Tag Archives: picturebooks

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Nonfiction and Fiction: here are great new books for middle school readers. Both novels and information books are full of interesting stories and are all page turners!

The Late, Great Endlings: Stories of the Last Survivors

The Late, Great Endlings, Stories of the Last Survivors by Deborah Kerbel with art by Aimée van Drimmelen is an unusual nonfiction picturebook. Written in rhyme but complemented by information each animal featured in this book was the last survivor of a now-extinct species. From Lonesome George the last Pinta Island tortoise to Turgi the last Polynesian tree snail. And while a book about extinct animals is sad, it also offers information on how kids can make a difference. 978-1-4598-2766-0, Orca Book Publishers

How to Become an Accidental Entrepreneur

How to Become an Accidental Entrepreneur by Elizabeth Macleod and Frieda Wishinsky is a fun book full of interesting facts and information that enterprising kids will love. How do you start a business? Can you make a living by doing what you’re good at? How did Steven Spielberg become one of the world’s most renowned movie makers? How did Tom & Jerry’s idea to sell ice cream turn into a thriving business?  And did you know that the super soaker water gun was invented by a NASA engineer? From environmental issues to medicine and technology, many of the best entrepreneurs in their field share their stories, experiences and advise with young readers in this book.  ISBN 978-1-4598-2833-9, Orca Book Publishers

Superpower?: The Wearable-Tech Revolution

Superpower? The Wearable-Tech Revolution by Elaine Kachala takes a close look at artificial intelligence and wearable technology. Half a billion smart watches have been sold so far. By putting on devices we can test, and assist, brain power and even change our physical abilities. VR goggles add fun to video games. But how safe or invasive are these gadgets? Some can change lives – Jordan has only half an arm and uses a 3D-printed prosthetic arm. But should we have micro chips implanted? Is all technology safe and how should we use it? This nonfiction book is full of information that tech savvy kids will love to explore. ISBN 978-1-4598-2827-8, Orca Book Publishers

The Soggy, Foggy Campout #8 (Here's Hank)

Here’s Hank – The Soggy, Foggy Campout by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver is an early-read novel with a twist. Not only is it a fun chapter book about getting inspired by nature to write poems, it is also a book set in dyslexie font. I had never heard of this but this particular font apparently helps kids with dyslexia to read the letters and not mix up the order. It’s an interesting concept with details about the font here: www.dyslexiefont.com ISBN 978-0-448-48660-4, Grosset & Dunlap

Careful What You Wish For

Careful What You Wish For by Mahtab Narsimhan, is a page turner for middle grade. The story perfectly illustrates the dangers of entering unknown online sites and befriending strangers. Eshana’s world changes when she goes in search of friends, only to realize she already had important friends around her. Besides being a good read, this hi-lo read is a good reminder to be aware of cyber safety.  ISBN 978-1459834002, Orca Books

Murder at the Hotel Hopeless

Murder At The Hotel Hopeless by John Lekich is another title in the Orca Soundings series: short novels with high-interest topics of 12 years and up. Using humour, wit and intrigue, Lekich spins a tale that involves a cursed diamond, an unlikely detective, even a hearse ready at the crime scene. ISBN 978-1-4598-3349-4, Orca Books

Weird Rules to Follow

Weird Rules to Follow by Kim Spencer is a fascinating read. This middle grade novel has a fictional main character. However, the short chapters – or vignettes as the author calls them – are a memoir of growing up in a northern Canadian community as a First Nations girl. Going to (a mostly white) elementary school with her best friend, the author touches on many details from the 1980’s. The story is a rare glimpse not only into a First Nations home but also an intimate look at a (pre) teenage girl regardless of race. Well written and interesting to readers of all ages, not just kids. ISBN 978-1-4598-3558-0, Orca Books

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian writer of 40 books who conducts author workshops at International Schools around the world. www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

A brand new picture book is always a joy to discover. Share these titles out loud with your class or use them to encourage readers to discover new favourites about interesting topics.

Sun in My Tummy, Laura Alary, illustrated by Andrea Blinick. This is a picture book that looks at the magic of an ordinary breakfast. Did you know that the sun made the seeds grow that become your oatmeal? That blueberries grew because of sunlight, which turned them into sweet berries? Follow the magic of sunshine through familiar food to marvel at a miracle we take for granted.  ISBN 978-1-77278-241-7, Pajama Press

The Sinking of Captain Otter by Troy Wilson, illustrated by Maira Chiodi is picture book about many things. It’s a story of an otter who wants to be captain of his own ship. But it’s also the story of persistence, of believing in yourself, a story about bullying and about making friends. Most of all it’s a lovely story to share in the classroom and to discuss all of these different layers. ISBN 978-1-77147-311-8, Owl Kids Books

Cocoa Magic by Sandra Bradley, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard, is an old fashioned story of kindness and empathy. Daniel loves learning how to pour chocolate in his great-uncle’s chocolate shop. When a new girl comes to his class, in the old brick school building, he can see that she needs some cheering up. So the next morning he hides a beautiful chocolate in her desk. And, like magic, it makes her smiles. But more children need a special treat or encouragement so soon Daniel is hiding chocolates throughout the class. When it is Daniel’s turn to need some special care, he is surprised to find his kindness returned by many friends. A story about doing little things for others to build empathy and compassion, with the most delicious looking end pages I’ve ever seen! ISBN 978-1-77276-264-6, Pajama Press

Why Humans Build Up, The Rise of Towers, Temples and Skyscrapers. This book is written by Gregor Craigie and illustrated by Kathleen Fu, and it starts with a question most kids ask: ‘Why?’ Why did people start building higher and higher? The answers are interesting and sometimes surprising. Starting with the Tower of Babylon and going throughout history to the Burj Khalifa, the book takes a look at many diverse towers and highrises, including totem poles, temples and commercial buildings. Budding architects and any kid fascinated by towers, will enjoy the details. ISBN 978-1-4598-2188-0, Orca Books

Night Runners by Geraldo Valério is a surprising book. At first glance this wordless picture book looks like a Christmas story with its sparkly stars on the cover, and a leaping reindeer. Then it seems like a scary story when the rushing reindeer stumbles in the dark woods and is surrounded by wolves. But then the images surprise again by showing how kind and caring those scary wolves are! Once they have brought food and water to the injured reindeer, they all continue their pursuit of the sparkling star cicle in the sky and find more friends. Together they sing and dance and celebrate. Worldless picture books can lead to many oral stories and boost imagination. This one will do so on many different levels. ISBN 978-1-77306-569-4, Groundwood Books

Margriet Ruurs is the Canadian author of 40 books for children. Her newest title is Where We Live, a nonfiction map book about children in their own unique neighborhoods around the globe.

www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Books are always better when they are shared. Whether it’s a parent reading a bedtime story like While You Sleep; a librarian laughing with the students about The Library Dragon or a classroom teacher reading The Coconut Crab aloud:

Dinos Driving

Dinos Driving, written by Lynn Leitch with illustrations by Scot Ritchie, is a wild ride that will be especially exciting for little ones who like dinosaurs ánd cars. Each dino drives a special car – Iguanodon drives an electric one while diplodocus drives a bus. A fun book to share out loud. ISBN 978-1-77278-269-1, Pajama Press

While You Sleep

While You Sleep is a gentle bedtime story by Jennifer Maruno with glorious art by Miki Sato. Collage of fabrics, weavings, cotton balls, colourful paper and more create gorgeous images of a child being tucked in bed for the night while the world is being dusted and swept for a new day. Who gets to polish the sun and recharge rainbows? A reassuring story for little ones. ISBN 978-1-77278-267-7, Pajama Press

Return of the Library Dragon

I love Carmen Agra Deedy’s books, especially 14 Cows For America, a beautiful story about 9/11. Return of The Library Dragon, illustrated by Michael P. White, is a funny, perfect story for librarians and book-loving teachers to share. Fiery librarian Lotty Scales has earned her retirement after 557 years in the school. But when Mike Krochip shows up to replace all books with computers, she could just breathe fire. Aided by the students and a new, young librarian they fight to preserve books.  ISBN 978-1-56145-621-5, Peachtree

A Dragon Used to Live Here

And, speaking of dragons, A Dragon Used To Live Here by Annette LeBlanc Cate is a chapter book that can be read to elementary classes or enjoyed by young readers themselves. Thomas and Emily like to explore the castle grounds around their home. They thought they knew every inch until they come across Meg, a cranky scribe, who claims a dragon used to live in the castle. Adventures follow in which they, like they should in a good story, make discoveries and get into trouble. ISBN 978-1-5362-0451-3, Candlewick

The Coconut Crab

The Coconut Crab by Peter W. Fong is a 200 page middle grade novel, a fun and beautiful read. While the facts about the main characters – a coconut crab, a goat, a bird and a gecko – are based on nonfiction, the story is a well written fictional tale reminiscent of folk tales. Based on a tropical island, Coconut Crab faces dangers and makes new friends and learns about the natural world while exploring the world of man. The voice that tell this story, with faint echoes of The Life of Pi, is beautiful and made me see vivid images while, similar to those of Happy Feet in which quirky animals banter with each other. A fascinating read that may be labeled for kids but can be equally entertaining for adults who love a good tale. ISBN 978-1-9505845-7-4, Green Writers Press

Margriet Ruurs is the author of over 40 books for children. Her newest title is Where We Live, in which real children share stories about their unique neighborhoods around the globe.

www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

It’s always exciting to read newly released books. We’re comfortable with classics and stories we know well. But discovering a brand new title can be like meeting a new friend. Here are some recently released books for all ages that just might become old friends.

Rainy Days by Deborah Kerbel, illustrated by Miki Sato is a rhyming, rhythmic romp through puddles. Fun to chant out loud, for a movement activity and for a look at how the world changes with rain. With cheerful, colourful art this board book follows Windy and Snowy Days in a series for the very youngest readers. ISBN 978-1-77278-246-2, Pajama Press

Iceberg, A Life in Seasons is a beautiful picture book, poetically written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Jess Racklyeft, both from Australia. The book follows one iceberg, calved from a glacier, in Antarctica. This continent may seem empty and devoid of life but the book urges us to look closer. Penguins, krill, birds, seals and many other creatures live here. Through the southern summer, we follow the iceberg and learn more about Antarctica’s unique environment. ISBN 978-1-77306-585-4, Groundwood Books

Ballewiena by Rebecca Bender is a funny picture book to share with those kids who can’t sit still and who want others to discover their hidden talents! Dotty (a wiener dog) just doesn’t believe in sit, stay and roll over. Her specialities are a pas de chat and a pirouette. She gets special help from a friend in the park to help her prepare for a performance at the Golden Bow Talent Show! ISBN 978-1-77278-137-3, Pajama Press

Another, yet very different, picture book about ballet is John’s Turn by Mac Barnett, with lovely illustrations by Kate Berube, the school assembles once a week to share news and showcase students’ talents. Everyone knows it’s John’s turn and they understand he is nervous. But soon he changes into his outfit and special shoes. Once the curtain lifts and the music starts, John shows what he is good at. At first the kids giggle or fidget but soon the entire audience is captivated by John’s performance and he gets a well deserved applause. A lovely story to share and to encourage children to be brave enough to showcase their own talents, no matter what they entail. ISBN 978-1536-20-3950, Penguin Random House

And finally a novel for young readers. Mortimer: Rat Race to Space by Joan Marie Galat will appeal to kids who like reading chapter books ánd who enjoy space exploration. Based on the science of astronauts and space travel, this story is perfect for kids who loved The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney. Mortimer is a lab rat and selected to travel on the next shuttle. He is bound and determined to prove that rats are more suited to space travel, and colonization of planets, than humans are. With the help of his new friend Boris, a Russian cosmo-rat, Mortimer proves to be a useful addition to the crew. With realistic descriptions of how astronauts eat, work and operate in space, this is both a fun and an informative story, especially for those following the current Artemis launch. ISBN 978-1-77086-653-9, Cormorant Books

Margriet Ruurs is the Canadian author of over 40 books for children including My Librarian is a Camel, How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World. Margriet is currently accepting bookings for author visits to international schools.

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Books to welcome a new school year

Here is a selection of my favourite books about school. Hook students with humour and fascinating information about schools around the world. Some of these titles are brand new, others have proven books that they remain interesting, no matter how often you read them.

This Is A School by John Schu and Veronica Miller Jamison shows that a school isn’t just a building; it is the people who work and learn together. It is a place for discovery and asking questions, for sharing, helping, and a place for community. A school can be a place of hope and healing, even when that community can’t be together in the same room at the same time.  ISBN 978-1536204582, Candlewick

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg is a hilarious story for all ages. The main character does not want to go to school where she will know no one, where no one may like her… We see her getting dressed, having breakfast, being rushed into the car… But not until the very end do we actually see the whole person who turns out to be… the teacher! A great story to talk about the anxiety of starting a new school year. ISBN 978-1580890618, Charlesbridge

Hooray For Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky, is a frolicking romp through accreditation and of a school meeting expectations and standards. The principal is so worried that the school may be closed “that his eye brows may fall off…” But the librarian knows better… “We’ve taught them that white and red make pink, but more importantly, we’ve taught them how to think!” A perfect story for principals to share at elementary school.

ISBN 9780679890089, Random House

1,2, 3 Off to School by Marianne Dubuc is the kind of picture book I would have savoured as a child. There’s lots of fun text, but it’s the images that you can study forever. Each double spread shows a school in a fairy tale setting: there’s Cattail Academy where frogs paint and sing. The sloths attend Sleepytime School and squirrels learn all they need to know at Lookout Heights. Throughout the pages, little Pom discovers how much fun kindergarten will be. She can’t wait to attend her own school. ISBN 978-1-5253-0656-3, Kids Can Press

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco is perhaps her best known book. This autobiographical story shows how the now prolific author struggled with reading as a child. Despite being surrounded by books she could not master the skill of reading until a patient, understanding teacher changed her life.  ISBN 0-399-23166-8, Philomel

By the same author, Patricia Lincoln, is Mr. Lincoln’s Way – the story of an bully in Grade 5 and his principal. Despite personal lashings out, Mr. Lincoln finds a way to break through Eugene’s shield of anger by tapping into the boy’s one keen interest. Through books, patience and caring the two forge a bond that helps Eugene find his way. ISBN 0-439-43011-9, Puffin

Off To Class by Susan Hughes is a nonfiction book about the wide variety of ways in which children around the world get an education. From schools in refugee camps to finding text books in trash, this book shows the resilience of children and educators in many different countries.  ISBN 978-1-926818-86-3, Owlkids

Gift Days by Kari-Lynn Winters, is a picture book for ages 8 up. This is the touching story of Nassali who longs to learn to read and write like her brother, Baaba. But since her mother’s death, Nassali is responsible for looking after her younger siblings and running the household. There is no time for books and learning. But one day she wakes up to discover that her chores have already been done. It is her first gift day. From that day on, once a week, Baaba gives Nassali the gift of time so that she can pursue her dream of an education, just as her mother would have wanted. The book itself is also raising money for the charity. Through the organization I am a Girl, which focuses on education and women’s rights, money has been raised to send girls to school in Uganda for a full year.   ISBN-13 9781554551927, Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Margriet Ruurs wrote more than 40 books for children. My School in the Rainforest was one of the most fun books she ever wrote because it showcases unusual schools around the world. There’s a school in the rainforest of Guatemala, but also one on a missionary ship, the highest school in the world (in the Himalayas) and a school on the edge of the Sahara. ISBN 978-1-59078-601-7

www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Books About Big Dreams

The Girl Who Loved Giraffes: And Became the World's First Giraffologist

The Girl Who Loved Giraffes, written by Kathy Stinson, illustrated by François Thisdale is a beautifully executed, nonfiction picturebook that works on several levels. First and foremost it is the biography of a remarkable young woman who knew what she wanted. Anne Innis Dagg was a child who saw her first giraffe in a zoo. She studied worked and saved hard in hopes of, one day, going to Africa to see giraffes in the wild. Through sheer determination, she did, in the 1950’s, and became one of the first scientists to study and observe giraffes in the wild. Anne worked all of her life to preserve and protect her favourite animals.

This is also a story of feminism and discrimination since universities refused Anne a position as professor, simply because she was female. Later, universities apologized and even bestowed her with an honorary degree. Anne’s story is reminiscent of that of Jane Goodall, another female pioneer in the world of zoology.

And lastly, this picture book works as a catalyst to help young readers learn more about and appreciate giraffes, while encouraging them to follow their dreams. ISBN 9781554555406, Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Her Epic Adventure: 25 Daring Women Who Inspire a Life Less Ordinary

Her Epic Adventure, 25 Daring Women Who Inspire a Life Less Ordinary, by Julia de Laurentiis Johnston and Salini Perera. This nonfiction picturebook (64 pages) features women around the world who have accomplished impressive feats despite the fact that they were discouraged because they are/were female. The book is divided into sections like ‘Land’, ‘Ice’ and ‘Water’. Each double spread tells the story of a woman who achieved her dream, including Mae Jemison, America’s first black woman in space, the petite Junko Tabei from Japan who conquered each of the seven highest peaks on each continent and Arunima Sinha from India who reached the top of Mt. Everest despite having a prosthetic leg. I enjoyed learning about the youngest girl sailing around the world and about Sylvia Earle who became a world renowned oceanographer against all odds. A great book to encourage anyone, female or male, to achieve their dreams and not give up. ISBN 878-1-5253-0110-0, Kids Can Press

Two at the Top: A Shared Dream of Everest

Based on true events, Two At The Top by Uma Krishanaswami, illustrated by Christopher Corr, is the brilliant story of two boys who share a same dream: to climb to the top of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, one day. Neither boy knows if they can ever achieve their dream. Tenzing Norgay lives in Nepal and tends his father’s yaks. Edmond Hillary lives in New Zealand and tends his father’s bees. Lovely, mirroring pages and well balanced text shows how each boy, from an early age on, works and trains towards his goal. In 1953 the sherpa and the climber finally meet and, as a team, reach the summit of Mount Everest and achieve their joined dream. The book gives factual information on mountains and their environment in the back.  ISBN 978-1-77306-266-2, Groundwood Books

A Boy Named Tommy Douglas, by Beryl Young, illustrated by Joan Steacy is an important story for Canadian children to read. Or for that matter, for anyone who ever goes to a doctor’s office, gets treatment or stays in hospital and doesn’t have to pay. In Canada, we owe this free medical care to a boy from Saskatchewan who injured his leg in 1911. He felt it was unfair that he could not see a doctor because his parents could not afford it. For the rest of his life, Tommy Douglas worked hard in government and succeeded, in 1968, to bring universal health care to all Canadians. A fascinating story about how dreams can come true. ISBN 978-1-988242-41-5, Midtown Press

John's Turn

And it’s not only people who become famous who have big dreams. In John’s Turn, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kate Berube, John is in elementary school and nervous, but also excited, that his turn is coming up at Sharing Gifts time, his class’ show and tell. Will he do magic tricks? Will he read? No, John puts on his leotards and dances, leaving the entire class in awe and earning a standing ovation from his friends. The book shows kids to believe in themselves and follow their own dreams by being brave. ISBN 978-1-5362-0395-0, Candlewick Press

Take Off Your Brave: The World through the Eyes of a Preschool Poet

And finally a very unusual book of poems: Take Off Your Brave, The World through the Eyes of a Preschool Poet, by Nadim (age 4) and illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail. This is a collection of poems in picture book format. In the inbtroduction Nadim’s mom explains how they discussed ‘what a poem is’ and how she recorded his words. Now Nadim writes his own poems, encouraging his sister and his preschool class to write poems as well. The poems in this collection deal with love, friendships, nature, school and much more. In Dream School the students turn into kittens and there are no bullies. And when you come home… you can take off your jacket and take off your brave!  ISBN 978-1-5362-2316-3, Candlewick Press

Margriet Ruurs is the author of over 40 books for children. She conducts author presentations at international schools around the world. www.margrietruurs.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Picture Books about Friends and Family

Everyone needs a friend. Family and friendships can differ but enrich our lives. The following picture books reflect families, relationships and friends in which you can, perhaps, recognize yourself. Many of these books can lead to enriching classroom discussions.

A Stopwatch from Grampa

A Stopwatch from Grampa by Loretta Garbutt, illustrated by Carmen Mok, is the touching story of a grandchild’s love for his Grandpa and how much he is being missed. But Grandpa left his stopwatch, which helps to hold on to good memories and to making new ones. ISBN 978-1-5253-0144-5, Kids Can Press

Wounded Falcons

Wounded Falcons was written by Jairo Buitrago from Mexico, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng from Colombia and translated by Elisa Amado from Guatemala.  The story follows two best friends, living in a big city they find a wounded bird on an empty lot and slowly nurse it back to health. Adrián is always getting into trouble, getting into fights but Santiago knows that his friend cares about others. Adrián feels like one with the wounded bird until, one day, it flies out on its own.

A touching story about friends, fighting, and caring for wildlife, a story that can serve to kickstart many classroom discussions. ISBN 978-1-77306-456-7, Groundwood Books

Hat Cat

Hat Cat by Troy Wilson, illustrated by Eve Coy. The old man feeds the squirrels in his garden every day. One day a kitten shows up, curled up in the old man’s hat. The old man feeds it and finds it a lovely companion. But he’s afraid to let Hat Cat outside for fear that it will run off or chase the squirrels. One day the old man is not there but when he shows up again, the two friends have learned to trust each other. Told in sparse text this is a story of friendship, a lovely picturebook that works on different levels.  ISBN 978-1-5362-1366-9, Candlewick Press

Whistling for Angela

Whistling for Angela by Robin Heald, illustrated by Peggy Collins, is a beautifully executed picture book tat will work on many levels. Mostly it is the story of a new big brother preparing a special gift for his new baby sister.  It is the happy story of a family adopting a baby. And it is the important but sad story of a birth mother finding a loving home for her baby. Robin Heald skillfully brings the different stories together in this touching picture book. ISBN 978-1772782455, Pajama Press

And J.J. Slept

And finally a lovely story of adoption: And J.J. Slept by Loretta Garbutt, with great illustrations by Erika Rodriguez Medina. When J.J. arrives at his new home, everyone is excited. His new siblings run and stomp and yell. But J.J. sleeps contently in his new parents arms. The dog barks, the doorbell rings but nothing disturbs J.J. Until all the kids leave and the house becomes unusually quiet. Then he wakes up and screams at the top of his lungs. Until all of the noisy siblings return… A realistic story about adopting and adapting. ISBN 978-1-5253-0419-4, Kids Can Press

Margriet Ruurs reviews books and writes on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada. She also conducts author presentations at international schools and writes about her travels in a blog: www.globetrottingbooklovers.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Wordless Picture books

Most picture books tell stories in very few words. Often the illustrations add to the story. And in some picture books, the art tells the entire story. Wordless picture books offer an opportunity to make up your own story, to add words that change with each reading. In fact, wordless picture books can help create a special bond between a parent (or educator) and a child. And, of course, wordless picture books are a great tool to use with children who speak or learn a different language because the story works in any language!

Over the Shop

Over The Shop by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Qin Leng is a lovely story that can be told on many levels, over and over again. A young girl and… perhaps her grandmother run a shop and, to make ends meet, rent out an apartment over the shop. But it’s too run down for some. Not many people actually come to look, until one day the perfect couple shows up. They clean and fix. In the process they meet the people, and the cats, of the neighborhood and the shop flourishes.  ISBN 978-1-5362-0147-5, Candlewick

Window

Window by Marion Arbona is a brand new release. This wordless picture book in black & white, features a child walking home from school. Along the way she passes a row of houses with many different windows and doors. What goes on behind each one? The pages are folded windows that allow the reader to open them and peek inside, where the girl’s imagination conjures up fantastical scenes full of robots, inventions, aliens and creatures. Until she comes home to her own room and can truly let her imagination run wild, on paper. A lovely book to inspire readers to come up with their own stories. ISBN 978-1-5253-0136-0, Kids Can Press

Window

An older book by the same name: Window, by Jeannie Baker has a very different approach by is also wordless. It focusses on one window and shows how the view changes over the years. As a baby grows older, the backyard changes from diapers on the line, to tricycles. Trees are cut, new homes are built. The world changes through this window until the boy has grown up and his home is old. Then it’s time for a new home, a new life, and a new view from the window. This book is perfect to discuss change, evolution, the environment, urban development as well as use it in art lessons with older students. ISBN 0-14-054830-0

Mirror

Jeannie Baker created another fantastic, wordless picture book to use in international schools: Mirror. Designed to be read side by side, the left side features a family in the western world, the left side focuses on a family in Morocco. While housing, food, clothing and environment are vastly different, the book also shows how similar people in different cultures are, and the importance of family and friends. While the same moon shines on these families, they learn about each other’s place on earth. A brilliant teaching resource. ISBN 978-1-4063-0914-0

Sunshine

An older one but still wonderful to use with young students is Sunshine by Jan Ormerod. It shows a family waking up and getting ready to start their day. From burning toast to hurriedly getting dressed, this is a lovely discussion starter on what yóu do to get ready for school. A second book, called Moonlight, shows how the family prepares dinner and gets ready for bed. You may have to search for these books as ‘used’. ISBN 978-1845070489

Zoom

ZOOM by Istvan Banyai does exactly what the title promises. He zooms out from the first black page, to reveal many different scenes. This book is perfect for guessing and predicting what comes next. The art takes the reader around the world and even beyond.  ISBN 0-14-055774-1

in REZOOM, Istvan Banyai takes us, at a dazzling speed, around the world from ancient Egypt to England, to Paris, to the jungle in India and many other places. Or does he? Both of these books can be a source of entertainment for younger readers but also can serve as introductions to art and design for older students in all grades. ISBN 0-14-055694-X

THE PAPER BOAT

A brilliant refugee story, The Paper Boat is told in paper collage by Thao Lam. Its roots are from her own childhood, of fleeing Vietnam with her parents in a boat. The paralel story of ants sailing away in a paper boat is based on the stories her mother told her, stories of kindness and karma.

A great book to use with younger kids but also to study the art of illustration with older students.  ISBN 978-1-77147-363-7, Owl Kids

Helen's Birds

Helen’s Birds by Sara Cassidy, illustrated by Sophie Casson is a story of friendship and environmental awareness. A young girl befriends an elderly lady who lives in an old house on the corner. An avid gardener, the lady teaches the girl about birds, and nests, how to build a bird house and how trees and flowers attract squirrels and other urban wildlife. After the lady passes away and her ramshackle house no longer stands, the girl puts her lessons into practise and helps transform the neighborhood by being a gardener and building birdhouses. ISBN 978-1-77306-038-5 (Groundwood Books)

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author who conducts writing workshops in international schools. www.margrietruurs.com

Global book recommendations

Students in International Schools often speak several languages. Supporting their language development, and love of reading in any language, through books is important. Many books are available in different languages but finding books printed in two languages is harder. Here are some of my favourites.

Stepping Stones / حَصى الطُرُقات: A Refugee Family's Journey / رحلة عائلة لاجئة

I became aware of the power of bilingual books when one of my own picture books, Stepping Stones, A Refugee Family’s Journey, was published in both English and Arabic. I found it fascinating to see how well that works – the story is now one that Arab speaking children can share with their families, that English speaking people can read but also one that shows a new script and writing method to many. When doing school visits, students are fascinated by the different languages and refugee kids often are seen as very smart when they can actually read those unfamiliar sentences. Here are more books that use language in addition to story and art. ISBN 9781459814905, Orca Book Publishers

Aquí era el paraíso / Here Was Paradise: Selección de poemas de Humberto Ak'abal / Selected Poems of Humberto Ak'abal

Aqui era el paraiso/Here Was Paradise by Humbert Ak’abal celebrates Mayan poetry. The poems are in both English and Spanish. Ak’abal is an indigenous poet from Guatemala who wrote his work first in K’iche’, the language of his childhood. The poems in this collection focus on nature, the natural environment and life in the Americas. Written for adults, the art in this book makes it accessible for readers of all ages and it’s a treat of speakers of both English and Spanish. ISBN 978-1-77306-495-6, Groundwood Books

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams

A River of Words, The Story of William Carlos Williams, written by Jen Bryant, art by Melissa Sweet. This is a picture book biography of an American poet, published in English only but based on the power of language. As a child, William listened, observed and absorbed life around him. He became a doctor but wrote poems on his prescriptions pads and stayed up late at night to write, to play with language. He had 48 books of poetry published. This one is incredibly beautifully illustrated in Melissa Sweet’s iconic collage for papers, letters and images. A joy to share with readers to show the power of following your heart. ISBN 978-0-8028-53-2-8, Eerdman Books

When I was a child I loved folk and fairy tales. I devoured books by Grimm and Anderson in Dutch. I liked the morals these stories told. Idries Shah knew the power of storytelling perhaps better than anyone. Shah grew up speaking many languages. As writer and philosopher he became the leading voice of Sufism in the 20th century – retelling century old stories which have now been produced as contemporary, colourful picture books in many languages. These Teaching Stories and based on an ancient art form and especially designed to develop human thinking skills and perception.

  • The Clever Boy and the Terrible, Dangerous Animal, Idries Shah, illustrated by Rose Mary Santiago, is the story of a boy who visits a nearby village where the people are terrified of an unusual ‘beast’ in the field. The clever boy recognizes it as a watermelon. He ‘slays’ the beast and hands delicious slices of fruit to the astonished villagers. He also shows them how to plant seeds to grow more watermelons. Published in English and Dari. ISBN 1-883536-18-9
  • The Farmer’s Wife is a cumulative tale about the woman who tries to convince animals (and objects) to do what she wants. In the end the bee and the cat and the dog and the bird, and many more, all do as she wishes. Told in English and Arabic. ISBN 978-1-946270-27-6
  • The Man With Bad Manners is the tale of a man who does not behave properly so a boy thinks of a plan to teach him a lesson. A colourful picture book in English and French. ISBN 978-19462-7055-9
  • Published in English and Urdu, illustrated by Jeff Jackson, The Silly Chicken is a tale of learning a new language and using your brain.  ISBN 978-1-942698-79-1

All Hoopoe books have available teacher guides and activities to supplement the reading: https://hoopoebooks.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Language – perhaps your students speak several different languages. What is it like to learn a new one? And how does language influence what you do each day? Books and stories help develop proficiency in any language. These books, fiction and nonfiction, all take a closer look at different aspects of language.

Dee and the Apostrofee by Judith Henderson, illustrated by Ohara Hale. A fun book for kids who are not quite sure about Apostrofee’s powers. Which letters does he make lost? Does he really devour them? And are the letters right – is aphostrofee eating all the O’s? Is he stealing letters and does he make you the owner of things? A laugh-aloud language picture book to share in the classroom to teach grammar without the students even noticing. Kids Can Press, ISBN 978-1-5253-0326-5

Exclamation Mark

! (Exclamation Mark) is a hilarious picture book by Amy Rouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. ! feels different from everyone else. Period. Until someone shows up who has lots of questions – ? – and shows him his potential. ! is so excited he can’t wait to show his powers and make his mark! ISBN 978-0-545-4379-3, Scholastic

How To Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, with gorgeous art by Melissa Sweet, celebrates all things book. From curling up in just the right spot, to turning page by rustling page, with ‘words and sounds in leaps and bounds’… Comparing books to juicy clementines, art and text work together to create a book to sing and dance and chant along as you celebrate reading with kids. ISBN 978-0-06-230781-1, Harper Collins Children

The Word For Friend not only is the story of a child (a pengolin actually…) moving to a new country and having to learn a whole new language while going to school and wanting to make new friends. It is also the story of Esperanto, including real words in this global language. This story works on many different levels, including art (the two new friends make paper cuttings for each other). ISBN 978-0-374-31046-2, Farrar, Strauss, Giroux.

Sugar Comes Arabic by Barbara Whitesides is a unique, user friendly beginner’s guide to letters and words in Arabic. The book is well designed and starts off gently to guide you through changing letters and words from English to Arabic, showing how each letter is formed. It makes me hopefully that I can learn a difficult new language. ISBN 978-1-56656-757-2

And a field which requires its very own lingo is that of advertisements. Mad For Ads by Erica Fyvie, illustrated by Ian Turner, is a book all students in Grades 4 and up should be made to read to ensure they are aware of how ads influence their daily life and the effects is has on their wants and needs. Language is important in this field, as are images and repetition. Touching on commercials but also on election campaigns, among others, the book includes a closer look at social media advertising. The book shows how brand names and logos work and how they effect your brain, your emotions, at whom TV ads are aimed, how your shopping habits are tracked and much more. An eye opener for both kids and adults! ISBN 978-1-5253-0131-5, Kids Can Press

Margriet Ruurs is the author of many books for children. She conducts author presentations and writing workshops at international schools and shares her love of travels and books here:

www.globetrottingbooklovers.com