#Bookexcursion, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Novels in Verse, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/21/22

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:


Golden Girl by Reem Faruqi

Seventh grader Aafiyah loves playing tennis, learning weird but true facts, and hanging with her best friend Zaina.  But Aafiyah has a secret.  She has “itchy fingers” because she loves to borrow things. Sometimes Aafiyah keeps them and other times she gives them back.  On the way home from visiting her grandparents in Pakistan, her father is accused of stealing and subsequently detained.  Her grandfather, Dada Abu, travels to Atlanta for cancer treatment with Aafiyah, her mother and younger brother leaving her father and grandmother behind. 

With her father’s lawyer bills and her grandfather’s treatment, Aafiyah is worried that her family is struggling for money.  Aafiyah knows stealing is wrong but she feels compelled to help her family.  When she is caught, she is contrite and must learn to accept the consequences of her actions.  

With themes of family, friendship, and forgiveness, Faruqi’s novel in verse, Golden Girl is a story that will appeal to a variety of readers.  Faruqi gracefully tackles difficult topics and the verse format makes the novel accessible.  As I read, Faruqi’s melodic verses evoked a lot of emotion and since it was written from Aafiyah’s perspective, I could witness her inner struggles which helped me understand her more deeply.  At the end of the novel, author’s notes shares the origins of the story. Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Golden Girl celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on February 22, 2022. 

 Jubilee: The First Therapy Horse and an Olympic Dream by KT Johnston Illustrated by Annabella Ortiz

Jubilee is a picture book biography of Lis Hartel, a Danish woman, who was a national champion in the sport of dressage which is described as ballet on horseback.  A diagnosis of polio threatened her ability to not only walk but also ride a horse. Lis was determined to prove her doctor wrong and worked tirelessly to regain her strength engaging in crawling races with her daughter.  Once she gathered strength in her arms and body, Lis was ready to ride again.   Her horse, Gigolo had hurt his leg so her husband suggested young Jubilee.  Lis agreed that she and Jubilee would learn together. 

With patience and practice, Lis and Jubilee became friends developing the ability to communicate to each other through Lis’ light touches and Jubilee’s cooperative nature.  After two and a half years of training, they began to compete competitively qualifying for the 1948 Olympics. It took another 4 years until women were allowed to enter dressage.  In 1952, Lis and Jubilee won a silver medal for their performance competing against men in the sport.  

Johnston’s heartwarming narration and Ortiz’s tender illustration show the incredible bond between Lis and Jubilee.  The duo enjoyed an extraordinary connection which allowed them both to reach their full potential. At the end of the story, the author’s notes provides more facts about the Lis’ and Jubilee’s relationship and how Lis opened the first riding center for people with disabilities.  Thanks to the author and publisher for sharing an eARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Jubilee recently released on February 1, 2022.


Playing the Lanterns by Wang Yage Illustrated by Zhu Chengliang  Translated by Helen Wang

Playing with Lanterns shares the age old New Year folk custom in the Shaanxi province of northwest China.  On the third day of the fifteen day celebration, children begin receiving lanterns from their uncles. With its gentle text and expressive illustrations, I highly recommend Playing with Lanterns as a read aloud to teach kids about Chinese New Year. To read my full review, 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.


The Happiness of a Dog in its Mouth by Bruce Handy & Hyewon Yum

A young girl slowly awakens to a new day.  As soon as she gets out of bed, two dog (one a beagle, perhaps) runs to greet her.  On most subsequent page spreads, Handy contrasts a difficult feeling with a happy one.  While dogs are not highlighted in each situation, I love that the dogs are on the positive side of the experience.  This quiet story sends a powerful message about the importance of how unfavorable circumstances are fleeting not permanent if we have a positive mindset. 

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.

4 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/21/22”

  1. All new books to me, Laura. Reem Faruqi’s new book sounds nice, a story of a mixed-up world for a young girl is often needed for readers to see how the problems are handled, or just to see they’re not alone. I rode horses for a long time as a child then as an adult until I just couldn’t do everything and had to sell my dear horse. I love reading about Jubilee, and Playing with Lanterns, too. Thanks!


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