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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/15/19


Beagles and Books is back to share some of our current 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: 

Junior Monster Scouts: The Monster Squad by Joe McGee  Illustrated by Ethan Long

Junior Monster Scouts is a new early chapter book series featuring the children of “classic” monsters.  In the first book of the series, The Monster Squad, Wolfy, Vampyra, and Franky work together to dispel the belief that monsters are dangerous, which has been spread by cranky Baron Von Grump who did not like noise or monsters. When Peter, the piper of the village loses his cat, the trio have only one mission-to help find Shadow.  After all, the Junior Monster Scouts’ oath includes the promise to be nice, not scary and to help, not harm.

The Monster Squad is fun and entertaining and will definitely appeal to children transitioning into chapter book reading. I love that at times, McGee allows the narrator to directly speak to the reader, which makes the story more engaging. Ethan Long’s adorable illustrations of the monsters make them so endearing. The Junior Monster Scouts also are great role models demonstrating the virtues of kindness, collaboration, and helpfulness. Special thanks to Joe McGee for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  The Monster Squad and its follow up Crash! Bang! Boo! will be released in September 2019.

Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman Illustrated by Heather Fox

Llama’s gluttonous appetite for cake sets off a chain reaction that almost leads to a disaster of planetary proportions. Because he ate so much cake, Llama’s pants are too tight.  When he dances, his pants rip so loudly that it causes a black hole to open.  Rather than warn others, oblivious Llama carries on with his life and at the end of week, the world ends with the black hole swallowing everything.  Fortunately, for Llama, on the other side of the black hole, the universe survives intact and unharmed.  What a lucky llama! But has Llama learned his lesson when he stumbles upon a lot of pie?

Strutzman’s witty text and Fox’s charmingly whimsical illustrations will make both kids and adults laugh out loud. Special thanks to the author, for I was one of the lucky winners of a recent Twitter giveaway. Llama Destroys the World releases on May 7, 2019.

Vacation for Dexter by Lindsay Ward

Breaking the fourth wall, Dexter speaking directly to readers sharing his excitement and anxiety about traveling.  In Vacation for Dexter, Dexter accompanies his best buddy Jack on a trip to FLOR-I-DA, but planes are not this T-Rex’s preferred mode of transportation.  In true Dexter fashion, he begins his larger than life melt down, but one look at Jack’s anxious face makes Dexter stop worrying about himself and switch gears to comforting his boy.  Vacation for Dexter is a hilarious and heartwarming story reminding young children that it’s easier to be brave with a buddy.  To read my full review, click and enter a DINO-mite giveaway courtesy of Two Lions Publishing, click here.

Etta and 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.

My Furry Foster Family: Truman the Dog by Debbi Michiko Florence Illustrated by Melanie Demmer

Being a huge fan of Florence’s Jasmine Toguchi series, I was so excited to find out she has a new early chapter book series. What makes my heart truly happy is the series features a family fostering animals from a local shelter.

Narrated by eight year old Kaita Takano, Truman the Dog, the first book in the series introduces the reader to her family who begins to foster animals from Happy Paws Rescue, the shelter where they adopted their dachusund Ollie. Their first foster is Truman, an older yet energetic black lab mix . As first time fosters, Kaita and her parents learn lessons daily such as never leave Truman in a room unattended because he finds “trouble.”

What I love about this story is Truman is never blamed for his behavior; rather, the family makes adjustments such as making sure items are out of Truman’s reach. While it is bittersweet when Truman finds his furever home, Kaita realizes that Truman’s adoption allows her family to help another animal in need.  Demmer’s charming illustrations pop off the page and provide support to young readers who are transitioning to chapter books.  I was especially tickled seeing Kaita wearing a flamingo shirt like Jasmine Toguchi!

After the story ends, readers are introduced to real life Kaita who inspired the series and learn how she and the book character are similar and different.   This bonus feature teaches young readers the difference between fiction and nonfiction and could also spark children to write their own fictional stories based on their own lives.  Special thanks to Capstone Publishing for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. The entire four book series will be released in August 2019.

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for stopping by Beagles and Books.  Happy reading!



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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/4/19


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

Our Recent Reads: 

When You Are Brave by Pat Zietlow Miller  Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Fans of Wherever You Go written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler will love their latest collaboration.  When You are Brave is an inspiring story about how to be brave in the midst of change. The story follows a young girl moving with her family to a new house in another town.  Miller’s concise melodious text and Wheeler’s use of subdued color are equally somber and match the girl’s trepidation as she embarks on her journey.  Halfway through drive, the girl closes her eyes and visualize a small light inside her.  The light grows giving her wings and the power to believe in herself.  Miller’s words are uplifting and beautifully conveys the little girl’s positivity and Wheeler’s illustrations become vivid and brilliant.

What I love about When You are Brave is that the girl reminds us that we have the courage inside of us.  When times are tough, it is easy to forget about this inner strength that we might conceal. Taking a moment to pause and breathe is the key to letting go of your worries and realizing you can weather any storm.

Special thanks to author Pat Zietlow Miller for sending a F & G to my #bookexcursion group.  When You Are Brave publishes soon on March 5, 2019.


Duck and Hippo: The Secret Valentine by Jonathan London Illustrated by Andrew Joyner

Like all the books in the Duck and Hippo series, the theme of friendship is at the center of the story.  In The Secret Valentine, no one knows for sure who the mystery valentine is but all the animals have their suspicions.  To read my full review and enter a giveaway, click here.

Etta’s & 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.

Wolf Camp by Andrea Zuill

I love books that are told from a dog’s point of view. Homer is a dog but he feels wolfish at times.  Curious about what it would be like to live as a real wolf, he cannot pass up the opportunity to enroll in Wolf Camp.  After convincing his family, Homer attends Wolf Camp where he and other dogs learn the basics of how to be real wolves. 

Homer soon discovers that the food and sleeping accommodations contrast his comfortable life at home but he sticks it out and becomes a honorary wolf by the end of camp. While Homer adjust backs to his dog life in his warm bed and electric blanket, his certificate hanging in his room and his howl show that he will always be a wolf at heart.

I can’t wait to read this aloud to students. Kids will find humor in the text and illustrations especially as Homer shared his experiences at Wolf Camp. His letter home is hysterical! Special thanks to my fellow #bookexcursion member Lisa Maucione for recommending this wolf-tastic picture book.




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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/28/19


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

Our Recent Reads: 

The Simple Art of Flying by Cory Leonardo

I love stories told from multiple points of view.  You know what’s even better?  Each point of view is written in a different form.  In The Simple Art of Flying, Pete’s Pet Shack is where the lives of Alastair, an African grey parrot,  12 year old doctor in training Fritz, and elderly yet young at heart Albertina known as “Bertie” intertwine.

Written in prose and verse, Alastair yearns to leave his cage and fly away to a palm tree with his devoted sister Aggie. Unfortunately, his anxiousness coupled with some injuries have thwarted his ability to successfully escape.  Readers soon learn that Alastair has quite an affinity for eating words which inspires him to write poetry.   Fritz shares his thoughts and feelings in his Official Medical Logbook.  He meets Alastair and Aggie when he helps out at Pete’s after school.  Aside from his dream of becoming a doctor, Fritz wants to save enough money to buy Aggie, which of course impedes Alastair’s plans. Bertie’s story is written in the form of letters to her husband.  Seeing Alastair in his sad state, lonely Bertie decides he will make a good companion.

As I read each character’s story, I quickly realized that Alastair, Fritz, and Bertie are all trying to cope with loss and change on their own. Author Cory Leonardo’s writing is exquisite. What touched me is how beautifully she was able to weave all the characters’ stories together.  Each of them was shouldering a heavy load alone.  But through their relationships, they learned an important lesson-“You don’t always get what you want out of life because what you do get is better than you ever imagined, better than what you even thought possible.”

The Simple Art of Flying is a must read for amid all my tears, the message of hope & love is abundantly clear.  Special thanks to Cory Leonardo and Simon Kids for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order this touching and heartwarming story now because The Simple Art of Flying publishes soon on February 12, 2019.

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai

Illustrated novels are becoming one of my favorite formats.  Told from the point of view of 11 year old Jingwen, Pie in the Sky is his story of immigrating to Australia with his mother and his annoying yet adorable little brother Yanghao.

Jingwen’s story really hit me because author Remy Lai’s writing and art was so authentic and honest.  While Jingwen is struggling to learn English and make friends, he sees Yanghao excelling at both.  The art is especially revealing for readers get to understand Jingwen’s real thoughts, for he truly feels he has landed on another planet where people look like aliens and speak in symbols.

What is most heartbreaking is Jingwen’s father passed away unexpectedly which leaves him with some unresolved issues.  Jingwen believes there is the only way for him to be able to make peace with his papa, improve his English, and get friends.  He must make all the Pie in the Sky cakes which were to be featured in the bakery his father planned to open.  Making these desserts isn’t a piece of cake because his mother has forbidden her sons to use the oven while she is at work.  But Jingwen is determined and convinces himself that a few little white lies won’t hurt anyone right?

Remy Lai’s debut novel gave me all the feels.  I laughed every time Jingwen and Yanghao called each other “booger” (which is A LOT!) and during their cake making escapades. I teared as the brothers fought with one another and learned more about the heavy weight that Jingwen was carrying in his heart.  Pie in the Sky is a book that can be a mirror or window for readers of all ages.  As a teacher, Jingwen’s story gives me a better insight into the lives of my English Language Learner students and the challenges they face acclimating to living in a new country.  Special thanks to Remy Lai and Macmillian Kids for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. I highly recommend that you pre-order Pie in the Sky now so it is delivered promptly on its May 14, 2019 release.

 Etta’s & 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.

Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook: (Learn from the best!) by Anne Vittur Kennedy

Ragweed is one smart dog and he is willing to pass on his secrets to others who aspire to be a farm dog like him. As Ragweed shares this knowledge about pigs, cows, chickens and sheep, readers clearly discover that he doesn’t actually follow his own advice.  I wonder why?  Well, biscuits may have something to do with it.  Actually, biscuits have EVERYTHING to do with it.  Ragweed has his priorities! 

As a dog mom, I know Ragweed’s voice is perfect!  Etta and Bella are all about the biscuits too.  Anne Vittur Kennedy’s adorable illustrations make you fall in love with Ragweed even more!  Special thanks to Margie Myers-Culver for recommending this book.  Check out her awesome blog by clicking here. Love my Twitter PLN!

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books.  Have a great week!




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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/21/19


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

Our Recent Reads: 

Unicorn Is Maybe Not So Great After All by Bob Shea

It’s been a long wait, but the unstoppable team of Unicorn and Goat are back!  It’s the first day of school and Unicorn is being upstaged by the latest craze-rubber bands that look like well anything circular.  Feeling like a yawn-icorn, Unicorn decides a transformation is the key to regaining the spotlight. Unicorn does get noticed, but the attention is NOT positive which leaves Unicorn feeling even worse.  How can Unicorn gets his mojo back and make up with his friends?

Like Unicorn Thinks He Is Pretty Great, this highly anticipated follow up teaches valuable lessons on self-acceptance, forgiveness, and friendship.  Special thanks to Dina Sherman of Disney Book Group for sharing a F & G with my #bookexcursion group.  This pretty great picture book releases in July 2019 so plan ahead!

The Night Library by David Zeltser Illustrated by Raul Colon

Were you ever disappointed by a gift you received as a child?  In The Night Library, a boy about to turn eight is less than elated to receive his early birthday present-a book.  During his restless sleep, the boy is visited by Patience and Fortitude, the lions who guard the New York Public Library.   Soon he is touring the library with the lions rediscovering the magic of books and how they connect us with the ones we love, even those who are no longer with us.

Zeltser’s poetic writing coupled with Colon’s gorgeous artwork makes The Night Library a must read.  An author’s note shares the history of Patience and Fortitude.  I can’t wait to share this story about the power of books with my students.  Special thanks to Random House Kids for sending a F & G to my #bookexcursion group.  The Night Library publishes in April 2019.


Yasmin the Zookeeper by Saadia Faruji Illustrated by Hatem Aly

Yasmin is back with 4 new books for young readers to enjoy!  In this adventure, Yasmin is excited about her school field trip to the zoo.   I can relate to Yasmin’s enthusiasm about riding a school bus!  Like her, I never rode a bus to school so the ride alone was thrilling to me!  During the field trip, the class get to see the animals up close. While Yasmin is overjoyed when she is picked to help feed the monkeys, a mishap occurs that requires some quick problem solving.  Luckily, Yasmin thinks fast on her feet which makes her zoo trip one she will always remember!

Yasmin is one of my favorite series to recommend to my readers transitioning to chapter books.  Author Saadia Faruqi has created an inquisitive character that young students can easily relate, for some of Yasmin’s experiences mirror their own.  Young readers can not only learn about another culture within the text but also with the backmatter includes Urdu vocabulary and Pakistani facts.  Aly’s bold illustrations of Yasmin clearly show her exuberant personality and her curiosity.

To view all the titles in the Yasmin series, please click here.  Like me, you will need to order them all! And while you are purchasing, pre-order Yasmin in Charge, which will be released in March 2019.

Etta’s & 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.

Fenway and Hattie in the Wild by Victoria J. Coe

Of course, dog books hold a special place in my heart so an opportunity to read the upcoming Fenway and Hattie adventure is a truly honor.  When I found out In the Wild is the last book in the series (at least for a while), the reading became more bittersweet.

Fenway, Hattie, Food Lady and Fetch Man join next door neighbor Angel, her parents and of course pups Patches and Goldie on their annual camping trip.  Being newcomers to the campgrounds, both Fenway and Hattie are navigating new relationships and experiences.  In the woods, a Pomeranian named Coco is the boss and if you step on her paws as Fenway discovers, you’re in trouble.  Hattie, on the other hand, nervous about starting a new school is caught between being one of the “crew” with Angel and her friends and hanging with book loving June who shares an interest in her drawings.  Smelling trouble whenever a boy named Marcus is around, the ever loyal Fenway is determined to protect his girl Hattie from danger even if it means jumping into a pond. And to make matters worst, someone is stealing food from the campsite.  Coco has declared herself in charge of the investigation and this does not sit well with Fenway.

While I have enjoyed all of the books in the series, I think In the Wild may very well be my favorite. Victoria Coe’s fabulous writing mixes humor with heart revealing both Fenway’s and Hattie’s struggle with fitting in and how ultimately, they realize the only way to be happy is to stay true to themselves.  Special thanks to Lisa Maucione who won a copy of the manuscript and shared it with our #bookexcursion group.  And a heartfelt thank you to Victoria Coe for creating the Fenway & Hattie series.  Pre-order now, for In the Wild releases in May 2019.

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books.  Have a great week!




#Bookexcursion, Author Interview, Early Chapter Books, Giveaway

Interview with Hillary Homzie, Author of Ellie May on Presidents’ Day & Ellie May on April Fools’ Day & Giveaway!


Beagles and Books wishes Hillary Homzie’s Ellie May a very Happy Book Birthday! The first two books, Ellie May on Presidents’ Day and Ellie May on April Fools’ Day  publish today.  Hillary was kind enough to join me to answer questions about her new chapter book series about an enthusiastic and curious second grader.  To read my full reviews on both books, please visit my blog post here.

BB:  Congratulations on your new chapter book series!  I am so excited for readers to meet Ellie May!  Can you share with how you came to create her as a character? Any influences or inspirations?

HH: Ellie May announced herself to me. I didn’t pre-plan her. In fact, I had to keep typing to figure out what she would do or say next. She constantly surprised me with her enthusiasm and well-intentioned but misguided attempts at securing attention. She’s absolutely nothing like me. Okay, I’m sure there’s something of me in her somewhere. But she’s certainly nothing like the second grade me. I was much more lost in my own world, nose in a book or drawing. If anything, I’m closer to Lizzy, Ellie May’s best friend who’s artistic and not particularly athletic. However, Lizzy also like rules, and I can’t say I’m particularly bound by them.

So now, you really have me wondering, Laura. Where did Ellie May come from? I think I drew some inspiration from my middle son, who’s impulsive,  energetic and who tries his best to get into the center of things, which means sometimes he steps on a few toes. Hmm, it seems like it’s no coincidence that Ellie May is a middle child. In terms of influences, I’d have to cite the crisp characterization and humor in Beverly Clearly’s Ramona books and in Judy Blume’s Fudge Books.

BB: I love that Ellie’s lists, notes, and letters are included in the chapters. Was this an idea from your first drafts or did this come later?

It came about organically. Ellie May just seemed to want to me to dictate her notes. My editor Julie Bliven really liked them, so she asked me to do more, which means they are now consistently interspersed through the books. I have to admit that I got a little carried away with Ellie May’s creative spelling, and Julie had to pull me back, but she let me keep in quite a bit of it. Ellie May’s still working on her spelling. Hey, I just realized something. I’m not so hot at spelling myself. I’m constantly having to look things up, and I’m a firm believer that spellcheck is one of the world’s greatest inventions.

BB: Tell us your impressions when you saw the first sketches of Ellie May by Jeffrey Ebbeler.

HH: I was just thrilled! Jeffrey is extremely talented, and I feel so lucky that he’s working on the Ellie May books. He’s particularly adept at creating all kinds of humorous details that match the tone of the story. Plus, he truly individualizes the kids and perfectly showcases their personalities and expressions.

BB: The first two in the series are based on Presidents’ Day and April Fool’s Day. Why did you choose those holidays to begin the series?

HH: With my kids, it was a really big deal who got to be flag leader during the Pledge of Allegiance, so I decided to use that as a scenario. I thought it would up the stakes if Ellie May wanted to be flag leader right before Presidents’ Day. Plus, studying and learning about Presidents’ Day can be a big part of the primary school curriculum during the month of February. It was an opportunity to have Ellie May consider what it meant to be a good leader, and the importance of honesty in leadership emerged as a theme. This is an issue that kids are especially hearing about right now in the news, and it will be a timeless issue.

Tackling April Fools’ Day next just seemed the thing to do. After all,  it comes only a couple of months after Presidents’ Day, and, well, it’s all about being funny. While Ellie May isn’t a joker, she’s a humorous character because of her mishaps, and so I thought having Ellie May decide to be the funniest kid in her classroom during April Fools’ Day would provide lots of opportunities for mayhem and mirth. In particular, I enjoyed weaving in a bit of the history of April Fools’ Day and other international holidays celebrating merriment. Plus, when I was in my twenties, I performed and wrote sketch comedy in New York, so I’m always up for a holiday that’s about making people laugh.

BB: Any plans for additional Ellie May books in the series?

HH: Well, I have written the first half of a Halloween book, which was so much fun because it involves Ellie May’s attempts at scaring people! Of course, there are so many other holidays I’d love to tackle—like Ground Hog’s Day. I mean, think about Ellie May in search of a ground hog. It just makes me smile thinking about it.

I know that sometimes I take myself way too seriously and Ellie May reminds me to get back to my inner child, risk-taking and fun–someone who is not being afraid to fail and seeks new experiences with enthusiasm and an open heart.

BB:  I couldn’t agree more!  Ellie May is a good role model for young readers and can teach us all a lesson about the power of curiosity, taking chances, and admitting and growing from your mistakes. I look forward to reading more Ellie May adventures and learning facts about holidays!  Thanks so much Hillary for taking the time to stop by Beagles and Books.

Hillary Homzie.jpg

Meet Hillary: 
To learn more about Hillary,  visit her at www.hillaryhomzie.com or follow her on Twitter @hillaryhomzie

Giveaway Details: 
To celebrate Ellie May’s book birthday, Beagles and Books is giving away paperback copies of Presidents’ Day and April Fools’ Day.  Contest begins today and will end on December 26, 2018 at 12:00 a.m.  Click the link below to enter.


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

It’s Monday! What are You Reading? 12/17/18


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

Our Recent Reads:

Ellie May on Presidents’ Day & Ellie May on April’s Fools’ Day by Hillary Homzie  Illustrated by Jeffery Ebbeler

As a reading specialist, I am always excited to discover a new illustrated series to recommend to my young readers transitioning to chapter books.  Written from her point of view, Ellie May is an exuberant second grader who will capture your heart with her curiosity and tenacity.

In Ellie May on Presidents’ Day, second grader Ellie May has not yet been chosen to be flag leader and she desperately wants a turn before Presidents’ Day.  To make matters worst, Ellie May has less than a week to convince her teacher Ms. Silva that she deserves the honor.  Readers quickly learn that it’s difficult for Ellie May to contain her enthusiasm at school which leads her to get in trouble.  Ellie May attempts to win her teacher over by acting like former presidents displaying honesty like George Washington and an interest in taking apart gadgets like Abraham Lincoln.  Her plan though backfires because her honesty hurts another classmate’s feelings and tinkering with the pencil sharpener doesn’t please Ms. Silva.  Deflated, Ellie May begins to lose hope in becoming a flag leader but discovers that displaying true honesty is the key to her goal.

In Ellie May on April Fools’ Day, Ellie May is determined to be funnier than her classmate Mo and what better day to show her class than April Fool’s Day!  While her first prank works on her family, Ellie can’t seem to execute the joke at school.  After researching birds, she discovers that scrub jays trick spying animals by burying stones instead of acorns.  This new found fact gives Ellie May the idea for an even better prank but unfortunately her joke does not get the reaction she hoped for. Feeling frustrated, Ellie May resorts to a trick that gets her in trouble with Ms. Silva who not only reminds the class the difference between laughing with someone and at them but also shows them with her own April Fools’ prank!

Young readers will enjoy Ellie May because they will be easily able to relate to her.  She has the best intentions but at times, her enthusiasm and eagerness can get the best of her.  What I love most about Ellie May is she always admits her mistakes and shows remorse for her actions which makes her a great role model for students.  Ebbeler’s black and white illustrations beautifully complement the plot and demonstrate Ellie May’s excitement and energy for learning.  Another reason I enjoyed this series is because author Hillary Homzie included Ellie May’s handwritten notes and letters which gave me the opportunity to feel as if Ellie May is really telling the story.  An added bonus is back matter which shares a brief history of Presidents’ Day and April Fools’ Day.

Special thanks to Hillary Homzie for sending Ellie May to my #bookexcursion group.  Both Ellie May books will be released tomorrow on December 18, 2018. Visit Beagles & Books tomorrow for an exclusive interview with Hillary about creating the Ellie May series.

Tough Cookie by Edward Hemingway

Fans of The Gingerbread Man will adore this holiday retelling with a sweet message.  When Sugar Cookie Man is too slow to outrun Fox, readers think Cookie is a goner.  Unlike the original Gingerbread Man, Cookie is miraculously saved from being devoured. Much to Cookie’s chagrin, instead of tasting sweet and delicious, Cookie learns from Fox that he tastes terrible and tough.  Feeling sad and without purpose, Fox attempts to help Cookie sweeten up.  But no amount of eggnog, powdered sugar, and Christmas carols can get the job done.  Plan B is Cookie should improve his speed rather than his sweetness so Fox enters him in the Sweet Treat Christmas Race.  Cookie experiences yet another setback, for he crosses the finish line last.  Cookie doesn’t feel sweet or tough now.  Will he ever find his true calling?

Tough Cookie is a heartwarming story about self-acceptance.  Cookie assumed he was sweet and speedy and when he realizes the truth, he is heartbroken.  Hemingway adorably conveys Cookie’s emotions and feelings through the illustrations as well as the text with phrases such as “And that’s when Cookie crumbled” and “Everything I do is half-baked.” While at first his adversary, Fox becomes a good friend to Cookie in his efforts to help him solve his dilemma reminding him to “hang in there.”  Much to Cookie’s surprise, he realizes he is not to be eaten but rather to adorn the town’s Christmas tree as a decoration.  So that’s why he has a hole in his head! With this discovery, Cookie’s confidence returns, for he finally accepts himself for who he is.

With its powerful message, charming illustrations, and a fast paced engaging plot, I highly recommend teachers and parents to add Tough Cookie as a Christmas read aloud.  I look forward to reading with my students within the next two weeks before winter break. At the end of the book, an added bonus is Tough Cookie recipes-one for sugar cookies and one for ornaments.

Special thanks to Henry Holt Books for Young Readers and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.


Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins by Sue Fliess  Illustrated by Mark Chambers

What happens when it’s Christmas Eve morning and Santa wakes up feeling sick?  Have no fear!  Mrs. Claus is here to take the reins of his sleigh. And with no time to waste, Mrs. Claus quickly gathers the elves to help her prepare for her round trip journey to deliver presents.

Written in rhyme, the text is fun and cheery; it begs to be read aloud!  The bold and colorful illustrations are eye catching especially Mrs. Claus herself with her red curly hair, cat eye glasses, plaid skirt, and red stockings. Readers also spy contemporary references in the illustrations such as Mrs. Claus using a tablet for planning and navigation as well as holding a Starbucks-like cup of coffee as she embarks on her adventure.

I love finding new holiday books to share with students and recommend to teachers.  Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins is a delightful and entertaining adventure that readers will thoroughly enjoy.  Author Sue Fliess has created a dynamic character in Mrs. Claus for she demonstrates many positive traits.  She shows initiative and confidence taking over for Santa, orderliness in preparation for her journey, enthusiasm for delivering the presents, courage when facing bad weather, and calmness and resourcefulness when problems arise.  Illustrator Mark Chambers’ artwork is detailed and expressive, for he vividly conveys Santa’s and Mrs. Claus’ feelings and emotions as well as the elves, reindeer, and other animals.

Special thanks to Two Lions Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending a copy to Beagles and Books to read in exchange for a honest review.

Etta & 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.

Santa’s Dog by Joann Sky Illustrated by Ed Koehler

One of Santa’s dogs, Lance accompanies him every Christmas Eve on his yearly sleigh ride.  But one year when it is particularly windy, Lance falls out of the sleigh. Luckily, an animal shelter takes in Lance and while Santa is concerned, he knows he must continue his journey. Santa returns for Lance on Christmas Day but the shelter is closed and Santa doesn’t feel right going in without permission.

A family whose army dad is headed overseas visits the shelter to find a dog to help them through the transition.  The soldier sees Lance and is certain he is the one.  Still missing Santa, Lance provided comfort to his new family throughout the year.  On the following Christmas Eve, Lance was reunited with Santa but realized that he had a big decision to make.  Does he stay or go?

Written in rhyme, Santa’s Dog is a sweet and tender holiday story that warmed my heart.  As a rescue dog mom, I am always championing books that feature animal adoption.  Lance is loved by all, but after some contemplation. he realizes that his true purpose is to remain with his devoted family.  Koehler’s vibrant and expressive illustrations catch the readers’ eye. Another reason this book tugs at my heart is that a portion of the proceeds go to support animal rescue causes.  To learn more, visit the website http://www.dogsandbooks.com

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books.  Have a great week!

Blog Tour, Early Chapter Books, Giveaway, Rockstar Book Tours

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Beatrice Zinker Incognito by Shelley Johannes


Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker Incognito Blog Tour organized by Rockstar Book Tours. It recently released on September 19, 2018.

About the Book:
Author: Shelley Johannes
Pub. Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 224
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooksTBD

Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker Incognito.jpg

In book two of the Beatrice Zinker series, Operation Upside is finally in full swing! But when Beatrice’s over-enthusiasm lands Mrs. Tamarack with a Strictest Certificate, the team has to scale back a bit. Lying low is not exactly Beatrice’s strong suit, especially when she sees someone who desperately needs to be recognized. But when the certificate meant for him falls into the wrong hands, Beatrice and Lenny have to find a way to widen their circle once again to save Operation Upside, and themselves, from trouble.


Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker was one of my first ARCs (advance reader copy) in my #bookexcursion group which consists of educators from all across the country who read, share, and post reviews of upcoming #kidit releases.  I utterly love Beatrice for her spunk and individuality and was so excited when I found out that Shelley Johannes was writing a follow-up.

Incognito, the second book in the series immediately picks up from Book 1. It is the second week of third grade, and Beatrice and her best friend Lenny have officially yet secretly launched Operation Upside.  They are ready to give the first UPSIDE award of the week to classmate Wes Carver who thoughtfully holds the door open for everyone daily.  Then Beatrice gets the idea that the first award should go to her no shenanigans teacher, Mrs. Tamarak.  Receiving an UPSIDE would put a guaranteed smile on Mrs. Tamarack’s face right?  After secretly slipping the award into the stack of ungraded homework, Beatrice shares her good news with a very shocked Lenny.  Lenny informs Beatrice that Mrs. Tamarack will not consider a most strict award to be a compliment. She is right, for Mrs. Tamarack is not amused.  This mishap calls for Beatrice to go incognito for a while so that the identity of Operation Upside remains a secret.  But if you know Beatrice,  being inconspicuous is not one of her strengths.

After reading and loving the first Beatrice novel, I did not think it was possible to love her even more, but I so do!  With Operation Upside, Beatrice’s mission is to spread happiness and who can argue with that?  Beatrice and Lenny also demonstrate inclusiveness encouraging Chloe to see how Wes’ animal knowledge can benefit the veterinary club and befriending and recruiting new student Sam Diaz for Operation Upside.  And of course, Shelley Johannes’ whimsical black felt tipped pen drawings of Beatrice and her friends make the book even more fun to read!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


About Shelley:
Before becoming an author-illustrator, Shelley began her creative career with ten years in architecture—where she fell in love with felt-tip pens, tracing paper, and the greatness of black turtlenecks. She currently lives in Metro Detroit Michigan with her husband and two sons.

Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker is the first book she’s written. She looks forward to more upside down adventures with Beatrice.

Website |  Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:
3 winners will win a finished copy of BEATRICE ZINKER UPSIDE DOWN THINKER INCOGNITO, US Only.  Click the link below to enter.


Tour Schedule:
Join us on the other stops of this tour for more giveaway chances and to read more about Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker Incognito.

Week One:
10/1/2018- LILbooKlovers– Excerpt
10/2/2018- A Fictional Bookworm– Review
10/3/2018- Beagles & Books– Review
10/4/2018- Oh Hey! Books.– Excerpt
10/5/2018- Patriotic Bookaholic– Review

Week Two:
10/8/2018- Rhythmicbooktrovert– Review
10/9/2018- Christen Krumm Review
10/10/2018- For the Love of KidLit– Spotlight
10/11/2018- BookHounds YA– Review
10/12/2018- Two Points of Interest– Review

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/14/18


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


The Frame-Up by Wendy McLeod MacKnight

The Frame Up is a fast paced, intriguing mystery adventure set in the real life Beaverbrook Art Gallery located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.  In this fictional story, Beaverbrook is not your ordinary art gallery because all the paintings are actually alive.  Once the gallery is closed, all the “residents” interact with each other.  Painted in 1915, Mona Dunn is a 100 year old painting but she is perpetually a thirteen-year-old who loves to visit the beach in the San Vigilio, Lake Garda painting and hang out with her partner in crime, Clem Cotterell who lives in a portrait with his family.

Mona knows that the most important rule of the gallery is don’t let the humans know that the paintings are alive.  One day Mona accidentally breaks that rule and reveals the gallery’s secret to Sargent Singer, the son of the gallery director.  Sargent who is visiting his estranged father for the summer promises Mona that he won’t divulge this incredible secret, and the two become fast friends.   Their friendship becomes crucial when Mona discovers a plot to steal paintings and replace them with reproductions.  Can Mona and Sargent stop the heist before it’s too late?

I enjoyed The Frame Up from start to finish!  Wendy McLeod MacKnight has written a fascinating middle grade mystery weaving elements of both the past and the present.  While living in the present, Mona and the residents give you a glimpse of life long ago. Because they are alive, the “residents” are aware of modern amenities such as movies, popular music, and even the internet.  The mystery involving the art heist kept me guessing until almost the very end. Sargent’s distant relationship with his father also affected me because I know some readers may identify with his struggle to connect with a parent.

Special thanks to Wendy McLeod MacKnight for sending an ARC of The Frame-Up to my #bookexcursion group.  The Frame-Up releases on June 5, 2018, which will include full color glossy pictures of all the paintings highlighted in the novel.  Since a visit to Beaverbrook is not possible right now, I can’t wait for my hardcover copy to arrive!

Fox & Chick: The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier

Fox and Chick remind me of the iconic Frog and Toad, two friends who don’t always see eye to eye.  This early chapter book includes three stories.  In The Party, Chick interrupts Fox’s reading  asking to use his bathroom but not for the reason one would expect.  In Good Soup, as Fox is gathering vegetables, Chick questions his food choices until he mentions that foxes are supposed to eat little birds.  Oops!  In Sit Still, Fox is in the midst of painting a landscape when Chick suggests a portrait of him would be more exciting. If only Chick would sit still….

I read Fox and Chick to my second grade #classroombookaday class; they absolutely loved each story.  While it is a great read aloud, the illustrations deserve full attention to see both Fox’s and Chick’s expressions throughout each story.  After sharing Fox and Chick, the students wanted to know if there are more Fox and Chick adventures.  I can only hope!

Etta’s and 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.

Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates

Dog loves everything about books so he decides to open his own bookstore.  On the day of his Grand Opening, no one came and when they finally did visit, it was not to buy books.  While Dog was a little sad, he did not dwell on it.  Instead, he took a book off the shelf and began to read.  When he read, he forgot he was alone because each book took him on a new adventure.  At the end , a little girl visits his bookstore and while Dog loved books, he realized he enjoys sharing them even more!

How can you not love a dog that loves books!  Author illustrator Louise Yates reminds young readers about the power of finding the right book as well as the joy of sharing books with others.

I look forward to read the rest of the books in the series: Dog Loves Drawing, Dog Loves Counting, and Dog Loves Fairy Tales.

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!  Have a great week! Happy Reading!


#Bookexcursion, Early Chapter Books, Mirrors and Windows

Meet Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi Illustrated by Hatem Aly

Pakistani American Yasmin Ahmad is an inquisitive and spunky second grade student who has a passion for exploring, painting, building, and creating. In each section, Yasmin is challenged with a problem and must use her creative thinking skills to resolve it. While Yasmin’s family is very supportive of her, what I love about Faruqi’s writing is Yasmin works first to find a solution on her own. Yasmin is a great role model for students reminding them to think outside the box and persevere.

Aly’s bold illustrations of Yasmin perfectly complement the text. Readers clearly see how Yasmin questions and ponders any challenge she encounters. Not only are Muslim traditions subtly integrated into Yasmin’s stories readers can also learn Urdu words, Pakistan facts, how to make lassi, a yogurt drink, and a flower motif bookmark at the end of the chapter book.

I cannot wait to introduce Yasmin to my students, for she can be both a mirror and a window. Hoping this book is not a stand alone; Yasmin has so much more she can teach us!

A special thanks to Jennifer Glidden at Capstone for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Meet Yasmin publishes on August 1, 2018.