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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/17/22

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:


Dear Student by Elly Swartz

Sixth grader Autumn has a lot on her plate.  Her dad recently joined the Peace Corps which is hard enough but his leaving resulted in her family having to move in the apartment above her mom’s vet practice.  Her best friend Prisha just moved to California so Autumn is feeling alone on her first day of middle school.   Earlier that day on a video call, her dad asked her to seize the day and get involved in one thing at school.  So when Autumn sees Mr. Baker’s advertisement for a new secret voice of Dear Student in the school newspaper, she wonders… could this be it? 

When Autumn is offered the position of Dear Student, she is both surprised and elated. She feels confident offering guidance to those who write in since her identity is hidden.  But when new friends Logan and Cooper are both impacted differently by her advice, things get messy. With the support of Mr. Baker, Autumn learns that it’s impossible to please everyone.  Being Dear Student is about being honest and staying true to herself which is both frightening and fearless.

Written from Autumn’s point of view, Swartz perfectly captures her main character’s kindness, conflicts, and courage.  Out of all her struggles, her dad choosing the Peace Corps over his family made my heart break for Autumn.  I love though that Swartz is willing to tackle tough family issues that kids today may be facing.  What made my heart happy is Autumn’s tender relationship with her younger sister Pickles whether she is sharing the orange ribbon that Prisha gave her or reading aloud books like Drawn Together,  Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, and Pink is for Blowfish.  Autumn is a character that kids will relate to and root for!  Thanks to Wunderkind PR for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Dear Student publishes on February 15, 2022. 


Glam Prix Racers: Back on Track (Book 2) by Deanna Kent Illustrated by Neil Hooson 

Mio the Mermaid, her moto Mudwick, and the rest of the Glam Prix Racers are “back on track” competing in the second race of the Glam Prix Cup in Soft Swirl City. Their team is currently in first place, but the Vroombots are following close behind and their leader V-Best does not play fair. He spies on Glam Prix Racers, ignores rules, adds obstacles to the course, and steals all the Sparklecharge.  As in the first race, The Glam Prix Racers know that their sparkle, speed, wits, and most importantly, teamwork are the ingredients to secure another win.  Can they be victorious once again?

With fun characters and a fast paced plot, kids will devour the second adventure in this graphic novel trilogy.  As a teacher, I love that the Glam Prix Racers teach readers the value of traits such as cooperation, problem solving, perseverance, and compassion in a light and lively way.  Kent’s peppy and witty dialogue is both humorous and suspenseful and Hooson’s bright and detailed illustrations pop with both color and energy.   Thanks to the publisher for sharing an eARC.  Back on Track releases tomorrow on January 18, 2022.  And don’t worry!  Fast to the Finish (Book 3) will be out in October 2022.


Over Bear! Under Where? by Julie Kedlund Illustrated by Michael Slack

Full of puns and wordplay, Hedlund humorously and skillfully uses the words, over and under, in a variety of combinations (Over is over Under; Under is over over) as the two friends, Under (a mole) and Over (a bird) play together on the see saw and swings in the park.   Once the friends see a hot-dog dog and then a bear, the plot picks up and introduces kids to more positional words such as behind and between. Slack’s large and expressive illustrations not only will make kids laugh but also reinforce the concept.  In the author’s note, Hedlund shares that under and over can be combined with other words to make compound words.  

As a reading specialist, I love finding books to introduce or reinforce a skill or concept.  In addition, Over Bear! Under Where! is a perfect book to put in developing readers’ hands because words are  repeated throughout the story making it an accessible read.  The story also has a lot of depth and is a great text for teaching plot elements as well as character traits and/or feelings.  Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. Over Bear! Under Where? recently published on November 9, 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 character.


The Barking Ballad: A Bark-Along Meow-Along Book by Julia Paschkis

Inspired by the fourth stanza in Oliver Goldsmith’s “An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog,” The Barking Ballad tells the tale of a stray cat who go unnoticed hiding in bushes and tall grasses until a black dog discovers her.  Just as they are ready to meet, a rock falls on the dog’s head leaving him unconscious. The cat comes to the dog’s rescue licking its wound and from that moment on, the two become best friends always by each other’s side.  

While the rhyming text and folk art illustrations will appeal to young children’s ears and eyes, kids will fall in love with this story because author/illustrator Paschkis encourages barks and meows as the story is read aloud.  Prior to the actual story, instructions explain how to bark and meow along, for a red circle cues a canine sound and a yellow diamond cues a feline sound.  Can’t wait to share The Barking Ballad with my kindergarten #classroombookaday class! The Barking Ballad published on October 5, 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.

3 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/17/22”

  1. I loved The Barking Ballad, so happy that Bella did, too, Laura! Dear Student is new to me & it sounds nice. I like Elly Swartz’ books. And Over Bear, Under Where? sounds hilarious. Thanks, Laura. Have a great week ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Student by Elly Swartz is on my list. Honestly, I love everything she writes.
    Over Bear! Under Where? is the kind of book I would have loved for teaching my English as a second language learners.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing more about Dear Student. I have an ARC of it and am getting very excited about starting it before the end of the month. I always enjoy checking in with your blog posts and seeing sweet Bella. ❤️ Have a wonderful week of reading, Laura!

    Liked by 1 person

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