#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!

11 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/7/18”

  1. I have both Just Under the Clouds and Power Forward on my TBR list and your reviews make me even more excited to read them, myself. I’m adding Perfectly Norman to my list now, as well. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful reading week, Laura!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really want to check out Just Under the Clouds and Power Forward looks good as well. I really enjoyed Tom Percival’s early chapter books with my youngest, so I will have to find Perfectly Norman as well. Thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Perfectly Norman sounds fun, full of good imagination for those who have a pet or would love one! I bookmarked the others, especially Just Under The Clouds. I know that being homeless is something a child might want to read about if they’d had that experience and also for those who need to know about others who are having a tough time in their lives. Thanks, Laura.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have Just Under the Clouds on my To Read list, and it sounds like it’s going to be a wonderful book to read this summer! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it. Have a great week!


  5. Really love all of your photographs here – they look IG-worthy. 🙂 Daring Dreamers Club caught my eye – looking forward to finding it in the library.


  6. I have a few of things coming up in the very near future – The Daring Dreamers Club and Just Under the Clouds.
    I am so thrilled with Hena Khan’s new series!


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