Beagles and Books is excited to share our latest reads in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give it a #kidlit focus and encourage everyone who participates to visit at least 3 of the other #kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.
On January 1, 2020, I created my #mustreadin2020, a list of middle grade novels all being published in 2020 that I wanted to make a priority to read. To read an update on my progress, click here.
The Wonder of Wildflowers by Anna Staniszewski
When she stands next to the other girls in her fifth grade class, Mila describes herself as “a chicken surrounded by swans.” She is the shortest, the least athletic, and sweats with any physical activity. When she was 5 years old, Mila emigrated to Amberland with her mother and father. Because they are not yet citizens, she and her family are not allowed to sip Amber, a liquid magic that makes people strong and healthy. Mila is elated when her family is finally granted citizenship and the right to use Amber. She quickly notices changes in her athleticism, her grades, and her confidence especially voicing her opinion to her best friend Krysta. Unfortunately, her creativity has taken a hit, for she is struggling to write poetry which has always been one of her talents. And when citizens are told Amber rations are being cut, Mila and her family become a target of hate crimes for they are not seen as citizens but rather outsiders depleting the town’s Amber supply.
Written in under 200 pages with short chapters, dynamic characters, and an intriguing plot, middle grade readers will easily get pulled into Mila’s story. While The Wonder of Wildflowers is indeed fantasy, given the current state of our country, the plot seems quite realistic, and Staniszewski tackles relevant themes as friendship, immigration, bullying, and self-acceptance. What I loved most is witnessing Mila’s transformation realizing that it is more important to stand out than blend in. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. The Wonder of Wildflowers published in February 2020 and is one of my #mustreadin2020 middle grade novels.
The Word for Friend by Aidan Cassie
A pangolin named Kemala loves to talk and is excited about making friends at her new school but on her first day, worry replaced her enthusiasm because all her classmates speak a different language. How will she ever make friends? During recess, Kemala meets Ana, an anteater, and teaches her how to cut leaves into animal shapes. Using the animals as puppets, Kemala and Anna communicate telling each other stories. Through her friendship with Anna, Kemala develops the confidence and desire to speak the new language to her classmates and teacher.
Like the main characters in author/illustrator Cassie’s previous two picture books, Sterling, Best Dog Ever and Little Juniper Makes It Big!, Kemala learns the lesson of self-acceptance with the support of a friend. What I love about this story is besides becoming friends, Kemala and Anna both learn a new skill. Kemala teaches Anna how to make animal leaf puppets and Kemala learns a new language. With charming and engaging illustrations, The Word for Friend is a perfect read aloud for the start of the school year to support building a classroom community based on kindness, inclusiveness, collaboration, and friendship. An added bonus is the back matter which shares information on Esperanto, Kemala’s new language and cool facts about pangolins. Thanks to the author and publisher for sharing an e-copy of The Word for Friend. It recently published on June 16, 2020.
Invent-A-Pet by Vicky Fang Illustrated by Tidawan Thaipinnarong
When Katie tells her mother she wants an extraordinary, spectacular pet, her mother surprises her with a marvelous machine to help her create a one of a kind animal. The machine has 3 slots and after randomly inputting objects, the outputs were not the animals Katie wanted. She finally makes a plan and discovers each slot has a variable-size, color, and animal. But before Katie can create her perfect pet, she has to solve a more pressing problem. What will she do with all the pets she created during her trial and error? Fortunately, Katie’s problem solving skills save the day ensuring all the animals find a home. So does Katie ever create her extraordinary pet? Read to find out! With bright, playful illustrations and a unique plot, Invent-A-Pet is not only fun and engaging but it also teaches children the scientific process, critical thinking, and beginning concepts of coding. Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion. It recently published on June 2, 2020.
Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week
Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.
Bo Bo’s Cave of Gold) by Pam Berkman and Dorothy Hearst Illustrated by Claire Powell
At the Heels of History is a fictional chapter book series that recounts historical events through the eyes of dogs. The second adventure, Bo-Bo’s Cave of Gold, takes place in 1852 in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California. In the first chapter, a golden mutt, Sage, is thrown out of her pack for being weak. Alone and hungry, a bird takes pity of Sage and introduces her to Sheng, a young boy who left war torn and famine stricken China with his father and uncle to find gold in California. With his father’s permission, Sheng adopts Sage renaming her Bo-Bo (meaning little treasure) and the dog vows to be tough and loyal to Sheng even when faced with challenges. Bo-Bo’s Cave of Gold is a story full of history and heart. Readers will learn how immigrants were treated during the California gold rush through not only the story but also the backmatter. To read my full review and enter a giveaway, click here.
Bella & I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books. Happy Reading!