#Bookexcursion, Author Interview, Early Chapter Books, Giveaway

Interview with Hillary Homzie, Author of Ellie May on Presidents’ Day & Ellie May on April Fools’ Day & Giveaway!

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Beagles and Books wishes Hillary Homzie’s Ellie May a very Happy Book Birthday! The first two books, Ellie May on Presidents’ Day and Ellie May on April Fools’ Day  publish today.  Hillary was kind enough to join me to answer questions about her new chapter book series about an enthusiastic and curious second grader.  To read my full reviews on both books, please visit my blog post here.

BB:  Congratulations on your new chapter book series!  I am so excited for readers to meet Ellie May!  Can you share with how you came to create her as a character? Any influences or inspirations?

HH: Ellie May announced herself to me. I didn’t pre-plan her. In fact, I had to keep typing to figure out what she would do or say next. She constantly surprised me with her enthusiasm and well-intentioned but misguided attempts at securing attention. She’s absolutely nothing like me. Okay, I’m sure there’s something of me in her somewhere. But she’s certainly nothing like the second grade me. I was much more lost in my own world, nose in a book or drawing. If anything, I’m closer to Lizzy, Ellie May’s best friend who’s artistic and not particularly athletic. However, Lizzy also like rules, and I can’t say I’m particularly bound by them.

So now, you really have me wondering, Laura. Where did Ellie May come from? I think I drew some inspiration from my middle son, who’s impulsive,  energetic and who tries his best to get into the center of things, which means sometimes he steps on a few toes. Hmm, it seems like it’s no coincidence that Ellie May is a middle child. In terms of influences, I’d have to cite the crisp characterization and humor in Beverly Clearly’s Ramona books and in Judy Blume’s Fudge Books.

BB: I love that Ellie’s lists, notes, and letters are included in the chapters. Was this an idea from your first drafts or did this come later?

It came about organically. Ellie May just seemed to want to me to dictate her notes. My editor Julie Bliven really liked them, so she asked me to do more, which means they are now consistently interspersed through the books. I have to admit that I got a little carried away with Ellie May’s creative spelling, and Julie had to pull me back, but she let me keep in quite a bit of it. Ellie May’s still working on her spelling. Hey, I just realized something. I’m not so hot at spelling myself. I’m constantly having to look things up, and I’m a firm believer that spellcheck is one of the world’s greatest inventions.

BB: Tell us your impressions when you saw the first sketches of Ellie May by Jeffrey Ebbeler.

HH: I was just thrilled! Jeffrey is extremely talented, and I feel so lucky that he’s working on the Ellie May books. He’s particularly adept at creating all kinds of humorous details that match the tone of the story. Plus, he truly individualizes the kids and perfectly showcases their personalities and expressions.

BB: The first two in the series are based on Presidents’ Day and April Fool’s Day. Why did you choose those holidays to begin the series?

HH: With my kids, it was a really big deal who got to be flag leader during the Pledge of Allegiance, so I decided to use that as a scenario. I thought it would up the stakes if Ellie May wanted to be flag leader right before Presidents’ Day. Plus, studying and learning about Presidents’ Day can be a big part of the primary school curriculum during the month of February. It was an opportunity to have Ellie May consider what it meant to be a good leader, and the importance of honesty in leadership emerged as a theme. This is an issue that kids are especially hearing about right now in the news, and it will be a timeless issue.

Tackling April Fools’ Day next just seemed the thing to do. After all,  it comes only a couple of months after Presidents’ Day, and, well, it’s all about being funny. While Ellie May isn’t a joker, she’s a humorous character because of her mishaps, and so I thought having Ellie May decide to be the funniest kid in her classroom during April Fools’ Day would provide lots of opportunities for mayhem and mirth. In particular, I enjoyed weaving in a bit of the history of April Fools’ Day and other international holidays celebrating merriment. Plus, when I was in my twenties, I performed and wrote sketch comedy in New York, so I’m always up for a holiday that’s about making people laugh.

BB: Any plans for additional Ellie May books in the series?

HH: Well, I have written the first half of a Halloween book, which was so much fun because it involves Ellie May’s attempts at scaring people! Of course, there are so many other holidays I’d love to tackle—like Ground Hog’s Day. I mean, think about Ellie May in search of a ground hog. It just makes me smile thinking about it.

I know that sometimes I take myself way too seriously and Ellie May reminds me to get back to my inner child, risk-taking and fun–someone who is not being afraid to fail and seeks new experiences with enthusiasm and an open heart.

BB:  I couldn’t agree more!  Ellie May is a good role model for young readers and can teach us all a lesson about the power of curiosity, taking chances, and admitting and growing from your mistakes. I look forward to reading more Ellie May adventures and learning facts about holidays!  Thanks so much Hillary for taking the time to stop by Beagles and Books.

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Meet Hillary: 
To learn more about Hillary,  visit her at www.hillaryhomzie.com or follow her on Twitter @hillaryhomzie

Giveaway Details: 
To celebrate Ellie May’s book birthday, Beagles and Books is giving away paperback copies of Presidents’ Day and April Fools’ Day.  Contest begins today and will end on December 26, 2018 at 12:00 a.m.  Click the link below to enter.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/46a61dc011/?

#Bookexcursion, Early Chapter Books, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What are You Reading? 12/17/18

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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 Recent Reads:

Ellie May on Presidents’ Day & Ellie May on April’s Fools’ Day by Hillary Homzie  Illustrated by Jeffery Ebbeler

As a reading specialist, I am always excited to discover a new illustrated series to recommend to my young readers transitioning to chapter books.  Written from her point of view, Ellie May is an exuberant second grader who will capture your heart with her curiosity and tenacity.

In Ellie May on Presidents’ Day, second grader Ellie May has not yet been chosen to be flag leader and she desperately wants a turn before Presidents’ Day.  To make matters worst, Ellie May has less than a week to convince her teacher Ms. Silva that she deserves the honor.  Readers quickly learn that it’s difficult for Ellie May to contain her enthusiasm at school which leads her to get in trouble.  Ellie May attempts to win her teacher over by acting like former presidents displaying honesty like George Washington and an interest in taking apart gadgets like Abraham Lincoln.  Her plan though backfires because her honesty hurts another classmate’s feelings and tinkering with the pencil sharpener doesn’t please Ms. Silva.  Deflated, Ellie May begins to lose hope in becoming a flag leader but discovers that displaying true honesty is the key to her goal.

In Ellie May on April Fools’ Day, Ellie May is determined to be funnier than her classmate Mo and what better day to show her class than April Fool’s Day!  While her first prank works on her family, Ellie can’t seem to execute the joke at school.  After researching birds, she discovers that scrub jays trick spying animals by burying stones instead of acorns.  This new found fact gives Ellie May the idea for an even better prank but unfortunately her joke does not get the reaction she hoped for. Feeling frustrated, Ellie May resorts to a trick that gets her in trouble with Ms. Silva who not only reminds the class the difference between laughing with someone and at them but also shows them with her own April Fools’ prank!

Young readers will enjoy Ellie May because they will be easily able to relate to her.  She has the best intentions but at times, her enthusiasm and eagerness can get the best of her.  What I love most about Ellie May is she always admits her mistakes and shows remorse for her actions which makes her a great role model for students.  Ebbeler’s black and white illustrations beautifully complement the plot and demonstrate Ellie May’s excitement and energy for learning.  Another reason I enjoyed this series is because author Hillary Homzie included Ellie May’s handwritten notes and letters which gave me the opportunity to feel as if Ellie May is really telling the story.  An added bonus is back matter which shares a brief history of Presidents’ Day and April Fools’ Day.

Special thanks to Hillary Homzie for sending Ellie May to my #bookexcursion group.  Both Ellie May books will be released tomorrow on December 18, 2018. Visit Beagles & Books tomorrow for an exclusive interview with Hillary about creating the Ellie May series.

Tough Cookie by Edward Hemingway

Fans of The Gingerbread Man will adore this holiday retelling with a sweet message.  When Sugar Cookie Man is too slow to outrun Fox, readers think Cookie is a goner.  Unlike the original Gingerbread Man, Cookie is miraculously saved from being devoured. Much to Cookie’s chagrin, instead of tasting sweet and delicious, Cookie learns from Fox that he tastes terrible and tough.  Feeling sad and without purpose, Fox attempts to help Cookie sweeten up.  But no amount of eggnog, powdered sugar, and Christmas carols can get the job done.  Plan B is Cookie should improve his speed rather than his sweetness so Fox enters him in the Sweet Treat Christmas Race.  Cookie experiences yet another setback, for he crosses the finish line last.  Cookie doesn’t feel sweet or tough now.  Will he ever find his true calling?

Tough Cookie is a heartwarming story about self-acceptance.  Cookie assumed he was sweet and speedy and when he realizes the truth, he is heartbroken.  Hemingway adorably conveys Cookie’s emotions and feelings through the illustrations as well as the text with phrases such as “And that’s when Cookie crumbled” and “Everything I do is half-baked.” While at first his adversary, Fox becomes a good friend to Cookie in his efforts to help him solve his dilemma reminding him to “hang in there.”  Much to Cookie’s surprise, he realizes he is not to be eaten but rather to adorn the town’s Christmas tree as a decoration.  So that’s why he has a hole in his head! With this discovery, Cookie’s confidence returns, for he finally accepts himself for who he is.

With its powerful message, charming illustrations, and a fast paced engaging plot, I highly recommend teachers and parents to add Tough Cookie as a Christmas read aloud.  I look forward to reading with my students within the next two weeks before winter break. At the end of the book, an added bonus is Tough Cookie recipes-one for sugar cookies and one for ornaments.

Special thanks to Henry Holt Books for Young Readers and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins by Sue Fliess  Illustrated by Mark Chambers

What happens when it’s Christmas Eve morning and Santa wakes up feeling sick?  Have no fear!  Mrs. Claus is here to take the reins of his sleigh. And with no time to waste, Mrs. Claus quickly gathers the elves to help her prepare for her round trip journey to deliver presents.

Written in rhyme, the text is fun and cheery; it begs to be read aloud!  The bold and colorful illustrations are eye catching especially Mrs. Claus herself with her red curly hair, cat eye glasses, plaid skirt, and red stockings. Readers also spy contemporary references in the illustrations such as Mrs. Claus using a tablet for planning and navigation as well as holding a Starbucks-like cup of coffee as she embarks on her adventure.

I love finding new holiday books to share with students and recommend to teachers.  Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins is a delightful and entertaining adventure that readers will thoroughly enjoy.  Author Sue Fliess has created a dynamic character in Mrs. Claus for she demonstrates many positive traits.  She shows initiative and confidence taking over for Santa, orderliness in preparation for her journey, enthusiasm for delivering the presents, courage when facing bad weather, and calmness and resourcefulness when problems arise.  Illustrator Mark Chambers’ artwork is detailed and expressive, for he vividly conveys Santa’s and Mrs. Claus’ feelings and emotions as well as the elves, reindeer, and other animals.

Special thanks to Two Lions Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending a copy to Beagles and Books to read in exchange for a honest review.

Etta & 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.

Santa’s Dog by Joann Sky Illustrated by Ed Koehler

One of Santa’s dogs, Lance accompanies him every Christmas Eve on his yearly sleigh ride.  But one year when it is particularly windy, Lance falls out of the sleigh. Luckily, an animal shelter takes in Lance and while Santa is concerned, he knows he must continue his journey. Santa returns for Lance on Christmas Day but the shelter is closed and Santa doesn’t feel right going in without permission.

A family whose army dad is headed overseas visits the shelter to find a dog to help them through the transition.  The soldier sees Lance and is certain he is the one.  Still missing Santa, Lance provided comfort to his new family throughout the year.  On the following Christmas Eve, Lance was reunited with Santa but realized that he had a big decision to make.  Does he stay or go?

Written in rhyme, Santa’s Dog is a sweet and tender holiday story that warmed my heart.  As a rescue dog mom, I am always championing books that feature animal adoption.  Lance is loved by all, but after some contemplation. he realizes that his true purpose is to remain with his devoted family.  Koehler’s vibrant and expressive illustrations catch the readers’ eye. Another reason this book tugs at my heart is that a portion of the proceeds go to support animal rescue causes.  To learn more, visit the website http://www.dogsandbooks.com

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

#Bookexcursion, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/10/18

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:

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New Kid by Jerry Craft

There is no question that navigating middle school is challenging for all kids. Now add in transferring to a new upscale middle school where you are one of the few kids of color in your grade. New Kid is a compelling and candid account of Jordan Banks’ first hand experience as a seventh grader at Riverdale Academy Day SchoolThis graphic novel tackles tough issues with honesty and humor which makes it a must read for students, teachers, and parents.  To read my full review, click here.

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Where is My Balloon? by Ariel Bernstein Illustrated by Scott Magoon

Owl has a red balloon and Monkey has his sock with a star. Owl asks Monkey to hold his balloon, but unfortunately, it pops.  When Owl returns to retrieve his precious belonging, Monkey is not truthful and tries to substitute other red items such as a chair, fire truck, and a parachute for the balloon.  Finally, Monkey admits that he popped Owl’s balloon, which devastates Owl so much that he rips up Monkey’s sock.  Once Owl calms down, he forgives Monkey.  Appreciative of Owl’s gesture, Monkey offers to share his sock not realizing it has been destroyed.  Now the shoe is on the other foot and it is Owl’s turn to find a replacement.

A follow-up to I Have a Balloon, Where is My Balloon? is a fun story which teaches young readers about honesty, forgiveness, and sharing.  Younger readers will enjoy the banter between Owl and Monkey as well as the bold and expressive illustrations of the duo.  Special thanks to Simon Kids for sending a F & G to my #bookexcursion group to read and review.  Where is My Balloon? publishes in January 2019.  

No Boring Stories! by Julie Falakto Illustrations by Charles Santoso

A star nosed mole, a giraffe necked weevil, a babisrusa, and a yeti crab collaborate to write stories. When they discover Bunny eavesdropping on their planning sessions, they are suspicious of her. Turns out that she is a writer herself and needs their help. Tired of boring stories, Bunny desperately wants to join their group because she likes to write weird stories about talking furniture or flying pizza.  Empathetic to her frustration, the animals allow her to listen into their work session and she observes their struggle agreeing to a resolution to their story. Can Bunny help them with an ending?  

Julie Falatko has written a sweet story about perseverance, acceptance, and collaboration. Bunny demonstrates persistence in wanting to be part of the writer’s group, the other animals finally accept her presence, and finally, the animals realize that their beginning needed Bunny’s ending and her ending needed their beginning.  Santoso’s illustrations are adorable but they also vividly convey Bunny’s creative frustration and her need to feel welcomed. Special thanks to Penguin Kids for sending No More Boring Stories to my #bookexcursion group,  It recently published in November 2018.

Etta & 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.

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Latke, the Lucky Dog by Ellen Fischer Illustrations by Tiphanie Beeke

Latke, the Lucky Dog is a heartwarming story about a dog that a family adopted from a shelter. After he is adopted, Latke struggles with learning the rules of the house as they family celebrates Hanukkah. Latke eats all sufganiyot and laktes, unwraps the Hanukkah presents, and chews a dreidel and candles.  What I love about this picture book is that it not only shares Hanukkah traditions but also a family’s understanding of Latke’s transition from shelter life to their home.  Latke realizes that he is a lucky dog because of his family’s patience and love. 

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

#Bookexcursion, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade Literature

New Kid by Jerry Craft

New Kid by Jerry Craft

There is no question that navigating middle school is challenging for all kids. Now add in transferring to a new upscale middle school where you are one of the few kids of color in your grade. New Kid is a compelling and candid account of Jordan Banks’ first hand experience as a seventh grader at Riverdale Academy Day School.

Because it is a graphic novel, readers have the advantage of both the dialogue and the illustrations. Craft’s frank dialogue coupled with his detailed and insightful illustrations allow readers to truly know Jordan’s thoughts and feelings as he, other classmates, and even teachers handle racism and microaggression from not only their peers but also teachers.

Jordan is a talented artist and Craft blends drawings from Jordan’s own sketchbook to give readers more of a window into his personal thoughts and feelings. Some of his sketches are humorous like “My Dad’s Tip for Being a Man! Shaking Hands” while others such as “Jordan’s Tips for Taking the Bus” share his honest realities of navigating his bus ride to school every day.

Craft doesn’t just share Jordan’s journey.  While New Kid is written from Jordan’s point of view, readers learn the challenges other students face through Jordan’s eyes. And through his first year, Jordan learns a lot about himself, others, and that he doesn’t have to choose between things to be happy.

New Kid tackles tough issues with honesty and humor which makes it a must read for students, teachers, and parents. A very special thanks to Jerry Craft for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now so you have New Kid in your hands when it publishes in February 2019.

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins by Sue Fliess

Beagles and Books is excited to be a part of the blog tour for Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins written by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Mark Chambers. It recently published in September 2018. Special thanks to Two Lions Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Publisher’s Summary: 
It’s Christmas Eve morning, and Santa Claus is still in bed! He’s feeling stuffy and sneezy and slow as a yeti. Will Christmas have to be canceled? Not this year! Because Mrs. Claus is ready to take the reins in Santa’s place. With a plan in mind, Mrs. Claus assembles the crew, maps out the route, and preps the sleigh. Then, with a snap of the reins, she shoots off into the night. Delivering gifts all over the world without Santa’s magic won’t be easy, but Mrs. Claus proves she has some holiday sparkle of her own…

With lively rhyming text and adorable artwork, this delightful Christmas adventure will get kids into the holiday spirit.

Praise for Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins
“The illustrations are bright and expressive…Young children will enjoy this exuberant adventure.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This is a nice addition to holiday stories with a little dash of girl power.” —Youth Services Book Review
 Review:
What happens when it’s Christmas Eve morning and Santa wakes up feeling sick?  Have no fear!  Mrs. Claus is here to take the reins of his sleigh. And with no time to waste, Mrs. Claus quickly gathers the elves to help her prepare for her round trip journey to deliver presents.
 
Written in rhyme, the text is fun and cheery; it begs to be read aloud!  The bold and colorful illustrations are eye catching especially Mrs. Claus herself with her red curly hair, cat eye glasses, plaid skirt, and red stockings. Readers also spy contemporary references in the illustrations such as Mrs. Claus using a tablet for planning and navigation as well as holding a Starbucks-like cup of coffee as she embarks on her adventure.
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I love finding new holiday books to share with students and recommend to teachers.  Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins is a delightful and entertaining adventure that readers will thoroughly enjoy.  Author Sue Fliess has created a dynamic character in Mrs. Claus for she demonstrates many positive traits.  She shows initiative and confidence taking over for Santa, orderliness in preparation for her journey, enthusiasm for delivering the presents, courage when facing bad weather, and calmness and resourcefulness when problems arise.  Illustrator Mark Chambers’ artwork is detailed and expressive, for he vividly conveys Santa’s and Mrs. Claus’ feelings and emotions as well as the elves, reindeer, and other animals.
 
I can’t wait to read Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins to students and start a new holiday tradition!
 
Watch Mrs. Claus make HERstory in the adorable trailer!
 
 
About the Author:
Sue Fliess is the author of more than twenty children’s books, including Shoes for Me!, A Dress for Me!, and Books for Me!, all illustrated by Mike Laughead; and Let’s Build, illustrated by Miki Sakamoto. Sue loves the holiday season and hopes she made it onto Santa’s “nice” list this year! She lives with her family and their dog in Northern Virginia. Learn more about Sue online at www.suefliess.com.
 
About the Illustrator: 
Mark Chambers is an award-winning author and illustrator of more than thirty-five children’s books. In 2013, Mark won the Sheffield Children’s Picture Book Award and was short-listed for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. In 2017, his artwork entitled “We Will Remember” was short-listed for the AOI World Illustration Awards. Mark lives and works in the United Kingdom and once spent Christmas in the Arctic Circle. Learn more about Mark online at www.markachambers.com
 
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Giveaway!
Thanks to Two Lions, one lucky winner will receive a copy of MRS. CLAUS TAKES THE REINS (U.S. addresses).  The giveaway begins Friday, November 30, 2018 and ends at 12:00 a.m. on Friday, December 8, 2018. Enter by clicking the link below. 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/46a61dc09/?

 

 

#Bookexcursion, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/26/18

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:

Focused by Alyson Gerber

Focused is a honest and authentic story about seventh grader Clea and her experience being diagnosed with ADHD. From the very first page, it is clear that Clea struggling to keep up with her schoolwork.  She can’t concentrate when taking a quiz and leaves answers blank.  When completing homework, she finds it hard to manage her time which results in incomplete assignments.  Chess is Clea’s passion and if her grades slip, her opportunity to be on the chess team is in jeopardy.   Adding more fuel to the fire, her best friend Red dealing with his own family issues is tired of all of Clea’s impulsive outbursts.  

Drawing on her own experience having ADHD,  Alyson Gerber wrote Focused from Clea’s point of view. I love that readers get a first hand account of Clea’s thoughts and feelings. Initially, Clea puts all the blame on herself and thinks if she just works harder, things will improve.  After testing and an official diagnosis, Clea learns that she is capable and intelligent and having ADHD has actually made her more persistent and willing to get back up when she does have a set back.  With her new found knowledge and a plan to treat and manage her ADHD, Clea can be in control and begins advocating for herself.  

As a teacher, I work with students who have ADHD, but Focused really opened my eyes to the symptoms, effects, and the challenges they face daily.  I highly recommend this amazing novel to students, teachers, and parents, for Clea’s story can be a both a mirror and a window to readers of all ages.  A very special thanks to Alyson Gerber for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Focused releases in March 2019.  

Robot in Love by T.L, McBeth

Walking down Electric Avenue, Robot experiences love at first sight and he can’t get her out of his mind. But once he sees her again, his nerves overload his system which renders him speechless.  When Robot finally returns with a gift in hand, she is gone and he is beside himself.  Where is she?   

Fortunately, Robot decides to return to their original meeting spot where he is reunited with his one and only love.  While the reader is provided some clues about the identity of Robot’s true love, it is still a surprise for the reader (or at least me).  And don’t overlook the endpapers which provide subtle hints.

Robot in Love is a humorous and heartwarming story that will make you laugh and smile.  I am a big fan of McBeth’s artwork having the opportunity to read and review his debut illustrating Stegothesaurus.  Using a simple palette of black, grey, white, pink and red, McBeth’s warm illustrations bring life to Robot, for his eyes and body language convey his emotions.  I have no doubt that readers will easily fall in love with Robot.

A very special thanks to Christian Trimmer and Mark Podesta of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/Macmillian Books for sending Robot in Love to my #bookexcursion group.  It releases on December 24, 2018.  

Made By Maxine by Ruth Spiro Illustrated by Holly Hatem

Made By Maxine is an inspiring story of a young girl who is inventive, resourceful, and most importantly persistent.  To read my full review and enter a giveaway, click here.

Etta & 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.

Found by Jeff Newman and Larry Day

There are books that tug at my heartstrings more than others and Found is one of those books.  A wordless picture book with beautiful ink and water color illustrations, Found is a story about a missing dog, a found dog, loss, love, and hope. 

Before the title page, a young girl peers out of her window and sees a little dog lost in the rain.  She rescues the scruffy brown dog and brings him into her home. Once the girl opens the door to her bedroom, readers spy a missing poster of the girl’s own dog, Prudence, a photo of them together, and a pet bed hidden under the girl’s bed. Apprehensive, the girl slowly allows the found dog to use Prudence’s things and sleep in bed with her. 

By the next day, the girl is clearly smitten with the dog playing with him, taking him for a walk to the local pet store for treats, and hugging him as if he is her very own.  On her walk home, she discovers the found dog is actually missing when she sees a lost flyer for a small golden colored dog named Roscoe.  While it is not an easy decision, the girl knows what she has to do.  And her good deed is rewarded when she learns that although our hearts break for those we lose, our hearts are big enough to love again.

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

Giveaway, Picture Books

Review & Giveaway: Tough Cookie by Edward Hemingway

Beagles and Books is excited to share a new holiday picture book, Tough Cookie written and illustrated by Edward Hemingway!  Special thanks to Henry Holt Books for Young Readers and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review:

Fans of The Gingerbread Man will adore this holiday retelling with a sweet message.  When Sugar Cookie Man is too slow to outrun Fox, readers think Cookie is a goner.  Unlike the original Gingerbread Man, Cookie is miraculously saved from being devoured. Much to Cookie’s chagrin, instead of tasting sweet and delicious, Cookie learns from Fox that he tastes terrible and tough.  Feeling sad and without purpose, Fox attempts to help Cookie sweeten up.  But no amount of eggnog, powdered sugar, and Christmas carols can get the job done.  Plan B is Cookie should improve his speed rather than his sweetness so Fox enters him in the Sweet Treat Christmas Race.  Cookie experiences yet another setback, for he crosses the finish line last.  Cookie doesn’t feel sweet or tough now.  Will he ever find his true calling?
Tough Cookie is a heartwarming story about self-acceptance.  Cookie assumed he was sweet and speedy and when he realizes the truth, he is heartbroken.  Hemingway adorably conveys Cookie’s emotions and feelings through the illustrations as well as the text with phrases such as “And that’s when Cookie crumbled” and “Everything I do is half-baked.” While at first his adversary, Fox becomes a good friend to Cookie in his efforts to help him solve his dilemma reminding him to “hang in there.”  Much to Cookie’s surprise, he realizes he is not to be eaten but rather to adorn the town’s Christmas tree as a decoration.  So that’s why he has a hole in his head! With this discovery, Cookie’s confidence returns, for he finally accepts himself for who he is.  
With its powerful message, charming illustrations, and a fast paced engaging plot, I highly recommend teachers and parents to add Tough Cookie as a Christmas read aloud.  I look forward to reading with my students within the next two weeks before winter break. At the end of the book, an added bonus is Tough Cookie recipes-one for sugar cookies and one for ornaments.

About the Author/Illustrator:
Edward Hemingway is the creator of Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus, Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship, and Bad Apple’s Perfect Day, as well as the illustrator of My Miserable Life by F.L. Block. He has written features in GQ magazine and comics for Nickelodeon, and his artwork has been published in The New York Times and Nickelodeon Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

 
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Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of TOUGH COOKIE with a special cookie cutter and recipe card! (U.S. addresses).  Click on link below.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/46a61dc010/?

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books, Rockstar Book Tours

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Made By Maxine by Ruth Spiro Illustrated by Holly Hatem

Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the Made By Maxine blog tour organized by Rockstar Book Tours. Written by Ruth Spiro and illustrated by Holly Hatem, Made By Maxine recently published on October 9, 2018.

About the Book:
Title: MADE BY MAXINE
Author: Ruth Spiro (Author),Holly Hatam (Illustrator)
Publisher: Dial Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 37
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooksTBD

Publisher’s Summary: 

Meet Maxine, an inspiring young maker who knows that with enough effort and imagination (and mistakes), it’s possible to invent anything.

Maxine loves making new things from old things. She loves tinkering until she has solved a problem. She also loves her pet goldfish, Milton. So when it’s time for her school’s pet parade, she’s determined to create something that will allow Milton to march with the other animals. Finally, after trying, trying,and trying again, she discovers just the right combination of recycled odds and ends to create a fun, functional–and absolutely fabulous–solution to her predicament.

Review:

From the moment I opened Made By Maxine, I was captivated by illustrator Hollly Hatam’s cheerful and animated illustrations.  The endpapers are filled with drawings of scientific elements, DNA, and tools which give us a glimpse into Maxine’s passion for discovery.  As soon as readers meet Maxine on the first page, her facial expression shows her excitement for creating new things from old things. 

It comes as no surprise that Maxine wants to upgrade her new pet fish Milton’s simple glass bowl to something more spectacular.  Her motto is “If I can dream it, I can make it.”  Author Ruth Spiro richly and precisely describes Maxine’s creative process introducing young readers to words such as de-construct, re-construct, tinker, hack, upcycle, and repurpose,   Hatam’s expressive illustrations reveal Maxine’s range of emotions when inventing.  Her face shows moments of confidence, puzzlement, excitement, frustration, and satisfaction.

When faced with the task of inventing a way to include feetless Milton in her class pet parade, Maxine experiences struggle and failure, but ultimately is not deterred.  She is loyal to her fishy friend.  Wearing her thinking cap (complete with a lightbulb and antenna), Maxine holds true to the quote taped to her wall which reads “Think like a proton. Always positive.”  She perseveres to create a fintastic, fintabulous, and fincredible float for Melvin!

Spiro has written an inspiring story of a young girl who is inventive, resourceful and most importantly persistent.  While Hatam’s warm illustrations show her family’s support of her projects,  it is clear that Maxine’s drive and determination comes from within.  Maxine teaches us all that the creative process is messy but the results are so rewarding. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About Holly:

Holly Hatam’s a girl that sometimes wears something pink and sparkly and sometimes dons capes and fights dragons. Some days she’s moody, but other days she shakes her booty. Some days her heart may seek wild adventures, but other days she just wants to be a couch potato. She is a picture book maker, greeting card designer, and a textile engineer. She is also the #1 New York  Times Bestselling illustrator of Dear Girl. Her other books include, What Matters, Tree Song, Maxine the Maker, Jack(Not Jackie) and The Acadia Files.

Holly lives in Whitby, Ontario with her weird husband and even weirder son. But that’s ok, because weird is a side effect of awesome.

Holly’s client list includes Harper Collins, Orca Publishers, Dial Books for Young Readers, AnnickPress, Tilbury House, Lady Bird, Usborne Books, Hallmark, American Greetings, Mudpuppy, Baby Bug, Highlights, Chickadee, Little Bee Books, MacGraw Hill, and Learning A-Z.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads

 

Giveaway:

1 winner will win a finished copy of MADE BY MAXINE, US Only.  Click the link below to enter.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2852/?

Tour Schedule: Join us on the other stops of this tour for more giveaway chances and to read more about the illustrator Holly Hatem and MADE BY MAXINE.

Week One:
11/19/2018- Lifestyle of Me– Review
11/20/2018- Here’s to Happy EndingsReview
11/21/2018- Beagles & Books– Review
11/22/2018- Do You Dog-ear?– Review
11/23/2018- Chrikaru Reads– Review

Week Two:
11/26/2018- BookHounds YA– Review
11/27/2018- YA Books Central– Review
11/28/2018- Twirling BookPrincess– Excerpt
11/29/2018- Oh Hey! Books.– Interview
11/30/2018- A Dream Within A Dream– Excerpt

 

#Bookexcursion, Giveaway, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/19/18

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:

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

Ever since Coyote’s mother and two sisters were killed in an automobile accident,  she and her father Rodeo have been living on a converted school bus named Yeager and traveling wherever the road or their stomachs take them. With the discovery that her hometown park is about to be torn down, Coyote must find a way to get back to Washington State in order to retrieve a memory box that she, her mother, and sisters buried there years ago.  The trouble is going home is a no-go for Rodeo who wants to leave their past behind.  

Coyote though is determined to keep her promise to her mom and dig up their box. She concocts a scheme to steer Rodeo toward home without suspicion. While on route, Coyote meets some people in need of rides who join her and Rodeo on her secret journey home.  Since time is of the essence,  she eventually confides in all these passengers who support Coyote in her mission. Each individual also teaches Coyote valuable lessons about family, friendship, forgiveness, and finding your own path. 

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise is a beautiful story that reminds us sometimes we do have to go back to move forward.  I do admire Rodeo for his kind and gentle soul but Coyote has my heart.  Of course, any character who devours books and names her kitten Ivan in honor of The One and Only Ivan is a soul mate.  What I love most about Coyote is she shows great strength in acknowledging her vulnerability. One of my favorite lines is when Coyote says “maybe we’re all a little broken. Maybe we’re all a little fragile. Maybe that’s why we need each other so much.”

A very special thanks to Christian Trimmer and Mark Podesta of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/Macmillian Books for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now, for it releases on January 8, 2019.

Duck and Hippo Give Thanks by Jonathan London Illustrated by Andrew Joyner

I love finding seasonal read alouds that I can share with students before a holiday. Duck and Hippo Give Thanks is a sweet story that reminds us that true friendship is about accepting others for who they are.  To read my full review and enter a giveaway for 3 Duck and Hippo books, click here.

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.

Little Brown by Marla Frazee

Little Brown is cantankerous dog but the question is why?  Is his negative attitude caused by the fact that other dogs won’t play with him or rather is it that the other dogs won’t befriend him because of his crankiness? Readers discover that Little Brown does has an interest in mingling with the other dogs but he clearly is afraid of being rejected. 

So what is Little Brown’s solution?  Stealing all their belongings and keeps them for himself.   The ending is a stalemate between Little Brown and the other dogs and will make readers think and want to discuss. Little Brown is a great read aloud for discussing character motivation and will undoubtedly lead to a conversation about bullying and empathy.  

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

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Duck and Hippo Give Thanks by Jonathan London Illustrated by Andrew Joyner

 

Beagles and Books is excited to be a part of the blog tour for Duck and Hippo Give Thanks written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Andrew Joyner. It recently published in August 2018. Special thanks to Two Lions Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Publisher’s Summary:

Duck and Hippo are thankful for good friends!

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and Hippo has his heart set on having a good old-fashioned feast with Duck and their friends. Together, Duck and Hippo go shopping for food and invite Turtle, Elephant, and Pig to share the special day with them. Then they get everything ready. But while Hippo goes to bed dreaming of his good old-fashioned Thanksgiving, Duck is busy making her own plans. There’s going to be a BIG surprise—one that will remind Hippo of all he has to be thankful for. Join Duck and Hippo for a memorable celebration!

Review and Thoughts:

I love finding seasonal read alouds that I can share with students before a holiday.  Duck and Hippo Give Thanks is a sweet story with two simple yet powerful messages. True friendship is about accepting others for who they are, and the best gift is time together with friends.

At my elementary school this year, we are focusing on teaching students a virtue a week and acknowledging students who demonstrate that virtue through their words and actions. After reading aloud Duck and Hippo Give Thanks to a second grade class, I asked “What do you think the author wanted to teach us?”  Many hands went up in the air with connections to the previously taught virtues.  Here are some of the kids’ comments.

“This story taught me about being kind.  Hippo was kind to invite all his friends to Thanksgiving dinner and the animals were kind to bring food to share.”

“I think the author wanted us to know that being a good friend means you don’t always get your way. When the animals brought their own food, Hippo looked mad at first but then he changed his mind and said he was thankful for his friends.”

“The story reminded me of our virtue of cooperation. Hippo and his friends all worked together to make food for Thanksgiving.”

It always warms this teacher’s heart when children can identify themes on their own and can see that books can have multiple messages.  I enjoy Duck and Hippo because they remind me of Frog and Toad. Duck is adventurous and Hippo is a little more set in his ways.  Together, they are great friends because they bring out the best in each other.  Andrew Joyner’s illustrations warmly capture both Duck’s and Hippo’s personalities.

If Duck and Hippo are new to you, check out the series.  And be on the look out for the next book, Duck and Hippo: The Secret Valentine, due out on December 18, 2018.

About the Author:
Jonathan London is the author of more than one hundred children’s books, including the Froggy series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz, which has sold more than fifteen million copies. Jonathan lives in Graton, California. Learn more at www.jonathan-london.net

About the Illustrator:
Andrew Joyner is an Australian illustrator and author whose work has been published in more than twenty-five countries. He has created the artwork for many picture books, and he is author and illustrator of a chapter book series about a warthog named Boris. Andrew lives in South Australia. Learn more at www.andrewjoyner.com.au.

There’s more fun with Duck and Hippo in the free downloadable activity pages: https://www.andrewjoyner.com.au/activities/.

Duck and Hippo give thanks for good friends in this sweet book trailer.

Giveaway!
Two Lions is offering a set of all three Duck and Hippo books–DUCK AND HIPPO IN THE RAINSTORM, DUCK AND HIPPO LOST AND FOUND, and DUCK AND HIPPO GIVE THANKS–to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses).  Giveaway begins Friday, November 16, 2018 and ends at 12:00 a.m. on Friday, November 23, 2018. Enter by clicking the link below.  

A Duck and Hippo Rafflecopter Giveaway