#classroombookaday, Blog Tour, Picture Books

Blog Tour Review: The Great Caper Caper by Josh Funk Illustrated by Brendan Kearney

Beagles & Books is thrilled to be a part of The Great Caper Caper Great Virtual Virtual Tour! Special thanks to author Josh Funk for the invite and for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

About the Book:
Title: The Great Caper Caper ((Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast #5)
Author:  Josh Funk
Illustrator: Brendan Kearney
Publisher: Union Square & Co.
Pub. Date:  November 15, 2022

When Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast awake one morning to near-darkness, they are aghast. Who would steal the fridge light? Could it be the evil Count Caper? (spoiler alert: yes. Yes it is.) Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast put a crew together with all their old friends (Baron von Waffle, Inspector Croissant, Miss Brie, and more) and plan a delicious heist to get the light back and save the fridge once again!


Review:

“Oh my crepes!” utters Lady Pancake when she and Sir French Toast discover the Great Light in the refrigerator has gone missing.  Darkness does not sit well with Toast or the other foods who reside in the fridge. Who could be the culprit? Perhaps the light past Pita Plateau will provide the answer.

Upon arrival, the illuminated Welcome to Fabulous Las Veggies sign is hard to miss.  When they find out that Count Caper is in charge, Pancake and Toast waste no time and asks about the Great Light.  Count Caper adamantly denies stealing but readers know he is not telling the truth.  How do they make him confess? Problem solving Pancake whips up a plan to return the Great Light to its rightful place.  With the help of other series characters such as Inspector Croissant and Baron von Waffle, can Pancake and Toast succeed?

I adore The Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series!  Funk keeps kids (and adults) engaged with his bouncy, rhyming text, novel and lively characters, and intriguing plot.  Kearney’s detailed and imaginative  illustrations bring both the characters and setting to life. As I read the story, the kids were captivated by the artwork especially the final page spread of the “Berry Manilow” show as well as the “photos” of the food hanging out in Las Veggies.

After reading The Great Caper Caper to my kindergarten #classroombookaday class, I asked students the following questions to unpack the lesson of the story.

  • “Who did something unhelpful or hurtful in the story?”
  • Why did Count Caper take the Great Light?
  • When the Great Light was found, what did Lady Pancake ask Count Caper to do?
  • How did Count Caper feel when he returned the Great Light?

Collaboratively, we were able to identify one of the lesson is if you tell the truth and return what you take, you feel better and your friends may forgive you.  Character motivation was also a big part of the plot and I mentioned why Count Caper stole the Great Light so the kids could better understand him.  Friendship is another important theme because Lady Pancake wanted to help Sir French Toast because he was afraid of the dark.  Finally, we discussed how all the foods collaborated on Lady Pancake’s plan to get back the Great Light; therefore, another lesson is when a problem arises in the classroom, we must work together as a team to solve it. I love how The Great Caper Caper supports teaching theme to our youngest learners while still providing opportunities to laugh out loud! 

If you haven’t feasted on the Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series, the time is now! 


 


Praise for THE GREAT CAPER CAPER!

The Great Caper Caper was recently selected as an Indie Kids’ Next Pick!
 
The fifth installment in the Lady Pancake series features a madcap caper that kids will love. Parents can look forward to some humor that is, undoubtedly, aimed at them. Definitely a book the whole family will want to read over and over!”
 
— Audrey Beatty, River Bend Bookshop, Glastonbury, CT
 
You can see the whole list here: https://www.indiebound.org/kids-indie-next-list.

 

About the Author:
Like the characters in his books, Josh Funk doesn’t like being told how stories should go―so he writes his own. He is the author of a bunch of picture books, including My Pet Feet, illustrated by Billy Yong; the popular Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, illustrated by Brendan Kearney; How to Code a Sandcastle, illustrated by Sara Palacios; and Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience & Fortitude, illustrated by Stevie Lewis. He lives in New England with his wife and children. Learn more about him at www.joshfunkbooks.com and follow him on social media:

Facebook:  Josh Funk Books
Instagram: @joshfunkbooks
Twitter: @joshfunkbooks


Continue to follow the tour by visiting these blogs!

The Great Caper Caper Virtual Tour Image

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Nonfiction, Picture Books, Poetry

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Ice Cycle: Poems About the Life of Ice by Maria Gianferrari

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Bella and I are thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Ice Cycle: Poems About the Life of Ice written by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Jieting Chen.  This expressive and educational picture book  celebrated its book birthday this week on October 4, 2022.  Thanks to author Maria Gianferrari and Lerner Publishing Group for sharing an electronic copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

When I think of ice, I visualize ice cubes to keep my drink cold, an icy windshield I have to scrape or the beauty of icicles hanging from my house. After reading Ice Cycle, my knowledge of ice was only the tip of the iceberg. 

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.  

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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. 

In “Ice Speaks,” Gianferrari’s lyrical language engages the ears with sound.  As I was reading the text, I could literally hear the noises that ice makes and Chen seamlessly incorporates the sounds in her artwork with swirling, dotted yellow lines. 

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.  New forms such as ice rind, anchor ice, shuga, hummock, and bummock are introduced with text, illustrations, and labels.   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. And while, ice does die, all it takes is a temperature dive for ice to once again come alive.  Gianferrari’s last three words, “Ice is born…” connects back to the first poem reminding us of its life cycle. 

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. 


Check Out These Ice Cycle Extras!

To view the book trailer, click here.

To view and download the Teacher’s Guide, click here. 


 

About the Author:

Maria-blackandwhite

Maria Gianferrari thinks ice is nice. After seeing editor Carol Hinz’s feathery frost photos on Instagram, she was inspired to find out more. During her research, Maria was amazed by all the diverse kinds of ice that exist, and this book was born. Her favorite form is pancake ice. Maria lives in Massachusetts with her family, where winters usually bring ice and snow. You can learn more about Maria at her brand new website, mariagianferrari.com


Enter Beagles & Books’ Giveaway!

  • Follow me @lauramossa on Twitter and retweet my Ice Cycle giveaway tweet (US residents only).
 
 

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for A Dream of Birds by Shenaz Patel

                   
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About the Book:
Title: A Dream of Birds
Author: Shenaz Patel
Illustrator: Emmanuelle Tchoukriel
Translator: Edwige-Renée Dro
Pub. Date: August 16, 2022


 

Beagles and Books is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for A Dream of Birds 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:

As Sara walks to school on the island of Mauritus, she notices something new in one of the yards-small house with a red roof.  Curious, she gets closer and sees parakeets who begin to flap and sing alerting the owner of her presence.  Scared, she runs away but can’t stop thinking about the birds which bring back memories of her grandfather. 

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Each afternoon, birds would pay a visit to her grandfather’s yard performing a concert with their melodic sounds.  At precisely four o’clock, her grandfather would return the favor by throwing rice into air. This gorgeous illustration shows the tranquility that the birds brought to Sara and her grandfather. 

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When Sara past by the birdhouse the next morning, she recalled the sheer joy of the birds flapping their wings in the air to catch their treat.  This time when she approaches the parakeets, she sees that the door is not locked.  Without hesitation, Sara opens the door letting the birds go free. Her actions are met with punishment by her parents.  Would the birds survive in the wild?  

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Translated from French, A Dream of Birds is a story that gave me pause.  While I understand Sara’s motivation for freeing the birds, it is clear her actions were wrong. The birds did not belong to her and captive animals may find it difficult to live in the wild.  Sara’s conduct promotes an opportunity to discuss with kids how to deal with situations, opinions, and/or decisions in which they disagree.  Clearly, Sara’s grandfather had instilled in her that birds deserve to be free but releasing the birds was not a noble action.  Kids can benefit from stories when characters makes errors in judgment eliciting an honest conversation what they could have done differently.  


About the Author, Illustrator and Translator: 

Shenaz Patel was born and lives on Mauritius Island. She has several jobs: journalist, playwright, novelist, and translator, and she is also a comics and children’s book author. She has written nine books for children, including A Dream of Birds, which was first published in French and English in Mauritius and France. She was named Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2013, a high honor given by the French minister of culture.

Emmanuelle Tchoukriel was born and lives in France. Passionate about nature, she studied visual communication before entering the Estienne School in Paris. She specialized in scientific drawing, and she excels in illustrating flora and fauna. On Instagram: @emanuelle_tchoukriel

Edwige-Renée Dro is a writer, translator, and literary activist from the Ivory Coast, in Africa. Her writings have been published in anthologies such as New Daughters of Africa and Africa39, among others. She has judged many literary prizes, including the PEN International New Voices Award and the Etisalat Prize for Literature. She was awarded the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2018 and is a 2021 resident of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Learn more at edwigedro.wordpress.com.

Twitter: @DroEdwige

Facebook: Renée Edwige Dro

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Pink is Not a Color by Lindsay Ward

                   
                                              

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About the Book:
Title: Pink is Not a Color
Author/Illustrator: Lindsay Ward
Pub. Date: July 1, 2022


Beagles and Books is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Pink is Not a Color 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:

When Pink discovers that the Primaries and the Secondaries are planning for the Rainbow Extravaganza, she wants to lend a hand.  But she wonders why hasn’t she ever heard of this event before?  

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The Rainbow Extravaganza celebrates all the colors in the rainbow and sadly, Pink is not one of them. The colors still invite Pink to come, but she feels awkward and begins to question her identity.  Is she still a color if she is not in the rainbow? I love Ward’s format for Pink speaks directly to the reader sharing her inner thoughts in speech bubbles and the illustrations show Pink’s range of emotions as she grapples with this question.  

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A confused Pink meets up with other colors and learns that colors mixed with white are called Tints.  So is she a color or a tint?  Fortunately, Gray sets her straight by taking Pink on a stroll around town to show her how all things pink such as ice cream, art, and toys bring joy.  And best of all, pink is a color in the sunrise and sunset.  Can’t get any better than that! 

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The message of Pink is Not a Color is sometimes it takes a friend to help you see your true self-worth.  Pink forgot that others don’t decide who she is; she is bubble gum, cotton candy, tutus, bunny slippers, cupcakes, and sprinkles which all bring happiness. 

As in Ward, This Book is Gray, Ward’s artwork and page layout is visually appealing to young readers.  The colors are adorably drawn adorned with hats, headbands, and rosy cheeks.  The witty dialogue is written in speech bubbles.  Be sure to visit the front endpapers again, for Ward has included a color glossary defining types of colors and the author’s note explaining the inspiration for the story. 


Praise for Pink is Not a Color!

Ward’s cast of colors, pink-cheeked and wearing accessories, speak in color-coded speech bubbles; appropriately, pink hues dominate the exuberant art. A rosy take on selfhood.” 
Kirkus Reviews


About the Author/Illustrator: 

Lindsay Ward is the creator of the Dexter T. Rexter series as well as Between the Lines, Scooper and Dumper, Rosie: Stronger than Steel, This Book Is Gray, Brobarians, Rosco vs. the Baby, and The Importance of Being 3. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play. Lindsay lives with her family in Peninsula, Ohio with her husband, three boys, one dog, and eight ducks. When she’s not drawing, Lindsay loves to bake. Pink-frosted cupcakes are her favorite. Learn more about her online at www.lindsaymward.com.

Twitter: @lindsaymward
Instagram: lindsaymward

Check out activities and more here on Lindsay Ward’s website!

 

 

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for I Am Able to Shine by Korey Watari Illustrated by Mike Wu

                   
                                               

About the Book:
Title: I Am Able to Shine
Author: Korey Watari
Illustrator: Mike Wu
Pub. Date: May 1, 2022


Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for I Am Able to Shine 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:

Keiko has one wish-to change the world and shine. She is enthusiastic and passionate about making a difference. While there are times she feels invisible, Keiko does not wallow in her sorrows. She persists to be noticed. From Watari’s uplifting text and Wu’s rich illustrations, readers see that Keiko’s endurance is fueled by her family who love and support her.  She exudes strength eating sushi at lunch, starting an origami club. and teaching traditional Japanese dance with her ballet class. I love this illustration showing Keiko’s confidence being the leader. 

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Once Keiko finds a force inside her, she is invincible. This illustration moves me because Keiko sees herself in the future recognizing that she can do anything she sets her mind to. 

With Watari’s affirming text and Wu’s expressive illustrations, Am Able to Shine is a story that teaches kids to embrace their identity. Back matter includes an author’s note sharing the inspiration for the story as well as a glossary of Japanese terms. After reading it aloud to kindergarten students, they had these thoughts about what they learned from Keiko. 

  • Be kind and helpful.
  • Stand up for others and yourself.
  • Share what you like to do with your friends.

About the Author & Illustrator: 

Husband-and-wife team Korey Watari and Mike Wu live in the San Francisco Bay Area in California with their two lively daughters. This is their first picture book together. Korey is a sansei, or third generation Japanese American, born and raised in Los Angeles. She played basketball for a Japanese American League, graduated from the University of California Riverside, and studied at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Korey has worked in the animation and fashion industries for companies such as Disney and the Gap. This is her first picture book. Learn more at www.koreywatari.com or on Twitter at @tinyteru.Mike is the author and illustrator of the acclaimed, bestselling Ellie series, the first picture book of which was named one of NPR’s best books of the year. He is also a Pixar artist and has worked on films including The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Toy Story 3, Coco, and Soul. His illustrations have been hailed as “reminiscent of classics like Harry the Dirty Dog and Curious George.” Visit him at www.theartofmikewu.com or on Instagram at @wudog23.

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Being a Dog by Maria Gianferrari

Bella and I are honored to be part of the blog tour for Being a Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness written by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Pete Oswald.  This playful picture book celebrated its book birthday this week on April 5, 2022.  Thanks to author Maria Gianferrari and Harper Collins for sharing a F & G in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

Dogs have countless wonderful qualities including the ability to live in the present moment.  Being a Dog introduces children to mindfulness with an adorable dog as their guide.  On the very first page, Gianferrari engages in word play with the following text:

Being like a dog 
is BE-ing.
Right now.

Oswald’s cheerful pup with its wagging tail and a ball in its mouth helps children visualize what being in the moment means.  

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As the sun rises, the dog greets its young person, and the two stretch to begin their day.  This page spread is touching because Oswald shows the pair’s close relationship with the child’s artwork of the dog adorning the bedroom.

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The dog and child spend time together outside. As the pup engages in lively behaviors such as sniffing and playing, Gianferrari invites readers to join in.  Feelings are also explored with canine sounds to match like barking when worried and yowling if sad.  Children are encouraged to mirror the cute dog’s actions as a means to remain mindful of their present thoughts and emotions.   

Gianferrari’s love and respect for dogs shines through in the text.  She admires their ability to enjoy the present and be in touch with their feelings.  I especially loved this page spread inviting readers to sleep like a dog.  My favorite is ” Circle before you sleep,” for Bella religiously makes a loop before settling.  Oswald’s rendition of the dog’s actions is perfect.  The crossed paws when dreaming are endearing.

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If you are looking for a picture book to support social emotional learning, I highly recommend Being a Dog.  Children not only get to learn mindful strategies, but also are exposed to vivid verbs (munch, romp, ruffle, wade, whirl) which enhances their oral and written vocabulary.  The back matter includes directions on how to take a mindful nature walk with a canine friend in all four seasons as well as instructions on a mindful breathing exercise. 

With rhythmic, concise text, and warm, expressive artwork, Being a Dog is a tale that gives children the “oppawtunity” to learn how to mindful of their feelings in order to reach their full “pet-tential.”  

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 Being a Dog giveaway tweet.
  • Check out the bloggers below to read more reviews and enter more giveaways!
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Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Pruett and Soo by Nancy Viau

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About the Book:
Title: Pruett and Soo
Author: Nancy Viau
Illustrator: Jorge Lacera
Pub. Date: March 22, 2022


Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for Pruett and Soo 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:

On Planet Monochrome, the home rules are pretty black and white. 

Blend in.
Wear only black, gray or white.
Be calm. 

Now, at his house, Pruett may have let loose to music when alone, but he adhered to the school rules without fail.  

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A new student, Soo, joins Pruett’s class and she brings color to his world (literally). Unlike Pruett and his classmates, Soo is full of vibrant hues, immediately asks questions, and uses bright crayons.  When Soo befriends Pruett, he desperately wants to reciprocate, but he is worried about breaking the school rules.  Color crept into his face but he couldn’t bring himself to join her. 

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A lonely Soo begins to lose her bright colors and spirit which prompts Pruett to take action.  With just one question, Soo’s color returns and Pruett’s color emerges.  Feeling confident, Pruett starts asking questions not concerned about the rules.  His bravery propels other classmates to join in, and the result is so brilliant, readers may need sunglasses to read the last few pages. 

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Pruett and Soo is an uplifting story about friendship and finding your voice. I appreciate how Viau shows Pruett’s conflict between following the rules and doing what was right in his heart.  Both Pruett and Soo are characters that kids will cheer for because they both have big feelings they can relate to. Lacera’s energetic and vibrant illustrations will captivate kids and truly bring Pruett and Soo to life.   What I love most about the story is the message to be true to yourself.  Pruett’s friendship with Soo gave him the courage to speak up and take action.

Praise for Pruett and Soo!

“The unlikely friendship at the heart of this allegorical picture book is touching. Viau’s writing is engaging.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Highlighting the value of asserting one’s individuality in the face of pressures to conform, this vivid episode can stand alone or fit neatly into a storytime.” –Booklist


About the Author:

Nancy Viau is the author of a number of books for children including Storm Song, illustrated by Gynux; Today Is a Beach Day!, illustrated by Charlie Alder; First Snow, illustrated by Talitha Shipman; and the Samantha Hansen series. A former teacher, she currently lives in New Jersey and travels around the solar system in her imagination. Learn more at nancyviau.com.

Twitter: @NancyViau1

Instagram: @nancyviau1

Facebook: Nancy Viau

About the Illustrator: 

Jorge Lacera was born in Colombia and grew up in Florida. He attended Ringling College of Art and Design and has worked as an artist or art director at major gaming studios and entertainment companies. He is the illustrator of Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies by Megan Lacera and XO, Exoplanet by Deborah Underwood. He lives in Canada with his family. Learn more at studiolacera.com.

Twitter: jlacera

Instagram: jlacera


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:

Maria-blackandwhite

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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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


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.