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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/1/22

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:

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Big Rig by Louise Hawes 

For seven years, Hazel (handle: Hazmat), has been trucking with her dad, a former professor in their eighteen wheeler named Leonardo.  The big rig is also Hazmat’s classroom where her dad homeschools her.  Father and daughter are a true team, for dad drives and Hazmat navigates and helps with paperwork once they get to their destination.  Hazmat loves her life on the road so much that her dream is to drive her own truck when she is old enough.  But her dad cautions her that robo-trucks might be replacing humans as drivers and it could be sooner than later.  Dad isn’t worried because perhaps it’s time to retire Leonardo and stay put in one place but Hazmat wants life to stay as it is.  And while the runs can be long and tiring, excitement pops up on the road.  After seeing the aftermath of a plane crash, Hazmat rescues a surviving kitten and she and her dad help a school bus full of kids sinking due to a flash flood.   Sounds like the script for a movie!

Big Rig is a story with both humor and heart.  Told from Hazmat’s point of view, readers learn her family’s past which ultimately led to their life on the road.  She and her dad have a great relationship and at times, their exchanges made me chuckle. While Hazmat has an unconventional life, her dad makes sure she is grounded.  Hazmat also has a good support system with family friends Mazen and his wife Serena who they stay with when they are between runs.  Most importantly, Hazmat reminds us to cherish the small things in life and never stop dreaming big.  Thanks to Peachtree Publishing for sharing an eARC.  Big Rig celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on August 2, 2022. 


Haven: A Small Cat’s Big Adventure by Megan Wagner Lloyd 

Once stray kitten Haven climbed up Ma Millie’s doorstep and meowed softly, her life was forever changed.   Haven knew she was safe with Ma Millie.  But when Ma Millie’s cough gets progressively worse making her weak, Haven knows her human needs help.   She knows Ma Millie’s only hope is their neighbor, Jacob Levan and Haven must find him.  Before she can change her mind, she hops out a window and returns to the forest in search of Jacob.  When she arrives at his house, her excitement quickly deflates when the cows tell her he is still in town.  It would be easy for Haven to stay with the cows and wait, but the small cow cheers her on by saying “you don’t have to be big to be brave.” And so Haven’s adventure begins cautiously befriending a fox who agrees to help her get to town in exchange for Ma Millie’s food.  The duo must be alert at all times, for there is a bobcat pursuing them as prey.  Through their adventure, Haven and the fox learn to trust each other building a friendship that is just precious.    

With vivid characters and an absorbing plot, Haven: A Small Cat’s Adventure is a story that pulls you in right away. Compassion is a key theme in the novel, for both Haven and Ma Millie show compassion toward each other but the fox truly shows compassion for helping Haven rather than eating her.  This act of kindness is not lost on Haven, for she returns the favor.  I also love seeing Haven grow from a strictly an indoor cat to one who also identifies as a brave, wild creature of the forest. At only 131 pages long, Wagner Lloyd’s writing is concise yet descriptive making readers feel they are on the journey with Haven.  The length of both the novel and the chapters will appeal to kids who are building their stamina for middle grade. But make sure tissues are close by because there are some tearful moments within this hopeful story.  Thanks to Candlewick Press for sharing an ARC.  Haven releases next week on August 9, 2022. 

Pip and Zip by Elana Arnold Illustrated by Doug Salati


It is spring 2020 and a family is bored with staying inside so Dad declares “Let’s take a walk.”  On the walk, they maintain their social distance with neighbors expressing sorrow that even the dogs can’t sniff each other and their Saturday morning pancake restaurant is closed.  When they circle the lake, they find two eggs at the water’s edge.  Since the wildlife center is closed, their next door neighbor Ted who “brakes for birds” lends them an incubator and the family waits for the eggs to hatch.  After 28 days, the ducklings crack open with a zip and a pip and Ted takes over as caregiver.  The family spends more time outside watching Pip and Zip’s progress until they are ready to fly.  They return the ducklings back to the lake, and coincidentally, the outside world appears to be come back to life.

Inspired by a true story (see author’s note), Arnold’s gentle narrative is a charming reminder that amid uncertainty, we should always continue to look for wonder in the world.  Salati’s expressive illustrations show how the family’s attitude changed after bringing home the eggs.  Their focus clearly moved from electronics to observing first the eggs and then the ducklings.  Thanks to Macmillan for sharing an eARC. Pip and Zip releases on August 23, 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.


Piglet Comes Home: How a Deaf Blind Pink Puppy Found His Family Melissa Shapiro, DVM  Illustrated by Ellie Snowdon

Six rescue dogs eagerly await a new addition to the family.  Will it be a small or large dog?  A girl or a boy? The oldest dog Susie wisely says “We will welcome them with open paws because we are a family.” When Mom comes home and puts down a very small crate, the dogs saw a squealing pink puppy.  She introduced the pack to Piglet who was deaf and blind.  All the dogs try to lend a paw of support, but a scared Piglet remains in his crate.  At night, when Piglet transitions to a dog bed, Susie calms his cries with snuggles.  Day by day, Piglet learns not only to trust the other dogs, but also to trust his instincts using his keen sense of smell.  

Stories about rescue dogs always tug at my heart so when it is a story about a real dog, my heart explodes!  Piglet Comes Home is a sweet story about how Piglet despite not being able to see or hear has thrived because of his never give up attitude and his loving and supportive environment.  At the end of the book, Shapiro shares the the story behind the story with bios and photographs of all the dogs and more information on the outreach program called Piglet Mindset which I can’t wait to share with teachers when school begins. Thanks to Simon Kids for sharing a copy. Piglet Comes Home published on June 7, 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.

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