Igniting a Passion for Reading by Steven L. Layne

March 30, 2011

Themes: Love of Reading, Inspiring Students to Read

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction

At first glance, I could have said there’s nothing new in this book.  Reading aloud and sharing my own passion for reading have always been the best tools in my toolbox as a language arts teacher.  Layne’s own teaching experience as well as his dogged determination to get every child in his classroom loving reading are the clear inspiration in sharing easy to implement and well thought out strategies that can immediately be used in the classroom.  Layne’s anecdotes about his own experiences in engaging reluctant readers, and at times reluctant parents or colleagues create an easy to read book with tonnes of ideas. 

Paperback: 184 pages

Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers (November 28, 2009)

ISBN-10: 1571103856

ISBN-13: 978-1571103857


Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

November 25, 2010

Fountas and Pinnell Reading Level: R

Grade Level: 5 – 7

Genre: Adventure

Theme: Survival/Coming of Age

Torak, a preadolescent boy, travels through the forest to fulfil a promise to his father to rid the forest of a demon-possessed bear.  He meets various challenges: human and personified, and slowly becomes aware of special gifts he has to help him.

The characters, well-developed setting and a touch of magic in this book lead to a plot which grabbed me from the beginning.  I was unable to stop!  The grade 7 boys in the group loved the adventure and non-stop action.  I was able to guide excellent discussions about strength of character and connection with nature at an age-appropriate level.

– 2004

– ISBN # 1 84255 170 1, 234 pp

Night Runner by Max Turner

November 25, 2010

Fountas and Pinnell Reading Level:   Q      Grade Level:   5-7  

Genre:  Fantasy/Adventure/Horror

  Literature Circle set ( 6 copies) available  at  Classroom Support Centre

Red Maple Nominee 2010 ,  261   pages

“Orphaned Zach lives in the hospital, a friend (Charlie) and an allergy he never questioned…until a stranger broke in and told him to run.” http://accessola.com/forest2010/redmaple/rm5/about.php


Review by Karen:

When I first saw the cover of this book….I hesitated to pick it up…..but was immediately swept into Zack Thomson’s strange life at the Nicholl’s Ward.  This debut book by Canadian author Max Turner is definitely a new spin on an old theme that is currently sweeping Young adult fiction…vampires.

Zach’s story is told in the first person. His use of  short sentences both in narration and dialogue result in a plot line full of fast paced action, suspense, danger and adventure.  This has definite appeal for boys, but teenage girls will also enjoy the thrill of danger — who can resist the combination of an unconventional young vampire making a break for freedom from the police, being hunted by vampires and vampire hunters that are on his trail?

Highly recommended!!!

Book two: End of Days by Max Turner

After by Hazel Hutchins

August 5, 2010

Fountas and Pinnell Reading Level:  Q    Grade Level:   5-7  

Genre:  Fantasy/Adventure

  Literature Circle set ( 6 copies) available  at  Classroom Support Centre

Red Maple Nominee 2010 ,  176 Pages


How do families cope in the aftermath of a tragic shooting?
Follow Kate and Sam to see how families on both side of violence are impacted.” 


Review by Karen

After is the story of told in alternating  perspectives by two young teens that each have lost a sibling at the same store shooting. Kate writes her feelings to her best friend “Amy”  and it is through her entries we become privy to her accumulating feelings of despair, grief, loneliness and an ever-growing  anger.   “ I am so angry. I am so mad.  … all week the silence in our house is has been so loud its like living completely and utterly alone“.

Sam thoughts also reveal his perspective on what the sudden act of violence perpetrated by his older brother is costing him and his family. He is fearful of showing his emotions and that ” if he ever lets the anger out, the kind of madness that explodes, he ‘d be like Everett and never be able to stop.” 

A year later as the anniversary of this tragic event draws near, unbearable silences slowly give way to unexpected friendships. The tension climaxes when the two grieving mothers unexpectedly meet!

 Canadian author, Ms. Hutchins has delivered a very powerful book in After. I highly recommend this for any student from grade 6 to 9!

 Author Website: http://www.hazelhutchins.net/

Greener Grass by Caroline Pignat

June 25, 2010


Fountas and Pinnell Reading Level:   R      Grade Level:   5-7    

Genre:  Historical fiction /Adventure 

  Literature Circle set ( 6 copies) available  at  Classroom Support Centre 

Red Maple Book Award nominee 2010,  278 pgs.  

Other recognition and awards:

Governor General’s Literary Award winner 2009 CLA Children’s Book of the Year Award shortlist, 2009


Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People 2009 finalist 
Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Awards shortlist, 2010 

Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice, 2009«Starred Choice 

Red Maple Book Award nominee 2010 


“1847 – Ireland. The potato famine enters its second year, as British landlords raise rents and tumble cottages, leaving Irish families homeless and overcome by hunger and disease. Kit Byrne, a young girl of fourteen, will do everything she can to save her family. But will it cost her soul?” 


Review by Karen 

I am a lover of historical fiction and was eagerly looking forward to reading this latest book by Canadian author Caroline Pignat. I had thoroughly enjoyed Pignat earlier debut novel Egghead and was interested in how she would handle this genre. 

The 1840’s in Irish history was a period of unrest turmoil and utter destruction and devastation — devastation to human life, human dignity and the human spirit. Pignat’s novel Greener Grass opens in the second year of the Great Potato Famine — 1847. We become first-hand witnesses to the heartrending struggles of human survival through the eyes of the central character 14 year-old Katherine (Kit) Bryne and the choices she  and her family are faced with.  The author has skilfully woven the horrors and bleakness of the times, with Kit’s courage and herioism , and that makes this is a truly inspirational story. 

Highly Recommended!!!

Similiar Books:  Nory Ryan’s song by Patricia Giff; Katie’s Wish by Barbara Hazen; The Grave by James Heneghan 


Author Interview on Greener Grass: 


Study Guide (free) : http://www.fitzhenry.ca/Download/guides/GreenerGrass.pdf 

Submarine Outlaw by Philip Roy

June 8, 2010

Fountas and Pinnell Reading Level:   Z      Grade Level:   5-7  

Genre:  Fantasy/Adventure

  Literature Circle set ( 6 copies) available  at  Classroom Support Centre

Red Maple Nominee 2010 , 251 pp.


“Fourteen year old Al changes his destiny by following his dream to become an explorer. Al’s journey begins off the rugged coast of Newfoundland in his handmade submarine. As he travels through east coast waters he rescues a family of four, finds a lost treasure, eludes the coast guard and the navy, befriends a seagull and an abandoned dog, meets a “queen” of the sea, and saves a lost boy. Al’s nautical adventures make him a celebrity but his ability to evade the police makes him an outlaw.”


Review by Karen:

Meet Alfred — a fourteen year old boy who steadfastly refuses to follow in the family tradition of going to sea as a fisherman. However a chance glance through a hole in the local junkyard fence sparks Albert’s imagination and lights the flame of adventure and exploration.  Unexpected friendships, responsibilities and self discovery  all become a part of Alfred’s own journey “out to sea”. 

Highly recommended !!

Theme:  Self-discovery; Adventure; Friendship

Teacher / Curriculum Connections: Canadian Geography /History (Eastern Maritime History) 

Author link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmmb3UO6TwA&feature=related

War Brothers by Sharon E. McKay

February 9, 2010

Fountas and Pinnell Reading Level:  Z       Grade Level:   5-7  

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Adventure


 Literature Circle set ( 6 copies) available  at  Classroom Support Centre

Red Maple Nominee 2010 ,   224 pages _____________________________________________________

“In this gripping and dramatic tale, Sharon McKay brings the horror of the war in northern Uganda to life. Although hers is a work of fiction, the peril and loss that she so compellingly describes continue to be a sad reality for too many Acholi children today. Through her sensitive portrayal of their response to the harsh life of the child soldier, Ms McKay explores how these innocent victims of war come to grips with dangers and dilemmas that no child should have to confront.”—Allan Rock, former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations 

Review by Karen

This is an outstanding piece of realistic fiction by Canadian author, Sharon McKay. McKay allows the reader to follow the lives of several girls and boys as they struggle to survive after being captured/kidnapped by Northern Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army through the eyes of a boy. This tour de force book is an illustration of the good and evil in humanityand has been selected as a  Red Maple nominee for the Forest of Reading 2010.   This is book  will definately generate discussions in any classroom!

Highly recommened!!!!!

Books of a similiar nature: Iqbal ; Parvana’s Journey;  Tree Girl

Reading Ability:  mature Grade 7 & 8 & 9

Genre: Realistic Fiction; Survival; Courage; Determination;

Theme: Child Armies; War;  Survival; Fear; Peace

Author links:http://www.sharonmckay.ca/;     http://www.myhamilton.ca/people/mckay-sharon-e