#IMWAYR – April 11, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. This weekly roundup is a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.


Title: The Art of Miss Chew
Author: Patricia Polacco

Arts programs in schools across North America are under threat. With school budgets shrinking, administrators are forced to make difficult decisions, and all too often arts education programs take the fall. With an increased emphasis on STEM programs, the arts can be seen as unnecessary or optional in systems that hold science, math and technology as the foundation of a modern education.

While ensuring that children have strong STEM skills is important, Patricia Polacco makes a strong argument for the inclusion of the arts in a child’s education. In this picture book memoir, Polacco recounts the impact her art teacher, Miss Chew, had on her personal and professional development. While a more traditional teacher sees art as a waste of time, and accuses young Patricia of being lazy and unmotivated, Miss Chew realizes that Patricia simply has a different learning style that should be embraced and supported. With Miss Chew’s encouragement and support, Patricia’s self confidence grows by leaps and bounds, and she discovers hidden talents and strengths that start her on the path to becoming a professional artist.

Following in the tradition of Polacco’s best-selling Thank You Mr. Falker, this is another fantastic celebration of teachers, and a loving thank-you to a dedicated teacher who helped a frustrated and discouraged child discover her inner strength and build her belief in herself.


Title: The Night Gardener
Author: The Fan Brothers

This is a pretty, pretty picture book. There’s not too much of a story going on here, but that really doesn’t matter. A tired village is revitalized by a mysterious gardener who shapes trees into whimsical and wonderful shapes overnight, inspiring the imaginations of the local and breathing new live into the community. Evocative illustrations and a whimsical story, definitely worth a look.


Title: First Hundred Words in Japanese
Author: Heather Amery

My partner and I are learning a bit of Japanese in preparation for a big trip later this year, and we’ve been reading our way through the Japanese baby books at my library. This book, which is available in several languages, is a fantastic resource. It lists 100 common words in English, hiragana/katakana and romaji, which is great for beginners. It’s also a really great resource for teachers – the illustrations on each page are brimming with details, and I can imagine asking students to describe what’s going on in each scene, or getting them to build stories around the characters in each illustration. Once a teacher, always a teacher, I guess!

One funny note, though – the series is British, which can be a bit confusing for North American readers. While most North Americans will know that a jumper in England is a sweater in America, some of the terms are a bit more confusing – who knew that pants is the English term for underwear?! That could definitely lead to some amusing cross-cultural conversations….!

So, what have you been reading this week?