Bookexcursion

A Review of Literati Kids Book Clubs (Month 1)

Literati (2)

Disclosure: Beagles and Books was provided a complimentary product in exchange for its honest review.

As an elementary reading specialist, I am frequently asked to provide parents with book recommendations.  Before creating a list, I always try to have a conversation with children about their interests which helps me recommend books I think they would enjoy reading.  But sometimes it’s tough.  When reading is challenging and not enjoyable, children will sometimes give me little to no information  My go-to solution is to share some of my own books to choose from in the hopes of gaining more insight, but this method doesn’t always work.  As I reflect, I feel that perhaps, my choice of reading material is still too narrow.  What was I missing?

Opportunity knocked when Literati Kids reached out to me and asked if Bella and I would like to receive a few months of their monthly book subscription box in exchange for honest reviews.  Before I said yes, I visited the Literati website and was immediately excited to see there are 5 options for kids’ book clubs:

  • Neo-newborn to 3 years
  • Sprout-ages 3 to 5
  • Nova-ages 5 to 7
  • Sage-ages 7 to 9
  • Phoenix– ages 9 to 12
  • Titan– 13 and up

It gets even better!  If you click on the club, more information is provided about the books curated for the club which helps if your child needs more reading support.  Since I work with a lot of children who are  transitioning to chapter book reading, I chose Club Sage which curates a monthly box with early chapter book series, simple graphic novels, nonfiction, and activity books.  

Nonfiction and activity books!  I was missing those types of books when I was recommending books for students.  My recommended reading list was pretty much all fiction;  Literati reminded me that cultivating independent readers is not only about reading picture books, chapter books, and/or novels.  Some kids may be more interested in reading an illustrated nonfiction book or an interactive book with games.  I appreciate this gentle reminder that reading comes in many forms and children should read whatever interests them.


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What’s Inside the Literati Box?
5 expertly curated age-appropriate books, original art, personalized book-cessories, and more!  Upon opening my box, I was excited to find books perfect for transitional readers whom I work with daily.  The following items were in my box:

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  • Battle of the Bad-Breath Bats (13th Street) by David Bowles
    13th Street is a series in Harper Chapters, a new early chapter book program.  All the books includes supports such as end of the chapter progress bars and full and half page illustrations for students transitioning to chapter books.  Kids will devour the 13th Street series because of its engaging characters and scary, fast paced plot.  I also love how #ownvoices author Bowles exposes readers to Spanish through not only dialogue but also after readers complete milestones as saying Chido! for reading 4 chapters. To read my full review, click here. 

  • The Great Pet Heist by Emily Ecton Illustrated by David Mottram
    This illustrated chapter book is a laugh out loud story about a dog, a cat, a bird, and 2 pet rats who are worried when their owner Mrs. Food is taken to the hospital after a fall.  What if she doesn’t come return?  Will they be sent to shelter and separated? With the help of other pets in the building, they plan a heist to become independently wealthy which will ensure their survival.  

  • Legend of the Star Runner (A Illustrated Timmi Tobbson Adventure) by J.I. Wagner Illustrated by C. Froehlich
    Timmi Tobbson is a new series to me and is a fresh take on the Choose Your Adventure series I loved when I was a young reader. At the end of each chapter, a question is posed.  Readers can use a mirror to read the hints to each question/puzzle located in the back of the book.  Magnifying glasses indicate the difficulty of each puzzle with 3 being the most challenging. The solution to each puzzle is revealed in the subsequent chapter.

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  • Backward Science by Clive Gifford Illustrated by Anne Wilson
    What was life like before world-changing discoveries?  This nonfiction text is a time traveling guide taking kids back in history before inventions such as smartphones, the world wide web, vacuum cleaners, cars, electric light, and paper.
  • The Fifty States Activity Book
    Explore the 50 states through drawing, code breaking, matching, tall tale writing,  crossword puzzles, anagrams, and word searches.  Stickers and a large tear out map with the presidents and the state flags is also included. 

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  • A collectible poster and magnetic bookmark featuring original art by illustrator Steve Adams
  • A bookmark and personalized bookplates

How it Works
As a subscriber, children receive 5 expertly curated age-appropriate books. I was greatly pleased to see the books were all recently published.  The subscription runs at $9.95 a month. You only get charged for the ones you keep. Children can touch, open, skim, and read a portion of each book to decide which are a good fit for them.  Keep the books they love and return the rest for free with the included pre-paid return shipping label.  Please know that Literati Kids books match or are less than Amazon pricing.

If you’re interested in trying out Literati Kids a try, click here for 25% off your first box or copy and paste this link into your search: literati.com/beaglesandbooks

Bella and I sincerely grateful to Literati Kids for sharing this first book box in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

 

 

Bookexcursion

A Tribute to My Book Beagle Etta

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Saying goodbye to my book beagle Etta was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but my heart is full knowing that she lived a happy & healthy life with us for almost 10 years. I was the lucky one because to have Etta’s trust & love was the greatest gift. Here’s some photos to commemorate this beautiful soul.

In June 2010, we met Etta while volunteering for an animal rescue transport.  She was underweight, which tugged at our hearts.  We know how much beagles love food!  While we didn’t transport Etta to the next stop, we couldn’t stop thinking about her.  I quickly researched to find out Etta’s final destination, which was Penny Angels Beagle Rescue in New Jersey.  After sending an email, completing the application, and getting approved, we drove up to New Jersey to adopt Etta that following Saturday, 6 days after meeting her.

After adopting Etta, she immediately had 17 teeth pulled and a couple months later underwent anal gland surgery. Etta would have 7 more surgeries which were mostly dental related. She was always resilient bouncing back each time.

Early on, Etta’s anxiety was apparent but pajamas always calmed her and of course, she looked so cute.

As Etta got older, we wanted to include her in our vacations. We had always wanted to visit Asheville because of the Biltmore but didn’t realize how dog friendly the area was. Etta enjoyed hanging out with us at Wicked Weed Brewing and of course, loved good southern cooking at Mayfels.

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If you knew Etta, she was sweet but very reserved. Here in the yard I was able to capture a rare smile.

Walks were a highlight of Etta’s day before she began to slow down. Etta was all business though never allowing me to stop and talk to neighbors.

Etta was an only dog for 7 years.  When we brought Bella home, we were hopeful that they would become companions.  It did not take long before Etta and Bella were a bonded pair.

I am most grateful that Etta helped me launch Beagles and Books.  What started as a #bookaday post on Twitter evolved into a weekly blog.  Her first Twitter post was Happy Dreamer by Peter Reynolds. Beagles and Books officially launched with my first  #pb10for10 celebrating dog books.

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Thank you Etta for your patience posing for pictures and helping me share my love of books with the #kidit community.  Beagles and Books will always be a tribute to you. You not only left paw prints on my heart but also book prints.

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Bookexcursion

Cover Reveal for SCRITCH SCRATCH by Lindsay Currie

Today is the day!  Beagles and Books is proud of a part of the SCRITCH SCRATCH Street Team sharing the cover of Lindsay Currie’s latest novel which publishes on September 1, 2020. 

Drumroll please…..

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover but wow! The artwork is both gorgeous and spooky with the skyline rising in the background, the ghostly shadow on the bus, and the hint of a face reflected on the pavement. Intrigued? Here’s the synopsis.

“For fans of Small Spaces comes a chilling ghost story about a malevolent spirit, an unlucky girl, and a haunting mystery that will tie the two together.”

Claire has absolutely no interest in the paranormal. She’s a scientist, which is why she can’t think of anything worse than having to help out her dad on one of his ghost-themed Chicago bus tours. She thinks she’s made it through when she sees a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the bus. There’s something off about his presence, especially because when she checks at the end of the tour…he’s gone.

Claire tries to brush it off, she must be imagining things, letting her dad’s ghost stories get the best of her. But then the scratching starts. Voices whisper to her in the dark. The number 396 appears everywhere she turns. And the boy with the dark eyes starts following her.

Claire is being haunted. The boy from the bus wants something…and Claire needs to find out what before it’s too late.

Pre-orders are LIVE!

https://www.bookcellarinc.com/book/9781728209722‬

Why pre-order? Check out the amazing extras that are included in your pre-order.

Book Birthday, Bookexcursion, Middle Grade Literature

I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak

Beagles & Books wishes a very Happy Book Birthday to I, Cosmos!

When golden retriever Cosmo becomes a big brother to Max, he promised to not only love Max but also protect him and his family doggedly for the rest of his life. Years later, Cosmo senses something is wrong in the house. Mom and Dad are fighting a lot and Max confides in Cosmo that he overheard his mom say the word divorce. With the encouragement of his uncle who is visiting, Max and Cosmo join a canine freestyle club at the community center. Max believes if he and Cosmo can win the dance competition, it will convince his parents to never separate them or even better, ensure that his parents never break up. Training isn’t easy due to Cosmo’s stiff joints but he is determined to dance with his boy.

Written from Cosmo’s point of view, author Carlie Sorosiak has created a character who I doggedly love! While Cosmo definitely lives to eat good food (especially bacon), he lives most to be a loyal and loving companion to Max. And while the story tugged at my heart and made me tear quite than a few times, I also laughed and chuckled at Cosmo’s observations which were so on point. My blog is testament to how much I love my beagle girls, but I think reading I, Cosmo has made me love them even more reminding me of their utter goodness and unconditional love. Thanks to the publisher Walker Books/Candlewick Press for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.

Bookexcursion

When You Are Brave by Pat Zietlow Miller

When You Are Brave by Pat Zietlow Miller  Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Fans of Wherever You Go written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler will love their latest collaboration.  When You are Brave is an inspiring story about how to find courage in the midst of change. The story follows a young girl moving with her family to a new house in another town.  Miller’s concise lyrical text and Wheeler’s use of subdued color are equally somber and match the girl’s trepidation as she embarks on her journey.  Halfway through drive, the girl closes her eyes and visualizes a small light inside her.  The light grows giving her wings and the power to believe in herself.  Miller’s words are uplifting and beautifully conveys the little girl’s positivity and Wheeler’s illustrations become vibrant and brilliant.

What I love about When You are Brave is that the girl reminds us that we have the courage inside of us.  When times are tough, it is easy to forget about this inner strength that we might conceal. Taking a moment to pause and breathe is the key to letting go of your worries and realizing you can weather any storm.

Special thanks to author Pat Zietlow Miller for sending a F & G to my #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now, for When You Are Brave publishes soon on March 5, 2019.

Bookexcursion

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/11/19

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Beagles and Books is excited to share another edition of It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give it a #kidlit focus and encourage everyone who participates to visit at least 3 of the other #kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Our Recent Reads: 

 The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins by Gail Shepherd

Named after President Lyndon Baines Johnson, history enthusiast Lyndie Baines Hawkins is passionate about reading and researching to learn the truth.  Discovering the truth about her own family. Well, that is not as easy.  While Lyndie knows that her dad, a Vietnam veteran, lost his job, she still doesn’t truly understand why her family had to sell their house and move in with her paternal grandparents.  And to make matters worst, her grandmother Lady expects Lyndie to be her best self  (Translation: a proper Southern girl) which does not match Lyndie’s bold personality.  And Lady will not let her beloved dog Hoopdee in the house because of his “houndy odor.”

While Lyndie is aware that her family especially her dad is struggling, no one will talk to her about what is wrong.  In fact, Lady makes Lyndie promise to never discuss the family with anyone.  But when her father’s smell of Aqua Velva is replaced by whiskey and he disappears for days, Lyndie knows her family is broken.  Unable to confide in her best friend and eternal optimist Dawn, a school project with D.B., a boy from a local detention center living with Dawn’s family provides Lyndie with the opportunity to uncover revelations not only about D.B..  These facts help Lyndie realize that while “there is such a thing as honorable lying,” being loyal doesn’t mean one has to be dishonest.  Loyalty is about speaking up when it’s hard and not keeping secrets that can hurt others.

The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins blew me away.  Author Grace Shepherd’s debut novel is a must read, for she tackles tough issues with grace, sincerity, and humor.  Lyndie’s voice was so authentic and while she had my heart, because of Shepherd’s outstanding character development, my heart broke for all the characters (even “keep up appearances” Lady).  As I read, I discovered that everyone was fighting their battle alone afraid to admit their faults or fears and healing can only begin when we are willing to put our trust in others.  Special thanks to Gail Shepherd for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now, for Lyndie publishes soon on March 5, 2019.

Arnold and Louise: The Great Louweezie by Erica S. Perl Illustrated by Chris Chatterton

Arnold, a brown bear, is quiet and cautious.  Louise, a small chipmunk is adventurous.  Although they don’t have a lot in common, they are best friends. In the first book in the series, Louise has decided that she can predict the future and reinvents herself as the Great Louweezie.  Arnold isn’t that easily convinced.  Can the Great Louweezie work some magic and change his mind?

With short chapters, adorably drawn illustrations, and an engaging plot, Arnold and Louise is a new series which will appeal to readers transitioning to chapter books. While Arnold and Louise have different personalities, it is clear that these best friends bring out the best in each other. Thanks to Penguin Kids for sharing Arnold and Louise with my #bookexcursion group.  The Great Louweezie recently published in January.  To find out about the other books in the series, click here.

The Good Egg by Jory John Illustrated by Pete Oswald

For fans of The Bad Seed, The Good Egg is an egg-tastic follow up!  The main character is indeed a good egg always setting a good example by doing the right thing.  The same cannot be said for his 11 carton mates who are rarely on their best behavior.  But always being good can make an egg literally crack; therefore, he makes the decision to leave the carton to truly focus on himself.  During his time away, he heals both physically and emotionally realizing that the key to happiness is to not worry about being egg-ceptional all the time.

I can’t gush about The Good Egg enough!  The adorable illustrations, the witty text with plenty of egg puns, and most importantly, the beautiful message about the importance of self-care. Pre-order now, for it releases this week on February 12, 2019.  Special thanks to fellow literacy specialist Lisa Maucione for sharing her F & G with me that she received from the publisher Harper Collins.

Etta’s & 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.

Don’t Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs by Wendy Wahman

My beagle girls are sweet and docile, but I still appreciate when people especially kids ask “Can I pet your dog?”   This picture book is a great resource for teaching children how to properly approach a dog that they do not know.  Author illustrator Wendy Wahman shares rules for how to meet a dog with a rhyming text and bold and eye catching illustrations. Tips cover etiquette for petting a dog and giving out treats.  Advice is also provided for how to safely respond when a dog is exhibiting behavior that could be scary to a child such as licking, jumping or barking.  What I love about this book is that it reminds kids that dogs aren’t toys and like people, they have their own personalities. Boy is that true!

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for stopping by Beagles and Books.  Happy reading!

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#Bookexcursion, Bookexcursion, Middle Grade Literature

Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Delsie lives on Cape Cod with her game showing watching Grammy who has loved and cared for her since she was a baby. Recently, Delsie is feeling especially vulnerable wondering why her mother is not in her life and why her summer best friend Brandy has outgrown her.

I am a big fan of Mullaly Hunt’s novels because she creates such dynamic characters like Delsie. Written from her point of view, Delsie reveals her insecurities and struggles which makes her journey from feeling abandoned to recognizing how much she is truly loved so bittersweet. In time Delsie realizes that loyal friends Aimee, Michael, and newcomer Ronan, wonderful neighbors Henry, Esme, and Olive and most importantly her dear devoted Grammy will be there to help her weather any storm.

Shouting at the Rain is a truly heartprint story because it celebrates non traditional families by reminding us all that “family isn’t really about having blood and having the same last name. It’s made by the people who love you, who worry about you, and champion you.”

Special thanks to Nancy Paulsen and Penguin Kids for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order this touching story about family and friendship now, for Shouting at the Rain releases in May 2019.

Book Birthday, Bookexcursion, Debut Author

The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle by Christina Uss

Happy Book Birthday to Christina Uss’ The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle! 

Ever since she was three years old, Bicycle has lived at the Mostly Silent Monastery in Washington, DC. with Sister Wanda and the mostly silent monks. With Sister Wanda as her teacher, Bicycle excels at her studies and is especially good at making anagrams.  On an errand to buy groceries with Brother Otto, Bicycle and the monk see a old orange bicycle for sale in front of the post office.  Buying it for less than a dollar, Bicycle brings the two-wheeler home to clean and repair it.  She names it Clunk.

Sister Wanda hopes that Clunk will help Bicycle make friends but sadly Sister Wanda’s dream does not come true.  Due to Bicycle being a fast cyclist, her chances of making friends is low because no one can keep up with her. Concerned for Bicycle, Sister Wanda decides to send her to sleepaway camp at the Friendship Factory where she is guaranteed to make three friends or your money back.  Bicycle has a different idea.  Polish cyclist Zbig Sienkiewicz is visiting America for the first time to host a blessing of bicycles.  Bicycle desperately wants to travel to California to meet her hero.  Sister Wanda will not acquiesce; therefore, Bicycle boldly decides to make the journey to San Franscisco with Clunk to meet Zbig who will become her first and only friend.

On her travels to California, Bicycle befriends a friendly ghost named Griffin who haunts her handlebars, the Cookie Lady, Chef Marie, fried pie making Jeremiah, and Dr. Luck Alvarado.  While she hits some bumps in the road (well actually pigs), Bicycle remains focused on proving to Sister Wanda that she can make a friend on purpose.  With Clunk out of commission, Bicycle is fortunate to buy a new bike, the Fortune 713-J at an auction except now Bicycle is being followed by a lady in black who she believes wants to steal her new riding companion.  So many questions remain. Will Bicycle be able to avert the lady in black? Will she get to San Francisco in time to meet Zbig? Will they become friends?  Will Sister Wanda forgive Bicycle for her transgression?

Reading The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle was an exhilarating ride.  Debut author Christina Uss’ story of a girl biking towards a solution is equally heartwarming and humorous.  While the plot is fantastical, the message is real.  As Dr . Alvarado states, “Luck flows around us like a river, but we have our own paddles.”  In other words, we have the ability to change where we are headed.  Through Bicycle’s journey across the country, readers will discover that while friendships may begin due to some luck, true friendships remain because of two people’s ability to talk, listen, and actually hear each other.  And that is a lesson worth learning and remembering.

A very special thanks to Christina Uss for sending an advanced reader’s copy of The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle to my #bookexcursion group.

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/14/18

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Beagles and Books is excited to share another edition of It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give it a #kidlit focus and encourage everyone who participates to visit at least 3 of the other #kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

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The Frame-Up by Wendy McLeod MacKnight

The Frame Up is a fast paced, intriguing mystery adventure set in the real life Beaverbrook Art Gallery located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.  In this fictional story, Beaverbrook is not your ordinary art gallery because all the paintings are actually alive.  Once the gallery is closed, all the “residents” interact with each other.  Painted in 1915, Mona Dunn is a 100 year old painting but she is perpetually a thirteen-year-old who loves to visit the beach in the San Vigilio, Lake Garda painting and hang out with her partner in crime, Clem Cotterell who lives in a portrait with his family.

Mona knows that the most important rule of the gallery is don’t let the humans know that the paintings are alive.  One day Mona accidentally breaks that rule and reveals the gallery’s secret to Sargent Singer, the son of the gallery director.  Sargent who is visiting his estranged father for the summer promises Mona that he won’t divulge this incredible secret, and the two become fast friends.   Their friendship becomes crucial when Mona discovers a plot to steal paintings and replace them with reproductions.  Can Mona and Sargent stop the heist before it’s too late?

I enjoyed The Frame Up from start to finish!  Wendy McLeod MacKnight has written a fascinating middle grade mystery weaving elements of both the past and the present.  While living in the present, Mona and the residents give you a glimpse of life long ago. Because they are alive, the “residents” are aware of modern amenities such as movies, popular music, and even the internet.  The mystery involving the art heist kept me guessing until almost the very end. Sargent’s distant relationship with his father also affected me because I know some readers may identify with his struggle to connect with a parent.

Special thanks to Wendy McLeod MacKnight for sending an ARC of The Frame-Up to my #bookexcursion group.  The Frame-Up releases on June 5, 2018, which will include full color glossy pictures of all the paintings highlighted in the novel.  Since a visit to Beaverbrook is not possible right now, I can’t wait for my hardcover copy to arrive!

Fox & Chick: The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier

Fox and Chick remind me of the iconic Frog and Toad, two friends who don’t always see eye to eye.  This early chapter book includes three stories.  In The Party, Chick interrupts Fox’s reading  asking to use his bathroom but not for the reason one would expect.  In Good Soup, as Fox is gathering vegetables, Chick questions his food choices until he mentions that foxes are supposed to eat little birds.  Oops!  In Sit Still, Fox is in the midst of painting a landscape when Chick suggests a portrait of him would be more exciting. If only Chick would sit still….

I read Fox and Chick to my second grade #classroombookaday class; they absolutely loved each story.  While it is a great read aloud, the illustrations deserve full attention to see both Fox’s and Chick’s expressions throughout each story.  After sharing Fox and Chick, the students wanted to know if there are more Fox and Chick adventures.  I can only hope!

Etta’s and 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.

Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates

Dog loves everything about books so he decides to open his own bookstore.  On the day of his Grand Opening, no one came and when they finally did visit, it was not to buy books.  While Dog was a little sad, he did not dwell on it.  Instead, he took a book off the shelf and began to read.  When he read, he forgot he was alone because each book took him on a new adventure.  At the end , a little girl visits his bookstore and while Dog loved books, he realized he enjoys sharing them even more!

How can you not love a dog that loves books!  Author illustrator Louise Yates reminds young readers about the power of finding the right book as well as the joy of sharing books with others.

I look forward to read the rest of the books in the series: Dog Loves Drawing, Dog Loves Counting, and Dog Loves Fairy Tales.

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!  Have a great week! Happy Reading!

happiness-is-a-warm-puppy-and-a-good-book

Bookexcursion

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

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Front Desk is a semi autobiographical account of young Mia Tang who recently immigrated with her parents from China to the United States. When her parents get the opportunity to manage the Calivista Motel, they jump at the chance to earn $150 a day plus free rent. After signing the contract, what they don’t know is the owner Mr. Yao can change the terms at any time.  This not only means less money a day but also the financial responsibility of paying for refunds and broken appliances.  Still, Mia and her family continue to manage the Calivista with her parents taking care of the housekeeping and Mia managing the front desk.  Mia becomes friends with the Calivista weeklies who become her extended family.

Managing the front desk and being the new student at Dale Elementary School is a lot to handle but Mia is determined to succeed even when things get tough. While Mia wants to focus on becoming a better writer, her mother encourages Mia to spend more time doing math.  Her mother says “You just can’t be as good as the white kids in their language honey.  It’s their language,”  Mia though is insistent in proving her mother wrong practicing and perfecting her writing with the help of Calivista weekly Mrs. T’s dictionary-thesaurus.  Writing also becomes therapeutic when Mia wants to express her feelings after being teased at school or write an apology to a friend.  When weekly Hank who is African American gets wrongly accused of  a crime and subsequently loses his job, Mia decides to write a reference letter which helps him secure a new job.  Her writing also helps a friend of the family get his passport back from his dishonest employer.

Knowing that her writing has changed people’s lives for the better, Mia realizes she has the power to change her life too and for the first time in school, Mia honestly writes from the heart sharing a personal experience.  Hoping to change her family’s life, Mia also takes a leap of faith entering an essay contest to win a motel. As her friend Lupe says, “You can’t win if you don’t play.”

Front Desk is a story of hope and heart.  Mia is an exceptional character who shows not only a genuine kindness but also immense courage to help others.  She has good role models in her parents who help fellow immigrants by hiding them in empty motel rooms. Despite the obstacles they face, Mia and her parents continue to pick themselves up and keep going.

Kelly Yang’s story is a window for me to see life through the eyes of an immigrant family but also can be a mirror for young readers who have endured similar experiences.  At the end of the novel, she includes an author’s note sharing information about her own life as well as the struggles of Chinese families immigrating to America. When I am having a rough day, I will reread Front Desk and remember these important lessons:

  • Sometimes a mistake is actually an opportunity.
  • Words have the power to change lives.
  • Sometimes the people you least expect can blow you away with their courage and kindness.
  • Dreams can come true with kindness, courage, and determination.
  • Success is sweeter when shared with friends.

A very special thanks to Arthur A. Levine Books and Lizette Serrano of Scholastic for sending an ARC of Front Desk to my #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order Front Desk now, for it releases on May 29, 2018. Your life will be forever changed after reading. I know mine has.