Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Turkey’s Eggcellent Easter by Wendi Silvano

Beagles and Books is excited to be part of a blog tour for Turkey’s Eggcellent Easter written by Wendi Silvano and illustrated by Lee Harper. Special thanks to Two Lions Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Publisher’s Summary:
Easter is almost here—and Turkey knows just how to celebrate. He’s going to win the eggstra-special Easter egg hunt! The only problem is that animals aren’t allowed to enter. So he and his barnyard friends come up with a top-secret plan. With his trademark disguises and a whole lot of help, Turkey goes undercover. Will his basket of tricks help him win a prize?

Review and Thoughts:
Before I began even reading the story, I began to giggle seeing headband wearing animals exercising in the park with Sheep doing yoga, Pig checking his run time on his watch, and Cow stretching his leg.   The animals are not too health conscious though to enjoy an Easter egg hunt but how can they partake in the kids only hunt?
Every day, I have the pleasure of reading aloud to a second grade class that I have adopted for #classroombookaday.  After reading Turkey’s Eggcellent Easter, I ask children “What is the author’s purpose for writing this story?” using Burkins and Yaris’ visual which is shown below.
B &Y
Here are some of the student’s comments.
“I think the author wanted us to laugh out loud because she used the word, egg in the story a lot to make the story funny.”
“I think the illustrator wanted us to laugh because the animals were all wearing dark glasses and ties acting like spies trying to get the eggs.”
“I think the author wanted us to teach us about perseverance because the animals did not give up when Turkey’s disguises didn’t work.”
“I think the author wanted to teach us about cooperation because all the animals worked together to get an egg. They all shared the jellybean pizza at the end.”
“I think the author wanted to teach us about resourcefulness because the animals kept creating more disguises for the Turkey so he could find an egg.”
I love including seasonal books for #classroombookaday so I was especially excited to read Turkey’s Eggcellent Easter, for the story is not only humorous but also reinforces positive values.  After seeing the other Turkey books in the series on the back cover flap, the children asked me if I could get them.  One student even said “We can read them to see if they would be good read alouds next year.”  It is pretty clear that Turkey and his friends are becoming fast favorites for this class of second graders!
View the eggcellent book trailer below!

 

About the Author: 
Wendi Silvano was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has lived in Oregon, Colorado, and Peru. The author of the Turkey Trouble series, she has a BA in early childhood education and taught preschool and elementary school for eleven years. She is the mother of five children and the owner of an assortment of odd pets that are not nearly as clever as Turkey. She now writes from her home in Colorado, where she enjoys hiking, reading, and playing the piano. Visit her online at www.wendisilvano.com.
About the Illustrator: 
Lee Harper is the author-illustrator of the books Coyote, The Emperor’s Cool Clothes, and Snow! Snow! Snow! Lee is also the illustrator of the Turkey Trouble series, by Wendi Silvano, as well as the Woolbur series, written by Leslie Helakoski. Lee has four children, a German shepherd, a barn cat, and six chickens…but no turkeys. Yet. He lives with his wife in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Visit him online at www.leeharperart.com.
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Eggstraspecial Giveaway!
Two Lions is offering one copy of TURKEY’S EGGCELLENT EASTER to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses only).
Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway: It’s Not Hansel & Gretel by Josh Funk Illustrated by Edwardian Taylor

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Beagles and Books is excited to be a part of the blog tour for It’s Not Hansel and Gretel. It celebrates its book birthday on March 1, 2019.  Special thanks to Two Lions Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review:
An all-knowing narrator attempts to tell the traditional tale of Hansel and Gretel but is quickly interrupted by the characters who have their own idea of their story.  For example, Gretel rebuts the notion that her parents wanted to get rid of her and her brother; rather, they are just taking a leisurely afternoon walk in the woods.  When the siblings meet the witch, Gretel dismisses this label and refers to her as a sweet old lady. What makes my heart happy is Gretel’s championing of women’s rights with her insistence in changing the title to Gretel and Hansel and arguing about why her brother gets candy and she is stuck doing chores.  “Get with the times-this is the fifteenth century,” she retorts!

Interior from It's Not Hansel and Gretel_illustration © 2019 Edwardian Taylor - 2 resized

Fed up with Gretel’s & Hansel’s (you’re welcome, Gretel) antics, the narrator turns the storytelling over to them which allows the duo to get creative growing mustaches, getting a pet unicorn named Fluffybottom, and opening up a bakery serving delicious sweets to their fellow fairy tale friends.  

For fans of It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk, It’s Not Hansel and Gretel is a hilarious and worthy follow up. Funk’s witty writing is pure joy to read aloud and honestly, I find it difficult to not laugh myself. Taylor’s illustrations are so entertaining and chocked full of details that I reread the story just to view his comical digital art. And look closely for cameos from characters from It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk!

If like me, you can’t wait for more fractured fairy tales from the amazing collaborative team of Josh Funk and Edwardian Taylor, you will be thrilled to hear that It’s Not Little Red Riding Hood is set for release in February 2020.  For more info, click here.

Check out the book trailer!
 

 

Josh Funk Author HeadshotAbout the Author:
Like Hansel and Gretel, Josh Funk doesn’t like being told how stories should go—so he writes his own. He is the author of a bunch of picture books, including the popular Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, illustrated by Brendan Kearney, and recently, How to Code a Sandcastle, illustrated by Sara Palacios, and Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience & Fortitude, illustrated by Stevie Lewis. He lives in New England with his wife and children. Learn more about him at www.joshfunkbooks.com and follow him on Twitter @joshfunkbooks.

 

Edwardian Taylor

About the Illustrator:
Edwardian Taylor has worked as a visual development artist and character designer in the game and animation industry. He illustrated the picture book Race!, written by Sue Fliess and the chapter book Toy Academy: Some Assembly Required, written by Brian Lynch. He lives in Texas with his partner and their four dogs. Learn more about him at www.edwardiantaylor.com and follow him on Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter @edwardiantaylor.

Giveaway!
Two Lions is offering one copy of IT’S NOT HANSEL AND GRETEL to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses)  Giveaway begins Wednesday, February 27, 2019 and ends at 12:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 9, 2019.  Good luck! 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/18/19

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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: 

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Cogheart by Peter Benzl

Cogheart tells the story of Lily, a student at Miss Octavia Scrimshaw’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies.  Posture class and French conversation lessons are not Lily’s cup of tea and while she may have frustrated a number of her governesses, she still can’t understand why her inventor father, John Hartman send her to boarding school under a false surname.

As the story quickly unfolds, Lily discovers that her father is missing after his airship crashed.  Since he is presumed dead, Lily is plucked out of school by her father’s housekeeper who Lily knows cannot be trusted.  Determined to find her father, Lily puts her trust in Robert, the son of a town clockmaker who with his father’s help repairs Malkin, Lily’s mechanical fox after he was injured.  Created by her father, Malkin shares his account of what happened on the airship the night John Hartman disappeared. As she, Robert, and Malkin navigate Victorian London thwarting off dastardly villains and attempt to uncover the truth, Lily discovers family secrets that could endanger Robert’s and her lives.

Cogheart is a book I wished I had read when I was a kid.  With dynamic characters, a fast paced intriguing plot, and an enchanting steampunk setting, I was quickly immersed in Lily and Robert’s world.  To read my full review and enter a giveaway for your own copy, click here.

Sweety by Andrea Zuill

Sweety is an uplifting story about celebrating uniqueness. Sporting glasses and braces and having a fondness for fungi, Sweety does not fit in even in the world of naked mole rats.  Fortunately, Sweety is blessed with her Aunt Ruth who instills in her that being different is in fact pretty awesome.  Author illustrator Andrea Zuill is quickly becoming a favorite storyteller of mine.  With the support of family or close friends, her characters (Homer of Wolf Camp and Jasper of Business Pig) embrace their individuality, which is a great lesson for us all.  Thanks to Random House for sending a F & G of Sweety to my #bookexcursion group.  It releases next month on March 26, 2019.

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Waiting for Pumpsie by Barry Wittenstein Illustrated by London Ladd

Since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier as the first American African Major League baseball player in 1947, I assumed that all other teams followed their lead soon after.  Barry Wittenstein’s fictional account, Waiting for Pumpsie taught me differently.  Finding age appropriate text to teach elementary students about the history of race relations can be challenging.  Wittenstein’s narrative which tells the true story of African-American rise to Major League Baseball is a must read because it provides an accurate and accessible account of the history of racial segregation and fight for integration for this age group.  Children can easily relate to his Bernard’s disappointment as well as his hope and enthusiasm. To read my full review and enter a giveaway for your own copy, click here.

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

Good Boy by Sergio Ruzzier

Written using only verbs, Good Boy tells the story of a boy and his dog.  At first, the boy gives his pup simple commands such as sit, stay, and roll over.  The boy’s commands become more unconventional asking his furry best friend to stand, juggle,  cook, pedal,  sail and build, which the dog has no difficulties fulfilling.  After collaborating to build a spaceship, the duo blast off to another planet to interact with aliens.  Once they get home and get ready for bed, the boy repeats his command of stay which ends with the best friends snuggling in bed for the night.

I am a huge fan of Sergio Ruzzier, for his words and artwork exudes warmth and whimsy. What I love most about Good Boy is with its concise text and charming pen and watercolor illustrations, Ruzzier beautifully captures the genuine love between a boy and his dog.  Thanks to Sergio Ruzzier and Julia McCarthy of Atheneum/Simon and Schuster for sending a F & G of Good Boy to my #bookexcursion group.  Good Boy recently published on February 12, 2019.

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

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Giveaway, Picture Books

Review and Giveaway for Waiting for Pumpsie by Barry Wittenstein Illustrated by London Ladd

Beagles and Books is excited to share a review for Waiting for Pumpsie  written by Barry Wittenstein and illustrated by London Ladd. Special thanks to Charlesbridge Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Publisher’s Summary:

“Change is coming real soon.”

In 1959 the Boston Red Sox was the last team in the Major Leagues to integrate. But when they call Elijah “Pumpsie” Green up from the minors, Bernard is overjoyed to see a black player on his beloved home team. And, when Pumpsie’s first home game is scheduled, Bernard and his family head to Fenway Park. Bernard is proud of Pumpsie and hopeful that this historic event is the start of great change in America.

This fictionalized account captures the true story of baseball player Pumpsie Green’s rise to the major leagues. The story is a snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement and a great discussion starter about the state of race relations in the United States today.

Review:

Since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier as the first American African Major League baseball player in 1947, I assumed that all other teams followed their lead soon after.  Barry Wittenstein’s fictional account, Waiting for Pumpsie taught me differently.

It’s 1959. Bernard is a huge Boston Red Sox fan but he cannot understand why his beloved team still doesn’t have any African-American players on their roster.  Jackie Robinson is already retired from the Dodgers for two years so why are the Red Sox dragging their feet?  Through Bernard’s narration, Wittenstein shares that while many baseball teams and fans were ready for integration, it was clear that the Boston Red Sox did not share the same sentiment.  As the Red Sox plummet to last place in the standings, Bernard patiently waits and finally on a hot July day, Bernard’s prayers are answered.  Pumpsie Green is called up from the minors!  Aware of this historic day in Boston baseball history, Bernard’s father buys tickets for Pumpsie’s first home game. Although the Sox did not win the game, Wittenstein’s text and Ladd’s illustrations on the last few pages beautifully convey Bernard’s sheer excitement for being a part of that unforgettable day not only in Boston Red Sox history but also in his own life.

Finding age appropriate text to teach elementary students about the history of race relations can be challenging.  Wittenstein’s account is perfect because it provides an accurate and accessible account of the history of racial segregation and fight for integration for this age group.  Because it is written from Bernard’s point of view, children can easily relate to his disappointment as well as his hope and enthusiasm. Ladd’s acrylic and colored pencil artwork truly transports readers to Fenway Park in the 1950’s.

I highly recommend Waiting for Pumpsie as a read aloud and with the Wittenstein’s author note, I am grateful to learn even more about “Pumpsie” Green and his role in fully integrating all Major League Baseball teams.

Praise for WAITING FOR PUMPSIE!
 
★“A grand slam.”  —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“Bernard’s conversational narration creates a warm bond with readers from the get-go, and although Wittenstein and Ladd never sugarcoat instances of racial prejudice, the story’s moments of triumph sound the loudest notes.”  —Publishers Weekly

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About the Author: 
Barry Wittenstein has tended bar, driven a taxi, worked at CBS Records and CBS News back in the day, spent a decade writing music and lyrics, toiled six years as a web editor and writer for Major League Baseball, and three years as a substitute elementary school teacher.  He could be Walter Mitty’s brother.
Barry loves to write narrative nonfiction picture books. He is the author of Waiting for Pumpsie and The Boo-Boos That Changed the World. In 2019, he will publish two more nonfiction picture books—Sonny’s Bridge, about the legendary jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins; and A Place to Land (with illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney) about how Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “I Have a Dream” speech. He is currently working on a YA novel. He lives in New York City with his wife. To learn more, and to download free curriculum guides, visit his website: https://onedogwoof.com/ or follow him on Twitter: @bwittbooks
Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a Giveaway begins Sunday, February 17 and ends at 12:00 a.m. on Sunday,  Giveaway begins Sunday, February 24, 2019 and ends at 12:00 a.m. on Sunday, February, 24, 2019.  Enter below.
Book Birthday, Giveaway, Middle Grade Literature

Review & Giveaway for Cogheart by Peter Benzl

Beagles and Books is excited to share a review for Cogheart by Peter Benzl. Special thanks to Jolly Fish Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Publisher’s Summary:

Some secrets change the world in a heartbeat.

Lily’s life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her? With her friends—Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox—Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. Too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart …

Review:

Cogheart tells the story of Lily, a student at Miss Octavia Scrimshaw’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies.  Posture class and French conversation lessons are not Lily’s cup of tea and while she may have frustrated a number of her governesses, she still can’t understand why her inventor father, John Hartman send her to boarding school under a false surname.
As the story quickly unfolds, Lily discovers that her father is missing after his airship crashed.  Since he is presumed dead, Lily is plucked out of school by her father’s housekeeper who Lily knows cannot be trusted.  Determined to find her father, Lily puts her trust in Robert, the son of a town clockmaker who with his father’s help repairs Malkin, Lily’s mechanical fox after he was injured.  Created by her father, Malkin shares his account of what happened on the airship the night John Hartman disappeared. As she, Robert, and Malkin navigate Victorian London thwarting off dastardly villains and attempt to uncover the truth, Lily discovers family secrets that could endanger Robert’s and her lives.
Cogheart is a book I wished I had read when I was a kid.  With dynamic characters, a fast paced intriguing plot, and an enchanting steampunk setting, I was quickly immersed in Lily and Robert’s world.  While Lily’s quest to find out the truth was riveting, I was equally drawn to Robert who initially lacked confidence in himself and a dreadful fear of heights.  Due to his kindness and loyalty to Lily, Robert realizes that his father Thaddeus was right, for while is true that ”no one conquers fear easily, it takes a brave heart to win great battles.” Cogheart is a story about family, friendship, and finding out who you really are.
First published in the UK in 2016, Cogheart is the first novel in the trilogy.  Thankful to Jolly Fish Press for purchasing the American rights to this thrilling series.  I am anxiously anticipating more adventures with Lily and Robert in Book 2 Moonlocket, which will be released in Fall 2019 and Book 3 Sky Circus in Spring 2020.

Praise for COGHEART!

With great style and panache, the novel deftly winds through the intricacies of friendship and moral choice while maintaining a fun edge.” —Publishers Weekly
“An exciting, fast-paced adventure.”  —Booklist
“Introduces dastardly villains, friendly mechanicals, and thrilling airship action. . . . with hair-raising and cinematic charm.” —Kirkus Reviews
View the book trailer below and click here to download activities, discussion guides and much more!

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About the Author:
Peter Bunzl grew up in London and lives there with his partner Michael. He is a BAFTA-award-winning animator, as well as a writer and filmmaker. To learn more, visit his website, peterbunzl.com or follow him on Twitter @peterbunzl or Instagram @peter_bunzl

Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive COGHEART courtesy of Jolly Fish Press (U.S. addresses).

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Duck and Hippo by Jonathan London Illustrated by Andrew Joyner

 

 Beagles and Books is excited to be a part of the blog tour for Duck and Hippo: The Secret Valentine written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Andrew Joyner. It  recently published in December 2018. Special thanks to Two Lions Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Publisher’s Summary:

Join Duck, Hippo, and their friends as they uncover their secret valentines!

It’s Valentine’s Day, and something curious is going on. As the birds tweet their love songs, Hippo and his friends Elephant, Pig, and Turtle each receive mysterious, unsigned Valentine’s Day cards. Hippo wonders if his is from Duck; Elephant and Turtle think theirs are from Pig; and Pig dreams that hers is from Turtle. The cards tell the friends to come to the park at four o’clock to meet their valentines—so they’ll find out soon enough! As the clock ticks away, the friends wonder—and dream—about their valentines and make special preparations. But when they arrive…SURPRISE!

This Valentine’s Day might not go exactly the way they expected, but one thing is certain: being friends with Duck and Hippo is always a special treat!

Review and Thoughts:

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. Astute readers though will be able to spy the character responsible, for illustrator Joyner has included some clues in his artwork.  Another observation is all the animals take pride in wanting to look their very best for their secret valentine.  Andrew Joyner’s illustrations warmly capture all the animals’ personalities and excitement as they prepare for the Valentine party in the park.  

I have adopted a second grade class for #classroombookaday and I read them a picture book every day. Reading aloud The Secret Valentine was a lot of fun because author Jonathan London includes a lot of sound effects such as SCRUBBA-DUBBA-DUBBA as the  animals receive their invitations and get ready for the party.

Interior from Duck and Hippo the Secret Valentine _art (c) 2019 Andew Joyner - 2 resize.jpg

After reading aloud, I always ask them “What does the author want to teach us?  Since we started teaching virtues as a whole school, the students make connections to previous virtues as well as the current.  While students identified Duck as being kind and caring,  one student looked at the classroom community chart and said “Duck was showing courtesy because he invited all the animals to the Valentine party, not just Hippo.”  Then another student said, “Actually, all the animals were polite because they brought gifts and shared them with each other.” 

The classroom teacher and I just looked at each other smiling.  Every day, we both see the importance of reading aloud.  Students are getting to see examples of positive virtues which will help them become better classmates, friends, and citizens.  Here’s hoping there are more Duck and Hippo adventures to come!  This series is definitely becoming a class favorite!

About the Author:
Jonathan London is the author of more than one hundred children’s books, including the Froggy series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz, which has sold more than fifteen million copies. Jonathan lives in Graton, California. Learn more at www.jonathan-london.net

About the Illustrator:
Andrew Joyner is an Australian illustrator and author whose work has been published in more than twenty-five countries. He has created the artwork for many picture books, and he is author and illustrator of a chapter book series about a warthog named Boris. Andrew lives in South Australia. Learn more at www.andrewjoyner.com.au.

Learn how to draw Duck and Hippo in this free downloadable activity page! https://www.andrewjoyner.com.au/activities/.

The fourth book in the Duck and Hippo series is a sweet way to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Check out the trailer!

Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of DUCK AND HIPPO: THE SECRET VALENTINE courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses).  Giveaway begins Friday, February 1, 2019 and ends at 12:00 a.m. on Friday,  February 8, 2019.  Good luck! 

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Giveaway, Picture Books

Review & Giveaway: First Snow by Nancy Viau

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It’s a winter wonderland today in Maryland with the first snow of 2019!  I can’t think of a better time to share First Snow written by Nancy Viau and illustrated by Talitha Shipman, the perfect picture book to reading on a snowy day.  Special thanks to Albert Whitman & Company and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review and Thoughts:

When I first looked at the cover, I was immediately smitten with the beagle that joins in on the snow fun.  As I previewed the picture book, I was even more excited to see the sweet pup is on every single spread!  

First Snow is a delightful picture book that celebrates the joy of the first snow of the season.  A brother and his little sister look out the window to see snow falling.  The children waste no time putting on their snow gear and head outside to join their neighborhood friends to play in the wintry wonderland.  The beagle follows along to frolic in the snow!

Written in rhyme with concise text, the story is a sheer pleasure to read aloud.  Young readers are also exposed to rich words and phrases such as scurry, frisky, weary, and strike a pose expanding their oral vocabulary.  The colorful and lively illustrations warmly convey the excitement of the children as they go sledding, make snowmen and snow angels and of course, engage in a friendly snowball fight. 

What I love most about First Snow is the genuine kindness and care that the brother demonstrates toward his little sister throughout the day ending with a bedtime story.  And the icing on the cake is the beagle quietly listens to the read aloud and then joins the sleepy children to dream about more snow!

 

Publisher’s Summary: 
Snowflakes falling! What a treat! Friends gather outside to celebrate the first snowfall of the season with snowball fights, sledding, building igloos, drinking hot chocolate, and making the most of a windy, wintry day. With rhyming text and cheerful illustrations, this is a charming celebration of the winter season.

Praise for First Snow:  “A sweet suburban/rural contrast to the snowy day enjoyed by Peter in the city.”  — Kirkus Reviews
 
 
Relive the joy of the season’s first snow in this sweet trailer!  
 

 
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About the Author:
Nancy Viau first fell in love with snow one wintry day after a huge snow storm left a drift so high that her brothers had to dig a tunnel out the back door. Today, Nancy plays in the snow with snowshoes or skis attached to her feet.  She is the author of five picture books including City Street Beat and Storm Song, along with the middle-grade novels Beauty and Bernice and Just One Thing! She lives in New Jersey.  Visit her website at http://www.nancyviau.com
 
About the Illustrator:
Talitha Shipman has always loved the snow especially the kind that sparkles like diamonds. She graduated with an MFA in illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2008. She’s illustrated several books, including You Are My Little Pumpkin Pie, Everybody Says Shalom, and Applesauce Day. Talitha lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and dog. Find her online at http://www.talithashipman.com
 
Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of First Snow, courtesy of Albert A. Whitman (U.S. addresses).  Enter giveaway through sign up below.  The drawing will occur on Sunday, January 20th and winner will be notified via e-mail.  Good luck!
 
 
 

#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!

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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.

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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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/46a61dc011/?

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins by Sue Fliess

Beagles and Books is excited to be a part of the blog tour for Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins written by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Mark Chambers. It recently published in September 2018. Special thanks to Two Lions Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Publisher’s Summary: 
It’s Christmas Eve morning, and Santa Claus is still in bed! He’s feeling stuffy and sneezy and slow as a yeti. Will Christmas have to be canceled? Not this year! Because Mrs. Claus is ready to take the reins in Santa’s place. With a plan in mind, Mrs. Claus assembles the crew, maps out the route, and preps the sleigh. Then, with a snap of the reins, she shoots off into the night. Delivering gifts all over the world without Santa’s magic won’t be easy, but Mrs. Claus proves she has some holiday sparkle of her own…

With lively rhyming text and adorable artwork, this delightful Christmas adventure will get kids into the holiday spirit.

Praise for Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins
“The illustrations are bright and expressive…Young children will enjoy this exuberant adventure.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This is a nice addition to holiday stories with a little dash of girl power.” —Youth Services Book Review
 Review:
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.
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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.
 
I can’t wait to read Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins to students and start a new holiday tradition!
 
Watch Mrs. Claus make HERstory in the adorable trailer!
 
 
About the Author:
Sue Fliess is the author of more than twenty children’s books, including Shoes for Me!, A Dress for Me!, and Books for Me!, all illustrated by Mike Laughead; and Let’s Build, illustrated by Miki Sakamoto. Sue loves the holiday season and hopes she made it onto Santa’s “nice” list this year! She lives with her family and their dog in Northern Virginia. Learn more about Sue online at www.suefliess.com.
 
About the Illustrator: 
Mark Chambers is an award-winning author and illustrator of more than thirty-five children’s books. In 2013, Mark won the Sheffield Children’s Picture Book Award and was short-listed for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. In 2017, his artwork entitled “We Will Remember” was short-listed for the AOI World Illustration Awards. Mark lives and works in the United Kingdom and once spent Christmas in the Arctic Circle. Learn more about Mark online at www.markachambers.com
 
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Giveaway!
Thanks to Two Lions, one lucky winner will receive a copy of MRS. CLAUS TAKES THE REINS (U.S. addresses).  The giveaway begins Friday, November 30, 2018 and ends at 12:00 a.m. on Friday, December 8, 2018. Enter by clicking the link below. 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/46a61dc09/?

 

 

Giveaway, Picture Books

Review & Giveaway: Tough Cookie by Edward Hemingway

Beagles and Books is excited to share a new holiday picture book, Tough Cookie written and illustrated by Edward Hemingway!  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. All opinions are my own.

Review:

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.

About the Author/Illustrator:
Edward Hemingway is the creator of Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus, Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship, and Bad Apple’s Perfect Day, as well as the illustrator of My Miserable Life by F.L. Block. He has written features in GQ magazine and comics for Nickelodeon, and his artwork has been published in The New York Times and Nickelodeon Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

 
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Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of TOUGH COOKIE with a special cookie cutter and recipe card! (U.S. addresses).  Click on link below.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/46a61dc010/?