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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/31/22

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:

Just Right Jillian by Nicole Collier

Fifth grader Jillian is smart but unbelievably shy.  When her class plays Last Man Standing to improve speed and accuracy in math, Jillian knows the final answer to win but is unable to speak or raise her hand.  Her silence allows her classmate and foe Rashida to win.  Jillian knows she needs to find her voice, but since her Grammy died a year ago, she feels lost.  Grammy always said, “Being shy is one thing. Hiding is something else.”  Jillian knows she is hiding by being quiet and blending in with all the other girls’ wearing dull colored clothes and her hair in a ponytail, but how does she find the confidence to be true self? 

Her teacher, Ms. Warren, sees Jillian’s potential and encourages her to enter the academic competition, Mind Bender.  Rashida won the competition last year as a fourth grader.  What chance does Jillian have?  Gradually, Jillian begins to embrace small steps towards change wearing purple or her hair untwisted until she finally find her JTRA (Just the Right Amount) of courage thanks to her friend Marquez.  And the incubating chicks her class is observing remind Jillian to find the courage to break out of her shell.  

Full of hope and heart, Just Right Jillian is a touching story about family, friendship, facing your fears, and finding out who you are.  While Jillian did not share all her insecurities with her parents, her mom and dad were always sharing words of wisdom.  I just loved their positivity and encouragement. 

  • “Never start your story with the other person.”
  • “If your heart knows what’s right, you already have the answer.  It’s up to you to commit to it.”
  • “When you have a something and you do it, it teaches you to know yourself better.”
  • “You don’t need any excuses to be yourself.” 

We all have a little Jillian in us. With Just Right Jillian, debut author Collier teaches us lessons on how to be brave when it is hard.  Thankful to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Just Right Jillian celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on February 1, 2022. 

Bad Kitty Gets Phone
by Nick Bruel

In this new full-color graphic novel adventure, Kitty is obsessed with the online game Feather Tap and keeps stealing her owners’ phone to play.  When she is given the opportunity to play with real feathers, Kitty is not amused. Instead she asks for her own phone in exchange for doing chores for three whole months.  Successfully completing the seven labors (picking up toys, making bed, washing bowl, cleaning litter box, changing the baby, repairing curtains, and giving Puppy a bath), Kitty earns a phone of her very own.  But with ownership comes responsibility and Kitty struggles in making good decisions becoming addicted to a violent game, a Cat Facebook app,  and ViewTube videos.  Her demeanor also takes a downward spiral engaging with heated online arguments with cyberbullies and ignoring her friend Chatty Kitty’s texts. As a result, her owners to take away her phone for a month.  Readers will love the hilarious chapter How to Take a Phone Away From a Cat which consists of seven not so easy steps.  

Bruel’s text and artwork gives readers not only the opportunity to laugh but also to learn, for Kitty’s actions and her owners’ response teach kids about internet safety and digital literacy.  I love that Kitty’s owners were constantly monitoring her activity and deleted apps that they deemed inappropriate or detrimental to her emotional and mental well being.  A recurring section, Uncle Murray’s Fun Facts, teaches kids the difference between fact and opinion.  Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing for sharing a copy.  Bad Kitty Gets a Phone recently released on December 28, 2021. 


I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu by Refiloe Moahloli Illustrated by Zinelda McDonald

In Southern Africa, ubuntu means connectedness.  It is the belief that people form their identities based on their relationship with others.   I Am You teaches children the meaning of ubuntu using a concise, melodic text and bold and expressive illustrations.  To read my full review including thoughts from first graders, click here.  

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.

Cat Dog by Mem Fox Illustrated by Mark Teague

In this interactive picture book, Fox’s clever call and response text and Teague’s lively page filling illustrations will appeal to kids of all ages.  On the first page spread, the text says “So there was a scary dog, right?.  The illustrations shows a cat peering behind a couch and a large white dog with clenched teeth.  When the page is turned, the text reads “No!” and the dog is smaller and docile.  The story continues with questions followed by either a yes or no.  Readers will soon discover that sometimes, the illustrations match the text, but at times, reality is actually depicted in the following page spread.  And while the title is Cat Dog, a mouse is also a main character and its antics drive the plot along.   If you are looking for a picture book to teach point of view or perspective, Cat Dog is a perfect text.  Cat Dog published on October 19, 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? 1/31/22”

  1. Just Right Jillian sounds so nice, and needed! I love those quotes you shared! I’ve never read a Bad Kitty, so maybe it’s time? And I imagine Cat Dog would be a big hit with the young ones. Thanks, Laura!


  2. I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu is brand new to me. I’m excited to read it once it’s released! And I’m definitely adding Cat Dog to my list – this sounds sooo cute! Thanks for the shares, Laura!


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