Book Birthday, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing

My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing by Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor Illustrated by Michelle Polizzi

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book to review by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Review:
My Magic Breath; Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing teaches children about breathing strategies to help combat negativity.  Magic breath is special because taking deep breaths can help children handle worried, nervous or sad thoughts.  The book continues by asking children to focus on things that make them smile and use their magic breath to blow out those happy thoughts directly on the page.  The new page reveals an almost full spread of colorful bright waves which evokes a sense of calm.  My Magic Breath continues to ask children to use breathing and a focus on happy thoughts to help combat sad ones.  Blue waves appear on the next page but are gradually blown away as children breathe deeply.  The sad blue waves are replaced with vivid and vibrant ones. At the end of the book, children are reminded to use their magic breath to not only help them through difficult moments but also to appreciate happy times!

I sponsor a second grade class for #classroombookaday.  Each day, I read a picture book aloud and ask students “What is the author trying to teach us?”   After reading My Magic Breath, one student shared that the book can help kids visualize good things so that they will stop thinking about bad things.  Another student also made a connection to a previous read aloud, Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall.  In the story, Jabari is having second thoughts about jumping off the diving board.  Jabari’s father tells him when he is scared, he takes a deep breath to help him get ready.   The student went on to say that deep breaths can help calm you down when you are nervous.

About the Book:
From New York Times bestselling author Nick Ortner comes a beautiful picture book that will help children discover calm through the magic of mindful breathing:

Do YOU have the magic breath?
Let’s see…Take a deeeeeep breath in…and BLOW it out…

…and like magic, you can feel better just by breathing! Sometimes it’s hard to feel happy. But with this interactive picture book, children breathe along as they learn how to make angry or sad thoughts disappear.

In a world that is sometimes too busy, with too many things going on, My Magic Breath will help steer children into a serene space of mindfulness, self-awareness, and balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour, Book Birthday, Middle Grade Literature, Rockstar Book Tours

Captain Superlative Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway

Happy Book Birthday to J.S. Puller’s Captain Superlative!

captain superlative high resolution

Title: CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE
Author: J.S, Puller
Pub. Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 256
Find it: AmazonB&NiBooksTBDGoodreads

Summary:
“Have no fear, citizens! Captain Superlative is here to make all troubles disappear!” Red mask, blue wig, silver swimsuit, rubber gloves, torn tights, high top sneakers and . . . a cape? Who would run through the halls of Deerwood Park Middle School dressed like this? And why?

Janey-quick to stay in the shadows-can’t resist the urge to uncover the truth behind the mask. The answer pulls invisible Janey into the spotlight and leads her to an unexpected friendship with a superhero like no other. Fearless even in the face of school bully extraordinaire, Dagmar Hagen, no good deed is too small for the incomparable Captain Superlative and her new sidekick, Janey.

But superheroes hold secrets and Captain Superlative is no exception. When Janey unearths what’s truly at stake, she’s forced to face her own dark secrets and discover what it truly means to be a hero . . . and a friend.

Review:
At Dearwood Park Middle School, Janey is content with being Just Plain Jane because the alternatives are much worse.  By flying under the radar, Janey is less apt to get picked on by Dagmar Hagan who to adults is the service-award-winning star of the soccer team, but to students is a brutal bully.   Although Janey has witnessed Dagmar picking on fellow classmate Paige, she does not feel compelled to step in until….she meets Captain Superlative.

Unlike Janey, Captain Superlative has no problem with the spotlight.  Wearing her superhero costume, her mission is to spread kindness to all students including Dagmar.  Janey is intrigued by the masked student.  Who is Captain Superlative?  What is her motive?  Once Dagmar crosses a line with Paige, Janey’s invisible cloak disappears, and she becomes Captain Superlative’s sidekick holding open doors, passing out study guides, giving out mints, and most importantly realizing she can do good things instead of just breezing by.  When Captain Superlative is absent from school for three days, Janey get worried.  She uncovers the superhero’s secret which not only resurfaces the past but also makes Janey question who she really is.  Is she really Plain Jane or Janey with an exclaimation point?

This story really drew me in, and it was difficult to stop reading.  Once Janey made the choice to stand up for Paige and join Captain Superlative, she truly blossomed.  By performing simple acts of kindness, she discovered that she can make a difference.  While Captain Superlative’s secret hit Janey hard, it also forced Janey to think about her identity.  Who is she and what does she stand for?  Middle school is tough to navigate, and readers will definitely be able to relate to Janey’s journey.    Similar to the Julian Chapter in Wonder, readers also learn a revelation about Dagmar which does not excuse her awful actions but helps you better understand them.  I must admit that Captain Superlative was my favorite character because she reminds us of the importance of being someone and doing the right thing.  We can all be superheroes.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Captain Superlative in exchange for a honest review.  All opinions are my own.

j.s.

About J.S.:
J. S. Puller a playwright and debut author from the Windy City, Chicago. She has a master’s degree in elementary education and a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Northwestern University. She is an award-winning member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and is actively involved in researching the social-emotional benefits of arts education with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. When not writing, she can usually be found in the theatre. Her play, WOMEN WHO WEAVE, was published by Playscripts, Inc.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway:
Would you like to own a copy of CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE for your library?  Thanks to Rockstar Book Tours, they are giving away 3 copies of this fabulous book (US only).  Be sure to take the time and enter this fantastic giveaway.  Please click link below to enter!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2735/

Tour Schedule:
Join us on the other stops of this tour for more giveaway chances and to read more about CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE and the author J.S. Puller.

Week One:
4/30/2018- BookHounds YA– Interview
5/1/2018- Two Points of Interest– Review
5/2/2018- RhythmicBooktrovert – Review
5/3/2018- Wonder Struck– Review
5/4/2018- A Dream Within A Dream– Excerpt

Week Two:
5/7/2018- Becky on Books– Review
5/8/2018- Beagles and Books– Review
5/9/2018- Ginger Mom and the Kindle Quest– Review
5/10/2018- Novel Novice– Guest Post
5/11/2018- Owl Always Be Reading– Review

#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday

Happy Book Birthday to Every Shiny Thing & The Battle of Junk Mountain

Happy Book Birthday to Cordelia Jensen’s and Laurie Morrison’s Every Shiny Thing and Lauren Abbey Greenberg’s The Battle of Junk Mountain!  

Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen & Laurie Morrison

Every Shiny Thing is a uniquely structured novel told in alternating points of view.  Told in prose, Lauren comes from an affluent family and is struggling with her parents’ decision to send her brother to a residential school for autistic teens.  Told in verse, Sierra is the foster child of Lauren’s neighbors as well as her new classmate.  While her father has been in jail, Sierra’s mother was recently arrested and needs to complete rehab as a condition of her sentence.

With her Quaker school’s theme of simplicity and her new friendship with Sierra, Lauren becomes increasingly cognizant of her privilege.  She embarks on a project to help autistic children from less affluent families and enlists Sierra to help her. While well intentioned, Lauren becomes consumed with raising money at any cost which begins to negatively affect her friendship with Sierra. Sierra is also grappling with her own personal battle of always taking care of everyone but herself. She finally learns that sometimes the best thing you can do for anyone is to let them fall.

I absolutely adored this beautifully written novel on so many levels.  The use of both prose and verse was perfect to share each character’s point of view.  I applauded Lauren’s altruism but I was so worried observing how easily the lines between right and wrong became blurred for her.  Due to her family circumstances, my heart broke for Sierra but I was touched by the fact that she remained courageous and hopeful.  Sierra’s story was definitely a window for me because I know she could be a mirror for many students I teach.

A very special thanks to Laurie Morrison for sending an advance reading copy of Every Shiny Thing to my #bookexcursion group.

This review was originally published on March 25, 2018.

The Battle of Junk Mountain by Lauren Abbey Greenberg

With all the cold, icy, and rainy Maryland weather this week, The Battle of Junk Mountain was the perfect read.  I was transported to the Maine coast with 12-year-old Shayne on her summer vacation.  Shayne lives in Maryland and always spends summers on Thomas Cove with her grandmother Bea and her best friend Poppy.  Nostalgic for summers past, this vacation is different.   Poppy’s free time is limited because she has to work at her father’s grocery store. Bea is not ready to let go of her treasured collectibles  as Shayne is organizing  and pricing them for sale at a flea market. Then to her surprise, Shayne develops an unlikely friendship with Civil War obsessed Linc, the grandson of Bea’s neighbor Cranky.

The Battle of Junk Mountain is a definitely a page turner. Once I began, it was hard to stop reading. The novel starts with anticipation of a fun-filled summer but as you read each chapter (and by the way, pay close attention to each title),  Lauren begins to tackle not only familiar topics like changing friendships but also the serious topic of hoarding.  Readers will quickly fall in love with Shayne for she shows both maturity and vulnerability.  While she can tackle new situations like banding lobster claws and driving a boat, it is evident that Shayne like Bea is holding on to the past and apprehensive about change.  Growing up and letting go is hard, but Shayne learns that change can actually surprise you in a good way.

A sincere thank you to fellow Marylander Lauren Abbey Greenberg for sharing an ARC of her debut middle grade novel The Battle of Junk Mountain with my #bookexcursion group.

This review was originally published on February 11, 2018.

#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday, Poetry

With My Hands: Poems About Making Things by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater Illustrated by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson

Happy Book Birthday to Amy Ludwig VanDerWater’s With My Hands: Poems About Making Things.  

While it’s true that  “a maker creates something new that never was before,” creativity can come in many forms.  Ludwig VanDerwater has written 26 poems celebrating countless ways ideas can come to life with one’s own hands.

What I love about the poems is the reminder that creating is a very personal experience.  In Painting,  the painter shares that “nobody can tell I’m painting wrong.”  In Collage, the carefully chosen scraps torn from photos are a “window to my heart.”  Making also teaches perseverance and patience.  In Knot, the narrator says while “it is not easy to tie a knot, I am “knot” giving up.” In Soap Carving and Tie Dye Shirt, we are reminded that it takes time to create something, and in Clay, listening is important because the lump of clay will “tell you what it is and what it is not.”

Of course, the very best part about being a maker is that you are forever changed. As Ludwig VanDerwater eloquently writes in the last poem baring the same name as the book title, “I am different because I brought something new to life in my hands.”  Fancher’s and Johnson’s illustrations demonstrate a variety of mediums from pencil and paint to collage in their bold yet warm illustrations.  The illustrations coupled with the poetry invite all readers to become makers and thinkers by rolling up their sleeves and getting messy!

With a district focus on Developing Lifelong Learners Through Literacy and the creation of Makerspaces in elementary, middle, and high school libraries, With My Hands is the perfect book to support initiatives in my district, Baltimore County Public Schools. I plan on sharing this gorgeous book in my district!

Special thanks to Amy Ludwig VanDerWater for sending a copy of With My Hands to our #bookexcursion group.

#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday

The Last Grand Adventure by Rebecca Behrens

img_1535.jpgHappy Book Birthday to Rebecca Behrens’  The Last Grand Adventure!

With her dad’s remarriage to Julie, new stepsister Sally,  and her writer mom away covering the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco, it is completely natural for 12-year-old Bea to feel a little lost  When her grandmother Pidge moves from Boston to a retirement community in California, Bea agrees to stay with her and help Pidge get settled.  In her worry journal, Bea admits her fears about leaving home.  What if her dad and Julie enjoy her being gone?  In contrast, Bea though writes in her adventure journal that “every adventure has to start somewhere.”

Little does Bea know the adventure that is in store for her.  Soon after she is dropped off, Pidge tells Bea of her plan to reunite with her missing sister, “Meelie” who just happens to be the famous aviator Amelia Earhart.   At first, Bea seems skeptical but then Pidge shares Meelie’s letters with her.  Bea had so many questions the first being was she up for this adventure?  What if she is the only Earhart who isn’t brave?  And the most important question of all, what if this adventure changes her life?

Rebecca Behrens writes a touching and heartwarming story chronicling Bea and Pidge’s journey to not only find “Meelie” but also find themselves.  Through her relationship with her grandmother and their experiences together,  Bea learns she is not lost, but part of an amazing family and has more courage than she ever realized.  I can truly identify with Bea because I still have to keep my worry in check, but thankfully I know taking risks has helped shaped me into the person I am today.

A special thanks to Rebecca Behrens for providing #bookexcursion group with an advance review copy of The Last Grand Adventure.  

#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday

The Train of Lost Things by Ammi-Joan Paquette

img_1031Beagles and Books wishes a Happy Book Birthday to Ammi-Joan Paquette’s The Train of Lost Things!

On a trip with his mother, Marty loses the one possession he loves the most-his jean jacket.  This jacket is special to him because his father, who is stricken with cancer, gave it to Marty on his last birthday.  The jacket is also decorated with pins that celebrate memories Marty and his father shared together.

With his father’s life quickly deteriorating, Marty is heartbroken that his jacket could be gone forever.  But then he remembers his father’s story about The Train of Lost Things, an engine that gathers every true heart’s possession lost by a child.  When he was younger, Marty believed that the story was true, but now wasn’t he too old to believe in magic?  What if the Train of Lost Things did exist? Could he get his treasured jacket back which Marty believed was the key to healing his father?

In an attempt to fix everything,  Marty takes a brave journey to find the Train of Lost Things.  To his astonishment, the train is real!  In his travels on the train, he meets Dina and Star, two young girls also searching for cherished lost things.  Unfortunately, the train is without a conductor which makes it extremely difficult to locate his jacket and Marty’s time is running out.  Will Marty be able to recover his jacket and save his father?

The Train of Lost Things is an enchanting and bittersweet story with a message of hope and love.  Marty’s hope and love for his father drives him to find the Train of Lost Things.  On his journey, Marty discovers what truly is important and learns the precious lesson that “the only way to truly move forward is to turn back on the past.”

A very special thanks to the author, Ammi-Joann Paquette for providing an advanced reader copy of The Train of Lost Things to our #bookexcursion group.

#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras

Happy Book Birthday to Diane Magras’ The Mad Wolf’s Daughter!

Wee lass Drest and her family are attacked by knights from Faintree Castle.  Drest desperately wants to join her father, Mad Wolf of the North and her five brothers in this battle, but Mad Wolf orders her to hide. She witnesses her family bound, captured, and sailing away from her.  Her only hope of finding her family is a young knight named Emerick who Drest witnessed being attacked by one of his own men.  She strikes a deal with Emerick to take him to Faintree Castle and in return, he will release one of her brothers, although Drest plans to rescue her entire family.

Throughout their journey, Drest hears tales of her family’s brutality from Emerick, which she does not believe to be true.  In addition, a bandit by the name of Jupp shares his own story of her father’s cruelty.  Drest begins to realizes that words are strong weapons because not only is she beginning to doubt her family but also she is struggling to figure out her own identity. Can a warrior be brave and kind?

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter is an adventure that has action and heart.  With each chapter, Diane Magras kept me on the edge both excited and afraid to read on.  I absolutely love Drest who learns that you can’t always control our own legend, and sometimes words not swords can save lives.

A very special thanks to Diane Magras for providing our #bookexcursion group with an ARC of The Mad Wolf’s Daughter.