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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/4/21

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:

All for One (Definitely Dominguita Book 3) by Terry Catasus Jennings Illustrated by Fatima Amaya

In the third book in the series, Dominguita’s love for reading and re-enacting the classics continues with The Three Musketeers. While at Fuentes Salvages borrowing costume props, El Senor Fuentes asks Dom to take a check to Tava’s Butcher to pay for the pigs for his granddaughter Leni’s quinceanera. Always of service, Dom is happy to oblige. When Dom arrives at the shop, Mr. Tava is not there; only a boy named Vinnie. With his hyena laugh, Dom senses something is not right, but feels she has no choice than to give Vinnie the check. Dom’s suspicions were correct, for Vinnie is the oldest of the Bublassi brothers. Why would Vinnie and his brothers want to sabotage Leah’s party? Dom along with her other musketeers Pancho and Steph refuse to let them win and embark on an adventure to save Leah’s important day.

With themes of family, friendship, and fortitude, the Definitely Dominguita series has a lot of kid appeal. Written in under 130 pages with short chapters and engaging illustrations, the series is perfect for readers transitioning to chapter books. Kids not only learn some Spanish words and traditions, but also a knowledge of classic stories. Most importantly, Dom is a great role model demonstrating creativity, grit, perservance, and kindness.

Thanks to the author for sharing a finished copy with my #bookexcursion group.  All for One recently published on August 17, 2021.  Stay tuned for Book 4: Sherlock Dom, which releases on November 16, 2021.

Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites by Jamie Michalak & Debbie Michiko Florence  Illustrated by Yuko Jones

Paying homage to chef Niki Naykayama’s 13 course meal, this picture book biography tells her life story in 13 bites. Growing up in Los Angeles with Japanese born parents, Niki’s enjoyed American foods with a Japanese flair. While Niki always did well in school, her parents’ focus was her brother. Niki was determined to prove she could be a success. Michalak and Florence repeatedly use the word, Kuyashii (meaning I’ll show them) to show Niki’s persistence.

After graduating high school, a visit to her cousin’s inn in the mountains of Japan introduced Niki to kaiseki, a multi course meal that tells a story.  Despite her family’s misgivings, Niki enrolled in cooking school and not only excelled but also became one of the first female sushi chefs. She returned to Japan to learn more about kaiseki and once back home in Los Angeles, Niki opened her own restaurant.

Co-writers Michalak and Florence flawlessly convey the message-Never give up on your goals. I loved Niki’s spunk (Kayashii) because no matter the obstacle, she always had the tenacity to pursue her passion. Illustrator Jones’ artwork shows Niki’s determination to make her dream come true.  Thanks to Brittany Pearlman of Macmillan Children’s Publishing for sharing a finished copy, Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites recently published on September 14, 2021. 

Between the Lines by Lindsay Ward

A young boy recalls how the colors began fading from his neighborhood street.  A lightning storm not only takes the color away but also creates a split in the road that separates the community.  As I read aloud the story to a kindergarten class, the kids were surprised with their mouths open when I turned the page and the color was gone.  I asked them the questions that author/illustrator Ward poses. .  Like most 5 year olds, their responses to the first question was literal. 

  • “The rain made the colors go away.”

  •  “The lightning made a hole in the street and took away the colors.”

The answers to the second question showed their thinking skills.

  • “I think the colors will come back because they will fix the hole.”

  • “They look sad so if they fix the hole, they will be happy again, and then the colors will come back.”

As I continued reading, the kids immediately noticed that the boy and girl remained sad.  When the boy stopped dreaming about the colors, he realized that he must take action. 

From their windows, the community observes the boy’s initiative and determination and gradually joins him in repairing the crevice that divided them.  When rain begins to fall, the boy’s and girl’s smiles fade but instead of going their separate ways, the community stands together.  Their unity allows color to return and makes the community whole again.  When I turned the page and the kids saw the color, they clapped. My heart melted seeing their excitement and hearing the sound of their happiness. 

After the clapping ended, I revisited the question, “Why did the color come back?’ and the kindergarteners were bursting with their thoughts.

  • “The boy started fixing the street and then everyone else helped.”

  • “The boy was sad so he decided fixing the street would make him happy.”

One particular student was bubbling with lots of ideas while I was reading aloud.  At the end of the story, she said, “They worked as a team and you know, teamwork makes the dream work! That’s why the colors came back.”  

Wow! I was blown away by their thoughtful responses!  Ward’s colorful and black and white illustrations are the perfect vehicle to teaching theme with our youngest learners. Kindergarteners could see easily the change in mood and feelings through the use (or absence) of color.  We also discussed the importance of working together as a class family when there is a problem.  Between the Lines is a picture book that promotes deep thinking at all ages

tpThanks to Two Lions and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a copy. Between the Lines published on October 1, 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.


How to Make a Book (About My Dog) by Chris Barton Illustrated by Sarah Horne 

Barton’s most frequently asked questions from kids, “How do you make your books? and “Are you ever going to write a book about your dog?” inspired him to write a nonfiction picture book about his beloved rescue dog Ernie.  

Barton thoroughly and humorously explains the process of writing a book from concept to publication.  Before sharing each step in order, he tells readers that books take a team to be created and during his explanation, Barton makes a point to identify all the different jobs they perform.  Research is very important even when writing a book about his own dog.  Barton shares that he asks family members, Ernie’s foster, and even the shelter about Ernie so he had the most accurate facts about him.  I love how he uses the example that while he initially thought Ernie was part dachshund and part Jack Russell, a DNA test revealed a few other breeds.  

To support young writers, Barton discusses how he begins formulating his ideas into writing.  He discusses the roles of his agent, editor,  the art director, and illustrator.  LOTS of questions are asked by them and other team members which strengthen the text, illustrations, format, and presentation.  Once the book is printed and delivered to bookstores and libraries, How to Make a Book (About My Dog) meets the final member of the team-the reader!

Publishing on October 5, 2021, How to Make a Book (About My Dog) is a perfect mentor text for a nonfiction writing unit. I love that Barton speaks directly to the reader in a conversational tone and includes Ernie anecdotes throughout the book. Horne’s colorful and energetic comic illustrations perfectly complement the text.   Thank you to Millbrook Press/Lerner Publishing and NetGalley for providing an eARC.  

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.

5 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/4/21”

  1. The new Chris Barton, from Bella, looks very cute. I just read Jama Rattigan’s review of the Niki Nakayama book, what a story! I love the Ward’s idea of Between the Lines, am really looking forward to them all! Thanks!


  2. I must read Chris Barton’s new book!! Getting my signed copy of Niki Nakayama this weekend :). Thanks, Laura & Bella :)!


  3. I will say, I always appreciate that even when you have e-book copies of things, you still put in the effort to pose the book covers alongside Bella! How to Make a Book (About My Dog) sounds like such a clever premise for a story! And Between the Lines looks beautiful—that’s one I’ll have to search for. Thanks so much for the great post!


  4. I’m disappointed to see that none of my libraries have the Definitely Dominguita books. They look super cute! I’m adding Barton’s How to Make a Book to my list. Sounds right up my youngest daughter’s alley. Thanks for the shares, Laura!


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