It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


You know how Garrison Keillor begins his monologues with “It’s been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone?” I want to steal his line but change it: “It’s been a hectic week in my hometown.” Better yet, it’s been a hectic MONTH! I’ve missed several weeks of IMWAYR because I haven’t had much time to read and I haven’t had that much time to blog about what I have read.

Thanks to Columbus sailing the ocean blue all those years ago, however, this weekend I was able to sit down with a few picture books and just read.

ImageFirst up was The First Drawing, by Mordicai Gerstein (Little, Brown; 2013). This book is a great example of a writer reading something in the news and asking “What if…?” Gerstein imagines an 8 year old boy living 30,000 years ago who encounters a wooly mammoth while out with his father. When he sees the mammoth in the shadows on the wall of the cave where he lives, he tries to describe it to his family. Frustrated by their inability to see his vision, he grabs a stick from the fire and begins to draw, and the mammoth comes to life for all to see.

I love that this book begins with the word “Imagine” and ends with “magic.” Capturing the often elusive images and thoughts that float through our minds through drawing is magic indeed!


By pure coincidence, two Peter Brown titles were in my pile. YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND!  (Little, Brown) was published in 2011 and got lots of good press, but somehow I never got around to reading it. Desperate for a friend, Lucy sets out one morning determined to find one. Despite her good intentions, her day doesn’t go as planned and she’s feels “hopeless.” Just then, a flamingo wearing a bow-tie spots Lucy in her despair and asks Lucy to be his friend. On the last two pages, Lucy and her new friend take great delight in doing everything Lucy imagined she and her friend would: swimming, climbing trees, doing cartwheels, having a picnic, then a dance party.

Kids will enjoy Brown’s humorous illustrations of Lucy’s missteps along the way to finding her friend. This book would be a great mentor text for a book about making friends. On a side note, I couldn’t help noticing a resemblance between Lucy and her friend and another pair of friends 🙂



The cover of Brown’s latest offering, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild (Little, Brown; 2013) is reminiscent of the jungle landscapes of  Henri Rousseau. After a lifetime of “always being so proper,” Mr. Tiger decides he’s had enough and follows his instincts to the wilderness where he goes “completely wild!” Kids will love this about Mr. Tiger. Parents and teachers will appreciate that Mr. Tiger comes back to civilization with his individuality in tact and his wildness in check.

Be sure to visit Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers to find out what other people have been reading lately. Thanks, Jen and Kellee, for hosting!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


A few months ago, Betsy Bird had a post on her inimitable blog, A Fuse 8 Production about unreliable narrators in picture books. This post intrigued me, especially the inclusion of I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat, both by Jon Klassen. To me, these books are better examples of situational irony. Defined in my trusty Benet’s Readers Encyclopedia as when “there is a discrepancy between what might reasonably be expected and what actually occurs–between the appearance of a situation and it’s reality.”

ImageI was reminded of this post over the weekend when I read Creepy Carrots (Simon & Schuster, 2012),  by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown. If ever there was an example of situational irony, this is it! It’s also a great example of how authors build suspense. Peter Brown received a Caldecott Honor for his illustrations. Brown describes how he created his incredible artwork and his inspirations here:

That Is Not a Good Idea! (Blazer + Bray, 2013) by Mo Willems is another picture book with situational irony that will have children on the edge of their seats until the very end. Then they’ll be squealing with delight!


Another recent Mo Willems book, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (Blazer + Bray, 2012), has lots of verbal irony. Lines like “I SURE HOPE NO INNOCENT LITTLE SUCCULENT CHILD HAPPENS BY OUR UNLOCKED HOME WHILE WE ARE…uhhh….SOMEPLACE ELSE!” leave little doubt about the dinosaurs’ true intentions for Goldilocks.

Goldi hc c

According to the CCSS, irony is introduced in 8th grade (which is when we introduce it now). The standard (RL.8.6) states that students will “Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.” Our students typically need lots of scaffolding to understand the subtleties of irony in 8th grade texts. But introducing the concept with these picture books makes it much more accessible, not to mention more fun!

Whether you share these books with middle school students to introduce the concept of irony or as a read aloud with five and six year olds, it really doesn’t matter. Just share them. Everyone will be glad that you did.

Be sure to visit Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts to find out what others are reading today.