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.


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.

★“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

Barry Wittenstein photo_Waiting for Pumpsie.jpeg

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: or follow him on Twitter: @bwittbooks
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 …


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!

Peter Bunzl.jpg

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, or follow him on Twitter @peterbunzl or Instagram @peter_bunzl

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

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

Learn how to draw Duck and Hippo in this free downloadable activity page!

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

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! 


Giveaway, Picture Books

Review & Giveaway: First Snow by Nancy Viau


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!  

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
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
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!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hillary Homzie.jpg

Meet Hillary: 
To learn more about Hillary,  visit her at 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.

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
What happens when it’s Christmas Eve morning and Santa wakes up feeling sick?  Have no fear!  Mrs. Claus is here to take the reins of his sleigh. And with no time to waste, Mrs. Claus quickly gathers the elves to help her prepare for her round trip journey to deliver presents.
Written in rhyme, the text is fun and cheery; it begs to be read aloud!  The bold and colorful illustrations are eye catching especially Mrs. Claus herself with her red curly hair, cat eye glasses, plaid skirt, and red stockings. Readers also spy contemporary references in the illustrations such as Mrs. Claus using a tablet for planning and navigation as well as holding a Starbucks-like cup of coffee as she embarks on her adventure.

I love finding new holiday books to share with students and recommend to teachers.  Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins is a delightful and entertaining adventure that readers will thoroughly enjoy.  Author Sue Fliess has created a dynamic character in Mrs. Claus for she demonstrates many positive traits.  She shows initiative and confidence taking over for Santa, orderliness in preparation for her journey, enthusiasm for delivering the presents, courage when facing bad weather, and calmness and resourcefulness when problems arise.  Illustrator Mark Chambers’ artwork is detailed and expressive, for he vividly conveys Santa’s and Mrs. Claus’ feelings and emotions as well as the elves, reindeer, and other animals.
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
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
Fleis-Mrs.ClausTakestheReins-23327-CV-FT-v5 (1)

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.



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.


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.

Tough Cookie.jpg

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.





Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books, Rockstar Book Tours

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Made By Maxine by Ruth Spiro Illustrated by Holly Hatem

Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the Made By Maxine blog tour organized by Rockstar Book Tours. Written by Ruth Spiro and illustrated by Holly Hatem, Made By Maxine recently published on October 9, 2018.

About the Book:
Author: Ruth Spiro (Author),Holly Hatam (Illustrator)
Publisher: Dial Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 37
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooksTBD

Publisher’s Summary: 

Meet Maxine, an inspiring young maker who knows that with enough effort and imagination (and mistakes), it’s possible to invent anything.

Maxine loves making new things from old things. She loves tinkering until she has solved a problem. She also loves her pet goldfish, Milton. So when it’s time for her school’s pet parade, she’s determined to create something that will allow Milton to march with the other animals. Finally, after trying, trying,and trying again, she discovers just the right combination of recycled odds and ends to create a fun, functional–and absolutely fabulous–solution to her predicament.


From the moment I opened Made By Maxine, I was captivated by illustrator Hollly Hatam’s cheerful and animated illustrations.  The endpapers are filled with drawings of scientific elements, DNA, and tools which give us a glimpse into Maxine’s passion for discovery.  As soon as readers meet Maxine on the first page, her facial expression shows her excitement for creating new things from old things. 

It comes as no surprise that Maxine wants to upgrade her new pet fish Milton’s simple glass bowl to something more spectacular.  Her motto is “If I can dream it, I can make it.”  Author Ruth Spiro richly and precisely describes Maxine’s creative process introducing young readers to words such as de-construct, re-construct, tinker, hack, upcycle, and repurpose,   Hatam’s expressive illustrations reveal Maxine’s range of emotions when inventing.  Her face shows moments of confidence, puzzlement, excitement, frustration, and satisfaction.

When faced with the task of inventing a way to include feetless Milton in her class pet parade, Maxine experiences struggle and failure, but ultimately is not deterred.  She is loyal to her fishy friend.  Wearing her thinking cap (complete with a lightbulb and antenna), Maxine holds true to the quote taped to her wall which reads “Think like a proton. Always positive.”  She perseveres to create a fintastic, fintabulous, and fincredible float for Melvin!

Spiro has written an inspiring story of a young girl who is inventive, resourceful and most importantly persistent.  While Hatam’s warm illustrations show her family’s support of her projects,  it is clear that Maxine’s drive and determination comes from within.  Maxine teaches us all that the creative process is messy but the results are so rewarding. 

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

About Holly:

Holly Hatam’s a girl that sometimes wears something pink and sparkly and sometimes dons capes and fights dragons. Some days she’s moody, but other days she shakes her booty. Some days her heart may seek wild adventures, but other days she just wants to be a couch potato. She is a picture book maker, greeting card designer, and a textile engineer. She is also the #1 New York  Times Bestselling illustrator of Dear Girl. Her other books include, What Matters, Tree Song, Maxine the Maker, Jack(Not Jackie) and The Acadia Files.

Holly lives in Whitby, Ontario with her weird husband and even weirder son. But that’s ok, because weird is a side effect of awesome.

Holly’s client list includes Harper Collins, Orca Publishers, Dial Books for Young Readers, AnnickPress, Tilbury House, Lady Bird, Usborne Books, Hallmark, American Greetings, Mudpuppy, Baby Bug, Highlights, Chickadee, Little Bee Books, MacGraw Hill, and Learning A-Z.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads



1 winner will win a finished copy of MADE BY MAXINE, US Only.  Click the link below to enter.

Tour Schedule: Join us on the other stops of this tour for more giveaway chances and to read more about the illustrator Holly Hatem and MADE BY MAXINE.

Week One:
11/19/2018- Lifestyle of Me– Review
11/20/2018- Here’s to Happy EndingsReview
11/21/2018- Beagles & Books– Review
11/22/2018- Do You Dog-ear?– Review
11/23/2018- Chrikaru Reads– Review

Week Two:
11/26/2018- BookHounds YA– Review
11/27/2018- YA Books Central– Review
11/28/2018- Twirling BookPrincess– Excerpt
11/29/2018- Oh Hey! Books.– Interview
11/30/2018- A Dream Within A Dream– Excerpt


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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/19/18

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

Our Reads This Week:

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

Ever since Coyote’s mother and two sisters were killed in an automobile accident,  she and her father Rodeo have been living on a converted school bus named Yeager and traveling wherever the road or their stomachs take them. With the discovery that her hometown park is about to be torn down, Coyote must find a way to get back to Washington State in order to retrieve a memory box that she, her mother, and sisters buried there years ago.  The trouble is going home is a no-go for Rodeo who wants to leave their past behind.  

Coyote though is determined to keep her promise to her mom and dig up their box. She concocts a scheme to steer Rodeo toward home without suspicion. While on route, Coyote meets some people in need of rides who join her and Rodeo on her secret journey home.  Since time is of the essence,  she eventually confides in all these passengers who support Coyote in her mission. Each individual also teaches Coyote valuable lessons about family, friendship, forgiveness, and finding your own path. 

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise is a beautiful story that reminds us sometimes we do have to go back to move forward.  I do admire Rodeo for his kind and gentle soul but Coyote has my heart.  Of course, any character who devours books and names her kitten Ivan in honor of The One and Only Ivan is a soul mate.  What I love most about Coyote is she shows great strength in acknowledging her vulnerability. One of my favorite lines is when Coyote says “maybe we’re all a little broken. Maybe we’re all a little fragile. Maybe that’s why we need each other so much.”

A very special thanks to Christian Trimmer and Mark Podesta of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/Macmillian Books for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now, for it releases on January 8, 2019.

Duck and Hippo Give Thanks by Jonathan London Illustrated by Andrew Joyner

I love finding seasonal read alouds that I can share with students before a holiday. Duck and Hippo Give Thanks is a sweet story that reminds us that true friendship is about accepting others for who they are.  To read my full review and enter a giveaway for 3 Duck and Hippo books, click here.

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week:

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

Little Brown by Marla Frazee

Little Brown is cantankerous dog but the question is why?  Is his negative attitude caused by the fact that other dogs won’t play with him or rather is it that the other dogs won’t befriend him because of his crankiness? Readers discover that Little Brown does has an interest in mingling with the other dogs but he clearly is afraid of being rejected. 

So what is Little Brown’s solution?  Stealing all their belongings and keeps them for himself.   The ending is a stalemate between Little Brown and the other dogs and will make readers think and want to discuss. Little Brown is a great read aloud for discussing character motivation and will undoubtedly lead to a conversation about bullying and empathy.  

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

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

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


Beagles and Books is excited to be a part of the blog tour for Duck and Hippo Give Thanks written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Andrew Joyner. It recently published in August 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:

Duck and Hippo are thankful for good friends!

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and Hippo has his heart set on having a good old-fashioned feast with Duck and their friends. Together, Duck and Hippo go shopping for food and invite Turtle, Elephant, and Pig to share the special day with them. Then they get everything ready. But while Hippo goes to bed dreaming of his good old-fashioned Thanksgiving, Duck is busy making her own plans. There’s going to be a BIG surprise—one that will remind Hippo of all he has to be thankful for. Join Duck and Hippo for a memorable celebration!

Review and Thoughts:

I love finding seasonal read alouds that I can share with students before a holiday.  Duck and Hippo Give Thanks is a sweet story with two simple yet powerful messages. True friendship is about accepting others for who they are, and the best gift is time together with friends.

At my elementary school this year, we are focusing on teaching students a virtue a week and acknowledging students who demonstrate that virtue through their words and actions. After reading aloud Duck and Hippo Give Thanks to a second grade class, I asked “What do you think the author wanted to teach us?”  Many hands went up in the air with connections to the previously taught virtues.  Here are some of the kids’ comments.

“This story taught me about being kind.  Hippo was kind to invite all his friends to Thanksgiving dinner and the animals were kind to bring food to share.”

“I think the author wanted us to know that being a good friend means you don’t always get your way. When the animals brought their own food, Hippo looked mad at first but then he changed his mind and said he was thankful for his friends.”

“The story reminded me of our virtue of cooperation. Hippo and his friends all worked together to make food for Thanksgiving.”

It always warms this teacher’s heart when children can identify themes on their own and can see that books can have multiple messages.  I enjoy Duck and Hippo because they remind me of Frog and Toad. Duck is adventurous and Hippo is a little more set in his ways.  Together, they are great friends because they bring out the best in each other.  Andrew Joyner’s illustrations warmly capture both Duck’s and Hippo’s personalities.

If Duck and Hippo are new to you, check out the series.  And be on the look out for the next book, Duck and Hippo: The Secret Valentine, due out on December 18, 2018.

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

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

There’s more fun with Duck and Hippo in the free downloadable activity pages:

Duck and Hippo give thanks for good friends in this sweet book trailer.

Two Lions is offering a set of all three Duck and Hippo books–DUCK AND HIPPO IN THE RAINSTORM, DUCK AND HIPPO LOST AND FOUND, and DUCK AND HIPPO GIVE THANKS–to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses).  Giveaway begins Friday, November 16, 2018 and ends at 12:00 a.m. on Friday, November 23, 2018. Enter by clicking the link below.  

A Duck and Hippo Rafflecopter Giveaway