All posts by Margriet Ruurs

GLOBAL BOOK REVIEWS

Picture Books About Science

Here are some fabulous new, and not so new, titles to use as tools in the classroom with students while studying science. 

When Elephants Listen With Their Feet by Emmanuelle Grundmann is a brand new title that looks at animals’ senses. A 40 page picture book, it has attractive art and lots of text boxes to encourage curious, budding biologists. From fish that pass gas to communicate to the taste buds of pigs and everything in between, this book is full of fascinating facts about senses. ISBN 978-1-77278-123-6

It’s About Time, Pascale Estellon.From one second to one century, this book teaches young children about time. Combining information with activities, it touches on clocks, how to tell time, on calendars and seasons. 

ISBN 978-1-77147-006-3

Putting a whole different slant on telling time is the new release Once Upon An Hour byAnn Yu-Kyung Choi and Soyeon Kim. This bedtime picture book is based on the tradtional Korean practise of timekeeping with the 12 animals of the zodiac assigned to a section each of the 24 hour clock. 

ISBN 978-4598-2127-9

50 Climate Questions, Peter Christie, with fun art by Ross Kinnaird, poses an, often funny, question on each page with the answer chockful of information from ice ages to today, including temperatures, weather, greenhouse gasses and global warming. Besides questions, the book also has answers on how we can change our ways.

ISBN 978-1-55451-374-1

In a similar vein, but for older readers, Paul Fleischmann looks – in his book Eyes Wide Open – at the politics and psychology behind environmental headlines. Besides opening eyes to issues such as reducing carbon emissions, the book brings awareness of differences in media coverage of the issues. Great for (highschool) classroom discussions.

ISBN 978-0-7636-7545-5

Design Like Nature, Kim Woolcock and Megan Clendenan is another brand new, fabulous title in the important Orca Footprints series. Its subtitle is ‘Biomimicry for a Healthy Planet’. This book explains that humans design buildings and cities that change the environment. But what if we designed like nature, learning to design stronger, better, brighter and more sustainable by using nature’s examples? From solar power to natural dyes, from bullet trains to medicine this book looks at reducing our footprint and making the impossible, possible by learning from nature.

ISBN 978-1-4598-2464-5

For budding marine scientists, the book Orcas Everywhere by Mark Leiren-Young is a valuable resource. Exploring the ‘Mystery and History of Killer Whales’ this book has great photos and facts on all aspects of orcas: a look at aquariums, hunting skills, communication as well as what we can do to protect these valuable mammals of the sea.

ISBN 978-1-4598-1998-6

GLOBAL BOOK REVIEWS

Making Math Fun with Picture Books

Picture Books are more than entertainment. They can be great tools to teach concepts such as math. This works for children of all ages and also for second language learners. Here are some of my favourite math picture books:

A fun counting book for the very youngest readers, is Going for a Sea Bath by Andrée Poulin, illustrated by Anne-Marie Delisle. Leanne’s father has a great idea. He brings more and more sea creatures for her bath. Until the tub is overflowing. Then Leanne is the one with the best idea. ISBN 978-1-927485-92-7

Growing Patterns, Fibonacci Numbers in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell is a beautiful nonfiction picture book with photos that will fascinate young readers of all ages. From pineapples to pinecones, from snails to shells – this is a close look at numbers in nature. ISBN 978-1590787526

Mysterious Patterns, Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell is an equally interesting picture book with photos. It looks at spheres, cones, cylinders – manmade and in nature and finds patterns from tree branches to broccoli. ISBN 978-1-62091-627-8

Fibonacci’s Cows by Ray Galvin is a fun short, chapter book. Ryan has to do his homework assignment before he can play soccer. But he needs to research Fibonacci cows and doesn’t know where to start. With a little bit of help from Leonardo, Ryan discovers amazing patterns in flowers and animals and ends up with a great classroom presentation. ISBN 978-0769913568

Fractions, Decimals and Percents, David A. Adler, takes young readers to the County Fair. Each booth offers tickets, cotton candy, or games that deal with decimals, percentages and more. ISBN 978-0823423545

Perimeter, Area and Volume by David A. Adler is a ‘monster book of dimensions’. The monsters are making a movie and need to know all about area, radius and other measurements. ISBN 978-0823427635

Equal Shmequal by Virginia Kroll is a fun picturebook about how to decide is both sides of a game of tug-of-war are equal. Is bear stronger than mouse? How should the animals make teams of equal strength?ISBN 978-1570918926

Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi, Cindy Neuschwander. Radius has a problem. He has given his father the wrong potion and turned him into a dragon. How can he solve the circle’s riddle and save his father from dragon slayers? ISBN 1-57091-164-9

How Much Is A Million? asks David M. Schwartz in this picture book illustrated by Steven Kellogg. How high a stack would a million kids form? How long will it take to count from one to a million? This is a fun text to read out loud and keep the attention of kids fascinated by ‘a million’. ISBN 978-0-688-04050-5

As with all books, it is always best to support a local bookstore. If you order online, check out: www.betterworldbooks.com There is no shipping fee to most countries.

Global Book Reviews

Using Poetry in the Classroom

What thousands of teachers have been trying for many years, was recently accomplished by one young poet: Amanda Gorman reawakened the world to the power of poetry. 

Teaching reading, writing and use of poetry in the classroom can be a powerful tool to help students of all ages realize their own voice, their own stories. It seems almost an oxymoron to find poetry on the NFL website, but this is the text to Amanda Gorman’s poem recited at the Super Bowl: https://www.si.com/nfl/2021/02/07/amanda-gorman-super-bowl-lv-poem-video

You can read the text of the inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, here:  https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/20/politics/amanda-gorman-inaugural-poem-transcript/index.html. Using this text, you can invite students to describe their own, personal hill. 

Canadian poet Shane Koyczan also has incredibly powerful texts. You can find some of his poems here: https://www.shanekoyczan.com. My favourite is ‘My Voice’. These are all to use with older highschool students but listen to the texts first to use your own judgement on suitability for your classroom. You can use these poets to demonstrate how they bring their own experiences to their writing, then invite students to try the same by looking at their own lives. Does their poetry rhyme? Free verse is a great way to write poetry that does not use rhyme but focus on the words themselves, using rhythm and sometimes alliteration.

Kindergarten poetry can be as simple as enjoying the rhythm of words with books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault. ISBN 0-590-43889-1 Your students can chant, dance, shout out loud and clap to this book.

A lovely new board book to share with the youngest children is My Heart Beats by Rina Singh, ISBN 978-145-98256-80. This read aloud text uses rhymth and words in my languages to describe a beating heart. A good Valentine read for preschool and early childhood ed classes.

Great in a global classroom is We All Went On Safari, A Counting Journey through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns. ISBN 1-84148-119-X You can read, chant out loud, even dance to this book. And then invite students to come up with their own sights in their own neighborhood of things to spot and count. This book includes numbers in Swahili. You can add numbers in any language that your students might speak.

Edward The Emu by Sheena Knowles is one of my all-time favourite examples of telling a rhyming story. Fun to read with all ages and again to use it as a springboard for your own classroom writing about favourite animals. ISBN 978-0-06-443499-7

Crossing over from primary to intermediate students, use wonderful poetry books by Jack Prelutsky such as A Pizza The Size of the Sun, or It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles, Something Big Has Been Here and of course There’s No Place Like School, Classroom Poems. One of my favourite Dr. Seuss’ books was finished, after his death, by Jack Prelutsky: Hooray for Diffendoofer Day, a hilarious poem about a principal who is worried about the students passing their test. As he worries, the school librarian tells the students:

“We’ve taught you that the earth is round,

That red and white make pink,

And something else that matters more,

We’ve taught you how to think.”

Here is a band new boardbook: The Sun Is A Shine by Leslie A. Davidson. ISBN 978-145982-6267. This rhyming story shows natural elements around the world, seasons, animals, diversity. It also includes the words for ‘thank you’ in Ojibwe, French, Arabic and many other languages.

For teaching the writing poetry, here are some of my favourite titles:

Fly With Poetry and Leap Into Poetry by Avis Harley, ISBN 1-56397-798-2. Both of these books use incredible techniques that show the joy of playing with language.

I Did It Because…, How A Poem Happens by Loris Lesynski. ISBN 978-1-55451-017-7

Pass The Poetry Please by Lee Bennett Hopkins ISBN 0-06446199-8

Poems Please! Sharing Poetry With Children by David Booth and Bill Moose, ISBN 0-921217-22-6

And finally, my own book entitled The Power of Poems, The Joy of Teaching Poetry, ISBN 978-1-934338-89-6, Maupin House

Have fun using poetry to reinforce the joy of playing with language.

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author who conducts live and ZOOM author visits to schools around the world.

GLOBAL BOOK Reviews

Eric Walters is the author of over 100 books. His work includes picture books, early read novels and novels for teens and young adults. Many of these books are ‘everybody’ books and are often realistic fiction based on true stories. He was instrumental in building an orphanage in Kenya, which I was able to visit once. Many of his books reflect the true adventures of some 80 children who live here and are now able to attend school. Here are some of his titles that should be in all international classrooms:

My Name Is Blessing, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (ISBN 978-1-77049-301-8) This is a beautifully told tale, based on a true story, which takes the reader to the home of a wise, Kenyan grandmother who cares for many children as best as she can. The last pages of the book offer nonfiction information about the real boy whose name was changed to Blessing and whose future was changed by an orphanage. 

Hope Springs, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (ISBN-13 : 978-1770495302)This story shows the struggle, in Africa, to get water. The children at the orphanage have to walk daily to the public well to collect and carry back jugs of water. They stand in long line-ups but, one day, are no longer welcome. Is it fear that there will not be enough for the community if they let the orphans use their well? When the building of the orphanage’s own well is completed, Boniface has an idea to help the villagers. A lovely story of kindness, it shows that, through compassion and understanding, true generosity can spring from unexpected places. This book is perfect if your school takes part in an annual Walk For Water project.

Light A Candle, co-authored with Godfrey Nkongolo and illustrated by Eva Campbell (ISBN 978-1-4598-1700-5) is the story of the birth of the nation of Tanzania. It was the wish of President Nyerere to light a flame atop Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa, to show the world hope for the future. Eric Walters climbed Kilimanjaro. The book is published in English and Swahili and gives background information in addition to a touching story of a young Chagga boy.

The Wild Beast, illustrated by Sue Todd (ISBN 978-1-4598-1589-6) reads like a myth, a legend, an old folktale. Africa’s wildebeest looks like it was created from spare parts. Eric Walters ran with this idea. Beautifully told, in words and vibrant images, this is the story of how the creator made sky and earth, then birds, fishes and mammals. Heeding her own message not to waste anything, she then creates the wildebeest. A delightful tale when studying myths and legends. Also look for The Matatu: based on folk tales, it tells a humorous story of the famous African busses full of people and animals.

Today Is The Day, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (ISBN 978-1-77049-648-4). Until reading this picture book, I had not realized that an orphan may not know his birth date. And if you don’t have one, you can’t apply for a passport or other important papers. Today Is The Day is based on the true experience Walters had when he gave the children a birth date as well as a gigantic party! A great book as basis for classroom discussions.

Hockey Night in Kenya, co-authored with Danson Mutinda (ISBN 978-1459823617) is a brand new release – a chapter book for beginning readers. It tells the story of orphans in Kenya who learn about a thing called ice hockey. They have never seen ice but read a Canadian magazine with pictures of a hockey team. Through hard work, kind friends and good luck, dreams can come true and even an orphan can end up having roller blades and a hockey stick.

Just Deserts by Eric Walters (ISBN 978-0143179351). A middle grade-and-up novel that will appeal especially to boys, Just Deserts is the story of a spoiled, wealthy boy who gets expelled from boarding school. In typical Eric Walters fashion, this page turner is full of adventure and suspense, when Ethan is dropped in the middle of the Sahara and left to his own devices. 

Walking Home (978-0385681575), this novel made me cry at the end! It is a touching, interesting, heart warming and well written story. This is the story of a brother and sister, orphaned in a troubled, violent time in Kenya. They decide to walk to the region where their mother grew up, in hopes of finding relatives who will take them in. Rather than be separated by government officials who will place them in different homes, they walk over 200 KM, through Nairobi, through villages and deserted stretches. Not only did the author make this trek himself, he also built an orphanage and supports it financially with the help of many schools in Canada. The story takes the reader right along on this amazing walk, introduces us to Kenyan customs and beliefs and shows the landscape and fabric of African life. it is backed up by a website full of resources including videos and ways to connect: https://ericwalterswalkinghome.com/

And finally,  From The Heart of Africa  (ISBN 978-1-77049-719-1). “It takes a village to raise a child” is likely one of the best known wisdoms from Africa. The author collected many sayings that traditionally share wisdom passed from one generation to the next. Beautifully illustrated these aphorisms form a book for both children and adults and will make great discussion points for any classroom.

Check out: http://www.ericwalters.net/

For information on the orphanage, click here: https://creationofhope.com/

GLOBAL BOOK REVIEWS

Discovering a ‘new’ favourite author can be a great classroom tool. Their books can be part of a series or they can be very different from each other. Today I’d like you to meet Wendy Orr. Born in Canada, she lives in Australia and writes award winning books.

Nim’s Island is a heartwarming tale of a spunky girl living (almost) alone on a deserted Pacific Island. Reminiscent of Pippi Longstocking, Nim is self sufficient and, together with her closest friends – a sea lion and an iguana –  saves the day when her scientist father is lost at sea. This book can be followed up by watching the movie starring Jodie Foster as Alex Rover, the adventure author who joins to help Nim.

ISBN 978-0385736060

There are two more titles in the series: Rescue at Sea – which deals with animals in captivity and a mad professor who trains them and wants to use them for research. Nim travels on a cruise ship as stow-away and makes new friends in the process. ASIN : B00166YC9C

In Rescue on Nim’s Island, she discovers a rare fossil and has to defend her island from exploitation. All three books make for good elementary classroom readings and discussions. ASIN : B00YVBQXFU


Very different from Nim’s Island, is Wendy Orr’s Bronze Age series. Dragonfly Song was inspired by a drawing, a found flint, and Wendy’s interest in archeology. This fantasy novel is aimed at upper middle grade readers. As I read the suspense full tale of Aissa whom the villagers see as cursed, and who is mute, I kept thinking that this is a bit like the Hunger Games for slightly younger readers. It’s a real page turner and won a long list of awards.

Swallow’s Dance takes us to Greek Islands and an era where people paid tribute to the Goddess as directed by the Oracle. Any reader interested in myths, legends and ancient history will be enthralled by this series – each book of which can be read independently.

The newest title, being released in March, is Cuckoo’s Flight – a coming-of-age story in which Clio battles the political power of the palace and her own feelings of inadequacy to save her town, her horses, and perhaps even herself. All three novels in this series are skillfully written in a blend of prose and free verse.

Panama Press ASIN : B08KYNQGJJ

GLOBAL BOOK REVIEWS

Not all people are the same. Recognizing yourself in a story can be a powerful experience. The right book can be a tool to reach out and help a child. Here are some books that show how people can experience different feelings, emotions and conditions.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is a beautifully written picture book that introduces very young readers to the concept of Alzheimers and memory loss. This story is so skillfully told that it will appeal to readers of all ages. Wilfrid Gordon lives next to a seniors’ home and knows all of the residents. Through sparse language we learn, as does he, what it means to lose memories. Wilfrid Gordon collects objects, each one of which helps his friend to remember special things in life. Highly recommended for classroom discussions. ISBN 978-0916291266

Duck Days by Sara Leach is a novel for ages 7 – 11. Third grade student Lauren has Autism Spectrum Disorder and experiences some things a bit different from her friends. Lauren has learned how to handle her own reactions and copes just fine. In this story her friend challenge her to ride a bike without training wheels. When her class has a bike workshop, Lauren is not happy but eventually overcomes her fears and triumphs. This book is part of a well written series for young kids on Autism and Asperger’s.  ISBN 978-1772781489, Pajama Press

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper is written in the first person, which is a brave and bold move by this award winning author. Because Melody, the main character, has cerebral palsy. She cannot speak, her limbs move involuntarily, she drools and makes funny sounds. What no one realizes is that Melody’s brain works perfectly. She remembers facts, she gets match, she can spell like the best of them but she cannot let anyone know. Imagine the words and thoughts all stuck inside your brain and no way to let them out… Thanks to Draper’s skillful writing, we are inside Melody’s head and feel her frustration. This book is a must-read for all booklovers, but a special eye opener for all those (educators) who work with children who have physical challenges. ISBN 141697170X (ISBN13: 9781416971702)

Other highly recommended titles include:

Petey by Ben Mikaelsen (cerebral palsy); Wonder by R.J. Palacio (disfigurement); A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass (synaesthesia); Rules by Cynthia Lord (autism)

Margriet Ruurs writes books for children and speaks at schools around the world.

GLOBAL BOOK REVIEWS

 If you work at an international school, chances are that you like to travel. If you like to read and travel, here are some of my favourite books to curl up with over the holidays.

 Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart, ISBN 978-0375709159

The author and his wife lived in England when, many years ago, they bought land in Spain. He now has three books about the trials and tribulations of (sheep) farming on the Andalusian slopes. The books are fun and make you feel like you are right there with him.

Married to Bhutan by Linda Leaming is a fascinating account of daily life in an unusual country. She takes you along inside the homes and on walks around the country and culture into which she married. This book made me want to visit Bhutan some time, where the gross national product is measured as happiness.

Pole To Pole by Michael Palin (ISBN 978-0753823262) is one of my favourite travel books because it covers little bits of many different countries and cultures. He sets out to travel from the very North Pole to the South Pole along the 30º line of longitude which travers the most land mass on the planet. Using mostly public transit, he takes the reader along, sharing his trip but also bits of culture, history, politics and customs.

 A few years ago I did author visits to international schools in Turkey. I wished I had read this book then: Full Moon Over Noah’s Ark by Rick Antonson (ISBN 978-1510705654)

Not only is this a great read about the author’s trek up Mount Ararat in (what is currently) Turkey, it is also a good story of ancient and biblical times, of rifts between nations, of interested cultures, beliefs and people. 

And one more fascinating nonfiction book – even if it is not exactly a travel destination: The Girl With Seven Names, Escape From North Korea by Hyeonseo Lee is an unusual story from North Korea. It shows life with all of its ups and downs in North Korea. I found it well written and an intriguing story from a relatively unknown part of the world. ISBN 978-0-00-755485-0

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! HAPPY READING!

GLOBAL BOOK REVIEWS

In this column I review books with special appeal to people around the world. Today I’ll share with you books about kindness and honesty – one is a classic, others are brand-new titles. Don’t forget to share picture books with older students, too!

The Empty Pot by Demi is a beautifullly illustrated picture book for readers of all ages. Each image is in the round shape of a pot. The Emperor of China loves plants and flowers so much that he decides that whoever can grow the most beautiful flowers, will become his successor. All the children in the land receive seeds. They plant, they tend and they nurture. I won’t give away the ending, but Ping’s seeds need all of his care. It takes courage to confess to the Emperor what happens in the end. But Ping’s honesty is well rewarded.

ISBN 0-8050-4900-2

Charlie pushes a cart around the neighborhood and finds things. He fixes things. He makes a bird bath from an old tire. But Charlie cannot find out whose pie he found. Eventually the whole neighborhood benefits from Charlie’s find and he helps people in the process.

Nice Try, Charlie by Matt James features interesting art, a blend of painting and photos.

ISBN 978-1-77306-180-1

A World of Mindfulness, Erin Allidin and Suzanne del Rizzo, is a compilation of text and art by the creators at Pajama Press. A meditative text, accompanied by beautiful images demonstrates the importance for children on being quiet and reflective some times. It shows how listening to birds can help quiet the snow storm in your head and help you to let go of anger. This picture book can help to lead children to practice yoga, meditation and general peace of mind. ISBN 978-1-77278-138-0

This book is a companion to the first title published by creators at Pajama Press: A World of Kindness, Anne Featherstone and Suzanne del Rizzo. ISBN 978-1772780505

Global book reviews

In today’s column I would like to share with you books of wintery tales and seasonal information. These books can all spark discussions about seasons and traditions as well as lead to classroom crafts and activities.

Snow Days by Deborah Kerbel is illustrated in collage by Miki Sato. This is a wonderful picture book to share with young children about the magic of snow. If they have never seen snow, they will want to after hearing about snow angels and snow men. The attractive art is featured on thick, shiny pages (‘toddler tough’ the publisher calls them) making this a good book for kids to explore and try to make their own paper snowflakes.

Pajama Press, ISBN 978-1-77278-135-9


What if you came from a warm country and had never experienced snow? Two Drops of Brown in a Cloud of White by Saumiya Balasubramaniam, illustrated by Eva Campbell tells the story of a young girl’s very first walk in snow with her mom. This picture book casts a new light on snow clouds, on snow falling and covering everything, making sidewalks slippery and trees pretty. What is better, snow or sun?

Groundwood Books, ISBN 978-1-77306-258-7

Raven, Rabbit, Deer by Sue Farrell Holler is a brand new release. This picture book is a walk in the snowy woods of a boy and his grandfather. Together they make tracks and grandfather teaches the boy which animals make which tracks as well as the Ojibwemowin names of the animals.

Panama Press, ISBN 978-1-77278-136-6


I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree by Jean E. Pendziwol, illustrated by Nathalie Dion is a lovely story of winter – when shadows disappear but snowflakes dance and the wind tells stories. It is a poetic picture book to share with young readers and discuss miracles of nature, like how do cherry trees know that their buds will blossom when spring returns.

Groundwood Books, ISBN 978-1-77306-2204


The Three Brothers by Marie-Louise Gay is the story of Finn, Leo and little Ooley. They like to tell stories about exploring and about wild animals. But a real adventure is even better so they set off, on a very snowy day, to explore the woods. They don’t spot many animals and worry about climate change. But they do end up building their own snow animals – even better than building a snow man!

Groundwood Books, ISBN 978-1-77306-377-5


One of my favourite Christmas stories ever is Linda Bailey’s When Santa Was A Baby. Have you ever wondered what Santa was like when he was little? ‘He had a little nose, like a cherry!’ And his voice? Not a baby’s soft gurgle but, even in his cradle, he made booming ‘Ho, ho, ho!’ noises.

This book is fabulously funny and a great one to share with kids of all ages. It can even inspire students to write their own hilarious childhood stories of other fictional characters.

Tundra Books, ISBN 978-1770495562

And finally I want to bring this great resource to your attention: Christmas, From Solstice to Santa by Nikki Tate and Dani Tate-Stratton is an 80 page nonfiction book explaining history and traditions of Christmas around the world. From Egyptian Solstice information to traditions from Guyana, the book has lots of personal stories of food, decorations, beliefs and customs. A great resource for any (international) school library.

Orca Book Publishers, ISBN 978-1-4598-1355-7

Margriet Ruurs is the Canadian author of over 40 books for children, including Stepping Stones, A Refugee Family’s Journey. She conducts (ZOOM) author presentations in schools around the world.


Global book Reviews

Books truly are ‘windows to the world’. Picture books can be a powerful tool to show kids that they are not the only ones dealing with a problem or coping with feelings. 

A Quiet Girl by Peter Carnavas is the story of Mary who comes from a loud family. With hairdryers and lawn mowers going, no one can hear little Mary who speaks in a whisper. But Mary is the one who hears the birds and talks to the flowers. Even when Mary seems to have disappeared, her family gets louder and louder. Until they finally fall quiet and can hear Mary’s song and learn to notice what she was trying to tell them all along. 

The Australian author of this brand new picture book worked as a classroom teacher and knows which stories can inspire.

Pajama Press, ISBN 978-1-77278-122-9

Noisy Poems for a Busy Day by Robert Heidbreder is a picture book of poems to use in Kindergarten. Full of onomatopoeia, kids can whisper, shout, sing and dance long with these fun poems. From animals to clouds, from swinging to burping there’s a poem that begs to be memorized and chanted out loud.

Kids Can Press, ISBN 978-1-55453-706-8

This picture book is a trusted classic by now. It’s a story about honesty and one of my favorite picture books ever because it shows the importance of being honest in very few words: The Empty Pot by Demi.

This quiet story is a wise lesson as well as a tale that brings tears to the eyes. The next Emperor will be chosen from among the children whose challenge it is to grow seeds. Ping is rewarded for his honesty and hard work.

The gorgeous illustrations show traditional Chinese architecture and landscapes. A great picture book to use as an example when writing legends with studentsof any age.

Henry Holt and Co., ISBN-10: 0805082271

The Greats by Deborah Ellis blends magical realism with a somber subject matter: it deals with the hardships of mental health issues, incarceration, and devastating loss. Jomon, a Guyanese fifteen-year old is visited by the ghosts of his grandfathers, who open his eyes to their stories and his family history, providing a way to deal with a childhood marked by abuse and hopelessness. Meanwhile, a prehistoric sloth in a museum awakens nearby, fascinated by her earthly surroundings. The Greats explores life and death through braided narratives threaded through with a message of hope. This short novel has a simple and poetic tone that creates an almost otherworldly feel that will appeal to teens and adults alike. 

Groundwood Books, 978-1773063874 (This teen novel was reviewed by 14 year old Matilda Colvin)

Margriet Ruurs is the Canadian author of many books for children, including A Brush Full of Colour, The World of Ted Harrison. She conducts (virtual) author visits to schools around the world.