Blog Tour, Giveaway, Nonfiction, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Bobcat Prowling by Maria Gianferrari

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Bella and I are honored to be part of the blog tour for Bobcat Prowling written by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. This impressive and informative picture book celebrated its book birthday this week on March 22, 2022.  Thanks to author Maria Gianferrari and Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children’s Books for sharing an electronic copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

A companion to Coyote Moon and Hawk Rising, Bobcat Prowling is a narrative non-fiction picture book which tells the story of a young bobcat searching for a home range of his own.

At the beginning of the story, the mood is serene.  Snow covers the ground. A boy waits for his bus as a mother bobcat and her son Yearling wake up on a nearby hill.   Not long after, Yearling begins his journey to find a new home.  Gianferrari’s melodic text and Ibatoulline’s gorgeous illustrations capture the intensity of Yearling’s lengthy travel. 

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Each time, Yearling thinks he has found his new home (and next meal), he is thwarted by a resident animal such as a lynx, another bobcat or a wolf who has already laid claim to that territory.  Gianferrari’s words and Ibatoulline’s artwork are like a symphony with low tones and high notes.  When Yearling discovers a potential new home and dinner, the text and illustrations are soft and calm.  Once a resident animal spies Yearling’s presence, the words and artwork are energetic showing the conflict between the two animals.   

This page spread is my favorite. Yearling has persevered in his travels and will soon find his true home.  The sheer joy in his face warms my heart.  

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I learned so much from about bobcats from reading Bobcat Rising and there’s more facts in the backmatter.  Gianferrari continues learning with All About Bobcats, How to Hunt Like a Bobcat, What’s On the Menu, Further Reading, and Websites and Videos. 

With lyrical text, stunning artwork, and fascinating facts, I highly recommend Bobcat Prowling to add to libraries small and large-home, classroom, school, and public!


 

About the Author:

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Maria Gianferrari is a community scientist, self-taught naturalist, and bird nerd who holds an M.A. in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in English. She is the author of narrative nonfiction picture books which celebrate urban ecosystems, the natural world and our wild neighbors. She also writes engaging expository nonfiction. And as a lover of dogs, Maria’s fiction picture books star dogs as main characters and explore the human-canine bond. She writes from her light-filled, book-lined study in Massachusetts with rescue dog, Maple at her side.


Enter Beagles & Books’ Giveaway!

  • Follow me @lauramossa on Twitter and retweet my Bobcat Prowling giveaway tweet.
  • Check out the bloggers below to read more reviews and enter giveaways!
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#Bookexcursion, Early Readers, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Novels in Verse, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/21/22

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:

Wave by Diana Firad

Set in 1980s California, 13 year old Ava can’t wait to spend her summer surfing, singing, and being with her best friends Phoenix and Naz. Her surgeon mother decides she should volunteer at her hospital which makes Ava resentful especially when she accidentally falls and fractures a bone in her leg.  Being in a cast on the beach isn’t fun but things get worse when Phoenix’s cancer returns. Phoenix has survived lymphoma before but can he conquer this wave again? Worried about Phoenix and her identity, given her father’s absence and her struggle between being both Persian and American, Ava seeks solace in song and Rumi poetry.  

Written in verse from the perspective of Ava, Wave is both heartbreaking and hopeful.   Farid’s poetry is beautifully written exploring Ava’s inner conflicts.  One of her highlights of volunteering was developing a relationship with a patient in Room 509 who shares her love of Rumi.  Discovering he was an orphan, Ava asks if he felt alone or weird.  His responded “Sometimes. But eventually, I decided, I didn’t want to carry around other people’s feelings about my life.”  I love this conversation because these words help Ava come to terms with who she is later vocalizing “I belong from I came and I belong to where I am.”   Wave is a powerful story about family, friendship, fitting in, and facing fears.   Thanks to Cameron Kids and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Wave celebrates its book birthday next week on March 29, 2022. 



A History of Underwear with Professor Chicken
by Hannah Holt Illustrated by Korwin Briggs

Professor Chicken gives readers a “brief” look at the history of underwear beginning in 3300 BCE.  I learned that underwear is called a pair because early coverings came in pieces.  Long ago, underwear wasn’t bought at the store; animals had to be caught, dried, pounded, and smoked before wearing.  In 1400 BCE, Egyptians used linen and since it could take 4 to 5 months to make a pair, underwear was a sign of wealth.   And since elastic wasn’t invented yet, keeping underwear secure took careful tying and tucking.  Professor Chicken shares facts about the first diapers, how underwear varied based on region, age, class, and gender, and how ladies’ undergarments got bigger during the English Renaissance.   At the end of the book is a page spread full of Underpants Monthly covers which shows the evolution of underwear from the late 1870s to the 2000s.  Luckily, Professor Chicken acknowledges that today, people can chose the undies that work best for them. 

Kids (and adults) will laugh and learn about underwear with Professor Chicken! Holt’s text is full of playful puns and fascinating facts.  Briggs’ animated and expressive illustrations will both entertain and educate. Highly recommend A History of Underwear with Professor Chicken to add to a school, classroom or home library! Thanks to the author for sharing with my #bookexcursion group.  A History of Underwear with Professor Chicken recently published in February 2022. 



That Egg is Mine!
by Liz Goulet Dubois

Duck and Cluck argue about who owns an egg.  The illustrations show the egg is blue with white spots.  Duck has a blue and white spotted bill and Cluck is blue with white spots so readers can infer that the egg could rightfully belong to either bird.  When the egg hatches, the mystery is solved.

Graphic novels are so popular with readers of all ages so I am always excited when I discover a series that is written for younger children.  With most text in speech bubbles and clean illustrations using a limited color palette, Dubois has written a story that will support early readers, make them laugh out loud, and anxiously wait for the next adventure of Duck and Cluck. 


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.

Togo and Balto: The Dogs Who Saved a Town by Jodi Parachini Illustrated by Keiron Ward and Jason Dewhirst

Part of the Animalographies series, this narrative nonfiction picture book tells the story of Siberian huskies, Togo and Balto, who were trained as sled dogs.  Kids may know sled dogs compete in the Iditarod but they (along with adults like me) will learn the crucial role that huskies played in the Serum Race bringing lifesaving serum to the children who were stricken with diphtheria in the 1920s in Nome, Alaska.

I love that Parachini chose to tell the story from Togo’s point of view with a combination of text and journal entries.  I also appreciate that she chose Togo as narrator because I have read books featuring Balto, but never knew Togo was a famous sled dog.  Looking forward to sharing Togo and Balto with teachers and students at my school.  Thanks to Albert Whitman for sharing with my #bookexcursion group.   Togo and Balto releases in April 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.
Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for This is (Not) Enough by Anna Kang Illustrated by Christopher Weyant

                                                                    
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About the Book:
Title: This is (Not) Enough
Author: Anna Kang
Illustrator: Christopher Weyant
Pub. Date: March 1, 2022


Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for This Is (Not) Enough published by Two Lions/Amazon Publishing. Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

In the sixth book in Kang’s and Weyant’s You Are (Not) Small series, the bear friends explore the life lesson of gift giving.  Each bear is on the hunt for the perfect gift.  The brown bear wants to find a gift that is cool, fun, big and wow.  The purple bear wants a gift that is one of a kind, warm, soft, and from the heart.  

 

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But each time one of the best friends boasts about their idea, the other second guesses their choice and worries that their gift is not enough.  

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The bears both go through great lengths to impress their each other.   Will they finally decide on the perfect gift for their best friend? 

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I am a big fan of the You Are (Not) Small series because the stories are a  wonderful vehicle for discussing topics like friendship, facing fears, self-regulation, sharing, and perspective with young children  Kang’s concise and lively dialogue moves the plot along.   Weyant’s bright illustrations fill up the page spreads and clearly and comically show the friends’ multitude of feelings (excited, nervous, sad, frustrated).

After reading I Am (Not) Enough to a kindergarten class, we discussed what the author and illustrator are teaching us about giving gifts to those we love.  At first, kids focused on giving a gift that was big and fun, but then a student said “At the end, both bears made a gift for each other.” Then I asked the class, “What do you call a gift you make?”   A child excitedly said “It is a gift from your hands.”  Another child then shared “It’s from your heart AND your hands!”   We wrapped up our discussion categorizing gifts from the heart and hands such as making a card rather than buying a card or drawing a picture instead of printing it from a computer. It is (Not) Enough is a sweet story reminding us that homemade gifts are the ones we most cherish. 


About the Author & Illustrator:

Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small as well as series titles That’s (Not) Mine, I Am (Not) Scared, We Are (Not) Friends, and It Is (Not) Perfect. They also wrote and illustrated Christopher Award winner Eraser, Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides, Can I Tell You a Secret?, and Will You Help Me Fall Asleep? Christopher’s work can also be seen in The New Yorker and the Boston Globe and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their dog, Hudson. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.

Twitter: @annakang27 @ChristophWeyant

Instagram: annakangbookschristopherweyant   

Facebook: Anna Kang – AuthorChristopher Weyant


#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:

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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.


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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.

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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.
Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway for Playing with Lanterns by Wang Yage

 
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About the Book:

Title: Playing with Lanterns 
Author: Wang Yage
Illustrator: Zhu Chengliang
Translator: Helen Wang
Pub. Date: January 11, 2022


Beagles and Books is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Playing with Lanterns published by Amazon Crossing Kids which aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives. Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 


Review:

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.  Chengliang’s warm and lively watercolor illustrations pairs perfectly with Wang’s smooth translation of Yage’s original text. 

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When Zhao Di gets her lantern, she excitedly joins her friends to show off her gift.  I love this page spread which shows the beauty and uniqueness of each lantern.   As the story continues, readers learn the tradition of walking around the village with their lanterns in hand.  When Zhao Di’s candle goes out, her friends huddle around her to relit it.  

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On the fifteenth day, Zhao Di feels sad all day long.  Is her gloomy disposition due to the end of Chinese New Year?  At sundown, she and her friends join their village for the final celebration.  The translated text reads “It was the LAST EVENING for lanterns.”   

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The friends share one last moment together with their lanterns before they hear the words “SMASH THE LANTERNS.”  Zhao Di is not ready to say goodbye to her lantern but if she doesn’t smash it before the candle goes out, tradition says her uncle’s eyes will be red and sore from pink eye.  While Zhao Di is depressed that her lantern is gone and the celebration is over, she is grateful for the memories and reminded that New Year returns every year.  

While the lantern tradition will be new learning, kids will relate to Zhao Di’s range of emotions during a holiday celebration.  I love how the author does not allow Zhao Di’s to dwell in her sadness, for she begins to feel excited knowing she will have the opportunity to celebrate again.  And no surprise, I enjoyed seeing Zhao Di’s little dog in the illustrations as the pup accompanied her in all the festivities. At the end of the story, an author’s note provides more specific information about the tradition of “Smashing Lanterns.”  With its gentle text and expressive illustrations, I highly recommend Playing with Lanterns as a read aloud to teach kids about Chinese New Year. 


Praise for Playing with Lanterns!

“A colorful wintry tale ushers in Chinese New Year over two weeks…A charming illustration of childhood memories during the holiday season.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Quiet, elegant passages stud the text…Tenderly detailed gouache paintings by Zhu render the children as small, patterned bundles frolicking against expanses of snow…A quiet celebration of a Northwestern Chinese tradition.” ―Publishers Weekly

 


About the Author:

Wang Yage was born in Shaanxi, a central and historical province of China, where the custom of playing with lanterns was once a popular Chinese New Year tradition. A doctor of classical Chinese literature, she teaches at the University of Tibet. Playing with Lanterns is her first picture book. First published in China, the book made the prestigious White Ravens international book list.

About the Illustrator: 

Zhu Chengliang is an award-winning Chinese illustrator. Born in Shanghai and raised in Suzhou, he studied at the Department of Fine Art, Nanjing University, and has worked as an author, illustrator, editor, and designer. He was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2016, which is the highest international distinction given to authors and illustrators of children’s books. His books have been named one of the Ten Best Illustrated Books by the New York Times and to the IBBY Honor List.

About the Translator:

Helen Wang is a writer and translator from the UK. In 2017 she was given a Special Contributor of the Year honor as part of the Chen Bochui International Children’s Literature Awards for her work in bringing Chinese children’s literature to English-speaking audiences. Wang has translated novels, picture books, and graphic novels, including Cao Wenxuan’s Bronze and Sunflower, which won the Marsh Christian Award for Children’s Literature in Translation.

 

#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. 


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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.
Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for I am You: A Book About Ubuntu

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About the Book:

Title: I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu
Author: Refiloe Moahloli
Illustrator: Zinelda McDonald
Pub. Date: February 1, 2022


Beagles and Books is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu published by Amazon Crossing Kids which aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives. Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

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.  As I read aloud the text and showed the first page spread to a first grade class, I asked them how they felt.  Most students said happy.  When I asked why, here are some of their responses.

  • “The kids are smiling.”
  • “The flowers are pretty.”
  • “I love butterflies.”

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As I continued to read aloud, I asked the children to check their feelings.  Are your feelings changing or staying the same?   

  • “I still feel happy because I see animals in the tree and under the tree.”
  • “I still feel happy because the girl is smiling hugging the tree.”
  • “I still feel happy because the flowers on the tree look like cotton candy.”

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After reading the next pages, I asked the same question.  Children shared their continued feelings of happiness and explained why.

  • “The kids are smiling and dancing.”
  • “The boy can still dance in a wheelchair with the girl.”
  • “They are having fun performing on stage under the lights.”

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As I read the remainder of the story, I kept questioning kids about their feelings.  Did they change or stay the same?  As illustrations of kids smiling, hugging, sharing a scarf, dancing, laughing,  happiness persisted.   As I read the text, “We may look different, you and I…sound different, act different, eat different foods, and live in different places. But are hearts beat the same,” I posed the question-What is the author trying to teach us? One student responded with such conviction.

“We are all people that love things but we might not love the same thing.  That’s ok because I can like something and someone can like something different like a food or a game.” 

At my school, each class considers themselves a family.  After reading the whole story, we discussed how this book helps them as a class.  Collectively, we came up with this statement.

“When we are all being kind and helpful, our class will be happy. But if one person is being mean, it can hurt the whole class’ happiness.”

Wow!  This first grade class knows the meaning of ubuntu.  We are better together. 


Praise for I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu

★“[Refiloe] Moahloli’s work makes for a stunning picture book for young readers and their grown-ups that focuses on our shared sense of community…. Celebrates our shared humanity and the strength in treating others with love and respect. A recommended first purchase.”
 ―School Library

Journal (starred review)“An edifying, unifying picture book that’s much needed in these divisive times.” 
―Kirkus Reviews


About the Author:
Refiloe Moahloli
is a bestselling South African picture book author. She is passionate about writing stories that bring out the best in the human spirit. She spent the early part of her career in the corporate world, but an eye-opening assignment to Mumbai led her to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time writer. She currently lives and works in Johannesburg. Learn more at refiloemoahloli.com, and follow her on Instagram @RefiloeMoahloli.

About the Illustrator:
Zinelda McDonald is an award-winning South African illustrator who lives in Wellington in the Western Cape of South Africa. She has illustrated numerous children’s books and is also a well-known designer and illustrator of children’s book covers. Awards for her work include the Alba Bouwer Prize and the Exclusive Books IBBY SA Award. Follow her on Instagram @Zinelda.

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/17/22

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:

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Dear Student by Elly Swartz

Sixth grader Autumn has a lot on her plate.  Her dad recently joined the Peace Corps which is hard enough but his leaving resulted in her family having to move in the apartment above her mom’s vet practice.  Her best friend Prisha just moved to California so Autumn is feeling alone on her first day of middle school.   Earlier that day on a video call, her dad asked her to seize the day and get involved in one thing at school.  So when Autumn sees Mr. Baker’s advertisement for a new secret voice of Dear Student in the school newspaper, she wonders… could this be it? 

When Autumn is offered the position of Dear Student, she is both surprised and elated. She feels confident offering guidance to those who write in since her identity is hidden.  But when new friends Logan and Cooper are both impacted differently by her advice, things get messy. With the support of Mr. Baker, Autumn learns that it’s impossible to please everyone.  Being Dear Student is about being honest and staying true to herself which is both frightening and fearless.

Written from Autumn’s point of view, Swartz perfectly captures her main character’s kindness, conflicts, and courage.  Out of all her struggles, her dad choosing the Peace Corps over his family made my heart break for Autumn.  I love though that Swartz is willing to tackle tough family issues that kids today may be facing.  What made my heart happy is Autumn’s tender relationship with her younger sister Pickles whether she is sharing the orange ribbon that Prisha gave her or reading aloud books like Drawn Together,  Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, and Pink is for Blowfish.  Autumn is a character that kids will relate to and root for!  Thanks to Wunderkind PR for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Dear Student publishes on February 15, 2022. 


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Glam Prix Racers: Back on Track (Book 2) by Deanna Kent Illustrated by Neil Hooson 

Mio the Mermaid, her moto Mudwick, and the rest of the Glam Prix Racers are “back on track” competing in the second race of the Glam Prix Cup in Soft Swirl City. Their team is currently in first place, but the Vroombots are following close behind and their leader V-Best does not play fair. He spies on Glam Prix Racers, ignores rules, adds obstacles to the course, and steals all the Sparklecharge.  As in the first race, The Glam Prix Racers know that their sparkle, speed, wits, and most importantly, teamwork are the ingredients to secure another win.  Can they be victorious once again?

With fun characters and a fast paced plot, kids will devour the second adventure in this graphic novel trilogy.  As a teacher, I love that the Glam Prix Racers teach readers the value of traits such as cooperation, problem solving, perseverance, and compassion in a light and lively way.  Kent’s peppy and witty dialogue is both humorous and suspenseful and Hooson’s bright and detailed illustrations pop with both color and energy.   Thanks to the publisher for sharing an eARC.  Back on Track releases tomorrow on January 18, 2022.  And don’t worry!  Fast to the Finish (Book 3) will be out in October 2022.


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Over Bear! Under Where? by Julie Kedlund Illustrated by Michael Slack

Full of puns and wordplay, Hedlund humorously and skillfully uses the words, over and under, in a variety of combinations (Over is over Under; Under is over over) as the two friends, Under (a mole) and Over (a bird) play together on the see saw and swings in the park.   Once the friends see a hot-dog dog and then a bear, the plot picks up and introduces kids to more positional words such as behind and between. Slack’s large and expressive illustrations not only will make kids laugh but also reinforce the concept.  In the author’s note, Hedlund shares that under and over can be combined with other words to make compound words.  

As a reading specialist, I love finding books to introduce or reinforce a skill or concept.  In addition, Over Bear! Under Where! is a perfect book to put in developing readers’ hands because words are  repeated throughout the story making it an accessible read.  The story also has a lot of depth and is a great text for teaching plot elements as well as character traits and/or feelings.  Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. Over Bear! Under Where? recently published on November 9, 2021.


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.

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The Barking Ballad: A Bark-Along Meow-Along Book by Julia Paschkis

Inspired by the fourth stanza in Oliver Goldsmith’s “An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog,” The Barking Ballad tells the tale of a stray cat who go unnoticed hiding in bushes and tall grasses until a black dog discovers her.  Just as they are ready to meet, a rock falls on the dog’s head leaving him unconscious. The cat comes to the dog’s rescue licking its wound and from that moment on, the two become best friends always by each other’s side.  

While the rhyming text and folk art illustrations will appeal to young children’s ears and eyes, kids will fall in love with this story because author/illustrator Paschkis encourages barks and meows as the story is read aloud.  Prior to the actual story, instructions explain how to bark and meow along, for a red circle cues a canine sound and a yellow diamond cues a feline sound.  Can’t wait to share The Barking Ballad with my kindergarten #classroombookaday class! The Barking Ballad published on October 5, 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.
Chapter Books, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/6/21

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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Winter Lullaby by Diane White Illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki

Honking geese and falling leaves are signs that winter is coming.  As she holds Small Bear’s hand,  Mama Bear says it’s time for bed.  But Small Bear is hesitant to hibernate.  Mouse, Chipmunk, Skunk, Hare, and Raccoon are still awake.  Mama Bear gently explains that all the animals are preparing for a winter rest in their homes. Small Bear is still reluctant asking why must we hide when winter comes? Mama Bear tenderly describes when they wake, it will be spring for the ice will melt to green. This discovery not only comforts Small Bear but also excites the cub.  Now, the two can snuggle for their winter nap. 

With a rhyming soothing text, White has written a sweet story perfect for bedtime.  I love how each time, Small Bear questions hibernation, Mama Bear demonstrates patience with her calm responses. Kaulitzki’s warm illustrations show the shift from fall to winter as blowing leaves change to falling snowflakes.  Her artwork also captures the love between Mama Bear and her cub.  They walk hand in hand, Mama Bear carries Small Bear on her shoulders as well as under her arm.  On the last page spread, they cuddle together in their den.  

Thanks to the author for sharing a copy. Winter Lullaby celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on December 7, 2021. 


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Dancing with Daddy by Anitra Rowe Schulte Illustrated by Ziyue Chen

Excited to go to her first father-daughter dance, Elsie picks out a beautiful red dress with a matching bow because the color matches Daddy’s soccer jersey.  As they drive home from the store, Elsie sees snow flurries and begins to worry. Will the weather ruin her special night?

Inspired by the author’s own daughter, the main character, Elsie, has Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome (WHS). Through the illustrations and text, readers learn how Elsie moves through the use of a wheelchair, eats by way of a plastic tool that pushes food in her stomach, and talks by touching picture squares in a book.  To the reader, this way of life will be new, but to Elsie’s family, this is normal daily activity which is evident in Chen’s beautiful illustrations.  

Reading Dancing with Daddy is like being wrapped in a warm hug.  The immense love of the family is beautifully conveyed in Schulte’s uplifting text and Chen’s gorgeous artwork.  Highly recommend to add to libraries big or small-public, school, classroom and home! 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.

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Just Harriet by Elana Arnold

I am a big fan of Arnold’s Bat series so when I saw the cover of her new young middle grade series, Just Harriet with an adorably illustrated girl holding a cat and a basset hound beside her, I knew I couldn’t wait until its release to read.  And while the basset hound named Moneypenny plays a supporting role in the story, her antics with Harriet’s cat, Matzo Ball add levity to the story. Thanks to Harper Collins and NetGalley for sharing an eARC.  Just Harriet publishes on February 1, 2022. 

Her parents promised her the baby wouldn’t change anything but now that her mom must be on bed rest, Harriet has to spend the summer with Nanu (grandmother).  While she loves Nanu, she is not happy about living at her bed and breakfast on Marble Island for two whole months.  Luckily, she convinces everyone to allow Matzo Ball to join her, but Moneypenny isn’t exactly on board (at least, not at first.)

Not long after Harriet arrives, she finds a key in Nanu’s shed. Following in the footsteps of her namesake, Harriet the Spy, Harriet is determined to find out what the key unlocks.  As she tries to uncover the mystery, Harriet learns more about Marble Island, her dad who grew up on the island and most importantly, herself.  And Matzo Ball and Moneypenny.  They learn to not only coexist but actually share a patch of sun together.  

I just adore Harriet.  She admits that sometimes she lies, pees her bed when she has a nightmare, and can get “out of hand.”  I love her honesty to the reader.  At the end of the book, when she meets Mabel Marble who is turning 100 at the end of the summer, Mabel says “We have to laugh at the hard things sometimes. It makes them easier to bear.”  Harriet takes Mabel’s words under consideration. Perhaps laughing instead of getting mad or lying would be helpful.  Looking forward to watching Harriet learn and grow in this series.  


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.
Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway for Dancing with Daddy by Anitra Rowe Schulte

 
 
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About the Book:

Title: Dancing with Daddy 
Author: Anitra Rowe Schulte
Illustrator: Ziyue Chen
Pub. Date: December 1, 2021


Beagles and Books is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Dancing with Daddy. Special thanks to Two Lions and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

Excited to go to her first father-daughter dance, Elsie picks out a beautiful red dress with a matching bow because the color matches Daddy’s soccer jersey.  As they drive home from the store, Elsie sees snow flurries and begins to worry. Will the weather ruin her special night?

Inspired by the author’s own daughter, the main character, Elsie, has Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome (WHS). Through the illustrations and text, readers learn how Elsie moves through the use of a wheelchair, eats by way of a plastic tool that pushes food in her stomach, and talks by touching picture squares in a book.  To the reader, this way of life will be new, but to Elsie’s family, this is normal daily activity which is evident in Chen’s beautiful illustrations.  

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Schulte’s text is a pleasure to read.  I love how her words create mental images for the reader.  For example, when the store clerk wrapped up Elsie’s dress and bow, the tissue paper crunched like fresh snow.  When Elsie listened to her father reading a bedtime story, her heart did pirouettes.  She also uses vivid verbs such as hurried, squealed, swayed, twirled, dipped, and thumped to provide great opportunities for visualization.

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Spoiler.  The snow did not cancel the dance  (Yay!) and Elsie, her sisters Daphne and Rosalie, and father enjoy a night to remember.  When her sisters take a break from dancing, my heart melted when her father asked Elsie “May I have this dance?”  The following page spread shows the boundless love between father and daughter dancing as if they are the only ones in the room.  I love the final page spread because all three daughters are dancing with their father having the time of their lives. 

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Reading Dancing with Daddy is like being wrapped in a warm hug.  The immense love of the family is beautifully conveyed in Schulte’s uplifting text and Chen’s gorgeous artwork.  Highly recommend to add to libraries big or small-public, school, classroom and home!  


Praise for Dancing with Daddy!

★“Refreshingly, Elsie’s disability is seamlessly presented as simply another aspect of family life…As she swings and sways in her father’s arms, her forehead against his, their love is palpable; Chen’s illustrations fairly glow with affection…A heartwarming portrayal of a family embracing disability.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[Anitra] Rowe Schulte uses accessible, rhythmic language…conveying Elsie’s thoughts in pink- and red-colored text. Light-filled digital illustrations by [Ziyue] Chen make use of differing angles and dynamic shots, emphasizing the love the family has for one another.” ―Publishers Weekly

“This sweet story is a great addition to any diverse and inclusive library.” ―TODAY


About the Author:

Anitra Rowe Schulte has worked as a journalist for The Kansas City Star and the Sun-Times News Group, as a staff writer for Chicago Public Schools, and as a publicist. She is the mother of three beautiful girls, one of whom has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome and is the inspiration for Elsie in this book. She lives in the Chicago area, and this is her first picture book. Learn more about her at www.anitraroweschulte.com and follow her at @anitraschulte on Twitter.

About the Illustrator: 

Ziyue Chen is the Deaf illustrator of a number of children’s books, including Mela and the Elephant by Dow Phumiruk, How Women Won the Vote by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and Rocket-Bye Baby: A Spaceflight Lullaby by Danna Smith. She lives with her loved ones in Singapore. Find out more at www.ziyuechen.com or follow her @ziyuechen on Instagram.