#IMWAYR December 31, 2018

#IMWAYR time again, when readers share what they have been reading and find out what others have been up to in the past week. Kathryn hosts the adult version of this meme at Book Date. Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers host the kidlit rendition. Whatever you are looking forward to in your next great read, these are fabulous places to start your search.

Monday crept up on me. In the midst of working on lists of the best I read last year and trying to figure out what I will put on my must read in 2019, and sewing a birthday present for my daughter in law, I've lost track of time.

I also haven't done much reading since my last update a couple of weeks ago.




4 stars
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

This is adorable. I wish I had it when I was still teaching. It would have made a perfect introduction to a beginning of the year activity I did with my students asking them to research their names.


5 stars
Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace & Bryan Collier (Illustrator)

This is a beautiful book, but if you know Bryan Collier's work, you already know this. It's a biography that will appeal to young athletes and artists alike. I had never heard of Ernie Barnes before this. You will want to go and look at some of his artwork when you are finished.


5 stars
Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation by Kyo Maclear & Laura Lefkow (Narrator)

I am pretty sure I have Linda Bai of Teacher Dance to thank for introducing me to this. 
I loved this beautifully written book so much I purchased a copy to give away as a gift to one of my daughter in laws. I’m also inspired to search for introductions to birdwatching sessions here in my city.


4 stars
Weather or Not (Upside-Down Magic #5) by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, Emily Jenkins & Rebecca Soler (Narrator)

I adore this series. These characters are flawed, but they learn and grow with each new instalment.
That all said, I’m a bit conflicted by this book because it seems that the authors have taken these characters from being more than just students with learning challenges. It might be that they actually have special super powers. I loved recommending the books to children I know who struggle because they could see themselves in these books. I’m not sure where this new twist puts them.

4 stars
The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

I read the first three chapters out loud to a group of sixth graders. Enthralled from the onset, they listened intently and groaned when I put the book down. I wonder how many of them went in search of the book afterward.
I too was mesmerized by the beginning. After discovering why Arthur had done what he did to get him sent to Juvie, I was compelled to read more.
The business of Christmas and another book got in my way of finishing it right away, but when I finally found time to focus, I finished the book in one go.
I did not expect the book to go where it did.

4 stars
The Law of Finders Keepers (Mo & Dale Mysteries #4) by Sheila Turnage

I have a sad feeling that this just might be the last in this series. If you haven't read any of the Mo and Dale mystery series by Sheila Turnage, I'm just sorry for you. These are richly developed characters who grow and learn with each new novel. Humour and sweetness resound in each of them. In this tale, Mo and her best friends, Dale and Harm, tackle two mysteries: the search for Mo's upstream mother continues and they are hired to track down a pirate treasure. Splashes of sixth grade romance add spice to the action.
Like all the other books in the series, this one is about love - love of family, friends and community.


I'm listening to Reckless Daughter, a biography of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe. I've just started Sadie by Courtney Summers and am in the middle of A True Home, the first chapter book in Kallie George's Heartwood Hotel series.


Whatever must go back to the library first!


#MustReadIn2018 25/25

#MustReadNFIn2018 13/12

25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 25/25

Goodreads Reading Challenge 432/333

My Most Memorable Fiction and Nonfiction Picture Books from 2018

Aside from the art, which is often spectacular, a picture book takes one idea, one that in the grown-up world can seem overwhelmingly complex, and makes it simple. The books on these lists exemplify this. Some are recent publications and others are out of print and hard to find. All are worth the effort of tracking down.

We are living in a golden age of children's literature. Winnowing the 225 picture books I read last year into a short list of fiction and nonfiction books was excruciating. I tried to limit myself to 10 picture books from each of the fiction and nonfiction categories. I couldn't do it. I almost managed to get my fiction list narrowed down to 20, except that last year I fell madly, deeply in love with the work of Keizaburō Tejima, whose books sadly, are now out of print.


A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
The golden yellow against the black background make these illustrations stunningly gorgeous.

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller & Jen Hill (Illustrations)
Jen Hill's illustrations show us a multicultural world living in harmony, if only we can be kind.

Cleo by Sassafras De Bruyn
This is a visually stunning testimony to the power of imagination and friendship.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson & Rafael López (Illustrator)
We can and must learn how to make space for each other. While reading this I experienced all the feelings: shivers, awe, joy and tears. 

Feathers by Phil Cummings & Phil Lesnie (Illustrator)
This book just gobsmacked me. It's visually, lyrically and emotionally stunning as we view the world from the perspective of a sandpiper on it's annual migration.

Hansel & Gretel by Bethan Woollvin
Because sometimes dark and twisted is what you need.

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
Jeffers has good advice for all of us, and the illustrations are glorious!

I Am a Story by Dan Yaccarino
This powerful picture book traces the history and power of story telling.

I'm Sad by Michael Ian Black & Debbie Ridpath Ohi.
I am in awe of these two collaborators. Their characters, a little girl, a potato, and a flamingo, reveal to us important truths about what it means to be human.

Jerome by Heart by Thomas Scotto & Olivier Tallec (Illustrator)
Raphael loves his friend Jerome unabashedly. This book pays homage to these kinds of close friendships. It's beautifully written,  translated and illustrated.

Life by Cynthia Rylant & Brendan Wenzel (Illustrations)
Brendan Wenzel's illustrations are jaw dropping gorgeous. Cynthia Rylant's profound words dance because of them.

Love by Matt de la Pena & Loren Long (Illustrator)
I got shivers right from the first page of this book. Tears came to my eyes with each page I turned. Loren Long's illustrations take Matt de la Peña's words and together they raise up powerful truths.

Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
The book makes my heart sing. I love the sweetness of the text and the charming illustrations in this story of a girl and her grandmother.

Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung
This book is a story for our times. Ultimately our children are more beautiful when we mix with one another.

Mr. George Baker by Amy Hest & Jon J. Muth (Illustrator)
This book shows us love across skin colour and age and reminds us that we are never to old to learn something new. 

Ocean Meets Sky by Terry Fan & Eric Fan
This is my favourite Fan Brothers book so far. Beautiful story and beautiful images. Just Wow!

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
This book reaffirms why picture books are so important for people of all ages. In charming illustrations and simple text it shows how to support friends and family who are going through hard times. 

Storm by Sam Usher
If you are not acquainted with this series that highlights a relationship between a grandfather and grandson, set against the backdrop of different kinds of weather, then you must are living a deprived life.

This Is Not a Picture Book! by Sergio Ruzzier
I am completely infatuated with this author's work. This metaphor for learning to read is a gorgeously illustrated celebration of the power of words.

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
This sublimely illustrated book packs a profound emotional punch.

And then there are these works by Keizaburō Tejima. His wood cut illustrations are swoon worthy. The messages in the text are deeply philosophical and dizzyingly profound. 
I hope you manage to track down and read at least one of his books in the new year.

Swan Sky by Keizaburō Tejima
The art on the cover drew me in. Then I opened the pages and got lost in this story of life and death.

Fox's Dream by Keizaburō Tejima
A lonely fox wanders through a winter forest and sees different images in the snow formations in the trees.

Woodpecker Forest by Keizaburō Tejima & Susan Matsui (Translator)
This coming of age tale tells the story of a young woodpecker who must learn to live by himself.


The quality and quantity of nonfiction picture books available today is mind boggling. This is especially true in the area of biography and memoir. Here are also some books that tell us about long lost places, introduce us to the secret life of trees, and show us how culture and nature are intricately connected.

Africville by Shauntay Grant
Shauntay Grant's paintings are absolutely stunning in this beautiful homage to a lost community in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace & Bryan Collier (Illustrator)
When Bryan Collier illustrates something, it's automatically award worthy. This biography will appeal to young athletes and artists alike.

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore by V
aunda Micheaux Nelson & R. Gregory Christie (Illustrations)
Lewis Michaux was an unpublished poet and visionary. The National Memorial African Bookstore he created was a haven for black intellectuals, revolutionaries, and artists, but it was also an important place for ordinary everyday people. 

Counting Birds: The Idea That Helped Save Our Feathered Friends by Heidi E.Y. Stemple & Clover Robin (Illustrations)
This book is a delight to read. I was enchanted by the story itself and nearly swooned at the beauty of Clover Robin's illustrations.

Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters by Michael James Mahin & Evan Turk (Illustrator)
This book is as beautifully written as it is illustrated. Both will knock your socks off and if you are like me, send you off to find some Muddy Waters to listen to.

Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen by Deborah Hopkinson & Qin Leng (Illustrator)
Deborah Hopkins has introduced me to aspects of Jane Austen’s life I didn’t know about. Qin Leng’s illustrations are gorgeous. I love how she captures the time period and essence of these characters.

Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero & Zeke Peña (Illustrator)
The best books are those that resonate long after the last page is turned. This is one of those. It's a portal, an opening into a different way of knowing the world. I might have finished this book, but that doesn't mean it's finished with me.

Trees by Lemniscates
I like this book a lot. It is beautifully illustrated in an abstract fashion. Each chunk of text imparts important information about trees. 

The Sockeye Mother by Hetxw'ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson), & Natasha Donovan (Illustrations)

The sense of connection between people and salmon is here in the use of the Gitxsan language in the text, but it’s integral to the illustrations. The images are gorgeously coloured in the shades of the rainforest and river. It all comes together with the use of traditional art in these landscapes.

Vincent Can't Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky by Barb Rosenstock & Mary GrandPré (Illustrations)
From endpaper to endpaper this book, in both words and illustrations, is glorious. 


For the last few years I have joined Carrie Gelson at There's A Book for That and other readers in committing to reading books from our Want to Read lists on Goodreads. The time has come to take final stock of our progress.

I (just barely) accomplished all of my reading goals for this year, finishing up the last two on Christmas and Boxing day.


#MustReadIn2018 25/25
#MustReadNFIn2018 13/12
25 Books by Canadian Indigenous Authors 25/25
Goodreads Reading Challenge 433/333

break for applause here

I did something different this year and it worked for me. I curated collections of books to read from, and committed to reading a certain number of them. I wish I could have gotten to all of them and suspect that many of these unread ones will end up on my 2019 lists. Here's what I discovered with this method: I didn't feel anxious or pressured to read a book I wasn't in the space for, so it was easier to find something from the list and just read for the pure pleasure of reading. 

As a testimony to the power of curated lists, just about all of the books on my lists were exceptional. 

You can read my original post here. Clicking on the subheadings in the rest of this post should take you to my Goodreads collections in case you want to add any of the titles to your own lists. 


Since our last update in September, I finished these books.

I would highly recommend all of them, but A Monster Calls is the book I am most thankful was on my list. Patrick Ness can really write!

These are the best books I've read from this list this year.

I finished up these information titles since my last update:

I gave five out of five stars to Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating; Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga; Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann; and The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel A. van der Kolk. It was a rich reading list!

From my original NF list, these are the best of them.  


There was some overlap with these books and the ones from my Indigenous list. 

I've completed these since the last update in September:

I especially enjoyed Tilly and the Crazy Eights by Monique Gray Smith. Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga is just flat out one of the best and most important books I've read this year. 

From the books by Indigenous authors I've read this year, I've given half of them 5 out of 5 stars. 

Now I'm looking forward to reading how the rest of you made out with your lists!