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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/24/18

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 Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill

Kate has a lot on her plate.  Battling depression, her father has recently left Kate and her mom. She and her best friend Sofia are drifting apart, and her Grammy’s dementia is worsening which prompted her mom to invite her to move in with them.  Kate has a good support system in her mom, Grammy, her karate instructor Mr. Amori, her friend Parker, and new friend Jane, but she still feels alone.  Grammy thinks Kate just needs a little magic to make things right again, but in order for the magic to work, Kate must follow the three rules of magic-believe, give, and trust, which is easier said than done.  In time, Kate starts to realize that she does have a strength inside of her, singing is a way to let sadness out, her circle of friends can grow, and everyday magic is real.

The Three Rules of Everyday Magic is a story about family, friendship, and forgiveness. One of the reason I love reading middle grade literature is after reading, I can always think of a student that would enjoy the story.  Another perk is that it helps me better understand the students I teach. Kate’s story reminds me that elementary students may be dealing with a lot; kids need to know that their worries matter, change is a part of growing up, and they have a support system even if it is only just to listen.

Special thanks to Amanda Rawsom Hill and Boyds Mill Press for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  The Three Rules of Everyday Magic will celebrate its book birthday tomorrow on September 25, 2018.


First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants and Refugees Who Make America Great by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace.  Illustrated by Agatha Nowicka

This well written and beautifully illustrated compilation of one page biographies features 36 brave and persistent immigrants and refugees who are the first members of their family to immigrate to the United States.

There are so many reasons I love First Generation.  The individuals highlighted span a range of professions including artists, scientists, athletes, and business leaders.  Each person is celebrated for his/her positive contribution to not only the United States but also the world.   The format makes the text highly accessible to elementary age students.  Vivid and striking illustrated portraits accompany each biography along with a quote and additional facts in a sidebar.  At the end of the book, additional information is provided such as tips for how kids can be a trailblazer and a bibliography which shares additional resources on all the amazing immigrants and refugees featured.

Special thanks to Sandra Neil Wallace for sending a copy of First Generation to my #bookexcursion group to read and review.  It recently published on September 4, 2018.

Oliver’s Otter Phase by Lisa Connors  Illustrated by Karen Jones

Oliver’s Otter Phase is an engaging text, for young children will be able to easily relate to Oliver & his animal antics & learn some amazing otter facts!  To read full review, 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.

Good Dog by Cori Doerrfeld

A stray black and white dog takes a liking to a little girl who is enjoying a bike ride with her mom.  The dog attempts to follow the little girl around town and finally interacts with her at the city park.  When she returns to her seat on the bike, she forgets her teddy bear leaving it on the fountain ledge.  The once scared, lost, lonely, and hungry dog transforms into a smart, brave, thoughtful, and loyal dog delivering the teddy bear to the little girl at her house.  The friendly and loving dog is rewarded for his kindness with a “furever” home.  With warm and inviting illustrations and concise text of only two words per page,  Good Dog is a story that tugged at my heart because I love seeing the evolution of the sweet little dog from stray to best friend.

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

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Eraser by Anna Kang Illustrated by Christopher Weyant

Beagles and Books is excited to be a part of the Eraser blog tour written by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant. It recently published on September 1, 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:
Eraser is always cleaning up everyone else’s mistakes. Except for Ruler and Pencil Sharpener, none of the other school supplies seem to appreciate her. They all love how sharp Pencil is and how Tape and Glue help everyone stick together. Eraser wants to create so that she can shine like the others. She decides to give it a try, but it’s not until the rubber meets the road that Eraser begins to understand a whole lot about herself.

Inspired by a school essay their daughter Kate wrote in the third grade, the author and illustrator behind Theodor Seuss Geisel Award–winner You Are (Not) Small have created a desktop drama about figuring out who you are, finding happiness, and the importance of second, third, and maybe even fourth chances.

Review and Thoughts:
Full of puns that will make kids laugh out loud, Anna Kang has written a sweet and humorous story that teaches students about recognizing your potential, the power of cooperation, and how mistakes make us great. Thanks to Christopher Weyant’s adorable and eye-catching illustrations and Kang’s witty prose, I will view my school supplies a little differently and will now always hold my erasers in high regard.

This week I had the opportunity to read aloud Eraser to a class of second grade students.  Before I read a text, I always ask students to think about the author’s purpose for writing the book.  I use Burkins and Yaris’ infographic to guide their thinking as I am reading. Click on the infographic below to visit the link.

B &Y

When I asked students to share their thinking about the author’s purpose for writing Eraser, children shared that while the story definitely made them laugh out loud, the big takeaway was Eraser taught them empathy.  One student stated, “Eraser was frustrated because Pencil took all the credit.”  Another student added, “Pencil said Eraser doesn’t ever make anything. That was rude which made Eraser angry.”  Another student shared, “I am glad that Pencil said he was sorry at the end.  Eraser taught me about teamwork because Pencil couldn’t get an A+ on his math by himself.”

Before ending our discussion, I asked the students ” Does Eraser want you to take action?”  A student explained, “Instead of telling people they can’t help, we should try to work together.”   Another student shared, “We also have to be ok when we make mistakes.”

Realizing the value of teamwork and how mistakes are part of growing are important life lessons for children.  Eraser is a fun and engaging story that reminds children about the power of collaboration and how mistakes truly do make us great.

Free Activity Kit:
For more information and to download a free activity kit, visit annakang.com, or download here.

Meet Eraser in this adorable trailer!

Giveaway Details:
Courtesy of Two Lions, one lucky winner  (U.S. addresses only) will receive the following:

  • a copy of Eraser
  • a 7 piece school supply kit

Giveaway begins at Friday, September 21, 2018 at 12:00 a.m. and ends on Friday, September 28, 2018 at 11:59 a.m.  Please click the link below to enter.


Meet the Author & Illustrator:

Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small and its follow-ups That’s (Not) Mine and I Am (Not) Scared. Christopher’s work can be seen routinely in The New Yorker magazine and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. As an author, Anna regularly goes through first, second, and third drafts. Chris wears down many erasers while making his art. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their rescue dog. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.

Twitter: @annakang27 @chrisweyant05

Instagram: annakangbooks; christopherweyant

Facebook: Anna Kang – Author; Christopher Weyant

Debut Author, Picture Books

Oliver’s Otter Phase by Lisa Connors

When I was a young child, my favorite animal was penguins.  I loved going to the zoo and watching them waddle, swim, and eat fish.  In Oliver Otter’s Phase, after visiting the aquarium.  Oliver becomes so fascinated with sea otters that he spends the next day mimicking otter behavior as he performs daily tasks.  For example, Otter puts his bologna on his chest at lunch because otters use their bodies as a plate.  When his dad places him in the shopping cart seat at the grocery store, Oliver gives his dad a long green string because otter moms tie their babies with kelp to prevent them from getting lost.  Oliver’s parents are supportive of his preoccupation with otters except when he attempts to eat hot spaghetti on his chest!  By the end of the story, Oliver’s interest in otters begins to wane but he still wants to be otter-like in one special way-snuggling with his mom.

As a reading specialist, I am always looking for quality picture books to read to students and share with teachers.  Author Lisa Connors has written an engaging text that will keep students interested, for young children will be able to easily relate to Oliver and his animal antics.  Teachers will love how Connors weaves facts about otters on every page and Karen Jones’ illustrated snapshots visually capture otter natural behavior.

After reading aloud, I could see students writing in the style of Connors by researching an animal and writing a narrative which would compare and contrast the animal and a human’s behavior.  An added bonus to Oliver’s Otter Phase is backmatter that provides a detailed definition of marine mammals, a T-chart comparing and contrasting otters and humans, additional otter facts, and even a matching activity comparing how Oliver and an otter use tools, which are all permissible to photocopy.

Disclaimer: Beagles and Books received a copy of Oliver’s Otter Phase in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  It was released in February 2018.

About the Author and Illustrator: 

LisaConnors.jpgLisa Connors spent her childhood exploring fields and catching frogs in a nearby stream. No frogs were harmed in her adventures; she would build them a raft and set them floating back down the stream. Her love of nature lead her to obtain her BS in Medical Technology and two Masters, one in Environmental Studies and the other in Teaching. Now she shares her love of science and nature through writing. While she has long written nature essays, Oliver’s Otter Phase is Lisa’s debut picture book. Lisa lives in a home called “Halcyon” with her family, accompanied by their Redbone Bluetick hound, two cats, and lots of wildlife for Lisa to encounter and learn about. Visit her website at www.lisaconnors.wordpress.com.

Lee_KarenAward-winning illustrator Karen Jones began her career as a storyboard artist and editorial illustrator but it wasn’t until she had children of her own that she discovered her true artistic passion: children’s illustration. In addition to Oliver’s Otter Phase, Karen has illustrated Midnight Madness at the ZooOne Odd DayMy Even Day and My Half Day for Arbordale. She has also written and illustrated ABC Safari. Karen and her family live outside of Raleigh, NC. Karen’s children join her on many research trips to museums, zoos and aquariums-a tough job, but someone has to do it! Visit Karen’s website.

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Operation Rescue Dog Blog Tour & Giveaway

Beagles and Books is so honored to be part of the Operation Rescue Dog blog tour!  I had the immense pleasure of reading an advance copy of this heartwarming picture book with my #bookexcursion group and have been eagerly awaiting its official release.  Now only 6 days until my finished copy arrives on September 18, 2018.


Publisher’s Summary:
This sweet story about a girl named Alma and a stray dog named Lulu shows how a girl and a dog can rescue each other.  Lulu sleeps under the moon, drinking from mud puddles and is covered in ticks until she is rescued. She waits for the Operation Rescue Dog truck, scared and uncertain.  Alma misses her Mami, who is far away in Iraq.  Alma wears Mami’s scarf around her like a hug. She wonders: Can a dog feel like a hug? In this heartwarming and moving picture book, a lonely child and a lonely dog come together and find warmth, companionship, and love in each other.

Review and Thoughts:
Maria Gianferrari’s words are sheer poetry when she conveys Alma’s longing for her mom saying “Alma wears Mami’s scarf like a hug.”  But a few pages later states “Can a dog feel like a hug?” while Alma rubs Mami’s scarf on her cheek.  Luisa Uribe’s illustrations are warm and evoke a sense of calm even in the midst of uncertainty.

I love all of Maria’s books but I can’t deny that Operation Rescue Dog is my favorite.  Being a dog mom of two rescue beagles, this book has my whole heart.  Even more so because my husband and I met Etta (Her shelter name was actually Lauren.) on our very first volunteer rescue transport in June 2010.   Like Lulu, Etta was transported from the south to the north although she was rescued due to a hoarding situation.  We met Etta in Baltimore, which was one of her many stops on her journey from North Carolina to New Jersey.

Etta was underweight, which tugged at our hearts.  We know how much beagles love food!  While we didn’t transport Etta to the next stop, we couldn’t stop thinking about her.  My husband and I were ready to welcome a dog into our lives because that past February, we had to say goodbye to our 17 year old beagle   We had already applied to adopt through a local beagle rescue and were due to have a home visit that week.  I quickly researched to find out Etta’s final destination, which was Penny Angels Beagle Rescue in New Jersey.  After sending an email, completing the application, and getting approved, we drove up to New Jersey to adopt Etta that following Saturday, 6 days after meeting her.

7 years later, Penny Angels Beagle Rescue shared a photo of Bella on their Facebook group, and soon our family grew by four more paws in October 2017.  We can’t thank Joan and Ken Kerr, the founders of Penny Angels enough for making our family complete and for the amazing work they do!

I love that Maria dedicated the book to her rescue dog, Becca and tells Becca’s story in the author’s note.

Maria also shares how readers can support pet rescue and how a portion of the book’s proceeds will benefit Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah.  Operation Rescue Dog is a beautiful story that will continue to give back by raising awareness to animals in need. Thank you Maria for advocating for animals!

I feel blessed to have Etta and Bella in my life and love sharing my blog with them (even though Bella is now a bit skittish when posing with books.)  Luckily, Etta is always willing to pose for treats!

Giveaway Details:
One lucky winner will receive a copy of  Operation Rescue Dog (U.S. addresses only).  A winner will be chosen on September 18, 2018.  Please click on the link below to enter.


About Maria:

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetMaria Gianferrari loves dogs, especially her rescue dog, Becca. She loves them so much that all of her fiction picture books published thus far contain a dog main character! As an animal lover, Maria has been rescuing creatures unofficially all her life. Her most recent rescue was a five-lined skink stranded in her cellar. She lives in Leesburg, Virginia with Becca, her scientist husband and artist daughter.

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/10/18

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:

Monster Mayhem by Christopher Elipoulos

Young Zoe is a genius at building robots and loves watching old monster movies. She is not a mastermind at making friends her own age.  Scarred by a bad experience with a former classmate, Zoe tries to convince herself and the adults in her life that she is better off being alone.

Walking home from school one day, Zoe finds a gold ring, puts it on, and gives it a twist.  The next day, she is shocked to see a monster from one of her favorite movies outside her window.  While the magic ring may have granted her secret wish of wanting a friend, more monsters are on their way, and they are not as friendly as her new monster friend, Chomp.  Can Zoe alone save her city from the hungry monsters or will she finally be willing to trust others and ask for help?

My students love Cosmic Commandos so I was excited to read an advance copy of Monster Mayhem!  While reading Cosmic Commandos is not a prerequisite, there is a connection between both graphic novels.  Fast paced and full of adventure and humor, readers will love Zoe who has a talent for creating and problem solving in school but struggles with asking for help and building relationships with her peers.  Thanks to Penguin Young Readers for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Monster Mayhem recently released in August 2018.

Polka Dot Parade: A Book About Bill Cummingham by Deborah Blumenthal Illustrated by Masha D’Yans

Polka Dot Parade celebrates the life of Bill Cunningham, the legendary bicycling photographer who snapped photographs of fashionable New Yorkers for almost 40 years.  Bill once said, “He who seeks beauty will find it.” Bill not only found beauty in the people he photographed but also in their clothes.  Bill did not merely snap pictures of those who followed fashion; rather, his focus was people who made fashion.  Bill thought that fashion was truly about freedom and being true to yourself.

Readers discover that Bill began his career as a hatmaker and a fashion writer before becoming a photographer.  Like the U.S. Postal Service, no weather deterred Bill from hopping on his bike to take pictures.  Throughout his career, 30 bicycles served as his transportation. Modest and unassuming, Bill was awarded the Legion of Honor, the French government’s highest honor in 2008.

With Deborah Blumenthal’s lyrical text and Masha D’yan’s vivid watercolors, Polka Dot Parade is a beautiful tribute to the man who invented street-fashion photography.  Readers will be not only inspired by his amazing talent but also for teaching the importance of finding and having a job that you truly love.

Thanks to Little Bee Books for sending a copy of Polka Dot Parade to my #bookexcursion group. It recently published on August 28, 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.

Good Rosie by Kate DiCamillo Illustrated by Harry Bliss

Rosie lives with a comfortable life with George, but sometimes, she gets lonely and wishes for a canine companion.  On their usual walk, George decides they need to try something new so they venture to the dog park which is full of dogs. Rosie though still feels lonely and a bit afraid around all these strange dogs.  When Rosie first meets Maurice, a Saint Bernard and small, energetic Fifi, she does not like them and wants to go home.  But when Maurice plays a little too rough with Fifi, Rosie comes to Fifi’s aid and learns that making friends all starts with one simple step-asking.

Written in concise text coupled with warm watercolor illustrations in a panel comic format, readers will fall in love with Rosie, Maurice, and Fifi.  I can’t wait to share Good Rosie as a read aloud for #classroombookaday which will teach students about the challenges and rewards of forming new friendships. Good Rosie recently published on September 4, 2018.

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

Blog Tour, Middle Grade Literature, Rockstar Book Tours

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Third Mushroom by Jennifer Holm

Beagles and Books is excited to launch The Third Mushroom Blog Tour organized by Rockstar Book Tours.

About the Book:
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Pub. Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Random House
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 240
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonAudibleB&NiBooksTBD

“Believe in the unexpected” with this hilarious, heartwarming, and much-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Fourteenth Goldfish!

Ellie’s grandpa Melvin is a world-renowned scientist in the body of a fourteen-year-old boy. His feet stink, and he eats everything in the refrigerator–and Ellie is so happy to have him around. Grandpa may not exactly fit in at middle school, but he certainly keeps things interesting. When he and Ellie team up for the county science fair, no one realizes just how groundbreaking their experiment will be. The formula for eternal youth may be within their reach! And when Ellie’s cat, Jonas Salk, gets sick, the stakes become even higher. But is the key to eternal life really the key to happiness? Sometimes even the most careful experiments yield unexpected–and wonderful–results.

For fans of The Fourteenth Goldfish, The Third Mushroom is a sequel we have all been waiting for.  A year has passed with some changes.  Ellie has a cat named Jonas, she and her best friend Raj are in the seventh grade, and Ellie’s mom and Ben are now married.  Ellie’s seventy-seven-year-old scientist grandfather Melvin though is still living in the body of a fourteen year old boy.

Tired of being on the road, Melvin returns to town with dirty laundry in hand. Ellie is elated that he is back and while Melvin is happy to see his granddaughter, he is not excited to return to middle school pretending to be her cousin.  Still his grumpy old self, Melvin makes the best of it by being Ellie’s partner on a science project for the county fair.  Through their collaboration, Ellie learns valuable life lessons. Her most important observation is realizing that when an experiment fails, a true scientist always learns from her mistakes.

Written in short chapters and told through Ellie’s point of view, The Third Mushroom is sequel that does not disappoint.  Jennifer Holm does an excellent job continuing the story.  Ellie is one of my favorite middle grade characters because of her curiosity, thoughtfulness, and versatility.  While her mom and grandfather are polar opposites, Ellie can appreciate both the theatre and science. She is also very observant especially when it comes to her friendships whether it be with her old friend Brianna, her best friend, Raj or her grandfather Melvin.

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

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE THIRD MUSHROOM, US Only.

About Jennifer:
Jennifer L. Holm is a NEW YORK TIMES bestselling children’s author and the recipient of three Newbery Honors for her novels OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA, PENNY FROM HEAVEN, and TURTLE IN PARADISE. Jennifer collaborates with her brother, Matthew Holm, on two graphic novel series — the Eisner Award-winning Babymouse series and the bestselling Squish series. Her new novel is THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH. She lives in California with her husband and two children.

Website | Twitter | Facebook |  Goodreads

Tour Schedule:
Join us on the other stops of this tour for more giveaway chances and to read more about The Third Mushroom.

Week One:
9/4/2018- BookHounds YA– Excerpt
9/5/2018- The Story Sanctuary– Review
9/6/2018- Rhythmicbooktrovert – Review
9/7/2018- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

Week Two:
9/10/2018- For the Love of KidLit– Interview
9/11/2018- YA Books Central– Interview
9/12/2018- The OWL– Review
9/13/2018- Book-Keeping– Review
9/14/2018- Two Points of Interest– Review