#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday

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

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

Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen & Laurie Morrison

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

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

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

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

This review was originally published on March 25, 2018.

The Battle of Junk Mountain by Lauren Abbey Greenberg

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

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

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

This review was originally published on February 11, 2018.

#Bookexcursion, Picture Books

Mama’s Belly by Kate Hosford Illustrated by Abigail Halpin

A very special thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing Mama’s Belly  with Beagles and Books. All opinions are my own.

There is no doubt that a new sibling can cause feelings of both excitement and apprehension.  Mama’s Belly tells the tender story of an inquisitive young girl who poses a variety of questions to her parents about her sister’s arrival.  The questions start simple.  “Does my sister know me already? “Will my sister have freckles?”  Mama explains that the baby already knows her sister’s voice. While the baby will not be born with freckles, her father thinks yes, perhaps after a few summers by the lake have passed.

As the young girl asks questions,  Halpin’s gorgeous illustrations not only depict her excitement in the present but also the girl’s visualizations of helping her baby sister learn to swim and take a bath in the future.  All of Halpin’s paintings warmly show how the girl’s parents have included her in preparing for her sister’s arrival.

Clutching her blanket, the questions turn more personal.   “When my sister comes, do I have to share my blanket?”  ‘Will your lap ever come back?” Mama assures the girl that her blanket will always be hers and suggests making another one together for her baby sister.  As for her lap, Mama tells her daughter it will return after her sister is born.

The young girl saves her most important question until the end. “When my sister comes will you still have enough love for both of us?   Gently holding her daughter’s face in her hands, Mama lovingly looks at her and says  “More than the all the stars in the sky.”

For any child preparing for a new sibling, Mama’s Belly is the perfect gift.  As a teacher, I also look forward to sharing Mama’s Belly with students.   Hosford has written a beautiful and touching story to remind us that a parent’s heart expands with each child, and there is always room to love everyone.

Mama’s Belly will be released on April 17,  2018.  For a sneak peek, view the trailer.

About the Author and Illustrator
Kate Hosford is the author of several picture books, including Infinity and Me, which was a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book award and was named an ALA Notable Children’s Book. Her books have been translated into Chinese, Korean, French, and Romanian. Kate lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. To learn more, visit her website ae khosford.com.
Abigail Halpin is the illustrator of many books for children, including Finding Wild. She lives in southern Maine. Visit her on the web at theodesign.com
#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday, Poetry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/26/18

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Etta, Bella, and I are excited to share our reads for 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 Reads This Week:

Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison

Every Shiny Thing is a uniquely structured novel told in alternating points of view.  Told in prose, Lauren comes from an affluent family and is struggling with her parents’ decision to send her brother to her residential school for autistic teens.  Told in verse, Sierra is the foster child of Lauren’s neighbors as well as her new classmate.  In the novel, Lauren embarks on a project to help autistic children from less affluent families and enlists Sierra to help her. While well intentioned, Lauren becomes consumed with raising money at any cost which begins to negatively affect her friendship with Sierra.  Sierra is also fighting her own battle of always taking care of everyone but herself.  I absolutely adored this beautifully written novel on so many levels.  To read my full review, click here.

Special thanks to Laurie Morrison for sending an advance reading copy of Every Shiny Thing to our #bookexcursion group.  It will be published soon in April 2018.

Big Foot Little Foot by Ellen Potter Illustrated by Felicita Sala

Hugo is a young Sasquatch who yearns for adventure in the Big Wide World but exploring beyond the North Woods is off limits.  Why?  Because the most important Sasquatch rule is never be seen by a human. During a class lesson on Hide and Go Sneak, Hugo accidentally laughs at the sight of a real human while observing a boy (whose name is Boone) blowing a dandelion.  Sent home with a note from his furious teacher and punished by his parents, Hugo makes his own wish for adventure by sending his toy boat down a stream in his room.  Hugo is amazed when his boat comes back with a plastic toy human from Boone. Perhaps this is the start of not only an adventure but also a new friendship!

Like Ellen Potter’s Piper Green and the Fairy Tree series, Big Foot, Little Foot is sure to be a hit with transitional readers and their teachers.  Young readers will easily relate to Hugo and his curiosity.  Hugo and Boone also teach an important lesson about making assumptions before getting to know someone.   The ending definitely leaves readers wanting more adventures with Hugo and Boone.

Special thanks to Ellen Potter for sending an advance reading copy to our #bookexcursion group.  Look for Big Foot Little Foot’s release soon in April 2018.

Maggie & Abby’s Neverending Pillow Fort by Will Taylor

Missing her best friend Abby who has been away at Camp Cantaloupe for six weeks,  Maggie builds a pillow fort in her living room.  When Abby returns, Maggie is excited to spend time with Abby, but her best friend seems different. Wanting to expand their circle, Abby is eager to start their own summer camp and invite more kids to join in their games.

After Maggie builds a cabin-fort in her own house, the girls are shocked to discover that their forts are not only mysteriously linked to one another but also to other pillow forts around the world.  But these links are not available unless Maggie and Abby perform a good deed and become full members of NAFAFA (The North American Founding and Allied Fort Alliance).  Gaining entry to this exclusive club is further complicated because of a power struggle among the NAFAFA council members as well as Maggie’s and Abby’s differing opinions on how to gain entry into the organization.

A blend of fantasy, mystery, and realistic fiction, Maggie & Abby’s Neverending Pillow Fort will appeal to a wide variety of readers.  Reading about the history and inner workings of NAFAFA made me wonder and laugh out loud.  Maggie and Abby’s changing friendship tugged at my heart strings.  The novel ends on a cliffhanger so I am so excited that Book 2 is already in the works!

Special thanks to Will Taylor for sending an advance reading copy to our #bookexcursion group.  Get ready because Maggie & Abby’s Neverending Pillow Fort will be published shortly in April 2018.

Building Books by Megan Wagner Lloyd Illustrated by Brianne Farley

Katie loved building with blocks, and her brother Owen loved reading books. The siblings fought about which is better-building or reading.  The school librarian intervenes by giving Katie a stack of books to read while Owen receives a stack of books to shelve. Not interested in reading, Katie decides to build a castle with the books stumbling upon a book about castle engineering.  Not interested in shelving, Owen begins balancing books on top of each other.  It does not take long for the siblings to respect each other’s interests and collaborate to create something together. Librarians must be pretty smart!

Wagner Lloyd has written a beautiful story that reminds us all to be open to expanding our comfort zones.  Farley’s illustrations warmly depict both Katie’s and Owen’s enthusiasm for their favorite hobbies and slowly transition to show how the siblings change their minds and appreciate each other’s interests.
Special thanks to Megan Wagner Lloyd for sending a F & G copy to our #bookexcursion group.  Building Books will be published in October 2018.

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Read of the Week:

George the Hero Hound by Jeffrey Ebbeler

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

George was a good old hound dog.  He willingly helped Farmer Fritz with chores around the farm in exchange for an afternoon nap.  But then Farmer Fritz decides to move to the beach leaving the farm and George behind.  Not long after, the Gladstone family buys the farm.  Having moved from the city to the country, George quickly realizes that his new family needs a heap of help from fixing tractors to herding cows.  When daughter Olive goes missing, George saves the day and shows he is truly a hero hound.

George the Hero Hound is such a delightful and entertaining picture book.  I love how devoted George is to helping his new family adjust to farm life.  Author/illustrator Ebbeler’s drawings of George truly capture his personality.  And pay close attention to the illustrations especially all the cows’ antics!

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, Middle Grade Literature

Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison

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

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

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

Special thanks to Laurie Morrison for sending an advance reading copy of Every Shiny Thing to our #bookexcursion group.  Preorder now so your copy arrives promptly on April 17, 2018.

#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday

The Last Grand Adventure by Rebecca Behrens

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

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

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

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

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

#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday

The Train of Lost Things by Ammi-Joan Paquette

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/19/18

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Etta, Bella, and I are excited to share our reads for 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 Reads This Week:

Jasmine Toguchi: Drummer Girl by Debbi Michiko Florence   Illustrated by Elizabeth Vukovic

In the third book in the series, Jasmine is excited about the school talent show.  While she has many talents such as climbing trees, pounding mochi, and making collages, Jasmine needs to quickly find a talent she can showcase on stage.  When her mother asks Jasmine why she likes these things, she responds that they make her feel free, strong, and happy.  Her mom then shares her love of playing the taiko.  With the help of one of her mom’s college friends, Kat, Jasmine learns how to play the traditional Japanese drum.

Jasmine is worried about her performance especially because new student Maggie Milsap keeps trying to turn the talent show into a competition.  With the support of her older sister, Jasmine soon learns that practice, not natural talent, is what makes one perform well.  And of course, Kat teaches her the best lesson of all-it’s not about being perfect, it’s about having fun!

I just love Jasmine and have recommended this series to countless students this year.  I greatly appreciate how Debbie Michiko Florence has created a character that can be both a mirror and window to young readers.  Readers can identify with Jasmine’s spunk and insecurities while also learn about Japanese traditions.  Special thanks to Debbi Michiko Florence for sending Drummer Girl on an ARC tour with our #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now like me so you will receive your copy promptly on April 3, 2018.  And if you love Jasmine as much as I do, pre-order the fourth book, Flamingo Girl, too!

 

Poe Won’t Go by Kelly DiPucchio  Illustrated by Zachariah OHora

Mysteriously, a frowning elephant named Poe shuts down the town of Prickly Valley sitting in the only road in town. Despite all the townspeople’s extraordinary efforts, Poe just won’t go.  Not tolerating a parked pachyderm in Prickly Valley, the mayor is determined to solve the problem of Poe.  But alas, not even a person dressed as a peanut on roller skates worked.  A thoughtful young girl named Marigold finally asked the mayor, “Has anyone asked Poe why he won’t go?”   As soon as Marigold approaches Poe, his frown turned into a smile and she begins to uncover why Poe has not moved and how to help him.

I love Kelly DiPucchio’s picture books because they not only entertain but also teach readers important messages.  Poe Won’t Go teaches readers that sometimes asking the right questions, listening, and observing is the best way to solve a problem.   Zachariah OHora’s gorgeous acrylic and pencil illustrations never disappoint.   I am always amazed at the amount of details that he can draw in a spread without overwhelming the reader.

Special thanks to Kelly DiPucchio for sending a F & G of Poe Won’t Go to our #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now, for it will be released in October 2018.

 

Dude Word by Aaron Reynolds  Art by Dan Santat

Cowabunga! Two dudes (a platypus and a beaver) are totally stoked to surf but another not so righteous dude (a shark!) is getting in their way. Bummer! Can they find a way to all get along?

What is so rad about this picture book is Reynolds pretty much only uses one word, “Dude”, repeatedly in different contexts to tell the story, and Santat’s awesome illustrations support the meaning.  The use of punctuation also makes the story an epic read aloud!

Special thanks to Macmillan Kids for sending an advance reader’s copy of Dude to our #bookexcursion group.  Look for its tubular release soon in April 2018.

 

Bella’s and Etta’s Dog Read 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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Don’t Call Me Choochie Pooh by Sean Taylor  Illustrated by Kate Hindley

I love reading books from the dog’s point of view!  A little dog is fed up with the silly way his owner treats him.  He does not appreciate heart-shaped mini puppy treats, being carried in a handbag and most especially, the name Choochie Pooh!  At the dog park, feeling like a Mini-Puppy-Treat-eating-Choochie-Pooh in a handbag, he is jealous of all the other dogs who have ordinary names like Bandit, Rusty, and Chief .  When Chief invites him to play, he is surprised and has a fabulous time doing normal dog things like running around and getting muddy.  When it is time to leave, his owner get again embarrasses him by uttering his disgustingly sweet name.  Choochie Pooh soon realizes that like him, his new canine friends have similar woes.

Reading this adorable picture book makes me wonder about all the pet names I have for both Etta and Bella.  Based on their tail wagging and howling, I think they realize that it is worth the love and of course treats!

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, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/12/18

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Etta, Bella, and I are excited to share our reads for 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 Reads This Week:

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The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

When Lucy was eight years old, she was struck by lightning while holding on to a metal fence.  As a result, she has acquired savant syndrome; Lucy can not only tackle any mathematical problem but she can also see math in colors and remembers every set of numbers she hears or sees.  It is no surprise that Pi is favorite number (and she can recite it to the 314th decimal place).

Having this rare condition is not without its drawbacks.  Lucy has obsessive compulsive tendencies, no offline friends, and hasn’t left the apartment she shared with her Nana for 32 days.  While Lucy wants to begin college, Nana proposes an alternate plan.  Go to middle school for at least 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. Read 1 book that is not math related.  Nana wins.

Lucy accomplishes her first goal quickly.  On her first bus ride to school, she becomes friends with socially conscious Windy.  But adjusting to middle school is still tough especially because of Lucy’s constant need to sanitize, her repetitive sitting behavior, and her desire to keep her giftedness hidden from her peers including Windy.   A group service project with Windy and budding photographer Levi gives Lucy the opportunity to use her math genius for a good cause-helping dogs gets adopted at a local shelter.  At the shelter, Lucy meets Cutie Pi, a chihuahua with a lightning bolt spot on its back and is determined to find him a home.  Being a dog mom, seeing Lucy’s affection for Pi was heartwarming.

Lucy soon learns that all things are not easy to calculate.   As a reader, I calculate one important lesson. If you have a couple of friends who accept you for who you are, you are pretty lucky.   Special thanks to Allison Stout, a fellow #bookexcursion member for sharing an ARC of The Miscalculations of Lighting Girl that she received at NCTE.  Look for its release in May 2018.

Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin

Baby Monkey is on the case helping clients locate lost jewels, missing pizza, and a stolen spaceship.  Putting on his pants.  Well, that is another story.

At 187 pages, Baby Monkey, Private Eye looks and even feels like a full length chapter book.  Once opened, readers will find a whole new format- a combination of  chapter book, picture book, beginning reader, and graphic novel.   Written in large font, Serlin’s text is sparse and repeats in the first few chapters which builds young readers’ confidence and provides schema for the last two chapters.  Caldecott medalist Selznick’s pencil illustrations are chocked full of details. In each chapter, the illustrations subtly provides clues of Baby Monkey’s next case.

As a reading specialist, I love Baby Monkey, Private Eye!  I can recommend it to primary grade students who yearn to read a chapter book.  The novel is also perfect for my intermediate students who are still developing readers.  Hope there will be more cases for Baby Monkey to solve!  It released in February 2018.

I’m Sad by Michael Ian Black  Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

In the sequel to I’m Bored, a flamingo announces to a little girl and a potato that he is sad.  His friends affirm that feeling sad is natural. Everyone, even potatoes, feel sad sometimes (giggle, giggle). The little girl and potato console Flamingo by sharing things that cheer them up like ice cream, hockey, and dirt (giggle, giggle, again).   While Flamingo is still sad, he learns that his friends still like him no matter what!

I’m Sad teaches children that friends can’t always fix your problems but their loyalty can be the best support. Black beautifully conveys the book’s message with few words and Ohi’s bold and colorful illustrations perfectly match the text. Despite its title,  it would be hard to remain sad while reading. With its sense of humor, the potato will keep readers laughing from beginning to end!  Black and Ohi’s collaboration in bringing a potato to life was the highlight for me!  I can’t wait to share this read aloud for #classroombookaday!

Special thanks to Debbie Ridpath Ohi for sending an ARC of I’m Sad to our #bookexcursion group.  Look for its release in June 2018.

The Gorilla Picked Me by Michele McAvoy  Illustrated by Valentina Carboni

Olive considers herself plain and ordinary always blending in rather than standing out. Olive wishes just once that she would get picked out from a crowd.  When Olive was eight, her wish finally comes true.  Attending a dance with her father as her date, he steps away briefly telling Olive he’ll be back in a jiffy.  In his absence, a gorilla tooting a kazoo appears. He chooses Olive to be his dancing partner making her the center of attention.  Right after the gorilla leaves, her father returns and she shares her exciting news.  On the last page, as they walk home, a kazoo can be seen in her father’s back pocket.

Michele McAvoy wrote a sweet story about the love between a little girl and her father.  Illustrator Valentina Carboni’s adorable illustrations tenderly show their mutual affection for each other and how this one small act of kindness can have positive effects.

Special thanks to Michele McAvoy for sending Beagles and Books an e-copy of The Gorilla Picked Me. It published in February 2018.

Featured Dog Selection 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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My Old Pal, Oscar by Amy Hest Illustrated by Amy Bates

Regardless your age, it’s hard to say goodbye to a pet.  Amy Hest tenderly shares a story that celebrates the bond between a boy and his beloved dog while capturing how your heart still has room to love another pet.  Amy Bates’ warm and peaceful watercolor and pencil illustrations complement the story perfectly.

When a little boy meets a stray puppy on the beach, he is not interested in becoming friends.   The boy is still mourning the loss of his old pal, Oscar.  “My only and only dog,” the boy says. The persistent puppy continues to follow the boy on his walk.  During their walk, the boy recounts why Oscar was so special to him.  As a thunderstorm approaches, the boy sees the puppy’s trepidation. Carrying the puppy home, it is clear that the little boy is beginning to warm to the idea of having a new pal in his life.

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, Book Birthday

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras

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

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

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

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

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