Friday, March 31, 2023

Lucy Tries Hockey by Lisa Bowes & James Hearne

Why this book?

I was excited to see this book at my local library. It’s a perfect way to introduce kids to hockey – as well as the idea of practicing to get better. The big, bold digital –style illustrations are full of action. I also appreciated the diversity in the kids depicted on Lucy’s team. This book is part of a series, where Lucy tries other sports—soccer, luge, short track, basketball and baseball. Some of them are also available in French and Spanish.

My thoughts as a creator:

It’s great to see a picture book that focus on a girl learning to play sports. I love the added layers in this story about not being afraid to try and practicing. This story is also told in rhyme, which adds another dimension to the story. I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

My thoughts as an educator:

I love the idea of reading books that show case different sports. This series would be great to read during an Olympic year, as well as anytime to promote active living. The story contains a lot of hockey vocabulary that I discussed with my students.

Ages: 4 - 7

Grades: K - 3

Connections: hockey, rhyming, practicing sports 


Active Play:  Check out this link from Hands On As We Grow for a fun way to play “indoor hockey” with tape and bean bag that could be adapted for playing on a table or area in the classroom.

Literacy: Draw a picture of your favourite sport or a sport you might like to try one day.

Literacy: Which sport do you think Lucy should try next? Write your own “Lucy Tries” story about your favourite sport!

STEM: Can you design a hockey stick? Provide materials for designing such as straws, popsicle sticks, cardboard, and tape. With a water bottle lid or other small object for a puck, students can test their hockey sticks on a table top to see which designs work best. Another challenge might be to try playing on different surfaces (e.g., carpet, table top, frozen slab of ice) to see what happens!


More resources:

Find out more about Lisa Bowes and her book Lucy Tries Basketball:

Read an article about Lisa Bowes and her series from Collingwood Today:

More information about the series from Orca Books:

Created by veteran sports journalist Lisa Bowes, the Lucy Tries Sports series aims to promote inclusive physical literacy and encourage young readers to get involved in sports. Endorsed by elite athletes, the series focuses on participation and the importance of play.

The books follow Lucy and her friends as they learn introductory skills in a variety of exciting sports, guided by coaches and teachers. Lucy's eagerness to try new things will inspire all children to get outside and play.

The Lucy Tries Sports series reinforces the HIGH FIVE principles of healthy child development needed for quality programs, including the support of a caring adult, the opportunity to participate, to play, to make friends and to master skills.

Description from the publisher:

Lucy and her family are skating on an outdoor rink when she sees a game of hockey going on. It looks like fun, but maybe too challenging. Supported by her parents, Lucy enrolls in an introductory hockey clinic. And thanks to an encouraging instructor, she and her friends learn basic hockey skills, have fun on the ice and decide to add hockey to their list of favorite sports!

Lucy Tries Hockey is also available in French: Lucy joue au hockey

Lucy Tries Hockey by Lisa Bowes and illustrated by James Hearne was published by Orca Books in 2018.

For more wonderful picture books, visit Perfect Picture Book Friday at Susanna Leonard Hill's website


Monday, March 20, 2023


illustrated girl running towards a hand with a ring
Why this book?

It’s funny, it’s a mystery and it’s packed with action! I also love the way the main character Nikki relies on her friends to help her and how they all have their own special skills—and messy real life problems. Nikki has an interesting and temperamental pet ferret to add to the mix.

Connections: science, mysteries, friendships, STEM

Activity Ideas:

Literacy – Do some research to find out more about the real-life scientists that inspired the characters in book, such as Nikola Tesla, Charles Darwin and Michael Faraday. Create a poster or a short video to tell your friends more about them.

STEM: If you could invent anything, what would you invent? Draw a design for invention. Have one of your friends look at your design and ask questions about it. Do you need to revise your design? What materials would you need to build it?

Literacy/STEM: – If you found a ring with unknown powers, what tests would you try to figure out it’s capabilities?

Art: Imagine you’ve been shrunken to the size of a ferret or other small pet. What would you see? Create a piece of art to show what your classroom or room would look like from a tiny animal’s perspective.

Watch this video by Jess Keating to learn more about the books and the science behind them:

Find out more about this book by visiting the publisher’s webpage HERE.

Find out more about illustrator Lissy Marlin by visiting her webpage here.

Additional Resources:

Check out the other books in this series:

Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray (Elements of Genius #1)

Nikki Tesla and theTraitors of the Lost Spark (Elements of Genius #3)


Description from the publisher:   

"For a group of geniuses who are supposed to help people, we do an awful lot of stealing."

Nikki Tesla and the rest of the Genius Academy team have agreed to pilfer a completely priceless, totally lethal high-tech ring. Why? Because a mad scientist on a power trip plans to use it to do some serious damage. And because the very same mad scientist has kidnapped Mary Shelley. Mess with one genius, and you mess with them all.

But mostly they're planning the heist of the century so Nikki can get to know her long-lost father who claims he isn't the criminal mastermind she believes him to be. After all, if a little international thievery can protect the world from evil, it just might save Nikki's family.

Nikki Tesla and the Fellowship of the Bling (Elements of Genuis #2), written by Jess Keating and illustrated by Lissy Marlin was published by Scholastic Press in 2020.


To find more middle grade books to read, check out Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, organized by Greg Pattridge over at his blog.


Friday, March 10, 2023

ANOTHER SQUIGGLY STORY by Andrew Larsen & Mike Lowery

Comic-style boy holding up pencil and notebook under the title
Why this book?

What a great book for inspiring kids to write! This one is extra fun because of comic-style design and the lists of ideas. I love how it models different aspects of the writing process—generating ideas, thinking, connecting ideas, writing and revising. I also enjoyed their first book, A Squiggly Story (see my blog feature here). 

My thoughts as a creator:

I love books that contain lists and hope to write one someday, so it was interesting to me to see how they incorporated the lists into the story. I also noticed there is a lot of dialogue in this story, which was included in speech bubbles. I loved the notebook pages in the illustrations! This book includes many different levels – the writing process, the relationship with a sibling, friendships, taking a break from a challenging task, and includes some gentle humor.

My thoughts as an educator:

It’s great to see a book that contains several different writing formats –speech bubbles, lists, and autobiography. This book is great for grade 1 and 2, where kids are learning to write using sentences, and especially for introducing a writing notebook. But I would definitely read this in kindergarten to show my students how to make lists of things they love. It was great how the story also shows how sometimes, when you’re stuck, taking a break can be helpful. This story also shows a little of the process of revision, and how to improve a story by adding details and changing sentences.

Ages: 4 - 7

Grades: K - 3

Connections: writing, lists, imagination, perseverance, siblings


Literacy: Provide children with writing notebooks to write in when they are inspired. A writing corner with visual lists could be a fun way to inspire young writers. 

Literacy: Write or draw your own list of things you love. Can you create a story about yourself?

Social Emotional Learning: What do you do when you can’t think of an idea or feel stuck doing your school work? Brainstorm some ideas for short breaks you can take

Social Emotional Learning: Think of a time when a sibling or someone else in your family helped you. Draw a picture to show how you felt.

Art: Create a self-portrait! Provide a mirror and materials for kids, with tips such as making a large shape to almost fill the paper to begin.

More resources:

 Teaching Guide for A Squiggly Story from Kids Can Press

Self-Portrait Ideas from Fantastic and Fun  Learning

12 Strategies to Support Struggling Writers from

Description from the publisher:

The kindergartener who learned to use squiggles to write a story in award-winning Andrew Larsen’s A Squiggly Story is now in second grade and learning to write an autobiography. Told in the same authentic child’s voice, this playful book encourages readers to just start, even if they don’t know how their story will go. It offers an accessible early language arts lesson on the writing process, exploring important basics (brainstorming, first draft, revising) and key terms (autobiography, editing, title, cover). Mike Lowery’s bold illustrations incorporate story panels and dialogue bubbles, keeping the energy high and giving a fresh and modern feel to the pages. A strong tie-in with early literacy curricula, this book also works well for supplementary or at-home learning. It’s a perfect choice to inspire the storyteller in every child!

Another Squiggly Story, written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Mike Lowrey, was published by Kids Can Press in 2022.  Go here to visit Kids Can Press for more about this book.