Tag Archives: Scholastic

A big shout out for “!” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal


In late March, most people can use a little more ! in their lives. I know I sure do. So when I spotted Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s sunny new picture book, I had hope that a smiley happy boost was headed my way.

I was not wrong. It’d be near impossible to read Exclamation Mark and not be charmed and cheered.

Here’s the trailer:

You know when you read a book, and you can just tell the creators had a blast making it? That’s this book. In fact, I’d say that I get this feeling when I read all of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s books. This is a woman I’d like to spend the day with. I imagine we’d do something fun and probably kooky and we’d be laughing nonstop. Our conversations would be full of clever puns and silly stuff and we’d feel smart and giddy and just plain delighted to be alive.

Not to mention, I love me a book that I could imagine using with wee folk right on up to Grade 8. (Cuz you know those Grade 8s aren’t all pros with their punctuation. Shocker). Exclamation Mark has a message that little guys can relate to, but the concept and execution are so clever that older kids will laugh on every page.

So Amy, if by small chance you ever read this tiny shout out for Exclamation Mark, I’d like to say thanks for making stories as witty as they are wise.

Exclamation Mark is published by Scholastic.

Day 7, book 7: Wishes by Jean Little

When I was a girl, I read everything Jean Little wrote. She was one of my favourite authors. Reading Little by Little one summer was my first Jean Little experience and I still have my childhood copy of her autobiography. So when I had the chance to meet her at an event a few years ago, I was very nearly tongue-tied. She’s an impressive person, and a gifted writer. I think she’s one of the treasures of Canadian Children’s Literature.

Needless to say, I’m always happy when a new Jean Little book comes my way. Wishes is a rhyming picture book about the power within all of us to dream and imagine. Really, it’s a sort of ode to wishes and how the act of wishing can help us to value the good things in our lives, see the world differently, and embrace playfulness.

“If wishes were horses,
then poor folks would ride.
If wishes were friendships,
I’d be by your side.”

This structure continues throughout the text, as Little plays with the saying, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” The text contains many lovely images that satisfy the reader with their bouncy rhythm and creativity.

“If wishes were pancakes,
I’d eat a tall stack.
If wishes were parsnips,
I’d send the plate back.”

Teachers, I’m sure it would be simple and lots of fun for kids to take Little’s poem as a model and write their own Wish poetry. You could even do it as a class and create one Wish poem. You’ll want to add this book to your pile of resources for your poetry units.

Genevieve Cote was certainly the ideal choice to illustrate such a whimsical, lilting text, full of playfulness and light. Her artwork is gentle yet expressive, bringing the dreamy feeling of Little’s words to life.

Wishes is made for reading aloud. I’d say it’s the ideal bedtime story. Shouldn’t every child drift off to sleep thinking about all of the wishes she wants to come true?

Wishes is published by North Winds Press, an imprint of Scholastic Canada.

Day 3, book 3: A Gold Star for Zog by Julia Donaldson

School starts for me tomorrow, which means that teachers in my neck of the woods are fully stocked on gold stars. We are ready to hand those puppies out! I would like to suggest A Gold Star for Zog as the perfect First Day of School read for dragon-loving little people and the cool teachers who seek their admiration. Imagine reading this book at the end of the First Day and then sending every kid in your class home with a gold star. You are now the Best Teacher Ever. It’s simple folks, honest.

On Day 2, each of them could write about something they’re good at, something that is “gold star worthy.” They could make a whole list of things. You could take pictures of their proud smiling faces! Can you say bulletin board for Curriculum Night? Done and done.

It is probably impossible not to feel cheery when you read a picture book created by this dream team. Julia Donaldson’s clever rhymes and Axel Sheffler’s super bright, cute-as-all-get-out illustrations are about as kid-pleasing a combo as anything you could dream up. But this is no fluffy tale, without substance. In fact, there’s quite a lot to dig into here, in terms of big ideas. Zog is a total keener. He wants to win a golden star hard, really hard. But, flying leads to crashing, roaring gives him a sore throat, and fire-breathing means setting your own wing on fire. So you can imagine how capturing a princess goes. Good thing the princess is anything but ordinary. Princess Pearl isn’t afraid of dragons; she wants to help them. In fact, it is her dream to be a traveling doctor. Enter Sir Gadabout, an unconventional knight. Everyone and everything comes together in as neat and satisfying a finish as any of Donaldson’s rhymes.

It’s about being different, finding your groove, staying true to your dreams, and discovering that friendship matters more than being the best. All of that and rainbow bright dragons too? Give this book a gold star already.

Here’s a glimpse into Axel Scheffler’s creative life, and a video with Julia Donaldson talking about going beyond the Gruffalo.

A Gold Star for Zog is published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Scholastic.