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!