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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/2/21

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.

Last week, I featured a review of Animals Go Vroom! written and illustrated by Abi Cushman publishing later this month.  As a thank you for my review, Abi shared an adorable illustration of my book beagle Bella reading the book. 

Abi Cushman 2021

My heart just melted seeing my sweet girl and am awe of the neverending kindness of the #kidlit community.  Educators, authors, and illustrators are all in this together to share stories with kids.  With less than a month left until my school year begins, I am grateful for the time to read and share reviews of upcoming releases that readers of all ages will enjoy.

Our Recent Reads:


Hope Springs by Jaime Berry

Since her father died in a motorcycle accident and her country singer mother is on the road, 11 year old Jubilee lives with her grandmother, Nan and they move around a lot.  Nan calls it a “search for substance” but observant Jubilee sees the pattern.  When things get tough, Nan gets out the maps and recites one of their 19 Relocation Rules such as Why fight on the battlefield when new fields await?  But this time, Jubilee has a plan to steer Nan to Hope Springs, Texas, the hometown of her idol Arletta Paisley, star of the crafting show, Queen of Neat.   Nan is aware of Jubilee’s scheme, but is all for the move. 

On the first day they arrive in Hope Springs, Jubilee meets Abby, whose mother is mayor of the town and they quickly become friends violating Relocation Rule Number 6: It’s best not to make best friends.  Because of her love for crafting, Jubilee is offered and accepts a part-time job at the Fabric Barn helping the owner Holly.  When Jubilee hears Arletta is returning to Hope Springs to open a SmartMart superstore, she is beyond excited but the rest of the town is worried about the effect on small businesses.  Jubilee discovers her idol isn’t the same in person as on television and is determined to support Hope Springs, the one place that feels like home, even if Nan and her mother whose career is finally taking off are considering another move.  

Written from the point of view of Jubilee, Hope Springs is a story that drew me in right away.  As soon as I met Jubilee, I could tell what a creative, kind and wise soul she is.  In the past, Jubilee had always gone along with packing up and moving on, but the people of Hope Springs changed her mind by touching her heart.  What I love about Jubilee is readers see both her vulnerability and her strength.  Jubilee courageously stands up not only for the town but also herself and learns that the more love she gave away, the more she got back.  Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Hope Springs publishes soon on August 10, 2021.  


Trubble Town: Squirrels Go Bad by Stephan Pastis

Wendy the Wanderer would love more than anything to live up to her name and explore not only her hometown of Trubble but also the world.  Her father, Worried Willy, has a much different attitude and when he leaves on a business trip, he hires Watchful Willamina to keep a close eye on his daughter.  To her surprise, Willamina is not watchful and allows Wendy to wander freely around town.  Her first stop is Mooshy Mike’s where she gets a chocolate and marshmallow drink (known as a Mooshy) and then walks to the park where she drinks it while eating nuts.  When a hungry squirrel begs for a nut and Wendy has none left, she offers him the last bit of her sweet Mooshy.  As a result of a sugar high, the squirrel’s energy level increases (as well as his penchant for Mooshies) causing a devastating yet hilarious chain of events that brings trouble to the once quiet Trubble Town.  

With a cast of eccentric characters, both human and animal, a fantastical plot that keeps one giggling while turning pages, and creative chapter titles, Pastis’ new graphic novel series will be a hit with readers because the laughter never stops.  And amid the laughter, Wendy learns that by sticking up for the squirrel, Trubble Town will not be in trouble when her father returns home.  Thanks to Aladdin/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for sharing an ARC.  Squirrels Go Bad releases soon on August 31, 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.


Best Buddies by Lynn Plourde Ilustrated by Arthur Lin

On the day he came home from the hospital, a boy with Down syndrome and a basset hound’s relationship began.  No surprise that their bond became stronger once the boy shared his snacks with the hound.  Soon they are inseparable enjoying car rides, playing in the yard, and snuggling at bedtime solidifying their status as best buddies.  But on the first day of school, the teary eyed boy got on a bus while the sad hound watched from the door.  Luckily, the duo was reunited at the end of the school day, but they both were still full of worry.  What about tomorrow?  How will the boy and hound cope? 

Best Buddies is a touching story celebrating the friendship between a child and his dog.  What I love most is the boy cleverly finds a way for him and his pup to stay close to one another when apart.  With the start of school approaching, Best Buddies is a perfect real aloud to support children nervous about leaving a loved one.  Thanks to Capstone Publishing for sharing an eARC.  Best Buddies publishes soon on August 15 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? 8/2/21”

  1. What a lovely illustration that Abi Cushman sent you—congrats! Hope Springs sounds like an excellent novel—it reminds me a little bit of A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, which is a great book! Best Buddies sounds like such a sweet story as well, and it’s great to see kids with Down syndrome being represented in books. Thanks so much for the great post!


  2. Wow, the illustration is so special, Laura. Each book you shared sounds good, is new to me. I have family friends with a Down syndrome child, will share Best Buddies with them. Thank you!


  3. I like small town books, and the first two are right up that alley. And I have a special fondness for Down’s Syndrome characters. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on that adorable drawing of Bella!


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