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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/7/20

Bella and I are 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.link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.

Tomorrow is The First Day of School!

Tomorrow, my district begins virtual teaching and it will be a first day like no other.  Reading interventions do not typically begin until the second week of in-person learning so typically on the first day, I am helping students line up outside, comforting nervous students, lending an extra hand in primary classrooms, visiting classes to read aloud, and getting prepared to assess new students.  Almost all these tasks require us to be in the building so as I plan my first day of school, I keep thinking how will I spend my day? 

Reading to kids. 

Regardless of whether school is virtual or in person, the most important thing is continuing to share my love of literacy with students and teachers.  I worry about students have access to physical texts and want to explore ways to get real books into kids’ hands but for now, my job is to keep sharing the power of books.  

Our Recent Reads

Ty’s Travels by Kelly Starling Lyons  Illustrated by Nina Mata

When I attended the 2019 NCTE Convention, I had the pleasure of hearing author Kelly Starling Lyons on the panel, Sparking an Early Love for Reading in All Students With Own Voices Chapter Books with fellow female authors Christine Soontornvat, Debbi Michiko Florence, Hena Khan, and Angela Dominguez.  As a reading specialist, I have worked hard to share their novels and other #ownvoices books with students to read independently and/or in book clubs as well as booktalk with teachers for read alouds.  But #ownvoices books for children just learning how to read have been pretty much nonexistent….until now.

Ty’s Travels is the first I Can Read series featuring a black family.  In All Aboard, Ty asks each family member to play with him but they are all busy.  No worries!  Ty finds an empty box and turns it into a train.  With his dog at his side, Ty takes a ride, and his imagination is conveyed through Mata’s adorable childlike crayon illustrations.  As Ty chugs on, each family member has finished their chore and joins him on the ride.   In Zip, Zoom, Ty gets a new scooter and goes to the park with his family.  Once again, his imagination is revealed through Mata’s illustrations.  Ty is on a track competing against race cars to the finish line. When Ty teeters on his scooter, his mom is right there to cheer him on,  and he stays the course.  Soon his whole family is rooting for him!  When Ty falls, he is ready to throw in the towel, but a young girl’s helping hand and advice convinces Ty to get back on the track.  

With sight words and repeated phrases, Starling Lyons’ text is perfect for emergent readers and Mata’s bright and warm illustrations support the text.  What I also love is Starling Lyons shows us that early readers can have depth with rich characters, an engaging plot, and a theme.  I cannot wait to introduce Ty and his family to both students and teachers in my school this year!  


Short & Sweet (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Volume 4) by Josh Funk Illustrated by Brendan Kearney

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are back in Short and Sweet, the fourth book in this hilariously engaging series.  On the very first page spread, Funk’s playful and rhyming text and Kearney’s expressive and detailed illustrations show that the couple has a problem.  With mold growing on their bodies, pale complexions, and muscle aches, Pancake and Toast clearly need help.  Former nemesis turned friend Baron von Waffle to the rescue!  Well, don’t be too sure.  After calling them gruesome and hideous, Waffle suggests the pair pay a visit to Professor Biscotti’s laboratory and try out her despoiling ray.  But a mishap occurs shrinking Pancake and Toast into young children and due to their small stature, they think Waffle is a monster and run away.  Stricken with guilt, Waffle is worried he has lost his new friends.  How will he ever make things right? 

What I especially love about the Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series is amid the laughter, there are lessons kids learn such as acceptance, initiative problem solving, and forgiveness.  Waffle knows that he is responsible for Pancake and Toast’s shrinking; therefore, he must devise a plan to not only lure the pair to return to the lab but also help Biscotti turn Pancake and Toast back to adults.  To read my full review, click here. 


Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Good Night by Lauren H. Kerstein Illustrated by Nate Wragg

In the follow up to Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Make Waves, Charlie and Rosie are back but instead of swimming, Charlie is helping Rosie conquer bedtime. Even though Rosie is tired, she tries to stall bedtime by adding more minutes to the timer and hiding her stuffed animal horse Vern.  Luckily, Charlie is organized with a list of supplies and a bedtime schedule to keep Rosie on track. 

Full of humor and heart, Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Good Night is not only a great bedtime read aloud but also a story about the genuine love between a boy and his pet.  Charlie is a great role model to kids because he takes pet ownership seriously being both responsible and patient. I especially like Kerstein’s decision to have Charlie narrate the story (as he did in the first book) and how she includes Charlie’s actual words to Rosie in an italicized font.  His personality truly comes alive through the dialogue making readers or listeners more connected to Charlie. Kerstein has created a lovable duo that will make you laugh and smile!  Hoping they are more Rosie and Charlie adventures to come!  To read my full review and enter a giveaway for both Rosie the Dragon books, click here. 

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.


Brave Like That by Lindsey Stoddard 

Anytime I see a book with a dog on the cover, my heart leaps.  After reading the synopsis of Brave Like That, I knew I had to include on in my middle grade #mustreadin2020 list.  When he was a baby, Cyrus was left on the steps of the firehouse and then adopted by the town fire chief who is also local football legend.  Cyrus enjoyed playing two-hand touch football but not full tackle.  During tryouts, he purposely does not play well and is chosen for the middle school football B team.  Cyrus isn’t brave enough to tell his dad that he doesn’t want to play football anymore.

What begins to help Cyrus find his courage is a stray dog that shows up on the exact same firehouse step on the same exact date as Cyrus. Naming him Parker, Cyrus desperately wants to adopt Parker and call him his own.  Without his dad’s permission, Cyrus goes to the humane society to visit Parker and meets the HS7, a group of eighth grade girls who volunteer walking shelter dogs every Tuesday and Friday, the same days as football practice.  Cyrus has never lied to his dad but walking next to Parker is where he belongs, not on the football field. 

Other challenges Cyrus are his difficulty with reading and his best friends’ behavior toward a new student Eduardo.  Told from his point of view, readers can see Cyrus wants to speak out but is afraid.  He is so used to being known as the son of former football star Brooks Olson that he has not figured out who he is. With the support of his grandmother, a new female firefighter, the HS7, and the books that his teacher reads for #classroombookaday, and Parker, Cyrus finds his voice to stand up for not only himself but for others like Parker and Eduardo.  Cyrus discovers he is brave. Brave like show-up-and-be-you-brave, which I believe is the best brave of all.

Like in her previous novels, Stoddard has created a character that kids can relate to, empathize with, and root for!  This story truly had my heart and what tugged me the most is that once Cyrus finally told his dad the truth, he realizes that his dad is and has always been his biggest cheerleader. Thanks to Harper Collins for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Brave Like That recently published in June 2020. 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books! 

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.” Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.

6 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/7/20”

  1. I’m waiting for a copy of the latest Josh Funk book from the library, have loved all the others! Best wishes to you on your first day of school, like no other. Yes, getting books into those students’ hands is a good priority!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You KNOW I’ve fallen off the face of the earth when I didn’t know book #4 of Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast was available. I need to hunt this one down. And I just made sure that Brave Like That is on my list, as well. Happy to learn about Stoddard’s latest title! Thanks for the shares, Laura!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I like books where pets (especially dogs) inspire kids to be better versions of themselves (I just finished The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, another example). I’ll keep an eye out for Brave Like That — thanks Bella!

    Liked by 1 person

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