey, Kevin                            The Real Poop on Pigeons
Nassar, Daniel                                  Animal Architects

Paul, Miranda                                  Water Is Water
Roy, Katherine                                 Neighborhood Sharks
Schaefer, Lola                                   Lifetimes
Smith, Lane                                      There is s TRIBE of Kids
Snyder, Laurel                                 Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova
Valerio, Geraldo                              The Book of Birds
Wilcox, Merrie-Ellen                      What’s the Buzz?

Fogliano, Julie                                 When Green Becomes Tomatoes
Frost, Helen                                     Among a Thousand Fireflies
Orgill, Roxane                                  Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph
Raczka, Bob                                      Wet Cement
Reid, Barbara                                   Sing a Song of Bedtime
Shovan, Laura                                  The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary
Singer, Marilyn                                Echo Echo


Brown, Don                                      Drowned City
Chikwanine, Michel                        Child Soldier
Davis, Eleanor                                  Flop to the Top!
Duffy, Chris                                      Fable Comics/Fairy Tale Comics
Hatke, Ben                                        Little Robot/Zita the Spacegirl
Hicks, Faith Erin                             The Nameless City
Holm, Jennifer                                Comics Squad: Lunch/Recess
Jamieson, Victoria                          Roller Girl
Liniers                                               Written and Drawn by Henrietta
McCoola, Marika                             Baba Yaga’s Assistant
Pearson, Luke                                  Hilda and the Troll
Telgemeier, Raina                           Smile/Drama/Ghosts *
Spiegelman, Nadia                           Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure


Sally Bender's Illustrated Book List

It’s All About the Books!
May 5, 2016
Illustrated Books for Your Classroom
Sally Bender

Agee,  Jon                                          It’s Only Stanley
Alexander, Kwame                          Surf’s Up
Alexie, Sherman                              Thunder Boy Jr.
Archer, Micha                                  Daniel Finds a Poem

Bateman, Teresa                              Job Wanted

Bagley, Jessixa                                 Boats for Papa
Brown, Margaret Wise                   The Dead Bird
Chang, Victoria                                Is Mommy?
Cronin, Doreen                                Bloom

Daniel, Danielle                               Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox
de la Peña, Matt                               Last Stop on Market Street
DeWalt, Drew                                   The Day The Crayons Came Home
Dyckman, Ame                                Horrible Bear!
Fergus, Maureen                             Buddy and Earl

Gerstein, Mordicai                          The Night World
John,  Jory                                        I Love You Already
Hall, Michael                                    Red
Henkes, Kevin                                  Waiting/When Spring Comes
Heyder, Thyra                                     The Bear Report
Higgins, Ryan T                               Mother Goose Bruce
Kennedy, Anne                                Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook
Lawson, JoArno                               Sidewalk Flowers
Litchfield, David                              The Bear and the Piano

Mantchev, Lisa                                 Strictly No Elephants
McGhee, Alison                               Tell Me a Tattoo Story
O’Brien, Anne                                  I’m New Here
Paschkis, Julie                                 P. Zonka Lays An Egg
Petty, Dev                                          I Don’t Want to Be a Frog
Reynolds, Aaron                              Nerdy Bird
Ringtved, Glenn                               Cry Heart, But Never Break
Robinson, Michelle                          A Beginner’s Guide to BEAR SPOTTING
Ruzzier, Sergio                                 This is not a picture book!

Sarcone-Roach, Julia                      The Bear Ate Your Sandwich
Shea, Bob                                          Ballet Cat: The Totally Totally Secret
Shea, Bob                                          Ballet Cat: Dance! Dance! Underpants!
Smiley, Jane                                     Twenty Yawns
Stead, Philip C                                  Lenny & Lucy          
Tallec, Olivier                                   Louis I, King of the Sheep
Tallec, Olivier                                   Who Done It?
Taylor, Sean                                      Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise
Tullet, Hervé                                                Let’s Play
Twohy, Mike                                     OOPS POUNCE QUICK RUN!
Willems, Mo                                     I Really Like Slop
Zagarenski, Pamela                         The Whisper