WHOO’s Maria Gianferrari?
Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for This Book is Gray written and illustrated by Lindsay Ward. It recently released in November 2019. Special thanks to Two Lions/Amazon Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Please sure to read the front endpapers and the title page first, for readers discover that Gray wants to be included in the rainbow, but sadly, gray is not one of the featured colors. Feeling dejected, he decides to write his own book aptly titled, This Book is Gray.
Gray proceeds to write a story about wolf, a kitten, and a hippo and draw all the illustrations in (you guessed it)…gray! Gray is so proud until the Primary colors pay him a visit and are critical of his color scheme. The Secondary colors join the Primary colors interrupting Gray’s storytelling with comments which slowly pushes Gray over the edge. Unable to remain calm, Gray finally tells (well, actually yells to) all the colors his true feelings about being left out and how gray is really a cool color.
After Gray honestly shares how he feels, all the colors show empathy for him. They offer Gray their apologies and best of all, they collaborate together to make the book both gray AND Pcolorful. In the end, Gray gets the last word stating his book is pretty GRAYt! (get it?)
This Book is Gray is a story full of humor and heart. While readers will chuckle at the many puns and the story within the story of the kitten, wolf, and hippo, children also feel empathetic with Gray’s situation. During my read aloud to my #classroombookaday students, a few children remarked that the colors were being mean to Gray and how they felt sad for him. When the colors and Gray worked together to fix and finish the book, students cheered and expressed their happiness that all the colors saw that Gray is indeed a pretty cool color.
Ward’s illustrations and page layout is visually appealing to young readers. The colors are adorably drawn adorned with hats, rosy cheeks, and other fun accessories. The witty dialogue is written in speech bubbles. Be sure to visit the front endpapers again, for Ward has included a glossary for basic color concepts to accompany her color wheel diagram.
Praise for This Book is Gray!
“This book is a fun introduction to color theory that may inspire children to use more gray in their artwork and remind them to include friends who are left out.”
Meet the Author/Illustrator:
One lucky winner will receive a copy of This Book is Gray, courtesy of Two Lions/Amazon (U.S. addresses only). There are now multiple ways to enter the giveaway.
- Follow me @lauramossa on Twitter and retweet my This Book is Gray giveaway tweet.
- If you are not on Twitter, fill out the Google form below.
This giveaway is open from December 6, 2019-December 13, 2019 and ends at 10:00 p.m. EST. Winner will be announced on December 14, 2019.
Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for Santa’s Story written and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. It released in September 2019. Special thanks to Two Lions/Amazon Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
It’s Black Friday and instead of shopping, I am relaxing and reading by the fire with my book beagles. Since the day after Thanksgiving is typically the official start of the Christmas season, it is the perfect time to share a new Christmas picture book.
It is Christmas Eve and Santa is ready to begin his monumental sleigh ride but he has a problem. None of his reindeer can be found.
Using alliteration and rich vocabulary, Hillenbrand shows the readers where the reindeer are and what they are up to. A few of the reindeer’s actions matched their names, for Dasher dashed and Prancer pranced, but Vixen vexed, Cupid crooned and Donner dozed. I love how children are exposed to sophisticated words which will enhance their oral vocabulary. Supporting the concise and rich text are warm double page illustrations with a muted color palette. If readers look closely, on some pages, they will see Santa looking for the reindeer with his binoculars. And Santa’s adorable little dog is right by his side, which makes me love the story even more.
Santa attempts to call the reindeer with playing a horn and ringing bells, but has no success. But with the help of Comet and his dog, Santa finally realizes why the reindeer are not responding and shouts the two words, STORY TIME, that will gather his team for their Christmas Eve tradition of reading The Night Before Christmas. After the read aloud, the reindeer are ready to bring a merry Christmas to all!
As a reading specialist, I am always promoting the power of reading aloud and I love that Hillenbrand wrote a holiday story featuring this important family activity. Reading aloud should not just be a tradition on Christmas Eve, but a daily habit. Here’s hoping Santa’s Story may be a vehicle to reminding parents, caregivers, and teachers to set aside time each day to share a good book!
Meet the Author/Illustrator:
Enter a Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of Santa’s Story, courtesy of Two Lions/Amazon (U.S. addresses). There are now multiple ways to enter the giveaway.
- Follow me @lauramossa on Twitter and retweet my Santa Story giveaway tweet.
- If you are not on Twitter, fill out the Google form below.
This giveaway is open from November 29, 2019-December 6, 2019 and ends at 10:00 p.m. EST. Winner will be announced on December 7, 2019.
Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for Flash, The Little Fire Engine written by Pam Calvert and illustrated by Jen Taylor. Flash celebrated its book birthday this week on November 5, 2019. Special thanks to Two Lions/Amazon Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
As soon as I saw the cover, I couldn’t wait to read Flash, The Fire Engine. Jen Taylor’s illustration of Flash brings the little fire engine to life. Readers can see the excitement in his face with his adorable smile. When the fire department receives a call, his attitude becomes more serious because Flash is determined to do his job well.
When the fire is too big for little Flash, his face does not hide his disappointment, but Flash remains optimistic that he can help the next time. As each subsequent call comes in, Flash races to the scene ready to save the day, but he discovers that he is too short or too late to help. Once eager, Flash becomes sad wondering if he will ever be needed. Fortunately, Flash gets a call that only he can make realizing that he is the best fit for the job. Beaming with pride, Flash learns a valuable lesson in patience and how the fire trucks collectively work together to help the community.
I have the honor of reading aloud to a second grade classroom daily for #classroombookaday. After I read aloud Flash, The Little Flash Engine to the class, they shared their thinking about what the author Pam Calvert wanted to teach readers. Here are some of their comments which relate to our virtue language.
“It teaches us to have empathy for Flash because every time he went for a fire, the other trucks were telling him he was too little. I felt sad for him. But at the end, I was happy for Flash because he saved the animals at the shelter.
“It teaches us if someone feels left out, we can try to be kind and make them feel included. I like how the firefighters had a party for Flash after he put out his first fire.”
“The fire trucks showed unity because they all put out different fires like the ladder truck put out the fire in the tall building and the airplane put out the forest fire.”
Reinforcing positive values of empathy, unity, kindness, and patience, Flash, the Little Fire Engine is a book that is a great addition to a home or classroom library.
Meet the Author and Illustrator:
Pam Calvert is an award-winning children’s book author. Her books include the Princess Peepers series, illustrated by Tuesday Mourning; more recently, Brianna Bright, Ballerina Knight, illustrated by Liana Hee; and other titles. Formerly a science teacher as well as a writing instructor and coach, she speaks to thousands of children every year. When she’s not speaking or writing, you can find her having fun with her family in Texas. Learn more about her online at http://www.pamcalvert.com or on Twitter: @PammCalvert.
Jen Taylor is an illustrator and arts-and-crafts enthusiast born and raised in New Jersey. She attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she majored in illustration and animation. She is the illustrator of the Brave Little Camper series as well as the picture book Ninja Camp, written by Sue Fliess. She previously worked in animation on such shows as Sid the Science Kid and MAD. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and their corgi, Rocket. Learn more about her online at http://www.jentaylor.net.
“Calvert deftly finds a new way to introduce kids to different kinds of firefighting vehicles…sure to slip in effortlessly with other firetruck books.”
Enter a Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of Flash, the Little Fire Engine, courtesy of Two Lions/Amazon (U.S. addresses). Enter the giveaway by Friday, November 15, 2019 at 8 p.m.
Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for Pippa’s Night Parade written by Lisa Robinson and illustrated by Lucy Fleming. It recently published on October 8, 2019. Special thanks to Two Lions/Amazon Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Pippa’s wonderfully wild imagination is perfect for dreaming up wildly adorable creations. But at night, her imagination runs a little too wild. That’s when the villains and monsters and beasts sneak out of her storybooks to scare her. Pippa tries everything: from night-lights to triple knots to clever disguises. But when the baddies keep coming, she realizes she’ll need to come up with something new. To prepare for this battle, Pippa will have to use everything she’s got—especially that wild imagination. Ready or not, here she comes!
While Pippa has a wild imagination, she can protect herself during the day with mighty masks, bold boots and spunky scarves. At night though it is hard for Pippa to calm her fears, for creatures such as dragons, pirates, serpents, and monsters surface from her storybooks. Pippa’s trepidation is conveyed through the text and the illustrations but readers also see Pippa’s problem solving skills. First, Pippa attempts to soothe her fears with extra night lights and a disguise. Next, she runs to her parents’ bedroom. When these tactics do not work, Pippa decides to confront the creatures by inviting them to a scary night parade leaving invitations in each book. Will Pippa be able to get rid of the creatures once and for all?
My students loved all the creatures in the book. While Pippa’s Night Parade is not a Halloween story, the presence of all the creatures gave the story a spooky feel. After I reading, we discussed the author’s purpose for writing the story and what did the author want to teach us. Here are a few of the student’s comments.
“Pippa was teaching us not to be afraid.”
“Pippa was scared of the creatures but she kept trying to find ways to get rid of them.”
“Pippa was brave because she wouldn’t let the monsters win.”
As a class, we discussed Pippa’s actions and how she was persistent because she didn’t give up. Soon after, another student shared “Pippa was smart because she used all the things in her design studio to make the creatures stop scaring her.” We then discussed how persistence means trying out new and better ideas.
Pippa’s Night Parade is an enchanting story about conquering one’s fears with persistence and imagination. Robinson’s lively and engaging text and Fleming’s detailed and action packed illustrations will keep children’s attention from the beginning to end.
Meet the Author and Illustrator:
Lisa Robinson was born in Kampala, Uganda, to Peace Corps volunteers who later became world-traveling diplomats. When she was a child, her family moved frequently, so books became her best friends. She now works as a psychiatrist and writer. She holds an MFA in creative writing for young people from Lesley University. She is also the author of Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten!, illustrated by Eda Kaban, and has more books forthcoming. She lives in Massachusetts with her family and three cats. Learn more about the author at www.author-lisa-robinson.com, or on Twitter: @elisaitw.
Enter a Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of Pippa’s Night Parade, courtesy of Two Lions/Amazon (U.S. addresses). Enter the giveaway by Friday, October 18, 2019 at 8 p.m.
Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for Along the Tapajós written and illustrated by Fernando Vilela and translated by Daniel Hahn. Released on October 1, 2019, this picture book is published by Amazon Crossing Kids, a new imprint for children’s books in translation. Special thanks to Amazon Crossing Kids and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Cauã and Inaê are a brother and sister who live in a small community along the Tapajós River in Brazil. Here, the homes are on stilts and everyone travels around by boat—even to school! When the rainy season comes, they must leave their village and relocate to higher ground for a while. But after moving this year, Cauã and Inaê realize they’ve left behind something important: their pet tortoise, Titi! Unlike turtles, tortoises can’t swim, and Cauã and Inaê are really worried. So the pair sneaks back at night on a journey along the river to rescue him. Will they be able to save Titi? This picture book, first published in Brazil, offers kids a unique look into the lives of children who live along Brazil’s beautiful Tapajós River.
As Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop wisely stated:
“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. (1990, p. ix)”
From the very first page spread, Along the Tapajós is definitely a window teaching my students a different way of life. As I read the text beautifully translated by Hahn, there was an immediate reaction from children.
“They have to take a boat to get to school?”
“I wish I could have a tortoise for a pet!”
At my school, students mostly walk or ride in a car to get here. We actually have very few bus riders compared to other schools in our district. Of course, the children were utterly amazed by Cauã’s and Inaê’s boat ride especially the alligators and porpoises! When the siblings arrive at school, the students quickly noticed how different their schoolhouse is compared to theirs.
Vilela’s vivid illustrations quickly convey the change from serene to turbulent as the season quickly changes from summer to winter with nonstop rain. I heard some gasps from the children as they saw Cauã’s and Inaê’s family pack up their house and boat to dry land in the rainforest.
While the first part of the book exposed all my students to a contrasting way of life, Inaê’s concern for their pet tortoise Titi immediately was a mirror for some of my students who later shared how their own pet had been lost or missing. The illustrations of their journey back home are breathtaking and strikingly show the aftermath of the massive rain. When the siblings find Titi, the illustrations clearly indicates that aside from the roof, their home is entirely under water, which again shows the severe impact of the winter rain. The rescue of Titi may be frightening to very young children, but my students were mesmerized at Cauã’s risky but heroic act. After reading, we did discuss whether leaving their parents without permission was a good or bad choice.
At the end of the story, Vilela includes backmatter which includes facts about the Tapajós River and the inspiration for writing this story. After reading, my students had so many reactions that I knew this story would be talked about for a long time. I was proud that one student made a connection to our virtue of the month.
“I think all the people in the book showed unity because they worked together to get the kids to school, the kids home when it rained, and the families packed up and moved to a rainforest. Then the brother and sister had to work together to save Titi.”
There is no doubt that my students thoroughly enjoyed Along the Tapajós. As a teacher, what I love is the story was a window into a different way of life, but was also a mirror when the siblings showed concern for their missing pet. It also reinforced the virtue of unity, which is important as we continue to build our classroom community. I highly recommend Along the Tapajós..
Praise for Along the Tapajós!
Meet the Author/Illustrator and Translator:
Fernando Vilela is an award-winning author and illustrator from Brazil. Published in Brazil under the title Tapajós, this book was inspired by one of his trips to the Amazon rainforest. He has received many awards for his books, and he has exhibited his artwork at home and abroad, including at the MoMA in New York and the Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo. For his picture books, he has received five Jabuti awards (Brazil) and the New Horizons Honorable Mention of the Bologna Ragazzi International Award. He is also a plastics artist, and he teaches courses, lectures, and workshops on art and illustration. Learn more about him online at www.fernandovilela.com.br.
Daniel Hahn is an author, editor, and award-winning translator. His translation of The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007. His translation of A General Theory of Oblivion, also by José Eduardo Agualusa, won the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award. He recently served on the board of trustees of the Society of Authors. In 2017, Hahn helped establish the TA First Translation Prize, a new prize for debut literary translation. Learn more about him online at www.danielhahn.co.uk.
Enter a Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of Along the Tapajós, courtesy of Amazon Crossing (U.S. addresses). Enter the giveaway by Friday, October 11, 2019 at 8 p.m.
Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for The Itty Bitty Witch by Trisha Speed Shaskkan and illustrated by Xindi Yan. Special thanks to Two Lions/Amazon Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Betty can’t wait to be a first-grade witch. But on the first day of school, her classmates start calling her “Itty Bitty” because she’s small and still uses her kinder-broom. Betty doesn’t like the nickname—or how it makes her feel itty-bitty inside. So she comes up with a BIG idea to prove herself: winning the Halloween Dash.
When I think back to my first grade self, I can relate a lot to Betty. I was excited to be in first grade and couldn’t wait to learn. Like Betty, I was one of the smallest children in my class. In fact, I do not think I ever moved from the bottom row for class pictures. Not often, but I do remember sometimes being called “Shorty” by other classmates and feeling itty bitty inside like Betty. Unlike Betty, I though never had the courage to speak up for myself.
My school district has adopted Conscious Discipline, which is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, self-regulation program that integrates social-emotional learning, school culture, and discipline. One of Conscious Discipline’s first lesson is teaching children to use their big or assertive voice to tell someone when their feelings are hurt. As I was reading The Itty Bitty Witch to my second grade #classroombookaday class, a student said, “Itty Bitty used her big voice!” How I love when read alouds connect to and reinforce our content; what is even better is when students come to these conclusions on their own.
While Betty uses her big voice, she still doesn’t feel confident but that does not stop her from trying to improve her chances of winning the Halloween Dash. One by one, her ideas fail, but Betty remains persistent. She creatively makes up a poem to help her remember the race course and during the actual race, when the other witches pass her, she thinks of her biggest idea of all, which ultimately helps her win. What I love most is Betty’s small stature was crucial to her victory which proves that being small can be an advantage. Yan’s expressive illustrations are eye catching and beautifully convey Betty’s feelings throughout the story. The Itty Bitty Witch is much more than a Halloween story. Shaskan has written an engaging and positive story with themes of assertiveness, persistence, and acceptance. I highly recommend The Itty Bitty Witch!
Watch the adorable book trailer!
Praise for The Itty Bitty Witch!
Meet the Author & Illustrator:
Enter a Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Itty Bitty Witch courtesy of Two Lions/Amazon (U.S. addresses only). Enter the giveaway by Friday, October 4, 2019 at 8 p.m.
Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for A Crazy Much Love written by Joy Jordan-Lake and illustrated by Sonia Sánchez. Special thanks to Two Lions/Amazon Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
There are many picture books I could recommend about welcoming a new baby in the family but A Crazy-Much Love is the first story I have read that celebrates the joy of adoption. Written from the parents’ point of view, the story is a love letter to their daughter. On the first page spread, an illustration of a child sleeping a bed with two pictures fastened to the bed post is juxtaposed with a scene of the parents choosing a color for their daughter’s bedroom. Jordan-Lake’s text simply yet warmly conveys how much love they already have for their daughter, for “you were the one, we hoped for, and prayed for.”
Readers get to experience the parents’ excitement as they receive that life changing phone call and journey overseas to meet their daughter for the first time. Once home, the extended family is waiting to celebrate their new addition. Sanchez’s colorful and expressive illustrations show the overwhelming affection both the parents and family have for the child.
What I love about A Much Crazy Love is the story continues as the girl grows up. Readers witness milestones such as her first laugh, first bath, first steps, first word, first bike ride. and first day of school. Throughout the text, Sanchez has subtly and creatively expressed the parents’ immense love for her daughter with small colorful circles that pass from the parents to their child. Jordan-Lake expertly embeds the word crazy to describe the parents’ huge emotions from “big, crazy rush” on the plane to “crazy-well you had grown” when their daughter boards the school bus for the first time. Inspired by the author’s own experiences adopting a child, A Crazy-Much Love reminds us that love makes a family.
Praise for A Crazy Much Love!
“The standout illustrations burst with energy and are as saturated with color as the subject of the story is showered with love. A perfect gift for an adoptive family—and every family that has a deep and abiding love for their young children.” —Booklist
“An honest and encouraging story about a transracial adoption.” —Kirkus Reviews
Meet the Author & Illustrator
Joy Jordan-Lake is the author of multiple books for adults, including A Tangled Mercy, a Goodreads Hot Reads Selection and Kindle bestseller, and Blue Hole Back Home, winner of the Christy Award in 2009 for Best First Novel. A Crazy-Much Love is her debut picture book. She holds a PhD in English and has taught literature and writing at several universities. She is a mother to two biological children and one child adopted from China, and her experiences inspired this book. She lives outside Nashville with her family, including two fluffy dogs. Learn more about the author at www.joyjordanlake.com.
Sonia Sánchez is an award-winning Spanish illustrator. Her debut picture book, Here I Am, written by Patti Kim, received two starred reviews and was nominated for the Eisner Award for Best Painter. Her artwork has been selected for the prestigious Society of Illustrators Original Art Show twice, and her books have been named a CBC NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People and a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year. She lives with her husband, her son, and a sleepyhead cat in a blue house near the Mediterranean Sea.
Enter a Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of A Crazy-Much Love, courtesy of Two Lions/Amazon (U.S. addresses only). Enter the giveaway by Friday, September 27, 2019 at 8 p.m.