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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/7/21

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.

Summer is upon us! 12 more days of school until my year officially ends. It’s definitely been an historical school year beginning 100% virtual in September and transitioning to hybrid in March. As challenging as it has been at times, I have grown professionally and personally. I am so grateful for time to relax, reflect & rejuvenate and as always, read! Books remain a source of comfort and I am grateful for all the stories read that always they remind me to always be hopeful.

The 17 year cicadas are in their glory right now.  Apparently most dogs include my sweet Bella consider them a tasty treat.  I have to closely monitor Bella to ensure she does not over indulge.

The cicada sounds are very soothing.  Take a listen. 


Our Recent Reads:

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The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron 

It’s the fall of 1989. 12 year old Etan loves rooting for the San Francisco Giants with his dad, drawing, and walking Buddy, his neighbor’s dog. Ever since his mom checked into a hospital to treat her mental illness, Etan has stopped speaking because she was the one person he could talk to about everything. He and her best friend Jordan have drifted apart and with his dad working a lot, Etan spends a lot of time at his grandfather’s jewelry shop who shares stories of immigrating from Prague to the United States to flee the Nazis.

One day, a neighbor and fellow shop owner, Mrs. Li, asks Etan to make a delivery to the home of Malia, a young Filipina girl living with severe eczema. Bullied because of her skin, Malia is now homeschooled. After Etan shares a drawing of her dragon mailbox with Malia, the two connect quickly. Etan feels comfortable talking with her and as they explore the redwoods near her house, Malia opens up about her health condition. After Etan is cut during an earthquake tremor, his grandfather applies a clay from the old world on his arm and sings something in Hebrew making the cut disappear. He wonders if this earthly material could cure Malia. What Etan has yet to realize though is “true friendship is the oldest and strongest form of medicine.”

Gorgeously written in verse from the point of view of Etan, The Magical Imperfect is a touching and hopeful story of family, friendship, and finding out who you are. The setting perfectly fits the plot, for throughout the story, small earthquakes occured emphasizing the uncertainty in both Etan’s and Malia’s lives. Would Etan’s mom come home? Would Malia skin heal? When the historic earthquake occurred right before the third game of the 1989 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants, my heart was racing and I couldn’t stop reading. And like Rajani LaRocca’s novel in verse, Red, White, and Whole, I loved being transported back to the 1980’s and cannot deny I visited YouTube to watch Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time video. Thanks to the author and MacMillan Children Publishing for sharing an eARC with me. The Magical Imperfect celebrates its book birthday next week on June 15, 2021.

Nerdycorn by Andrew Root Illustrated by Erin Kraam

While her fellow unicorns are leaping over rainbows and splashing in waterfalls, Fern is building robots, coding, experimenting, and reading.  She also has a big heart always willing to help others but after being called Nerdycorn and not being invited to Sparkle Dance parties, Fern decides that her kindness has run out and refuses fixing Flutter Phones and Shimmer Bikes. On the night of the Sparkle Dance, all the machines that are on the fritz.  The unicorns apologize for their behavior, but Fern is still annoyed.  Will Fern accept her apology or hold on to her grudge?

Nerdycorn is a sweet story about not only having the confidence to be yourself but also sthe courage to stick up for yourself.  I love that Fern is proud of who she is, but my heart did hurt for her when the other unicorns teased her.  Fern’s decision to take a hiatus from lending a hand taught the unicorns the valuable lesson, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”  The bold and lively illustrations show the range of both Fern’s and the other unicorns’ feelings throughout the story.  Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of Nerdycorn.  It recently published on May 18, 2021.

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Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places by Katie Frawley Illustrated by Laurie Stansfield

Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places is an entertaining and engaging story with a sweet message to appreciate what we have. Frawley’s choice to use text messages to tell the story is clever and unique.  As an adult reading the story aloud, I enjoyed the puns and alliterative closings (feeling fierce, primal and pouncing).  I also appreciated the post scripts included in some of the messages which added useful information. Stansfield’s colorful and expressive illustrations practically leap off the page and since there are a number of wordless page spreads, her vivid artwork moves the plot along,  And pay close attention to the endpapers, for the front explains why both Tabitha and Fritz are craving a change in habitat and the back shows how Tabitha and Fritz both surprised each other on their return home.  To read my full review and giveaway entry details to win your own copy, click here


 Bella’s Dog 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.

Hugo and the Impossible Thing by Renée Felice Smith and Chris Gabriel Illustrated by Sydney Hanson

At the edge of the forest, there is the Impossible Thing. a mess of boulders, thorns, rivers and cliffs. Hugo, a curious French bull terrier wonders why it is called impossible, for no animal has ever attempted to get through it and see what is on the other side. Apparently, Mr. Bear, Little Fox, Miss Otter, and Old Mr. Goat have deemed it impossible. While Hugo may not be as strong and clever as Mr. Bear and Little Fox and have the swimming and climbing skills as Miss Otter and Old Mr. Goat, Hugo decides he has to try. The next morning, when Hugo reaches the edge of the forest, he realizes that he does not have to tackle the Impossible Thing alone. All his forest friends are there ready to lend a hand to make the impossible possible.

Inspired by Smith’s and Gabriel’s dog, Hugo, who overcame a life threatening illness, Hugo and the Impossible Thing is a feel good story about courage, friendship, and teamwork. I love Hugo’s positive attitude. He doesn’t question each animal’s response when he/she says the Impossible Thing has always been impossible. In fact, he agrees that is what he has heard, but despite it, Hugo thinks he is going to try. Hugo’s determination propels the animals to change their fixed mindset to a growth mindset. The soft illustrations show Hugo’s positivity from beginning to end and the other animals’ transformation from skeptic to believer.

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places by Katie Frawley Illustrated by Laurie Stansfield

                                                                    

About the Book:
Title: Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places 
Author: Katie Frawley
Illustrator: Laurie Stansfield
Pub. Date: June 1, 2021


Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places published by Two Lions/Amazon Publishing. Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

What do animals do when they need a change of scenery?  They hop onto the website, Lair-BNB, of course!  Fritz, an elephant living in a rain forest swaps homes with Tabitha, a suburban cat.  Both animals are excited about their adventure.  Kids will love the format, for Fritz and Tabitha communicate entirely through Lair-BNB messages.

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Upon arrival, Fritz is greeted by Claudia, Tabitha’s owner.  I love how Fritz calls the pool a watering hole, and how adorable that he wears a swimmy on his trunk.  

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Tabitha quickly finds family in the rainforest after meeting the cheetahs.  While the text makes it seem she is feeling quite at hime, the illustrations show that Tabitha may be a little confused, for she thinks a bee hive is a scratching post, a meerkat’s burrow is a litter box, and a snake’s tail is a swatting toy. Oh wait! That tail belongs to Rocky! According to Fritz’s previous message, Rocky does not play well with others. 

As Fritz and Tabitha spend more time in their new settings, problems arise.  Fritz confuses a decorative donut as real and Tabitha appalls a herbivorous herd of elephants by adding mice as a pizza topping.  The final straw occurs when Fritz mistakes Claudia’s birthday for his own and Tabitha takes an involuntary dip in the watering hole.  Don’t elephants know cats are not fans of getting wet?  After sleepless nights for both Fritz and Tabitha, they both realize there truly is no place like home!  

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Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places is an entertaining and engaging story with a sweet message to appreciate what we have. Frawley’s choice to use text messages to tell the story is clever and unique.  As an adult reading the story aloud, I enjoyed the puns and alliterative closings (feeling fierce, primal and pouncing).  I also appreciated the post scripts included in some of the messages which added useful information. Stansfield’s colorful and expressive illustrations practically leap off the page and since there are a number of wordless page spreads, her vivid artwork moves the plot along,  And pay close attention to the endpapers, for the front explains why both Tabitha and Fritz are craving a change in habitat and the back shows how Tabitha and Fritz both surprised each other on their return home.

One of the joys of my role as reading specialist is reading aloud to kids.  Last week, when I was asked to cover a class, I brought Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places with me.  The class of second graders were captiviated by the story giggling from beginning to end.  After reading, I asked them to share anything they learned from Tabitha and Fritz.  Here are some of their thoughtful responses.

  • “Sometimes people bother you and you need to get away from them.”
  • “It’s fun to go someplace new.”
  • “If it is your first time doing something, you might not know the rules. You need people to help you.”
  • “I like going on vacation, but I do miss my friends when I am away.”
  • “After they got home, they were happy and not sad anymore.”

The best books are those that make you laugh and learn. Highly recommend Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places for the mirth and messages! 


Praise for Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places!

“A satisfying spin on the trading-places trope.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Tabitha and Fritz are pretty much two of a kind, but debut author Frawley livens their epistolary exchanges with wordplay and knowing phrases…She gets a big assist from Stansfield (Poems Out Loud!), whose bright pastel settings, vivid expressions, and large cast of high-spirited supporting characters pull readers through the story.” —Publishers Weekly

“A laugh-out-loud story that spells out why the grass is not always greener, with subtle language lessons built in for emerging readers.” —School Library Journal


About the Author & Illustrator:

Katie Frawley grew up on a diet of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Madeline. She went on to earn a bachelor’s in English from the University of Florida and a master’s in literature from Florida Atlantic University. These days, Katie lives in South Florida with her husband, four children, and a handsome mutt named Nantucket. When she’s not reading or writing, Katie can be found building pillow forts, testing recipes with her teensy sous-chefs, or shooing iguanas from her garden. Learn more at www.katiefrawley.wordpress.com.

Twitter: @KatieFrawley1

Instagram: @katiefrawley1

Laurie Stansfield grew up in Oxford, England, but packed her bags and moved west to study illustration at the University of the West of England. She now works as a freelance illustrator. She is the illustrator of Poems Out Loud!, published by Penguin UK, and has more books forthcoming. Laurie lives with her husband in Bristol, United Kingdom. Learn more at www.lauriestansfield.co.uk.

Twitter: @Laurie_S_art

Instagram: @laurie.stansfield


Enter a Giveaway!

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One lucky winner will receive a copy of Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). This giveaway is open from Friday, June 4, 2021 through Friday, June 11, 2021 ending at 10:00 p.m. EST.   Please note that book may take longer to ship so patience is appreciated.  Enter below or head over to my Twitter account, @lauramossa and retweet my Rescue at Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places Twitter post.