Recently I read the brilliant RETURN by Aaron Becker with my class. The children hadn't read the first two stories in the JOURNEY trilogy and I wanted to see what they could do with the text knowing they had no background knowledge of the story arc. I used the text as a springboard for writing (after stealing the idea from a colleague- Thanks, Rachel) and was amazed at the power the wordless book gave to my students' creativity. I have read wordless picture books many times before but this was the first time I had used one in this way. Because they hadn't read Journey and Quest, the children's imaginations were bursting with questions and wonderings. Where did the red door come from? Why did the man go through the red door? Who had left the red ball behind? What was he looking for? Why doesn't the girl want to come home? Is the bird special? What relationship does the girl have to the boy? All these questions were floating in the air as we were reading the book. Once we . . .
I love a fractured fairy tale. I have amassed quite the collection from Bethan Woollvin's amazing Little Red and Rapunzel to Toby Forward's The Wolf Story and Anthony Browne's Hansel and Gretel. So many of my favourites are actually adaptations of Little Red Riding Hood and The Last Wolf by Mini Grey is now added to that esteemed list. Although, where many of the fractured tales take the original story and appropriate the plot or characters, The Last Wolf has a bigger story to tell with an environmental message about the state of the world's endangered wildlife. Mini Grey is a great storyteller who writes quirky characters and beautifully descriptive language. Her Little Red is a brave huntress who sets out with a popgun to find a wolf of her own. There are no baskets of muffins for this Little Red. She is the hunter is this version of the story and although she is painted as a strong, powerful female, she also has a empathetic side that young readers will fall in love with. WITH . . .
Picture books about lions always end up being my favourites. The Stone Lion, A Lion in Paris, The Snow Lion and now I can add How To Be a Lion to the mighty list. Something to do with all that courage, I guess. Leonard the lion is not your ordinary lion. He would rather daydream and write poetry than do the things that normal lions do. Ed Vere is a master of witty picture books that offer just as much for adults as they do for children. This is a great read aloud text that will amuse any room full of kids with hilarious language and illustrations. However chiefly, it has such a gentle, beautiful message about quiet ones being loud. It will speak to those kids that often wait in the shadows and pause while the rowdiest of us do all the talking. A powerful message that sings to my introverted heart. Although, my absolute favourite part of the book is the sheer jubilance seen on Leonard's face as he scooters past his ducky friend. Brilliant. WITH LITTLE READERS: The obvious . . .
The Fog by Kyo Maclear and Kenard Pak is one of the most beautifully written and illustrated books I've read this year (even though it was published in 2017). The stunning words were enough alone to make me take this one home, but Pak's dreamy water colour illustrations make the fog come to life perfectly. A charming story about friendship and longing for a once known world all told through Maclear's quirky Warble, who spends his days human-watching. Both the warbler and the red-hooded, spectacled girl work together to make a change in their world. WITH LITTLE READERS: With its underlying message, The Fog will delight older readers as they figure out what the fog represents in their own world. Once we delight in the magic of the story (always honour the author's intent), I will be using this precious book in my classroom. Have the readers respond to what they believe the fog could represent and how change has impacted the world in which we live. Discussions will roll around the . . .
And so I begin again. This time with books. Kids' books! Picture books, novels for young readers, YA, graphic novels, poetry for children, classic literature and more picture books. I will be sharing little reviews and how I use the beautiful books I have overflowing on my book shelves in my classroom. Mostly, it will be a way for me to document, as I have always done. I spend a lot of time reading kids books, so I might as well share some of the things I do with them. My hope is that someone might discover a new book and share it with their kids or the kids they teach. Happy reading! . . .