Shining Willows 2011


I have begun to read the offerings for the Willow Awards 2011.   I will keep a record of them here.  Each entry will be a short summary and some ideas on curricular overlap or themes or ages for which it would be an appropriate read aloud or book for study.  This entry will highlight the Shining Willows.

Fred and Pete at the Beach by Cynthia Nugent

Fred and Pete are a pair of dogs.  Their owner leaves for the beach without them and they decide to head there on their own.  A sweet picture book written with humour and illustrated with mixed media.  Adventure, friendship, finding your way.  Suitable for K-5 read aloud and higher as a teaching tool for picture book writing.

Little Humingbird  by Michael Yhgulanaas  The Little Hummingbird book contains three genres a story, an inspirational message and non-fiction on hummingbirds.  The message is from Wangari Maathai on little things making a big difference in the world.  The tale is an old folktale illustrated with beautiful Haida tradition drawings.  This book could be used for all ages and in a variety of subject areas.  Marvelous.

The King’s Taster by Kenneth Oppel  A terrific book by a terrific author.  Richly illustrated.  Well worth spending time with and reading aloud to groups.  Book could be used to teaching word choice, illustration to text match and for looking at humour.  I appreciated the use of a visible minority in the illustrations.

In Front of My House by Marianne Dubuc.  A book which uses repeated subordinate clauses to tie together disparate elements into a single thread.  It isn’t my favourite.  Good for teaching use of ‘in the, under the, over the, behind the…’ in student writing.  If you want to encourage writing based on a brainstormed list of events, this book is for you.

Giraffe and Bird by Rebecca Bender.  Giraffe and Bird is an enjoyable humourous read about the nature of living or working together.  The illustrations are delightful and the graphic text appealing.  Great for read alouds K-4.

The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larson.  A small girl and her grandfather pain a garden for his balcony.  Excellent illustrations which would work well for use in a visual arts class for teaching drawing technique.  In addition, a heart-warming story.  Excellent book for opening the discussion on aging, the relationships between children and grandparents and the purpose of art in our lives.

Willow’s Whispers by Lana Button.  Willow has trouble speaking loudly enough to be heard by her friends, classmates and teacher.  All kinds of trouble occurs for her as she learns to speak up for herself.  This story is a bit didactic but the illustrations are lovely dynamic line drawings.  Useful book for teaching about communication and voice strength, not one I’d choose for a read aloud otherwise.  Good book for students with selective mutism.

Viola Desmond won’t be budged by Jody Nyasha Warner and Richard Rudinicki.  Viola Desmond was a courageous woman in the struggle for race equality in Canada.  A worthwhile and inspiring story simply told.  Excellent read aloud for K-8.  Black Canadian history, race relations, human rights.

Clever Rachel by Debby Waldman.  Illustrated by Cindy Revell. The second in the series of folktales by this writing and illustrating team.  Debby Waldman does not fear using complex words and structures to tell these traditional tales.  The texts rhythm and complexity make it an enjoyable read aloud suited to students with enriched English language backgrounds.  It will be a struggle for students with less English language experience however the simple and engaging illustrations help with the telling.  An excellent addition to your folktale collection.

Timmerman was Here by Colleen Sydor.  A depression era story of a girl and a border in her family’s home.  Beautiful descriptive language, enjoyable lyric illustrations.  Covers themes of friendship, loyalty and self-worth. as well as community contribution and being the outcast.  A wonderful read aloud for K-6.


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