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.
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!