Your guide to recently released books, CDs and other teaching resources. For additional reviews of French-language resources, visit Lu, vu, entendu. With the exception of some classroom sets, items reviewed are available on loan from the Margaret Wilson Library at the College. Contact Olivia Hamilton at 416-961-8800 (toll-free in Ontario 1-888-534-2222), ext 679, or e-mail

Stories, education, action

Eye of the Crow
Death in the Air

The Boy Sherlock Holmes

by Shane Peacock   

These are the first two books in a new teen series featuring a young Sherlock Holmes. Ontario author Shane Peacock skilfully shows how Sherlock’s detecting abilities develop as he tries to elude police long enough to solve a crime.

Eye of the Crow is a can’t-put-it-down novel. The story follows the brutal murder of an unidentified woman in London in 1867. Thirteen-year-old Sherlock, who reads about the crime in the newspaper, wastes no time in getting involved but his game turns deadly serious when he finds himself accused of the murder and in danger of hanging for it!

death in the airDeath in the Air is no less exciting, taking the reader into the world of aerialists. Using his keen powers of deduction, young Sherlock once again gets to the bottom of the villainy.

As the son of an aristocratic mother and a poor Jewish father, Sherlock is a misfit. Friendless and bullied at school, he has only his wits to help him make his way. But he focuses his outstanding powers of observation on sensational murders and, by Jove, he is able to solve them.

I highly recommend these books, even for those who, like me, have little knowledge of or interest in the original Sherlock Holmes works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Eye of the Crow, Tundra Books, Toronto, 2007, ISBN 978-0-88776-850-7 and Death in the Air, ISBN 978-0-88776-851-4, 2008, hardcover, each 250 pages, each $24.99,,

Gail Lennon works with special needs children and is writing a novel for adolescent readers.

Hands-on Literacy Coaching

by Nancy Boyles

Hands-on Literacy Coaching focuses on two central pedagogical issues: exemplary literacy instruction and exemplary coaching. From the physical set-up of a classroom to management strategies, designing lessons and fostering literacy knowledge, the first part of the book lays the foundation for what excellent literacy teachers do and why they do it.

The second part of the book examines the how-to of literacy coaching. How to use intervention strategies, how to apply coaching principles and how to adapt to a teacher’s unique style, technique and personality are all analyzed in detail. The last chapter deals with three teaching scenarios aimed at stimulating discussion among coaches and their colleagues.

Each chapter ends with thought-provoking study-guide questions for coaches. The author includes some handy and purposeful charts, checklists and protocols that coaches can integrate into their own practice. Readers are invited to visit the publisher’s interactive web site for further discussion and reflection and to offer feedback.

Hands-on Literacy Coaching, Maupin House Publishing, Gainesville, FL, 2007, ISBN 978-0-929895-53-6, softcover, 152 pages, US$23.95, tel 1-800-524-0634, fax 352-373-5546,,

Anjana Thom is an elementary instructional resource teacher with the Peel DSB.

My Childhood under Fire

A Sarajevo Diary

by Nadja Halilbegovich

Nadja Halilbegovich was an ordinary girl whose life was suddenly transformed, when she was 12, by a war she didn’t understand.

In her diary, written in Sarajevo from May 1992 to August 1995, Nadja reveals her confusion and pain as she tries to come to terms with bombs, fighting and death. She repeatedly wonders why no one is listening to her family’s anguish or helping them and why so many people, especially children, have to die. Interspersed with the entries are commentaries and reflections by the now-adult author. Pictures of her and her family are included.

Despite the suffering, there are glimmers of hope and the realities of an ordinary teenage girl. Music and writing provide an escape from the horror that surrounds her and everyday life carries on: She makes sandwiches for her family, plays the guitar, reads a comic book and plays games. Beneath the surface, the reader can detect the restlessness of an adolescent who wants to get on with her life but can’t because of war.

Both students and teachers will find this book worth reading. It offers a glimpse of a girl overcoming obstacles created by war. There is terror but there is also hope.

My Childhood Under Fire, Kids Can Press, Toronto, 2006, ISBN 978-1-55453-267-4, softcover, 120 pages, $9.95, 416-925-5437,,

Elda Fredette is a Special Education resource teacher at St. Vincent School in Oakville.

Teaching Visual Literacy

Using Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Anime, Cartoons, and More to Develop Comprehension and Thinking Skills

edited by Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher

The average student is bombarded with visual information from a multitude of media every day. This collection of essays is aimed at teaching students how to manage and interpret their visual landscape. That means learning how to apply critical thinking to images as well as words and developing the kind of literacy they will need in the 21st century.

A range of visual media are examined as a way of capturing the attention of all learners and boosting their thinking skills.

The book offers a practical guide for using images to motivate reluctant readers and suggestions on how to integrate visual literacy into curriculum to both support and strengthen literacy competence. A solid list of pertinent web sites is also included. Teachers will want to dip into this book to find topics that meet their needs. Teaching Visual Literacy is suitable for students in junior grades and higher.

Teaching Visual Literacy, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2008, ISBN 978-1412953115, softcover, 208 pages, US$33.95, tel 1-800-233-9936, fax 1-800-417-2466,

Sarah Lynn Frost Hunter is an early literacy teacher for the Peel DSB.


Environment and the Way We Live

The National Film Board

Speaking of visual literacy, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a treasure trove of millions of moving images suited to Ontario curriculum. This past spring it launched Footprints: Environment and the Way We Live, a web site featuring material dedicated to environmental issues and supported by a range of teacher-friendly resources – workshops, study guides, lesson plans, curriculum links and more. Some of the major environmental dilemmas of our day, like pollution, climate change, energy consumption, genetically modified food, environmental degradation and resource exploitation are examined.

Of course, the NFB’s web offerings don’t end with environmental issues and its entire film library will eventually be digitized and streamed online to allow wider access to its wealth of resources.

The film board also offers supplementary teaching materials for many of its films – materials that focus on developing inquiry and critical and creative thinking skills. Its integrated media approach is cross-curricular and multi-disciplinary, with target subject areas including history, politics, visual art, native studies, science, humanities, English and environmental studies.

These films are a lens through which students can explore how media shape our perceptions and influence our judgments about current issues – in other words, they provide solid material for developing students’ visual literacy skills.

Footprints, National Film Board, tel 1-800-267-7710, fax 514-283-7564,,

Wendy Harris is the English-language reviews editor for Professionally Speaking.

Math Tools, Grades 3–12

64 Ways to Differentiate Instruction and Increase Student Engagement

by Harvey Silver, John R. Brunsting and Terry Walsh

Math Tools offers a comprehensive pedagogical approach – accommodating four distinct learning styles – to the teaching of mathematics at the junior, intermediate and senior levels.

The authors draw on peer-reviewed research to highlight instructional practices that work in the differentiated classroom. Since no two students learn mathematical skills and concepts exactly the same way, the onus is on educators to use a variety of tools and strategies throughout their programs. For example, while some students may be satisfied with working through a prepared algorithm to solve problems, others may need to look for patterns or use their imaginations to come up with creative solutions.

The authors state that they want to make differentiated math instruction notably more manageable for teachers at all levels. But given teachers’ time constraints, they are less successful in this regard than they are at highlighting the importance of the goal.

Math Tools, Grades 3–12, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2007, ISBN 9781412957823, softcover, 280 pages, US$38.95, tel 1-800-233-9936, fax 1-800-417-2466,

Michael Bellrose is the principal of C.R. Judd Public School in Capreol.

Stones, Bones and Stitches

by Shelley Falconer and Shawna White

Stones, Bones and Stitches is a beautiful introduction to Inuit art, artists, stories and culture. It is also a treasury of information about the lives, past and present, of the indigenous peoples of the far north.

Six featured artists are each represented in a chapter that includes a biography, a full-page colour picture of one piece of art and an analysis of both that piece and the artist’s work generally. Some artworks reflect the emotions that accompany change, others explore traditional shapes, symbols and beliefs. Many are highly imaginative, drawing on the mystical creatures of traditional stories.

A variety of materials and techniques is represented. Lukta Qiatsuk’s sculpture, Owl Spirit, is carved from the skull of a bowhead whale that was washed ashore a century or more ago. David Ruben Piqtoukun uses many different materials, including stone. Jessie Oonark’s colourful wall hangings demonstrate traditional needlework. The vivid drawings of Kenojuak Ashevak appear as stained-glass windows, stonecut prints and postage stamps.

This resource introduces significant contemporary Canadian artists and presents Inuit history in an appealing and accessible manner. It shows and explains aspects of Canadian culture that are unknown and unappreciated by most Canadians.

Since the art featured in this book is part of the McMichael Canadian art collection in Kleinburg, where its authors are curators, it is the obvious preparation tool for a class trip. If a class trip is not possible, use the book as a text for the exploration of art and culture.

Stones, Bones and Stitches, Tundra Books, Toronto, 2007, ISBN 978-0-88776-854-5, hardcover, 48 pages, $24.99, tel 1-888-523-9292, fax 1-888-562-9924,,

Bonnie Beldan Thomson is a kindergarten teacher with the Durham DSB.

Passion for Fashion

Careers in Style

by Jeanne Beker

Passion for Fashion is a comprehensive introduction to the fashion and design industry. Jeanne Beker, journalist and Fashion Television host, includes many profiles of and quotes by successful people in the industry. She emphasizes the importance of a solid education and specialized courses for success in the myriad careers of this highly competitive industry and stresses the need for people skills and creativity. She covers all the players in the fashion world – designers, producers, models, photographers, public relations specialists, journalists, makeup artists and personal shoppers (who alone seem not to need a specialized education).

This book would be useful for high school students in career and design courses. It is precise, easy to read and concisely covers a lot of ground. The only criticism I have is that, for a book about fashion and design, the cover design and illustrations are not very appealing.

Passion for Fashion, Tundra Books, Toronto, 2008, ISBN 978-0-88776-800-2, softcover, 80 pages, $22.99,,

Rosemarie Chapman is a primary/junior and French teacher, formerly with the Hamilton DSB.

Crafting Expository Papers

For Teachers of Developing Writers in Grades 4–10

by Susan Koehler

Crafting Opinion and Persuasive Papers

For Teachers of Developing Writers in Grades 4–10

by Tim Clifford

These two teacher resources provide explicit instructional techniques as well as numerous student examples for mastering the craft of expository and opinion/persuasive writing.

The books are intended as supplemental resources for CraftPlus, an approach to writing instruction developed by Marcia S. Freeman, but both can also be used as stand-alone resources. In Crafting Expository Papers, Koehler divides each lesson into three parts: the mini-lesson introduces and defines the skill, the workshop leads from pair to individual work, and the response requires students to share their work with each other.

bookIn Crafting Opinion and Persuasive Papers, Clifford uses a similar format but explains the mini-lesson in relationship to his WHAM approach. WHAM stands for Watch (students watch the teacher perform the skill), Help (students help the teacher perform the skill), Apply (students apply the skill as the teacher assists) and Master (students work on mastering the skill).

Reproducibles are included in both books and both are important resources for teaching students in the craft of writing.

Crafting Expository Papers

Crafting Expository Papers, Maupin House Publishing, Gainsville, FL, 2007, ISBN 978-0-929895-39-0, softcover, 112 pages, US$19.95, tel 1-800-524-0634, fax 352-373-5546,,

arrowCrafting Opinion and Persuasive Papers, Maupin House Publishing, Gainsville, FL, 2007, ISBN 978-0-929895-61-1, softcover, 110 pages, US$19.95, tel 1-800-524-0634, fax 352-373-5546,,

Maureen Doeler teaches Grade 7 at Holy Cross Catholic School in Innisfil.

Thanks for chucking that at the wall instead of me

Teaching At-Risk Children and Youth

by Monica Nawrocki

This easy-to-read book taught me several valuable lessons, provided insights into the minds of at-risk students, and offered numerous new strategies using compassion, humour and positive reinforcement.

Kids need time, space and dignity as well as good communication skills to resolve conflicts and become successful problem solvers – willing (for the most part) to take ownership for themselves and their learning. This book offers excellent strategies for teaching these skills as well as for creating a more collegial atmosphere in your classroom and for reaching “unreachable” students. We need to provide outlets for kids to talk about their concerns and give them tools to solve their issues safely and appropriately.

The author is emphatic about always being absolutely honest with students. She says that in our effort to raise students’ self-esteem, we may be tempted to lie – like saying we like them or their work when we really don’t or that we aren’t mad at them when we really are. Kids will see right through such lies and, as Nawrocki points out, your credibility and effectiveness as an educator will be compromised.

This book is a must read for anyone who interacts with challenging students.

Thanks for chucking that at the wall instead of me, Chestnut Publishing Group, Toronto, 2007, ISBN 978-1-894601-35-1, softcover, 96 pages, $10.95,

Andrea Murik is a Special Education resource teacher with the Simcoe County DSB.

Zoe’s Extraordinary Holiday Adventures

by Christina Miraki

Zoe is a spunky girl who dreams of participating in all kinds of adventures that she can’t take part in because she is confined to a wheelchair. To make matters worse, her parents are overprotective and other kids treat her as if she isn’t very smart because of her physical disability.

At school, Zoe and her classmates learn about the rich traditions of Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid, Diwali and Kwanza. Sharing such diverse religious and family traditions leads Zoe to appreciate that people’s differences are what make them special.

This is a very enjoyable book, suitable for Grade 2 or 3. The story celebrates diversity, strength of character and the ties that bind people together, and can lead young people to a greater understanding of what it is like to live with a disability.

Zoe’s Extraordinary Holiday Adventures, Second Story Press, Toronto, 2007, ISBN 978-1-897187-26-5, softcover, 145 pages, $8.95, 416-537-7850,,

Doreen Ferns is a retired elementary school teacher who tutors in York Region.

bookDictionnaire des cooccurrences à l’usage des écoles

Dictionnaire des cooccurrences à l’usage des écoles

(French-language resource)

I have always had a special interest in dictionaries and must admit that this one is unique. The author presents us with a beautiful collection of French words organized in a unique way.

For example, common nouns – accompanied by a list of adjectives in alphabetical order – are often organized into families of synonyms. Verbs, listed in alphabetical order, are grouped around their accompanying prepositions.

Beauchesne’s earlier Dictionnaire des cooccurrences proved a great success, and in preparing this version specifically for schools, the author consulted countless texts written for young people.

This resource complements conventional dictionaries by providing context. Useful for writing texts and creating style exercises, it will be an excellent addition to any classroom and an essential tool at home.

arrowDictionnaire des cooccurrences à l’usage des écoles, Guérin, Montréal, 2007, ISBN 978-2-7601-6742-1, 570 pages, $19.80, tel 514-842-3481,

Véra Nochtéva is a secondary school teacher at St. Mildred’s-Lightbourn School in Oakville.

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