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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/18/21

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:

Thanks to Jenny Lu of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sharing these Halloween picture books with Beagles and Books.  All published on July 20, 2021. 


Vampenguin by Lucy Ann Cummins

What happens when the Dracula family visits the zoo? When the door to the penguin habitat is ajar, the youngest vampire seizes the opportunity to visit the birds. With his black and white clothing, his yellow pacifier mimicking a beak and yellow shoes matching webbed feet, the resemblance is spot on and the two swap places with the penguin climbing into the stroller. Unaware, the Dracula family travels through the zoo yet the animals are wise to the switch.

A soft color palette and charming illustration make Vampenguin spookingly sweet. What I love most is Cummins makes the story fun for both children and adults. Young children will adore the plot and the illustrations and adults and older readers will chuckle at the discrepancy between the text and the illustrations. For example, the text says “after a short wait in line…” but the illustrations shows many people in front of the Dracula family. The last illustration is simply fabulous, for it is a copy of the souvenir photo with the penguin in the stroller and the youngest vampire peeking through the window of the penguin enclosure.


How to Hide a Ghost: A Lift the Flap Book by MacKenzie Haley

Where can a ghost hide?  This Halloween board book is a perfect interactive read aloud for toddlers.  On each page spread, children will encounter a lively, rhyming text, sweet (not scary) illustrations, and a sturdy flap that can be lifted easily by small hands to reveal the ghost’s hiding place.  Under the flap, the ghosts’ expressions are simply adorable and will put a smile onto a child’s face.  

I love that the cover also includes a flap and the durability of the board book. It is actually one of the most well-made board books I have ever seen.  How to Hide a Ghost is an engaging (not eerie) story that kids will want to read again and again. 

Bella’s Dog Cat Pick of the Week

Wanting to spread the dog cat love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine feline main character.

Warning: A cat pounced on the opportunity to take over Bella’s Pick of the Week. Rest assured that dogs WILL be back next week. 


Hardly Haunted by Jessie Sima 

A vacant house feels lonely and worries people won’t move in because she is haunted.  A curious black cat enters the residence and takes the reader on a tour of each room as the house attempts to suppress her creaks, squeaks, and rattles but is unsuccessful.   The quivering cat leaps out of the house but remains close by.  Holding her breath, the house tries again, but this time, the wind is the culprit rustling leave and scratching branches against her side causing her lights to flicker and base to groan. Finally, the rush of air makes a howling sound through her roof.  Instead of feeling depressed, the house feels invigorated.  Perhaps being haunted is her thing!  Now all she needs is to find a family who will embrace her spookiness.  Don’t worry readers! A happy ending awaits for this haunted house as well as the cat. 

I love how Sima’s illustrations make the house come alive. The third story windows serve as her eyes which convey her range of feelings from apprehension to contentment. The black cat also helps set the tone for the story, for its expression and disposition changes once the house accepts herself unconditionally.  

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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“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 Susie B. Won’t Back Down by Margaret Finnegan


About the Book:

Title: Susie B. Won’t Back Down
Author: Margaret Finnegan
Pub. Date: October 5, 2021

Beagles and Books is excited to share a review and giveaway for Susie B. Won’t Back Down 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.


Susie Babuszkiewicz is a peppy fifth grade student who has a lot of opinions.  For starters, she can’t be called Susie because Soozee Gupta is also in her class which seems unfair.  B comes before G right?  But after reading about Susan B. Anthony and her crusade fighting for women’s rights, Susie embraces being called Susie B. and when choosing a personal hero for the fifth grade Hero Project, Susie immediately knows her choice, duh.  

I absolutely love the format of the novel, for Susie narrates in the form of letters penned to Susan B. Anthony.  The letters are written in a conversational tone so readers feel that Susie is speaking directly to them.  What I love most is that Susie does not hold back; she tells it like it is.  For instance, she shares her honest feelings about Chloe Howard who she secretly calls “Old Fakey Fake” because of her phony personality and how Dylan Rodriguez is one of usual geniuses-kids who always get pick for everything.  And Susie reveals her life long dream of running for student council president because who wouldn’t want to use the big microphone to say The Pledge of Allegiance at assemblies? 

As Susie researches Susan B. Anthony more, she learns that her hero made alliances with individuals who did not believe in equality for all people.  Susie is deeply troubled by this revelation and feels betrayed especially since her half-brother Locke is biracial.   But once more students do research, they also discover their heroes’ flaws.  As her friend Carson who chose Picasso as his hero eloquently states, “It’s easier when you just know what people did, not who they were.”  

Susie also discovers that friends can surprise you too.  Jocelyn has always been her best spark, but as she is running for student council treasurer, Jocelyn sees an opportunity to befriend Chloe.  Susie tries but finds it difficult to be friendly with “Old Fakey Fake.”  When Susie asks her to choose, her best spark chooses the other side which I agree was pretty stabby-stabby.  Susie, I would be proud to eat lunch with you every day.  

Susie B. Won’t Back Down is an authentic story of a young girl trying to figure out who she is.  Is she passionate or high maintenance? Her brother Locke tells her it to her straight-“Fill yourself up by being your best.” Susie realizes that her best means being true to herself.  With that revelation, Susie and Jocelyn may not be besties right now, but sparks don’t happen with only one person.  Susie learns that friends Carson, Soozee, and even Dylan can help her Inner Light shine.  Thanks Susie for being real.   

Praise for Susie B. Won’t Back Down!

“Susie is energetic, breathless, enthusiastic, and genuinely, charmingly funny.” —Kirkus Reviews

A Junior Library Guild Selection

About the Author:

Margaret Finnegan is the author of the middle-grade novels Susie B. Won’t Back Down and We Could Be Heroes. Her writing often focuses on themes on inclusion, hard choices, and being true to yourself. She also makes a really good chocolate cake. To learn more, and to download free discussion guides, visit

Twitter: @FinneganBegin

Instagram: @finneganbegin


Check out the fun mock newspaper, The Susie B News–available for download here!

Blog Tour, Book Birthday, Giveaway, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday & Giveaway for Between the Lines by Lindsay Ward


About the Book:

Title: Between the Lines
Author/Illustrator: Lindsay Ward
Pub. Date: October 1, 2021

Happy Book Birthday to Between the Lines written and illustrated by Lindsay Ward! Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour! Special thanks to Two Lions Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


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 on the page spread below.  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. 

Praise for Between the Lines!

“A vibrant neighborhood loses its color, literally, as the community becomes fractured.” 
Kirkus Reviews

“The illustrations…bring the atmosphere and ideas of the story to life. The depictions of both isolation and community in a dense urban neighborhood are poignant, especially after a year when COVID-19 forced people worldwide to forgo, and then to reinvent, community togetherness.”

Lindsay Ward author

About the Author/Illustrator:

Lindsay Ward is the creator of the Dexter T. Rexter series as well as Rosie: Stronger than Steel; This Book Is Gray; Brobarians; Helping Hospital; the Wheels on the Go series; Rosco vs. the Baby; and The Importance of Being 3. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play. Lindsay lives with her family in Peninsula, Ohio with her family. Learn more about her online at

Twitter: @lindsaymward
Instagram: lindsaymward

Click the picture below to check out a storytime for Between the Lines and other books on Lindsay Ward’s website!