It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/20/21

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:

Squirrel’s Sweater by Laura Renauld Illustrated by Jennie Poh

As Squirrel prepares for winter, she discovers a problem. Her favorite sweater no longer fits her.  Unsure if the garment shrank or she grew, Squirrel asks her friends for advice.  Doe, Bear, and Porcupine all attempt to help, but sadly, her sweater cannot be fixed.  This realization hits Squirrel hard because her grandma knit it for her when she was young.  Porcupine consoles Squirrel reminding her that Granny Gray will always live in her heart.  Porcupine’s words not only provide comfort but also give Squirrel an idea of how to use the materials her friends gave her to repurpose her sweater into a heart pillow.  Squirrel’s new creation is now a keepsake of her dear grandma and supportive friends. 

The third book in Renault’s Woodland Friends series, Squirrel’s Sweater is a sweet story for young children.  While friendship and problem solving are both themes central to the plot, the story also addresses how to handle the heartache of losing a loved one.  I loved how Renauld chose to have the pillow represent Squirrel’s love for her grandma and her friends.  Poh’s lively illustrations show Squirrel’s range of emotions from the beginning to end.  An added bonus are directions for how to make a no-sew memory pillow. Thanks to the author for sharing a finished copy.  Squirrel’s Sweater celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on September 21, 2021. 



Looking for a Jumbie
by Tracy Baptiste Illustrated by Amber Ren

If you are a fan of Baptiste’s middle grade Jumbies series, you’ll be excited about her picture book debut!  Young Naya is not scared of jumbies in stories and wonders if they could indeed be real.  After her mama puts her to bed, she climbs out of her window in search of these Caribbean fairies or trolls.  Kids will love joining in the read aloud with the repeated chant “I’m (We’re) looking for a jumbie. I’m (We’re) going to find a scary one.” As Naya walks through the dark woods, she encounters a variety of creatures who each have Jumbie characteristics such as large mouths, sharp teeth, glowing skin, tangly hair full of leaves or a long snake tail.  These creatures are friendly, not scary; therefore, they can’t be jumbies right?  

Baptiste’s playful text begs to be read aloud and Ren’s vivid illustrations make the story come alive.  As I read Baptiste’s descriptions of different types of jumbies, I couldn’t wait to turn the page to see how Ren drew the creatures.  While Naya’s mama said jumbies are only in stories, Naya’s moonlit adventure may make her mama change her mind. Thanks to Sabrina Kenoun of Sparks Point Studio for sharing a finished copy.  Looking for a Jumbie celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on September 21, 2021. 



Before We Sleep
by Giorgio Volpe Illustrated by Paolo Proetti

Little Red, a fox, is happy for the arrival of autumn, for he can blend in with the brown, burgundy, anmd copper colors. The fall colors make it more difficult for his best friend Hazel, a dormouse to find them during a game of hide and seek.   But winter is quickly approaching which means Hazel will be hibernating soon.  Worried about being alone, Little Red attempts to keep Hazel awake, but a yawning Hazel knows sleep is imminent. She assures her dear friend when spring comes, they will play again. Finally, Little Red asks if he can tell Hazel a story and before a word is uttered, the duo drift asleep together with Hazel’s head resting on Little Red’s bushy tail.

Translated from Italian, Before We Sleep is a lyrical lullaby.  The gentle, soothing text and warm, expressive illustrations are the perfect combination for a bedtime story that both kids and adults will enjoy.  What struck me the most is how both the words and artwork show the endearing friendship between the fox and the mouse. Thanks to Red Comet Press and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a finished copy.  Before We Sleep recently published on September 7, 2021. 



Mister Fairy
by Morgane de Cadier Illustrated by Florian Pigé

Unlike all the other fairies in the forest, Mister Fairy does not know what his true gift is.   Whenever he waves his wand, animals giggle or trees turn to pink fluff.  Distraught, Mister Fairy leaves the forest and flies to what he thinks is another forest, but it’s actually the city. Immediately, he notices the gray and gloom of the both the buildings and people.  Wanting to help, Mister Fairy waves his wand and a splash of yellow appear on a building which brings smiles from all the onlookers.  Feeling invigorated, he flies down to the subway and his wand waving invokes giggles.  Back above ground, at an outdoor café, his wand turns umbrellas into cotton candy balls to the delight of the patrons. Something inside Mister Fairy makes him fly home to his forest.  Upon arrival, he sees a colorless forest and sad animals and with one self-assured wand wave, the forest is full of color and laughter.  

Originally published in French, Mister Fairy is an uplifting story that reminds us we all have a purpose; sometimes, it takes a journey away from home to discover our talent.  Thanks to Red Comet Press and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a finished copy.  Mister Fairy recently published on September 7, 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.

Lost Things by Carey Sookocheff

In a park, a squirrel picks up an acorn.  A dog (actually, a hound!) with a stick in its mouth is on a walk with his person and sees the squirrel.  As the hound chases the squirrel, the girl loses her orange hair ribbon as well as the hold of her dog’s leash.  The dog loses the stick and the squirrel loses the acorn.  As the girl runs to catch her dog, a bird finds the hair ribbon and takes it back to its nest.  Something lost is now found.  The story continues with other lost things (a stuffed bear, a pencil, a ball) and how they are found by the people who need them most.  And when the girl picks up the ball in the park, she is soon reunited with her hound as is the squirrel with its acorn.  

As a reading specialist, I am always looking for books to support teaching of key reading skills. With minimal text and illustrations,  Lost Things would be a great anchor text for teaching cause and effect relationships at any grade level as well as plot for the story comes full circle.  I love that Sookocheff consciously chose to color all lost things orange, for it tied them all together. Thanks to Kids Can Press and Edelweiss for sharing a digital ARC.  Lost Things recently published on September 7, 2021. 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is etta-beagles-and-books-e1624813174378.jpg
“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.
Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Magic Candies by Heena Baek

 
 
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About the Book:

Title: Magic Candies
Author: Heena Baek
Translator: Sophie Bowman
Pub. Date: September 1, 2021


Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for Magic Candies published by Amazon Crossing Kids which aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives. 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:

A young boy named Tong Tong plays marbles alone in the park while his dog watches.  Depressed, Tong Tong goes to a shop to buy new marbles.  Instead he finds hard candies that look like his round toy.  As soon as Tong Tong puts one in his mouth, the magic begins, for the candies give him the ability to hear things such as the sofa talking.  Tong Tong not only finds the missing remote but also that his dad has a stinky habit that the sofa does not like.  Once the candy dissolves, the sofa is silent.  Tong Tong wonders what will happen if he eats another?  

Guess who starts talking? Yup! Tong Tong’s dog, Marbles who gives him important information.  This page spread is just precious because while I wouldn’t want Bella to talk all the time, I love that Marbles can verbally communicate his feelings. 

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When his dad comes home, Tong Tong only hears questions and commands which appear in the form of words and take up the space of an entire page.  Angered by his dad’s barks, he puts a spotty candy in his mouth and then hears three words over, I love you, over and over again.  Perhaps, these magic candies tell the honest truth? 

Not long after Tong Tong puts a pink candy in his mouth and blows a bubble, he hears his decreased Grandma’s voice and discovers she is doing well. I love this page spread which shows his range of emotions from shocked to determined.

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With the last candy, the only word uttered was bye.  This page spread is gorgeous because Baek cleverly blends in the word with the falling leaves.  As Tong Tong walks through the park, he sees another boy in the distance.  Since the candy did not produce sound, Tong Tong realizes that maybe, he should do the talking and asks the boy “Do you want to play with me?”

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Always eager to share books with students, I read aloud Magic Candies to a class of third graders yesterday.  I was blown away by their observations. Here are some of their thoughts regarding the lesson.  

  • “The boy got the magic candies to learn how others were feeling.”
  • “The shopkeeper knew Tong Tong needed help and sold him the candies.”
  • “The candies gave him the courage to make friends.”
  • “At the beginning, Tong Tong was lonely but the candies made him realize he was not alone.”

The last statement really resonated with me.  Magic Candies is a story of hope, for with each candy, Tong Tong realizes he is not alone.  His dog, father, and grandma are there with him.  The photographed clay molds make the story come alive because readers see the transformation of Tong Tong from lonely to loved.  What I loved the most is the back endpages which show the effect of Tong Tong’s brave actions- he and another boy are playing together in the park.  Baek does a magnificent job of bringing the story full circle; at the beginning, Tong Tong was shooting marbles by himself and now he is riding with a friend. I highly recommend Magic Candies because the story will promote engaging discussion no matter what the age! 


Praise for Magic Candies!

★“Show-stopping spreads by Baek, similar to art by Red Nose Studio, feature molded, emotive figures in meticulously constructed scenery with miniature furniture, photographed under dramatic lighting—an effect startlingly close to animation. It’s a fully realized world that considers discerning meaning and making friends, while offering artwork that lingers in the memory.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

“The enhanced artwork establishes depth and perspective…depictions of facial expressions are skillful and endearing, and the interplay between text and illustrations will cause readers to linger and ponder. An enigmatic, quirky representation of an active imagination in search of understanding and companionship.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Deeply touching, funny, and incredibly odd, this is the kind of picture book that gets you excited about picture books all over again…Magic Candies is so remarkable…a book that is both about giving voice to the voiceless and finding your own.” —Betsy Bird, School Library Journal


About the Author/Illustrator:
Heena Baek is an acclaimed picture book author and illustrator from South Korea. She won the 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, a huge international award honoring the body of work of children’s book creators. She studied educational technology at Ewha Womans University and animation at the California Institute of the Arts. Utilizing her diverse animation production experience, Heena creates powerful and interesting picture books, often sculpting characters and building sets. She is the author and illustrator of a number of picture books, many of which have been translated and have received awards from South Korea and internationally. Follow her on Twitter @heenastory and on Instagram: @baekheena

About the Translator:
Sophie Bowman is a PhD student at the University of Toronto, studying Korean literature. She was awarded the ICF Literature Translation Fellowship at Ewha Womans University. In 2015, she won the Korea Times Modern Korean Literature Translation Award grand prize for poetry with her translations of Jin Eun-young and co-translated Kim Bo-Young’s I’m Waiting for You and Other Stories. Follow her on Twitter @SophieOrbital.

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/6/21

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.


My school year with students officially began last week.  Even with masks on, I could see the enthusiasm and excitement in the kids’ faces.  What warmed my heart the most is seeing teachers set up their classroom libraries, introducing kids to books through book tastings, and visiting classrooms for read alouds.  Our school is once again celebrating birthdays with books and it is a joy to see students choose a title to add to their home libraries.

In August, Beagles and Books celebrated its 4th birthday.  Last week, my blog was featured in Feedspot’s Top 20 Middle Grade Book Blogs.  I am so grateful for the recognition and have to give a shout out to all the authors, illustrators, publishers, publicists, my #bookexcursion group, and the many #kidlit book bloggers who support me.  And of course, my beagles who patiently pose as my book models.  I love being part of this amazing community that aims to ensure every kid sees themselves as reader!

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Our Recent Reads:

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Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt Illustrated by Eric Rohmann

In the foothills of the Chiso Mountains in West Texas lives an old camel named Zada and a family of American kestrels.  Zada is Auntie to Wims and Beulah, two chicks who are barely two weeks old.  When a dust storm quickly and violently comes across the canyon, Zada tucks the chicks in her fur, for after all, camels are the ships of the desert.  But when a stray dust devil seizes the chicks’ parents, Perlita and Pard, and they go adrift,  Zada knows her mission is even more important. She must keep Wims and Beulah safe at all cost until they can be reunited with their parents.  Aging and wise Zada travels with her two fledglings to the closest shelter.  The only issue is the trio’s refuge is mountain lion Pecos de Leon’s territory, but Zada is certain that it is their best chance.

Once Zada reaches Pecos’ den, she is relieved it is empty. He could come back at anytime; therefore, Zada remains standing and on alert because if she sits down, she might not be able to get back up in time. With two scared chicks in her fur missing their parents, Zada realizes the only way to console Wims and Beulah is to tell them stories about her early days as a racing camel in Turkey, her friendship with fellow camel Asiye, and her voyage to the United States.  So once she has OOD (Official Okie Dokie) from the chicks, Zada begins telling her story which gives you ALL the feels-happy, sad, excited, scared, and most importantly, hopeful. 

Appelt’s words are pure joy to read, for she writes directly to the reader and her concise text carries a lot of weight and meaning.  As I read, I was literally transported to West Texas as well as Turkey and felt I was on the caravan with Zada. Rohmann’s illustrations complement the text showing readers the feelings of the characters.  I would highly recommend Once Upon a Camel as a class read aloud, for with short chapters, engaging characters, and an intriguing plot, kids would be captivated by the story begging the teacher to continue reading.  What touched my heart the most was Zada’s love for everyone she met in life-Asiye, Perlita, Pard, Wims, Beulah, and many others.  Zada was truly the brighest star because of her love, perseverance, and courage.   As a reading specialist, I love that Zada reminds us that stories both comfort and save us.  And in my opinion, once upon a time… in a land far away… is always a perfect beginning to a story. 

This review was originally posted as part of the Once Upon a Camel Blog Tour and Twitter giveaway. Once Upon a Camel celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on September 7, 2021.


 

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The Stars Beckoned: Edward White’s Amazing Walk in Space by Candy Wellins Illustrated by Courtney Dawson

When he was a young boy, Edward White was mesmerized with the night sky. With a rhyming text, Wellins energetically expresses how White’s fascination with the stars never waned with these repeating lines-“Come back in. He’d resist, but then he’d go, walking back…so slow…so slow.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Edward became a pilot. But flying a jet was not enough. Edward wanted to get closer to the stars. The timeline following the story reveals White was chosen to be an astronaut after earning an advanced degree in aeronautical engineering and attending Air Force Test Pilot School, On June 3, 1965, Edward became the first American to walk in space.

With Wellins’ lively rhythmic pattern and Dawson’s warm illustrations conveying White’s curiosity and commitment, The Stars Beckoned is a perfect picture book biography for young children. While Wellins clearly captured White’s passion for the stars, I love how she ended by sharing that his family were truly the brightest stars in his life. Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. The Stars Beckoned published in April 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.

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All Pets Allowed (Blackberry Farm 2) by Adele Griffin Illustrated by Le Uyen Pham

In the follow-up to The Becket List, Becket and her twin brother Nicholas are turning 10 on October 10th. In true Becket fashion, she wants to celebrate big inviting all their classmates (even prankster Travis) while Nicholas prefers a much smaller affair. The twins not only get their wish granted for their birthday parties but also in their presents. Becket gets to choose a dog to adopt from the shelter and Nicholas can pick a cat. At first, the twins are excited about their choices; however, their pets’ personalities appear to be the opposite of their own. Becket’s dog, Dibs, is shy and anxious while Nicholas’ cat, Given, loves the spotlight. Will the twins accept their pets unconditionally? 

 
 

While All Pets Allowed is the second book in the Blackberry Farm series, it can definitely be read as a stand alone. Griffin clearly conveys while the twins share the same birthdays, they do not have similar depositions.  Becket is all spunk and energy and Nicholas is all quiet and reserved. What I love about this story is because of their pets, the twins has a greater respect and appreciation for each other. Pham’s fun and expressive black and white illustrations capture both Becket’s & Nicholas’ personalities as well as Dibs and Givens. The theme of family is strong, for the Branches are true team supporting each other on their farm and with the new pets. Thanks to Lonnie Lane Marketing for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. All Pets Allowed published last week on August 31, 2021.

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is etta-beagles-and-books-e1624813174378.jpg
“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.
Blog Tour, Giveaway, Middle Grade Literature

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt

 
 
            IMG_0859                                                   

About the Book:

Title: Once Upon a Camel
Author: Kathi Applelt
Illustrator: Eric Rohmann
Pub. Date: September 7, 2021


Beagles and Books is excited to share a review and giveaway for Once Upon a Camel published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon and Schuster. 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:

In the foothills of the Chiso Mountains in West Texas lives an old camel named Zada and a family of American kestrels.  Zada is Auntie to Wims and Beulah, two chicks who are barely two weeks old.  When a dust storm quickly and violently comes across the canyon, Zada tucks the chicks in her fur, for after all, camels are the ships of the desert.  But when a stray dust devil seizes the chicks’ parents, Perlita and Pard, and they go adrift,  Zada knows her mission is even more important. She must keep Wims and Beulah safe at all cost until they can be reunited with their parents.  Aging and wise Zada travels with her two fledglings to the closest shelter.  The only issue is the trio’s refuge is mountain lion Pecos de Leon’s territory, but Zada is certain that it is their best chance.

Once Zada reaches Pecos’ den, she is relieved it is empty. He could come back at anytime; therefore, Zada remains standing and on alert because if she sits down, she might not be able to get back up in time. With two scared chicks in her fur missing their parents, Zada realizes the only way to console Wims and Beulah is to tell them stories about her early days as a racing camel in Turkey, her friendship with fellow camel Asiye, and her voyage to the United States.  So once she has OOD (Official Okie Dokie) from the chicks, Zada begins telling her story which gives you ALL the feels-happy, sad, excited, scared, and most importantly, hopeful. 

Appelt’s words are pure joy to read, for she  writes directly to the reader and her concise text carries a lot of weight and meaning.  As I read, I was literally transported to West Texas as well as Turkey and felt I was on the caravan with Zada. Rohmann’s illustrations complement the text showing readers the feelings of the characters.  I would highly recommend Once Upon a Camel as a class read aloud, for with short chapters, engaging characters, and an intriguing plot, kids would be captivated by the story begging the teacher to continue reading.  What touched my heart the most was Zada’s love for everyone she met in life-Asiye, Perlita, Pard, Wims, Beulah, and many others.  Zada was truly the brighest star because of her love, perseverance, and courage.   As a reading specialist, I love that Zada reminds us that stories both comfort and save us.  And in my opinion, once upon a time… in a land far away… is always a perfect beginning to a story. 

About the Author:

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award Finalist, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award Finalist for The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. Some of her award-winning books include Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and Max Attacks to name just a few. She lives in College Station, Texas. To learn more, visit her website at kathiappelt.com

Find Kathi Appelt on Facebook and Pinterest!