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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/15/20

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Beagles and Books is 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.

Seven Clues to Home by Gae Polisner and Nora Raleigh Baskin 

It’s been exactly one year since Joy’s best friend Lukas died   While Joy admits the pain got smaller, the grief did not. Today turning thirteen is not a happy occasion especially since every year Joy and Lukas celebrated their August birthdays together with a scavenger hunt.  For the past year, the unopened envelope with the first clue has remained in the bottom of her desk drawer.  Joy finally gets the courage to open the envelope and read and follow the first clue.

I really enjoy novels written from dual perspective and Polisner and Baskin have masterfully written a moving story that will tug at your heartstrings.  Joy’s chapters take place in the present as she pieces together the clues while Lukas is in the past recounting his day planting the clues all around their Long Island town.  You can feel Joy’s pain as she engages in the scavenger hunt but you can also feel her excitement in feeling connected once again to Lukas.

Losing someone you love is one of the hardest things to experience. Seven Clues to Home reminds us you can keep that people close to your heart through remembering and reminiscing and never really have to say goodbye. Thanks to the publisher Knopf Books for Young Reader/Penguin Random House for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Seven Clues to Home recently published on June 9, 2020.

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The Amazing Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith Illustrated by Mari Lobo

Third grader Azaleah lives in Washington, DC with her chef mom, lawyer dad, older sister Nia, and younger sister Tiana.  In this first book in the series, Azaleah takes a class field trip to the National Zoo and is excited about a creative extra credit assignment.  She decides to focus on her project on a tiger’s habitat but her ability to begin the assignment is impacted by the disappearance of her Tiana’s stuffed frog, Greenie.  Tiana is devastated and very persistent in wanting Azaleah to help her in the search.  Azaleah is willing to help but is also concerned about completing her project in time.  Will Azaleah be successful in accomplishing both?

Written by #OwnVoices author who has worked in elementary education for over 25 years,  Nikki Shannon Smith has created an engaging new series for children transitioning to chapter books.  A blend of realistic fiction and mystery, the story has a lot of kid appeal with a fast-paced plot, about 100 pages in length, bright and lively illustrations, and an eager and smart main character.  Thanks to Capstone for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group.  The Amazing Life of Azaleah Lane published in January 2020.  Look for the second book in the series, The Dramatic Life of Azaleah Lane in Fall 2020.

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The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann

Ernestine who lives in the city is elated to be going on her first camping trip with her Aunt Jackie and cousin Samantha.   With a stuffed duffle bag which luckily zipped, Ernestine is ready.  During the long drive to the campground, Ernestine and Samantha pass the time together and once they arrive, they learn setting up a campsite is a lot of work.  As a first time camper, Ernestine is unsure about swimming in a fish filled pond,  packs way too much in her backpack for a hike and enjoys eating broccoli salad and making s’mores (tofu dogs are not her favorite). When night falls and Ernestine can’t sleep, she begins to miss her dad.  Fortunately, Aunt Jackie and Samantha are there to hold her hand and show her the beauty of a star filled sky.

The Camping Trip is simply delightful. Readers will identify with Ernestine’s range of feelings in trying something new and Mann does a wonderful job of capturing her emotions in both words and illustrations. I love the blend of graphic novel and picture book with panel illustrations, speech bubbles, and first person narration.  And don’t miss the gorgeous case cover or undies and the end papers.  The Camping Trip recently published in April 2020.

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.

Max Explains Everything Puppy Expert by Stacy McAnulty Illustrated by Deborah Hocking

Max Explains Everything Puppy Expert is full of good advice for welcoming a new dog of any age into your family. Max has wanted to dog for a long time and after his mom sees an adoption event in the local paper, they finally say yes to Max.  Choosing the right puppy is a tough decision but once Max does, he realizes it is even more difficult to choose the right house.  Do you pick a name based on personality or behavior?  Teaching his puppy the do’s and don’t of the house and commands is a lot of work hard work but Max realizes that puppies are also a lot of fun, cute, cuddle, and love which helps him choose the perfect name.

What I love about the Max is he talks directly to the reader.  McAnulty’s bouncy text reads like a conversation and along with Hocking’s charming full page illustrations, Max’s upbeat personality shines through. I also love that kids see that Max did the research before adopting a pet and his mom holds him accountable for taking care of his puppy.  And of course, the fact that Max adopted a puppy warms my heart.  Thanks to G.P. Putnam Sons/Penguin Random House and Edelweiss for sharing an e-copy. Max Explains Everything Puppy Expert publishes on July 7, 2020.

 

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Bella & I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books. Happy Reading!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/8/20

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Beagles and Books is 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.

The  Vanderbeekers Lost and Found by Karina Yan Glaser 

It is such a joy to return to The Vanderbeekers’ brownstone on 141st Street in Harlem.  In the fourth book of the series, The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found, it is fall right before the New York Marathon. Mr. Beiderman is running with the school’s cross country team so he can train for the marathon. While tending to the community garden, the siblings discovered that a person of mystery or PM has been staying in the shed.  With their parents’ permission, they have been leaving food.  Slowly, clues lead them to the PM’s identity and in true Vanderbeeker fashion, they want to help but as we all know, some problems are not that easily fixed.

While I love the Vanderbeekers for their genuine concern and kindness, the reason I enjoy them so much is because they encounter real problems. And when problems arise, things don’t always go the right way; mistakes are made and they learn from them.  The Vanderbeekers siblings also don’t just have each other to lean on. Besides their parents, they are a whole community of friends (young and old) to support them.

With the state of the world right now, kids and adults needs books and more importantly, a series like this. Stories that are authentic, relatable, and provide a sense of hope.  And if you haven’t read the first 3 in the series, no worries.  Author Karina Yan Glaser does a marvelous job of providing enough background that each book can be read on its own.

Special thanks to Houghton Mifflin Publishing and Edelweiss for sharing an e-ARC.  The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found publishes in September 2020.

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Gurple and Preen by Linda Sue Park Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Robots Gurple and Preen crash-land on a planet which results in a damaged ship with crayons scattered everywhere.  Without the right resources, a distressed Gurple thinks the ship is unrepairable while an enterprising Preen has a different outlook.  When Gurple breaks a crayon which results in a tablecloth, Preen uses it as a tool to wrap the scattered crayons into groups. Each time Gurple is discouraged by what emerges out of a broken crayon, Preen shows its utility which ultimately fixes the ship. An astonished Gurple’s eyes and mind are open to a different way of thinking.

Gurple and Preen answers the question-What can you do with a broken crayon? You can not only create imaginative artwork but you also can also tell a captivating story.  What I love about the story is it teaches kids valuable skills such as resourcefulness, creativity, and problem solving.

Thanks to Debbie Ridpath Ohi for sharing a F & G with my #bookexcursion group.  Gurple and Preen publishes on August 25, 2020.

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The Refuge by Sandra le Guen Illustrated by Stéphane Nicolet Translated by Daniel Hahn

Teaching theme can be a difficult skill. As a reading specialist, picture books have become a valuable teaching tool to support students’ ability to determine theme. With themes of empathy, bravery, resilience, friendship, family & hope, The Refuge is a great mentor text. To read my full review and enter a giveaway, click here.

Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

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

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A Family for Louie by Alexandra Thompson 

Foodie French bulldog Louie thinks his life is full. He has fine food, a comfortable home, and books to read. But one day he realizes the one thing he is missing is a family. But how you find a family?  Each time Louie sees what he thinks is a potential match, something is not right. Will Louie ever find a family to call his own?

Debut author/illustrator Alexandra Thompson has written and illustrated a charming story about food, friendship, and family.  Louie is simply adorable and Thompson’s use of soft colors in her illustrations evokes a sense of warmth and calm.   What I love about Louie is Thompson’s decision to make him anthropomorphic, for he sits in restaurants, goes to the beach, and sits in parks right alongside humans.  And while he thought he was content, once he saw families spending time together, he realized he desired that sense of connection too.  Thanks to Penguin Random House and Edelweiss for sharing an e-copy. A Family for Louie celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on June 9, 2020.

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Bella & I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books. Happy Reading!

#classroombookaday, Edelweiss, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/18/20

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Beagles and Books is 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.

While blogging is a solitary activity, I never feel alone, for I am blessed to be part of a larger community of kid lit bloggers.  We share our love of reading and always makes sure our TBR stack is tall!  Grateful to have Beagles and Books highlighted on two lists of kid lit blogs to follow along with many other fellow bloggers: Afoma Umesi’s 22 Best Kid Lit Blogs to Follow and Feedspot’s Top 100 Children’s Book Blogs and Websites for Parents, Teachers and Kids in 2020.

This week is devoted to picture books that I was digitally sent by Penguin Random House.  As I mentioned last week, I initially wasn’t a big fan of electronic picture books largely due to the fact I regularly shared F & G and ARCs with my #classroombookday second grade.  The kids felt honored when I read aloud these yet-to-be published books.  Once our teaching went virtual, I will admit it was hard to hold a picture book while reading.  PDFs of picture books allow kids to see not only the text but also the gorgeous illustrations during a virtual Google Meet class meeting.  While I do miss holding a picture book and have had to get creative snapping photos of Bella with just picture book covers, e-books have allowed me to keep the live read alouds engaging for kids.  As always, trying to find the silver lining.

Recent Reads:

Brick by Brick by Heidi Woodward Sheffield

From the immense grin on his face to calling him strong with arms like stone, readers see how deeply Luis admires his father who is a bricklayer.  On subsequent pages in both text and illustrations, Sheffield shows the parallels between Luis and his father as they both work.  As Luis’ father builds brick by brick, Luis reads book by book.  As his father makes mortar, Luis builds with his art supplies. Verbs such as SCRRRAPES and WHIRRRRRRR are overly emphasized in the text which made me almost hear the sounds as I was reading.  Luis has a dream that his family will have nuestra casa para siempre-our always home.  On a Saturday morning after breakfast, Luis’ father has una sopresa (surprise) and after a ride in the truck with his eyes closed, Luis discovers that dreams can come true, for his father has built the family a brick house to call home.

Brick by Brick is a feel good story about family, hard work, and dreams.  Sheffield’s use of mixed media made her art literally jump off the page.  And I love the exuberant expressions of Luis and his father, for they will warm your heart. Thanks to the author and Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House for sharing an e-copy of Brick by Brick which was recently published on May 4, 2020.

Soaked by Abi Cushman 

According to a bear, rain ruins everything he loves.  Ice cream. Sand castles. Cashmere sweaters (Really? Not sure about that last one).  Seeking shelter in his cave, he invites his friends but it gets a little crowded when one of your friends is a hula hooping moose.  If only you could find your bumblebee umbrella.  Hmm. Seems odd that the badger found hers. (Wait a minute. Why would a badger have the same umbrella?)  But when one of moose’s hula hoops get stuck in a tree, the wallowing bear can’t just sit there. As he, rabbit, and badger free the hula hoop, they all fall into a huge puddle with the hoop around bear’s neck.  Could hula hoop + puddle + rain =fun?

Last week, I had the opportunity to do a live read aloud of Soaked to my #classroombookaday second grade class.  After I read, we discussed the lesson of the story.  A student said Soaked teaches us to look for the good, not the bad.  The conversation grew with the realization that while we all wish we were together in the classroom listening to the story, we are happy that we can be together virtually through Google Meets.  We are learning how to change our perspective and seeing the positive rather than dwelling on the negative.  Great message for today and every day!  Thanks to Viking Books/Penguin Random House and Edelweiss for an e-copy.  Look for Soaked on June 14, 2020.

The Stray by Molly Ruttan

When I first saw the title, I immediately thought The Stray was about a dog looking for a home. The cover made me realize the stray was an alien from another planet who crashed to Earth.  A kind family rescues him wrapping him up in a baby blanket, brings him home, and name him Grub.

What I love most about The Stray is the illustrations are integral to the story.  My #classroombooksaday observed this right away.  If a reader just read the text, the story could be about a stray dog or cat but the artwork confirms that Grub is unique.  The illustrations unveil Grub’s levitating powers which begin with a toaster and are in full force on a walk around the neighborhood. What tugged at my heart is while the family welcomed Grub as a member of their family, he still missed his home.  Recognizing his yearning, the kids put up FOUND posters which are instrumental in Grub’s reunion with his alien family.   The Stray is a tender story about a family who not only has enough love to welcome a stray into their family but also to let him go.  Thanks to Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House and Edelweiss for an e-copy. The Stray will celebrate its book birthday tomorrow on Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

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.

This is Gus by Chris Chatterton 

Gus is a grumpy basset hound who doesn’t like being petted, going for walks or celebrating birthdays. But wait! Once a basset pup arrives on the scene, maybe Gus will change his mind. And while the text may say Gus now likes things, the illustrations clearly show his distaste for everything except…sausage.  Gus likes the smell, shape, and taste of sausage.  Guess who else likes sausage? The basset pup.  Will Gus be willing to share his sausage?  Like Ryan Higgins’ Bruce, This is Gus might be a grouch but he truly has a heart of gold. Thanks to Penguin Workshop/Penguin Random House and Edelweiss for an e-copy. Previously published in the U.K., This is Gus will celebrate its U.S. book birthday tomorrow on Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

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Bella & I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books. Happy Reading! Stay safe and well!