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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/26/21

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:


Rescue at Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson 

Following in the footsteps of her late grandmother, 12 year old Madi is an “animal whisperer” rescuing orphaned and injured wild animals.  In a mere weeks, Madi has the immense opportunity to meet her idol, Jane Goodall but under one condition. Her parents have forbidden Madi from bringing any more animals home.  So when Madi and her friends, Jack and Aaron discover orphaned beaver kits and rescue them, she realizes her only choice is to hide them in her clubhouse.  Taking care of beaver kits secretively is not easy and on top of that, Madi, Jack, and Aaron learn someone is purposely shooting beavers in retaliation for their dams are causing a flood in their town.  The trio along with Jack’s dog, Lid, work together to uncover the person responsible and Madi is also determined to help the beavers find a different location for their dams.    

With an intriguing plot, well developed characters, and lots of factual information about beavers as well as being an animal rehabilitator, Rescue at Lake Wild is an engaging middle grade novel that has a lot of kid appeal.  As an educator, I took note of the book length, for the story is only 181 pages and then more specifically, chapter length which was at most 6 pages.  Length can be an important consideration when recommending books to kids, for sometimes, stamina for chapter book reading must be nurtured. While the novel is shorter in length, Rescue at Lake Wild has a lot of substance. To read my full review and a chance to enter a giveaway, click here.

Arlo Draws an Octopus by Lori Mortensen Illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr. 

Running through his front door, Arlo is full of excitement.  He has decided to draw an octopus! Why?  Because he likes everything about the cephalopod.  With a smile on his face, Arlo begins, but as he draws, he is disappointed.  The head looks like a hill, the arms look like roads, and the suction cups look like bubbles.  Doubt fills Arlo’s mind.  Perhaps, he is not an octopus drawer.  Frustrated, Arlo wads up his drawing and throws it on the ground but he knows he shouldn’t litter.  When he trudges over and picks up the paper, Arlo realizes it is not his octopus drawing.  Turns out an octopus has drawn a picture of him!  And guess what?  Both Arlo and the octopus like each other’s portraits!  After sharing specific feedback with one another, Arlo has a renewed sense of his artistic talents.  

Mortensen’s message in Arlo Draws a Octopus is an important one for readers of ALL ages, for as humans, we can be so hard on ourselves.  Once Arlo heard a different perspective, his attitude changed and he no longer viewed his drawing as a disaster-piece.  I love that this story teaches how personal art can truly be reinforcing the old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  Sayegh’s illustrations beautifully chronicle Arlo’s feelings from the beginning to end.  As he flies into his house, squiggly lines of excitement follow Arlo.  When he is drawing, those lines become a web illustrating his frustration.  As Arlo walks to pick up his paper, rain is falling on him.  When Arlo and the octopus look at each other’s drawings, stars, hearts, and rays of light surround them.  Thanks to Lori Mortensen for sharing a copy with Beagles and Books.  Arlo Draws an Octopus releases soon on May 4, 2021. 

The Smile Shop by Satoshi Kitamura

With his saved money in his hands, an excited boy walks to the market.  What will be buy?   As he travels through the shops and stalls, he sees food, a boat, a book, a horn, and a hat.  Before he has a chance to make his decision, he falls down when a boy on a skateboard collides with him.  As a result, most of his coins disappear down a storm drain.  The boy’s excitement turns into anger and then despair.  But then he stumbles upon a store with the simple sign, Smile, hopeful that a smile will cheer him up.  When he asks to buy a smile, the shopkeeper replies “a smile is not something money can buy” but rather “something that you can only exchange and share.”  The man gives the boy a smile and the boy smiles in return as his picture is taken.  The smiling boy leaves with the photo in his hand and notices that everyone is smiling right along with him. 

The Smile Shop is an uplifting story about how a simple gesture can be transformative.  After the boy lost most of his coins, he was devastated, but his attitude changed after visiting the Smile Shop.  Kitamura’s illustrations are gorgeous and I especially love how the boy stands out in each page spread drawn in bold colors.  Kitamura’s use of color tells it own story showing how the boy’s feelings change, for in the beginning, the page spreads are colorful, but once the coins fall, the background and people are gray.  Color reappears once the boy enters the Smile Shop.  My biggest takeaway was the boy only was aware of everyone else’s smiles after exchanging smiles with the shopkeeper.  The Smile Shop teaches that money doesn’t buy happiness; a kind action is a true gift not only to ourselves but also all those around us.  Thanks to Peachtree Publishing for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group.  The Smile Shop recently released on April 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.

Doggo and Pupper by Katherine Applegate Illustrated by Charlie Adler

Doggo’s days are pretty predictable but he is content with his routine.  His humans think he may be bored and needs to be more active; therefore, they bring Pupper home, which changes everything for Doggo.  Doggo thinks Pupper is a pest while Cat reminds Doggo that Pupper is in fact, a puppy.  The humans agree that Pupper needs to learn manners and send him to charm school.  When Pupper returns home, he is new and improved, but Doggo soon concludes Pupper is sad.  Doggo realizes that he misses the free spirited Pupper and is reminded life is better with a little fun and friendship! 

Doggo and Pupper is an adorable new early chapter book series.  Applegate’s easily accessible text coupled with Adler’s bold and humorous illustrations will not only captivate young readers but also support them in transitioning to chapter book reading.  What I love is how Pupper reminds Doggo that a little spontaneity now and then is rejuvenating.  I look forward to seeing this duo’s friendship blossom in upcoming adventures.  Doggo and Pupper Save the World (Book 2) will be released in March 2022.  

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? 4/26/21”

  1. I read Doggo and Pupper super quick, need to go back to it. I loved Lake Wild too! I’m excited to have more books of this length!


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