#Bookexcursion, Early Chapter Books, Early Readers, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Novels in Verse, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/11/21

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.

Our Recent Reads:

Red, White and Whole by Rajani LaRocca

13 year old Indian American Reha wants to fit in and have fun.  Growing up in the early 1980’s, this means watching MTV,  singing and dancing with her friends, and wearing fashionable, new clothing.  Reha’s parents, who emigrated from India to America, hold steady with their homeland’s values and habits.  Therefore, Reha is caught between two lives–the life she wants to live and the life her parents think she should.  So when her school announces a middle school dance, Reha wants to go especially since her classmate and English partner Peter might be there.  Her father says yes but her mother is not so sure.  She finally halfheartedly agrees and offers to make Reha’s dress, but in the weeks prior to the dance, her mother is feeling tired and sick.  Reha is allowed to go to the mall and buy a dress with babysitting money.  On the night of the dance, Reha’s mother is admitted to the hospital and shortly after diagnosed with leukemia. Guilt ridden, Reha decides that from now on, she will be the daughter her parents want to be. In time, Reha realizes that she doesn’t have to choose, for her mother reminds her that she does belong to both America and India. She can write her own story. 

Written in verse from the perspective of Reha, Red, White and Whole is both heartbreaking and hopeful.   While the story is fiction, LaRocca drew on her own experiences and beautifully captures Reha’s desires, struggles, and especially her strength to forge her own path.  I loved being transported back to the 80’s when MTV actually played videos and getting a mix tape as a present was the greatest gift ever.  In addition to themes of family, friendship, and fitting in, Red, White, and Whole also explored what it means to be a hero.  Heroes are brave, but not without fear, say what they believe is right, and work to make the world better.  Books like Red, White and Whole remind us that we can all be heroes by living our best lives.  Thanks to the author for hosting an ARC giveaway in which I won a copy and am happily sharing with my #bookexcursion group.  Red, White, and Whole publishes on February 2, 2021. 

Lost and Found (Geeger the Robot Quix Book 2) by Jarrett Lerner Illustrated by Serge Seidlitz

In the first book, Geeger the Robot Goes to the School, readers met Geeger who was created to eat all the moldy and rotten food that the people in the town of Amblerville won’t eat.  Geeger is able to turn all that food into electricity and power the town.  In the past, Geeger ate things he was not supposed to, but he is working very hard to be more careful. Attending school every day helps Geeger learn, and school is definitely more fun now that Mrs. Bork’s class has Fudge, a pet hamster.  Geeger and Fudge both have a fondness for brown, mushy bananas.

After Geeger and Fudge share their favorite snack together, the class discovers that Fudge is missing.  Since Geeger was the last to see Fudge, the evidence points to him.  Classmate Tillie stands by her friend but Geeger is worried.  He did mistakenly eat a remote this morning.  Did Geeger accidentally eat Fudge? Lost and Found is a great follow up to the first book, for in this story, Geeger learns what it means to have a true friend.  Knowing how Geeger felt about Fudge, Tillie never doubted him even when Geeger doubted himself.  What a great lesson for Geeger to learn!

As a teacher, I highly recommend Quix for young students just transitioning to chapter books or older kids who need additional supports. Lost and Found is written in a large font with short chapters.  The whole book is less than 70 pages and appealing black and white illustrations frequently accompany the text. Other accessible features include a list of characters with their role as well as the use of bold font for characters’ names when first introduced in the text. Vocabulary words are also in bold and defined with pronunciation in a glossary. Lost and Found recently published on January 5, 2021. 

The Best Friend in the World by Sandra Salsbury

While Roland enjoyed a nice life in the woods, he was lonely and in search of a friend.  One day, he stumbled upon a pinecone with stick arms and eyes.  Immediately naming the pinecone Milton, Roland brings him home and is happy to have a companion.  Then one day, Roland sees a sign on a tree.  A pinecone named Popkin is missing.  While the pinecone bears a striking resemblance to Milton, subsequent signs are confusing.  Pipkin likes puzzles, baking and lemonade while Milton enjoys tea, music, and drawing.  Knowing all too well the feeling of loneliness, Roland can’t bear the thought that someone else is sad and delivers Milton to a kitten named Lucy who is ever grateful to be reunited with her best friend.  Roland returns to his home alone, but not long after, he sees new signs on his walk in the woods stating WANTED NEW FRIENDS accompanied by a drawing of a kitten, rabbit, and pinecone.  Looks like Roland did not have to give up a friend–he now has two to spend time with! 

Author illustrator Salsbury’s debut is a heartwarming story that reminds me of the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Roland was a friend to Milton but once he discovered someone else was missing him, Roland showed empathy and returned him.  To repay Roland for his kindness, Lucy offered her friendship (and Pipkin’s.)  Thanks to Peachtree Publishing for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  The Best Friend in the World publishes on March 1, 2021. 

Bella’s 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.

See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog by David LaRochelle Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

What happens when the main character of a book is a dog, but the narrator states otherwise with the first line, “See the cat?”  Breaking the fourth wall, a dog named Max asserts he is not a cat.  Clearly the narrator and the illustrator are in kahoots because on the very last page spread of the first story, Max’s embarrassment is evident when a cat rides by on a unicorn.   In the second story, “See the Snake,” Matt gets more assertive taking matters in his own paws changing the words to save himself from a biting snake.  In the story, “See the Dog,” Max finally thinks the problem is solved.  He just wants to take a nap but the narrator has other ideas.  Can Max convince the narrator to let him sleep?  

Some many reasons to love See the Cat! The banter between Max and the narrator is so much fun.  It is a great book for students transitioning into chapter books especially since author LaRochelle uses many sight words.  Using a limited palette, Wohnoutka’s clean and bright illustrations clearly show Max’s feelings throughout each story. 

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.

3 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/11/21”

  1. I’ve had Red, White, and Whole on my list, so it’s great getting to hear more about it. And I don’t know how I’ve missed Geeger #1! I adore Jarrett Lerner and really need to get with the program and catch up. Thanks for the shares, Laura!


  2. Hi Laura, love the sound of the books you shared today. I haven’t heard of any of them & enjoy the fact that more & more stories are being written about kids who straddle different cultures, trouble at home & at school! See the Cat sounds sweet & I’ve seen about Greeger the Robot in several places, also from Jarrett Lerner on twitter! Thanks!


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