Thursday, October 29, 2020

LOOK! I WROTE A BOOK! (AND YOU CAN TOO) by Sally Lloyd-Jones & Neal Layton

 As a person who loves reading and writing, I was drawn to this book by the title. I loved all the funny ideas in drawings and the explanations of the writing process (including revising). The cartoony crayon style illustration adds to the fun.


Summary from the publisher:

 Want to write a book? Well, the spunky, know-it-all narrator of this side-splitting story can tell you just how to do it. She walks readers through the whole process, from deciding what to write about (like dump trucks or The Olden Days) to writing a story that doesn’t put everyone to sleep and getting people to buy your book (tips: be nice, give them cookies, and if all else fails, tie them to a chair).


Look! I Wrote a Book! was written by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Neal Layton, and published by Schwartz & Wade Books in 2019.



When you want to write a book,

first you need a Good Idea.


My Thoughts as a Writer:

Check out this book for a humorous example of a how-to text. It would be interesting to compare this one to Kate Messner’s How to Write a Story and think about the choices that the authors made about what to focus on.


My Thoughts as an Educator:

This is a great book for an elementary classroom! I loved how it explains the process of writing a story. It will likely motivate some children to get to work on their own.


Ages: 5-9

Grades: K – 4

Themes: writing, story structure


List:  Make a list of topics you might like to write about. Think about who might like to read a story about your topic.

Draw: Design your own book cover. Make up a title and then draw a cover illustration to go with it.

Plan: Get a big sheet of paper and draw a beginning, a middle and an end for a story. Make sure it’s not boring. If it is, then add some obstacles to get in your character’s way. Reading the book again will help remind you of ways you can make your story more interesting.

Write: Imagine you are a famous author. Write your own About the Author page with important facts about you.

Monday, October 19, 2020

THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS by Ann Braden – a powerful and emotional story about choosing the right path

This is a book worth taking some time to read and think about. I really liked how the teacher helped encourage the main character and helped her figure out how to participate in the debate club.

Why read this book?

It’s a powerful story with a lot of emotional depth that will get you thinking. I loved the determined spirit of the main character Zoey and the strength of her caring for her family. I really enjoyed the way the main character learned to think about her life differently and to speak up and choose. Even though Zoey didn’t have a chose to join the debate club, it was interesting how it helped her think about her life differently and to speak up. The story had a hopeful ending, despite the fact that her family situation continued to be challenging. I also really enjoyed the octopus facts included in the story!


Here’s the summary:

Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they've got to do.

Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there's Lenny, her mom's boyfriend—they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.

At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they're in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it's best if no one notices them.

Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.

Unfortunately, she's not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia's situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they're better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she's ever had?

This moving debut novel explores the cultural divides around class and the gun debate through the eyes of one girl, living on the edges of society, trying to find her way forward.


The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden was published by Sky Pony Press in 2018. I read an e-version from my local public library.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

WHEN EMILY WAS SMALL by Lauren Soloy - A story inspired by the writings of artist Emily Carr

Why read this book?

As a fan of Emily Carr's art, I was intrigued by the idea of finding out about what she was like as a young girl. This book provides is a fun way to share creative inspiration and art with young children. 

Summary from the publisher:

A joyful frolic through the garden helps a little girl feel powerful in this beautiful picture book that celebrates nature, inspired by the writings of revered artist Emily Carr.

Emily feels small. Small when her mother tells her not to get her dress dirty, small when she's told to sit up straight, small when she has to sit still in school.

But when she's in the garden, she becomes Small: a wild, fearless, curious and passionate soul, communing with nature and feeling one with herself. She knows there are secrets to be unlocked in nature, and she yearns to discover the mysteries before she has to go back to being small . . . for now.

When Emily Was Small by Lauren Soloy was published by Tundra Books in 2020.


My Thoughts as a Writer:

The lyrical language in this book just begs to be read aloud. Try reading the story aloud to study how the rhythm created by the phrasing and word choices carries you through the story.

My Thoughts as an Educator:

I loved the way this book tells us about the childhood of this famous artist, in way that explores imagination. Discovering the note at the back that explains how this story is based on Emily Carr’s own writing and her own thoughts about her childhood was a lovely surprise. This book would be a great one to incorporate into several lessons to consider the interesting word choices, the art and the connection to nature.

 Ages: 4-8

Grades: K – 3

Themes: imagination, creativity, nature


Drama: At different places in the story, Emily felt small, wild and peaceful. Improvise movements or dance to show her different feelings.

 Art Talk: Provide children with some examples of Emily Carr’s work ( . Ask them to share their feelings and thoughts about each one. A question for discussion: Where do you see nature in her art work? Why do you think she’s an important artist?

Think & Draw: Have there been any times when you felt small? Draw a picture to show a time when you felt small.

Create: Look closely at the greens you see out the window. Try to see all the different greens. Experiment with paints to create several different shades of green by adding bits of white, black or other colours to a basic green pain. Make your own painting using different shades of green.