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:
The Hedgehog of Oz by Cory Leonardo
Once upon a time, a hedgehog named Marcel lived with a red high top wearing girl named Dorothy. But a boy, a bird, a bicycle basket, and a basset hound contributed to Marcel’s losing his precious owner. Marcel found refuge in the Emerald City Theater where every Saturday, the matinee is The Wizard of Oz, his and Dorothy’s favorite movie. Marcel is soon joined by two chickens who he names Auntie Hen and Uncle Henrietta (homage to Auntie Em and Uncle Henry), but when the trio are discovered, Marcel is mistaken for a porcupine and dropped off in the woods. Fortunately, Marcel was dumped in Mousekinland and meets Scamp, a small mouse who is tired of not being taken seriously and offers to help Marcel find his way back to the theater. On their journey, the pair meet Ingot, an old squirrel and Tuffy, a baby racoon. Their quest is not easy for they encounter many pitfalls that thwart their progress, but the four animals take turns supporting each other when times get tough.
Cory Leonardo is a masterful storyteller paying tribute to The Wizard of Oz and telling her own story of a lost hedgehog finding his way home. She seamlessly weaves flashbacks into the story so that readers can get a glimpse of Marcel’s life with his owners before Dorothy, his life with Dorothy, and that dreadful day in the park. These memories provide clues which explain how Marcel and Dorothy got separated. Once his friends reach their destination, Marcel is happy for them but still feeling hopeless for himself. As he reflects on that day in the park, Marcel realizes that it even a little bit of hope can bring him home because believing helps him see things differently. Marcel teaches us all that there truly is no place like home. Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. The Hedgehog of Oz publishes soon on February 23, 2021.
Porcupine Cupid by Jason June Illustrated by Lori Richmond
On Valentine’s Day, Porcupine wants the whole forest to know that love is in the air. Using quills as an arrow, Porcupine pokes all the animals espousing romantic sentiments. Each poke is met with irritation not delight. Porcupine decides to use the animals’ collective outrage to his advantage and makes a sign announcing a town meeting to discuss the poke-y porcupine problem. All the animals attend unaware that Porcupine is hiding in a tree. As each animal airs a complaint, another animal offers consolation and the pair leave together hand in hand making Porcupine beam with happiness and satisfaction. But what about Porcupine? Don’t fret because on the last few pages spreads, readers are rewarded by seeing Porcupine also meet his match.
Full of heart and humor, June has written a fun and original story about finding love. Illustrator Richmond’s cartoonish Porcupine is just adorable and the prickly cupid’s spunky attitude is conveyed in both the words and illustrations. With the exception of Porcupine, the animals are gender neutral in their dialogue tags. Thanks to Jenny Lu at Simon and Schuster for sending me a finished copy to review. Porcupine Cupid published on December 1, 2020.
Definitely Dominguita: Knight of the Cape by Terry Catasus Jennings Illustrated by Fatima Anaya
Dominguita loves to read but now more than ever because reading books like Don Qujote makes her feel close to her abuela who recently moved to Florida. But when the class bully, Ernie Bublassi grabs her book and says girls can’t be knights, Dominguita counters that she can and will be a knight. But saying you are a knight and being a knight are two different things. With the help of her brother Rico, her parents, El Senor Fuentes who owns the a salvage shop and grocer Mr. Kowlaski, Dominguita looks like a knight and is officially knighted Dom Capote, Knight of the Cape. But knights have to do good deeds so Dom sets out to find those in need of rescue. In her travels, she acquires a squire, Pancho Sanchez, and a stray dog they named Roco (short for Rocinante, Don Quijote’s horse). While Dom performs random acts of kindness, she is not sure they are knight-worthy. Will Dom be able to prove to not only Ernie but also herself that girls can be knights?
From the very first page, I just loved Dominguita for her love of reading and her tenacity to prove girls can be knights. Girl power is a recurring theme, for Dom consistently championing that girls are not damsels in distress and knights help those in need of rescue regardless of gender. Dom herself is the best example of girl power for she stands up to Ernie’s older brother Ponsi and rescues a little boy running into a street. What I love most about Dom is she learns that knights don’t always succeed but they always try to do the right thing (which is the most important). And in her quest to be a knight, she gains friends along the way.
I am always looking for new early chapter book series to share with teachers and students. With themes of family, friendship, and fortitude, I highly recommend the Definitely Dominguita series. Thanks to the author for sharing am ARC with my #bookexcursion group. Knight of the Cape and the second book, Captain Dom’s Treasure both publish on March 2, 2021. The third book, All for One, publishes in August 2021 and the fourth book, Sherlock Dom, publishes in November 2021.
Sam’s First Word by Bea Birdsong Illustrated by Holly Hatam
Poop is Sam’s first word, but no one is her family pays attention. They are too busy trying to prompt her to say the word THEY want to hear. Her mom sings a song with Mama repeated 63 times. Her dad tells a 203 word story but the only word is Papa. Her grandma’s artwork includes 86 paintings of the word, Nana, and her neighbor, Mr. Theotopolous recites a poem which includes his name 22 times. Sam is saying Poop for a a VERY good reason. When waving and clapping doesn’t work, Sam remembers she CAN take off her diaper. In this instance, the sense of smell is more powerful than hearing.
With Birdsong’s concise and rhythmic text and Hatam’s lively and expressive illustrations, Sam’s First Word is a clever and fun read aloud for both adults and kids. And of course, I loved that Hatem’s illustrations includes Sam’s dog, Farnsworth, who is always by her side and tries to help Sam get the adults’ attention. On the last page spread, readers see that her loyal dog gets rewarded when Sam utters her second word. Thanks to the author for sharing a finished copy with my #bookexcursion group. Sam’s First Word celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on February 16, 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.
Beast in Show by Anna Staniszewski Illustrated by Joanie Stone
Proud pet owner Julia enters her dog, Huxley, in a dog show except the other contestants are not like Huxley, for the illustrations show a dragon, a unicorn, and a robotic cat. Although Huxley performed well in all the events, Bob the unicorn keeps winning first place. In the last round, Bob falls tripping over his ribbon tail and Huxley runs over to the unicorn licking him on the nose and supporting him to finish the competition. Although Bob takes home “Best in Show”, Bob thanks Huxley by giving him a ride on his back during his victory lap and shared part of his prize-a bone!
What I most love about Beast in Show is Huxley’s positive attitude. When Julia is upset that Huxley was not being noticed by the judges, Huxley reminds her that winning does not matter to him. It is more important to have fun and spend time with the one you love! What a great lesson for both Julia and all kids. Huxley also shows kindness by helping Bob which makes the pup even more endearing. Thank you to Mark Podesta of Henry Holt/Macmillan for sharing an eARC. Beast in Show celebrated its book birthday last week on February 9, 2021.
Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!