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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/8/21


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:



Stella by McCall Hoyle

My name is Stella. I’m a beagle, and I was born to sniff.”

While all beagles have a keen nose, Stella has been trained to sniff out explosives. But after a mission went terribly wrong resulting in the death of Connie, her handler, Stella is haunted by the memories of that tragic day.  Retired of her duties, Stella now suffers from PSTD which is making it difficult for her to find a permanent home. Fortunately, Esperanza, a friend of Connie’s and world-renowned dog trainer offers to rehabilitate Stella to help her find a forever home.  When Stella arrives at Esperanza’s farm, she is warmly greeted by her daughter Cloe.  Picking up scents of cookies, grass, and books, Stella is reminded of Connie who read aloud to her and recalled these words-“you must be the thing you cannot do.”    But Stella also smells a sour or metallic scent unsure what it means.

From that very first day, Stella notices that Cloe gets her better than any other human since Connie.  While Stella is not happy to be sleeping in the barn, she does have the company of brave border collie Nando who moves closer to her crate when she is anxious.  Since it is sheep shearing season, Cloe successfully convinces her reluctant mom to let her work with Stella.  Cloe still has the strange smell that Stella can’t figure out, but it’s not strong every day.  On a trip running errands, the scent intensifies.  Stella tries to alert Esperanza as she witnesses Cloe having an epileptic seizure.   After seeing Cloe in distress, Stella is determined to not only be a good dog, but also brave like she was with Connie.  Can Stella persuade Esperanza that she is meant to be Cloe’s dog? To read my full review, click here.


Miss Mingo and the 100th Day of School by Jamie Harper

When kindergarten celebrated their 100th day of school, I was excited to share the newest Miss Mingo story for our virtual read aloud for #classroombookaday.  Miss Mingo’s kindergarten class is 100 days smarter and eager to share their 100th day projects.  What I love is all the animals’ projects are accompanied by cool facts about their species.  Hippo shares his baby sister who weighs 100 pounds and young (& adult) readers learn that hippo calves can nurse underwater by closing their ears and nostrils.  While the animals share their projects, they also teach children that there is many ways to count to 100.  Octopus made 10 piles of 10 shells. Panda counted to 50 and made 2 bundles of bamboo.  During a group project, 5 animals each made 20 footprints equaling 100.  

What I loved about Miss Mingo and the 100th Day of School is children learn how truly amazing animals are. As an adult, I learned facts I did not know which is also appreciated.  Harper’s illustrations show the animals’ excitement in sharing their projects with the class.  Thanks to Candlewick Press for sharing a copy.  Miss Mingo and the 100th Day of School released in November 2020.


Home for a While by Lauren H. Kerstein Illustrated by Natalia Moore

When Calvin arrives at his new foster mom Maggie’s house, he is nervous. He doesn’t want to unpack because in his mind, this is just another house. It is not his home. When he goes to bed, Calvin doesn’t want a hug and Maggie understands. The next morning, when Calvin bounces a basketball in the house to calm himself and breaks a vase, Maggie responds by asking Calvin if he wants to shoot hoops outside and models breathing in and out and Calvin joins in.  The next time Calvin is anxious, Maggie gives him clay to manipulate as she continues to model breathing techniques which helps Calvin calm down. Each night, Maggie continues to ask Calvin if he can hug him. ‘Why? Calvin asks.  Maggie responds “Because you’re quite huggable”  He continues to say “Nah” but gradually feels more wanted. Once Calvin realizes that Maggie accepts him, he realizes he can trust her and agrees to her hug. 

Kerstein tackles a sensitive topic such as foster care with love and warmth.  Home for a While can be a support to children in foster care or a window to help foster parents or children understand the feelings of foster children.  Moore’s illustrations show how Calvin’s feelings change over time as a result of Maggie’s patience and understanding. Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with Beagles and Books.  Home for a While published on February 2, 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.


Love Tails by Rob Sayegh Jr. 

In his debut as both author and illustrator, Sayegh’s Love Tails recognizes while every dog’s tail has a tale to tell, tails have unique characteristics.  Written in concise, lyrical text, tails are described in their many forms-short, long, twisty, pointy, new, and tried and true.  While tails may differ, all tails wiggle and wag which Savegh believes is communicating “I love you”.  As a dog mom, I know that holds true for Bella because her wagging tail is a sign of happiness and joy.  

In both words and illustrations, Love Tails is a celebration of a dog’s wagger.  As soon as I opened the picture book, the endpapers showcase all different types of happy tails.  On the first page spread, a beagle tail (yes, a beagle) is shown and when the page is turned, a beagle is on his back smiling as he smells the butt of a dachshund.  Sayegh illustrated this moment of sheer delight perfectly.  On each subsequent page spread, a new breed is introduced who in turn sniffs out another dog.   A sweet touch is all the dogs have hearts as noses.  On the back endpapers, the happy faces of the dogs are in the same places as their tails were on the front endpapers.  Love Tails is a charming tribute to all pups who remind us to enjoy the simple things in life!

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.

5 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/8/21”

  1. Each one new to me and each one sounds wonderful, Laura. I am fascinated by dogs’ abilities, have read that they are also training to be Covid trackers! Have a great week ahead!


  2. Thanks for the heads up about these books. I am now especially interested in reading Stella. Home for a While sounds intense. I won’t be reading it for a while since I’m already in the middle of a collection of poetry by a young boy whose foster experiences were not so positive.


  3. What a wonderful set of books! Stella sounds like a great novel, and Home for a While sounds like a really powerful and important picture book! I really appreciate you sharing all of these neat books!


  4. I’m thrilled to see we have Stella through one of my libraries. I’m putting it on my wish list! And Love Tails looks adorable. I’m adding it to my Want to Read list. Thanks for these shares, Laura, and apologies for my late visit. 🙂


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