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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/27/22

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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Party Animals (Cranky Chicken #2) by Katherine Battersby

Chicken & Speedy are back to keep kids smiling and giggling. Chicken hasn’t lost her crankiness; however, her friendship with Speedy definitely keeps it in check. In the first chapter, Chicken is hangry and Speedy does everything he can do to help her (except ask her what she wants to eat). In the next chapter, Speedy plans Chicken an unsurprising birthday party because Chicken loves parties but not surprises. In the final chapter, Speedy takes Chicken on a bus trip to the beach and of course, beaches and buses make Chicken cranky.

Battersby’s Cranky Chicken series is pure delight.  As in the first book, Speedy accepts Chicken’s peevish personality and it is through their friendship that Chicken mellows reevaluating at times what makes her cranky. Speedy’s energy and positive attitude shine through in Battersby’s artwork and while Chicken’s facial expressions remain consistent for most of the novel, readers can see the genuine love for her adventurous friend.  I adore their playful exchanges with one another because while Chicken’s dialogue is somewhat predictable, one never knows where Speedy is going to go.    Their relationship is a reminder to kids that friends do not have to agree on everything; being together and supporting each other is what counts. Thanks to Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sending me a copy. Party Animals celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on June 28, 2022. 


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The Big Scream by Kirsti Call Illustrated by Denis Angelov

What happens when a child wants more and mom says no? First, come tears. Next, comes temper tantrum, and finally, a big scream. As a result, the boy gets a time out. His disposition starts out pouty and angry but it is clear that he has been taught calming strategies. He breathes in and out and as he slowly counts to ten, his scowl turns into a smile. While he did not get another cookie, he does get a big hug from mom!

Call’s concise, rhyming text and Angelov’s nostalgic and expressive illustrations perfectly complement the plot of a child who experiences the full range of emotions when he doesn’t get his way. What I love is this board board can be a great parent tool to teach kids how to handle big feelings.  Thanks to Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sending me a copy. The Big Scream celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on June 28, 2022. 


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I Want to Be a Vase by Julio Torres  Illustrated by Julian Glander

Tired of unclogging toilets, a plunger makes an announcement.  It wants to be a vase. The sink, bathtub, toilet, and vacuum cleaner immediately scoff at its declaration.  The plunger is not deterred stating it can switch jobs.  It leaves the bathroom, enters the kitchen, and resourcefully tapes some flowers onto its handle.   A pot remarks “Oh, yay, look!  It’s a vase” to the plunger’s delight. Then the pot proclaims it wants to be a trash can.  Soon other household items follow suit wanting to be something different which does not sit well with the vacuum.  When the hair dryer decides it wants to be a vacuum, the vacuum has hit its breaking point and as a result, expel its contents all over the house.  Who can help clean up this mess? Hmmm…perhaps, a dryer?

When I read aloud I Want to Be a Vase to kids, they could not contain their laughter.  Torres’ playful conversational text gave life to a peppy plunger who dared to think differently as well as all the other household items in the story.  Glander’s unique 3-D art is so visually appealing that the kids wanted to closely examine the illustrations after I read.  Amid the humor, themes of identity, acceptance, and speaking one’s mind are explored which promotes a great discussion.  Thanks to Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sending me a copy. I Want to Be a Vase recently published on June 7, 2022. 


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 character.

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Hot Dog by Doug Salati

Summer in the city is no fun for a dachshund doing errands with his human. It’s too
hot to sit or sniff and the streets are so crowded. Putting his paws down, the pup lays in the street until his human gets the message. On the next few page spreads, readers see the pair in a taxi, a train, and a boat which takes them to an island where the dog can let loose literally and figuratively. Once off leash, he runs on the beach, splashes in the water, and collects rocks. As the sun sets, the pup and his human travel back to their city home to eat supper and snooze. 

As I read, I was aware of how both Salati’s text and artwork elicit emotions. I could feel the stickiness and loudness of the city as well as the dog’s frustration. The moment his human got down on her knees to rub under his chin, I knew she understood his needs and a smile never left his face. I love his use of alliteration (crowds close in, welcome whiff, skyline shimmers) and at times, Salati let his artwork alone tell the story. The format had a graphic novel feel with some pages having multiple panels of varying sizes.  The heart of the story was the relationship between the dog and its human; the immense love they have for each other poured out from the illustrations.  Hot Dog recently published on May 24, 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, Chapter Books, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/13/22

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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The Little House of Hope by Terry Catasús Jennings Illustrated by Raúl Colón 

Esperanza, her little brother Manolo, and her parents move from Cuba to the United States.  They find a house that is within their budget to rent.  During the week, her parents work to make money at their many jobs and Esperanza and her brother work hard at school and doing household chores. On weekends, the family collaborates on making “la casita” a home.  When family or friends need a place to live, Esperanza’s family welcomes them with open arms utilizing all parts of the house including the garage to make space. 

What I love about this story is young children get a first hand account of moving to the United States as an immigrant and the many reasons why families leave their homelands. Kids not only see the work ethic of both Esperanza’s family and her extended family but also their absolute willingness to lend a hand to others.  Inspired by her own childhood, Catasús Jennings tells a story full of heart and hope.  La casita became a home because of the people that lived in it.  You can feel the love and support through Catasús Jennings’ descriptive text and Colón’s warm watercolor illustrations evoke a nostalgic feel.  Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group.  The Little House of Hope celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on June 14, 2022. 


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Rosa’s Song by Helena Ku Rhee Illustrated by Pascal Campion

Moving from South Korea to the United States is tough for Jae.  Everything looks and feels different.  When his mother suggests meeting other kids in the building, Jae is nervous, but he takes the initiative and knocks on a door.  Rosa and her parrot, Pollito, greet him and immediately, the three become fast friends.  Remembering what it was like when she moved to this country, Rosa supports Jae when he feels homesick. When Jae remarks about missing the mountains or the sea, Rosa helps him visualize the sights and sounds of South Korea.  Rosa and Pollito also teach Jae the song with the lyrics “When I fly away, my heart stays here.”  One morning, Jae discovers Pollito in his bedroom. His mother explains that Rosa and her family had to leave quickly and move back to their homeland and she wanted Jae to have Pollito. Even a singing Pollito can’t cheer up Jae until two kids knock on his door asking about his bird.  

Ku Rhee’s heartfelt narrative and Campion’s expressive illustrations chronicle the short but sweet friendship between Rosa and Jae.  In the author’s note, Ku Rhee shares the inspiration for the story came from her childhood living in an apartment building where families came and went due to many circumstances.  Rosa’s Song teaches kids that we can honor our past friendships by being open to making new friends.  Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Random House for sharing a copy. Rosa’s Song celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on June 14, 2022. 


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Odd Birds: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Flock by Laura Gehl Illustrated by Gareth Lucas

As a companion to their board book, Odd Beasts, Gehl and Lucas have collaborated on the engaging and informative Odd Birds which introduces toddlers and preschoolers (and adults) to a flock of unique feathered friends. Gehl’s concise text of one sentence per page spread highlights each bird’s distinctive feature. Lucas’ page filling illustrations emphasize the special trait making it easy for young children to see the connection.   Gehl choose her birds wisely, for what could be more interesting than a bird that smells like poop or one with blue feet!  At the end of the book. Gehl has included real photographs of all the animals and an explanation about the function of their special characteristic.  While the birds may seem odd, their features serves a purpose. Hoping there are more books to come in this nonfiction series. Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Abrams for sharing a copy. Odd Birds celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on June 14, 2022. 


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 character.

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Every Dog in the Neighborhood by Phillip C. Stead Illustrated by Matthew Cordell

On a walk with his Grandma who is checking out something in the neighborhood, Louis tells her he wants a dog. She responds, “There are enough dogs in the neighborhood.”  Louis asks her “How many dogs?” but Grandma does not answer.  Since city hall doesn’t have a count of dogs, Louis decides to tally up the dogs himself going door to door.  His data collection project gives him the opportunity to meet all the dogs as well as their owners.  I love how for some dogs, their names match their personalities, for E.B. dreams of writing animal stories. But a name does not always hold true, for Caboose likes to first.  My favorite dog of all was Harvey, who now lives in his owner’s heart; sweet Louis counted him.

Meanwhile, Grandma was working on a project of her own.  Because the city refused to help, Grandma refurbished an abandoned lot into a dog park.  It is clear from where Louis gets his initiative (& humor).  Louis’ final count of dog is 19, but Grandma believes he missed one.  Could this be a surprise for Louis?

Cordell’s loose, expressive artwork brings Stead’s quiet and touching story to life.  His illustrations perfectly capture both Grandma and Louis’ personalities. I love how Grandma’s project is not mentioned in the text, but only through the illustrations so readers truly have to read both the words and the pictures.  I also adore Louis’ relationship with his Grandma; and he is right. Grandma knows everything which is why I love her too!  Thanks to Neal Porter Books/Holiday House and Edelweiss for sharing an eARC. Every Dog in the Neighborhood publishes next week on June 21, 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, Chapter Books, Debut Author, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/6/22

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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Spineless by Samantha San Miguel

12 year old Chicagoan Algie has asthma so his concerned mother takes him and his older brother to a health resort in Gilded Age Florida for the winter. Algie is in his element, for he aspires to be a naturalist and is enthralled by his surroundings.  When another hotel guest wants to harm a small octopus, Algie not only speaks up but literally goes overboard to save the creature.  Peculiar things begin to happen at the resort and Algie is puzzled. He become friends with budding field biologists Frankie and Lulu, the hotel owner’s daughters, and the trio go on a mission to discover what is real and what is a hoax. The small octopus, now aptly named Pulpy, becomes a sidekick and ally to Algie and the sisters as they search for the truth.  

Not wanting to give the story away, Spineless is a middle grade novel with dynamic characters, an exotic setting and imaginative and suspenseful plot.  Algie tugged at my heart because of his challenges with his health, his relationship with his family, and his discovery that his idol Professor Ransom Champion was a fraud.  Despite his struggles, Algie perservered and taught not only himself but also others the importance of observation, patience, doing the best with the day you have, being willing to accept help, and seeing the best in people.  Thanks to Jenny Lu of Union Square Kids Books for sharing an ARC. Spineless celebrates its book birthday on June 7, 2022. 


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Lulu & Zoey: A Sister Story by Carrie Finson

Sisters can be the best of friends or the greatest foes.  Written in rhyme, Finson honestly shares the peaks and valleys of having a sister.   On the very first page, Jackson’s animated illustrations show older sister Zoey’s frustration as Lulu interupts her work wanting to play.  Zoey’s subsequent facial expressions convey her growing annoyance with Lulu which advances to the sisters having a physical argument.  Finson’s lyrical text convey how Lulu’s actions hit a nerve with her older sister. Luckily, Aunt Eliza to the rescue who intervenes and soon the girls have time apart to cool down.  Their time alone renews their relationship allowing them to collaborate on writing and illustrating a story without conflict.  This partnership is important because on the last page spread, their parents return home from the hospital with their newborn baby sister.  

With words and pictures, Finson and Jackson realistically depict the ebb and flow of the sister relationship, for as Finson beautifully states “Sometimes they fight. Sometimes they’re friends. A sister story never ends.”  Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. Lulu & Zoey celebrates its book birthday on June 7, 2022. 


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Swim, Jim by Kaz Windness

Young crocodile Jim has a problem. He does not like the water. He is afraid of sinking to the bottom.  His parents understand, but his siblings, Sim and Kim tease him. Jim takes initiative by searching for a shallow swamp. Readers will quickly notice that Jim finds not a swamp but a pool full of kids using pool noodles and floaties. Once the kids go into the house to sing happy birthday, Jim outfits himself with accessories to help him stay afloat.  Turns out Sim and Kim followed Jim and encourage him to try out his new attire in the pool. When the floatie pops, Jim    panics, but Kim reminds him he can stand up to feel safe and she and Sim can teach him how to swim. Pretty soon Jim is swimming confidently in the pool until the kids return. Can Jim use his new skills in the family swamp? 

With adorable illustrations and a
main character you want to root for, Swim, Jim is a story that kids will love. When I read it aloud to a kindergarten class, they felt empathy for Jim because his siblings made fun of him and were happy when they supported him.  I love that Jim demonstrated resourcefulness in solving his problem. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for sharing a copy. Swim, Jim recently published last week on May 31, 2022. 


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 character.

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Catch That Dog! by Will Taylor

10 year old Joanie Dayton finds a dirty stray dog in the alley.  Lonely and desperate for a friend, Joanie brings the pup home knowing convincing her parents to let her keep him won’t be easy.  Money was tight in the Dayton family and Joanie’s mom preached hard work and good behavior, not chasing dreams. Fortunately, her father spoke up for Joanie and her mom reluctantly agreed with a firm set of rules.  Elated Joanie names him Lucky unaware that the dog not only has a name, Masterpiece, but also is a world famous poodle. 

Joanie and Lucky become fast friends because they both trust each other.  Joanie shares her artwork and her soft or lazy eye which gives her perspective when painting.  Once Lucky compares his relationship with Joanie to his relationship with his true owner Count Pulaski, he realizes the love and companioship he has been missing from his life.  When Joanie sees an article about a stolen dog in the newspaper, she realizes that Lucky is Masterpiece.  She can’t imagine saying goodbye to her very best friend but she can’t keep a dog that is not legimately hers.  And the reward money could immensely help with family.  Will Joanie and Lucky have a happy ending? 

Inspired by the true story of Masterpiece who disappeared in May 1953 and was never found, Taylor’s adventurous and heartwarming novel shares what may have happened to the “world’s most valuable dog.”  Taylor’s fictionalized account was so intriguing, I read the novel in one sitting, and I believe kids will be unable to put the story put down.  Joanie and Masterpiece are characters readers will cheer for!  After reading, I researched Masterpiece on the internet and found many articles about his life, disappearance and theories about what may have occurred.   Because of Masterpiece’s notriety, the poodle dethroned the beagle as the AKC’s most registered breed in 1960! Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. Catch That Dog! releases soon on June 28, 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, Chapter Books, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/23/22

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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The Summer of June by Jamie Sumner

Hair-pulling was one of the ways 12 year old June dealt with her anxiety so after school ends, she makes the bold decision to shave her head.  In solidarity, her mom shaves her head and while her mom says her daughter is a “wonder to behold,” June regrets her decision 10 minutes later.  June’s mom is in charge of the town’s library teen department and June regularly accompanies her mom to work during summer vacation.  At the library, she meets Homer Juarez who quotes poetry and a widower, Luis, with a passion for gardening. Making friends is not her summer goal; taming her anxiety and owning her independence are.  

June has a great support system in her mom and her therapist Gina, but as her mom says “sometimes you have open yourself up to more than you got to know what you’re missing. And that can be scary for anybody.” So when both Homer and Luis help June in a time of crisis, she allows her circle of support to widen.  Feeling more in control, June stops taking her medication so when her anxiety is set off at a local event, June’s secret is revealed. Will her new friends accept her and more importantly, will June accept herself? 

Written from June’s perspective, Sumner did a beautiful job capturing her struggles and strengths. Of course, I loved that so much of the story took place in the library and June shared that books help ease her trapped feelings.  Her friendship with Homer was so endearing and once she was honest about her anxiety, he didn’t walk away and opened up to her. The Summer of June is a story that will fill your heart and soul. 

Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. The Summer of June celebrates its book birthday on May 31, 2022. 


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Ribbit! The Truth About Frogs by Annette Whipple Illustrated by Juanbjuan Oliver

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

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

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

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

Thanks to the author for sharing an eARC. Ribbit! celebrated its book birthday last week on May 15, 2022. 


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The Hiking Viking by Laura Gehl Illustrated by Timothy Grant

Leif was a Viking, but he didn’t want to battle, brawl, holler, and howl.  His dream was to hike and explore.  His family does not understand chiding Leif that he must help the clan win the Viking Games. Leif dutifully prepared and participated in the Games and while his strength was outmatched, the score was tied between the two clans. The clan showing the greatest treasure would prevail as winner. Leif’s clan learned that his strength was not in his physical body, but rather in his ability to see the treasure in nature.

Gehl’s inspiring text and Banks’ bold and expressive artwork reminds us to appreciate the beauty in the world’s natural wonder. I love that Leif showed loyalty to his clan but ultimately taught them a lesson on stamina and perspective.

Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a copy.  The Hiking Viking released in February 2022. 


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 character.

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Friends Fur-ever (Must Love Pets #1) by Saadia Faruqi

Summer vacation has begun and Imaan has one wish-a dog of her own.  Convincing her mom is no simple task, but perhaps, starting a pet sitting business with her best friend London and new friend Olivia will show her mom she is responsible.  And when her neighbor is in need of emergency pet sitting for her dog, Sir Teddy,  Imaan feels obligated to offer.  Didn’t her mom just say that neighbors are like part of our big family and we should take care of them if they need something? 

The thrill of pet sitting is tempered by reality.  When her little brother Amir starts to sneeze out of the blue, Imaan doesn’t want to admit he is allergic.  Imaan also doesn’t like sharing Sir Teddy with London and Olivia and her feelings are hard to hide from them. Due to circumstances, she relishes the opportunity to have Sir Teddy all to herself for a day but discovers that taking care of him alone is not as fun or as easy.  

With themes of family and friendship,  middle grade readers will relate to this pawsome series.  I love that Faruqi chose to have Imaan narrate because readers get to really know her as a character exposing her strengths and needs.  What I love most about Imaan is that she admits her mistakes and learns from them.  Looking forward to the next adventure in the series! Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. Friends Fur-ever celebrates its book birthday on May 31, 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, Chapter Books, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/2/22

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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Hummingbird by Natalie Lloyd

12 year old Olive has one prayer, wish, and wildest hope-to be a student at Macklemore Middle School.  Because Olive has brittle bone disease and uses a wheelchair, she has been home-schooled since kindergarten. She is tired of being called  “fragile” and while her bones may be breakable, her spirit is not. Another reason is that she has a keen sense that her BFF is there waiting for her. 

After delivering a three-point sermon, Olive convinces her parents to attend Macklemore Middle School. Just right before her first day, feathers start appearing randomly throughout her Tennessee mountain town.  According to local folklore, the feathers are a precursor to a magical hummingbird’s arrival who grants a wish to the first who solves its riddle.  Olive and pretty much the whole town is on the hummingbird hunt.  While Olive got her wish to go to middle school and has become friends with classmate Grace Alice Cho, entrepreneur, she still wonders. What if she could wish her brittle bones away?   Would that make her life better or does she already have the best life? 

I am a huge fan of Lloyd’s novels.  She weaves in magical elements into her stories and makes readers believe they are real.  Olive is such a beautiful soul.  I adore her spirit and her determination to not allow her fragile bones to define her.  Secondary characters teach lessons about perseverance and how one can make their own wishes come true.  But most of all, I appreciate Lloyd sharing in her author’s note that Olive’s story was inspired because she herself was born with brittle bone disease. 

Full of heart and hope, Hummingbird is a story that will make you smile, laugh, and cry. But most of those tears were of joy not sorrow.  Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. Hummingbird celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 3, 2002. 


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Lizzy and the Cloud by The Fan Brothers

Lizzy doesn’t care that clouds may be a bit out of fashion so when she goes to the park on Saturday, she heads straight to the Cloud Seller.  She chooses an ordinary looking cloud, names him Milo, and follows the instructions to water it daily.  Never confine a cloud to a small space is Rule 6 and Lizzy takes Milo on neighborhood walks on sunny days and gives him the opportunity to soar high in the sky on rainy days. Like many pets, Milo grows bigger and bigger covering her whole bedroom ceiling.  When Milo began rumbling, Lizzy knows Milo is unhappy and makes the grown up decision to set him free.  

I am always in awe of The Fan Brothers’ glorious illustrations.  Their use of color is powerful because it helps your eyes focus on what is important. What I love most is the message of loving something so much to let it go.  This is a lesson important to discuss with kids.  Thanks to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for sharing a copy. Lizzy and the Cloud celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 3, 2022. 


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Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome by Kat Zhang Illustrated by Charlene Chua   

In the third story of the Amy Wu picture book series, Lin, a new student from China, joins Amy’s class. The class enthusiastically welcomes Lin and Amy tries to engage him in conversation, but Lin doesn’t say a word. When Lin is picked up by his family at the end of the school day, Amy notices his beaming face and willingness to speak Chinese with his sister. Amy comes up with plan to invite Lin and his family to a dumpling party to give him a warm welcome. Will it work?

I adore Amy Wu! She is exuberant and determined demonstrating problem solving skills which is great for kids to see. I love that Zang chose to have Amy experience a loss of words when sharing the welcome banner she and her grandma created.  Amy learns from Lin that actions can be as kind and welcoming as words. Thanks to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for sharing a copy. Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 3, 2022. 


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 character.

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Fenway and the Bone Thieves (Make Way for Fenway #1) by Victoria Coe Illustrated by
Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

My favorite Jack Russell Terrier is back with his human Hattie in the Make Way for Fenway chapter book series. In this first adventure, Fenway is in the car headed to the Treat Place (pet store) with his family.   Luckily, Fenway’s attention is now focused on his bone, but when he sees squirrels in the Dog Park (backyard), he fears the rodents want to steal his treat.  Fenway must find a place to hide his bone so it is secure.  Once his bone is safely tucked underground, Fenway is relieved.

But now the rain is preventing him from digging up his bone and enjoying it. Fenway is not a very patient pup; playing with his toys isn’t keeping his mind off his bone.  In the morning, Fenway sees sunshine and can’t wait to go out to the Dog Park. Hattie lets him out but when he digs, his bone is not there!  Did the squirrels steal it? 

Written from Fenway’s point of view, author Coe has created a character who I doggedly love! As a dog mom, Fenway’s dialogue and actions are on point.  Kids (and I) love Coe’s Fenway middle grade novels so it’s exciting to read a new series written for young readers.  As a reading specialist, I appreciate all the support for readers transitioning to chapter books such as length (85 pages), short chapters, and Lew-Vriethoff’s adorable black and illustrations which perfectly capture Fenway’s personality. Thanks to the author for sharing an eARC. Fenway and the Bone Thieves celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 3, 2022.  And a bonus-Fenway and the Frisbee Trick publishes simultaneously and 2 more Fenway adventures are to come in 2023!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/11/22

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:

Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence by Sonja Thomas

12 year old science-loving Mira Williams must face facts.  Her summer sucks (although her grandmother chides her for her inappropriate language).  Well, you be the judge.  Her best friend, Thomas, has moved far away, her father is laid off, her science fair rival, Tamika, has moved into Thomas’ old house, and her cat, Sir Fig Newton, was just diagnosed with diabetes.  And the worst part is treatment is so expensive, her parents think the only solution is finding a new home for Sir Fig.  No offense Gran, but I think Mia’s word choice is spot on.  

Mira cannot let go of Sir Fig without a fight. She convinces her parents to give her a month to make the money for Sir Fig’s care. Babysitting and selling lemonade are good starting points, but $2000 is a lot of money to earn.  Inspired by Tamika’s mother’s activism, Mia discovers a way to raise money, but now another worry has emerged.  Will Sir Fig respond to his treatments? Mira who typically only believes in facts must also have faith for as Gran says, “Faith allows for possibilities.” 

Written from Mira’s point of view, debut author Thomas beautifully captures the voice of smart, authentic, and determined young girl who readers will relate to and root for.  As I was reading, my heart hurt for Mira as she worried about both Sir Fig, her dad, and her friendships, but I appreciated how Thomas did not allow Mia to wallow in her sorrows. Mia’s determination was invigorating and I especially loved how Thomas showed how Mia’s experiences, good and bad, changed her, for the better.   Mira learned that with patience, curiosity, observation, and persistence, she had not only survived the worst summer of her life but also emerged stronger.   Thanks to the author for sharing with my #bookexcursion group. Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence recently published on March 22, 2022. 


Donut: The Unicorn Who Wanted to Fly by Laura Gehl Illustrated by Andrea Zuill

After seeing a bird flying in the air, a unicorn sweetly named Donut has one wish-to fly!  But wanting and doing are entirely two different things.  Donut makes multiple attempts to achieve her goal but none are successful.  Witnessing her struggle and desire, her animal friends lend their support to help make Donut’s dream come true.

I absolutely adore Donut!  On each page spread, Gehl’s text only consists of two words.  For example, Donut jumps! is followed by Donut thumps!  Gehl’s concise rhymes allow kids to join in the reading which is a read. Zuill’s illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.  What I love most is Zuill’s attention to detail, for readers can see Donut’s not only determination and frustration but her forest friends’ reactions and responses. With themes of persistence, friendship, and collaboration, Donut is another great picture book for teaching and/or reinforcing social skills. Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Random House Kids for sharing a copy.  Donut celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on April 12, 2022. 


Really Bird Stories
by Harriet Ziefert Illustrated by Travis Foster

When you are a bird with really big feelings or wants, the best name is well, Really.  In I Really Want to be First, Really is tired of always being last so his friends, a dog and a cat, give him the chance to be the leader. Really leads his friends to a tree to climb.  But when Pup and Cat get scared, can Really who can fly, take charge and lead his wingless friends back to the ground? In I Really Want a Bigger Piece, sharing a blueberry pie is not equal.  Really gets the smallest piece, Cat’s piece is messy, and Dog’s piece is perfect.  How can these three friends solve their problems so everyone is happy? 

Fans of Elephant and Piggie and Pigeon and Duck will REALLY love Ziefert’s and Foster’s new early comic series.   Appearing in speech bubbles, Ziefert’s lively text is all dialogue making the story easy for kids to access. Foster’s bright and energetic illustrations fill the pages and will captivate kids.  As a reading specialist, I love that the stories teach and reinforce positive virtues such as friendship, teamwork, sharing, and kindness.  In addition, a Think About/Talk About section follows the story where kids can make connections to each story.  More adventures are coming! A third book, I Really Want to Fly to the Moon, releases in September 2022. 

Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Red Comet Press Books for sharing copies of the series.  I Really Want to Be First and I Really Want a Bigger Piece celebrate their book birthday tomorrow on April 12, 2022. 


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 character.

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Being A Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness by Maria Gianferrari Illustrated by Pete Oswald

If you are looking for a picture book to support social emotional learning, I highly recommend Being a Dog.  Children not only get to learn mindful strategies, but also are exposed to vivid verbs (munch, romp, ruffle, wade, whirl) which enhances their oral and written vocabulary.  The back matter includes directions on how to take a mindful nature walk with a canine friend in all four seasons as well as instructions on a mindful breathing exercise. 

With rhythmic, concise text, and warm, expressive artwork, Being a Dog is a tale that gives children the “oppawtunity” to learn how to mindful of their feelings in order to reach their full “pet-tential.”  To read my full review, click here

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, Chapter Books, Debut Author, Graphic Novel, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/31/22

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:

Just Right Jillian by Nicole Collier

Fifth grader Jillian is smart but unbelievably shy.  When her class plays Last Man Standing to improve speed and accuracy in math, Jillian knows the final answer to win but is unable to speak or raise her hand.  Her silence allows her classmate and foe Rashida to win.  Jillian knows she needs to find her voice, but since her Grammy died a year ago, she feels lost.  Grammy always said, “Being shy is one thing. Hiding is something else.”  Jillian knows she is hiding by being quiet and blending in with all the other girls’ wearing dull colored clothes and her hair in a ponytail, but how does she find the confidence to be true self? 

Her teacher, Ms. Warren, sees Jillian’s potential and encourages her to enter the academic competition, Mind Bender.  Rashida won the competition last year as a fourth grader.  What chance does Jillian have?  Gradually, Jillian begins to embrace small steps towards change wearing purple or her hair untwisted until she finally find her JTRA (Just the Right Amount) of courage thanks to her friend Marquez.  And the incubating chicks her class is observing remind Jillian to find the courage to break out of her shell.  

Full of hope and heart, Just Right Jillian is a touching story about family, friendship, facing your fears, and finding out who you are.  While Jillian did not share all her insecurities with her parents, her mom and dad were always sharing words of wisdom.  I just loved their positivity and encouragement. 

  • “Never start your story with the other person.”
  • “If your heart knows what’s right, you already have the answer.  It’s up to you to commit to it.”
  • “When you have a something and you do it, it teaches you to know yourself better.”
  • “You don’t need any excuses to be yourself.” 

We all have a little Jillian in us. With Just Right Jillian, debut author Collier teaches us lessons on how to be brave when it is hard.  Thankful to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Just Right Jillian celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on February 1, 2022. 



Bad Kitty Gets Phone
by Nick Bruel

In this new full-color graphic novel adventure, Kitty is obsessed with the online game Feather Tap and keeps stealing her owners’ phone to play.  When she is given the opportunity to play with real feathers, Kitty is not amused. Instead she asks for her own phone in exchange for doing chores for three whole months.  Successfully completing the seven labors (picking up toys, making bed, washing bowl, cleaning litter box, changing the baby, repairing curtains, and giving Puppy a bath), Kitty earns a phone of her very own.  But with ownership comes responsibility and Kitty struggles in making good decisions becoming addicted to a violent game, a Cat Facebook app,  and ViewTube videos.  Her demeanor also takes a downward spiral engaging with heated online arguments with cyberbullies and ignoring her friend Chatty Kitty’s texts. As a result, her owners to take away her phone for a month.  Readers will love the hilarious chapter How to Take a Phone Away From a Cat which consists of seven not so easy steps.  

Bruel’s text and artwork gives readers not only the opportunity to laugh but also to learn, for Kitty’s actions and her owners’ response teach kids about internet safety and digital literacy.  I love that Kitty’s owners were constantly monitoring her activity and deleted apps that they deemed inappropriate or detrimental to her emotional and mental well being.  A recurring section, Uncle Murray’s Fun Facts, teaches kids the difference between fact and opinion.  Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing for sharing a copy.  Bad Kitty Gets a Phone recently released on December 28, 2021. 


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I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu by Refiloe Moahloli Illustrated by Zinelda McDonald

In Southern Africa, ubuntu means connectedness.  It is the belief that people form their identities based on their relationship with others.   I Am You teaches children the meaning of ubuntu using a concise, melodic text and bold and expressive illustrations.  To read my full review including thoughts from first graders, 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 character.

Cat Dog by Mem Fox Illustrated by Mark Teague

In this interactive picture book, Fox’s clever call and response text and Teague’s lively page filling illustrations will appeal to kids of all ages.  On the first page spread, the text says “So there was a scary dog, right?.  The illustrations shows a cat peering behind a couch and a large white dog with clenched teeth.  When the page is turned, the text reads “No!” and the dog is smaller and docile.  The story continues with questions followed by either a yes or no.  Readers will soon discover that sometimes, the illustrations match the text, but at times, reality is actually depicted in the following page spread.  And while the title is Cat Dog, a mouse is also a main character and its antics drive the plot along.   If you are looking for a picture book to teach point of view or perspective, Cat Dog is a perfect text.  Cat Dog published on October 19, 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, Chapter Books, Graphic Novel, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/17/22

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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Dear Student by Elly Swartz

Sixth grader Autumn has a lot on her plate.  Her dad recently joined the Peace Corps which is hard enough but his leaving resulted in her family having to move in the apartment above her mom’s vet practice.  Her best friend Prisha just moved to California so Autumn is feeling alone on her first day of middle school.   Earlier that day on a video call, her dad asked her to seize the day and get involved in one thing at school.  So when Autumn sees Mr. Baker’s advertisement for a new secret voice of Dear Student in the school newspaper, she wonders… could this be it? 

When Autumn is offered the position of Dear Student, she is both surprised and elated. She feels confident offering guidance to those who write in since her identity is hidden.  But when new friends Logan and Cooper are both impacted differently by her advice, things get messy. With the support of Mr. Baker, Autumn learns that it’s impossible to please everyone.  Being Dear Student is about being honest and staying true to herself which is both frightening and fearless.

Written from Autumn’s point of view, Swartz perfectly captures her main character’s kindness, conflicts, and courage.  Out of all her struggles, her dad choosing the Peace Corps over his family made my heart break for Autumn.  I love though that Swartz is willing to tackle tough family issues that kids today may be facing.  What made my heart happy is Autumn’s tender relationship with her younger sister Pickles whether she is sharing the orange ribbon that Prisha gave her or reading aloud books like Drawn Together,  Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, and Pink is for Blowfish.  Autumn is a character that kids will relate to and root for!  Thanks to Wunderkind PR for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Dear Student publishes on February 15, 2022. 


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Glam Prix Racers: Back on Track (Book 2) by Deanna Kent Illustrated by Neil Hooson 

Mio the Mermaid, her moto Mudwick, and the rest of the Glam Prix Racers are “back on track” competing in the second race of the Glam Prix Cup in Soft Swirl City. Their team is currently in first place, but the Vroombots are following close behind and their leader V-Best does not play fair. He spies on Glam Prix Racers, ignores rules, adds obstacles to the course, and steals all the Sparklecharge.  As in the first race, The Glam Prix Racers know that their sparkle, speed, wits, and most importantly, teamwork are the ingredients to secure another win.  Can they be victorious once again?

With fun characters and a fast paced plot, kids will devour the second adventure in this graphic novel trilogy.  As a teacher, I love that the Glam Prix Racers teach readers the value of traits such as cooperation, problem solving, perseverance, and compassion in a light and lively way.  Kent’s peppy and witty dialogue is both humorous and suspenseful and Hooson’s bright and detailed illustrations pop with both color and energy.   Thanks to the publisher for sharing an eARC.  Back on Track releases tomorrow on January 18, 2022.  And don’t worry!  Fast to the Finish (Book 3) will be out in October 2022.


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Over Bear! Under Where? by Julie Kedlund Illustrated by Michael Slack

Full of puns and wordplay, Hedlund humorously and skillfully uses the words, over and under, in a variety of combinations (Over is over Under; Under is over over) as the two friends, Under (a mole) and Over (a bird) play together on the see saw and swings in the park.   Once the friends see a hot-dog dog and then a bear, the plot picks up and introduces kids to more positional words such as behind and between. Slack’s large and expressive illustrations not only will make kids laugh but also reinforce the concept.  In the author’s note, Hedlund shares that under and over can be combined with other words to make compound words.  

As a reading specialist, I love finding books to introduce or reinforce a skill or concept.  In addition, Over Bear! Under Where! is a perfect book to put in developing readers’ hands because words are  repeated throughout the story making it an accessible read.  The story also has a lot of depth and is a great text for teaching plot elements as well as character traits and/or feelings.  Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. Over Bear! Under Where? recently published on November 9, 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 character.

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The Barking Ballad: A Bark-Along Meow-Along Book by Julia Paschkis

Inspired by the fourth stanza in Oliver Goldsmith’s “An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog,” The Barking Ballad tells the tale of a stray cat who go unnoticed hiding in bushes and tall grasses until a black dog discovers her.  Just as they are ready to meet, a rock falls on the dog’s head leaving him unconscious. The cat comes to the dog’s rescue licking its wound and from that moment on, the two become best friends always by each other’s side.  

While the rhyming text and folk art illustrations will appeal to young children’s ears and eyes, kids will fall in love with this story because author/illustrator Paschkis encourages barks and meows as the story is read aloud.  Prior to the actual story, instructions explain how to bark and meow along, for a red circle cues a canine sound and a yellow diamond cues a feline sound.  Can’t wait to share The Barking Ballad with my kindergarten #classroombookaday class! The Barking Ballad published on October 5, 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.
Chapter Books, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/6/21

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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Winter Lullaby by Diane White Illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki

Honking geese and falling leaves are signs that winter is coming.  As she holds Small Bear’s hand,  Mama Bear says it’s time for bed.  But Small Bear is hesitant to hibernate.  Mouse, Chipmunk, Skunk, Hare, and Raccoon are still awake.  Mama Bear gently explains that all the animals are preparing for a winter rest in their homes. Small Bear is still reluctant asking why must we hide when winter comes? Mama Bear tenderly describes when they wake, it will be spring for the ice will melt to green. This discovery not only comforts Small Bear but also excites the cub.  Now, the two can snuggle for their winter nap. 

With a rhyming soothing text, White has written a sweet story perfect for bedtime.  I love how each time, Small Bear questions hibernation, Mama Bear demonstrates patience with her calm responses. Kaulitzki’s warm illustrations show the shift from fall to winter as blowing leaves change to falling snowflakes.  Her artwork also captures the love between Mama Bear and her cub.  They walk hand in hand, Mama Bear carries Small Bear on her shoulders as well as under her arm.  On the last page spread, they cuddle together in their den.  

Thanks to the author for sharing a copy. Winter Lullaby celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on December 7, 2021. 


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Dancing with Daddy by Anitra Rowe Schulte Illustrated by Ziyue Chen

Excited to go to her first father-daughter dance, Elsie picks out a beautiful red dress with a matching bow because the color matches Daddy’s soccer jersey.  As they drive home from the store, Elsie sees snow flurries and begins to worry. Will the weather ruin her special night?

Inspired by the author’s own daughter, the main character, Elsie, has Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome (WHS). Through the illustrations and text, readers learn how Elsie moves through the use of a wheelchair, eats by way of a plastic tool that pushes food in her stomach, and talks by touching picture squares in a book.  To the reader, this way of life will be new, but to Elsie’s family, this is normal daily activity which is evident in Chen’s beautiful illustrations.  

Reading Dancing with Daddy is like being wrapped in a warm hug.  The immense love of the family is beautifully conveyed in Schulte’s uplifting text and Chen’s gorgeous artwork.  Highly recommend to add to libraries big or small-public, school, classroom and home! To read my full review, 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 character.

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Just Harriet by Elana Arnold

I am a big fan of Arnold’s Bat series so when I saw the cover of her new young middle grade series, Just Harriet with an adorably illustrated girl holding a cat and a basset hound beside her, I knew I couldn’t wait until its release to read.  And while the basset hound named Moneypenny plays a supporting role in the story, her antics with Harriet’s cat, Matzo Ball add levity to the story. Thanks to Harper Collins and NetGalley for sharing an eARC.  Just Harriet publishes on February 1, 2022. 

Her parents promised her the baby wouldn’t change anything but now that her mom must be on bed rest, Harriet has to spend the summer with Nanu (grandmother).  While she loves Nanu, she is not happy about living at her bed and breakfast on Marble Island for two whole months.  Luckily, she convinces everyone to allow Matzo Ball to join her, but Moneypenny isn’t exactly on board (at least, not at first.)

Not long after Harriet arrives, she finds a key in Nanu’s shed. Following in the footsteps of her namesake, Harriet the Spy, Harriet is determined to find out what the key unlocks.  As she tries to uncover the mystery, Harriet learns more about Marble Island, her dad who grew up on the island and most importantly, herself.  And Matzo Ball and Moneypenny.  They learn to not only coexist but actually share a patch of sun together.  

I just adore Harriet.  She admits that sometimes she lies, pees her bed when she has a nightmare, and can get “out of hand.”  I love her honesty to the reader.  At the end of the book, when she meets Mabel Marble who is turning 100 at the end of the summer, Mabel says “We have to laugh at the hard things sometimes. It makes them easier to bear.”  Harriet takes Mabel’s words under consideration. Perhaps laughing instead of getting mad or lying would be helpful.  Looking forward to watching Harriet learn and grow in this series.  


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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/6/21

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.


My school year with students officially began last week.  Even with masks on, I could see the enthusiasm and excitement in the kids’ faces.  What warmed my heart the most is seeing teachers set up their classroom libraries, introducing kids to books through book tastings, and visiting classrooms for read alouds.  Our school is once again celebrating birthdays with books and it is a joy to see students choose a title to add to their home libraries.

In August, Beagles and Books celebrated its 4th birthday.  Last week, my blog was featured in Feedspot’s Top 20 Middle Grade Book Blogs.  I am so grateful for the recognition and have to give a shout out to all the authors, illustrators, publishers, publicists, my #bookexcursion group, and the many #kidlit book bloggers who support me.  And of course, my beagles who patiently pose as my book models.  I love being part of this amazing community that aims to ensure every kid sees themselves as reader!

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Our Recent Reads:

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Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt Illustrated by Eric Rohmann

In the foothills of the Chiso Mountains in West Texas lives an old camel named Zada and a family of American kestrels.  Zada is Auntie to Wims and Beulah, two chicks who are barely two weeks old.  When a dust storm quickly and violently comes across the canyon, Zada tucks the chicks in her fur, for after all, camels are the ships of the desert.  But when a stray dust devil seizes the chicks’ parents, Perlita and Pard, and they go adrift,  Zada knows her mission is even more important. She must keep Wims and Beulah safe at all cost until they can be reunited with their parents.  Aging and wise Zada travels with her two fledglings to the closest shelter.  The only issue is the trio’s refuge is mountain lion Pecos de Leon’s territory, but Zada is certain that it is their best chance.

Once Zada reaches Pecos’ den, she is relieved it is empty. He could come back at anytime; therefore, Zada remains standing and on alert because if she sits down, she might not be able to get back up in time. With two scared chicks in her fur missing their parents, Zada realizes the only way to console Wims and Beulah is to tell them stories about her early days as a racing camel in Turkey, her friendship with fellow camel Asiye, and her voyage to the United States.  So once she has OOD (Official Okie Dokie) from the chicks, Zada begins telling her story which gives you ALL the feels-happy, sad, excited, scared, and most importantly, hopeful. 

Appelt’s words are pure joy to read, for she writes directly to the reader and her concise text carries a lot of weight and meaning.  As I read, I was literally transported to West Texas as well as Turkey and felt I was on the caravan with Zada. Rohmann’s illustrations complement the text showing readers the feelings of the characters.  I would highly recommend Once Upon a Camel as a class read aloud, for with short chapters, engaging characters, and an intriguing plot, kids would be captivated by the story begging the teacher to continue reading.  What touched my heart the most was Zada’s love for everyone she met in life-Asiye, Perlita, Pard, Wims, Beulah, and many others.  Zada was truly the brighest star because of her love, perseverance, and courage.   As a reading specialist, I love that Zada reminds us that stories both comfort and save us.  And in my opinion, once upon a time… in a land far away… is always a perfect beginning to a story. 

This review was originally posted as part of the Once Upon a Camel Blog Tour and Twitter giveaway. Once Upon a Camel celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on September 7, 2021.


 

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The Stars Beckoned: Edward White’s Amazing Walk in Space by Candy Wellins Illustrated by Courtney Dawson

When he was a young boy, Edward White was mesmerized with the night sky. With a rhyming text, Wellins energetically expresses how White’s fascination with the stars never waned with these repeating lines-“Come back in. He’d resist, but then he’d go, walking back…so slow…so slow.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Edward became a pilot. But flying a jet was not enough. Edward wanted to get closer to the stars. The timeline following the story reveals White was chosen to be an astronaut after earning an advanced degree in aeronautical engineering and attending Air Force Test Pilot School, On June 3, 1965, Edward became the first American to walk in space.

With Wellins’ lively rhythmic pattern and Dawson’s warm illustrations conveying White’s curiosity and commitment, The Stars Beckoned is a perfect picture book biography for young children. While Wellins clearly captured White’s passion for the stars, I love how she ended by sharing that his family were truly the brightest stars in his life. Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. The Stars Beckoned published in April 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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All Pets Allowed (Blackberry Farm 2) by Adele Griffin Illustrated by Le Uyen Pham

In the follow-up to The Becket List, Becket and her twin brother Nicholas are turning 10 on October 10th. In true Becket fashion, she wants to celebrate big inviting all their classmates (even prankster Travis) while Nicholas prefers a much smaller affair. The twins not only get their wish granted for their birthday parties but also in their presents. Becket gets to choose a dog to adopt from the shelter and Nicholas can pick a cat. At first, the twins are excited about their choices; however, their pets’ personalities appear to be the opposite of their own. Becket’s dog, Dibs, is shy and anxious while Nicholas’ cat, Given, loves the spotlight. Will the twins accept their pets unconditionally? 

 
 

While All Pets Allowed is the second book in the Blackberry Farm series, it can definitely be read as a stand alone. Griffin clearly conveys while the twins share the same birthdays, they do not have similar depositions.  Becket is all spunk and energy and Nicholas is all quiet and reserved. What I love about this story is because of their pets, the twins has a greater respect and appreciation for each other. Pham’s fun and expressive black and white illustrations capture both Becket’s & Nicholas’ personalities as well as Dibs and Givens. The theme of family is strong, for the Branches are true team supporting each other on their farm and with the new pets. Thanks to Lonnie Lane Marketing for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. All Pets Allowed published last week on August 31, 2021.

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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“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.