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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/17/20


Beagles and Books is excited 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.

My book beagle Etta is slowing down and sleeping more so she wasn’t up for posing for pictures. Grateful that little Bella (with her tongue out) was timidly willing to stand for all photos. Thankful for the live feature on my iPhone camera.

Our Recent Reads:

Beginners Welcome by Cindy Baldwin 

Not only is sixth grader Annie Lee grieving the sudden death of her music loving dad, but she also has to adjust to moving and attending a new school.  And to make matter worse, Annie has drifted apart from her two best friends, and money is tight even with her distressed mom working full time. To cope with her grief, Annie escapes to Brightleaf Square, a mall where she meets Ray, an older gentleman who plays the piano. 

Befriending Ray play is the first step to Annie Lee shedding her invisibility cloak.  After seeing a flyer about a piano competition, Annie Lee asks Ray to teach her so she can enter the contest.  Playing the piano helps Annie Lee feel closer to her father and the cash prize would help pay for things she and her mom can’t afford right now.  Gradually, Annie Lee starts to find her way to heal her broken heart and befriends Mitch, who like her recently transferred to her school.  But when Ray goes missing, Annie Lee makes a decision that may jeopardize her friendship with Mitch.  

Beginners Welcome is an authentic and powerful story about Annie Lee’s journey from grief to hope. Told from Annie Lee’s point of view, it is clear that she and her dad shared a close bond. Without her dad as the glue, she and her mom are having a hard time navigating their new life together as a family. Annie Lee’s and her mom’s relationship is rocky, and Annie Lee really resents her mother for their predicament. But as the story unfolds, readers learn that while Annie Lee’s dad was indeed a wonderful person, he lived in the moment without planning for the future. My heart ached for both Annie Lee and her mom, for they both experienced grief and anger because of their situation. Once they both were willing to accept support from each other and others, they finally began to truly heal. 

Thanks to author Cindy Baldwin and publisher Harper Collins for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group, for Beginners Welcome is one of the novels on my #mustreadin2020 list. It recently published last week.

The Box Turtle by Vanessa Roeder

The Box Turtle is a sweet story about Terrance, a turtle who has born without a shell. Fortunately, Terrance’s parents were not concerned and fitted him with a box which kept him dry, safe, and big enough to share with his hermit crab friend.  When another turtle makes fun of him, Terrance’s confidence turns to shame and he gives up his box in hopes of finding a better shell.  But after many tries, nothing fits.  Will Terrance ever feel comfortable in his own skin, I mean shell? 

First, one look at Terrance and your heart will melt.  Author/illustrator Vanessa Roeder’s illustrations are utterly adorable, especially when he is shell-less (is that even a word?)  What I love about his story is through an act of kindness by his crustacean friend, Terrance learns that his shell does not define him and with a little help from friends and his loving parents, Terrance gains the confidence to be appreciate his uniqueness and stand proud. 

And don’t miss the creative endpapers, for the front is a collection of different objects Terrance tries out as a shell and the back endpapers show Terrance’s humorous side using other objects as shells.  Thanks to Penguin Random House for sending a copy to my #bookexcursion group.  The Box Turtle celebrated its book birthday last week.  

Are My Stars Like Your Stars? by Leslie Helakoski Illustrated by Heidi Woodward Sheffield

Colors are universal.  Regardless of where you live, blue is essentially blue.  But what you see as blue may differ.  Are My Stars Like Your Stars is a gorgeously written and illustrated picture book that teaches children how they can be connected to others all over the world through color.  For example,  in one page spread, an African American family goes on an outing to an apple orchard and the last sentence begins “Is your red…. In the next page spread,  a Chinese family is celebrating the New Year.  The author completes the sentence with the words “..like my red?”

Children can compare and contrast themselves with other kids, for they can relate to activities such as playing soccer, baking cookies, and planting a garden. Kids can also learn about other cultural traditions such as Diwali.  With lyrical text and highly textured, collage-style illustrations, Are My Stars Like Your Stars is a story that will both delight and teach.  Thanks to illustrator Heidi Woodward Sheffield for sending a copy for Beagles and Books to review.  Are My Stars Like Your Stars? recently published in January 2020. 

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex

As a reading specialist, I love when I find a book that not only will make kids laugh out loud but also teach them critical life skills. As the title clearly suggests, Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots teaches the difference between facts and opinions.  But author/illustrator Michael Rex doesn’t stop there.  Speaking directly to the reader, the robots also teaches that at times, one needs more information to decide if a statement is a fact or opinion.  And in my humble opinion, the best lesson is the robots reminds us the importance of listening to each other’s opinions and respecting our peers’ right to think differently.  

With an opinion writing unit coming up, Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots will be a great mentor text to share with my second grade students.  Thanks to Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House for sending a copy to my #bookexcursion group.  Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots celebrated its book birthday last week.  

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.

Hound Won’t Go by Lisa Rogers 

Hound Won’t Go is an fun and engaging story about a stubborn basset hound. What starts out as a leisurely walk turns into a traffic standstill when Hound won’t leave his spot in the street.  Treats, tugs, horns, or stares will not change Hound’s mind.  He just won’t go.  But the sound of thunder does cause action and Hound wastes no time racing home with his owner following behind him.  When he finally reaches home wet and tired, Hound shakes, jumps into bed, and cuddles with his person.  

Author Lisa Rogers’s amusing story really resonated with me because my sweet Etta has been known to show her stubborn side especially on a walk.  Unlike Hound who won’t move, Etta would never let me stop to talk to a neighbor.  She was always on the go ready to return home for a treat.  Like Hound, Etta (years ago, when she could hear) hated thunder.  She always went to her safe spot in the den and would burrow under pillows.  

Written in rhyming couplets, Hound Won’t Go is a perfect read aloud for young readers. I can already hear the children chiming in to finish the couplet.  And kids will love the illustrator Meg Ishihara’s full page animated illustrations of adorable Hound.  Thank you Albert Whitman & Company for sending an ARC of Hound Won’t Go to Beagles & Books for review. Look for Hound Won’t Go’s release in April 2020.  

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