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:
Cow Says Meow! by Kirsti Call Illustrated by Brandon James Scott
When a cow says meow, it starts an a-moo-sing chain of events. A young boy responds with “What a copycat!” and on the next page, there is a cat. When the page is turned, the cat responds with a neigh which helps young readers predict the next animal to appear. Each animal utters an incorrect animal sound which will keep kids laughing and excited to keep reading. Adults will snicker at the boy’s witty retorts which use wordplay. For example, when a owl says “WOOF”, the boy replies “You’re barking up the wrong tree!” After a pig says hi, a young girl follows responding with moo bringing the story full circle.
Cow Says Meow is an udderly hilarious picture book. I had the pleasure of reading aloud the story virtually to a kindergarten class and loved that the children were able to be active participants predicting the next animal based on the sound and giggling when the animals got the their sounds mixed up. I also noticed that after a few read alouds, children would be able to read the story themselves, for Call’s text is short and sweet with all the words in speech bubbles. Scott’s bold illustrations fill the whole page and show both the boy’s frustration and the animals’ surprise as the words come out of their mouths. Thanks to the author for sharing an e-copy. Cow Says Meow celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on March 16, 2021.
Watercress by Andrea Wang Illustrated by Jason Chin
A Chinese American family stops their car when the parents see watercress growing on the side of the road. The daughter who is the narrator in the story is not happy about wading in the cold, muddy water to pick the plant. When the family sits down for dinner, there is a dish of prepared watercress, but the daughter will not put any in her bowl. When her parents try to encourage saying the watercress is fresh and free, she does not budge. The word, free, evokes feelings of embarrassment since the girl wears hand-me-down clothes and sits on chairs taken from a roadside trash heap. Her mother responds by sharing a framed photograph of her family in China and a moving childhood memory which makes her daughter see the free watercress in fresh, new light.
Gorgeously written in free verse and beautifully illustrated in watercolor, Watercress is a powerful, emotional read. In the author’s note, Wang shares that Watercress is based on her childhood memory and the story is both an apology and love letter to her parents. She reminds families to share their memories, the beautiful ones and the painful ones, for these stories teach us empathy. In the artist’s note, Chin explains his process of illustrating Watercress which I greatly appreciated. As I was reading, I kept thinking how Watercress is a perfect mentor text for personal narratives and will share this touching book with teachers. Thanks to Neal Porter/Holiday House for sharing an e-copy through Edelweiss. Watercress publishes soon on March 30, 2021.
Agnes’s Place by Marit Larsen Illustrated by Jenny Løvlie Translated by Kari Dickson
Young Agnes knows her home so well and the neighbors that live near her. Everything is pretty predictable. So when Agnes sees a girl standing on the street below her looking up, her mind is full of wonder. From inside her apartment, Agnes quietly watched the girl and her mother move their things past her door and up the stairs all the way to the fifth floor. Agnes decided to welcome the new girl by making her an invitation to join her on the swings and dropping it into her letter box. But when the girl doesn’t come, Agnes is sad. As time passes, Agnes doesn’t understand. Why is the new girl interested in everything else except her?
While Agnes had a sense of belonging because she knows everyone’s patterns, likes and dislikes in her apartment building, it was clear that she was lonely with no other children around. Løvlie’s detailed illustrations show not only Agnes’s knowledge but also her solitude. The predictability of her world changed the moment she first saw the new girl (now known as Anna) on the street and then moving into the apartment on the fifth floor. Larsen’s text and Løvlie’s artwork express both how Agnes’s home has changed all because of Anna. At the end of the story, when the two girls come face to face, my heart leaped because I believe the anticipation made their meeting more special. Translated from Norwegian, Agnes’s Place is a sweet story that reminds us that life is always more enjoyable with surprises. To read my full review and details to enter a giveaway, click here.
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.
Good Dog series by Cam Higgins Illustrated by Ariel Landy
Follow the adventures of rescue dog Bo Davis in this new early chapter book series! In the first book, Home is Where the Heart Is, readers are introduced to Bo who lives on a farm with his family. After a good rain, Bo decides to join his pig pal, Zonks, for a romp in the mud. After his human brother, Wyatt and sister, Imani, give Bo a much needed bath, they realize that his dog tag is missing. Not having a tag greatly bothers Bo because it reminded him of his life at the pound before he was adopted and became a Davis. Determined, Bo retraces his steps, uncovers some clues talking to the farm animals (and some spiders), which all lead him to his treasured tag.
In Raised in a Barn, the second book in the series, Bo believes he is the fastest animal on the farm so he and the newest foal, Comet, race to prove it once and for all. Bo wins the race, but not because he is truly faster. Comet is young and easily distracted by a butterfly. After being chastised by Nanny Sheep for gloating, Bo apologizes and with the help of his best puppy friend Scrapper, he gets the idea that he can teach Comet how to be a great horse. But a dog may not be the best teacher for a horse especially when Comet needs to be groomed and ready for the foal parade at the local fair the next day. Bo learns that it is more important to be Comet’s friend than his teacher.
The third book in the series, Herd You Loud and Clear, Bo plays games with his sheep buddy Puff. Because of Puff’s fluffy wool, he is not the best at playing hide and seek and wants to find a game that Bo has not played. Bo finds out from his human dad, Darnell, that it’s shearing season so Bo has to help herd the sheep to the barn. Bo attempts to collect the sheep but they complain of being too hot to walk to the barn. When Bo finally sees Puff, he is standing on a large rock and challenges Bo to catch him. When Bo can’t, Puff makes fun of him. While Bo is good at a lot of things, he feels down that he is not at climbing rocks or herding sheep. Fortunately, Nanny Sheep is willing to teach Bo all about shepherding. And when Puff gets stuck on rocks in the forest, Bo relies on the confidence he gained from Nanny Sheep and help from Scrapper to save his friend.
Well, Bo is now one of my favorite literary pups because of his curiosity, determination, and willingness to always lend a paw to his friends. The Good Dog series is perfect for readers transitioning to chapter books. With large print, short chapters, adorable, expressive illustrations on almost every page, well developed characters and an engaging plot, I can’t wait for my young readers to meet Bo. The first three books published in December 2020. Thanks to Jenny Lu of Simon & Schuster for sharing Good Dog with Beagles and Books. Three more titles will be published in the series throughout this year. For more information, click here.
Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!