#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!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is etta-beagles-and-books-e1624813174378.jpg
“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.
Book Birthday, Chapter Books, Middle Grade Literature

Happy Book Birthday to Secondhand Dogs by Carolyn Crimi!

Bella and I wish a Happy Birthday to Secondhand Dogs written by Carolyn Crimi and illustrated by Melissa Manwill! Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Harper Collins for sharing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

Miss Lottie gives dogs a second chance. Gus was the first dog she adopted; therefore, under Dog Pack Law, he is the leader giving his approval before Miss Lottie brings another dog into the pack. Gus’ track record is perfect with Roo, Tank, and Moon Pie. When Miss Lottie introduces Decker to the pack, Gus smells something not right. He wants to trust his gut instincts, but Miss Lottie keeps comparing Decker to her first dog, Mr. Beans. Perhaps Gus’ dogginess is off and Decker just needs a chance; therefore, Gus gives a half hearted woof and wag. Almost immediately, Decker walks into Miss Lottie’s the van ahead of him. Uh oh! Is Decker challlenging Gus as leader of the pack?

As the story unfolds, readers learn about all the dogs’ history and how they found their forever home with Miss Lottie.  Crimi also shares Decker’s story and why he acts the way he does. Reading the back story of each dog really hit me because as the proud dog mom of Bella (& Etta who passed in February 2020), it is very rare to know about a dog’s prior life before adopting them.  Bella is a sweetheart wagging her tail 90% of the time, but if she hears the sound of metal, her tail goes down and she scurries to her safe spot under our bed. I can speculate, but will never know the roots of that behavior.  

At its heart, Secondhand Dogs is a story about family, for after Miss Lottie’s husband passed away, she needed a purpose.  She soon discovered that giving dogs a second home was a way to heal and be whole.  Another important character in the story is Quinn, Miss Lottie’s neighbor who is coping with a lot of loss-his father’s sudden death, an accident which claimed the life of his dog, Murph, and his changed relationship with his older brother Jessie. After reading Secondhand Dogs, my heart was filled with hope, for whatever happened in the past, we all have a second chance to be happy.

As an educator, I took note of the book length, for the novel is under 250 pages and then more specifically, the chapter length which vary from 4 to 7 pages.  Length can be an important consideration when recommending books to kiids, for stamina for chapter book reading sometimes has to nurtured. While the novel may be short in length, Secondhand Dogs is a story with well developed characters and an abosrbing plot which will appeal to young readers. Manwill’s black and white illustrations support the text in order for readers to better understand the characters and important events.

If you would like to read a sample courtesy of Harper Collins, click here.


Praise for Secondhand Dogs!

“A sensitive, satisfying, and intriguing canine tale.”   —Kirkus Reviews


About the Author:

Carolyn Crimi received her MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College in 2000. She has published over 15 books, including Dear TabbyDon’t Need FriendsBoris and BellaHenry and the Buccaneer BunniesWhere’s My Mummy?, and I Am the Boss of this Chair. Her book There Might Be Lobsters won The Golden Kite Award in 2018 for Best Picture Book Text, and her middle grade debut, Weird Little Robots, was named a BEA Book Buzz pick. Carolyn has received over thirty state awards and award nominations and was given The Prairie State Award in 2012 for her body of work. You can visit Carolyn at carolyncrimi.com.

Facebook: Carolyn Crimi

Twitter: @crims10