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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/20/20


Beagles and Books is thrilled to share our latest reads in 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:

How to Make Friends with the Sea by Tanya Guerrero

Since I started reading How to Make Friends with the Sea before the New Year, I did not originally include it on my #mustreadin2020 list, but this novel, beautifully written by debut author Tanya Guerrero is now officially on my #mustreadin2020 middle grade list because this moving story has my whole heart.  Here’s why.

Twelve year old Pablo has lived most of his young life being anxious but with his parents’ divorce and his move to the Philippines, his apprehension continues to build. Unable to share his fears with his zoologist mother, Pablo’s anxiety reaches an all time high when she agrees to foster Chiqui, an orphaned girl with selective mutism and a cleft lip. But gradually, as Pablo spends more time with Chiqui, she eventually speaks to him and he learns that his fears of germs, dirt, and the sea are not as big as his fear of losing Chiqui. 

Being brave is hard when so many things scare you but Pablo is truly one of the most courageous kids I have ever met.  In the beginning of the story, my heart hurt for Pablo as he struggled with his anxiety but each time he took a small leap, my heart cheered him on.  Written from Pablo’s point of view, Guerrero’s voice for him is perfect, for she captures all of Pablo’s raw feelings and emotions so readers truly get to know him. What I love about Guerrero’s writing is that she makes it clear that Pablo’s fears never completely go away; rather, he learns to cope with his anxiety especially when it comes to Chiqui.  Pablo doesn’t do this all alone, for new friendships with his neighbor, Happy, his mother’s boss, Miguel and even meetings with barista Heinz and dog Lucky give him the strength to step out of his comfort zone.  How to Make Friends with the Sea is an honest and dynamic story about family, friendship, facing your fears, and forgiveness that I will carry with me forever. 

Special thanks to Tanya Guerrero and Farrar Strauss Giroux/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now, for How to Make Friends with the Sea publishes on March 31, 2020. 

Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business by Lyla Lee Illustrated by Dung Ho

Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business is the first book in a new early chapter book series written by #ownvoices author Lyla Lee. Narrated by seven year old Mindy, readers quickly learn she is navigating a lot of changes in her life.  Mindy’s mom has recently died, and she and her father move to Florida from California. She desperately wants a puppy and is extremely nervous about starting a new school. 

Her first day of school in Florida is challenging because unlike her old school, she is the only Korean American in her class and at lunch, classmates make fun of kimchi and seaweed.. While Mindy hates being the new kid, she is cheered up by her babysitter’s Maltese, which makes Mindy want her own dog even more.  On the very next day of school, Mindy is determined to be brave and seek out a friend.  Her plan works and not only does she have someone to sit with at lunch but also a classmate who asks to try some of her seaweed.  Soon seaweed becomes quite popular in the lunchroom and Mindy decides to make it a business, which gets her and her new friend in trouble.  Can Mindy mend their friendship?

Written in 77 pages with short chapters and full page illustrations in almost each chapter, Mindy Kim has great supports for primary students transitioning into chapter books. What I especially love is Lee skillfully tackles tough themes such as grief from losing a parent and microaggressions in a way that is accessible to younger readers. Special thanks to Jenny Lu of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sending me a review copy.  Mindy Kim and the Seaweed Business and Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade, the second book in the series recently published on January 14, 2020.  A third book, Mindy Kim and the Birthday Puppy will release in May 2020. 

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.

Thunder Pug by Kim Norman Illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi

When Percy the pug’s best friend Petunia the pig wins a blue ribbon at the county fair, their relationship changes. Sporting her ribbon everywhere, she gets the attention of many of farm animals leaving little time for Percy.  After stumbling upon Thunder Man, an old comic book, Percy reinvents himself as Thunder Pug donning a cape and spending his days rescuing those in need.  But being Thunder Pug was lonely without a sidekick so imagine Percy’s glee when Petunia joins him as superhero, Pink Lightning.   Together they learn that being a hero is a lot more fun with a friend!   A follow up to Puddle Pug, Thunder Pug is a celebration of friendship.  What I love about this story is it reminds children that even the best of friends can weather through any storm!

Etta, Bella & I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books. Happy Reading!

6 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/20/20”

  1. That’s quite a review of How to Make Friends With the Sea, Laura! Definitely making sure I have this one on my list — hurry up March! I don’t want to give up on finishing my #mustreadin2020 list, but I simply don’t know when I’m doing to find time to sit down and feel good about it. Ugh. Have a wonderful reading week!


  2. I am looking forward to reading the Mindy Kim series. I have a half Korean granddaughter, and aside from the death of a mother, it sounds like a book she might grow up to see herself in.


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