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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/6/22

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:


Spineless by Samantha San Miguel

12 year old Chicagoan Algie has asthma so his concerned mother takes him and his older brother to a health resort in Gilded Age Florida for the winter. Algie is in his element, for he aspires to be a naturalist and is enthralled by his surroundings.  When another hotel guest wants to harm a small octopus, Algie not only speaks up but literally goes overboard to save the creature.  Peculiar things begin to happen at the resort and Algie is puzzled. He become friends with budding field biologists Frankie and Lulu, the hotel owner’s daughters, and the trio go on a mission to discover what is real and what is a hoax. The small octopus, now aptly named Pulpy, becomes a sidekick and ally to Algie and the sisters as they search for the truth.  

Not wanting to give the story away, Spineless is a middle grade novel with dynamic characters, an exotic setting and imaginative and suspenseful plot.  Algie tugged at my heart because of his challenges with his health, his relationship with his family, and his discovery that his idol Professor Ransom Champion was a fraud.  Despite his struggles, Algie perservered and taught not only himself but also others the importance of observation, patience, doing the best with the day you have, being willing to accept help, and seeing the best in people.  Thanks to Jenny Lu of Union Square Kids Books for sharing an ARC. Spineless celebrates its book birthday on June 7, 2022. 


Lulu & Zoey: A Sister Story by Carrie Finson

Sisters can be the best of friends or the greatest foes.  Written in rhyme, Finson honestly shares the peaks and valleys of having a sister.   On the very first page, Jackson’s animated illustrations show older sister Zoey’s frustration as Lulu interupts her work wanting to play.  Zoey’s subsequent facial expressions convey her growing annoyance with Lulu which advances to the sisters having a physical argument.  Finson’s lyrical text convey how Lulu’s actions hit a nerve with her older sister. Luckily, Aunt Eliza to the rescue who intervenes and soon the girls have time apart to cool down.  Their time alone renews their relationship allowing them to collaborate on writing and illustrating a story without conflict.  This partnership is important because on the last page spread, their parents return home from the hospital with their newborn baby sister.  

With words and pictures, Finson and Jackson realistically depict the ebb and flow of the sister relationship, for as Finson beautifully states “Sometimes they fight. Sometimes they’re friends. A sister story never ends.”  Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. Lulu & Zoey celebrates its book birthday on June 7, 2022. 


Swim, Jim by Kaz Windness

Young crocodile Jim has a problem. He does not like the water. He is afraid of sinking to the bottom.  His parents understand, but his siblings, Sim and Kim tease him. Jim takes initiative by searching for a shallow swamp. Readers will quickly notice that Jim finds not a swamp but a pool full of kids using pool noodles and floaties. Once the kids go into the house to sing happy birthday, Jim outfits himself with accessories to help him stay afloat.  Turns out Sim and Kim followed Jim and encourage him to try out his new attire in the pool. When the floatie pops, Jim    panics, but Kim reminds him he can stand up to feel safe and she and Sim can teach him how to swim. Pretty soon Jim is swimming confidently in the pool until the kids return. Can Jim use his new skills in the family swamp? 

With adorable illustrations and a
main character you want to root for, Swim, Jim is a story that kids will love. When I read it aloud to a kindergarten class, they felt empathy for Jim because his siblings made fun of him and were happy when they supported him.  I love that Jim demonstrated resourcefulness in solving his problem. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for sharing a copy. Swim, Jim recently published last week on May 31, 2022. 

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.


Catch That Dog! by Will Taylor

10 year old Joanie Dayton finds a dirty stray dog in the alley.  Lonely and desperate for a friend, Joanie brings the pup home knowing convincing her parents to let her keep him won’t be easy.  Money was tight in the Dayton family and Joanie’s mom preached hard work and good behavior, not chasing dreams. Fortunately, her father spoke up for Joanie and her mom reluctantly agreed with a firm set of rules.  Elated Joanie names him Lucky unaware that the dog not only has a name, Masterpiece, but also is a world famous poodle. 

Joanie and Lucky become fast friends because they both trust each other.  Joanie shares her artwork and her soft or lazy eye which gives her perspective when painting.  Once Lucky compares his relationship with Joanie to his relationship with his true owner Count Pulaski, he realizes the love and companioship he has been missing from his life.  When Joanie sees an article about a stolen dog in the newspaper, she realizes that Lucky is Masterpiece.  She can’t imagine saying goodbye to her very best friend but she can’t keep a dog that is not legimately hers.  And the reward money could immensely help with family.  Will Joanie and Lucky have a happy ending? 

Inspired by the true story of Masterpiece who disappeared in May 1953 and was never found, Taylor’s adventurous and heartwarming novel shares what may have happened to the “world’s most valuable dog.”  Taylor’s fictionalized account was so intriguing, I read the novel in one sitting, and I believe kids will be unable to put the story put down.  Joanie and Masterpiece are characters readers will cheer for!  After reading, I researched Masterpiece on the internet and found many articles about his life, disappearance and theories about what may have occurred.   Because of Masterpiece’s notriety, the poodle dethroned the beagle as the AKC’s most registered breed in 1960! Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. Catch That Dog! releases soon on June 28, 2022. 

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.

2 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/6/22”

  1. What a wonderful set of books, Laura! Spineless looks like such a compelling read, and Swim, Jim looks like a delightfully sweet picture book. And Catch That Dog sounds fascinating—I wasn’t aware of the real-world story of Masterpiece, and this fictionalization sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks so much for the wonderful post!


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