Monday, September 14, 2020

RED FOX ROAD by Frances Greenslade – An exciting survival story

I'm jumping back in to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with exactly the kind of book I love to read--an exciting adventure! 

Why you want to read this book…

If you’re a fan of survival stories like I am, you’ll enjoy reading this book. I couldn’t put it down! In this one, the main character’s parents are along for the ride, but Francie ends up on her own. She has to use her own knowledge and smarts to figure out how to get through some scary moments. I really liked her resourcefulness. This story was different than other survival stories I’ve read because Francie had to worry about her mom’s mental health as well as how to stay alive. A great read!

Here’s the summary from the publisher:

A thirteen-year-old girl on a family vacation becomes stranded alone in the wilderness when the family's GPS leads them astray. A compelling survival story for ages 10 to 14, for fans of Hatchet and The Skeleton Tree.

Francie and her parents are on a spring road trip: driving from British Columbia, Canada, to hike in the Grand Canyon. When a shortcut leads them down an old logging road, disaster strikes. Their truck hits a rock and wipes out the oil pan. They are stuck in the middle of nowhere. Francie can't help feeling a little excited -- she'd often imagined how she'd survive if she got stranded in the bush, and now here they are. But will her survival skills -- building fires, gathering dandelion leaves and fir needles for tea -- be enough when hours stretch into days?

Red Fox Road by Frances Greenslade, was published by Penguin Random House Canada and debuts on September 15, 2020. I read an electronic version via NetGalley, provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Make Mask-Wearing Easier for Young Children

I recently came across this clear and straightforward book about mask-wearing. This independently-published book is a useful resource for opening up discussions about why we need to wear masks. 

As a teacher, I love how it connects masks for playing with the mask that keeps others safe, helping kids with the emotional aspect of mask wearing. It was nice to see that “a portion of proceeds from sales of Lucy’s Mask will be donated to frontline workers and first responders.”

Here's the summary from Amazon:

Suddenly, masks are everywhere. Are your kids confused and anxious about wearing a mask? Lucy’s world turned upside down. She’s bored. She can’t be together with her friends. But when she finds out her mom is making her a new mask her boredom turns into excitement. Lucy loves masks! She dives into her toy box full of costumes and opens a world of imagination and make-believe adventure, far beyond the walls of her room. Of course, she doesn’t realize that the mask her mom is making is not a costume at all but one that will keep her safe and make her a real-life superhero.

I’d pair Lucy's Mask with this classic...

Thursday, August 20, 2020


You may have noticed I haven't been reviewing books over the summer. This is mainly because I was working on writing my own! But I have been doing a lot of reading and have some great books to tell you about in the fall.

r example, I recently read GURPLE AND PREEN by Linda Sue Park and Debbie Ridpath Ohi. It's a fun story with robots and recycling! (Watch for my review in the fall). You can read about the story behind GURPLE AND PREEN here.

There's also a fun challenge related to this book happening now on Twitter and Instagram. (You don't need to have read the book to participate.)

Basically, it involves using recycled materials to create art. The first challenge is to use dryer lint! As you can see below, I've attempted it myself...

I never thought I'd be using dryer lint as an art material!?!  

You can see more dryer lint creations by searching #GurpleandPreenChallenge on Insta and Twitter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Two Tips for Summer Learning

Are you worried? There's so much talk on social media these days about returning to school and not returning to school. Keeping kids safe at the expense of learning. And there are so many resources for keeping kids learning -- websites, read alouds, online camps. Just thinking about it is overwhelming. Take a few deep breaths. Today I just want to remind you of a couple of easy ways to boost your child's learning over the summer.  

Read Aloud. You've probably heard this before. Reading aloud to your child (at any age) is one of the best things you can do to promote literacy. Not only are you taking time away from the blue light of the screen to do something together, you're also introducing your child to new vocabulary, new ideas and new information. I used to build blanket tents inside or take books outside to read in the backyard. If you can't get to the library, it's okay. Re-reading old favourites is comforting. 

Listen First. As adults, we know more than kids do, and we like to share what we know with our kids. I challenge you listen to your child first before jumping in with your adult perspective. After you read a book together, ask questions - Which part did you like? Do you think that was a good ending? Why or why not? and then really listen to your child's answer. When you go on a walk and discover something new, ask your child to share their thinking about it first. It's hard, I know. We always want to help our children learn by telling what we know. Listening first gives your child space to think things through, to develop their own opinions and communicate them. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Learning Through Listening

I'm listening to the rain at the moment, which makes a lovely backdrop for working on creative projects (and also makes me feel relieved that I don't need to go out and water my gardens today). One of the things I'm doing on my break from teaching is to really focus on listening. 

Both as a creative and as an educator, I find listening opens up new perspectives and ways of thinking about ideas and situations. It seems to me that a lot of listening is needed to figure out what directions we will be following in the days ahead.

Over this past week, I watched the webinar (free to the general public) Sticks and Stones and the Stories We Tell. Educators as well as creatives might be interested hearing these experiences of several BIPOC authors and illustrators of children's books and how their experiences have shaped their creative work.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Let Your Creativity Shine This Summer

It's so great to be able to spend time outside in nature! This summer especially, it's a real joy to explore the garden with all it's blooms and insects. Every day there is a new flower or bird visit to marvel over. After spending time out in nature, I feel more at peace and more creative. 

If you're spending time outdoors, don't forget to bring along a notebook and some drawing tools. Drawing and sketching outdoors is a way to spark your own or your child's creativity!

I just wanted to let you know about a wonderful series through the Art Gallery of Ontario called AGO Makes: Summer Edition with free family art talks and demonstrations! This series will continue for four weeks, kind of like an art summer camp for your family. I'm really looking forward to exploring some of the art techniques in this series.

If you're interested in art demonstrations that are specifically geared for children (and wannabe illustrators), don't forget to check out the great content on BiblioVideo -  a YouTube Channel packed with stories and art demonstrations by Canadian children's authors and illustrators, brought to us by the Canadian Children's Book Centre.

In this recent example, illustrator Carmen Mok shows us her studio and how to draw a shark!


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Summer Fun with Read Alouds & Activities from Simon Kids

How is your summer going? With the current heat wave, I'm not doing as much exploring as I might normally do. Instead, I'm taking more time to be creative inside (for me that's writing, doodling and drawing) as well as spending lots of time with family. 

In case you and your child are stuck inside more than usual too, I thought you might like to know about this great resource for books and activities from Simon Kids.

Read and Learn with Simon Kids

I especially love their YouTube channel, which has lots of free content, where authors and illustrators read their books aloud and present a fun activity to go with the book. You can find it here:  Read and Learn with Simon Kids - Youtube Channel