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

It’s Monday! What are You Reading? 12/17/18


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 Recent Reads:

Ellie May on Presidents’ Day & Ellie May on April’s Fools’ Day by Hillary Homzie  Illustrated by Jeffery Ebbeler

As a reading specialist, I am always excited to discover a new illustrated series to recommend to my young readers transitioning to chapter books.  Written from her point of view, Ellie May is an exuberant second grader who will capture your heart with her curiosity and tenacity.

In Ellie May on Presidents’ Day, second grader Ellie May has not yet been chosen to be flag leader and she desperately wants a turn before Presidents’ Day.  To make matters worst, Ellie May has less than a week to convince her teacher Ms. Silva that she deserves the honor.  Readers quickly learn that it’s difficult for Ellie May to contain her enthusiasm at school which leads her to get in trouble.  Ellie May attempts to win her teacher over by acting like former presidents displaying honesty like George Washington and an interest in taking apart gadgets like Abraham Lincoln.  Her plan though backfires because her honesty hurts another classmate’s feelings and tinkering with the pencil sharpener doesn’t please Ms. Silva.  Deflated, Ellie May begins to lose hope in becoming a flag leader but discovers that displaying true honesty is the key to her goal.

In Ellie May on April Fools’ Day, Ellie May is determined to be funnier than her classmate Mo and what better day to show her class than April Fool’s Day!  While her first prank works on her family, Ellie can’t seem to execute the joke at school.  After researching birds, she discovers that scrub jays trick spying animals by burying stones instead of acorns.  This new found fact gives Ellie May the idea for an even better prank but unfortunately her joke does not get the reaction she hoped for. Feeling frustrated, Ellie May resorts to a trick that gets her in trouble with Ms. Silva who not only reminds the class the difference between laughing with someone and at them but also shows them with her own April Fools’ prank!

Young readers will enjoy Ellie May because they will be easily able to relate to her.  She has the best intentions but at times, her enthusiasm and eagerness can get the best of her.  What I love most about Ellie May is she always admits her mistakes and shows remorse for her actions which makes her a great role model for students.  Ebbeler’s black and white illustrations beautifully complement the plot and demonstrate Ellie May’s excitement and energy for learning.  Another reason I enjoyed this series is because author Hillary Homzie included Ellie May’s handwritten notes and letters which gave me the opportunity to feel as if Ellie May is really telling the story.  An added bonus is back matter which shares a brief history of Presidents’ Day and April Fools’ Day.

Special thanks to Hillary Homzie for sending Ellie May to my #bookexcursion group.  Both Ellie May books will be released tomorrow on December 18, 2018. Visit Beagles & Books tomorrow for an exclusive interview with Hillary about creating the Ellie May series.

Tough Cookie by Edward Hemingway

Fans of The Gingerbread Man will adore this holiday retelling with a sweet message.  When Sugar Cookie Man is too slow to outrun Fox, readers think Cookie is a goner.  Unlike the original Gingerbread Man, Cookie is miraculously saved from being devoured. Much to Cookie’s chagrin, instead of tasting sweet and delicious, Cookie learns from Fox that he tastes terrible and tough.  Feeling sad and without purpose, Fox attempts to help Cookie sweeten up.  But no amount of eggnog, powdered sugar, and Christmas carols can get the job done.  Plan B is Cookie should improve his speed rather than his sweetness so Fox enters him in the Sweet Treat Christmas Race.  Cookie experiences yet another setback, for he crosses the finish line last.  Cookie doesn’t feel sweet or tough now.  Will he ever find his true calling?

Tough Cookie is a heartwarming story about self-acceptance.  Cookie assumed he was sweet and speedy and when he realizes the truth, he is heartbroken.  Hemingway adorably conveys Cookie’s emotions and feelings through the illustrations as well as the text with phrases such as “And that’s when Cookie crumbled” and “Everything I do is half-baked.” While at first his adversary, Fox becomes a good friend to Cookie in his efforts to help him solve his dilemma reminding him to “hang in there.”  Much to Cookie’s surprise, he realizes he is not to be eaten but rather to adorn the town’s Christmas tree as a decoration.  So that’s why he has a hole in his head! With this discovery, Cookie’s confidence returns, for he finally accepts himself for who he is.

With its powerful message, charming illustrations, and a fast paced engaging plot, I highly recommend teachers and parents to add Tough Cookie as a Christmas read aloud.  I look forward to reading with my students within the next two weeks before winter break. At the end of the book, an added bonus is Tough Cookie recipes-one for sugar cookies and one for ornaments.

Special thanks to Henry Holt Books for Young Readers and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.


Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins by Sue Fliess  Illustrated by Mark Chambers

What happens when it’s Christmas Eve morning and Santa wakes up feeling sick?  Have no fear!  Mrs. Claus is here to take the reins of his sleigh. And with no time to waste, Mrs. Claus quickly gathers the elves to help her prepare for her round trip journey to deliver presents.

Written in rhyme, the text is fun and cheery; it begs to be read aloud!  The bold and colorful illustrations are eye catching especially Mrs. Claus herself with her red curly hair, cat eye glasses, plaid skirt, and red stockings. Readers also spy contemporary references in the illustrations such as Mrs. Claus using a tablet for planning and navigation as well as holding a Starbucks-like cup of coffee as she embarks on her adventure.

I love finding new holiday books to share with students and recommend to teachers.  Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins is a delightful and entertaining adventure that readers will thoroughly enjoy.  Author Sue Fliess has created a dynamic character in Mrs. Claus for she demonstrates many positive traits.  She shows initiative and confidence taking over for Santa, orderliness in preparation for her journey, enthusiasm for delivering the presents, courage when facing bad weather, and calmness and resourcefulness when problems arise.  Illustrator Mark Chambers’ artwork is detailed and expressive, for he vividly conveys Santa’s and Mrs. Claus’ feelings and emotions as well as the elves, reindeer, and other animals.

Special thanks to Two Lions Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending a copy to Beagles and Books to read in exchange for a honest review.

Etta & 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.

Santa’s Dog by Joann Sky Illustrated by Ed Koehler

One of Santa’s dogs, Lance accompanies him every Christmas Eve on his yearly sleigh ride.  But one year when it is particularly windy, Lance falls out of the sleigh. Luckily, an animal shelter takes in Lance and while Santa is concerned, he knows he must continue his journey. Santa returns for Lance on Christmas Day but the shelter is closed and Santa doesn’t feel right going in without permission.

A family whose army dad is headed overseas visits the shelter to find a dog to help them through the transition.  The soldier sees Lance and is certain he is the one.  Still missing Santa, Lance provided comfort to his new family throughout the year.  On the following Christmas Eve, Lance was reunited with Santa but realized that he had a big decision to make.  Does he stay or go?

Written in rhyme, Santa’s Dog is a sweet and tender holiday story that warmed my heart.  As a rescue dog mom, I am always championing books that feature animal adoption.  Lance is loved by all, but after some contemplation. he realizes that his true purpose is to remain with his devoted family.  Koehler’s vibrant and expressive illustrations catch the readers’ eye. Another reason this book tugs at my heart is that a portion of the proceeds go to support animal rescue causes.  To learn more, visit the website http://www.dogsandbooks.com

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

9 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What are You Reading? 12/17/18”

  1. I had no idea there was a Santa’s Dog book, looks very cute, Laura. And I notes the Ellie May series, sounds just right for my first-grade granddaughter! Thanks much for all!


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