Book Birthday, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to Pigeon & Cat by Edward Hemingway


About the Book:
Title: Pigeon & Cat
Author/Illustrator: Edward Hemingway
Pub. Date: June 21, 2022

Beagles and Books is excited to share a review of Pigeon & Cat.  Special thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and the publisher, Little Brown and Company. for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Cat lives in a cardboard box in a vacant city lot.  As Hemingway eloquently states, “the lot isn’t much, but it’s his home and his alone” and Cat cautiously sleeps with one eye open to protect his few belongings.  

PIGEON & CAT interior illus by Edward Hemingway_1

When Cat finds an egg on the ground, he takes super good care of it until hatches.  Once Pigeon enters his life, Cat’s world is now forever changed.  I love how Hemingway chose to have Pigeon communicate in emojis to Cat so kids can decipher what she is thinking.  Once Pigeon perfects flying, she is eager to explore the city.  Cat does not share her excitement. 

PIGEON & CAT interior illus by Edward Hemingway_2

A nervous Cat is relieved when Pigeon returns and she brings Cat a piece of red chalk, her first of many gifts.  Inspired by Pigeon’s generosity, Cat’s creative juices start flowing bringing color and life to the once drab lot. 

PIGEON & CAT interior illus by Edward Hemingway_3

When Pigeon doesn’t return to the lot one afternoon, Cat has no choice. He must leave his home to find his best friend.  He courageously searches high and low leaving chalk messages all over the city. Soon the city doesn’t feel scary anymore and Cat willingly befriends other strays in hopes of locating Pigeon.  The two finally reunite in the now vibrant and bustling lot which Pigeon has opened to all the strays.  

When I read aloud Pigeon & Cat to my kindergarten #classroombookaday class, the students were captivated by not only the artwork, but also the story.  Hemingway’s hand painted artwork is full of depth and details.  The kids connected with Cat immediately.  They recognized that Cat was safe, but sad and lonely. When he met Pigeon, Cat’s attitude changed because he had a friend.  The students’ faces showed their worry when Pigeon went missing, but their smiles returned and they collectively cheered when they reunited.   

With themes of friendship, kindness, courage, creativity, and community, Pigeon & Cat is a must read picture book.  I thought it was a great story to end the year, for this school year was truly the most challenging in my teaching career.  Pigeon and Cat gave me hope.  I love that book was accompanied by this note and a box of chalk encouraging readers to create their own happy messages.   


After reading, we took the kids outside to draw things that make them happy.  Many drew things they saw in the book which warmed my heart and filled me with hope.  A beautiful memory to end this school year! 


Want to learn more about the story behind the story?  Check out this charming video on the backstory behind Pigeon & Cat:

Praise for Pigeon & Cat!

“A satisfying story exploring heart and home.”  —The Horn Book

“A sweet tale celebrating the joys of both personal and communal togetherness.” —Kirkus Reviews

About the Author/Illustrator: 

Edward Hemingway is the acclaimed creator of many popular books: Tough Cookie: A Christmas Story, Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus, and Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship. His writing and artwork have been published in the New York Times and GQ Magazine, among others. The youngest grandson of Ernest Hemingway, he lives in Bozeman, Montana. He invites you to visit him at

Instagram: @edwardhemingway

Book Birthday, Nonfiction, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to Ribbit! The Truth About Frogs by Annette Whipple



About the Book:
Title: Ribbit! The Truth About Frogs 
Author: Annette Whipple
Illustrator: Juanbjuan Oliver
Pub. Date: May 15, 2022


I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own. 

Bella and I are thrilled to wish a very Happy Book Birthday to Ribbit, Whipple’s latest book in THE TRUTH ABOUT series! Ribbit teaches there is more to frogs than their leaping legs, bulging eyes and sticky tongue. Here are a few of the questions explored. 

  • What is the difference between frogs and toads?
  • How do some frogs live underground?
  • Why don’t frogs freeze to death?
  • Are frogs important to people?

I love the format of this nonfiction picture book. for it is a great mentor text to teach children about text features.  A question is posed in a large and appealing font.  Each answer is written in kid friendly language so the facts are easy to understand.  Clear, crisp photographs of the frog match the question; a sidebar also appears on every page spread and includes Oliver’s illustrations and the frog’s humorous point of view on the topic. 

Ribbit p 6-7

As an adult, I never knew that toads are frogs and blinking helping frogs swallow their food.  Other cool facts is depending on the type, tadpoles can take from 2 weeks to 3 years to become a froglet. Couch’s spadefoot toads rest for 9 months underground in the summer.  Because the sugar in their blood acts like anti-freeze, spring peepers can survive freezing in the winter and thaw out in the spring.  

In my opinion, the most important question Whipple asks and answers is Are frogs important to people?  They eat lots of insects, are prey for other animals, and support scientific initiatives in cancer research, pain treatment and chemical testing,  The last question, How Can I See Frogs?, provides tips for how to find frogs in your area.  I also appreciate Whipple’s advice on caring for a pet frog.  Kids (and adults) need to know the facts before committing to owning one as a pet.  Other helpful information are directions on how to build a toad house, a glossary, and a list of websites. 

As an elementary reading specialist, I adore THE TRUTH ABOUT series because Whipple’s text is  accessible to kids at all reading levels.  After reading Ribbit, readers of all ages will be even more fascinated with frogs next time they see or hear one in their travels! 

To view the Frog Educator Guide and other resources, click on the image below. 

Ribbit Teacher Guide

If you know a child who enjoy learning cool facts about animals,, check out Whipple’s other books in THE TRUTH ABOUT series.

  • Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls 
  • Woof! The Truth About Dogs
  • Scurry! The Truth About Spiders
  • Meow! The Truth About Cats (Fall 2022)

Praise for RIBBIT!

Ribbit SLJ Review


Meet the Author!

Annette Whipple celebrates curiosity and inspires a sense of wonder while exciting readers about science and history. She’s the author of ten fact-filled children’s books including The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press) and The Truth About series (Reycraft Books) including Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls, Scurry! The Truth About Spiders and Woof! The Truth About Dogs

Blog Tour, Book Birthday, Giveaway, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday & Giveaway for Between the Lines by Lindsay Ward


About the Book:

Title: Between the Lines
Author/Illustrator: Lindsay Ward
Pub. Date: October 1, 2021

Happy Book Birthday to Between the Lines written and illustrated by Lindsay Ward! Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour! Special thanks to Two Lions Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


A young boy recalls how the colors began fading from his neighborhood street.  


A lightning storm not only takes the color away but also creates a split in the road that separates the community.  As I read aloud the story to a kindergarten class, the kids were surprised with their mouths open when I turned the page and the color was gone.  I asked them the questions that author/illustrator Ward poses on the page spread below.  Like most 5 year olds, their responses to the first question was literal. 

  • “The rain made the colors go away.”
  •  “The lightning made a hole in the street and took away the colors.”

The answers to the second question showed their thinking skills.

  • “I think the colors will come back because they will fix the hole.”
  • “They look sad so if they fix the hole, they will be happy again, and then the colors will come back.”


As I continued reading, the kids immediately noticed that the boy and girl remained sad.  When the boy stopped dreaming about the colors, he realized that he must take action. 


From their windows, the community observes the boy’s initiative and determination and gradually joins him in repairing the crevice that divided them.  When rain begins to fall, the boy’s and girl’s smiles fade but instead of going their separate ways, the community stands together.  Their unity allows color to return and makes the community whole again.  When I turned the page and the kids saw the color, they clapped. My heart melted seeing their excitement and hearing the sound of their happiness. 


After the clapping ended, I revisited the question, “Why did the color come back?’ and the kindergarteners were bursting with their thoughts.

  • “The boy started fixing the street and then everyone else helped.”
  • “The boy was sad so he decided fixing the street would make him happy.”

One particular student was bubbling with lots of ideas while I was reading aloud.  At the end of the story, she said, “They worked as a team and you know, teamwork makes the dream work! That’s why the colors came back.”  

Wow! I was blown away by their thoughtful responses!  Ward’s colorful and black and white illustrations are the perfect vehicle to teaching theme with our youngest learners. Kindergarteners could see easily the change in mood and feelings through the use (or absence) of color.  We also discussed the importance of working together as a class family when there is a problem.  Between the Lines is a picture book that promotes deep thinking at all ages. 

Praise for Between the Lines!

“A vibrant neighborhood loses its color, literally, as the community becomes fractured.” 
Kirkus Reviews

“The illustrations…bring the atmosphere and ideas of the story to life. The depictions of both isolation and community in a dense urban neighborhood are poignant, especially after a year when COVID-19 forced people worldwide to forgo, and then to reinvent, community togetherness.”

Lindsay Ward author

About the Author/Illustrator:

Lindsay Ward is the creator of the Dexter T. Rexter series as well as Rosie: Stronger than Steel; This Book Is Gray; Brobarians; Helping Hospital; the Wheels on the Go series; 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 family. Learn more about her online at

Twitter: @lindsaymward
Instagram: lindsaymward

Click the picture below to check out a storytime for Between the Lines and other books on Lindsay Ward’s website!


Book Birthday, Chapter Books, Middle Grade Literature

Happy Book Birthday to Secondhand Dogs by Carolyn Crimi!

Bella and I wish a Happy Birthday to Secondhand Dogs written by Carolyn Crimi and illustrated by Melissa Manwill! Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Harper Collins for sharing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Miss Lottie gives dogs a second chance. Gus was the first dog she adopted; therefore, under Dog Pack Law, he is the leader giving his approval before Miss Lottie brings another dog into the pack. Gus’ track record is perfect with Roo, Tank, and Moon Pie. When Miss Lottie introduces Decker to the pack, Gus smells something not right. He wants to trust his gut instincts, but Miss Lottie keeps comparing Decker to her first dog, Mr. Beans. Perhaps Gus’ dogginess is off and Decker just needs a chance; therefore, Gus gives a half hearted woof and wag. Almost immediately, Decker walks into Miss Lottie’s the van ahead of him. Uh oh! Is Decker challlenging Gus as leader of the pack?

As the story unfolds, readers learn about all the dogs’ history and how they found their forever home with Miss Lottie.  Crimi also shares Decker’s story and why he acts the way he does. Reading the back story of each dog really hit me because as the proud dog mom of Bella (& Etta who passed in February 2020), it is very rare to know about a dog’s prior life before adopting them.  Bella is a sweetheart wagging her tail 90% of the time, but if she hears the sound of metal, her tail goes down and she scurries to her safe spot under our bed. I can speculate, but will never know the roots of that behavior.  

At its heart, Secondhand Dogs is a story about family, for after Miss Lottie’s husband passed away, she needed a purpose.  She soon discovered that giving dogs a second home was a way to heal and be whole.  Another important character in the story is Quinn, Miss Lottie’s neighbor who is coping with a lot of loss-his father’s sudden death, an accident which claimed the life of his dog, Murph, and his changed relationship with his older brother Jessie. After reading Secondhand Dogs, my heart was filled with hope, for whatever happened in the past, we all have a second chance to be happy.

As an educator, I took note of the book length, for the novel is under 250 pages and then more specifically, the chapter length which vary from 4 to 7 pages.  Length can be an important consideration when recommending books to kiids, for stamina for chapter book reading sometimes has to nurtured. While the novel may be short in length, Secondhand Dogs is a story with well developed characters and an abosrbing plot which will appeal to young readers. Manwill’s black and white illustrations support the text in order for readers to better understand the characters and important events.

If you would like to read a sample courtesy of Harper Collins, click here.

Praise for Secondhand Dogs!

“A sensitive, satisfying, and intriguing canine tale.”   —Kirkus Reviews

About the Author:

Carolyn Crimi received her MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College in 2000. She has published over 15 books, including Dear TabbyDon’t Need FriendsBoris and BellaHenry and the Buccaneer BunniesWhere’s My Mummy?, and I Am the Boss of this Chair. Her book There Might Be Lobsters won The Golden Kite Award in 2018 for Best Picture Book Text, and her middle grade debut, Weird Little Robots, was named a BEA Book Buzz pick. Carolyn has received over thirty state awards and award nominations and was given The Prairie State Award in 2012 for her body of work. You can visit Carolyn at

Facebook: Carolyn Crimi

Twitter: @crims10

Book Birthday, Nonfiction, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to Woof! The Truth About Dogs by Annette Whipple


About the Book:
Title: Woof! The Truth About Dogs 
Author: Annette Whipple
Illustrator: Juanbjuan Oliver
Pub. Date: June 30, 2021


I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own. 

Bella and I are thrilled to wish a very Happy Book Birthday to Woof, Whipple’s latest book in THE TRUTH ABOUT series!  Woof provides answers to simple yet valuable questions that any dog owner (or lover) should know.  While I had a general idea of the answer, Whipple sets the record straight with the key facts.  Here are a few of the questions explored. 

  • Do dog have feelings?  
  • Why do dogs smell butts?
  • How do dogs help people?
  • Are dogs just tame wolves? 

I love the format of this nonfiction picture book. for it is a great mentor text to teach children about text features.  A question is posed in a large and appealing font.  Each answer is written in kid friendly language so the facts are easy to understand.  Clear, crisp photographs match the question showing the dog engaged in the activity; a sidebar also appears on every page spread and includes Oliver’s illustrations and the dog’s humorous point of view on the topic. 

Dogs Sweat

Throughout the entire book, different breeds, each identified with a label, are highlighted in the photographs to show kids the wide range of dogs.   Of course, I was happy to see both the beagle and basset hound breed featured!  

What I love most about Woof is Whipple strongly advocates for dogs in shelter, a cause close to my heart.  The last question, How Can I Help?, explains how kids can volunteer at or raise money for a local shelter.  And if your family is able-welcome a dog into your family by adopting.   Other helpful information are steps on how to properly meet a dog, directions for making a dog tug toy, a glossary, and a list of websites. 

After reading Woof, kids (and adults) will know the why behind the wagging tail, sniffing snout, and happy bark.  And if they didn’t like dogs already, Woof might indeed change their mind!  Whipple shares a lot of information that may help children calm their fears about canines.  

If you know a child who enjoy learning cool facts about animals,, check out Whipple’s other books in THE TRUTH ABOUT series.

  • Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls (September 2020)
  • Scurry! The Truth About Spiders, (Coming Fall 2021) 

Praise for WOOF!

Woof Kirkus

Meet the Author!

Annette Whipple celebrates curiosity and inspires a sense of wonder while exciting readers about science and history. She’s the author of ten fact-filled children’s books including The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press) and The Truth About series (Reycraft Books) including Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls and Scurry! The Truth About Spiders.

Book Birthday, Middle Grade Literature, Novels in Verse

Happy Book Birthday to The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron!

It’s the fall of 1989. 12 year old Etan loves rooting for the San Francisco Giants with his dad, drawing, and walking Buddy, his neighbor’s dog. Ever since his mom checked into a hospital to treat her mental illness, Etan has stopped speaking because she was the one person he could talk to about everything. He and her best friend Jordan have drifted apart and with his dad working a lot, Etan spends a lot of time at his grandfather’s jewelry shop who shares stories of immigrating from Prague to the United States to flee the Nazis.

One day, a neighbor and fellow shop owner, Mrs. Li, asks Etan to make a delivery to the home of Malia, a young Filipina girl living with severe eczema. Bullied because of her skin, Malia is now homeschooled. After Etan shares a drawing of her dragon mailbox with Malia, the two connect quickly. Etan feels comfortable talking with her and as they explore the redwoods near her house, Malia opens up about her health condition. After Etan is cut during an earthquake tremor, his grandfather applies a clay from the old world on his arm and sings something in Hebrew making the cut disappear. He wonders if this earthly material could cure Malia. What Etan has yet to realize though is “true friendship is the oldest and strongest form of medicine.”

Gorgeously written in verse from the point of view of Etan, The Magical Imperfect is a touching and hopeful story of family, friendship, and finding out who you are. The setting perfectly fits the plot, for throughout the story, small earthquakes occured emphasizing the uncertainty in both Etan’s and Malia’s lives. Would Etan’s mom come home? Would Malia skin heal? When the historic earthquake occurred right before the third game of the 1989 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants, my heart was racing and I couldn’t stop reading. And like Rajani LaRocca’s novel in verse, Red, White, and Whole, I loved being transported back to the 1980’s and cannot deny I visited YouTube to watch Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time video. Thanks to the author and MacMillan Children Publishing for sharing an eARC with me.

Book Birthday, Giveaway, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade Literature

Happy Book Birthday & Giveaway: Glam Prix Racers by Deanna Kent Illustrated by Neil Hooson


About the Book:
Title: Glam Prix Racers 
Author: Deanna Kent
Illustrator: Neil Hooson
Pub. Date: May 11, 2021

Beagles and Books wishes a very Happy Book Birthday to Glam Prix Racers, the first book in this fun and adventurous graphic novel trilogy! 


This review was first published on May 3, 2021.  Thanks to Imprint/MacMillan Children’s Publishing for sharing an eARC with Beagles and Books. 

On Glittergear Island, it is the first race of the Glam Prix.  Mermaid Mio and monster truck Mudwick, Fairy Flipp and freight train Furie, Dragon Deelux and car Dapper, Sprite Sookie and soft-serve mobile Smoosh, and Unicorn Uni and unicycle U-turn are one of three teams racing for the Glam Prix Cup.  Before the race begins, it is clear that one of the teams, the Vroombots, wants to win at all costs and plans on stealing all of the Sparklecharge which gives all the motos (AKA motor vehicles) life.  In order to be the champions in Race 1, Mio and her teammates must not only cross the finish line first but also collect side quests such as snapping a photo with a ghost garden gnome to earn additional points.  The team encounters a lot of bumps on the road but collaborates to overcome any setbacks.  Will the Glam Prix Racers be able to outsmart and outrun the Vroombots and claim victory of the first race?

Just like the motos in the race, the plot zips at high speed which makes Glam Prix Racers a one sitting read.  You won’t be able to stop!  Kent’s peppy and witty dialogue is both humorous and suspenseful and Hooson’s bright and detailed illustrations pop with both color and energy.  As I was reading, I was feeling nostalgic for the cartoons I used to watch on Saturday mornings for Glam Prix Racers has all the same elements-comedy, intrigue, heroes, villains, gadgets, and lessons on cooperation and persistence.  

I can’t wait to share this fun adventure with my students! Stay tuned for the next race, Back on Track, the second book in the Glam Prix Racers trilogy. It will be released in January 2022.

Check Out this Book Trailer to Meet the Glam Prix Racers!


Book Birthday, Giveaway, Middle Grade Literature

Happy Book Birthday & Giveaway: Rescue at Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson


About the Book:
Title: Rescue at Lake Wild
Author: Terry Lynn Johnson 
Pub. Date: April 1, 2021

Beagles and Books wishes a very Happy Book Birthday to Rescue at Lake Wild.  Special thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Following in the footsteps of her late grandmother, 12 year old Madi is an “animal whisperer” rescuing orphaned and injured wild animals.  In mere weeks, Madi has the immense opportunity to meet her idol, Jane Goodall but under one condition. Her parents have forbidden Madi from bringing any more animals home.  So when Madi and her friends, Jack and Aaron discover orphaned beaver kits and rescue them, she realizes her only choice is to hide them in her clubhouse. 

Taking care of beaver kits secretively is not easy and on top of that, Madi, Jack, and Aaron learn someone is purposely shooting beavers because their dams are causing a flood in their small town of Willow Grove.  The trio along with Jack’s dog, Lid (love his name!), work together to uncover who is responsible. Madi is also determined to help the beavers find a different location for their dams so the flooding will cease. 

With an intriguing plot, well developed characters, and lots of factual information about beavers as well as being an animal rehabilitator, Rescue at Lake Wild is an engaging middle grade novel that has a lot of kid appeal. I admire Madi’s passion for not only saving the beaver kits but also tackling the flooding problem.  While Madi’s intentions are all good and she has a skill set from apprenticing under her Nana, Johnson does remind readers that Madi shouldn’t be keeping wildlife because she is not licensed and shares The Dos of Wildlife at the end of the book. 

As an educator, I took note of the book length, for the story is only 181 pages and then more specifically, the chapter length which was at most 6 pages.  Length can be an important consideration when recommending books to kids. Stamina for chapter book reading sometimes has to nurtured for developing readers which is why I love finding well written and engaging novels under 200 pages. While the novel may be short in length, RESCUE AT LAKE WILD has a lot of substance so I cannot wait to get this story into kids’ hands!  At the end of the book, Johnson includes an author’s note providing information about the novel’s inspiration.  

Check Out This Video!

To hear Terry Lynn Johnson talks directly to readers about the inspiration behind Rescue at Lake Wild, click here.

About the Author: 

Terry Lynn Johnson writes about the wild with the wisdom and passion of someone who has spent her life working to preserve and protect it – both as a backcountry canoe ranger in Quetico Provincial Park and in her current job as a conservation officer with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. She lives at the edge of a lake in northern Ontario, Canada, where she loves watching all wildlife, including beavers. Visit her online at

Twitter: @TerryLynnJ

Instagram: terry_lynn_johnson

Enter a Giveaway!

1 winner will receive a copy of Rescue at Lake Wild courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (U.S. addresses only). This giveaway is open from Tuesday, April 27, 2021 through Friday, April 30, 2021 ending at 10:00 p.m. EST.   Please note that book may take longer to ship so patience is appreciated.  Enter below or head over to my Twitter account, @lauramossa and retweet my Rescue at Lake Wild Twitter post.


#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to Albert Whitman Picture Books!


Wishing a Happy Book Birthday to the following authors and illustrators!  Special thanks to Albert Whitman Publishing for sharing ARCs of their Spring 2021 picture books with my #bookexcursion group.  



Way Past Sad by Hallee Adelmann Illustrated by Karen Hall  (April 1, 2021)

James is sad when he finds out his best friend Sanj is moving and is leaving only a few days before his birthday.  When Sanj hands James an early present, James feels the sad take over his body and runs home.  Supportive mom gives James a hug which feels good but does not take away his sadness. Once James looks out his windows and sees Sanji looking unhappy , he realizes that spending time together will make them both feel better. They build a fort, play and most importantly, acknowledge that they will both miss each other. After Sanji moves away, the sadness remains but James agrees to bike ride with other friends and shows he is coping with the separation. On the last page, the illustration shows James’ birthday party and while Sanji could not attend in person, he is able to join via the computer. 

Way Past Jealous by Hallee Adelmann Illustrated by Karen Hall (April 1, 2021)

Yaz is very proud of a drawing of her and her friend Debby, but when everyone in her class makes over Debby’s dog artwork, jealousy begins to set in.  And when the teacher hangs Debby’s picture on the bulletin board, jealousy becomes more than just a feeling.  Yaz distances herself from her friends especially Debby and when no one is looking, tears Debby’s drawing from the display.  These actions though do not make Yaz feel any better about herself.  After seeing Debby’s sadness, Yaz admits what she has done and says she is sorry. Debby is no longer sad; she is mad.  The next day, Yaz apologizes to Debby again handing her the picture of the two of them.  Will Debby be able to forgive and be friends again?

Like Way Past Mad and Way Past Worried in the Great Big Feelings series, Way Past Sad and Way Past Jealous are stories that can help children process their feelings.   I love that Adelman writes her story in first person because children get to hear the inner conversation that both James and Yaz are having.  Embedded in the stories are actions, both good and bad, that each character uses to cope with their emotions.  It is important for kids to see the steps that both James and Yaz take to manage their feelings.  Hall’s bold illustrations fill up the page and complement the text well showing both children’s journey to overcome their sadness and jealousy.  I highly recommend the Great Big Feelings series as a teaching tool to support social emotional learning for young children. Check out the website, Way Past Books, for more information about the books in the series, videos, and fun and games!




Zoo-Mate Wanted by Korrie Lear (April 1, 2021)

Sisters Leah and Lilly share a room and a love for the zoo, but Lilly keeps her side neat and Leah’s side is untidy.  Tired of the mess, Lilly and her toy monkey move out and Leah decides to advertise for a roommate or in fact, a zoo-mate.  Lots of animals respond to the ad, but they all are not kind to her own dear stuffed monkey.  As a result, Leah was willing to make some changes to her poster which persuaded Lilly to return and made both monkeys (and sisters) happy.  

Zoo-Mate Wanted is an engaging and entertaining story about sibling relationships.  I love that Leer chose to draw Leah and Lilly as identical sisters in features, but very different in dress, hairstyle, and personalities.  When Lilly left, Leah seized the opportunity to find a roommate that was fine with noise, mess, snacking, painting, climbing, and best of all-no cleaning!  After her applicants did not work out, Leah demonstrates she can compromise revising her ad to include words such as neatly and cleaning.  And once the sisters are reunited, Leer shows that Leah and Lilly still have their struggles, but now their love for each other helps them work through any difficulties.  



Goldilocks and The Three Engineers by Sue Fliess Illustrated by Petros Bouloubasis (April 1, 2021)

It’s a role reversal for Goldilocks and the Three Bears in this STEM retelling of the classic fairy tale.  Creator Goldilocks is suffering from inventor’s block and takes a walk from her home to clear her head. Three bears are preparing for winter and on their travels to find honey, they see Goldilocks’ home and wonder if anyone lives there.  Upon entering the unlocked house, they are amazed at all of Goldilocks’ inventions but after trying them out, discovers ways to improve them.  For example, the chair would be better with wheels, the porridge tastier with honey, and the bed more stable with gears. When Goldilocks returns, she observes all the enhancements with delight. After formally meeting the bears who introduce themselves as engineers, Goldilocks realizes that four brains are better than one inviting them to join her team. 

Goldilocks and the Three Engineers is a fun take on the the original and is a welcome addition to Fleiss and Bouloubasis’ other collaborations such as The Princess and the Petri Dish, Mary Had a Little Lab, and Little Red Rhyming Hood.  Written in playful rhyme with detailed and quirky illustrations, the retelling shares a message of creativity, imagination, resourcefulness, and teamwork.  



The Star Festival by Moni Ritchie Hadley Illustrated by Mizuho Fujisawa (April 1, 2021)

This narrative story teaches young readers about Tanabata Matsuri, also known as Japan’s Star Festival   Young Keiko is excited to celebrate with her family dressing in her summer kimono,  putting on her geta (shoes), and making a wish.  As she prepares and they make their way to the festival, Oba (grandmother) tells the origin of the celebration, how two stars, Orihime and Hikoboshi, fell in love, but once married, neglected their work.  As punishment, Orihime’s father only allowed his daughter to see Hikoboshi once a year after their work was done.  As the family walks through town, Keiko’s enthusiasm is evident in both the text and the art as she admires the decorations and enjoys the games and food.  In the crowds, she and her mother are separated from Oba.  Sitting on top of her mother’s shoulders, Keiko spies Oba but a parade is between them similar to the river that Orihime and Hikoboshi had to cross on their first meeting.  Like the stars, Keiko is determined to be reunited with Oba and when they are, the family celebrates with one of their wishes, shaved ice.

I love how Hadley wove the folktale and Keiko’s family’s story together and along with Fujisawa’s warm, expressive illustrations, The Star Festival celebrates not only a Japanese tradition but also the importance of sharing customs as a family.  Back matter includes more information about the festival as well as food, decorations, and directions to make a tanzaku to share your own wish. 



Shaped by Her Hands: Potter Maria Martinez by Anna Harber Freeman & Barbara Gonzales Illustrated by Aphelandra (April 1, 2021)

Maria Martinez was the most famous American Indian potter of her time.  This biography shares her life story of learning the art of pottery under the guidance of her Aunt Nicolasa.  Besides teaching her techniques, her aunt instilled in Maria the importance of thanking Mother Earth for the materials and sharing her clay knowledge with others.  After attending boarding school, Maria returned to her pueblo, married, started a family and continued perfecting her craft.  Because of her immense skills, an archeologist, Edgar Lee Hewitt, approached Maria asking her to replicate a pot based on an ancient sherd he found on a dig.  Never having seen black pottery, Maria was determined to create it and after experimenting, she was successful.  Her pottery intrigued Hewitt because it was a blend of both the old and new.  Not long after, Maria’s pottery was being sold in Santa Fe and demand was high.  Recalling her aunt’s words, Maria taught family and friends and even demonstrated pottery making across the country sharing her knowledge with others. 

The backmatter includes more information about Maria Martinez, The Tewa People and the San Ildefonso Pueblo.  I greatly appreciate the authors’ note, for I learned Gonzales is the great grandchild of Maria.  Freeman, an art teacher, who learned about Maria Martinez from her grandmother, wished to teach her students about her work, but was unable to find books about her.  Through their collaboration, Shaped by Her Hands was written.  Aphelandra’s rich and earthy artwork brings the story to another level.  


Listening to the Stars: Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovers Pulsars by Jodie Parachini Illustrated by Alexandra Badiu

“If you open your mind, you can hear the universe.” 

Irish born Jocelyn Bell always had a love for astronomy and while girls typically did not study science in the 1950’s, Jocelyn was determined to fulfill her dream of becoming an astronomer.  Rather than stay up late to study the stars, Jocelyn had heard about a radio telescope which she could listen to during the day.  It took two years to construct her own radio telescope, and in 1967, Jocelyn heard a scruffy sound as regular as a heartbeat.  And unlike the professors who joked the sounds were from aliens, Jocelyn knew she discovered something important.  And she was right, for Jocelyn’s sound waves were actually from a neutron star.  She had discovered a pulsar star!  

After her extraordinary discovery, Jocelyn continued her work even after marrying and having children, which was rare in the late 1960’s.  In 1974, when the Nobel Prize was awarded to men who worked with her on the pulsar project, Jocelyn remained gracious, for she was happy that astronomy had been recognized for the first time ever.  What I love about Listening to the Stars is how Jocelyn Bell Burnell was a pioneer in astronomy and this picture book biography will support and encourage young girls with an interest in science pave their own way.  



Dylan’s Dragon by Annie Silvestro Illustrated by Ben Whitehouse (April 1, 2021)

Dylan is a doodler and daydreamer about dragons but as he gets older, his days are filled with lots of activities from karate, baseball, and swimming to homework, piano, and science club.  So when Dragon unexpectedly appears at Dylan’s house wanting to play, Dylan is surprised but asks if he can play later.  Dragon continues to return but Dylan’s schedule is so tight it seems he will never have time to play with Dragon.  Finally, on Sunday morning, Dylan has nothing to do, but Dragon is draGONE.  Dylan expresses his sadness to his mom who admits his schedule needs to be cut back.  Will Dylan be able to find Dragon?   With time to doodle and daydream, it doesn’t take long before Dragon pops back into Dylan’s life. 

Dylan’s Dragon is a story that reminds us the importance of slowing down and enjoying the carefree, unscheduled moments in our lives.  Silvestro’s text and Whitehouse’s illustrations work well together communicating Dylan’s hectic lifestyle and his frustration with never getting to play.  I love that drawing and imagination is celebrated as a way to play and relax.  

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 main character.




I’m a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog by Michal Babay  Illustrated by Ela Smietanka (April 1, 2021)

Chewie is training to be a service dog for a young girl named Alice who is living with celiac disease. His job is to detect gluten, for even a small amount of this protein can make Alice sick.  When Chewie smells gluten, he alerts by running in a circle and sits down if it is gluten-free.  Training is hard work for Chewie because it’s not easy to stay focused and ignore things like bugs, birds, and left over pizza on the ground.  Knowing that Alice is depending on him is just the encouragement Chewie needs to buckle down and after a week of training working directly with Alice, Chewie graduates as an official service dog. 

I have read stories about service dogs, but I’m a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog is the first picture book I have read which shares how dogs can be trained to smell gluten. In the author’s note, Babay explains that the book is based on the true story of her daughter and her service dog.  I love how Babay chose to tell the story from Chewie’s point of view because readers see his struggles and his triumphs and Smietanka’s playful illustrations show his love for his job and Alice. 


Blog Tour, Book Birthday, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday & Blog Tour to Lady Pancake and French Toast: Short & Sweet by Josh Funk Illustrated by Brendan Kearney


About the Book:
Title: SHORT & SWEET (Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast Volume 4)
Author: Josh Funk
Illustrator: Brendan Kearney
Pub. Date:  September 1, 2020

Happy Book Birthday to SHORT & SWEET!  Bella and I are so excited to be a part of the SHORT & SWEET Long & Savory virtual tour sharing our review of the latest Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast adventure!

Continue reading “Happy Book Birthday & Blog Tour to Lady Pancake and French Toast: Short & Sweet by Josh Funk Illustrated by Brendan Kearney”