Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places by Katie Frawley Illustrated by Laurie Stansfield

                                                                    

About the Book:
Title: Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places 
Author: Katie Frawley
Illustrator: Laurie Stansfield
Pub. Date: June 1, 2021


Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places published by Two Lions/Amazon Publishing. Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

What do animals do when they need a change of scenery?  They hop onto the website, Lair-BNB, of course!  Fritz, an elephant living in a rain forest swaps homes with Tabitha, a suburban cat.  Both animals are excited about their adventure.  Kids will love the format, for Fritz and Tabitha communicate entirely through Lair-BNB messages.

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Upon arrival, Fritz is greeted by Claudia, Tabitha’s owner.  I love how Fritz calls the pool a watering hole, and how adorable that he wears a swimmy on his trunk.  

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Tabitha quickly finds family in the rainforest after meeting the cheetahs.  While the text makes it seem she is feeling quite at hime, the illustrations show that Tabitha may be a little confused, for she thinks a bee hive is a scratching post, a meerkat’s burrow is a litter box, and a snake’s tail is a swatting toy. Oh wait! That tail belongs to Rocky! According to Fritz’s previous message, Rocky does not play well with others. 

As Fritz and Tabitha spend more time in their new settings, problems arise.  Fritz confuses a decorative donut as real and Tabitha appalls a herbivorous herd of elephants by adding mice as a pizza topping.  The final straw occurs when Fritz mistakes Claudia’s birthday for his own and Tabitha takes an involuntary dip in the watering hole.  Don’t elephants know cats are not fans of getting wet?  After sleepless nights for both Fritz and Tabitha, they both realize there truly is no place like home!  

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Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places is an entertaining and engaging story with a sweet message to appreciate what we have. Frawley’s choice to use text messages to tell the story is clever and unique.  As an adult reading the story aloud, I enjoyed the puns and alliterative closings (feeling fierce, primal and pouncing).  I also appreciated the post scripts included in some of the messages which added useful information. Stansfield’s colorful and expressive illustrations practically leap off the page and since there are a number of wordless page spreads, her vivid artwork moves the plot along,  And pay close attention to the endpapers, for the front explains why both Tabitha and Fritz are craving a change in habitat and the back shows how Tabitha and Fritz both surprised each other on their return home.

One of the joys of my role as reading specialist is reading aloud to kids.  Last week, when I was asked to cover a class, I brought Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places with me.  The class of second graders were captiviated by the story giggling from beginning to end.  After reading, I asked them to share anything they learned from Tabitha and Fritz.  Here are some of their thoughtful responses.

  • “Sometimes people bother you and you need to get away from them.”
  • “It’s fun to go someplace new.”
  • “If it is your first time doing something, you might not know the rules. You need people to help you.”
  • “I like going on vacation, but I do miss my friends when I am away.”
  • “After they got home, they were happy and not sad anymore.”

The best books are those that make you laugh and learn. Highly recommend Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places for the mirth and messages! 


Praise for Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places!

“A satisfying spin on the trading-places trope.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Tabitha and Fritz are pretty much two of a kind, but debut author Frawley livens their epistolary exchanges with wordplay and knowing phrases…She gets a big assist from Stansfield (Poems Out Loud!), whose bright pastel settings, vivid expressions, and large cast of high-spirited supporting characters pull readers through the story.” —Publishers Weekly

“A laugh-out-loud story that spells out why the grass is not always greener, with subtle language lessons built in for emerging readers.” —School Library Journal


About the Author & Illustrator:

Katie Frawley grew up on a diet of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Madeline. She went on to earn a bachelor’s in English from the University of Florida and a master’s in literature from Florida Atlantic University. These days, Katie lives in South Florida with her husband, four children, and a handsome mutt named Nantucket. When she’s not reading or writing, Katie can be found building pillow forts, testing recipes with her teensy sous-chefs, or shooing iguanas from her garden. Learn more at www.katiefrawley.wordpress.com.

Twitter: @KatieFrawley1

Instagram: @katiefrawley1

Laurie Stansfield grew up in Oxford, England, but packed her bags and moved west to study illustration at the University of the West of England. She now works as a freelance illustrator. She is the illustrator of Poems Out Loud!, published by Penguin UK, and has more books forthcoming. Laurie lives with her husband in Bristol, United Kingdom. Learn more at www.lauriestansfield.co.uk.

Twitter: @Laurie_S_art

Instagram: @laurie.stansfield


Enter a Giveaway!

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One lucky winner will receive a copy of Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). This giveaway is open from Friday, June 4, 2021 through Friday, June 11, 2021 ending at 10:00 p.m. EST.   Please note that book may take longer to ship so patience is appreciated.  Enter below or head over to my Twitter account, @lauramossa and retweet my Rescue at Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places Twitter post. 

 

Book Birthday, Giveaway, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade Literature

Happy Book Birthday & Giveaway: Glam Prix Racers by Deanna Kent Illustrated by Neil Hooson

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About the Book:
Title: Glam Prix Racers 
Author: Deanna Kent
Illustrator: Neil Hooson
Pub. Date: May 11, 2021


Beagles and Books wishes a very Happy Book Birthday to Glam Prix Racers, the first book in this fun and adventurous graphic novel trilogy! 


Review:

This review was first published on May 3, 2021.  Thanks to Imprint/MacMillan Children’s Publishing for sharing an eARC with Beagles and Books. 

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

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

I can’t wait to share this fun adventure with my students! Stay tuned for the next race, Back on Track, the second book in the Glam Prix Racers trilogy. It will be released in January 2022.


Check Out this Book Trailer to Meet the Glam Prix Racers!

 

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Hudson And Tallulah Take Sides by Anna Kang Illustrated by Christopher Weyant

                                                                    
 

About the Book:
Title: Hudson And Tallulah Take Sides
Author: Anna Kang
Illustrator: Christopher Weyant
Pub. Date: May 1, 2021


Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for Hudson & Tallulah Take Sides published by Two Lions/Amazon Publishing. Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

 The first page spread is wordless.  Tallulah, a cat, is quietly stalking a bird perched on the fence.  Just as she is ready to pounce, Hudson barks loudly scaring away the bird. Tallulah is not amused. When Tallulah peers over the fence to discover the reason for Hudson’s outburst, she sees the dog digging his way to freedom.  From the dialogue, the neighbors clearly have a different perspective on fences.  

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Curious, Tallulah follows Hudson on his freedom walk.  Hudson dives into a garbage can for food, plays with other canines at the dog park, jumps in mud, and goes after the mail carrier Dave.  That’s where Tallulah draws the line.  Dave is her friend; therefore, Hudson is now her enemy. 

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As both animals stay on opposing sides of the street, they encounter a enormous puddle in the street full of birds.  Both Hudson and Tallulah can’t resist romping in the water and with each splash, realize that there may be some common ground between them.

Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides is a story of how even opposites can find some happy medium and become friends.  While Tallulah is prim and proper and Hudson is free spirited and messy, they both can’t refrain from enjoying the puddle.  This revelation is groundbreaking, for perhaps, they are not as different as they once believed.  Kang’s peppy dialogue is concise and on point which allows Weyant’s lively and humorous illustrations to not only move the plot along but also show the progression of Hudson’s and Tallulah’s relationship.  

When I read this story to kindergarten students for #classroombookaday, I asked them to tell me what did the author and illustrator want us to learn.  Here are some of their thoughts. 

  • “The dog and the cat both like to jump in puddles so that’s why they became friends.”
  • “You don’t have to like the same things to be friends.”
  • “It’s better to be friends than enemies.”
  • Dogs and cats are different but can still be friends.”

Pretty smart kids.  Thankful for picture books like Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides which support teaching theme with our youngest learners.  


Praise for Hudson And Tallulah Take Sides!

★“New Yorker cartoonist Weyant’s illustrations, which use gouache, graphite, and lots of white space, carry the day, filling the dog’s and cat’s reactions to what they encounter with plenty of comic details (like the bold lettering conveying the dog-park dogs’ frantic barking at the cat). Madcap fun.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Charming cartoons convey the nearly wordless story augmented with dialogue between the two rivals…An amusing exploration of how opposite personalities can learn to appreciate their unique relationship.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Aptly captured by married team Kang and Weyant (You Are (Not) Small), the unlikely friends’ comic path to camaraderie unfolds nearly wordlessly, with expressive gouache and graphite scenes that burst with physical humor, showing that even those who fight like cats and dogs can be friends.”—Publishers Weekly


About the Author & Illustrator:

Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small as well as series titles That’s (Not) Mine, I Am (Not) Scared, and We Are (Not) Friends. They also wrote and illustrated Eraser, Can I Tell You a Secret?, and Will You Help Me Fall Asleep? Christopher’s work can also be seen in The New Yorker, and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their rescue dog, Hudson, the inspiration behind the character in this book. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.

Twitter: @annakang27 @ChristophWeyant

Instagram: annakangbookschristopherweyant   

Facebook: Anna Kang – AuthorChristopher Weyant


Enter a Giveaway!

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One lucky winner will receive a copy of Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides, courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). This giveaway is open from Friday, May 7, 2021 through Friday, May 14, 2021 ending at 10:00 p.m. EST.   Please note that book may take longer to ship so patience is appreciated.  Enter below or head over to my Twitter account, @lauramossa and retweet my Rescue at Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides Twitter post. 

Book Birthday, Giveaway, Middle Grade Literature

Happy Book Birthday & Giveaway: Rescue at Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson

                                                                    
 

About the Book:
Title: Rescue at Lake Wild
Author: Terry Lynn Johnson 
Pub. Date: April 1, 2021


Beagles and Books wishes a very Happy Book Birthday to Rescue at Lake Wild.  Special thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

Following in the footsteps of her late grandmother, 12 year old Madi is an “animal whisperer” rescuing orphaned and injured wild animals.  In mere weeks, Madi has the immense opportunity to meet her idol, Jane Goodall but under one condition. Her parents have forbidden Madi from bringing any more animals home.  So when Madi and her friends, Jack and Aaron discover orphaned beaver kits and rescue them, she realizes her only choice is to hide them in her clubhouse. 

Taking care of beaver kits secretively is not easy and on top of that, Madi, Jack, and Aaron learn someone is purposely shooting beavers because their dams are causing a flood in their small town of Willow Grove.  The trio along with Jack’s dog, Lid (love his name!), work together to uncover who is responsible. Madi is also determined to help the beavers find a different location for their dams so the flooding will cease. 

With an intriguing plot, well developed characters, and lots of factual information about beavers as well as being an animal rehabilitator, Rescue at Lake Wild is an engaging middle grade novel that has a lot of kid appeal. I admire Madi’s passion for not only saving the beaver kits but also tackling the flooding problem.  While Madi’s intentions are all good and she has a skill set from apprenticing under her Nana, Johnson does remind readers that Madi shouldn’t be keeping wildlife because she is not licensed and shares The Dos of Wildlife at the end of the book. 

As an educator, I took note of the book length, for the story is only 181 pages and then more specifically, the chapter length which was at most 6 pages.  Length can be an important consideration when recommending books to kids. Stamina for chapter book reading sometimes has to nurtured for developing readers which is why I love finding well written and engaging novels under 200 pages. While the novel may be short in length, RESCUE AT LAKE WILD has a lot of substance so I cannot wait to get this story into kids’ hands!  At the end of the book, Johnson includes an author’s note providing information about the novel’s inspiration.  


Check Out This Video!

To hear Terry Lynn Johnson talks directly to readers about the inspiration behind Rescue at Lake Wild, click here.


About the Author: 

Terry Lynn Johnson writes about the wild with the wisdom and passion of someone who has spent her life working to preserve and protect it – both as a backcountry canoe ranger in Quetico Provincial Park and in her current job as a conservation officer with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. She lives at the edge of a lake in northern Ontario, Canada, where she loves watching all wildlife, including beavers. Visit her online at terrylynnjohnson.com

Twitter: @TerryLynnJ

Instagram: terry_lynn_johnson


Enter a Giveaway!

1 winner will receive a copy of Rescue at Lake Wild courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (U.S. addresses only). This giveaway is open from Tuesday, April 27, 2021 through Friday, April 30, 2021 ending at 10:00 p.m. EST.   Please note that book may take longer to ship so patience is appreciated.  Enter below or head over to my Twitter account, @lauramossa and retweet my Rescue at Lake Wild Twitter post.

 

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Be a Tree by Maria Gianferrari

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Bella and I are honored to launch the blog tour for Be a Tree written by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Felicita Sala.  This breathtaking picture book celebrating trees was recently released last week on March 30, 2021. Thanks to author Maria Gianferrari and Abrams Book for Young Readers for sending me an electronic copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

Be a tree!
Stand tall.
Stretch your branches to the sun.

These ten words begin Gianferrari’s glorious ode extolling the sheer beauty of one of nature’s gifts and how humans have similar physical characteristics to this earthy treasure.   Trees and humans both have parts such as branches and arms, trunks and spines, bark and skin, and a crown at the top.   Sala’s warm watercolor illustrations gorgeously echo Gianferrari’s lyrical text showing the physical similarities so that even the youngest readers can see the connections.   
 
 
 
The focus shifts from physical features to how we as humans also share common behaviors with trees.  Both trees and humans live together in a community.  Just as trees are linked underground through their roots, people are connected by sharing conversations, food, resources, and information.  
 
 
 
Gianferrari’s admiration and respect for trees is evident, for she beautifully describes their value to both humans and the earth.  Sala’s artwork fill the double page spreads depicting a tree’s grandeur and utility. 
 
 
Gianferrari continues to highlight all the benefits of trees, for they serve as animal habitats preserving ecosystems.  The need for community is emphasized for trees that grow away from their natural habitat are at risk; therefore, a forest is vital for support.  A beautiful double page fold out shows how people can learn from trees by helping one another.  In the final page spread, Gianferrari gently reminds us to observe and learn from trees, for by banding together, we can not only be better as individuals but also make the world in which we live a better place. 
 
Backmatter follows the story to provide information on ways to help save trees and help in your community.  A diagram of a tree and its parts as well as books and websites for further research are also included.  Informative and uplifting, Be a Tree is a must to add to a home, classroom or school library.  Highly recommend! 


Praise for Be a Tree!
 
“This book has the advantage of lyrical, accessible poetry and vibrant watercolors from an ever changing palette. …Strong heartwood.”-Kirkus
 

“By foregrounding living beings that exemplify grace, strength, and endurance, Gianferrari gives readers a new way to think about their individual and collective existences.” –Publishers Weekly


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Meet Maria:
Maria Gianferrari has climbed fig trees in Italy, stood under stately coastal redwoods and twisted Torrey pines, marveled at   mitten-shaped sassafras leaves, colorful coral trees and   sawtooth oak acorn nests. She lives with her family, including   dog, Maple, in a house encircled by trees.


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Meet Felicita:
Felicita is a self taught illustrator. She graduated in Philosophy from the University of Western Australia. She has worked on several animation projects along with husband Gianluca, but her passion is making picture books. She lives in Rome with Gianluca and their daughter Nina.


Enter Beagles & Books’ Giveaway!

 
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Maria’s sweet pup Maple announces that one lucky winner will receive a copy of Be a Tree courtesy of the publisher. This giveaway is open from April 9-14, 2020 and ends at 10:00 p.m. EST.  
  • Follow me @lauramossa on Twitter and retweet my Be a Tree giveaway tweet.
  • If you are not on Twitter, fill out the Google form below.

Be a Tree Blog Tour

Continue the tour by visiting blogs sharing their thoughts as well as offering their own giveaways!

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Julius & Macy: A Very Brave Night by Annlouise Mahoney

                                                                    

About the Book:
Title: Julius & Macy: A Very Brave Night
Author/Illustrator: Annlouise Mahoney
Pub. Date: April 1, 2021


Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for Julius & Macy: A Very Brave Night published by Two Lions/Amazon Publishing. Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

Each night, Julius, a badger and Macy, a mouse love to play together and greatly enjoy performing heroic deeds. 

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Julius wished to protect the forest from anything harmful while Macy wanted to help any small thing in need.  Being a hero takes a lot of energy; therefore, it is important to refuel with snacks.  When Julius and Macy go to fetch their cookies and nuts, they discover an empty wagon.  Julius asserts that the Night Goblin must have taken them and describes him as the worst kind of scary to Macy.  

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In order to find their snacks, Julius and Macy must be truly heroic and venture deep into an unknown area of the forest. A noise from inside a cave frightens them. Could it be the Night Goblin?JuliusAndMacyAVeryBraveNight-28609-large-3

Armed with a sword and a fairy wand, the two friends bravely enter the hollow to discover the source of the sound. A huge shadow on the wall startles them and they run away but then realize heroes must stay brave even when they are scared.

Mahoney’s concise, melodic text is a joy to read aloud especially the dialogue between the two friends.  Her warm illustrations are dreamy and luminous.  I love how Julius and Macy collaborate on making stars to hang on the trees to bring the celestial objects closer to them  creating a fanciful setting.   

As a reading specialist, I appreciate that the story has a simple yet engaging plot to teach young children about story structure.  Characters Julius and Macy have a problem, identify steps to solve their problem which ultimately resolves it.   In addition, themes of friendship, bravery, and kindness can be explored.  I especially appreciate that Mahoney teaches children that bravery can take many forms, for Julius and Macy both display courage in their own ways.  


Check out this sweet book trailer!

Take a look at this cute downloadable activity pages: 

http://www.woodlandabbey.com/activity-corner


Praise for Julius & Macy!

Watercolor illustrations further the text’s magical qualities by adding important details, such as the solitary nature of Sherwin’s home. Softly glowing with campfire and starlight, this tale is an inviting bedtime story and a gentle ode to kindness.” ―Booklist


About the Author/Illustrator:
Annelouise Mahoney has worked in animation for DreamWorks, DIC Animation, Sony, and Saban Entertainment. She has also worked as a colorist for Marvel and Image Comics on such series as Uncanny X-Men, Generation X, and others. This is her first picture book, and it was inspired by the depths of her daughters’ friendships and the many ways they are brave, especially with someone on their side. She loves to explore the forest, can’t resist a cave, and has a lot of love for all those named Julius in her life. Annelouise lives in Southern California with her family. Learn more about her at www.woodlandabbey.com.

Facebook: Woodland Abbey

Twitter: @WoodlandAbbey

Instagram: Annelouise Mahoney


Two Lions Giveaway Details:

Amazon 2021 giveaway_3 books

Five lucky winners will each receive three fabulous books celebrating the art of making and keeping friends, including Julius and Macy: A Very Brave Night, courtesy of Two Lions.

Details and entry form can be found here (US addresses).

Winners will be selected at random and notified via email. One entry per person, please. US addresses only. Entries are due by 5/1/21.

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.

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Agnes’s Place by Marit Larsen

                                                                 
 
 

About the Book:
Title: Agnes’s Place
Author: Marit Larsen
Illustrator: Jenny Løvlie
Translator: Kari Dickson
Pub. Date:  March 1, 2021


Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for Agnes’s Place published by Amazon Crossing Kids which aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives.  Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

Young Agnes knows her home so well and the neighbors that live near her.  Everything is pretty predictable. 

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So when Agnes sees a girl standing on the street below her looking up, her mind is full of wonder. 

“What is the girl looking for?” 

“Is she going to live here?”

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.  She tries to cheer up by feeding the birds but they fly right by Agnes’s window to the new girl’s window.   Why? 

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Agnes was still full of questions. 

“Did the new girl see what Agnes saw?”

“Did she hear what Agnes heard?”

And the biggest question of all-Why was the new girl interested in everything else except Agnes?

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So when Agnes get her neighbor’s newspaper, a task she always does, and finds the mailbox empty, the questions continue.  But later that day, on the steps, Agnes and the new girl finally meet.  And in that moment, Agnes’ worries and wonders disappear.  The new girl, Anna, leads Agnes up the stairwell until they reach the rooftop where Anna has made a secret nook that was meant to be shared.

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 Anna on the street and then moving into the apartment on the fifth floor.  Her excitement is conveyed in both the words and illustrations, so as a reader, my heart for Agnes when her invitation is not accepted.  And for the first time, Agnes can’t explain someone’s behavior.  Why was Anna ignoring her?  

Larsen’s text and Løvlie’s artwork express both how Agnes’s home has changed all because of Anna. When Agnes’s seeks support from her neighbor Emilia, she replies ” we have all been new at one time or another. That’s a real strange thought for you perhaps.”  Emilia’s comment made me think there has not been a lot of change in young Agnes’s life which is why she is feeling uneasy.  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. 


Praise for Agnes’s Place!

“A love letter to new friendships and apartment living.” –Kirkus Reviews


About the Author:
Marit Larsen
is a Norwegian songwriter and musician. Agnes’s Place, her debut picture book, was first published in Norway and will also be published in Denmark and Italy. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more about the author at www.maritlarsen.com  and on Instagram: larsenmarit

About the Illustrator:
Jenny Løvlie
is a Norwegian illustrator. Her previous picture book, The Girls, written by Lauren Ace, was the winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. She currently lives in Cardiff, Wales. Learn more about the illustrator at www.lovlieillustration.com and on Instagram: lovlieillustration

About the Translator:
Kari Dickson is a literary translator from Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2020 she won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for best children’s translation for Brown, written by Håkon Øvreås and illustrated by Øyvind Torseter. She holds a BA in Scandinavian studies and an MA in translation.

 


Continue reading “Blog Tour & Giveaway for Agnes’s Place by Marit Larsen”

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Review and Giveaway for Stella by McCall Hoyle

 

About the Book:
Title: Stella
Author: McCall Hoyle
Pub. Date:  March 2, 2021


Beagles and Books is excited to share a review and giveaway for the middle grade novel, Stella.  Special thanks to author McCall Hoyle for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


My Review:

“My name is Stella. I’m a beagle, and I was born to sniff.”

While all beagles have a keen nose, Stella has been trained to sniff out explosives. But after a mission went terribly wrong resulting in the death of Connie, her handler, Stella is haunted by the memories of that tragic day.  Retired of her duties, Stella now suffers from PSTD which is making it difficult for her to find a permanent home. 

Fortunately, Esperanza, a friend of Connie’s and world-renowned dog trainer offers to rehabilitate Stella to help her find a forever home.  When Stella arrives at Esperanza’s farm, she is warmly greeted by her daughter Cloe.  Picking up scents of cookies, grass, and books, Stella is reminded of Connie who read aloud to her and recalled these words-“you must be the thing you cannot do.”    But Stella also smells a sour or metallic scent unsure what it means.

From that very first day, Stella notices that Cloe gets her better than any other human since Connie.  While Stella is not happy to be sleeping in the barn, she does have the company of brave border collie Nando who moves closer to her crate when she is anxious.  Since it is sheep shearing season, Cloe successfully convinces her reluctant mom to let her work with Stella.  Cloe still has the strange smell that Stella can’t figure out, but it’s not strong every day.  On a trip running errands, the scent intensifies.  Stella tries to alert Esperanza as she witnesses Cloe having an epileptic seizure.   After seeing Cloe in distress, Stella is determined to not only be a good dog, but also brave like she was with Connie.  Can Stella persuade Esperanza that she is meant to be Cloe’s dog?

It is no secret I love reading dog books, but when I heard about Stella,  I was even more eager to read since the novel featured a beagle.  As I read the first page, I was excited to discover that the story is written from Stella’s point of view.  Having Stella tell the story allows readers to learn that she is indeed a great dog, but she is deeply traumatized by the loss of Connie and blames herself.  My heart hurt for Stella and as I read, I found herself hugging my own beagle, Bella, as a way to comfort Stella.

When Stella meets Cloe, she has an immediate connection with her.  Realizing the power of her nose, Stella knows she can signal Cloe before a seizure occurs.  Stella’s overwhelming need to help Cloe aids her in her rehabilitation, for Stella learns that she is not defined by what happened in the past and can be the thing you cannot do just like Connie said.  What charged Stella’s determination was Chloe because on their first walk together, Stella knew she could trust her.  Cloe also believed that Stella could do great things frequently telling her mother how smart Stella is.  Trust and belief gradually turn into love which makes Stella and Cloe’s relationship so heartwarming.

What I also love about Stella is its length.  Long novels can be intimidating to some middle grade readers so I appreciate that Stella is under 200 pages with well developed characters that you will root for, and an intriguing plot that makes the novel very difficult to put down.  Stella will make all readers fall in love with dogs especially super sniffer beagles!


Listen to a video message from the author, McCall Hoyle!


Check out the Reader’s Guide to Stella!

Click to access stella_readers_guide._mccall_hoyle.pdf

Giveaway!

Beagles & Books is excited to give away an ARC of Stella courtesy of author McCall Hoyle. You can enter by retweeting my Twitter post or leaving a comment below. Giveaway ends at 10 pm on Friday, 2/26/21.

Giveaway, Picture Books

Review & Giveaway for First Friends: How Dogs Evolved from Wolves to Become Our Best Friends by Kersten Hamilton Illustrated by Jaime Kim

 

About the Book:
Title: First Friends: How Dogs Evolved from Wolves to Become Our Best Friends
Author: Kersten Hamilton
Illustrator: Jaime Kim
Pub. Date:  February 9, 2021


Beagles and Books is excited to share a review and giveaway for the recently released First Friends: How Dogs Evolved from Wolves to Become Our Best Friends. Special thanks to author Kersten Hamilton for sending me a finished copy to give away on Twitter.


 Review:

How did dogs become our best friends?   This picture book uses a nonfiction narrative format to explain to kids how wolves evolved into dogs.  The story begins in the Stone Age.  A young girl and wolf pup meet and play but once they both grow up, their friendship must end, for humans and wolves are rivals hunting the same prey.  Many, many years pass and a young boy living in a hut meets a wolf pup.  They interact more closely with the boy scratching the pup and sharing his food, but like the girl, the relationship does not last although the pair watch each other from afar.   Over time, more children and wolf pups befriend each other.  Their relationship is more intimate trading items, drinking from the same water hole, sleeping side by side, and finally, traveling together to a new home.  On the last page spread, it is now present day and a beagle (yes, a beagle!) and a girl run toward one another full of excitement and love.  

First Friends
Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374313432