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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/19/21

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


Our Recent Reads:

Long Distance by Whitney Gardner

Named after a star, Vega loves astronomy but is not thrilled about her family’s recent move from Portland to Seattle due to her dad Wes’ new job.  Will the distance impact her relationship with best friend Halley?  To help Vega make new friends, her dad Javi enrolls her in a sleep away summer camp.  Not long after Vega arrives at Camp Very Best Friend, she realizes that things are not normal.  With the help of campers, Querty and twins Gemma and Isaac, Vega discovers truths about the camp which even caught me by surprise.  

Long Distance is a engaging and entertaining middle grade graphic novel about friendship-maintaining old and making new.  Not to give away the plot, but I love that Gardner blends genres to make the plot more intriguing.   The chapter titles are clever inspired by Vega’s internet search on how to make friends. She discovers 7 tips for making friends, and each tip is a chapter title. Because of Vega’s love for astronomy and Gemma’s love for gems, sidebars teach science concepts such the star wheel and thunder eggs. Gardner’s artwork is eye popping with bold colors and ranges from multiple panels of different sizes to splash panels.  Thanks to Simon & Schuster for a review copy.  Long Distance recently released on June 29, 2021.

Mindy Kim and the Trip to Korea by Lyla Lee Illustrated by Dung Ho

In the fifth story in the series, Mindy, her dad, and his girlfriend Julie travel to South Korea to visit her father’s family.  This is not only Mindy’s first trip to Korea but also her first out of the country which makes her both excited and nervous.  After arriving, Mindy has the opportunity to speak Korean more often, eat her grandmother’s yummy food, visit the capital Seoul as well as take a family camping trip to Gangwon-do, a vacation spot with mountains, rivers, and beaches.  And while Florida is very far away from Korea, Mindy realizes that she and her family are all looking at the same moon. This knowledge makes Mindy feel closer to her family in Korea despite the distance.  Saying goodbye was hard but Mindy was happy to be reunited with her dog Theodore.  

Written in 77 pages with short chapters and full page illustrations in almost each chapter, Mindy Kim has great supports for primary students transitioning into chapter books.  Readers also learn about the Korean culture, for each time Lee introduces a word, she explains the meaning in kid friendly language.  I love that Mindy’s dad suggest she write a blog about her trip to record her thoughts and memories.  Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sharing a finished copy.  Mindy Kim and the Trip to Korea published on June 8, 2021.  


You Have to Read This Book by Bruce Eric Kaplan

A father bear named Morris sees a beloved childhood book in a store window, buys the book, and takes it home telling his son Benny “You have to read this book!”  Benny responds “I don’t want to.” Determined to change his son’s mind, Morris continually places the book in Benny’s view for months, bribes him with an ice cream breakfast, and even hides all the books on Benny’s bookshelf.  Benny remains firm in his stance.  Morris’ final attempt is pretty drastic but it does get Benny to at least grab the book.  Now will his son read it? 

The battle of wills between Morris and Benny is hilarious.  As I was reading, I wondered. How far would Morris go and would Benny stand his ground? Amid the laughter, I realized that the story could support the skill of assertiveness taught through Conscious Discipline, a program we use in our district.  Children are taught to use a big voice to be assertive.  Benny definitely uses his big voice to convey his feelings to his father.  Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sharing a copy with me.  You Have to Read This Book published in March 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.

Ciao Sandro! by Steven Varni Illustrated by Luciano Lozano

Since he was a puppy, Sandro and gondolier Nicola do everything together, but today Sandro is venturing out in Venice solo on a very special errand. Because of his acute sense of smell and hearing, Sandro knows the city better than most Venetians which helps him locate friends Alvise and Francesca to deliver a message. Then he travels to the vaporetto stop, walks on the boat, and gets off at Murano to see Giorgio, the glassblower. With this last errand complete, Sandro returns to Venice and reunites with Nicola. After the last gondola ride for the day, Nicola and Sandro walk to meet their friends and the last page spread reveals Sandro’s secret mission-to remind their friends to attend Nicola”s birthday celebration.

My husband and I were married in Sardinia, Italy. Venice was our first stop on our honeymoon so the city will always hold a special place in my heart. I loved being able to be see Venice from Sandro’s perspective, but what especially warmed my heart was the sweet relationship of a dog and his gondolier. And it’s pretty adorable to see a dog wearing a striped shirt with a red bandana around his neck. An added bonus is a glossary pronouncing and defining Italian words immediately follows the story. Ciao Sandro! published on June 8, 2021. 

 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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

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

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

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


Our Recent Reads:

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Saint Ivy: Kind at All Costs by Laurie Morrison

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

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

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


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Dear Librarian by Lydia M. Sigwarth Illustrated by Romina Galotta

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

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


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

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

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

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


Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

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

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

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

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


Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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

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

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Thank you to Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing for sending review copies of Ready-to-Read Graphics, a new addition to their Ready-to-Read line.  All opinions are my own.  Ready-to-Read Grpahics are a great way to introduce beginning readers to graphic novels.  Check out the characteristics below!

The first book in each series will be published next week on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.  Subsequent books in each series will be forthcoming. For more information, click on Ready-to-Read Graphics!


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Thunder and Cluck: Friends Do Not Eat Friends by Jill Esbaum Illustrated by Miles Thompson (Level 1)

Thunder, a large carnivorous dinosaur, attempts to scare Cluck, a small pterodactyl with his loud roar, but Cluck isn’t convinced.  In fact, as Thunder continues to make noise, Cluck is pretty chill staying put to enjoy his rest on the grass.  Cluck’s lack of response infuriates Thunder but as the two banter back and forth, it is pretty clear that Cluck’s comments are making Thunder rethink his whole plan.  Can a friendship truly blossom between these two dinosaurs?  

Thunder and Cluck is a great introduction to graphic novel for beginning readers, for the story is mostly one or two panels per page with some wordless page spreads.  Esbaum’s peppy dialogue is concise and includes many high frequency words that young readers can recognize and read.  With an accessible text, kids can focus on the characters especially the transformation of Thunder from ferocious to friendly.  Thompson’s lively illustrations humurously show each character’s contrast in personalities.   Stay tuned for The Brave Friends Leads the Way (Book 2) coming out in August 2021!


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Nugget and Dog: All Ketchup No Mustard by Jason Tharp (Level 2)

(Chicken) Nugget and (Hot) Dog are neighbors and best friends.  One day, they look in a chest in Great-Grandpa Frank-Furter’s attic and find a mask, a paper, and a photo.  After showing Gramps the items, he tells them of being a K.E.T.C.H.U.P. Cruscader in his youth.  Each letter stood for a positive word (kind, thoughful, courageous, etc.) and the group was formed to save Gastroplis from the evil Mayo Naze and her mold.  By being kind, emphathetic, and helpful to Mayo Naze, the Cruscaders convinced her to use power for good, not evil.  But now, her great-grandson Dijon Mustard, is hatching his own evil plan.  Can Nugget and Dog use K.E.T.C.H.U.P to save the town once again?  

With cool characters, an intriguing plot, and engaging illustrations, Nugget and Dog is a hilarious story with an affirming message!  Tharp’s comic panels are bold and playful and the text includes puns that will keep kids laughing throughout the story.  As an adult, I chuckled every time Dijon appeared on the scene, for he is perfectly evil with his slanty eyebrows and his MWAHAHA outbursts with his sidekick Crouton. 

What I especially loved is how Nugget and Dog showed the power of positivity and the message that you can do big things even if you are small.    The next Nugget and Dog adventure, Yum Fest is the Best (Book 2), publishes in August 2021. 


Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box Too! by Maggie P. Chang (Level 3)

Like a lot of kids her age, Geraldine’s favorite time of the school day is lunch.  Amah (Grandma in Taiwanese) makes the best food and even includes notes in her grinning lunch box, which Geraldine affectionately Biandang.  Look how cute he is!

 

But when Nico who sits by Geraldine smells her curry and loudly says “EW”! and further remarks “Your lunch is gross,” other classmates follow with words like “yuck” and “weird.” Although Geraldine loves her Amah’s Taiwanese lunches, she is now nervous to eat them at the lunch table. Geraldine is so upset that she not only does eat not the delicious bao but also takes her anger out on Biandang throwing him, but then quickly apologizing and mending him. On the next day, right before Geraldine opens Biandang, Nico makes another rude comment, but it is now directed at Deven and his lunch. Geraldine knows that she has to stand up both for herself and Deven and teach her classmates a powerful lesson to be both open minded and compassionate.

Young children need to learn about the effects of microaggressions and debut author/illustrator Chang’s Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box Too is the perfect story to help kids understand how their comments can be hurtful to their peers. Chang’s comic panels are bright and detailed with a large text to make it easy to read. Geraldine’s thoughts ands feelings are conveyed through the narration and the dialogue, The number of panels per page increases which shows the Ready-to-Read level progression from 1 to 3. Bonuses include an author explanation of how Geraldine and her family speak English, Madarin Chinese, and Taiwanese, as well as a glossary of Madarin and Taiwanese words with pictures. In addition, at the end of the book, Biandang shares his thoughts too about names and foods highlighted in the story, and Amah shares her steamed pork bao recipe. A second book has not been shared yet, but I am hopeful the wait won’t be long!

Early Chapter Books, Literati Kids Book Club, Nonfiction

A Review of Literati Kids Book Clubs (Month 3)

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

For the last 3 months,  I have shared my thoughts on Literati Kids Book Clubs.   As a reading specialist, one of my favorite job responsibilities is to provide parents with book recommendations.  Literati opened my eyes to the fact that my book lists always focused on fiction and neglected to suggest nonfiction options.  Cultivating independent readers is not only about reading picture books, chapter books, and/or novels.  Some kids may be more interested in reading an illustrated nonfiction book or an interactive book with puzzles and games.  Interest is the most important factor in order to engage young readers.

Recently, I received a third Literati Kids box and wanted to share my final honest thoughts about the books curated for this month.

Which Literati Kid Book Club is Best for Your Child? 

A friendly reminder that there are 6 options for book clubs. 

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

Visiting the Literati website will provide you with more information about the types of books curated for each club.  Since I mostly work with children transitioning to chapter book reading, Club Sage was the best choice for me. 


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What Was Inside My Literati Box?

Early Chapter Books 

This month, my box contained 3 early chapter books.  This month, the books were diverse in terms of the genre- realistic fiction, adventure, and mystery.  Like last month,  all books curated for this month are part of a series.  Chapter book series are a great way to hook a reader because of familiar main characters, setting,  plot structure, and writing style.   

What I especially love about this month’s books is that they vary in length.  In my teaching experiences, I have worked with children who struggle with chapter books because in their mind, the story is too long.  As children transition to chapter books, I teach that a book may not be read in one sitting.  I appreciate that books curated for this month range from 37 pages to 89 pages providing scaffolds for children to increase their stamina. 

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  • The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake (A Wilcox and Griswold Mystery) by Robin Newman Illustrated by Deborah Zemke
    Miss Rabbit’s carrot cake is missing!  Missing Food Investigators (MFI) Captain Griswold and Detective Wilcox are on the case.  Piecing together clues, the duo interview suspects such as an owl, a pig, and a dog.  With fun characters and puns, the mystery is entertaining and will entice kids to read more in the series (37 pages).
  • Ghost Island (Choose Your Own Adventure Dragonlarks)
    When I was a young reader, I devoured Choose Your Own Adventure books! I did not know that the series was written in an early chapter book format. In Ghost Island, the reader is a main character taking on a family vacation in the Caribbean islands.   During the adventure, decisions await.  Do you go to visit a cemetery and pretend you went? When you meet a pirate ghost, you do help him or say no? I love how the reader is part of the story and that the book can be read multiple times with different endings (73 pages). 
  • Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina 
    Winner of the 2017 Pura Belpré, Award, Juana and Lucas is a delightful story about a young girl growing up in Colombia.  Juana loves drawing, reading, Brussel sprouts, her city of Bogotá, and most especially, her dog Lucas.  Juana does not love learning English and doesn’t understand why she has to learn the language.  Her grandfather though gives her a good reason which motivates her.  With short chapters, colorful illustrations on every page, and Juana’s charming personality, readers will love Juana and Lucas and enjoy the opportunity to learn Spanish words and phrases (89 pages).

Interactive/Informative Books

Along with the chapter books were interactive and informative texts that will engage young minds’ brains.  

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  • Incredible Animals by Dunia Rahwan and Paola Formica
    As soon as I looked at the table of contents, I knew kids would spend hours reading this text. The book is organized in categories such as Brainy Beasts, Special Snoozers, Strange Superpowers, and Small But Deadly.  Young readers can choose a topic and go right to the page to learn more about animals with this common characteristic.  Incredible Animals is a great text to teach kids that nonfiction has a different structure than fiction and does not have to be read from beginning to end.   All the animals featured in the book are then categorized into their respective group such as mammals, invertebrates, reptiles, etc.

  • Color, Doodle, Draw!
    For kids who love to color, doodle, and draw, this interactive book will keep them engaged for hours.  Dinosaurs, pirates, dragons,, Russian nesting dolls, roller coasters, mythical creatures are just a few of the scenes that kids can color, doodle, and draw.  With over 100 pages, this activity book is great for sparking imagination and creativity!

Other Goodies!

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  • A collectible poster featuring original art by illustrator Jennifer M. Potter
  • Personalized bookplates
  • A bookmark that can be planted in garden to grow wildflowers

How Does the Club Work?

As a subscriber, children receive 5 expertly curated age-appropriate books. I was greatly pleased to see the books were all recently published.  The subscription runs at $9.95 a month. You only get charged for the ones you keep. There is a price breakdown of each book on the included packing list so you know how much each one will cost.

What I love is children can touch, open, skim, and read a portion of each book to decide which are a good fit for them.  You only keep the books they want and return the rest for free with the included pre-paid return shipping label.  Literati Kids books match or are less than Amazon pricing which I greatly appreciate.

If you’re interested in trying out Literati Kids a try, click here for 25% off your first box. 

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

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

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

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


Our Recent Reads:

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly

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

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

Pizazz by Sophy Henn

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

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

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

Is Was by Deborah Freedman

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

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


 Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

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

Pawcasso by Remy Lai 

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

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

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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

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

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


Our Recent Reads:

Glam Prix Racers by Deanna Kent Illustrated by Neil Hooson 

On Glittergear Island, it is the first race of the Glam Prix.  Mermaid Mio and monster truck Mudwick, Fairy Flipp and freight train Furie, Dragon Deelux and car Dapper, Sprite Sookie and soft-serve mobile Smoosh, and Unicorn Uni and unicycle U-turn are one of three teams racing for the Glam Prix Cup.  Before the race begins, it is clear that one of the teams, the Vroombots, wants to win at all costs and plans on stealing all of the Sparklecharge which gives all the motos (AKA motor vehicles) life.  In order to be the champions in Race 1, Mio and her teammates must not only cross the finish line first but also collect side quests such as snapping a photo with a ghost garden gnome to earn additional points.  The team encounters a lot of bumps on the road but collaborates to overcome any setbacks.  Will the Glam Prix Racers be able to outsmart and outrun the Vroombots and claim victory of the first race?

Just like the motos in the race, the plot zips at high speed which makes Glam Prix Racers a one sitting read.  You won’t be able to stop!  Kent’s peppy and witty dialogue is both humorous and suspenseful and Hooson’s bright and detailed illustrations pop with both color and energy.  As I was reading, I was feeling nostalgic for the cartoons I used to watch on Saturday mornings for Glam Prix Racers has all the same elements-comedy, intrigue, heroes, villains, gadgets, and lessons on cooperation and persistence.

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


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

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

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

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


 Bella’s Pick of the Week

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

I’m a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog by Michal Babay  Illustrated by Ela Smietanka

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

Chewie is training to be a service dog for a young girl named Alice who is living with celiac disease. His job is to detect gluten, for even a small amount of this protein can make Alice sick.  When Chewie smells gluten, he alerts by running in a circle and sits down if it is gluten-free.  Training is hard work for Chewie because it’s not easy to stay focused and ignore things like bugs, birds, and left over pizza on the ground.  Knowing that Alice is depending on him is just the encouragement Chewie needs to buckle down and after a week of training working directly with Alice, Chewie graduates as an official service dog. 

I have read stories about service dogs, but I’m a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog is the first picture book I have read which shares how dogs can be trained to smell gluten. In the author’s note, Babay explains that the book is based on the true story of her daughter and her service dog.  I love how Babay chose to tell the story from Chewie’s point of view because readers see his struggles and his triumphs and Smietanka’s playful illustrations show his love for his job and Alice. 

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

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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

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

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


Our Recent Reads:

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Rescue at Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson 

Following in the footsteps of her late grandmother, 12 year old Madi is an “animal whisperer” rescuing orphaned and injured wild animals.  In a mere weeks, Madi has the immense opportunity to meet her idol, Jane Goodall but under one condition. Her parents have forbidden Madi from bringing any more animals home.  So when Madi and her friends, Jack and Aaron discover orphaned beaver kits and rescue them, she realizes her only choice is to hide them in her clubhouse.  Taking care of beaver kits secretively is not easy and on top of that, Madi, Jack, and Aaron learn someone is purposely shooting beavers in retaliation for their dams are causing a flood in their town.  The trio along with Jack’s dog, Lid, work together to uncover the person responsible and Madi is also determined to help the beavers find a different location for their dams.    

With an intriguing plot, well developed characters, and lots of factual information about beavers as well as being an animal rehabilitator, Rescue at Lake Wild is an engaging middle grade novel that has a lot of kid appeal.  As an educator, I took note of the book length, for the story is only 181 pages and then more specifically, chapter length which was at most 6 pages.  Length can be an important consideration when recommending books to kids, for sometimes, stamina for chapter book reading must be nurtured. While the novel is shorter in length, Rescue at Lake Wild has a lot of substance. To read my full review and a chance to enter a giveaway, click here.


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

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

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


The Smile Shop by Satoshi Kitamura

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

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


Bella’s Pick of the Week

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

Doggo and Pupper by Katherine Applegate Illustrated by Charlie Adler

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

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

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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

Early Chapter Books, Edelweiss, Giveaway, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/15/21

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:

Cow Says Meow! by Kirsti Call Illustrated by Brandon James Scott

When a cow says meow, it starts an a-moo-sing chain of events.  A young boy responds with “What a copycat!” and on the next page, there is a cat.  When the page is turned, the cat responds with a neigh which helps young readers predict the next animal to appear.  Each animal utters an incorrect animal sound which will keep kids laughing and excited to keep reading. Adults will snicker at the boy’s witty retorts which use wordplay.  For example, when a owl says “WOOF”, the boy replies “You’re barking up the wrong tree!”  After a pig says hi, a young girl follows responding with moo bringing the story full circle.  

Cow Says Meow is an udderly hilarious picture book.  I had the pleasure of reading aloud the story virtually to a kindergarten class and loved that the children were able to be active participants predicting the next animal based on the sound and giggling when the animals got the their sounds mixed up. I also noticed that after a few read alouds, children would be able to read the story themselves, for Call’s text is short and sweet with all the words in speech bubbles. Scott’s bold illustrations fill the whole page and show both the boy’s frustration and the animals’ surprise as the words come out of their mouths.  Thanks to the author for sharing an e-copy.  Cow Says Meow celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on March 16, 2021. 

Watercress by Andrea Wang Illustrated by Jason Chin

A Chinese American family stops their car when the parents see watercress growing on the side of the road.  The daughter who is the narrator in the story is not happy about wading in the cold, muddy water to pick the plant.   When the family sits down for dinner, there is a dish of prepared watercress, but the daughter will not put any in her bowl.  When her parents try to encourage saying the watercress is fresh and free, she does not budge.  The word, free, evokes feelings of embarrassment since the girl wears hand-me-down clothes and sits on chairs taken from a roadside trash heap.  Her mother responds by sharing a framed photograph of her family in China and a moving childhood memory which makes her daughter see the free watercress in fresh, new light.    

Gorgeously written in free verse and beautifully illustrated in watercolor, Watercress is a powerful, emotional read.   In the author’s note, Wang shares that Watercress is based on her childhood memory and the story is both an apology and love letter to her parents.  She reminds families to share their memories, the beautiful ones and the painful ones, for these stories teach us empathy. In the artist’s note, Chin explains his process of illustrating Watercress which I greatly appreciated.  As I was reading, I kept thinking how Watercress is a perfect mentor text for personal narratives and will share this touching book with teachers. Thanks to Neal Porter/Holiday House for sharing an e-copy through Edelweiss. Watercress publishes soon on March 30, 2021. 

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Agnes’s Place by Marit Larsen Illustrated by Jenny Løvlie Translated by Kari Dickson

Young Agnes knows her home so well and the neighbors that live near her.  Everything is pretty predictable.  So when Agnes sees a girl standing on the street below her looking up, her mind is full of wonder. From inside her apartment, Agnes quietly watched the girl and her mother move their things past her door and up the stairs all the way to the fifth floor.  Agnes decided to welcome the new girl by making her an invitation to join her on the swings and dropping it into her letter box.  But when the girl doesn’t come, Agnes is sad.  As time passes, Agnes doesn’t understand. Why is the new girl interested in everything else except her?

While Agnes had a sense of belonging because she knows everyone’s patterns, likes and dislikes in her apartment building, it was clear that she was lonely with no other children around. Løvlie’s detailed illustrations show not only Agnes’s knowledge but also her solitude. The predictability of her world changed the moment she first saw the new girl (now known as Anna) on the street and then moving into the apartment on the fifth floor. Larsen’s text and Løvlie’s artwork express both how Agnes’s home has changed all because of Anna.  At the end of the story, when the two girls come face to face, my heart leaped because I believe the anticipation made their meeting more special.  Translated from Norwegian, Agnes’s Place is a sweet story that reminds us that life is always more enjoyable with surprises. To read my full review and details to enter a giveaway, click here


Bella’s Pick of the Week

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

Good Dog series by Cam Higgins Illustrated by Ariel Landy

Follow the adventures of rescue dog Bo Davis in this new early chapter book series!  In the first book, Home is Where the Heart Is, readers are introduced to Bo who lives on a farm with his family.  After a good rain, Bo decides to join his pig pal, Zonks, for a romp in the mud. After his human brother, Wyatt and sister, Imani, give Bo a much needed bath, they realize that his dog tag is missing.  Not having a tag greatly bothers Bo because it reminded him of his life at the pound before he was adopted and became a Davis.  Determined, Bo retraces his steps, uncovers some clues talking to the farm animals (and some spiders), which all lead him to his treasured tag. 

In Raised in a Barn, the second book in the series, Bo believes he is the fastest animal on the farm so he and the newest foal, Comet, race to prove it once and for all.  Bo wins the race, but not because he is truly faster.  Comet is young and easily distracted by a butterfly.  After being chastised by Nanny Sheep for gloating, Bo apologizes and with the help of his best puppy friend Scrapper, he gets the idea that he can teach Comet how to be a great horse.  But a dog may not be the best teacher for a horse especially when Comet needs to be groomed and ready for the foal parade at the local fair the next day.    Bo learns that it is more important to be Comet’s friend than his teacher.  

The third book in the series, Herd You Loud and Clear, Bo plays games with his sheep buddy Puff.  Because of Puff’s fluffy wool, he is not the best at playing hide and seek and wants to find a game that Bo has not played.  Bo finds out from his human dad, Darnell, that it’s shearing season so Bo has to help herd the sheep to the barn.  Bo attempts to collect the sheep but they complain of being too hot to walk to the barn.  When Bo finally sees Puff, he is standing on a large rock and challenges Bo to catch him.  When Bo can’t, Puff makes fun of him.  While Bo is good at a lot of things, he feels down that he is not at climbing rocks or herding sheep.  Fortunately, Nanny Sheep is willing to teach Bo all about shepherding. And when Puff gets stuck on rocks in the forest, Bo relies on the confidence he gained from Nanny Sheep and help from Scrapper to save his friend.

Well, Bo is now one of my favorite literary pups because of his curiosity, determination, and willingness to always lend a paw to his friends.  The Good Dog series is perfect for readers transitioning to chapter books.  With large print, short chapters, adorable, expressive illustrations on almost every page, well developed characters and an engaging plot, I can’t wait for my young readers to meet Bo.  The first three books published in December 2020. Thanks to Jenny Lu of Simon & Schuster for sharing Good Dog with Beagles and Books.  Three more titles will be published in the series throughout this year.  For more information, 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, Bit About Books Winter Reading Challenge, Early Chapter Books, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/15/21

 

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.

Continue reading “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/15/21”

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/11/21

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.

Continue reading “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/11/21”