Book Birthday, Picture Books

Who Eats Orange? by Dianne White Illustrated by Robin Page

Beagles and Books wishes a very Happy Book Birthday to Who Eats Orange?  written by Dianne White and illustrated by Robin Page. Special thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending a copy of Who Eats Orange? in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Who Eats Orange? is an engaging and lively informational picture book that teaches young readers about animal diets.  Focusing on the color of food, the book begins with the question “Who eats orange?” and then shares four animals that enjoy consuming orange foods. A fifth animal that does not fit the pattern is introduced as a means of transitioning to the next color.  Subsequent colors are green, red, yellow, purple, and blue.



Written in a repetitive pattern with few words, young children will undoubtedly join in the reading of the text.  The page size illustrations are eye-catching and stand out against the white background and vividly show each animal’s anticipation for or pleasure in devouring the delicious food.  What I love about Who Eats Orange? is that while it teaches or reinforces colors, children also learn about animals, their habitats, and the foods they eat.  Included at the end of the book is backmatter which identifies how each color corresponds to a particular habitat, additional facts about the animals, and the specific names of the foods that were featured in the text.   As a teacher, I am always looking for engaging nonfiction picture books to read aloud for #classroombookaday. Who Eats Orange? has earned a spot during my read aloud!

Click here for a free activity kit for Who Eats Orange?

Diane White has also written other picture books such as Goodbye Meets Hello published in June 2018.  To read my review, click here.

Dianne White_credit Bridgette Balmes

About Dianne White:
When she was five, Dianne White said goodbye to her house and her teacher, Mrs. Dunlap, and hello to a new school, and her newest favorite teacher, Mr. Loop. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the award-winning author of Blue on Blue. She lives in Arizona, where she writes full-time. For more information, visit or on Twitter @diannewrites

#Bookexcursion, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/13/18


Beagles and Books is excited to share another edition of It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give it a #kidlit focus and encourage everyone who participates to visit at least 3 of the other #kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Our family returned home on Thursday after a week in western North Carolina. Etta and Bella enjoyed exploring the area and seeing the sights.  They visited a dog friendly used book store in downtown Asheville and hiked with us on the Craggy Garden Trail off of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Our Reads This Week: 


Worth a Thousand Words by Brigit Young

Tillie and her father were involved in a car accident and since then, their family dynamic has changed.  Her mom worries about Tillie overexerting herself and her dad  has become withdrawn blaming himself for Tillie’s lasting leg injuries.  Not being able to do normal kid activities like ride bikes, Tillie decided it was easier to manage things alone and observe life through the lenses of her camera.  And ever since Diana Farr lost her diamond bracelet and Tillie found it as a result of a picture she took, she is known as “Lost and Found” happily finding lost items for the students at her middle school. Life is quiet but safe.

But when classmate Jake Hausmann begs for her help to find his missing father, Tillie is unsure of whether to help him.  She finds items, not people.  Besides she has a painful recollection of Jake making fun of her in elementary school.  Tillie begrudgingly agrees to help Jake and while still using her camera to search for clues, she is forced to step out from behind the lens during this search.  Not only does Tillie discover the truth about Jake’s dad’s disappearance, but Tillie also begins to find what she has been looking for-acceptance, friendship, and hope.

Worth a Thousand Words is a middle grade mystery with heart and soul.  All the characters show their insecurities and imperfections which makes them real and believable.  Forgiveness is a core theme throughout the story and interacting with characters who demonstrate the positive effects of forgiveness for yourself and those you care about can be eye opening.

A very special thanks to author Brigit Young for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Worth a Thousand Words celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on August 14, 2018.

Sir Simon: Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson

Boo! Sir Simon is a professional super scarer who has been transferred to a new haunt-a house!  And apparently haunting a house involves many more ghost chores than his previous gigs such as a forest, a boat, and a bus stop. But that’s ok because grandparents are moving to the house  and there are at the top of the haunting pyramid.  Why? Grandparents sleep more and don’t normally see ghosts which means Simon can slack off on his chores.

But Simon can’t celebrate too long.  It turns out that a kid named Chester is living in the house with his grandparents.  On the haunting pyramid, kids are a lot of work!  They can see ghosts and are very curious.  Hmmm.  Perhaps, Simon can use enthusiastic Chester who wants to be a ghost to his advantage.  Yes! Chester can do all Simon’s ghost chores.  Problem solved!  Well, not exactly. Chester is not very good at being a ghost and Simon begins to feel a little guilty about his dishonesty.  What is a “ghostest with the mostest” to do?

Sir Simon Super Scarer is an engaging and humorous story about how an unlikely friendship develops between a snarky ghost and an inquisitive boy.  While I laughed out loud at Simon’s snide comments, his repentant actions towards Chester warmed my heart.  As in his other texts, Cale Atkinson’s warm and charming illustrations are full of such amazing details that re-reads are essential just to view his artwork. Can’t wait to share with students for #classroombookaday! A very special thanks to Tundra Books for sending an F & G copy to my #bookexcursion group.  Look for Simon’s release soon on September 4, 2018.

Bear’s Scare by Jacob Grant

Bear likes two things.  Keeping his house tidy and spending time with his stuffed friend,  Ursa.  So when Bear begins to find cobwebs in his clean house, he is not particularly happy.  Bear decides that he must find his messy guest but as he attempts to locate the sneaky spider, one of Ursa’s arms is accidentally hurt.  Sad Bear rushes for his first aid kit. When he returns he sees Ursa’s arm reattached.  Who does he have to thank for this kind gesture?

Bear’s Scare is a sweet story about how an surprise friendship blossoms between Bear and the spider.  Complementing the story are large and warm illustrations that span the spread.  I especially loved the spider with his cute button beret and am certain that kids will love spotting the spider on each page, for Bear does not see him until close to the end of the story.  A very special thanks to Bloomsbury Kids for sending a copy of Bear’s Scare to my #bookexcursion group.  It published recently in June 2018.

Beautiful, Wonderful Strong Little Me by Hannah Carmona Dias Illustrated by Dolly Georgieva-Gode

In Beautiful, Wonderful, Strong Little Me, a young girl named Lily shares that while celebrates and loves her unique physical features,  her outside traits do not define her.  In fact, she is so much more than her appearance and would rather be known for positive inside traits such as being smart, kind, courageous, and resilient.  This picture book is a good resource for promoting self-acceptance and a positive attitude!

A very special thanks to Penny Eifrig of Eifrig Publishing for providing an advance copy to my #bookexcursion group.  Beautiful, Wonderful, Strong Little Me! publishes in September 14,  2018.

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week:

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

Shark Dog and the School Trip Rescue by Ged Adamson

Shark Dog is back with another adventure accompanying the little girl, her explorer dad, her teacher and classmates on a field trip to a forest.  The woods is a new habitat for Shark Dog to explore and his excitement is apparent jumping into a frog filled pond and rolling in mud after a rain.  Once the students paired up to explore the woods, Shark Dog does some of his own and discovers footprints.  Using his dog nose, Shark Dog follows the scent to a small bear in trouble and everyone works together to help it.  There is no doubt that having Shark Dog on a field trip makes for a memorable experience!  Shark Dog always brings a smile to my face.  I love author/illustrator Ged Adamson’s illustrations because Shark Dog shows a range of emotions throughout the story from curiosity to excitement to worry.

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!  Have a great week!


#pb10for10, Picture Books

Celebrating #PB10fo10: Positively Pawsome Picture Books

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AROO! Beagles and Books is celebrating its 1 year anniversary today!



Last year on August 10, 2017, Picture Book 10 for 10 was my first ever blog post. I took the leap in book blogging and while initially nervous,  I have been overwhelmed by the immense support from not only the incredible #kidlit blogger community but also the amazing authors who write fabulous books for kids (and teachers)! A heartfelt thanks to fellow #bookexcursion member Lisa Maucione of Literacy on the Mind for all her encouragement and support as I launched my blog.

I am grateful to Cathy Mere of Reflect and Refine Building a Learning Community and Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning for creating this fabulous event for sharing the power of picture books.  Please visit the Google Community to read additional #pb10for10 lists by clicking here.

My 2017 #pb10for10 featured my first #bookaday mascot, Etta and some of my favorite dog picture books.  Since Beagles and Books is a celebration of children’s literature and my love for my beagle girls, in January 2018, I decided to include a weekly feature, Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week, highlighting 1 book with a canine main character.  Throughout the year, I had the opportunity to read many fabulous dog picture books; therefore, my 2018 #pb10for10  list continues my tradition of sharing 10 positively pawsome picture books that I plan to read and share with teachers and students in the upcoming school year.


Sterling, Best Dog Ever by Aidan Cassie

Sterling is determined to find a home.  Sleeping outside the Butlery Cutlery Company, he sneaks into a box of forks that are delivered to the Gilbert family.  When the family opens the box and finds Sterling, the mom and dad are perplexed but the daughter‘s and her baby sister’s smiles say it all.  Sterling strives to be the best fork ever but soon discovers that perhaps, the family doesn’t need a fork.  Being adaptable, Sterling attempts to be a whisk, a rolling pin, and even a stick but none of these tools seems to make him or the daughter happy.  Will Sterling ever realizes his one and only job is to just be himself?  A very special thank you to Aidan Cassie and Macmillan for sending a copy of Sterling to my #bookexcursion group to read and review prior to its release. To read my full review, click here.


Great Dog by Davide Cali Illustrated by Miguel Tanco

A father dog and his son spend the day looking at family portraits in the long hallway of their house.  Stopping at each stately portrait, the father extols each relative’s accomplishment but appearances can be deceiving.  For example, Uncle Scooter was lauded as an amazing teacher of young sheep but when readers open the gatefold, the truth is revealed; Uncle Scooter’s classroom was a hot mess. After hearing all these stories which are actually contrary to the truth, the son asks his father “What about me?” The father responds “No matter what. You will be a GREAT dog!” exclaiming his faith that his son is destined for greatness.  The very last gatefold reveals a surprise to the reader leaving them with a tender and heartwarming message celebrating the unconditional love that parents have for their child.  The illustrations are simply exquisite using a limited palette of colors and deserve more time to enjoy on a second read.


Help Find Frank by Anne Bollman

Author illustrator Anne Bollman’s highly interactive picture book is quite original.  A french bulldog named Frank is lost! Can you help in the search to find him?  Labeled as exhibits, the narrator offers key information about Frank such as his love for playing fetch, his favorite animal is a squirrel, and beware of his stinky toots so under no circumstances, feed him cheese.  Pay close attention to these facts, for they will be crucial to locating Frank.  Interviews follow with notes that provides more clues and the reader is asked to make inferences based on some of the previously shared exhibits.  Embedded within the story are double page spreads of the park, the baseball field, and the pool where the reader is asked to find objects and of course, Frank!


Emma and Muse by Nancy Lemon

Emma is a young artist and her most favorite thing to draw, paint, sculpt is her dog named Muse until one day when Muse decides to join her in creating her next masterpiece. Emma shouts “BAD DOG MUSE!” and a heartbroken Muse leaves home.  Without Muse, Emma is no longer inspired and needs him to regain her creative juices. Will Emma come up with a plan to find Muse and get him back?  Will Muse forgive Emma? Emma and Muse is not only a story about friendship and forgiveness but also a wonderful picture book that exposes young readers to the world of art.


The Great Puppy Invasion by Alastair Heim Illustrated by Kim Smith

In Strictville, fun is forbidden, play is prohibited, and cuteness is downright criminal.   So when hundreds of puppies show up, the town is in turmoil.  How can they get rid of all these adorable animals?  When their solutions fail, all the townspeople run and lock themselves safely in the houses except for little Teddy.   Teddy wonders “How could these cute puppies be scary?”  With one simple gesture, Teddy teaches the townspeople that fun, play, and cuteness make Strictville a happier place to live.  I wholeheartedly agree!


Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings

Arfy is a dog in search of a forever home.  Living in a cardboard box in an alley, he decides to write letters to residents on Butternut Street asking “Can I be your dog?” In each letter, Arfy states why he would be a good fit for them.  Unfortunately, Arfy receives letters back turning him down. A sad Arfy returns to his “home” in the alley and wakes up to find a letter addressed to him asking “Can I be your person?”  The letter shares reasons why they would be a good match for each other. Read this tender story to discover who wants to give Arfy his furever home. What especially warms my heart is the author’s tips for how to help a homeless animal in the end papers.


A Dog Wearing Shoes by Sangmi Ko

On the way home, Mini and her mom find a lost dog in the road.  Mini wants to keep the dog for her own, but her mom reminds her, “He has shoes.  He belongs to someone.”  They go to the park where the dog with shoes garners a lot of attention performing tricks.  When Mimi takes him off leash to fetch a bone, the dog runs away leaving one shoe behind, and Mini heartbroken. The next day, Mini’s mom takes her to the dog shelter in hopes of finding the dog.  Miraculously, the dog wearing only three shoes is there!  Knowing how awful it felt to lose him, Mini puts up fliers realizing that there is probably someone out there missing him too.  After the dog is reunited with his owner, Mini and her mom know just where to go-the dog adoption center.  At the end of the book, the author includes information on how to adopt a dog with links to websites like, which makes my heart happy.


Shark Dog! by Ged Adamson

A young girl joins her famous explorer dad on one of his trips.  Sailing home, she hears a noise and then something slobbery wakes her up from her sleep. It’s a shark.  No. It’s a dog. No. It’s Shark Dog! With her father’s permission, the girl takes Shark Dog home. He is quite an unusual pet stalking a cat like a shark and fetching slippers like a dog when underwater.  On a trip to Shark Dog’s favorite place, the beach, he spies what he thinks is another shark dog but it is just a beach toy.  This makes Shark Dog very sad. Thinking he is homesick, the girl and her dad decide to take Shark Dog back to his home where he is greeted enthusiastically by his fellow shark dogs.   Will this make Shark Dog happy?  Read Shark Dog to find out!

Tiny and the Big Dig by Sherri Duskey Rinker Illustrated by Matt Myers

Tiny smells a bone. A BIG bone. So he starts digging. When a larger dog, a cat, and a bird discount his ability,  Tiny maintains his confidence that he is strong enough to bring that bone home. Tiny isn’t the only one who is optimistic, for his young owner also believes in him.   Written in rhyme, Tiny and the Big Dig is a story that celebrates strength and determination.  Matt Myers’ bold illustrations capture Tiny’s sheer willpower in obtaining his goal-a BIG, BIG bone.

And a New Picture Book Releasing September 2018!


Operation Rescue Dog by Maria Gianferrari Illustrated by Luisa Uribe

Missing her mami who is stationed in Iraq, Alma and her abuela decide to welcome a rescue dog into the family.  The story goes back and forth sharing Alma and her abuela’s preparations and trip to the Operation Rescue Dog truck as well as rescue pup Lulu’s journey to meet her new family.  While Alma is eagerly anticipating meeting Lulu, Lulu is apprehensive with her tail tucked between her back legs.  Both Alma and Lulu experience some bumps along the road, but once they meet, they both know they are home.

This story holds a very special place in my heart because in 2010, Etta was on a similar transport as Lulu.  A very special thank you to Maria Gianferrari for sharing an ARC of Operation Rescue Dog with my #bookexcursion group. It releases on September 18, 2018. To read my full review, click here.

Thank you for visiting Beagles and Books’ #pb10for10! Do you have a favorite dog picture book?  Please feel free to share in the comments below.

#Bookexcursion, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/6/18


Beagles and Books is excited to share another edition of It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give it a #kidlit focus and encourage everyone who participates to visit at least 3 of the other #kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Etta, Bella, and I are blogging from western North Carolina about 20 minutes from Asheville in a beautiful cabin bordering the Pisgah National Forest. My husband and I love vacationing in this area for so many reason but most importantly because it is so dog friendly. Yesterday, the girls and I enjoyed a wonderful Sunday on the deck with this beautiful mountain view.

Our Reads This Week:

Last week, Etta helped me celebrate new picture books releases from Capstone Publishing.  To read our full reviews, please click here.

Case Closed: Mystery in the Mansion by Lauren Magaziner

Carlos’ mother is a detective, but her agency is struggling to stay afloat.  To make matter worse, she is sick with the flu and can’t begin the investigation for her latest case which is identifying the person sending death threats to Guinevere LeCavilier, a wealthy older woman. Carlo’s mom asks him to call her partner Cole, but Carlos decides to take matters into his own hands and recruits his best friend Eliza to join him. Accompanying them is Frank, Eliza’s annoying and obnoxious six year old brother.  Will Carlos, Eliza, and Frank be successful in cracking the case?  Well, that all depends on the reader who must help them make choices and solve puzzles to find the perpetrator.

Growing up, I devoured the Choose Your Own Adventure series because I loved having a role in the outcome of the story.  Mystery in the Mansion, the first book in Lauren Magaziner’s new Case Closed series transported me back to my childhood and I must share that I love her format even better!  Why?  When readers come to a part of the story when they must make a choice, there may be two, three or even four options from which to choose.  In addition, readers may be required to solve a puzzle to identify the next page that will move the plot along.  And while some puzzles are simple, others prompt readers to get out pencil and paper, brush up on their math or even call in for help (Confession: I had to seek my husband’s support a few times).

After finally solving the case (Yes-it took me a few tries), I went back to the beginning of the story to start over.  I became quite addictive to discovering if there were multiple good endings but even a wrong turn was fun because of Lauren Magaziner’s creative and humorous plot. Not only am I excited to share this original new series with students, I believe it would be a great class read aloud and in a recent tweet, Lauren Magaziner provides some read aloud tips for teachers. And the best part of all-Case Closed is a series!  Looking forward to more adventures with Carlos, Eliza, and of course, Frank’s hilarious antics!

A very special thanks to Lauren Magaziner for sending an ARC of Case Closed to our #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now so that you can begin your adventure on August 14, 2018.

The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm

For fans of The Fourteenth Goldfish, The Third Mushroom is a sequel we have all been waiting for.  A year has passed with some changes.  Ellie has a cat named Jonas, she and her best friend Raj are in the seventh grade, and Ellie’s mom and Ben are now married.  Ellie’s seventy-seven-year-old scientist grandfather Melvin though is still living in the body of a fourteen year old boy.  Tired of being on the road, Melvin returns to town with dirty laundry in hand. Ellie is elated that he is back and while Melvin is happy to see his granddaughter, he is not excited to return to middle school pretending to be her cousin.  Still his grumpy old self, Melvin makes the best of it by being Ellie’s partner on a science project for the county fair.  Through their collaboration, Ellie learns valuable life lessons. Her most important observation is realizing that when an experiment fails, a true scientist always learns from her mistakes.

Written in short chapters and told through Ellie’s point of view, The Third Mushroom is sequel that does not disappoint.  Jennifer Holm does an excellent job continuing the story.  Ellie is one of my favorite middle grade characters because of her curiosity, thoughtfulness, and versatility.  While her mom and grandfather are polar opposites, Ellie can appreciate both the theatre and science. She is also very observant especially when it comes to her friendships whether it be with her old friend Brianna, her best friend, Raj or her grandfather Melvin.

A very special thanks to Random House Kids for sending an ARC of The Third Mushroom to our #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now so that you can catch up with Ellie and Melvin on September 4, 2018.

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week:

Lulu and the Dog from the Sea by Hilary McKay Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

In the second book in the series, animal lover Lulu, her best friend and cousin Mellie, her parents, and her dog Sam take a vacation to a cottage by the sea.  Upon arriving, her family discovers that there is a stray dog living on the beach.  The owner of the cottage warns Lulu and her family that the “dog from the sea” is a menace and needs to be caught by the dog catchers like the rest of his family.  Lulu takes a special interest in the stray dog attempting to make friends with him throughout their trip.  Will Lulu be able to tame the “dog from the sea” and convince her parents and of course Sam that they have room for one more animal?

Animal books are always in high demand. I am always on the lookout for “new to me” illustrated chapter books and the Lulu series will be a great addition to my classroom library.  I especially loved author Hilary McKay’s description of getting Sam ready for vacation.  While we didn’t pack a suitcase for Etta and Bella, we brought a few dog beds and other items so that the beagle girls feel at home.  Lulu’s family is delightful, for her mother is determined to make a dent into her TBR stack of books including War and Peace, her dad has aspirations of training for the next marathon, and Mellie can’t wait to construct and fly her birthday kite.


Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books.  Have a great week!

#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to Capstone Publishing August Picture Book Releases!

It’s August 1st! Beagles and Books is proud to share 5 fabulous new Capstone Publishing picture books that are celebrating their book birthdays today and 1 title that will be released in September. A special thank you to Jennifer Glidden who has provided these ARCs to my #bookexcursion group.  All opinions are my own.

Harrison P. Spader, Personal Space Invader

Harrison P. Spader, Personal Space Invader by Christianne Jones  Illustrated by Cale Atkinson

Harrison loved life but, his excitement was becoming a problem.  He sat too close, shook hands too long, hugged a little too much and talked way too close.  Harrison was a personal space invader. After hearing complaints, Harrison’s father taught him a simple technique called the Space Saver to help him give others their own personal space.  While the Space Saver solved the problem, it created another problem when Harrison gave his friends too much space. With continued support from his family, teacher, and friends and his own self-awareness and restraint, Harrison is bound to meet with success!

Working with students for over 20 years, I sincerely thank the author Christianne Jones for writing an entertaining and humorous picture book that can teach students a valuable skill.  Young children struggle with understanding the definition of personal space; the Space Saver rhyme will be a welcome strategy for teachers to use with students.  I am a big fan of Cale Atkinson’s illustrations and his drawing of Harrison sweetly demonstrates the young hippo’s enthusiasm, for life, his true concern when his father shared the problem , and sheer determination to improve.  A great story for the beginning of the year, I cannot wait to share Harrison P. Spader, Personal Space Invader with teachers and students.


Awesome! by Craig Shuttlewood

Marvin, a moose and Woody, a beaver are the best of friends.  After Moose rescues a squirrel falling from a tree, he becomes a local hero in the forest.  Moose who was once ordinary is now awesome, and his new-found popularity means Woody and Moose spend less time together.  Feeling left out, Woody concocts a plan to get some attention of his own, but his actions are not-so-awesome.  Will Moose and Woody be able to be repair their friendship?   With bold and vibrant illustrations, Awesome! is a great read aloud. Young students will be able to connect to this engaging story which explores themes of friendship, jealousy and forgiveness.

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to Recess

Do Not Bring Dragons to Recess by Julie Gassman Illustrated by Andy Elkerton

The third book in the series, Do Not Bring Dragons to Recess teaches children about the dos and don’ts of recess.  Written in rhyme, Dragon demonstrates what not to do during recess such as running down the hall, hogging the monkey bars, and pushing the merry-go-round too fast.  Children will love actively participating in the read aloud chanting the repetitive refrain, “So Do Not Bring Your Dragon to Recess!”   Fortunately, with the help of his classmates and teachers, Dragon learns recess etiquette such as having patience, taking turns, sharing, and showing respect and kindness.  This amusing story with large, eye-catching illustrations would be a great read aloud for the beginning of the year to reinforce following recess rules with young children.

The Picky Eater

The Picky Eater by Betsy Parkinson Illustrated by Shane Clester

When eating, Piper is a picky little pig!  She has one simple rule for her food: It must begin with the Letter P. Piper prefers pancakes over waffles, pears instead of apples, and peas rather than beans. Looking for a solution, Piper’s mother attempts to hide veggies in pineapple upside down cake but Piper is not tricked.  Will Piper ever change her picky habits?  The Picky Eater is a title in Capstone’s Little Boost series, which are books that tackle early life lessons in a funny and relatable manner.  As a teacher, I could also see reading this story to reinforce the letter p and its sound to pre-kindergarten or kindergarten students.

Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army

Unstoppable by Art Coulson  Illustrated by Nick Hardcastle

Unstoppable is a nonfiction narrative picture book which shares a biography of Jim Thorpe, who was the great-great grandson of Sauk warrior Black Hawk.  While some details from his early life are shared, the focus of the text is Jim’s journey to becoming a star on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School football team which was due to his determination and perseverance.  The story ends with the legendary 1912 game between Carlisle and West Point, which was advertised by sportswriters as a rematch between the Army and the Indians who had fought on the battlefield 20 years before.  Carlisle was victorious beating Army 27-6 with Jim integral to the team’s surprising win.

Unstoppable is written for an upper elementary audience, but teacher guidance is crucial, for in the afterword, Author Coulson, Cherokee, provides additional and important context about the story such as a brief biography of Jim which provides greater detail about the hardships in his early life, a list of the other members of the 1912 Carlisle Indians Varsity Football Team, a biography of Carlisle coach Pop Warner, historical information about The Carlisle Indian Industrial School, and a glossary.

Gabi's If/Then Garden

Gabi’s If/Then Garden By Carline Karanja  Illustrated by Ben Whitehouse

A title in Capstone’s Code Play series written by developer and designer Caroline Karanja, Gabi and her best friend  are coding creatives.  Adi loves to make things and say “I wonder…” and Gabi likes to fix things and say “What if..” In this story, Gabi and Adi use if/then statements to help them with gardening.  For example, “If it doesn’t rain, then they water the plants.”  The girls engage in a game of If/Then taking turns being the programmer and computer.  When Gabi does not follow Adi’s command, Gabi explains that there is a bug in the code and how a programmer needs to ask questions to solve the problem.

Gabi’s If/Then Garden will appeal to both teachers, students, and parents because it uses a narrative format to introduce coding concepts to children.  Sidebars explain the definitions for coding terms such as if/then statements and bugs in the code. Included at the end of the book is matching if/then activity and a glossary of terms.  After reading, I can see children engaging in games of If/Then which is a great way to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.  Gabi’s If/Then Garden releases on September 1, 2018.

The Kiddie Table by Colleen Madden

Where do you sit on Thanksgiving when you are between a tot and a teen? Unfortunately, for this eight year old girl, she is forced to sit with the much younger crowd and is not happy about it! Written in rhyme, The Kiddie Table is a hilarious yet honest story about that awkward period when you are stuck in between.  Will the girl be able to convince the adults that she deserves a spot at the their table?

The Kiddie Table is a story that will amuse students because it is funny and relatable.  We all have experienced a time when we feel out of place.  A good read aloud for before Thanksgiving, the story also teaches us if you have to sit at the kiddie table, be thankful for family, fun, growing up, and drinking without a sippy cup!



#Bookexcursion, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/30/18


Beagles and Books is excited to share another edition of It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give it a #kidlit focus and encourage everyone who participates to visit at least 3 of the other #kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

Taking care of her three younger siblings after school is seventh grader Zoey’s priority. And while things could be better, living in her mom’s boyfriend Lenny’s neat and organized trailer appears to be a step up from living in their previous apartment or when times were really tough, their old car.  Money is still tight so Zoey’s clothes aren’t always clean and enjoying coffee yogurt is a rare treat. Zoey’s favorite animal is an octopus because of its unique characteristics. If only she had eight legs to juggle all her responsibilities and the ability to hide and camouflage herself at school.

While Zoey attempts to blend in the background at school, her social studies teacher Ms. Rochambeau notices her. She gets permission to switch Zoey’s schedule in order for her to attend debate club where Zoey remains quiet but observant learning that the purpose of debate is to convince someone to see something in a new way.  Given her non-participation, Zoey is surprised when Ms. Rochambeau invites her to continue in the after school club even offering to drive her home (with the school’s and her mom’s permission) in time to pick up her siblings off the bus.  Still quiet, Zoey is taught an important debate defensive tactic-discrediting your opponent’s argument. Soon Zoey becomes increasingly more conscious of Lenny’s verbally abusive behavior toward her mom and her younger brother. Can she find the strength to convince her mom they deserve better?

The Benefits of Being an Octopus is an authentic and honest account of the struggles of a family living in poverty told from a middle schooler’s perspective.  As a teacher, Zoey’s story really hit me.  While I teach in an elementary school, I do know students who shoulder similar responsibilities at home as Zoey.  If any teacher doubted the importance of a personally getting to know their students and the immense power of teacher-student relationships, Ms. Rochambeau will convince you. She is a true hero because she gives Zoey the most precious gift of all- her time and attention which helps Zoey gain the confidence and voice to make not only her family’s life better but also the lives of her two friends, Fuchsia and Silas who are facing with their own struggles. As I head into a new school year, Ms. Rochambeau and Zoey will be there right with me.

A very special thank you to the author for sending an ARC of The Benefits of Being an Octopus to my #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now, for it will release on September 4, 2018.

The Land of Yesterday by K.A. Reynolds

Cecilia and her parents are grieving with the tragic death of her younger brother, Celadon.  Even her house named Widdendream is in mourning.  Cecilia feels partially responsible for Celadon’s death but even more so when her mother leaves to search for Celadon in the Land of Yesterday, a place where all souls go. Blaming Cecilia for her mother’s departure, angry Widdendrean holds her father hostage within its walls as punishment and demands her mother’s return. In an effort to save her family, Cecilia embarks on a brave and courageous journey to The Land of Yesterday.

The Land of Yesterday is a story of heartache, healing, and hope.  Losing someone you love is one of the most difficult experiences in life, and Cecilia, her parents, and even Widdendream cope differently to deal with their grief. Throughout her journey to reunite and heal her broken family, Cecilia realizes an inner strength and that “being there for each other is what families do.”  After reading the novel, the author’s acknowledgements are essential reading for she explains the very personnel origins of Cecilia’s story which tenderly reminds us that “letting go is not a goodbye. It’s just another way to love.”

A very special thank you to the author for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.   You won’t have to wait long to read Cecilia’s courageous story for The Land of Yesterday celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on July 31, 2018.

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week:

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

Dogs Days of School by Kelly DiPucchio  Illustrated by Brian Biggs

Charlie was tired of going to school and was jealous of his dog Norman who got to stay home all day.  One Sunday night, Charlie saw the brightest star in the sky and said, “I wish I was a dog.  Imagine Charlie’s surprise when he wakes up the next morning on Norman’s dog bed, and Norman is laying in his bed! Delighted that his wish came true, Charlie gets to sleep, watch the leaves fall, play fetch, and go to the park.  But after almost a week as a dog, Charlie learns it is not all fun especially spending the day at the dog groomer and getting in trouble for digging up the garden.  Norman wishes upon the stars to be a boy again.  Will his wish come true?

With a hilarious Freaky Friday plot and bold and bright illustrations, Dogs Days of School will be a hit with young readers.  Norman reminds us to be careful what you wish for and his role reversal teaches him to appreciate his life.  A good lesson for us all!


Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books.  Have a great week!

#Bookexcursion, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/23/18


Beagles and Books is excited to share another edition of It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give it a #kidlit focus and encourage everyone who participates to visit at least 3 of the other #kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden by Karina Yan Glaser

After reading The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, I fell in love with the entire family and couldn’t wait for an opportunity to return to Harlem for a follow up visit. Fortunately, my wait was short than expected because author Karina Yan Glaser graciously sent an ARC of The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden to my #bookexcursion group. It is no surprise that the second book in the series is as heartwarming as the first!

The Vanderbeekers’ upstairs neighbor and good friend Mr. Jeet suffers a stroke. As a result, he has to spend many weeks in the hospital recovering, and his wife Miss Josie won’t leave his side. Desperate to do something for Miss Josie and Mr. Jeet who met at a botanical garden, the Vanderbeeker children decide to fulfill Miss Josie’s request and transform the unused land next to her church into a community garden.

Their task is not without its challenges.  The children didn’t exactly get permission from the pastor or discuss their project with their parents.  Between the four of them (Isa is at orchesta camp), they only have seventy-eight dollars and eighteen days to make their dream a reality. And to matters worse, there is a strong possibility that the land may be sold to a real land developer.  But the Vanderbeekers are resilient both collectively and individually and aren’t going to let a few obstacles get in their way, right?

While I love Cicero’s quote mentioned in the novel, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” I believe that the Vanderbeekers would add that being generous to others in your community is also essential to happiness.  The Vanderbeekers gently remind me that acts of kindness are good for the heart and soul! Thank you Karina for sharing the beautiful family once again with #bookexcursion! The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden releases on September 25, 2018, Anxiously anticipating Book 3!

Snazzy Cat Capers by Deanna Kent Illustrated by Neil Hooson

Cat burglar Ophelia Von Hairball V is an elite member of the FFBI (Furry Feline Burglary Institute). Well known for her love of all things sparkly, she equally enjoys the thrill of partaking in a challenging heist.  Unlike her cousin and archrival Pierre, Ophelia follows the FFBI honor code with the small exception of returning 16 inventors in one year.  FFBI’s motto is “purr-fect crimes” and recently, more cats are getting caught by the Central Canine Intelligence Agency (CCIA).  Translation-all cat burglars need a paw-rtner in crime so much to Ophelia’s chagrin, she is paired with her 17th inventor, Oscar Fishgerald Gold.

Immediately after Oscar arrives, Ophelia and he discover Pierre’s scheme to thwart her participation in the Fifth Annual Purr-fect Heist Competition. While Oscar’s skills are instrumental in getting her to Paris in time, she stills prefers to work alone.  Can Ophelia win the competition on her own or will she embrace her fintastic partner?

Snazzy Cat Capers is simply meowificent!  Hilarious and fast-paced, I loved everything about this original new series-the dynamic characters, the page turning plot, the adorably eye catching illustrations, and the unique format, which is a blend of graphic novel and illustrated chapter book.  Special thanks to Deanna Kent, Neil Hooson, and Imprint Books for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Snazzy Cat Capers will be available on September 18, 2018 with two more books in the series releasing in 2019. Until then, meet sassy Ophelia and ingenious Oscar in book trailer below!

The Very Last Castle by Travis Jonker Illustrated by Mark Pett

A young girl, Ibb, lives in a town where there is only one castle still standing, and a lone knight guards it.  The knight never comes out and no one from town ever goes in.  While most townspeople think terrible things are in the castle, Ibb thinks differently.  After boldly knocking on the castle door (and then running away), she receives an invitation to visit. Ibb’s willingness to think differently and take a chance is a lesson to  herself, the entire town and most importantly, us as readers.  Travis Jonker has written an uplifting story of a young girl’s curiosity and bravery and how her one simple act can change a community for the better. Mark Pett’s illustrations are equally beautiful; I especially Ibb’s unique sense of style with her big yellow boots and her backpack adorn with clip toys.

The Very Last Castle is already on my list to share with students and teachers for #classroombookaday! Special thanks to Jenny Choy at Abrams Books for sending a copy for my #bookexcursion group to review.  It will be released on October 9, 2018.

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week:

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

Fred Stays with Me! by Nancy Coffelt Illustrated by Tricia Tusa

Because her parents are divorced, a young girl has to adjust to living in two different homes.  Throughout the sweet story, the girl shares how things are the same and different at each house, but the one absolute constant is that her dog Fred always stays with her.  Her mom complains that Fred constantly barks at the poodle next door, and her dad complains that Fred keeps steals socks.  As a result of his antics, both parents state “Fred can’t stay with me!”   In response, the girl boldly reminds her parents that “Fred doesn’t stay with either of you.  Fred stays with ME!,” which prompts each parent to come up with a plan to solve their problem with Fred.  I loved this story not only because it celebrates the love between a child and her pet but also it shows that divorced parents can work together in the best interest of their child.

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!  Happy reading!


#Bookexcursion, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/16/18


Beagles and Books is excited to share another edition of It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give it a #kidlit focus and encourage everyone who participates to visit at least 3 of the other #kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Our Reads This Week:

Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker: Incognito by Shelley Johannes

Incognito, the second book in the series immediately picks up from Book 1. It is the second week of third grade, and Beatrice and her best friend Lenny have officially yet secretly launched Operation Upside.  They are ready to give the first UPSIDE award of the week to classmate Wes Carver who thoughtfully holds the door open for everyone daily.  Then Beatrice gets the idea that the first award should go to her no shenanigans teacher, Mrs. Tamarak.  Receiving an UPSIDE would put a guaranteed smile on Mrs. Tamarack’s face right?  After secretly slipping the award into the stack of ungraded homework, Beatrice shares her good news with a very shocked Lenny.  Lenny informs Beatrice that Mrs. Tamarack will not consider a most strict award to be a compliment. She is right, for Mrs. Tamarack is not amused.  This mishap calls for Beatrice to go incognito for a while so that the identity of Operation Upside remains a secret.  But if you know Beatrice, laying low is not one of her strengths.

After reading and loving the first Beatrice novel, I did not think it was possible to love her even more, but I so do!  With Operation Upside, Beatrice’s mission is to spread happiness and who can argue with that?  Beatrice and Lenny also demonstrate inclusiveness encouraging Chloe to see how Wes’ animal knowledge can benefit the veterinary club and befriending and recruiting new student Sam Diaz for Operation Upside.  And of course, Shelley Johannes’ whimsical black felt tipped pen drawings of Beatrice and her friends make the book even more fun to read! Special thanks to author Shelley Johannes for sending an ARC of Beatrice Zinker: Incognito on a #bookexcursion.  It will be released on September 19, 2018.

The Remember Balloons by Jesse Oliveros  Illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte

In this heartwarming story, balloons represent memories. The older one is, the more balloons one has; therefore, it is no surprise that James’ grandpa has the most balloons in his family.   James loves hearing his grandpa tell him about his balloons, but lately, his grandpa is experiencing some difficulty; his balloons are getting caught in a tree or worse, floating away.  Worried, James shares his concerns with his parents who tenderly tell him that this happens as you get older.  At the end of the book, James discovers a way for him and his grandpa to hold on to these precious memories.

The Remember Balloons tackles the subject of dementia with tenderness and compassion.  Each colorful balloon represents one memory and are the focal point of the beautifully drawn illustrations.  I highly recommend this read aloud to help children better understand and cope with loved ones who are experiencing memory loss.

Special thanks to author Jesse Oliveros asnd Simon & Schuster for sending a F & G of The Remember Balloons to our #bookexcursion group.  It releases on August 28, 2018.

Good Night, Little Monsters by Kara LaReau  Illustrated by Brian Won

Monsters before bedtime?  No child will be able to resist this sweet and spooky story about little monsters’ bedtime rituals.  Written in rhyme, Kara LaReau sweetly shares that monsters have similar routines such as brushing teeth, snuggling close, reading a story or singing a lullaby.  I can see how this board book could be used to introuduce or reinforce bedtime routines. Brian Won’s illustrations are adorable and will bring smiles and laughs. I have no doubt that Good Night, Little Monsters is a story that children will beg to be read again and again, and adults will gladly agree.

Special thanks to Kara LaReau for sending Good Night, Little Monsters to our #bookexcursion group. It released in June 2018.

How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville Illustrated by Giselle Potter

Although I am familiar with Temple Grandin, I never new about her first invention, the hug machine.  How to Build a Hug is a narrative picture book biography that introduces Temple as a young child who like other kids, loved to build things but does not like hugs.  Temple wondered why hugs calmed others when they made her uncomfortable.  At boarding school, she continues to build and watches families hugging hellos and goodbyes still wondering will she ever feel comfortable with a hug?  It was until she spent the summer at her aunt’s ranch in Arizona that Temple’s idea took form.  Observing how a ranch hand used a squeeze chute to keep a cow calm during a vet exam, Temple planned and built her own hug machine.  She used her hug machine to calm her when she felt nervous or scared.

How to Build a Hug is a beautifully written and illustrated picture book that can be a mirror or window to readers.  Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville do a wonderful job conveying Temple’s feelings and emotions so that children can understand her dilemma with hugs, and Giselle Potter’s warm, vintage-like watercolor illustrations complement the text well. While the text does not specifically mention that Temple as autistic, the author’s note does and provides more information about Temple Grandin’s life.  I am always looking for nonfiction picture books for #classroombookaday and there is no doubt that How to Build a Hug will be read to students in the upcoming school year.

Special thanks to the authors and Kara Ledbetter of Simon & Schuster for sending a F & G of How to Build a Hug to my #bookexcursion group.  It releases on August 28, 2018.

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week:

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

The Detective Dog by Julia Donaldson Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

All dogs have a good sense of smell, but Nell’s is so keen, she is known as Detective Dog Nell. Tuesday through Sunday, Nell solves crime after crime but on Mondays, she goes to school with her person, Peter and listened to stories.  And of course, the best smell of all was the smell of books!  But one Monday, Nell smelled something wrong only to discover all the books in Peter’s classroom are gone! With her nose leading the way, Nell sets off to find the missing books. Not only is she successful in discovering the book thief but makes sure he never has to “steal” again. If you like dogs and books, you can’t go wrong with The Detective Dog.

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!  Happy reading!


#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday, Debut Author, Picture Books

Sterling, Best Dog Ever by Aiden Cassie

Beagles & Books wishes Aiden Cassie and her debut picture book, Sterling, Best Dog Ever a very Happy Book Birthday!   A very special thank you to Aidan Cassie and Macmillan for sending a copy of Sterling to my #bookexcursion group to read and review prior to its release. Below is my review which was featured on my #IMWAYR post on 6/25/18.

Sterling is determined to find a home.  Sleeping outside the Butlery Cutlery Company, he sneaks into a box of forks that are delivered to the Gilbert family.  When the family opens the box and finds Sterling, the mom and dad are perplexed but the daughter ‘s and her baby sister’s smiles say it all.  Sterling strives to be the best fork ever but soon discovers that perhaps, the family doesn’t need a fork.  Being adaptable, Sterling attempts to be a whisk, a rolling pin, and even a stick but none of these tools seems to make him or the daughter happy.  Will Sterling ever realizes his one and only job is to just be himself?

Sterling, The Best Dog Ever is a heartwarming and humorous story about learning to be comfortable in your own skin or in Sterling’s case, fur. The rich and colorful illustrations beautifully complement the plot and depict not only Sterling’s determination to be needed and useful but also the little girl’s true desire to have a dog of her own to love.

I can’t wait to share Sterling, The Best Dog Ever with students in the fall!  Its message of self acceptance makes it a perfect read aloud for #classroombookaday. If you need any more convincing, get a sneak peek of Sterling by viewing the trailer below.


#Bookexcursion, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/9/18


Beagles and Books is excited to share another edition of It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give it a #kidlit focus and encourage everyone who participates to visit at least 3 of the other #kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Our Reads This Week:

Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls: Power Play by Beth McMullen

Abby Hunter is back for another thrilling adventure.  Fellow classmate Toby’s father and creator of the hit reality game Monster Mayhem has been kidnapped.  While on a school trip to Paris, Toby disappears while in pursuit of his father’s abductor.  Abby is determined to find Toby, but it’s not easy when her mom, superspy Jennifer Hunter, is now filling in as headmaster at Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls and tells her Toby is safe and everything is under control.  Soon Abby discovers information to the contrary and must come up with a plan to get to Florida to save Toby.  Unfortunately, planning is not Abby’s strength but it’s not a deal breaker when you have classmates and friends like Charlotte and Izumi. As Izumi states “All three of us rolled together make one seriously good spy.”  Once in Florida, the three still need the help of Abby’s frenemy Veronica Brooks to find Toby, and it doesn’t take long before their covert mission is no longer secret to Jennifer and the director of the spy college located in Florida. Their knowledge of Monster Mayhem saves them and once reunited with Toby, Abby, Charlotte, Izumi, and reluctantly Veronica travel to London to partake in a mission to find the bitter hacker responsible for kidnapping of Toby’s father and possibly the demise of the entire spy school.

While reading the first book is not a necessity, it is highly encouraged because I already had a good understanding of the back story and relationships between characters.  Power Play is a great follow-up because the fast paced plot takes the reader all over the world and focuses on relatable themes such as friendship and teamwork.  As Abby states, “We all have different strengths and that’s what makes us good together. Sometimes the trouble is recognizing that.”  The ending leaves the reader hanging which makes me hopeful that another adventure is in the works.

A special thanks to Beth McMullen for sending Power Play to my #bookexcursion group.  It celebrated its book birthday last week on July 3, 2018.

Jasmine Toguchi Flamingo Keeper by Debbi Michiko Florence Illustrated by Elizabet Vulovic

In the fourth book in the series, Jasmine’s best friend Linnie gets a puppy.  Jasmine wonders if she can convince her parents to let her have a pet flamingo, which is her favorite animal in the world.  Her hopes get high when Jasmine’s grandma sends her and her older sister Sophie a daruma, which is a Japanese wishing doll.  Her mom explains that you make a wish and color in one eye.  When the wish is fulfilled, you can color in the other eye.  Of course, Jasmine knows her wish-a pet flamingo!  But darumas don’t work that way.  Jasmine learns that wishes don’t just happen; her grandma informs her that you must have gambette which means working hard to make your wish come true.

Jasmine Toguchi is one of my favorite series and it’s perfect for students transitioning to chapter books.  Jasmine appeals to young readers because she is spunky, determined, and has a lot of heart. The black and white illustrations complement the text and show Jasmine’s range of emotions as well as her close relationship with her family. While Jasmine is disappointed that the daruma does not magically grant wishes, she recalls that she has made past wishes come true with hard work.  Not only is Jasmine a great role model for children but each story teaches young (and old) readers about Japanese culture.  Like the previous novels, the author includes an author’s note and a bonus activity, and in Flamingo Keeper, Debbi Michiko Florence shares facts about the daruma and directions on how to make one.  I know my wish-Jasmine’s adventures will continue with another book in the series.


It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! by Jody Jensen Shaffer Illustrated by Claire Messer

Who isn’t nervous on the first day of school?  It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus tells the tale of Busy Bus who is both anxious and excited for his first day on the job. To read my full review, please click here.

Loretta’s Gift by Pat Zielow Miller Illustrated by Alea Marley

Along with her family, Loretta is excited about the arrival of her new baby cousin.  Everyone is preparing for the baby’s arrival but Loretta has no gift to give.  Although her mother tells her she doesn’t need to give a present, Loretta is determined to find the perfect gift.   She considers buying, sharing or making her gift but can’t make up her mind before baby Gabe arrives.  Loretta dotes on her new cousin always saying ” Who’s the best baby on the block?” Gabe smiles and giggles in return.

A year passes, and Gabe is celebrating his first birthday.  Worried, Loretta frets that she still hasn’t find the perfect gift.  Little does Loretta know that she has already given Gabe her gift which is the most precious gift of all-love. Loretta’s Gift a beautiful story and the lovely illustrations warmly show the power of family.  This is a precious story that I can’t wait to share with students.  A special thanks to Pat Zielow Miller for sending a F & G of Loretta’s Gift to my #bookexcursion group.  It will be released August 14, 2018.

Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move by Anna Wright

Magnificent Creatures is a gorgeous nonfiction picture book that shares unique facts about animals on the move.  I learned that when jellyfish swarm, it is known as a “bloom” and thousand of starlings moving together is called a “murmuration.”  Springboks are a new animal to me and surprisingly, one of the fastest land animals in the world! What I love about this book is author/illustrator Anna Wright uses a variety of art styles such as pen and ink, watercolor, and fabric collage to showcase the beauty of all the animals. Looking forward to sharing this exquisitely stunning picture book with my art teacher as well as classroom teachers and students.  Our first grade ELA curriculum also features a unit on animal teams so Magnificent Creatures would be a great read aloud during this unit.

A special thanks to Becky Kraemer for sending Magnificent Creatures to share with my #bookexcursion group.  It will celebrate its book birthday next week on July 17, 2018.

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week:

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

My Father’s Words by Patricia MacLachlan

Before the story begins, Patricia MacLachlan shares that My Father’s Words is a novel based on the real relationship between her late husband, who was a clinical psychologist, a former patient of his, and herself.  Knowing this story is based on truth made me both cry and smile while reading.

After Fiona and Finn’s father dies in a car accident to avoid hitting a child who chased a ball into the street, one of their father’s favorite patients, Thomas comes to pay his respects.  Considering him a hero, Thomas wants to share with Fiona why her father was such a good man and offers to call her once a week for two minutes at 6:50 p.m. every Monday.

On the very first call, Fiona shares her concern for Finn who is sad and alone.  Thomas suggests finding someone who has been left alone for Finn to help.  Writing the advice down, their neighbor Luke sees her note and shares a flyer advertising that a nearby animal shelter needs volunteers to spend time with dogs.  The very next day, the three children visit the shelter and discover that there are many dogs that need love and attention. Finn chooses a dog staring at the back wall named Emma.  They find out that Emma’s owner was a musician, and she was dropped off at the shelter after he died.  With each visit, Finn and Emma bond over books and later music and ultimately help each other cope with their grief.  Fiona finds comfort with Jenny, a calm and relaxed poodle.

Only 144 pages long, My Father’s Words is a beautifully written and tender story about the process of healing after the loss of a loved one.  What touched me the most is that through Thomas’ calls and volunteering at the shelter, Fiona and Finn slowly begin to feel a sense of hope in the midst of their great loss and learn that while “dogs need people, people need dogs even more sometime-to teach people how good they really can be.”

Having two rescue dogs, this novel is most definitely a heartprint book for me, for I am blessed with their unconditional love which truly makes me a better person. Thanks to Edelweiss for the privilege of reading an e-book of My Father’s Words, which will release on October 2, 2018.

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!  Happy reading!