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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/21/18


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.

Rosetownby Cynthia Rylant

Told over the course of one year, Rosetown is the story of nine-year-old Flora Smallwood who lives in fictional Rosetown, Indiana.  For a young girl that does not like change, Nora is having to learn to make adjustments.  Her beloved dog recently passed away, and her parents have separated.  Fourth grade is also more difficult than third grade. While Flora is not eager to embrace change, she finds comfort spending time with her best friend, Nessy, who she has known since she was five and her new friend, Yurie, who recently moved to Rosetown from the Ukraine.

Reading Rosetown was nostalgic for me.  Like Nora, I loved to read as a child. Nora frequents Wings and a Chair Used Books where her mother works part-time.  My mother took my brother and me to Middle River Public Library weekly where Mrs. Johnson always had a stack of books waiting for me.  I also took piano lessons and just like Nora, I was tolerable but it never developed into a true passion.  One of my favorite parts of Rosetown was Nora sharing her excitement for Encyclopedia Hour.  Once a week, Nora and her classmates had the opportunity to explore the 22 volumes of the World Book Encyclopedia. Encyclopedias were my internet.  If I needed to do research and just wanted to discover facts, I always reached for an encyclopedia.  We actually had a set of Rand McNally Encyclopedias at home, but nothing compared to the full color World Book!

Rosetown is a quiet and comforting read which takes a reader back to a simpler time. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing an ARC of Rosetown to my #bookexcursion group.  Rosetown recently published on May 8, 2018.

Right Now by Jessica Olien

Right Now is an affirming picture book that celebrates being present.  The book begins with “You are right now. What are you?”  On each page, Olien shares a vivid and colorful digital illustration of a child caught in a “moment.”  Sometimes the moments are happy whether it be laying in the grass with a pet, belly laughing, riding a tricycle or eating a piece of cake.  Sad moments are also depicted such as making a mistake, feeling lonely or upset. At the end of the book, Olien shares a tender message to young readers. “No matter what you do.  Not matter where you live. Or what you look like. You are you. And that is perfect.”   A perfect book to share with students for #classroombookaday to teach them about self-acceptance.

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.

Help Find Frank by Anne Bollman

Oh no! 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, finally Frank!

Author illustrator Anne Bollman’s highly interactive picture book is quite original.  As a teacher, I love that young readers will have to use text evidence from exhibits, interviews, and hints to locate Frank.  The seek and find maps provide an opportunity to revisit the book again for a different purpose.  As summer approaches, I can see Help Me Find Frank as a great book to engage young readers in the car during travel or inside when it’s too hot outside to play.

For a sneak peek, click below and check out the book trailer!

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

Book Birthday, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing

My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing by Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor Illustrated by Michelle Polizzi

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book to review by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

My Magic Breath; Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing teaches children about breathing strategies to help combat negativity.  Magic breath is special because taking deep breaths can help children handle worried, nervous or sad thoughts.  The book continues by asking children to focus on things that make them smile and use their magic breath to blow out those happy thoughts directly on the page.  The new page reveals an almost full spread of colorful bright waves which evokes a sense of calm.  My Magic Breath continues to ask children to use breathing and a focus on happy thoughts to help combat sad ones.  Blue waves appear on the next page but are gradually blown away as children breathe deeply.  The sad blue waves are replaced with vivid and vibrant ones. At the end of the book, children are reminded to use their magic breath to not only help them through difficult moments but also to appreciate happy times!

I sponsor a second grade class for #classroombookaday.  Each day, I read a picture book aloud and ask students “What is the author trying to teach us?”   After reading My Magic Breath, one student shared that the book can help kids visualize good things so that they will stop thinking about bad things.  Another student also made a connection to a previous read aloud, Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall.  In the story, Jabari is having second thoughts about jumping off the diving board.  Jabari’s father tells him when he is scared, he takes a deep breath to help him get ready.   The student went on to say that deep breaths can help calm you down when you are nervous.

About the Book:
From New York Times bestselling author Nick Ortner comes a beautiful picture book that will help children discover calm through the magic of mindful breathing:

Do YOU have the magic breath?
Let’s see…Take a deeeeeep breath in…and BLOW it out…

…and like magic, you can feel better just by breathing! Sometimes it’s hard to feel happy. But with this interactive picture book, children breathe along as they learn how to make angry or sad thoughts disappear.

In a world that is sometimes too busy, with too many things going on, My Magic Breath will help steer children into a serene space of mindfulness, self-awareness, and balance.













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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/14/18


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 Frame-Up by Wendy McLeod MacKnight

The Frame Up is a fast paced, intriguing mystery adventure set in the real life Beaverbrook Art Gallery located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.  In this fictional story, Beaverbrook is not your ordinary art gallery because all the paintings are actually alive.  Once the gallery is closed, all the “residents” interact with each other.  Painted in 1915, Mona Dunn is a 100 year old painting but she is perpetually a thirteen-year-old who loves to visit the beach in the San Vigilio, Lake Garda painting and hang out with her partner in crime, Clem Cotterell who lives in a portrait with his family.

Mona knows that the most important rule of the gallery is don’t let the humans know that the paintings are alive.  One day Mona accidentally breaks that rule and reveals the gallery’s secret to Sargent Singer, the son of the gallery director.  Sargent who is visiting his estranged father for the summer promises Mona that he won’t divulge this incredible secret, and the two become fast friends.   Their friendship becomes crucial when Mona discovers a plot to steal paintings and replace them with reproductions.  Can Mona and Sargent stop the heist before it’s too late?

I enjoyed The Frame Up from start to finish!  Wendy McLeod MacKnight has written a fascinating middle grade mystery weaving elements of both the past and the present.  While living in the present, Mona and the residents give you a glimpse of life long ago. Because they are alive, the “residents” are aware of modern amenities such as movies, popular music, and even the internet.  The mystery involving the art heist kept me guessing until almost the very end. Sargent’s distant relationship with his father also affected me because I know some readers may identify with his struggle to connect with a parent.

Special thanks to Wendy McLeod MacKnight for sending an ARC of The Frame-Up to my #bookexcursion group.  The Frame-Up releases on June 5, 2018, which will include full color glossy pictures of all the paintings highlighted in the novel.  Since a visit to Beaverbrook is not possible right now, I can’t wait for my hardcover copy to arrive!

Fox & Chick: The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier

Fox and Chick remind me of the iconic Frog and Toad, two friends who don’t always see eye to eye.  This early chapter book includes three stories.  In The Party, Chick interrupts Fox’s reading  asking to use his bathroom but not for the reason one would expect.  In Good Soup, as Fox is gathering vegetables, Chick questions his food choices until he mentions that foxes are supposed to eat little birds.  Oops!  In Sit Still, Fox is in the midst of painting a landscape when Chick suggests a portrait of him would be more exciting. If only Chick would sit still….

I read Fox and Chick to my second grade #classroombookaday class; they absolutely loved each story.  While it is a great read aloud, the illustrations deserve full attention to see both Fox’s and Chick’s expressions throughout each story.  After sharing Fox and Chick, the students wanted to know if there are more Fox and Chick adventures.  I can only hope!

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.

Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates

Dog loves everything about books so he decides to open his own bookstore.  On the day of his Grand Opening, no one came and when they finally did visit, it was not to buy books.  While Dog was a little sad, he did not dwell on it.  Instead, he took a book off the shelf and began to read.  When he read, he forgot he was alone because each book took him on a new adventure.  At the end , a little girl visits his bookstore and while Dog loved books, he realized he enjoys sharing them even more!

How can you not love a dog that loves books!  Author illustrator Louise Yates reminds young readers about the power of finding the right book as well as the joy of sharing books with others.

I look forward to read the rest of the books in the series: Dog Loves Drawing, Dog Loves Counting, and Dog Loves Fairy Tales.

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


Blog Tour, Book Birthday, Middle Grade Literature, Rockstar Book Tours

Captain Superlative Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway

Happy Book Birthday to J.S. Puller’s Captain Superlative!

captain superlative high resolution

Author: J.S, Puller
Pub. Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 256
Find it: AmazonB&NiBooksTBDGoodreads

“Have no fear, citizens! Captain Superlative is here to make all troubles disappear!” Red mask, blue wig, silver swimsuit, rubber gloves, torn tights, high top sneakers and . . . a cape? Who would run through the halls of Deerwood Park Middle School dressed like this? And why?

Janey-quick to stay in the shadows-can’t resist the urge to uncover the truth behind the mask. The answer pulls invisible Janey into the spotlight and leads her to an unexpected friendship with a superhero like no other. Fearless even in the face of school bully extraordinaire, Dagmar Hagen, no good deed is too small for the incomparable Captain Superlative and her new sidekick, Janey.

But superheroes hold secrets and Captain Superlative is no exception. When Janey unearths what’s truly at stake, she’s forced to face her own dark secrets and discover what it truly means to be a hero . . . and a friend.

At Dearwood Park Middle School, Janey is content with being Just Plain Jane because the alternatives are much worse.  By flying under the radar, Janey is less apt to get picked on by Dagmar Hagan who to adults is the service-award-winning star of the soccer team, but to students is a brutal bully.   Although Janey has witnessed Dagmar picking on fellow classmate Paige, she does not feel compelled to step in until….she meets Captain Superlative.

Unlike Janey, Captain Superlative has no problem with the spotlight.  Wearing her superhero costume, her mission is to spread kindness to all students including Dagmar.  Janey is intrigued by the masked student.  Who is Captain Superlative?  What is her motive?  Once Dagmar crosses a line with Paige, Janey’s invisible cloak disappears, and she becomes Captain Superlative’s sidekick holding open doors, passing out study guides, giving out mints, and most importantly realizing she can do good things instead of just breezing by.  When Captain Superlative is absent from school for three days, Janey get worried.  She uncovers the superhero’s secret which not only resurfaces the past but also makes Janey question who she really is.  Is she really Plain Jane or Janey with an exclaimation point?

This story really drew me in, and it was difficult to stop reading.  Once Janey made the choice to stand up for Paige and join Captain Superlative, she truly blossomed.  By performing simple acts of kindness, she discovered that she can make a difference.  While Captain Superlative’s secret hit Janey hard, it also forced Janey to think about her identity.  Who is she and what does she stand for?  Middle school is tough to navigate, and readers will definitely be able to relate to Janey’s journey.    Similar to the Julian Chapter in Wonder, readers also learn a revelation about Dagmar which does not excuse her awful actions but helps you better understand them.  I must admit that Captain Superlative was my favorite character because she reminds us of the importance of being someone and doing the right thing.  We can all be superheroes.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Captain Superlative in exchange for a honest review.  All opinions are my own.


About J.S.:
J. S. Puller a playwright and debut author from the Windy City, Chicago. She has a master’s degree in elementary education and a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Northwestern University. She is an award-winning member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and is actively involved in researching the social-emotional benefits of arts education with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. When not writing, she can usually be found in the theatre. Her play, WOMEN WHO WEAVE, was published by Playscripts, Inc.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Would you like to own a copy of CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE for your library?  Thanks to Rockstar Book Tours, they are giving away 3 copies of this fabulous book (US only).  Be sure to take the time and enter this fantastic giveaway.  Please click link below to enter!


Tour Schedule:
Join us on the other stops of this tour for more giveaway chances and to read more about CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE and the author J.S. Puller.

Week One:
4/30/2018- BookHounds YA– Interview
5/1/2018- Two Points of Interest– Review
5/2/2018- RhythmicBooktrovert – Review
5/3/2018- Wonder Struck– Review
5/4/2018- A Dream Within A Dream– Excerpt

Week Two:
5/7/2018- Becky on Books– Review
5/8/2018- Beagles and Books– Review
5/9/2018- Ginger Mom and the Kindle Quest– Review
5/10/2018- Novel Novice– Guest Post
5/11/2018- Owl Always Be Reading– Review

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/7/18


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.

Just Under the Clouds by Melissa Sarno

Ever since her father’s death six years ago, Cora and her family have struggled to find stability especially with housing.  Money is tight so Cora, her mother, and her younger sister Adare move a lot with hopes of finding permanent housing they can afford.  Because of her mom’s long work hours, taking care of Adare after school has become Cora’s responsibility.  Adare who lost oxygen to the brain during birth “sees things a different way” which makes caring for her sometimes challenging.

Set in Brooklyn and told in Cora’s point of view, Just Under the Clouds is a honest and touching story about homelessness through the eyes of a twelve year old girl.  While she technically has had a “roof over her head,” Cora never lived in a place that felt like home.

At school, Cora has always kept to herself until she meet Sabina, who until recently had been home-schooled her whole life and lives an untethered life on a houseboat. I just love their friendship because Cora finally takes a chance to truly trust someone outside her family.  I also admire Cora’s mother for maintaining stability in their unstable world and for recognizing Cora’s strength and encouraging her to “climb high.”  Cora’s story reminds us that “you can only grow things if you have faith in them from the beginning.” This is a heart print book that I can’t wait to share with students.

A very special thanks to Melissa Sarno for sending an ARC of Just Under the Clouds to my #bookexcursion group.  It publishes on June 5, 2018.

Power Forward by Hena Khan Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

Date/Time:  May 5, 2018   11:25 a.m.

What I Read: Power Forward is the first book in a new chapter book series about fourth-grader Zayd Saleem.  Zayd lives for basketball, not the violin.  He is determined to move up from the D league to the gold team playing along side his best friend Adam.  Zayd knows that practicing basketball is crucial to achieving his dream; therefore, he decides to skip his morning advanced orchestra practice to play basketball with Adam and other members of the gold team.  All is well until Zayd forgets his violin in the car, and his mother discovers his lie.  As a result, he is grounded from basketball.  Will Zayd be able to convince his parents how important basketball is to him in order to make try outs?

How I Feel:  Sports have never been my thing but Power Forward is so much more than a basketball story.  Zayd is such a relatable character and can be a mirror for young readers.  He is underweight for his age which makes him work harder to prove he is gold team material.  Things come more easily to his sister Zara, which is frustrating for him. His parents wish that he had the same passion for violin that he has for basketball.  What I truly love about Zayd’s story is that it can also be a window.  Zayd and his family are Pakistani American and throughout the book, their culture is seamlessly interwoven into the story from language to food to sports.  As a reading specialist, I am always on the lookout for new #ownvoices titles to share with students as well as share with my media specialist to order for our school library.

Thanks so much to Simon & Schuster for sending an ARC of Power Forward to our #bookexcursion group. It publishes on May 8, 2018. For more information about ZaydSalem, Chasing the Dream series, click here.

Daring Dreamers Club: Milla Takes Charge by Erin Soderberg

Milla Takes Charge is the first book in this new chapter series about 5 fifth grade girls who become friends in their advisory group led by Ms. Bancroft, the new music teacher. As part of advisory, all students will respond to writing prompts throughout the year.  Having a thing for princesses, Ms. Bancroft asks the girls to reflect upon a princess that they feel connected with or inspired by and explain why.  While all girls share their journal entries filled with their dreams, the story centers on Milla.  Raised by her two moms, Milla is an avid reader and writer.  Like Belle in Beauty and the Beast, she yearns for adventure especially participating in the fifth grade overnight to Adventure Camp.  Concerned that her overprotective parents won’t let her go, Milla enlists the help of the Daring Dreamers to prove she is responsible.

Daring Dreamers Club is another great #ownvoices series to add to a classroom library and like Power Forward, the characters can be either a mirror or window to young readers.  What I especially love about this series is how the girls demonstrate true friendship towards one another.  Although each girl has big dreams, they realize they can all achieve their personal dreams by supporting each other!

A special thanks to Erin Soderberg for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Milla Takes Charge publishes on June 5, 2018.  For more information on the Daring Dreamers series, 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.

Perfectly Norman by Tom Perchival

Disclaimer:  While having no speaking part, Norman’s dog is his loyal companion supporting him without hesitation. Sidekicks are the best!

Norman lived a perfectly normal life until….he grew a pair of wings.  Instead of celebrating his extraordinary wings, Norman hid them inside a great, big, yellow coat. The problem is now Norman is hot, uncomfortable, and miserable.    Will Norman ever learn to just be himself?

Perfectly Norman is a heartwarming story about acceptance and learning to be comfortable in your own skin, I mean wings.  Rather than celebrating his wonderful gift, Norman becomes worried about being different.  Throughout his struggle, his sweet little dog remains his loyal companion.

The illustrations are integral to the story, for author illustrator Perchival uses a minimal palette of black, white, yellow, and red in the first few page spreads. As soon as Norman discovers his wings, more vibrant colors appear in the illustrations.  Once Norman hides his wings, his yellow coat is the only color prominent on each page. Readers have to patiently wait for Norman to realize that the coat, not his wings is making him miserable. Then all the colors of the rainbow of return!

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

#Bookexcursion, Debut Author, Picture Books

Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime by Cate Berry Illustrated by Charles Santoso


Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime by Cate Berry Illustrated by Charles Santoso

On the very first page, pajama clad Penguin announces “This is not a bedtime book” with night cap wearing Tiny Shrimp chiming in saying “We don’t do bedtime!”  The adorable characters make it clear that there is no room for typical bedtime rituals such as toothbrushing, big beds or counting sheep.  On the contrary, readers will be enticed to stay wide awake with fireworks, vine swinging, hot air balloon rides, songs, jokes and even the rare appearance of a Uni-Hippo!  After Penguin and Tiny Shrimp engage in all their adventures, they maintain their anti-sleep position stating “This book will never make you yawn” but their actions begin to contradict their original declaration. It is not long before the two characters are crawling into bed and sleep soundly.  Clearly, storytelling is tiring work!

Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime is a hilarious and highly entertaining picture book from debut author Cate Berry. Not only did I pre-order this book immediately, I now have the perfect recommendation for a bedtime read aloud (sorry Penguin and Tiny Shrimp!) that parents will take great pleasure in reading again and again to their children.  Santoso’s pictures adorably depict Penguin and Tiny Shrimp’s insistence and excitement in staying awake yet by the end of the book, his illustrations subtly and sweetly transition to show their fading energy.  Even the background color of the pages becomes gray to signify the change.


Special thanks to Cate Berry for sending an ARC of Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime to our #bookexcursion group.  Can’t wait for its release May 2018.   I sincerely hope there will be more Penguin and Tiny Shrimp adventures to come!