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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/17/22

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:

Rover and Speck: This Planet Rocks by Jonathan Roth

After Rover lands on an unknown planet, the robot discovers another rover in a ditch. With Rover’s help, Speck is able to recharge in the sun. Rover shares its mission to study all the amazing things in the galaxy and it seems Speck is headed the same way. Coincidence or budding friendship?  As the two explore together, their personalities emerge. Rover is methodical keeping to the mission whereas Speck has a bit more whimsy programmed. For example, he can play music when he is scared. I don’t blame him because giant rock people would scare me too! But don’t worry. It turns out that rock people really like to rock and roll in more ways than one.

The first book in this new graphic novel has a lot a kid appeal. The engaging and fun characters, the intriguing and humorous plot, and detailed and expressive illustrations will capture kids’ attention. I appreciate how Roth intersperses fun science facts teaching kids about microseconds, space caves, echoes and more.  What I love most is the speck-tacular message that “finding new friends is the most important discovery of all.” This Planet Rocks celebrated its book birthday on October 4, 2022. 


The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat and Joanna Cacao

Middle school is a tough transition especially when Christina and her best friend Megan only have lunch together. As one of the only Asian Americans in her school, Christina has to endure micro aggressions from not only a classmate who calls her Rice Girl, but also teachers who choose not to learn to correctly pronounce her last name. When the cheerleading tryout sign up is posted, Christina and Megan take the plunge in hopes of making the squad will allow them to fit in rather than sticking out. Their friendship is tested when Megan decides to choose someone to be her partner for tryouts. What if Megan makes the team without her?

In the author’s note, Soontornvat shares that she never planned to write a memoir but signs kept telling her to tell her story. I am so glad she did because kids will relate to the many challenges she faced in middle school. What I love most is her family who keep her grounded and remind Christina that they are good people in their town.  And by the end of the school year, Christina learns that sometimes life gives you something better that you expected.  Honest, heartfelt, and hopeful, The Tryout is a must read middle grade novel. Cacao’s expressive artwork brings Soontornvat’s story to life. Thanks to Scholastic for sharing a copy with our #bookexcursion group. The paperback edition released in September and the hardcover publishes on November 1, 2022. 


Ice Cycle: Poems About the Life of Ice by Maria Gianferrari Illustrated by Jieting Chen

Ice is created from freezing water, but it can take on many forms,  On the very first page, I love how Gianferrari starts with something familiar-shapes and how Chen’s illustrations and labels will help young readers understand.  

Using rich, rhyming text, the next poem, “Ice Grows” describes how ice builds on plants, for it swirls and curls and binds and winds.   The imagery continues with “Ice Plays” as Chen’s illustrations capture the ice’s movement as it drips and drops, sticks and pricks, and smacks and cracks.  This poem introduces readers to cat ice and pancake ice, which are forms I have never heard of before. 

The last poems transition from ice on land to ice at sea.  Readers find out that wind and waves play a role in how ice is shaped.  In the poem, “Sea Ice Ages,”  Gianferrari’s text is full of emotion as ice “weeps, leaks, ebbs, and oozes, and floods.”  I love how kids are exposed to rich vocabulary to help them visualize the ice as it changes forms.

Beyond the poems is extensive back matter providing definitions of terms, experiments with ice, and additional resources which includes books, websites, photos, videos, and sounds.  Combining poetry and science, Ice Cycle warms souls and stimulates minds of readers of all ages.  Ice Cycle celebrated its book birthday on October 4, 2022.  To read my full review, click here.

ella’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.


Busy Betty by Reese Witherspoon Illustrated by Xindi Yan 

Always on the go, Betty is constantly making, doing, and playing.  So when her pup Frank is in need of a bath, Betty gets busy filling the kiddie pool with water.  And while she doesn’t have any soap, Betty improvises with bubbles which momentarily distract her.  She recalls her mother’s words saying “I have to focus to finish” but that is no easy task.  With her best friend Mae arriving soon for a playdate, Betty must mask the messiness.  When Mae arrives, she sees Frank in the pool and thinks Betty is amazing for her resourcefulness, for now they can start a neighborhood dog washing business. Teamwork makes the dream work! 

Witherspoon’s bouncy text and Yan’s lively illustrations capture Betty’s energy.  I love that while Betty’s family gives her advice about slowing down and focusing, they embrace her enthusiasm.  Busy Betty just celebrated its book birthday on October 4, 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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