Review: Sick Simon (2015)

Sick Simon by Dan Krall

This is a book teachers have begged me for. Usually this happens when the weather changes and flu season hits, but sometimes it happens earlier in the year. “What do you have that will teach my students about spreading germs?” Initially I purchased a few non-fiction titles about germs, which are great and purposeful, but here we have an engaging storyline with pictures kids will love (they turned my stomach, just like they are meant to!) Simon is sick but he LOVES school, so he continues to go. Worse than that, he is one of those kids that has no understanding of the ways he is spreading his germs to his friends and teachers.

I think this story can be effective as a teaching tool in the classroom. Teachers will have to explain that germs are really too small for us to see, unlike the pictures of the hidden germs on all of the “sick” pages. My 8 year old daughter pointed those out to me. It would be great to pair it with a non-fiction title on germs.




Review: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild (2013)


Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown has been on my mind today. I recently came across a fantastic video of author and illustrator Peter Brown discussing his inspiration for this work. Watching the video reminded me of how much I love, love, love these illustrations. The story tells about Mr. Tiger’s transformation from a proper tiger to one who embraces his wild side. The classes that I shared this book with enjoyed the pictures every bit as much as I did, especially the page where he sheds his clothes. (This illustration is just perfection – the look on his face, the way he is standing. It makes me smile every time I see it.) Truly, every page in this book is a delight.


Now, will someone please buy me these pajamas?




The Top 10 Picture Books of 2015: SRES Library

The school year has come to a close, and I am reflecting on the days we spent together in our K-5 elementary school library. I started wondering what the most popular books were that left our shelves. I bring you the top 10 Picture Books circulated at our school in 2015: not10. That is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems (2013) A story with a crafty twist at the end. This book is a riot to read aloud with children. battle9. Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, illustrated by Matthew Myers (2013) Clever idea for a story. The “original” book is called Birthday Bunny, but then a kid named Alex uses his creativity and drawing skills to change the story into something he finds more appealing. Check out this YouTube video that the illustrator made for more on his inspiration. You can also download and print blank Birthday Bunny pages for kids to create with. It’s no surprise that this book was a hit, especially with boy readers. tuesday8. Tuesday by David Wiesner (1991) This one surprised me until I remembered the lesson we did on wordless picture books. Tuesday is the book that first comes to my mind when I think of this genre. Genius and classic. Love the many ways you can use illustration to teach comprehension. house7. This House Needs a Mouse by C. Jeffrey Nunnally, illustrated by Tamara Brink (2014) Our school was fortunate to have the very talented author of this book visit us. He presented his work to captivated audiences in grades K-5, teaching a writer’s workshop lesson and tapping into the untold potential of ideas and words that live within us all.  If you are in Colorado and are looking for a wonderful author visit, let me know. chicken6. Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein (2010) I love to use this book with classes who struggle with interrupting, and then gently remind them not to be “Interrupting Chickens” during subsequent class times. pigeon5. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (2003) We simply can’t get enough of The Pigeon or his author, Mo Willems. This year we used the app on our iPad (Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App) and our students had a blast creating their own pigeon stories. dark4. The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen (2013) Even younger kids want to check out books that seem scary. This one handles “scary” in a delicate, relatable way.  hungry3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1969) I wasn’t expecting to see this make the list, but then again, it is Eric Carle. A fantastic classic story that kids love. nancy 2. Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (2007) Another book that had escaped my radar. The credit for this one appearing on our list goes to the girls in kindergarten.


1. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (2013)

The most popular picture book in our school library for 2015! This book, a series of resignation letters from crayons, is a lot of fun. Our students are not alone in their love for this book, it also won our state award this year.


coming soon – the most popular chapter books in 2015!


Review: The Most Magnificent Thing (2014)


The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires chronicles the hard work and perseverance of a young girl with an idea. As an educator, I have encountered numerous children who believe that things will come easy to them. Maybe they believe this is the way it is for everyone, maybe most of their lives things have been easy. Whatever the case may be, I’ve seen many students get to a place where they struggle and I’ve watched as they want to give up. How I wish I had this book at my fingertips!

I love so many things about this book. I love that the protagonist/inventor/creator is a girl. I love that she makes numerous attempts at her design. I love that she takes a step away and sees things from a different angle. Her sidekick puppy is an adorable companion.

This book would pair well with What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada or The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.

Because, after all, we can do hard things. -Erin

(When I first read this book, I did not make the connection that the author is the same author of the Binky the Space Cat graphic novels.  Binky the Space Cat is also fantastic!)


Review: What Do You Do With An Idea? (2013)

What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada

This children’s picture book by Kobi Yamada is an inspiration!  What do you do with an idea

A little boy, one day, has an idea.  He tries to ignore his idea.  He worries what other people will think of his idea so he doesn’t share it with anybody.  But his idea is demanding and needs attention so the boy feeds it and plays with it and his idea just keeps growing and growing until it becomes impossible to hide.

The illustration of this little boy’s idea is (as the book describes it) “strange and fragile”.  In the beginning of the book the idea looks like an egg with legs and a crown.  As the story progresses, the idea gets bigger and bigger until it finally grows wings and takes flight.  Mae Besom, the illustrator, uses color effectively to highlight the magic of the idea in her illustrations.  It’s simple and lovely how the bold, bright idea on each page brings color to the rest of the gray and white illustration, shedding it’s brightness onto the picture around it.  As the idea grows, so does the color.  Brilliant.

My favorite part of this book is the message it sends children: do not be ashamed or try to ignore your ideas.  They are magical.  Who knows where they may take you!   -Marika


Review: Wolfie the Bunny (2015)

wolfieWolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman has been getting some Caldecott buzz, so I checked it out from our public library. I must say, it is adorable! I immediately fell in love with the illustrations in the end pages. My five year old loves end pages and we enjoyed talking about the different characters we saw. (He noticed the drawing of Wolfie much sooner than I did.) The illustrations are bold, full of texture, and they draw you right in to the story. The book improves on re-reading because you will notice something new in the illustrations that you had not seen previously. This is always a plus in my book, because my children like to hear the same story over and over again. (Research supports this as a good thing!) I loved the honey bears in the market and the grumpy expressions on Dot’s face. My eight year old daughter enjoyed the story line because she could relate as a big sister who is not always thrilled with her little brother. The story is cute but it is the illustrations that really won me over. It just may be a Caldecott contender.   -Erin