#Bookexcursion, Graphic Novel, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/2/21

Bella and I are excited to share our latest reads in 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.

Last week, I featured a review of Animals Go Vroom! written and illustrated by Abi Cushman publishing later this month.  As a thank you for my review, Abi shared an adorable illustration of my book beagle Bella reading the book. 

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My heart just melted seeing my sweet girl and am awe of the neverending kindness of the #kidlit community.  Educators, authors, and illustrators are all in this together to share stories with kids.  With less than a month left until my school year begins, I am grateful for the time to read and share reviews of upcoming releases that readers of all ages will enjoy.


Our Recent Reads:

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Hope Springs by Jaime Berry

Since her father died in a motorcycle accident and her country singer mother is on the road, 11 year old Jubilee lives with her grandmother, Nan and they move around a lot.  Nan calls it a “search for substance” but observant Jubilee sees the pattern.  When things get tough, Nan gets out the maps and recites one of their 19 Relocation Rules such as Why fight on the battlefield when new fields await?  But this time, Jubilee has a plan to steer Nan to Hope Springs, Texas, the hometown of her idol Arletta Paisley, star of the crafting show, Queen of Neat.   Nan is aware of Jubilee’s scheme, but is all for the move. 

On the first day they arrive in Hope Springs, Jubilee meets Abby, whose mother is mayor of the town and they quickly become friends violating Relocation Rule Number 6: It’s best not to make best friends.  Because of her love for crafting, Jubilee is offered and accepts a part-time job at the Fabric Barn helping the owner Holly.  When Jubilee hears Arletta is returning to Hope Springs to open a SmartMart superstore, she is beyond excited but the rest of the town is worried about the effect on small businesses.  Jubilee discovers her idol isn’t the same in person as on television and is determined to support Hope Springs, the one place that feels like home, even if Nan and her mother whose career is finally taking off are considering another move.  

Written from the point of view of Jubilee, Hope Springs is a story that drew me in right away.  As soon as I met Jubilee, I could tell what a creative, kind and wise soul she is.  In the past, Jubilee had always gone along with packing up and moving on, but the people of Hope Springs changed her mind by touching her heart.  What I love about Jubilee is readers see both her vulnerability and her strength.  Jubilee courageously stands up not only for the town but also herself and learns that the more love she gave away, the more she got back.  Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Hope Springs publishes soon on August 10, 2021.  


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Trubble Town: Squirrels Go Bad by Stephan Pastis

Wendy the Wanderer would love more than anything to live up to her name and explore not only her hometown of Trubble but also the world.  Her father, Worried Willy, has a much different attitude and when he leaves on a business trip, he hires Watchful Willamina to keep a close eye on his daughter.  To her surprise, Willamina is not watchful and allows Wendy to wander freely around town.  Her first stop is Mooshy Mike’s where she gets a chocolate and marshmallow drink (known as a Mooshy) and then walks to the park where she drinks it while eating nuts.  When a hungry squirrel begs for a nut and Wendy has none left, she offers him the last bit of her sweet Mooshy.  As a result of a sugar high, the squirrel’s energy level increases (as well as his penchant for Mooshies) causing a devastating yet hilarious chain of events that brings trouble to the once quiet Trubble Town.  

With a cast of eccentric characters, both human and animal, a fantastical plot that keeps one giggling while turning pages, and creative chapter titles, Pastis’ new graphic novel series will be a hit with readers because the laughter never stops.  And amid the laughter, Wendy learns that by sticking up for the squirrel, Trubble Town will not be in trouble when her father returns home.  Thanks to Aladdin/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for sharing an ARC.  Squirrels Go Bad releases soon on August 31, 2021.


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.

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Best Buddies by Lynn Plourde Ilustrated by Arthur Lin

On the day he came home from the hospital, a boy with Down syndrome and a basset hound’s relationship began.  No surprise that their bond became stronger once the boy shared his snacks with the hound.  Soon they are inseparable enjoying car rides, playing in the yard, and snuggling at bedtime solidifying their status as best buddies.  But on the first day of school, the teary eyed boy got on a bus while the sad hound watched from the door.  Luckily, the duo was reunited at the end of the school day, but they both were still full of worry.  What about tomorrow?  How will the boy and hound cope? 

Best Buddies is a touching story celebrating the friendship between a child and his dog.  What I love most is the boy cleverly finds a way for him and his pup to stay close to one another when apart.  With the start of school approaching, Best Buddies is a perfect real aloud to support children nervous about leaving a loved one.  Thanks to Capstone Publishing for sharing an eARC.  Best Buddies publishes soon on August 15 2021. 

 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/12/21

Bella and I are excited to share our latest reads in 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:

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Better with Butter by Victoria Piontek

12 year old Marvel is anxious all the time. The school therapist says she is a free range worrier and worries just to worry.  Strategies such breathing, journaling, and practicing mindfulness are supposed to calm her; however, Marvel feels these exercises will cause her even more anxiety.  Her mother believes group therapy is the solution. Marvel disagrees, for the thought of sharing her fears with other kids is equally frightening.   

After Marvel freezes during an oral presentation in front of the school, she believes she has hit an all time low, but that all changes when she sees a group of kids from her school teasing a baby goat causing it to faint.  Marvel immediately identifies with the animal’s helplessness rescuing it and bringing the goat named Butter home.  Her mother is absolutely against Marvel keeping the goat Fortunately, her father, who is on leave from the army, is on Marvel’s side convincing her mother to allow Butter to stay until her owner is found.  Butter has such a calming effect on Marvel that after a little research,  she boldly decides to bring the goat to school as an emotional service animal.  With Butter at her side, Marvel finally feels confident.  Will Butter be able to stay with Marvel or will her owner claim her?  

Better With Butter is a touching middle grade story about how a girl & a goat rescue each other.  Written from Marvel’s point of view, Piontek did a beautiful job capturing Marvel’s conflicts,  courage, and compassion.  My heart hurt for her as she struggled with her anxiety feeling like there was no one who understood her.  Butter changed Marvel’s perspective making her open to making friends and trying new things.  With themes of family, friendship, and facing fears, Better with Butter is a story that is a must read for middle grade readers. Thanks to Scholastic for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Better with Butter publishes soon on July 20, 2021. 


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Listen by Gabi Snyder Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

The world is full of a lot of noise occurring simultaneously.  Cars honking, dogs barking, scooters moving.  As a young girl walks with her dad and younger sibling, Snyder invites readers to stop and take a moment to listen to each specific sound.  The sounds in the text are highlighted in a red orange color as well as the word, listen, which is repeated frequently.  As I was reading the text, I was taking in Graegin’s tender, detailed artwork to locate the things making the sounds.  A crow cawing on a wire, slapping of shoes on the pavement, a hello from across the playground.  At school, the girl is listening to her teacher read aloud a story.  This page spread might be my favorite, for the classroom has shelves upon shelves of books with a few well known picture books on display.  The focus changes to how words sound. Words can pop or stretch, bring joy, and cause pain.  When the girl gets home, Snyder concentrates on the quiet having her listen to her inner voice before she goes to sleep.  

With Snyder’s soft, lyrical text and Graegin’s warm and inviting illustrations, Listen is a story that is soothing to the soul.  I appreciate that Snyder reminds us to listen past the noise. When I am on our deck, while there may be a neighbor moving a lawn,  I can still hear a catbird singing, the fountain in our pond, and  frogs croaking.  Thanks to the author for sharing an digital ARC.  Listen celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on July 13, 2021. 


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How to Wear a Sari by Darshana Khiani Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Tired of being called too small, a young girl takes matter in her own hands.  If she wears a sari like her mother, perhaps, her family will treat her like a grown up.  But wearing a sari isn’t as easy as it looks and it takes patience and persistence (and help from your trusty pup) to get the pleats just right.  With jewelry and sandals as the finishing touches, the girl is ready to show off her style.  Running is not encouraged, but it does allow one to make a memorable entrance especially when a relative is camera ready.

How to Wear a Sari is a humorous and heartwarming story.  Using a second person point of view, Khiani engages children immediately.  Kids will easily relate to the the theme of asserting their independence  What I love most about the story is readers of all ages learn about a tradition in South Asian culture. Lew-Vrietoff’s bold and energetic illustrations show the little girl’s excitement and resolve to prove herself to her family.  Thanks to the author for sharing a finished copy with my #bookexcursion group.  How to Wear a Sari recently published on June 22, 2021. 

To access “Make Your Own Sari” activity sheets, please visit illustrator Joanne LewVriethoff’s  website by clicking here


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The New Kid Has Fleas by Ame Dyckman Illustrated by Eda Kaban

A new kid joins the class and because she acts differently than everyone else, a student named Molly starts a rumor about her.  When a boy in the class gets paired with the new kid, he is worried.  But once he gets to know her, he realizes she is not only fun and smart, but also a great teammate and now, friend.  

While never explicitly stated, the playful text and lively illustrations imply the new kid has been raised by wolves which explains her unconventional behavior.  I am a big fan of Dyckman’s picture books because amid the humor, there is always heart. The New Kid Has Fleas is a great read aloud for the beginning of the school to teach and reinforce lessons in courtesy, friendship, and acceptance.  Thanks to Macmillian Children’s Publishing for sharing a finished copy.  The New Kid Has Fleas recently published on June 15, 2021. 


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Secret Secret Agent Guy by Kira Bigwood Illustrated by Celia Krampien

Franklin Brothers Investigations (F.B I.) have a covert mission-to get a lollipop from the kitchen without their parents’ knowledge.  One brother works behind the scenes drawing a map that outlines the steps and giving advice through a walkie talkie and a tablet.  The other brother dons a trenchcoat and hat, sets up traps using toys in case he is being followed and stealthily moves around the house.  As the boy is approaching his final destination, the family dog is on his trail.  At the moment, the hound doesn’t appear to be a threat.  Once the lollipop is safely in his care, the boy walks upstairs to deliver the goods, but the hound double-crosses the F.B.I. snatching the prize and giving it to…. no spoilers here! Read it for yourself to find out!

Set to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Secret Secret Agent Guy is pure delight! I am in awe of Bigwood’s perfect poetic meter. In fact, Bella enjoyed my reading of the story multiple times because the text begs to be read aloud. Krampien’s detailed illustrations have a vintage feel and nimbly move the plot along building suspense from the introduction to the resolution. Of course, I love that the dog is involved in duping the brothers in exchange for a dog bone. Thanks to the author for sharing a finished copy with my #bookexcursion group.  Secret Secret Agent Guy released on May 11, 2021. 


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.

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Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family by Nelly Buchet  Illustrated by Andrea Zuill

A man has a dog.  A woman has a dog and a cat.  The man and woman move in together along with their pets. And that’s where the fun begins as the new family adjust to living together.  What is so unique about this picture book is Buchet deftly uses pretty much only two words, dog and cat, in a variety of combinations (Dog Cat, Dog Cat Dog, Dog) in the text.  Since the text is minimal, Zuill’s humorous illustrations move the plot along showing the progression of the animals’ relationship  from roommates to family.  The expressions on all the characters’ faces are priceless!  As a reading specialist who works with developing readers, Cat Dog Dog is a perfect book to put in their hands because the same words repeat throughout the story.  The story has a lot of depth and is a great text for teaching plot elements as well as character traits and/or feelings.  

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.

#Bookexcursion, Debut Author, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/5/21

Bella and I are excited to share our latest reads in 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:

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Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne 

Since her mom passed away five years ago, it has just been 11 year old Josephine and her fisherman dad.  Her father has recently started to date and Josephine is determined to keep them a family of two resorting to extreme measures like Operation Slime to scare anyone from staying around.  When her dad brings home Mariss to meet her, she is different from all the others; Josephine cannot scare her away no matter how hard she tries.  And it seems like Josephine is the only one who feels something is not right with Mariss.  With help from her best friend, Ahkai and the librarian, Mrs. Edgecombe, Josephine uncovers information to uncover the true identity of Mariss. 

Set in Barbados, Josephine Against the Sea is a story that pulled me in right away.  I absolutely loved Josephine’s boldness. I have not met many characters who have no qualms with dumping fish guts on others to protect her family.  Beneath that tenacity though is a girl who misses her mom, loves her dad, and desperately wants a spot on the cricket team.  As I got deeper into the novel, details emerged as to why Mariss has crept into her life.  I appreciate that Bourne reveals clues gradually which arouse my curiosity and made the novel hard to put down.  And through it all, I always rooted for Josephine because despite her not so good moves, all her actions came from a place of love.  

If you enjoy an intriguing adventure with dynamic characters, I highly recommend this novel! Thanks to author Shakirah Bourne for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group.  Josephine Against the Sea celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on July 6, 2021.  


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The Caiman by Maria Eugenia Manrique Illustrated by Ramon Paris  Translated by Amy Brill

In the small town of San Fernando de Apure in Venezuela, a young girl finds a baby alligator, a river caiman, who is believed to be an orphan.  Just as the girl was about to return the creature to the water, the town jeweler and watchmaker, Faoro passes by and immediately offers to take the baby alligator home.  The animal was so small that it not only fit in the palm of his hand but also in his shirt pocket.  Faoro names her Night for her dark skin. Night accompanies Faoro to his workshop and business booms.  How many places can you get a clock fixed, jewelry mended, AND pet a baby alligator?  

The Caiman is a heartwarming story about the incredible bond between a jeweler and an alligator.   To read my full review and enter a giveaway, click here


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Let Liberty Rise: How America’s School Children Helped Save the Statue of Liberty by Chana Stiefel Illustrated by Chuck Groenink

Today, the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of pride and freedom, but back in 1885, she arrived at Bedloe’s Island in 350 pieces and wasn’t able to be unpacked. Why? France had asked the United States to build a pedestal for the statue to stand on, but it was only half built. Why? Apparently, the the price of the pedestal was $100,000 and Americans weren’t too keen on contributing to the fund. 

With Stiefel’s spirited text and Groenink’s energetic illustrations, Let Liberty Rise is an uplifting story that makes me proud to be an American.  What I love most is the 120,000 donors to the pedestal fund were a diverse group made up of all ages and professions and it especially warms my heart that Stiefel made a conscious decision to highlight the contributions of children.  Children from all over the country gave up their earned or saved money to be a part of something bigger. To read my full review and enter a giveaway, click here


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.

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Secondhand Dogs by Carolyn Crimi

Miss Lottie gives dogs a second chance. Gus was the first so under Dog Pack Law, he is the pack leader and has to give the seal of 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 so Gus gives a half hearted woof and wag. 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 dogs’ lives before adopting them.  Bella is a sweetheart wagging her tail 90% of the time, but if she hears the sound of metal, immediately, 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.

Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Harper Collins for sharing an ARC with me.  Secondhand Dogs celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on July 6, 2021. 

 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/28/21

Bella and I are excited to share our latest reads in 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:

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Saint Ivy: Kind at All Costs by Laurie Morrison

Having a kind heart is what makes 13 year old Ivy special.  Her nana who she bakes with every Friday worries about Ivy’s big, soft heart.  Ivy disagrees and believes caring for others is her talent; hence how she got the nickname “Saint Ivy.”  As readers get to know Ivy, it becomes apparent Ivy is navigating a lot of change in her life; her parents recently divorced and her father is now with Leo.   She is starting to feel like the third wheel in her friendships with best friends Kyra and Peyton.  And Ivy just found out her mother is pregnant, acting as a gestational surrogate for good family friends.  On the outside, Ivy claims that she is fine, but on the inside, resentful feelings begin to take root which Ivy pushes far down unwillingly to admit they are real.  

So when Ivy receives an anonymous email from bythebay@mailme.com who thanks her for turning her awful day into an almost okay one, Ivy plunges into a new project-to uncover the identity of the person behind the email. This quest gives Ivy the ability to neglect her own needs and fears because she is so busy being kind to all the people she thinks may be the sender.  Ivy soon learns that she needs to extend the same kindness to herself by sharing her honest feelings with both her family and friends. 

Like her last novel, Up for Air, Saint Ivy is a story that I would have devoured when I was in middle school.  It is definitely a solid book for readers not quite ready for YA.  Middle grade readers (including a thirteen year old me) can relate to Ivy because change is scary and it can be difficult to own your feelings especially when you should feel grateful for your good life.  Morrison beautifully captures Ivy’s genuine concern for others but at the same time, her vulnerability .  What I love most about Saint Ivy is that readers see Ivy gradually realize that she can’t pour from an empty cup.  She (We) need to take of yourself first. Thank you to Laurie Morrison for sharing a finished copy with my #bookexcursion group. Saint Ivy  released on May 18, 2021.


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Dear Librarian by Lydia M. Sigwarth Illustrated by Romina Galotta

Debut author Sigwarth shares a personal story of how one librarian changed her life.   When Sigwarth was five years old, she and her family (nine in total) relocated to Iowa from Colorado.  When they first moved, the family could not buy their own home; therefore, they took turns staying with relatives.  Her grandma’s house was too small, aunt’s too nice, and cousin’s too full of people.  When her mom took her and his siblings to the library one day, Sigwarth finally found her special spot not only because of the wide space but also due to the friendship of the librarian.   Even after Sigwarth’s family moved into their own home, the library always held a special place in her heart for she affectionally calls it “a Library Home.”  On the final pages, Sigwarth shares that she is now a librarian inspired by the kindness of Debra Stephenson, the librarian who made her feel safe and happy as a child.

Dear Librarian is a beatiful story that tugged at my heart.  As a young child, I never experienced homelessness like Sigwarth, but I was a regular patron at my local library.  Mrs. Johnston, the librarian, always held books for me that she thought I’d enjoy and along with my mother, I credit her with instilling my love of reading.   Galotta’s warm illustrations complement the text well evoking a nostagic feel.  Thank you to MacMillan Children’s Publishing for sharing a finished copy with me. Dear Librarian recently released on June 1, 2021.


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New Ready-to-Read Graphics from Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Do you know a beginning reader that would enjoy graphic novels?  I can’t wait to share Simon & Schuster’s new Ready to Read Graphics, which complements their popular Ready-to-Read line with my students.  The first book in each series will be published tomorrow on June 29, 2021. 

  • Thunder and Cluck: Friends Don’t Eat Friends by Jill Esbaum Illustrated by Miles Thompson
  • Nugget and Dog: All Ketchup! No Mustard! by Jason Tharp
  • Geraldine Pu and Her Lunchbox Too! by Maggie P. Chang

 To read my full reviews of each book, click here.   Thank you to Cassie Malmo for sending review copies of Ready-to-Read Graphics to Beagles and Books.


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.

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Puppy In My Head: A Book About Mindfulness by Elise Gravel

To help young children cope with anxiety, Gravel uses the analogy of a “puppy in my head.”  In the story, the young female narrator tells introduces readers to her puppy, Ollie, who is quiet most of the time, but when Ollie is excited, scared or upset, he runs around in her mind making noises.   To help Ollie (and her) calm down, she takes out her magical leash which is actually a breathing strategy taking deep, slow, gentle breaths.  Other calming techniques include exercising and talking to someone. 

Gravel’s distinctive comic like illustrations and large, colorful text not only appeal to the eyes but also help get the message to kids.  I especially love how a specific word or phrase on each page (feelings, breath, slowly, talk about it) is written in bubble letters to emphasize its importance.  At the end of the book, a pediatrican briefly shares her thoughts on the value on introducing children to mindfulness to support their mental health.  Puppy in My Head will be a perfect read aloud at the beginning of the year with my primary students!


Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
-Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.
#Bookexcursion, Early Chapter Books, Graphic Novel, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/24/21

Bella and I are excited to share our latest reads in 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:

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly

There is no maybe….I absolutely love 8 year old Marisol!  She loves watching black and white silent films, bestowing names to inanimate objects like appliances and furniture, playing claw machines,  and has a vivid imagination.   In Marisol’s backyard, there is a magnolia tree that was made to be climbed.  Marisol named the tree, Peppina, after a silent film starring Mary Pickford.  But Marisol has yet to climb Peppina because she is afraid of falling.  Jada, Marisol’s best friend, gets her and doesn’t care if Marisol prefers the ground to Peppina.  But Marisol wants to be brave.  When she and Jada play, Marisol pretends she is a bird, but that doesn’t give her the courage to climb Peppina.  When Jada finds a nest, Marisol desperately wants to see it with her own eyes. Will Marisol’s maybe finally change to yes?

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey, the first book in Kelly’s new illustrated early chapter book, is just perfect.  With themes of family, friendship and facing your fears, kids will easily relate to Marisol. While Kelly wrote in the third person, Marisol’s inner struggle over climbing Peppina are apparent to readers.  As a reading specialist, I am always excited to add a new series for children transitioning to chapter books.  Supports include length (only 160 pages), short chapters, and endearing black and white illustrations drawn by Kelly herself.   Thanks to Madison Ostrander of Spark Point Studios for sharing an eARC with me. Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey recently released on May 4, 2021.

Pizazz by Sophy Henn

Most kids will love to be a superhero, but not 9 year old Pizazz.  Why? Well, she has to wear the same clothes everyday (don’t worry…she has spares), still has to go to school (gotta have a back up plan says her mom) and just when you start eating ice cream or get to the best part of a book, you have to stop and save the world.  But the worst part is unlike her little sister, who got a cool name (Red Dragon) to match her awesome super power (breathing fire), Pizazz has the most embarrassing super power ever (and Henn doesn’t reveal it until the second to last chapter)!

And to make matter worse, Pizazz and her family just moved; now she is at a new school and doesn’t know anyone. In an effort to make friends, Pizazz volunteers to be her class’ representative on the school council.  When she is not chosen, her teacher makes her eco monitor instead.  At first, Pizazz isn’t all in (doesn’t she spend enough time saving the world?), but after a little reflection, she changes her mind which results in meeting classmate (and possible new friend) Ivy who wants Pizazz to focus on stopping the local park from becoming a car garage.  Saving a park sounds easy compared to Pizazz’s other missions, but it turns out that her superhero ideas don’t work as well in the normal world. Will Pizazz be successful in not only saving the park but also making a friend?

First published in the UK, Pizazz is a fun illustrated chapter book series that will keep readers engaged.  I loved the format, for in addition to artwork, Henn used comic panels throughout the text. For example, whenever Pizazz and her family went on a mission, this layout was utilized.  Character names were also written in bold and fun fonts which helped me keep track of characters.  Thanks to Jenny Lu of Simon and Schuster for sharing an ARC of Pizazz with me.  Pizazz and Pizazz vs. The New Kid, Book 2 in the series, releases soon on June 1, 2021.

Is Was by Deborah Freedman

With concise, lyrical text and warm, breathtaking artwork, Freedman tells a quiet story about how nature is constantly in motion. One moment, it is the present and then it was indicating the past.  The blue sky turns into a downpour allowing a chipmunk, bird, and fox to enjoy drinks from puddles. A songbird flies away and a buzzing bee can now be heard. Mere seconds later, the chipmunk escapes the talons of a bird thanks to the prey’s shadow. While the chipmunk seeks refuge in between rocks, a bee buzzes by a spider web as the songbird observes.

Soon a child appears reminding us that nature is always in flux around us regardless if we are watching or listening. As night falls, the sky turns blue again and the chipmunk takes in the starry night while the child and her mom sit on their porch steps. With just two words, Is Was celebrates the subtle and obvious changes that occur daily in our world. Thanks to Jenny Lu of Simon and Schuster for sharing a finished copy with me.  Is Was recently published on May 4, 2021.


 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.

Pawcasso by Remy Lai 

It’s 11 year old Jo’s first day of summer break and she is already bored.  When an unleashed dog walks by her house alone with a basket in his mouth, Jo is intrigued and follows the pup.  To her surprise, the dog stops in different shops where clerks read a list, fill up the basket, and take money for payment.   Still on the dog’s trail, Jo follows him into a bookstore aptly named Dog Ears, where some of her classmates are taking an art class.  When asked if the dog belongs to her, Jo is caught off guard and says yes.  The teacher asks Jo to bring her dog (who she quickly names Pawcasso) to art class every Saturday as a model for the children to draw. Reluctantly, Jo agrees but isn’t certain that she can keep her promise.  Remarkably, Pawcasso has a consistent schedule on Saturdays which allows Jo’s lie to live on gaining friends in the process.  But Jo’s luck runs out when Pawcasso becomes a local celebrity and a debate erupts about leash laws dividing the town into two factions-the Picassos (in favor) and the Duchamps (against).   Will being truthful put Jo in the doghouse forever or will the town be “paw-giving?”

Since her debut, Pie in the Sky, I have been a devoted fan of Remy Lai’s novels, which can make you go from laughing to crying to laughing without even turning the page.  Pawcasso is Lai’s first graphic novel and was inspired by her dog, Poop Roller, who has a penchant for well, rolling in poop. Lai’s characters always take an emotional journey where they take risks and make mistakes and as a result, learn and grow.  Readers will easily relate to the themes of self-identity, family, and friendship, and honesty. Thanks to the author and Macmillan/Henry Holt for sharing an eARC with me. Pawcasso celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 25, 2021.

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

#Bookexcursion, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/17/21

Bella and I are excited to share our latest reads in 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:

Taking Up Space by Alyson Gerber

When seventh grader Sarah Harper is playing basketball,  she knows she matters and is important to her team. Lately, her game is off.  Sarah used to be the fastest girl on the team, but now she is last in almost every drill.  Coach Lemon empathizes with Sarah explaining that her body is changing and in time, she’ll adjust and feel like herself again.  Not being in control is tough for Sarah because she experiences this same feeling regarding food.  Because of her mom’s own issues with food,  Sarah does not always enough to eat in the house. And with her dad traveling a lot for work, her mom is in charge of weekly grocery shopping and she only buys what is needed for meals.

In an effort to regain her basketball skills, Sarah gets the idea that she should be eating less.  Having control over at least one aspect of her life is empowering to Sarah since on top of everything she is dealing with, she and Emilia, one of her best friends, both have a crush on the same boy.  At first, Sarah feels her decreased intake of food is solving her problems on the court, but when she falls during a game, Ryan, her best friend since childhood, confronts Sarah urging her to talk to Coach Lemon or else she will.   With the support of Ryan, Coach Lemon, and Ms. Varna, the school counselor, Sarah has the courage to share her feelings honestly with her parents which results in not only getting help for herself but also her mom.

Taking Up Space is a novel that tackles a tough topic like disordered eating with guts and grace.  Drawing on her own experiences,  Gerber wrote from the novel from Sarah’s point of view which truly allows readers to know Sarah’s thoughts and feelings as she copes with all the changes in her life.  In her letter to readers before the novel begins, Gerber explains that Sarah’s story is also about how adults aren’t always dependable.  As a teacher, I believe it is important for kids to see adults make mistakes and how sometimes it is your best friend who recognizes you need help.  Sarah’s and Ryan’s relationship tugged at my heart, for Ryan was dealing with her own family issues, but always had Sarah’s back no matter what.   As I was reading, I was very angry at Sarah’s mom for forgetting to cook dinner or saying bananas are unhealthy because they are high in sugar.  But as I read on, I gradually learned the basis for her mom’s beliefs and actions.  Taking Up Space is a powerful story for not only middle grade readers but also parents and educators, for it is a tool to support kids in having positive body images.  Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Taking Up Space celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 17, 2021.

Bea is for Blended by Lindsey Stoddard

The starting players on the Embers team are Bea and her mom with support from Grandma Bea and Aunt Tam.  But that all changes when Bea’s mom marries Wendell, for now Bea has three stepbrothers, two dogs, a cat and pretty soon, she will also have a little brother or sister. What makes the transition difficult is one of her stepbrothers, Bryce, was born on the same day and same year, is a fellow student in her sixth grade class, makes fun of her best friend, Maximilian, and won Most Valuable Soccer Player while Bea was awarded the Most Valuable Girl trophy. Bea is eager to prove her soccer skills on the field again and when eleven girls sign up, Bea is excited because the girls can now have their own team. But when the principal (who is also the soccer coach) says they need twelve players and a manager, Bea says that is some bullsharky (Love that word)! Joining forces with her neighbor and classmate, Aileyanna (known as A), Bea recruits the final members and fights for an all girls team, which is no easy feat since Principal/Coach Meesley clearly believes boys are more superior athletes than girls.  As a result of Bea’s never settle attitude, the girls do get their team but still have to contend with Meesley’s sexist opinions.  With every practice and every game, Bea and her teammates show they will not be hindered by Meesley and prove that teamwork really does make the dream work.

I just love Bea because she has a fire in her belly when things don’t feel right.  I admire her for standing up for what is just and fair whether it be forming the girls’ soccer team, supporting her best friend Maximilian, calling out bullies, and recognizing how people can change.  A former English teacher, I love how reading is also an integral part to Stoddard’s stories. Bea’s teachers, Ms. Blaise and Ms. Kravitz, provide daily independent reading time permitting students to read whatever they want. The students share their thinking about their reading through one on one conferences and dialogue journals. Bea’s older stepbrothers, Cameron and Tucker, are avid readers organizing all their “had to own it” books on shelves that take up a wall and a half in their new house and loan her the classic Bridge to Terabithia.  And all types of reading are celebrated whether it’s a magazine article, picture book or audiobook.   Finally, I love that every morning, Bea has a tradition of identifying three things she is grateful for it reminds us all even when things seems challenging, we should always remember the good things in life. Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Bea is for Blended recently published on May 4, 2021.


 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.

Almost There and Almost Not by Linda Urban

When her father decides to seek work in Alaska, he feels it is best for 11 year old California Poppy to live with her Aunt Isabelle in Minnesota. But her aunt is not too much better at “girl things” and too busy perfecting her entry for the Minneapolis Meatloaf Cook-Off.  As a result, she believes California would be better off living in West Bloomfield, Michigan with her Great Aunt Monica who is nursing a broken arm. Since California can’t drive, cook or clean well, Aunt Monica enlists her help in her writing project which is a biography on her Great Aunt Eleanor, famous for her etiquette books on proper letter writing or manners.  On her very first day at Aunt Monica’s, California meets a dog who dropped what she thought to be a piece of trash but it is actually a handwritten letter from her Aunt Eleanor.  The next time she sees the dog, California tries to pet it but can’t.  Turns out Dog is a ghost and leaves another letter from Aunt Eleanor and not long after, Eleanor herself shows up in ghostly form but always leaves in a poof when annoyed or angered.

Due to the insistence of Aunt Monica, California begins practicing her own letter writing and decides to pen her thoughts to Aunt Isabelle.  The letters start as bread and butter (thank you notes), but California’s letters gradually become more personal giving readers a glimpse into her thoughts and feelings especially about her life before she moved to Michigan. As I read California’s letters and learned more about Eleanor through her own letters Dog brought and her conversations with California, I realized that they were both endured heartbreak and was hopeful that both California and Eleanor would find love and a place to call home (and don’t worry….they do).  Urban’s brilliant writing drew me right in and while I teared up more than a few times, I also had equal opportunities to smile and laugh.

Why did I choose Almost There and Almost Not as Bella’s dog pick of the week? Because when California was with Dog, she could forget about all her troubles and fears.  My favorite part in the novel was Dog rested his almost-chin on California’s stomach and fell asleep because she describes it as “a good feeling like somebody chose you and thinks staying there with you is the best and most important thing in the whole wide world.”  That moment with Dog gives California hope that impossible things are possible.  I know that feeling because when Bella puts her head or my lap or snuggles up to me for comfort, its warm my heart and helps me let go of any worries.  Thanks to Atheneum Books/Simon & Schuster for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group.  Almost There and Almost Not released on April 6, 2021.

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

#Bookexcursion, Debut Author, Middle Grade Literature, Novels in Verse, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/10/21

Bella and I are excited to share our latest reads in 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:

Unsettled by Reem Faruqi 

13 year old Nurah has lived in Pakistan her whole life, but everything changes when her father announces he has accepted a job in the United States.  Leaving her grandparents and her best friend, Nurah and moves to Peachtree City, Georgia with her older brother Owais, and her parents.  Getting acclimated is not easy, for although Nurah speaks English well, she encounters a language barrier learning to pronounce words more American and understanding vocabulary such as shopping cart instead of trolley.  At her old school, Nurah’s voice was loud, but in her new school, it is quiet.  Fortunately, swimming at the rec center brings Nurah and her brother comfort, for the water is like a cool hug reminding them of home.  When Nurah and Owais try out and make the swim team, she meets Stahr, her first friend in Georgia; now, Nurah has someone to talk and sit with at lunch.  Nurah loves swimming but is always in the wake of her brother who seems to win medals without even trying.  With practice, Nurah gains confidence not only in her swimming, but also in using her voice to speak up for herself and others.

Written in verse from the perspective of Nurah,  Faruqi’s gorgeous, lyrical text draws you in and allows you to truly get to know Nurah- her worries and dreams. When I read the verse title, Blue Cocoon, I was able to not only visualize but also understand what that rec pool in Georgia meant to Nurah.   When she and Stahr talk and talk at Baskin Robbins, Nurah compares her move to the melting cookies in her ice cream, for perhaps, over time, all the hard bits go away.  While Nurah initially seems quiet, readers learn that when she gets mad, she is like a tea kettle-calm but then explodes.  I love witnessing Nurah’s journey from uncertainty to realizing that her opinion is the only one that matters.  With this new awareness, she begins wearing her hijab proudly even including it in her self portrait which shows her courage to stand out rather than blend in.

In the author’s note, I appreciate that Faruqi shares that the story is based on her own experiences. Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Unsettled celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 11, 2021.

Glitter Gets Everywhere by Yvette Clark 

As the story begins, 10 year old Kitty is grieving the loss of her beloved mum.   She has the support of family-her father, older sister Imogen, and Gran as well as her godmother, her mum’s best friend who all are mourning along with her.  When her father announces an opportunity to temporarily move to New York City for his work, Kitty is resistant.  London is where all her memories of her mum are as well as her best friend Jess.

Living and going to school in New York City is both challenging and exciting for Kitty.  At home, everyone knew about Kitty’s story but at her new school, she doesn’t know how to answer questions about her mum.  A surprising friendship with Henry, a classmate and the son of a famous actor who is battling his own issues with his parents’ public divorce is good therapy as they both see the bravery in each other.

Clark’s debut is both heartfelt and hopeful.  My heart hurt for Kitty, but I also knew how much she was loved by her family and friends.  One of my favorite parts of the novel was Kitty’s birthdays, for her mum had written her letters to read and gifted her a charm to add to her bracelet.  Get tissues ready because these letters will make cry, but they also make Kitty realize that while her mum is no longer on earth, she would always be with her no matter where she is and while change isn’t easy, Kitty must embrace it and never be afraid to try new things.  For children experiencing a loss or transition, Glitter Gets Everywhere is a story of promise, for with grief, there is always love.  Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. Glitter Gets Everywhere published last week on May 4, 2021.

Ways to Grow Love (Ryan Hart #2) by Renee Watson

Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Ryan Hart and her family in Ways to Make Sunshine.  In the second book of the series, it’s summer and while Ryan has becoming a big sister and attending her church’s overnight camp to look forward to, she also realizes that the baby is changing everything.  Because of her mom’s morning sickness, she has to go to the library with her grandma to pick out books for summer reading and it’s just not the same.  Ryan has been impatiently waiting to go to summer camp but between her older brother Ray’s ghost stories and finding out her friend Amanda invited Red to join them, she is nervous.  Red was mean to Ryan at Amanda’s birthday party and feels Red is competing with her to become Amanda’s best friend.

Ryan’s name means king and her parents remind her to live up to her name and be a leader.  At summer camp, Ryan offers to be cabin captain and the direction of their skit.  But when Ray and his friends continue to scare Ryan and her friends, Ryan goes along with something she knows is wrong.  What I love about Ryan is she truly strives to do the right thing but readers get to see her struggles as well especially as she navigates changes in friendship and family.

Written in under 200 pages with short chapters, dynamic characters, an engaging plot, and Mata’s charming black and white illustrations, Watson’s series is so accessible to readers transitioning into middle grade novels.  Thanks to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Ways to Grow Love released on April 27. 2021.


 Bella’s Pick of the Week

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a book with a canine main character.

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Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides by Anna Kang Illustrated by Christopher Weyant

Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides is a story of how even opposites can find some happy medium and become friends.  While Tallulah is prim and proper and Hudson is free spirited and messy, they both can’t refrain from enjoying the puddle.  This revelation is groundbreaking, for perhaps, they are not as different as they once believed.  Kang’s peppy dialogue is concise and on point which allows Weyant’s lively and humorous illustrations to not only move the plot along but also show the progression of Hudson’s and Tallulah’s relationship.

When I read this story to kindergarten students for #classroombookaday, I asked them to tell me what did the author and illustrator want us to learn.  Here are some of their thoughts.

  • “The dog and the cat both like to jump in puddles so that’s why they became friends.”
  • “You don’t have to like the same things to be friends.”
  • “It’s better to be friends than enemies.”
  • Dogs and cats are different but can still be friends.”

Pretty smart kids.  Thankful for picture books like Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides which support teaching theme with our youngest learners.

To read my full review and enter a giveaway, click here. Thanks to Two Lions/Amazon Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a copy with me. Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides recently published on May 1, 2021.

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

#Bookexcursion, Early Chapter Books, Graphic Novel, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/3/21

Bella and I are excited to share our latest reads in 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:

Glam Prix Racers by Deanna Kent Illustrated by Neil Hooson 

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.

Thanks to Imprint/MacMillan Children’s Publishing for sharing an eARC with Beagles and Books.  Glam Prix Racers celebrates its book birthday next week on May 11, 2021.  Back on Track, the second book in the trilogy, will be released in January 2022.


What the World Could Make: A Story of Hope by Holly McGhee Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre

Bunny and Rabbit are best friends who both marvel at how nature provides gifts through every season.  In winter, snowflakes can become snowballs; in spring, lilacs can woven together to make a crown;  Summer provides the opportunity to snack on crunchy and salty sea pickles and in the autumn, ginkgo leaves are fun to jump in.

McGhee’s lyrical text is concise and profound reminding us that gifts from the heart are all around us no matter what the season.  We just have to stop and notice them.  Lemaitre’s soft and gentle illustrations put a smile on your face and warmth in your heart.  Bunny and Rabbit are adorably drawn and their expressions show not only their excitement but also their genuine love for one another.  This heartwarming story celebrates both friendship and nature.

Thank you to author Holly McGhee for sharing a finished copy with Beagles and Books.  What the World Could Make: A Story of Hope celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 4, 2021.


 Bella’s 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

Since May is Celiac Awareness Month; I wanted to share this review.

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. 

Thanks to Albert Whitman for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. I’m a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog recently published in April 2021.

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/26/21

Bella and I are excited to share our latest reads in 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:

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Rescue at Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson 

Following in the footsteps of her late grandmother, 12 year old Madi is an “animal whisperer” rescuing orphaned and injured wild animals.  In a 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 in retaliation for their dams are causing a flood in their town.  The trio along with Jack’s dog, Lid, work together to uncover the person responsible and Madi is also determined to help the beavers find a different location for their dams.    

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.  As an educator, I took note of the book length, for the story is only 181 pages and then more specifically, chapter length which was at most 6 pages.  Length can be an important consideration when recommending books to kids, for sometimes, stamina for chapter book reading must be nurtured. While the novel is shorter in length, Rescue at Lake Wild has a lot of substance. To read my full review and a chance to enter a giveaway, click here.


Arlo Draws an Octopus by Lori Mortensen Illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr. 

Running through his front door, Arlo is full of excitement.  He has decided to draw an octopus! Why?  Because he likes everything about the cephalopod.  With a smile on his face, Arlo begins, but as he draws, he is disappointed.  The head looks like a hill, the arms look like roads, and the suction cups look like bubbles.  Doubt fills Arlo’s mind.  Perhaps, he is not an octopus drawer.  Frustrated, Arlo wads up his drawing and throws it on the ground but he knows he shouldn’t litter.  When he trudges over and picks up the paper, Arlo realizes it is not his octopus drawing.  Turns out an octopus has drawn a picture of him!  And guess what?  Both Arlo and the octopus like each other’s portraits!  After sharing specific feedback with one another, Arlo has a renewed sense of his artistic talents.  

Mortensen’s message in Arlo Draws a Octopus is an important one for readers of ALL ages, for as humans, we can be so hard on ourselves.  Once Arlo heard a different perspective, his attitude changed and he no longer viewed his drawing as a disaster-piece.  I love that this story teaches how personal art can truly be reinforcing the old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  Sayegh’s illustrations beautifully chronicle Arlo’s feelings from the beginning to end.  As he flies into his house, squiggly lines of excitement follow Arlo.  When he is drawing, those lines become a web illustrating his frustration.  As Arlo walks to pick up his paper, rain is falling on him.  When Arlo and the octopus look at each other’s drawings, stars, hearts, and rays of light surround them.  Thanks to Lori Mortensen for sharing a copy with Beagles and Books.  Arlo Draws an Octopus releases soon on May 4, 2021. 


The Smile Shop by Satoshi Kitamura

With his saved money in his hands, an excited boy walks to the market.  What will be buy?   As he travels through the shops and stalls, he sees food, a boat, a book, a horn, and a hat.  Before he has a chance to make his decision, he falls down when a boy on a skateboard collides with him.  As a result, most of his coins disappear down a storm drain.  The boy’s excitement turns into anger and then despair.  But then he stumbles upon a store with the simple sign, Smile, hopeful that a smile will cheer him up.  When he asks to buy a smile, the shopkeeper replies “a smile is not something money can buy” but rather “something that you can only exchange and share.”  The man gives the boy a smile and the boy smiles in return as his picture is taken.  The smiling boy leaves with the photo in his hand and notices that everyone is smiling right along with him. 

The Smile Shop is an uplifting story about how a simple gesture can be transformative.  After the boy lost most of his coins, he was devastated, but his attitude changed after visiting the Smile Shop.  Kitamura’s illustrations are gorgeous and I especially love how the boy stands out in each page spread drawn in bold colors.  Kitamura’s use of color tells it own story showing how the boy’s feelings change, for in the beginning, the page spreads are colorful, but once the coins fall, the background and people are gray.  Color reappears once the boy enters the Smile Shop.  My biggest takeaway was the boy only was aware of everyone else’s smiles after exchanging smiles with the shopkeeper.  The Smile Shop teaches that money doesn’t buy happiness; a kind action is a true gift not only to ourselves but also all those around us.  Thanks to Peachtree Publishing for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group.  The Smile Shop recently released on April 1, 2021. 


Bella’s 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.

Doggo and Pupper by Katherine Applegate Illustrated by Charlie Adler

Doggo’s days are pretty predictable but he is content with his routine.  His humans think he may be bored and needs to be more active; therefore, they bring Pupper home, which changes everything for Doggo.  Doggo thinks Pupper is a pest while Cat reminds Doggo that Pupper is in fact, a puppy.  The humans agree that Pupper needs to learn manners and send him to charm school.  When Pupper returns home, he is new and improved, but Doggo soon concludes Pupper is sad.  Doggo realizes that he misses the free spirited Pupper and is reminded life is better with a little fun and friendship! 

Doggo and Pupper is an adorable new early chapter book series.  Applegate’s easily accessible text coupled with Adler’s bold and humorous illustrations will not only captivate young readers but also support them in transitioning to chapter book reading.  What I love is how Pupper reminds Doggo that a little spontaneity now and then is rejuvenating.  I look forward to seeing this duo’s friendship blossom in upcoming adventures.  Doggo and Pupper Save the World (Book 2) will be released in March 2022.  

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.

#Bookexcursion, Debut Author, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/19/21

Bella and I are excited to share our latest reads in 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 Gilded Girl by Alyssa Coleman

In 1906, 12 year old Emma has recently enrolled at Miss Posterity’s Academy for Practical Magic in New York City.  Her purpose?  To learn kindling, which will allow Emma to utilize her magic powers.  Emma is one of the privileged, for her wealth allows her the training to learn how to harness her magic; in contrast, Izzy O’Donnell, a servant working at the school, is expected to allow her magic to be snuffed out.  When Emma’s father is declared dead, a victim of the San Francisco earthquake, her status at the school quickly changes from student to servant.  While Emma and Izzy did not initially see eye to eye, they  become unlikely friends because they both desire to keep their magic.  Izzy will train Emma on being a servant and Emma will share her knowledge of kindling.  With help from another student, Frances, and Figgy, a house dragon disguised as a cat, Emma and Izzy train together so that they are prepared when the kindling winds arrive.  But when the winds come, the friends must work together to not only support each other but the other girls at the school.  

The Gilded Girl is a clever and innovative retelling of The Little Princess. I love that Coleman chose to tell the story in alternating chapters from the perspectives of both Emma and Izzy.  Readers get to know each girl well witnessing the transformation of Emma whose sudden change in social status teaches her about the injustices between classes and Izzy shows her willingness to trust as well as her vulnerability. Armed with this new insight, Emma and Izzy seek to make magic available to all.  

After reading The Gilded Girl, my heart was filled with hope, for Emma and Izzy are great role models for middle grade readers because of their perseverance, courage, and passion. Thanks to author Alyssa Coleman and Macmillian Publishers for sharing an e-galley with Beagles and Books.  The Gilded Girl recently published on April 6, 2021. 

The Last Shadow Warrior by Sam Subity

On the surface, Abby seems like a typical 12 year old, but in reality, she is a descendant of elite Viking warriors known as the Aesir.  She is eager to continue her mother’s legacy of hunting monsters known as Grendels especially since her mother’s mysterious death four years ago.  After her home in North Carolina is attacked by what Abby fears is a Grendel, she and dad relocate to Minnesota in order for Abby to attend Vale Hall, her mother’s alma mater.  While on the road, Abby and her dad are attacked again. Her dad is injured resulting in him falling into a mysterious coma. 

At Vale Hall, Abby gradually learns that the Viking Council does not believe that Grendels exist anymore and refutes her mother’s life work.  With the help of new friends, Grimsby and Gwynn, Abby goes on a mission to discover an antidote to save her dad and the truth to preserve her mom’s reputation. 

Told from Abby’s perspective, The Last Shadow Warrior is a fast-paced, riveting story that is hard to put down.  Mythology-based fantasy is not a genre I have widely read, but I really was drawn into the plot because Subity merged fantasy with a contemporary setting.  Abby is also a strong character who is willing to stand up for herself and others.  Her relationship with her dad was especially touching.  What also kept me reading was the humor for Subity included a lot of light moments to ease the tension.  While some plot events are tied up, there are still questions left unanswered which leaves me hopeful that Abby’s adventures are not over yet.  Thanks to author Sam Subity and Scholastic for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  The Last Shadow Warrior recently published on April 6, 2021. 

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Be a Tree by Maria Gianferrari Illustrated by Felicita Sala

Be a tree!
Stand tall.
Stretch your branches to the sun.

These ten words begin Gianferrari’s glorious ode extolling the sheer beauty of one of nature’s gifts and how humans have similar physical characteristics to this earthy treasure.   Trees and humans both have parts such as branches and arms, trunks and spines, bark and skin, and a crown at the top.   Sala’s warm watercolor illustrations gorgeously echo Gianferrari’s lyrical text showing the physical similarities so that even the youngest readers can see the connections.   To read my full review, click here. 


Bella’s 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.

Sugar and Spite by Gail D. Villanueva

12 year old Jolina and her parents have recently moved from the city of Manila to a small island in the Philippines.  Her grandmother, Lola Toyang recently passed away and her grandfather, Lolo Sebyo is recovering from a stroke.  As a result, her father now manages the family eatery, Bagayan Food Haus.  Being new to the island, Jolina does not have many friends yet.  Her Jack Russell terrier, Kidlat, is her constant and loyal companion.  

As the story begins, Jolina is enduring bullying from Claudine, a girl in her Bible study group. Because her mother works at Claudine’s family’s resort, Jolina feels she cannot tell anyone about Claudine’s awful behavior.  As an arbularyo  (healer) apprentice, Jolina gets weekly lessons from her grandfather and while she knows the dangers of using magic for the wrong reasons, she decides Claudine needs to be taught a lesson on how to be kind; therefore, Jolina concocts a love potion to get Claudine to be nice to her and it works!  But as she spends more time with Claudine and the girls truly become friends, Jolina feels guilty about her actions and learns firsthand the consequences of using magic for the wrong reasons.  

A blend of fantasy and realistic fiction and an intriguing plot, Sugar and Spite is an #ownvoices middle grade novel that will appeal to readers exploring themes such as family, friendship, and forgiveness.  It is no surprise that what I loved the most about the novel is the relationship between Jolina and Kidlat.  The bond between the girl and her dog was heartwarming and in the author’s note, Villanueva shares that Jolina’s and Kidlat’s deep connection was honoring her relationship with her beloved pet, Kubrick.  Thanks to Gail Villanueva and Scholastic for sharing an e-galley with Beagles and Books. Sugar and Spite celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on April 20, 2021.

 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.