My Favorite Picture Books Read in 2013

I know my blog is primarily about young adult lit (and teaching), but as a teacher I read a number of picture books this year. I’ve discovered that I love picture books and that I can use them in my classroom. The best part of reading them this year was sharing them with my sophomores last school year so they could read them to a classroom of third grade students.

I am in no way a picture book guru; I’m very much a novice. I hope to read more picture books in 2014. I might even set a goal for myself 🙂 Anyway, I decided to narrow down the books I read to my top 5.

1. Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Goodreads): I’m really surprised more of my friends on Goodreads haven’t read this picture book yet; it’s absolutely beautiful. The images Collier created to compliment the story are stunning. The text combined with those images pulled at my heart, but the note at the end of the book sent me over the edge. I cried.

2. The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty, illustrated by Thomas Docherty (Goodreads): This picture book has so many elements that I love. It rhymes, it has vibrant illustrations, and the story is sweet and full of heart. This showed up on my radar a few times so I was excited to see it when I was at Barnes & Noble not too long ago. I read it in the store and smiled the entire time. Not only do I want to share this with students, but I will absolutely need a copy for my future children. It’s adorable and makes for a great read aloud.

3. The Day of the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Goodreads): I love the concept for this picture book and can see it being used in a variety of ways as a mentor text. This would be a great book to read aloud to students and have them create their own letters written by crayons (or another object). The letters and illustrations really make this book stand out.

4. Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Goodreads): What a fun way to teach punctuation to beginning writers! I love the humor, the power of the illustrations, and how they affect the meaning.

5. The Chicken Problem by Jennifer Oxley, illustrated by Billy Aronson (Goodreads): Apparently I like humorous picture books because most of the books on this list are cute and funny. The Chicken Problem is yet another adorably humorous story. It even incorporates math! There are lots of great details in this picture book like math problems to make up the page numbers (page two says 1+1=2) and the fact that the background is graph paper. I read this to one of my classes last school year and they really enjoyed it.

Honorable Mentions: Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein, and Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

Flash Reviews (22)

Flash Reviews

Fingerprints of YouTitle: Fingerprints of You

Author: Kristen-Paige Madonia

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Source: Gift from a friend–Thank you, Kelly! 🙂

Summary (From Goodreads):

Lemon grew up with Stella, a single mom who wasn’t exactly maternal. Stella always had a drink in her hand and a new boyfriend every few months, and when things got out of hand, she would whisk Lemon off to a new town for a fresh beginning. Now, just as they are moving yet again, Lemon discovers that she is pregnant from a reckless encounter—with a guy Stella had been flirting with.

On the verge of revisiting her mother’s mistakes, Lemon struggles to cope with the idea of herself as a young unmarried mother, as well as the fact that she’s never met her own father. Determined to have at least one big adventure before she has the baby, Lemon sets off on a cross-country road trip, intending not only to meet her father, but to figure out who she wants to be.

Flash Review: The cover is what initially drew me to this book. I don’t have any tattoos, but I appreciate the artistry that goes into them. Not long after I started reading Fingerprints of You, I understood the meaning behind the tattoos on the book cover.  Something I really like about Kristen-Paige Madonia’s debut is that even though Lemon is pregnant, this isn’t really a book about teen pregnancy.  I discovered last year while talking with some of my students that many of them won’t read pregnancy books because “they’re all the same.”  I would hand this book to those students and challenge them to read it.  Lemon is a very different character and sometimes hard to relate to, but her story and conflicts are engaging. This is a story about Lemon growing up, realizing where she’s really come from, how to build and maintain relationships, etc. Madonia’s writing is fluid, her cast of characters are interesting, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her books. I’m sure Fingerprints of You will be a hit in my classroom this year.

**Fingerprints of You is now available in paperback**

A Trick of the LightTitle: A Trick of the Light

Author: Lois Metzger

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Source: Publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

Mike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they’re getting confusing at school. He’s losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he’s a mess.
Then there’s a voice in his head. A friend, who’s trying to help him get control again. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that’s holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.
Telling a story of a rarely recognized segment of eating disorder sufferers—young men—A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger is a book for fans of the complex characters and emotional truths in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls and Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.

Flash Review: Lois Metzger has written an important story because it’s one not often written about (exclusively, that I know of), but it’s a story many of our teen boys know too well. It’s the story of a teenage boy suffering from anorexia. I did, however, have a tough time with the pace in A Trick of the Light. It’s a short book at only 208 pages, so it’s naturally going to move quickly. I needed more of Mike’s background because it seemed like after a couple short chapters, Mike was suddenly anorexic and I didn’t understand exactly why or where it came from.  Part of that could be because Mike’s story is narrated by his eating disorder.  However, I really enjoyed reading this from such a fresh perspective. It took me a few pages to realize that’s who’s narrating the story, but once I did I immediately understood it. I’m happy to add this to my class library and recommend it to my students. I’m looking forward to discussing it with them.

Halloween HustleTitle: Halloween Hustle

Author: Charlotte Gunnufson

Illustrator: Kevan J. Atteberry

Publisher: Two Lions

Source: Publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

In the dark, a funky beat. / Something white with bony feet. / Skeleton dancing up the street, / Doing the Halloween Hustle. Skeleton is dancing his way to a Halloween party but as he grooves across town, he keeps stumbling, tumbling, and falling apart! Can Skeleton stay in one piece long enough to make it to the party?

Flash Review: I’m still new to the picture book scene, so I’m not always sure what to say about them or how to review them.  I can say that Halloween Hustle is a delightful picture book full of vibrant images and rhymes on every page.  I can easily picture young children reading this book with their parents around Halloween and dancing with the characters. Charlotte Gunnufson has written the story in rhyme so it reads like a song, hence the title Halloween Hustle.  It’s my hope that my seniors this year will be able to read to a class of first graders, and if we are around Halloween I know they’ll want to read this to them.

Also, I was provided with some images from the book when the publisher sent this. Here are a few snippets of Kevan J. Atteberry’s work:

As always, thank you for the Flash Reviews idea, GreenBeanTeenQueen!

Picture Book 10 for 10

PB 10 for 10

This is the fourth annual Picture Book 10 for 10 celebration, but it’s the first year I’m participating.  I didn’t really develop an appreciation for picture books until the past year or two, so my list of books to choose from is probably a little smaller than most.  Regardless, I’m definitely enjoying picture books now and enjoying sharing them with my high school students even more.

My list is primarily a list of picture books that I think are cute and/or enjoyed reading to my students because of their reactions.  I’d love to know which picture books you love using with your students, especially if you use them at the secondary level.

P.S.: I apologize for the size of the second set of book covers.  No matter what I do, I can’t get them smaller than that. At least they’re cute covers 🙂

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes (Goodreads)–I read this during my Masters children’s lit class and loved it.  I’m a cat person and love how adorable this kitten is.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco (Goodreads)–I read this during my Masters reading clinic project at the end of our program. It fit perfectly with the nature of the work we were doing (working towards our Reading Specialist endorsement).  The story is so powerful and touching and it made me cry. I had to get it together before my case study student arrived. Sigh. I love this book.

Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds (Goodreads)–This book is so much fun and so cute!  I LOVE the art and how it’s old school creepy in a very elementary school way.

The Chicken Problem by Jennifer Oxley (Goodreads)–The biggest reason I like this book so much is because of how my students reacted when I read it to them.  There’s a part in the book when Peg is singing a song or something, and even though I usually don’t actually sing anything in front of my students, I did for this group and they loved it.

Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw (Goodreads)–Again, it’s a cat thing.  Plus it’s brilliantly told in haiku which I loved reading to my students when we worked on haiku in class.

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Goodreads)–This is so creative and makes me want to read more of her books. My kids thought it was adorable and they loved the illustrations.  It’s simply a delight to read.

The Chicken ProblemWon TonExclamation Mark

Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin (Goodreads)–Brian Wyzlic made this book.  At an author signing he saw it on display and read it out loud to our group.  It was the best picture book read aloud I’ve heard in a VERY long time.

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs retold by Mo Willems (Goodreads)–This is another one that I love because of my students’ reactions when I read it to them. And I love all of the titles he has listed that he didn’t use.  It’s too darn cute.

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown (Goodreads)–My students read this one and You Will Be My Friend! to a class of third graders this past school year and everyone loved it.  It was so much fun watching the third graders react to this.  Peter Brown is one of my favorite picture book authors/illustrators.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Goodreads)–I didn’t like this one nearly as much until I read it to my students. They had so much fun with it and it was contagious.


Book Trailer Thursday (120)–Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnufson

I’m mixing things up lately with the picture book trailers, but they’re too cute not to feature 🙂  I’ll make sure to feature some YA book trailers soon!  Picture book author Charlotte Gunnufson contacted me about featuring her upcoming picture book Halloween Hustle.  After watching the trailer I was happy to oblige.  Halloween Hustle was illustrated by Kevan Atteberry and releases on September 3rd, 2013.

Halloween Hustle

Summary (From Goodreads):

In the dark, a funky beat. / Something white with bony feet. / Skeleton dancing up the street, / Doing the Halloween Hustle. Skeleton is dancing his way to a Halloween party but as he grooves across town, he keeps stumbling, tumbling, and falling apart! Can Skeleton stay in one piece long enough to make it to the party?

Book Trailer:

Dance Video:

Book Trailer Thursday (119)–Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds

My friend posted the book trailer for Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds a week ago and I knew I had to share it.  On Goodreads it’s titled The Carnivore Club, but according to Amazon it’s titled Carnivores and will be releasing in the United States on August 20th.  Regardless, this book trailer is so cute and funny.  I simply can’t wait to share it with my students.

CarnivoresSummary (From Goodreads):

A lion, a great white shark, and a timber wolf, all meat-eaters who have been hurt by the cruelty of plant-eaters, form a support group which has limited success until their newest member, a great horned owl, shares some advice.

Sophomores, Third Graders, and Picture Books

This past school year one of the third grade teachers in our district, Ms. Dumas, approached my assistant principal about arranging high school students who would read to her class of students.  When I was informed of this, I immediately told my Honors Sophomore Seminar students who were quite excited about the idea.

Ms. Dumas and I started emailing back and forth right away and decided that Mondays and Wednesdays at the end of her school day would work out best.  I organized a sign up sheet for my students, borrowed lots of picture books from the library, and was off and running.  My students are familiar with read alouds since I read aloud to them every day, but they aren’t used to reading to kids.  Every Monday and Wednesday I read them a different picture book and provided them with different read aloud strategies for them to use.

The third graders LOVED it when we visited them.  Ms. Dumas told me that Mondays and Wednesdays became their favorite days 🙂  Something that made me proud is that my students weren’t getting a grade or extra credit for doing this.  Some of them were able to use the hours for community service, but other than that they simply did this because they enjoyed it.  It made them feel good to see the kids so happy and excited.  I truly had some fantastic sophomores this past school year.

Hannah B.Marisa L.Megan T.
Matt P.

Here’s a list of some of my students’ and the third graders’ favorite picture books (I apologize for the goofy cover layout):

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown (Goodreads)
You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brown (Goodreads)
Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman (Goodreads)
Boot and Shoe by Marla Frazee (Goodreads)
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Goodreads)
When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore (Goodreads)
Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds (Goodreads)
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin (Goodreads)
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein (Goodreads)
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt (Goodreads)
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems (Goodreads)

Children Make Terrible PetsYou Will Be My Friend!Boy + Bot
Boot & ShoeI Want My Hat BackWhen a Dragon Moves In
Creepy Carrots!Dragons Love TacosInterrupting Chicken
Scaredy SquirrelGoldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

My students read to these students for about six weeks or so, and on the last day the third graders read to my students.  They had been working on writing and polishing informational texts for a couple weeks, so they were thrilled to switch roles.  Ms. Dumas also brought in popsicles for all of us to eat when everyone was done reading.  It was a really fun way to celebrate such a positive all-around reading experience.

3rd grade readersReading to MarissaReading to Matt LReading Day Group
Ms. DumasMy Kids @ Reading Day

Next year we’d like to have two groups of students come in to work with Ms. Dumas’s new group of third graders.  She wants her students to be stronger writers too, so we’re thinking about pairing up her students with some of my students as pen pals.  Next year we’d also like to arrange the read alouds to fit more with what she’s teaching her students.  We talked about doing an author/illustrator study, comparing ways of telling fairy tales, etc.

To all of my Twitter friends who suggest titles for us to read–THANK YOU!  I had so much fun sharing the books you recommended with my students and watching them share them with the third graders.

A Mother’s Day Giveaway!

The wonderful people at Sourcebooks are offering a fantastic giveaway just for moms!  You can enter to win Marianne Richmond’s adorable new picture book, Oh, the Things My Mom Will Do and her board book, If I Could Keep You Little.

Oh The Things My Mom Will Do KeepYouLittleBB_CVR.indd

Summary of Oh, the Things My Mom Will Do (from the publisher):

What a child sees as everyday routine is anything but for a mom! Oh, the Things My Mom Will Do is a celebration of the unpredictable adventure that is motherhood with its sometimes silly, always heartfelt, and wonderfully important moments–all rooted in love. This sweet and amusing book will have book moms and kids smiling with recognition while spotlighting all the different ways a mom shows her devotion.

Oh The Things My Mom Will Do exclusive art

MarianneRichmond2012About Marianne Richmond:

Beloved author and illustrator MARIANNE RICHMOND has touched the lives of millions for nearly two decades through her award-winning books, greeting cards, and other gift products that offer people the most heartfelt way to connect with each other.  She lives in the Minneapolis area.  Visit

Check 0ut Marianne Richmond’s great Mother’s Day craft ideas here.

Giveaway Details

**Open to the US and Canada only**
**To enter, simply leave a comment (your email will be filled in w/the comment form)**
**Must be at least 13 to enter**
**Giveaway ends Saturday, May 18th, 2013**
**Winner will be contacted via email**
**Only one entry per person**


Book Trailer Thursday (98)–Picture Books

Since getting my Reading Specialist degree, I’ve developed a new fondness for picture books.  Since I work with high school students it makes sense for me to focus on YA, but I like to find ways to use picture books in my classroom.  Thanks to Pinterest I found some picture book trailers to share today 🙂  I’m sure my students will like these book trailers since they enjoy reading picture books when I bring them to class.

Creepy Carrots!Creepy Carrots! Summary (From Goodreads): The Twilight Zone comes to the carrot patch in this clever picture book parable about a rabbit who fears his favorite treats are out to get him. Jasper Rabbit loves carrots—especially Crackenhopper Field carrots.

He eats them on the way to school.

He eats them going to Little League.

He eats them walking home.

Until the day the carrots start following him…or are they?

Celebrated artist Peter Brown’s stylish illustrations pair perfectly with Aaron Reynold’s text in this hilarious eBook with audio that shows it’s all fun and games…until you get too greedy.

The Creepy Carrots Zone from Peter Brown on Vimeo.

This is Not My HatThis is Not My Hat Summary (From Goodreads): When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened…
Visual humor swims to the fore as the best-selling Jon Klassen follows his breakout debut with another deadpan-funny tale.

Boy + BotBoy + Bot Summary (From Goodreads): One day, a boy and a robot meet in the woods. They play. They have fun.

But when Bot gets switched off, Boy thinks he’s sick. The usual remedies—applesauce, reading a story—don’t help, so Boy tucks the sick Bot in, then falls asleep.

Bot is worried when he powers on and finds his friend powered off. He takes Boy home with him and tries all his remedies: oil, reading an instruction manual. Nothing revives the malfunctioning Boy! Can the Inventor help fix him?

Using the perfect blend of sweetness and humor, this story of an adorable duo will win the hearts of the very youngest readers.

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