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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/26/21

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:


Isabel and Her Colores Go to School by Alexandra Alessandri Illustrated by Courtney Dawson 

Isabel is all set for her first day of school except for one thing-she is fluent in Spanish and doesn’t feel confident speaking or understanding English.  Alessandri cleverly connects Isabel’s emotions to color, for Isabel associates bright colors to Spanish, but less vibrant colors to English.  Dawson’s vivid artwork complements the text well. for these colors swirl around Isabel along with her facial expression clearly show her feelings.  Before Isabel walks into school, her mother gives her advice, “To bad times, a good face.”

When Isabel is unsure of what to do in class, she follows along with the rest of her classmates. When they count in English, she chants in Spanish,  but then feels dark colors engulfing her.  At story time, a classmate named Sarah offers a place next to her on the carpet.  When Sarah asks to be friends, Isabel does not understand which makes both girls feel awkward.  Fortunately, drawing becomes the way for Isabel to articulate.  She shows Sarah a picture of the two of them and says “Amigas”  Sarah repeats and then says “Friends,”   I love that Isabel’s artwork is her communication and makes the stormy blues and blizzards colors of English soften to aquamarine. 

Written in both English and Spanish, Isabel and Her Colores Go to School was inspired by Alessandri’s own experience of starting kindergarten.  A must read for the first day of school.  Isabel will be a friend to all anxious about a new school year. Back matter includes Spanish to English translations. Thanks to Sleeping Bear Press for sharing a finished copy.  Isabel and the Colores Go to School recently published on July 15, 2021. 

I Can Read Comics from Harper Alley

This addition to the I Can Read line introduces children to the graphic novel format.  To the left of the title page, guidance on cartooning basics is provided including vocabulary (panel, gutter, tier, word balloons) and how to read the panels.   To learn more about I Can Read Comics, click here. 



Fish and Sun by Sergio Ruzzier

Fish is bored at the bottom of the cold, dark ocean and decides to venture to the surface.   When Fish first pokes out of the water, it is still cold, dark, and boring until Sun rises in the sky.  Fish and Sun become fast friends playing together until Sun starts to set.   Confused and sad, Fish thinks Sun has disappeared forever, but is reunited with Sun when Fish returns to the surface the next day.  I am a big fan of Ruzzier’s work especially Fox and Chick.  With concise text including high frequency words in speech bubbles and warm full panel illustrations that show both character’s feelings, young readers have support to read and enjoy Fish and Sun.  


Friendbots: Blink and Block Make a Wish by Vicky Fang

Frowning Block sits on a bench while the other shapes play.  Using the sensor on its head, Blink roams nearby in search of gold, silver or gems.  Each time, Blink excitedly finds an item such as a bottle cap or a gum wrapper, Block immediately discounts it as insignificant.   When Blink finds a penny, Block is not impressed but Blink proudly says ” a penny can turn into a wish”  After throwing it in a puddle, Blink prances with glee because the wish came true.  Block is bewildered and argues with Blink.  It turns out Blink’s wish was for a new friend.  Block’s frowning face turns into a smile and the duo search for more wishes. 

I love how kids will takeaway that friendship is truly something to treasure!  Fang’s Blink and Block are adorably drawn and reinforce shape and color concepts.  In fact, I can see kids drawing their own Blink and Block adventures or based on the first page spread, choose another shape bot (triangle, rectangle, oval, etc.) as a character in their story.  Book 2: Blink and Block Bug Each Other publishes in September. 


Tiny Tales: Shell Quest by Steph Waldo

While exploring the backyard, a lonely slug sees two creatures that look similar but they have “things” on their backs.  After learning the “thing” is a shell,  the snails tell the slug to find a shell so the slug can play with them.  Thinking a shell is the solution to making friends, the slug searches for one.  An acorn, a thimble, and even a real snail shell seems like good alternatives, but unfortunately, none of them  stay put.  Luckily, one of the snails offers to help the distraught slug find a new shell and on their travels in a rainstorm, the slug discovers the snail is a true friend.  A  downpour carries them to a hollow log where the duo meet other creatures without shells.  Without hestitation, the slug and snail are invited to stay.   With themes of empathy, friendship, and self-acceptance and the cutest slug I have ever seen, Waldo’s debut as author/illustrator is gastropod-tastic!  Book 2: A Feast for Friends publishes in September. 


Animals Go Vroom! by Abi Cushman

“Roar!! goes the….” Through the die-cut windows, readers see a tiger but when the page is turned, a truck the tiger is driving is the cause of the sound.  Subsuquent sounds include hiss, screech, and squeak, but astute kids will quickly recognize the pattern that the vehicles, not the animals, are making the sounds.  I love that the Cushman chose to begin the story on the title page with the snake family buying a yellow car.  Each page spread gradually reveals how the traffic jam occurred and the chain reaction. Cushman has a gift for adding details into her illustrations, which creates stories within the story.  Opposite of the title page, a young crow receives a toy car that is identical to the snake’s.  The crow and his mother show up in the background of many page spreads and it’s fun to hunt for them and see what they are doing.   

I loved Cushman’s debut picture book Soaked so I was eager to read her Animals Go Vroom! This interactive story which encourages children to be active participants exceeded my expectations.  Children will beg for repeated readings and parents won’t complain!  The expressions on all the animals are priceless and a second read focusing on the illustrations is crucial to follow the painting otter.  Pre-order now so you can check it out for yourself!

Thanks to the author and Viking/Penguin Random House for sharing an eARC.  Animals Go Vroom! publishes on August 17, 2021. 

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.


Mayor Good Boy by Dave Scheidt Illustrated by Miranda Harmon

After a dog named Good Boy is elected as mayor of Greenwood, the town is divided.  During his first speech as mayor, a group of angry constituents storm the city hall.  Abby gets her younger brother Aaron to willingly expose his stinky socks thus creating a diversion to rescue Good Boy.  In gratitude for their effort, Good Boy’s chief of staff, Ms. Monica, offers the siblings a job to work with in the mayor’s office.  Their first order of business is to enhance the public image of Mayor Good Boy with all the people in town.  Can Abby and Aaron help get the town on Mayor Good Boy’s side by exposing Old Man Mervis for his dastardly deeds?  

Schiedt’s humorous plot and Hamron’s energetic illustrations will bring smiles and giggles to readers.  Not only will kids laugh out loud especially at Aaron’s gross antics, but also they will learn about how they actively get involved in their own community.    I especially liked seeing Abby’s confidence grow and the reinforcement of teamwork makes the dream work. Following the story is The Mayor Good Boy Pledge promoting positive change and a mini-comic on how kids can contact elected officials to voice their concerns.  Tutorials on how to draw Mayor Good Boy, Abby, and Aaron will support budding ilustrators create their own adventures. 

Two more books in the series are forthcoming-Mayor Good Boy Goes Hollywood in 2022 and Mayor Good Boy Turns Bad in 2023.  Thanks to Random House Graphic for sharing an eARC.  Mayor Good Boy publishes next month on August 31, 2021. 


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? 7/26/21”

  1. I didn’t know that the “I Can Read” books had started doing comics! My 4yo son is starting to get into looking through comics on his own, so I think I will check these out. Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great set of books! Isabel and Her Colores Go to School looks lovely, and Mayor Good Boy sounds like a lot of fun as well. And it’s neat that the I Can Read series is now offering comics! Thanks so much for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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