#Bookexcursion, #MustReadsin2020, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/20/20

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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.

Recent Reads:

Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson Illustrated by Nina Mata

My third grade teacher Mrs. Shade read aloud Henry Huggins and from that moment on, I became a fan of Beverly Cleary’s books.  Henry Huggins introduced me to Ramona who I loved for her spunk and smarts.  So excited that my students can get to know Ramona, a character from my childhood, and also meet fourth grader Ryan, the main character in a new series by Renée Watson.

In this first book of the series, readers meet the Hart family who I just adore.  Because their landlord is selling their house, the family must move to a new house, which is older and smaller.  Mr. Hart has lost his job and while he is starting a new one, it does not pay as much which means no brand name groceries like Tillamook ice cream.  On the bright side, Ryan has her own room, still goes to her same school, and lives closer to her own of her best friends KiKi.  And while money may be tight, Mom tries her best to nuture Ryan’s love for cooking by buying ingredients to try out new recipes like fruit smoothies and rosemary chicken wings.

Ryan’s name means king and her parents remind her to live up to her name and be a leader. Ryan always strives to do the right thing and be positive but readers get to see her struggles as well whether it is a squabble with her brother Ray, overcoming her fears speaking in front of an audience or just dealing with change.  What I love most is the Hart family has a lot of heart and is there for each other in both good and bad times.  Written in under 200 pages with short chapters, dynamic characters, an engaging plot, and Mata’s charming black and white illustrations, Watson’s new series is so accessible to readers transitioning into middle grade novels.  Can’t wait for more adventures with Ryan and her family!  Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishers for sharing an ARC at the #NCTE covention.  Ways to Make Sunshine celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on April 20, 2020.

 

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Play Like An Animal by Maria Gianferrari Illustrated by Mia Powell 

Did you know that animals play for a purpose?  In her latest book, Play Like An Animal, Maria Gianferrari teaches reader of all ages that animals engage in play to practice important life skills such as fighting, cooperating, hunting, and escaping from predators.  The animals are not the only ones playing, for Gianferrari engages in spirited word play herself introducing each animal with three dynamic verbs to describe their actions.  To read my full review and enter a giveaway, click here.

Space Mice by Lori Haskins Houran Illustrated by Priscilla Alpaugh

When two mice are out of cheese, they look up at the sky and see a giant ball of yellow swiss.  These clever (and hungry) mice devise a thorough plan and build a rocket to take them on a mission to the moon.  Once they safely land, the mice fill their hungry bellies and even take a slice to go!

With lines of five words or less, Houran efficiently uses rhyme to entertain and explain the mice’s journey to get to the moon.  I love her word choice for children hear juicy words such as jot, plot, fetch, nosh.  Alpaugh’s mice are not only adorable but she also captures their determination and excitement for their project.  Because of the mice, the moon changes from full to a crescent which is a surprise to a young astromer on Earth.  Thanks to Albert Whitman for sharing an ARC of Space Mice which published on March 1, 2020.

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.

Stay! by Alex Latimer

Ben thinks the world of his dog Buster.  Based on Buster’s past behavior, Ben’s parents do not share his sentiment so Buster will not be joining them on their family vacation and instead stay with Grampa.  Worried that Grampa does not know Buster’s likes and dislikes, Ben is encouraged to write notes to help Grampa better understand him.  Ben has a lot to share which means more notes that he ever imagined.  And even after Ben left, he would send postcards to Granmpa with anything he forgot.  With all these notes, you would think Ben would have remembered everything, but there was one important detail he forgot.  Will Buster be in the doghouse or will Grampa be able to teach an old dog a new trick?

Stay is a humorous yet heartwarming story about a boy and his dog.  My favorite part is the notes that Ben writes and illustrates because they show how well he clearly knows Buster.  I also love that when Ben and Buster are reunited, Grampa has his own note for Ben.

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Bella & I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books. Happy Reading! Stay safe and well!

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Play Like An Animal! by Maria Gianferrari

Beagles and Books is honored to be part of the Play Like An Animal: Why Critters Splash, Race, Twirl and Chase blog tour!  Play Like An Animal is written by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Mia Powell and celebrated its book birthday last week on April 7, 2020. Thanks to author Maria Gianferrari and Lerner Publishing for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

And on a personal note, I am so appreciative that Maria personalized my copy to not only me & Bella but also in memory of my sweet Etta.

Continue reading “Blog Tour & Giveaway for Play Like An Animal! by Maria Gianferrari”

#Bookexcursion, #MustReadsin2020, Book Birthday, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/13/20

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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.

For the past few weeks, I have been leaning on picture books partly due to their length but I am happy to report that I finished reading 3 novels this week.  Getting into a reading rut is tough so I am glad that there are so many types of books to help during the ebbs and flows of life.  And all these novels are #mustreadsin2020.  Two celebrate their book birthday this week and one will publish in less than a month!

Recent Reads:

What Lane? by Torry Maldanado

Stephen is an eleven year old biracial boy who lives in Brooklyn with his librarian mom and teacher dad.  Believing in a saying coined by his favorite basketball player, Stephen wears a bracelet with the words WHAT LANE? This phrase reminds him that he is not confined to one path or as his father says “the world is yours.” Stephen shows his many lanes in his friendships, for his best friend, Dan is white, but he also has friends who are African American, Latino or mixed like him.  But Stephen’s thinking is challenged when he experiences microaggressions solely because of his color.  And while two years ago, Stephen made a New Year’s resolution to say what’s on his mind, it is not always easy to follow through especially when Dan’s cousin Chad is involved.  Stephen learns that he must open his eyes and speak his mind and not worry about so much about the lanes but rather stick with his friends who are true allies and have his back.

Lately, it has been hard to stay focus to read a novel and I know other adults and kids are struggling too. What Lane? is a gamechanger on so many levels.  Written in 126 pages with short chapters, Stephen’s authentic story hooked me from the very first page.  Kids will easily relate to Stephen who loves superheroes and the television show, Stranger Things.  What I love the most is author and teacher Torrey Maldonado tackles tough issues candidly in language that kids will not only enjoy but understand.   One of my #mustreadsin2020, it is a novel that adults should read as well  Thanks to the author and publisher Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  What Lane? celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on April 14, 2020.

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Finally, Something Mysterious by Doug Cornett

Paul, Shanks and Peephole are the One and Onlys, budding detectives who all happen to be only children.  Well, Peephole is actually losing this title, for his mom is expecting a baby soon.  The trio is used to solving mundane cases like the missing remotes or the class hamster’s lost tail so they jump at the chance to find out who covered their neighbor Mr. Babbages’s lawn with rubber ducks. Why is Mr. Babbage the target?  It turns out that he is the five time winner of the annual Bellwood Bratwurst Bonanza known to the town as the “Triple B.”  Could somebody be attempting to rattle Babbage so he is not on top of his bratwurst game?  The One and Onlys are on the case even though sluggish Officer Portnoy has told them to cease sleuthing. Paul, Shanks, and Peephole must get their ducks, I mean, clues in a row so they can solve the case!

Finally, Something Mysterious is another middle grade novel on my #mustreadin2020 and debut author Doug Cornett kept me laughing and guessing as I worked to put the clues together.  I loved how each character brought strengths to the group, for Paul tracked down the cases, Shanks was the muscle showing no fear, and Peephole’s photographic memory cataloged every detail.  Minor characters like the town’s cruelest teacher and chief bratwurst tester Mr. Pocus were also intriguing and well developed.  Equally important as a character is the quirky town of Bellwood itself, which is small and actually shaped like a bell (which you can see from the handy map included at the beginning of the novel).    Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Finally, Something Mysterious celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on April 14, 2020.

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.

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The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate

In a letter to readers that precedes Chapter 1, author Katherine Applegate asks if you are Team Canine.  My blog pretty much speaks to my allegiance; therefore, I was so utterly excited to have the opportunity to read another one of my #mustreadsin2020, The One and Only Bob before it officially releases on May 5, 2020. Thanks to Edelweiss and Harper Collins for sharing an e-book with Beagles and Books.

Eight years after The One and Only Ivan published, Applegate takes us back to check in with Bob, Ivan, and Ruby with tiny and tough Bob telling the tale. Bob’s narration is perfect. Readers get to know his backstory before meeting Ivan and his current comfortable life with Julia and her family.  I have always been a fan of Applegate’s writing using concise words, lots of white space, and short chapters.  But she really blew me away writing from a dog perspective using terms as bed boogie, drool flag and UFO (which are defined along with other words in a canine glossary following the story) and how vet, bath, fireworks, and vacuum cleaner are canine swear words.   Based on his life experiences, it is no surprise why Bob has his guard up, but it is clear that he will do anything for those he loves especially when a tornado hits the animal sanctuary where Ivan and Ruby now live.  In a time where we all need to remain positive, Bob reminds us to never lose hope because “sometimes humans don’t let you down. Sometimes they even come to your rescue.”  Here’s to us all rescuing each other.

 

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Bella & I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books. Happy Reading! Stay safe and well!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/6/20

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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.

This week is my launch into this new world of remote learning.  Our district’s first goal is to virtually connect with students through class meetings.  So far, I have participated in a Google Meets with my #classroombookaday Grade 2 students as well as a Grade 4 class.  My heart was so full seeing their faces and hearing their voices!  Having these virtual meetings will never replace actually being at school but it does make me feel more connected to not only the kids but also the teachers with whom I work. Looking forward to more class meetings this week and collaborating with other resource teachers how to provide support to our striving learners.

Reading a novel has been challenging so I have leaned on picture books which have provided me such comfort which author/illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi mentions in her blog post, Why Picture Books Are Important.  I am also used to reading and discussing a picture book daily with my #classroombookaday second grade class which gave me such a sense of community.  I plan to read aloud a book at our next Google Meets which will make my heart happy!

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Our Recent Reads:

An Ordinary Day by Elana Arnold Illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic

I have been hearing a lot about An Ordinary Day and now I know why.  While a woman waters her flowers and two children play together in a neighborhood, two families across the street are experiencing life changing events in their homes.  One family is having to say goodbye to their beloved dog while another family is saying hello to a new baby.  Arnold and Vukovic masterfully and tenderly connects these two milestones with text and illustrations.  Of course, An Ordinary Day hit me hard because it has only been six weeks since we lost our sweet Etta.  Although the story brought me to tears, the tears were of joy and sadness, for both the words and art conveyed the immense love the family had for their precious pet. And one can’t stay sad seeing the utter joy of a family welcoming their new baby into the world.

For the past 3 weeks, every day has seemed pretty ordinary.  I have been doing the same tasks daily that it has even been hard to remember the day of the week. But I know others in the world are experiencing endings and beginnings just like the two families in An Ordinary Day.  Such an important message for us all.

Bo the Brave by Bethan Woolvin

Bo’s brothers embark on a quest to catch a monster but won’t let her join them because she is too little.  Bo disagrees proudly stating that she is “smart and brave and strong” and sets off on her own.  During her travels, Bo encounters creatures that at first appear to be monsters but she soon realizes that the Griffen, Kraken, Dragon are helpful, nice, and caring.  When Dragon informs her that her baby has been kidnapped, Bo is pretty sure she knows exactly where to find him- back home at the castle with her monstrous brothers.  Bo saves the the day with her smarts, bravery, and strength and teaches her brothers (and readers) that actions speak much louder than appearances.  And pay close attention to the end pages, for I love how Bo revises her map of Alpine Kingdom based on her new knowledge after her adventure. Thanks to Peachtree Publishing for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group.  Bo the Brave recently published on April 1, 2020.

Two Bicycles in Beijing by Teresa Robeson Illustrated by Junyi Wu

Two bicycles, one yellow and one red, sit in a Beijing shop.  They have been inseparable since they came out of the factory   But this all changes when a girl buys the yellow bike named Huangche.  Suddenly, Lunzi, the red bike, tips over and is all alone.  Not long after, a boy spies Lunzi and purchases her to help him make his deliveries.  Lunzi though only has one thing on her mind-to find Huangche.  As the boy travels through the city, Lunzi gets her hopes up when she sees anything yellow. Sadly, the boy’s deliveries are complete and it is time to head home.  Will Lunzi and Huangche ever be reunited?  Not only did I enjoy the friendship story but also the opportunity to tour the city of Beijing and see sights such as Nanaguan Park, Beihai Park, and Tiananmen Square. and learn some Madarin Chinese words.  Back matter includes a glossary of terms as well as descriptions of some of the city sights. Thanks to Albert Whitman for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Two Bicycles in Beijing recently published on April 1, 2020.

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.

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Olive and Pekoe in Four Short Walks by Jacky Davis and Giselle Potter

Written in walks rather than chapters, Olive and Pekoe tells the story of two canine friends.  Olive is small, old, and more reserved.  Pekoe is big, young, and full of energy.  As they take their walk, readers see the contrast between calm Olive and the lively Pekoe.  Pekoe is on “four paw drive” enthralled by sticks, chipmunks, and other dogs; Olive would rather watch than be a participant.  The last vignette is particularly touching, for at the dog park, Pekoe is scared by a bigger dog.  Olive though is quick to act and joins Pekoe for support.  Olive and Pekoe in Four Short Walks is a sweet story that reminds us friendship isn’t about being the same; it is about being there for each other.

 

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Bella & I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books. Happy Reading! Stay safe and well!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/30/20

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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.

Maryland public schools will be closed for least another three weeks. This week I am engaging in training for remote learning, virtual professional development, and faculty meetings. Like most educators, I am stepping into the unknown which is scary. What is most difficult is figuring out how, as a reading specialist, I can support students, parents, and teachers in this new way of learning.  Answers change daily so I am trying hard to be flexible and remember we are all doing the best we can.  Grateful for my husband who cooks great dinners, family and friends who I can connect with virtually and of course, Bella who insists on multiple ways a day regardless of weather.

 

Our Recent Reads:

More Than Marmalade: Michael Bond and the Story of Paddington Bear by Rosanne Tolin 

I remember checking out A Bear Called Paddington from my elementary school library and fondly reading about the adventures of this adorable bear.

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More Than Marmalade tells the life story of Michael Bond, tha author of the iconic Paddington Bear series.   An author’s note precedes the first chapter where Tolin explains that she uses facts and fictionalized scenes to write this biography.  Readers will learn about Bond’s childhood growing up and how his love of reading was nurtured early by both of his parents.  Bond had a big imagination which I believe fueled his passion for writing. World War II also had a huge effect on Bond, for he had empathy for the many child refugees who arrived in England from other countries.  These children became the inspiration for Paddington who was an orphan himself.

Perserverance is a strong theme in More Than Marmalade.  Readers learn that Bond had many jobs before becoming a published writer.  Although his writing was rejected many times he recalled his grandfather’s advice to never give up.  He also valued suggestions from editors and his agent which helped him persist.  Children also learn that Bond “wrote what he knew” in the sense that Paddington was a stuffed bear he bought his wife for Christmas.  I like that kids will be able to relate to writing a story using their favorite stuffed animal as a main character.

More Than Marmalade not only tells the story of Bond’s life but also shows children how historical events like a war can affect us and change us.  With COVID-19, I wonder how this experience will shape us and be the inspiration for new stories. Thanks to Rosanne Tolin for sending a review copy to Beagles and Books.  More Than Marmalade recently published on March 3, 2020.

 

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Rosie: Stronger Than Steel by Lindsay Ward

This historical fiction picture books tells the story of how US female factory workers, British female farmers & a spunky tractor helped win WWII & reminds us that by working together, we as a nation & world can overcome the toughest battles.  To read my full review and enter a giveaway, click here.

 

Today is a Beach Day by Nancy Viau Illustrated by Charlie Alder

What I wouldn’t give for a beach day!  If I can’t actually go, the next best time to read about it right?  Written in rhyme, Today is a Beach Day is about the excitement of a day at the beach.  I love how the story begins with the children getting in the car with their beach gear in hand.  Once at the beach, the children engage in many activities such as observing seagulls, playing in the water, searching for shells, building sand castles and eating ice cream.  I love how Viau uses rich vocabulary like ” wispy waves,” “hasty licks” and “tousled hair” which will expand young children’s oral vocabulary.  Alder’s illustrations are big and bold and convey the immense excitement of the children. Today is a Beach Day is a story that will delight no matter what the season!Thanks to Albert Whitman for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Today is a Beach Day celebrates its book birthday on April 1, 2020.

Paper Planes by Jim Helmore Illustrated by Richard Jones

Best friends Mia and Ben enjoy doing a lot of things together but their favorite activity is making paper airplanes.  Their goal was to make a plane that could fly across the lake.  But news that Ben’s family is moving threatens both their dream and friendship. Readers see Mia’s hurt and angry feelings due to the many miles between them.  But Ben finds a way to bridge the gap with a project he and Mia can do together.  While Paper Planes is about a maintaining long distance friendship, the story really hit home because with stay at home orders, I know children are experiencing the same emotions as the characters, for it is frustrating not to see or play with friends.  What I love about Paper Planes is Ben’s creative idea to keep their friendship going.  During this unprecedented time, we all need to be resourceful in finding ways to keep in contact with friends and family.  Thanks to Peachtree Publishing for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group.  Paper Planes recently published on March 1, 2020.

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.

Cat and Dog’s Alphabet by Diana and Christyan Fox

Dog sees something peculiar in the air and quickly calls Cat for help.  As the image gets clearer, Cat informs Dog that there is not reason for alarm; it is just the 26 letters of the alphabet.  Thinking the letters are dangerous, Cat teaches Dog their utility such as spelling words. Dog gets frustrated because he can’t remember the letters in sequential order much less spell words correctly. Cat is not deterred and continues to explain the power of the alphabet.  Cat and Dog’s Alphabet is a unique alphabet book because rather than focus on each individual letter and sound, the story explains how letters are used to help us communicate anything we want to say.

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Bella & I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books. Happy Reading! Stay safe and well!