Needless to say, I couldn't prevent myself from switching into teacher-mode every time there was a bookshop or stationery shop nearby. I went into most of the branches of Indigo and Chapters that I encountered, and the shop at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Montréal proved to be a rich source of inspiration.
So here are the books I bought, and how I think you could use them:
Un triangle by Néjib
This book is written in very simple French (single words, so suitable for Year 3) and is part of a series which also includes Un rond and Un carré.
The cover and each page has a triangle cut out of it, and the triangle becomes part of the illustration of the French words. For example, here the triangle becomes the skirt of une fille. On other pages it becomes the ear of un chat and the summit of une montagne.
This book would make a good introduction to nouns, articles, gender and dictionary use. Children could create their own pictures using one of the shapes and find the word they need to label their picture in the dictionary.
Cat Says Meow by Michael Arndt
This book is written in English, again using very simple language. The most striking part of it is the illustrations. Each animal mentioned is illustrated using the letters in the sound it makes. Hence the cat is illustrated by M E O W and the frog by C R O A K. What really impresses me is that the letters are in the right order each time.
This is a variation on the calligram theme. Perhaps children could illustrate sports in the same way, or hobbies, or even other nouns.
Canada en mots by Per-Henrik Gürth
Another simply written book, definitely suitable for Year 3. Each of the pages illustrates something typically Canadian. Children could research aspects of another French-speaking country and create their own intercultural book along these lines.
Quand les zéros deviennent héros by Mireille Messier
I'm particularly pleased with this find as it is so good for phonics and the sound-spelling link. It shows clearly the difference that just one letter can make.
It uses the word puzzles that I'm sure we all know from our childhood, where you have to get from one word to another by changing one letter each time. On this page, for example, "Le jour se transforme en soir". It would be a great book to read aloud with children, and would suit Year 3 or Year 4 as it is written in sentences. If you can find some more examples of this kind of puzzle, children could illustrate their own.
Monstres en vrac by Elise Gravel
This book is a delight, and I find the words and illustrations very appealing. I think the text would be more suitable for Key Stage 3, but there is still a lot of pleasure to be had in the names of the monsters and the labels on the pictures. Elise Gravel is an author and illustrator from Montréal, and I think that her books deserve a closer look. The last two pages of the book set the reader the task of drawing their own monster, using only paper, pencils and imagination. The reader is then encouraged to describe their monster, give it a name, say what its good and bad points are, what its favourite activities are, what it likes to eat, what its bad habits are and what tricks they would teach it. If you are a Key Stage 3 teacher faced with a Year 7 with mixed KS2 experience, here is one way in to "doing the usual in an unusual way".
Hope you see something you like there!