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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/4/19

Beagles and Books is excited to share our current 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:

The 12th Candle by Kim Tomsic

Ever since Sage Sassafras was born, she and fellow classmate Priscilla Petty have been at odds cursed by the Contrarium Curse. The curse originated when her mother and Priscilla’s mother were both struck by a mysterious bolt of pink lightning when they were young. As a result, the former best friends became enemies giving the Pettys all the good fortune and bad luck to Sage’s family.  On the eve of Sage’s 12th birthday, she receives an extraordinary gift- a magic candle that will grant her wishes until the sunset on the winter solstice.  What Sage wants most is a curse-reverse which will put her family on the positive side.  But Sage learns that there is truth in the old adage “Be careful for what you wish for.”  While bad luck begins to befall Priscilla and her family, Sage’s good luck does not reap the benefits she hoped for. In fact, she loses what she values most.  With themes of friendship, family, and forgiveness,  The 12th Candle is a story that teaches us true magic occurs with honesty and kindness.  Thanks to the author and publisher Harper Collins for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  The 12th Candle recently published on October 1, 2019.

Chicken Break by Cate Berry  Illustrated by Charlotte Adler

A rhyming counting book with a chicken caper!  One by one, ten chickens collaborate to get out of the coop and enjoy a day on the town. But after ice skating, the opera, and shopping, these chickens are worn out. Counting down from 10, the tired poultry make their way back home using some innovative means such as jet packs and zip lines.  Berry’s lively text begs to be read aloud!  While most concept books are written for very young children, I would read Chicken Break to all my elementary school students.  Berry uses rich vocabulary such as scan, smuggle, droop, squish, and incognito.  It would also be a great springboard or review of multiple meaning words, for break is used in different contexts.  Adler’s hilarious illustrations fill almost the entire page and show both the shrewd and playful sides of the chickens.  Thanks to the author and publisher Feiwel and Friends for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group. Chicken Break recently published on October 29, 2019.  Check out this fun video Cate Berry posted to celebrate Chicken Break’s book birthday. 

 

A Way with Wild Things by Larissa Theule Illustrated by Sara Palacios

Poppy is most comfortable spending time with bugs in nature.  She does not feel at ease in the company of people and finds ways to blend in with her surroundings away from all the action. At Grandma Phyllis’ 100th birthday, Poppy stays in the background watching the party but when a dragonfly settles on the cake, Poppy can’t help approaching it.  And when the dragonfly lands on Poppy, she is now the center of attention which make her nervous.  With her grandmother’s encouragement and the dragonfly’s trust, Poppy finds the courage to share a little knowledge about the insect with her family.  A Way with Wild Things is a quiet story with a big message.  Poppy’s shyness is shown as a strength not a weakness and she teaches us there is joy in observing the little things.  Palacios’ illustrations are gorgeous and full of details.  Children will love looking for all the bugs in the artwork and I love her rendition of Poppy with her oversized glasses.  Thanks to the author for sharing a F & G in a recent Twitter giveaway.  Look for A Way with Wild Things in March 2020.  

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.

I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak 

When golden retriever Cosmo becomes a big brother to Max, he promised to not only love Max but also protect him and his family doggedly for the rest of his life.  Years later, Cosmo senses something is wrong in the house.  Mom and Dad are fighting a lot and Max confides in Cosmo that he overheard his mom say the word divorce.  With the encouragement of his uncle who is visiting, Max and Cosmo join a canine freestyle club at the community center.  Max believes if he and Cosmo can win the dance competition, it will convince his parents to never separate them or even better, ensure that his parents never break up.  Training isn’t easy due to Cosmo’s stiff joints but he is determined to dance with his boy.  

Written from Cosmo’s point of view, author Carlie Sorosiak has created a character who I doggedly love!  While Cosmo definitely lives to eat good food (especially bacon), he lives most to be a loyal and loving companion to Max. And while the story tugged at my heart and made me tear quite than a few times, I also laughed and chuckled at Cosmo’s observations which were so on point.  My blog is testament to how much I love my beagle girls, but I think reading I, Cosmo has made me love them even more reminding me of their utter goodness and unconditional love.  Thanks to the publisher Walker Books/Candlewick Press for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group. I, Cosmo releases on December 24, 2019.  

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

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/14/19

Beagles and Books is excited to share our current 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:

Weird Little Robots by Carolyn Crimi Illustrated by Corinna Luyken

Shy Penny Rose has just moved to a new neighborhood and her only companions are the little robots she creates out of found objects. Encouraged by her parents, she befriends Lark, a quirky girl who lives across the street and makes unique bird houses. The two girls quickly bond over their love of tinkering building a metropolis for Penny Rose’s robots. Not long after, the robots magically come to life to the astonishment of the girls.

With a best friend and magic robots, Penny Rose’s life is better than she could ever have imagined. But her perfect life hits a snag when she receives an invitation from the Secret Science Society. In order to become a member, she needs to pass tests which includes taking pictures of something “science-y: she created. But sharing photos of her robots violates the pact that she and Lark made. Will Penny Rose risk her one and only true friendship to join this secret club?

Weird Little Robots has a lot of kid appeal, for what young reader can resist robots that come alive, a secret club, and a crisis?  A blend of realistic fiction and fantasy, Crimi has also seamlessly weaved in themes of friendship, fitting in, and forgiveness into her first novel.  Not only is the plot engaging but also the format. Novels can be overwhelming for some kids but Weird Little Robots is highly accessible written in 234 pages with short chapters.  Within each chapter, Luyken’s expressive, full page illustrations provide additional support to readers.  Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Candlewick Press for sharing an ARC of Weird Little Robots. It recently published on October 1, 2019. 

Operation Photobomb by Tara Luebbe & Betty Cattie Illustrated by Matthew Rivera

When Monkey finds a Polaroid camera in an unattended backpack and begins taking pictures of birds and animals with fur, Chameleon feels left out. He solves his problem by photobombing all of the pictures which angers Monkey.  Monkey enlists the help of the other animals to stop Chameleon but sneaky Chameleon changes colors to blend in. Will the animals find a way to convince Chameleon to stop? 

I love the collaboration between sisters Tara Luebbe & Betty Cattie! Operation Photobomb is an amusing story that will guarantee giggles! Matthew Rivera’s playful illustrations are eye catching and humorously reveal the jungle animals’ feelings.  I especially love Chameleon for his facial expressions are adorable!  Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Albert Whitman & Company for sharing a copy of Operation Photobomb.  It recently published on September 1, 2019. 

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Pippa’s Night Parade by Lisa Robinson Illustrated by Lucy Fleming

Pippa’s Night Parade is an enchanting story about conquering one’s fears with persistence and imagination.  Robinson’s lively and engaging text and Fleming’s detailed and action packed illustrations will keep children’s attention from beginning to end.  To read full review and enter a giveaway, 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.

Mr. Scruff by Simon James

In this touching story, all the dogs bear a resemblance to their owners and have a name that rhymes. For example, Polly belongs to Molly, Lawrence belongs to Florence, etc. But old Mr. Scruff is still at the shelter waiting for his furever home. So when young Jim walks in and bonds with Mr. Scruff, his parents don’t think it’s a good match saying “He’s so big and you’re so small!” Jim stands firm and Mr. Scruff gets a home of his very own.

You would think that is the end of the story but then Mr. Gruff walks into the shelter and sees a small pup who is perfect for him. And guess the puppy’s name? Tim! I love any story that advocates dog adoption but author/illustrator James deserves accolades for such an original narrative. With engaging and cheerful illustrations and mostly rhyming text, Mr. Scruff is a heartwarming story about how opposites attract.

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

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/7/19

Beagles and Books is excited to share our current 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:

Give and Take by Elly Swartz

When dementia causes Maggie’s Nana to not recognize her as her granddaughter, Maggie becomes anxious that she too will forget. To ensure she can keep hold of her precious memories, Maggie begins saving small objects.  Not only is Maggie attached to these mementos, but also Izzie, the baby their family is fostering until her adoption is final. And when her coach dad dismantles her all girl trapshooting team, her anxiety becomes even more elevated.   

Maggie’s saving becomes out of hand filling up 10 boxes in her room and most of her school locker.  When her mother discovers the enormity of her collection, Maggie’s normally kind temperament quickly turns to uncontrollable anger. Maggie quickly shows contrition and her mother assures her they will work together as a family to help her make the mad go away.  With the help of a child therapist and her supportive and loving family, Maggie begins to slow process of learning how to let go.  Some of my favorite scenes are when Maggie visits her grandfather who reminds her that saving things doesn’t necessarily keep you from forgetting but “love never leaves; it carves into your heart.” 

Written from Maggie’s perspective, Swartz did a beautiful job capturing Maggie’s compassion, conflicts, and courage.  My heart hurt for her as she struggled with the act of throwing away her keepsakes and even though it got a little easier each time, Swartz continued to show the full process Maggie had to undertake to be successful.  With themes of family, friendship, facing fears, and forgiveness, Give and Take is a story that is a must read for middle grade readers.

Special thanks to the author Elly Swartz and fellow #bookexcursion member Lisa Maucione for sharing an ARC of Give and Take with our group.  Pre-order today so you have Give and Take in your hands, for it celebrates its book birthday next week!

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Along the Tapajós by Fernando Vilela Translated by Daniel Hahn

Alligators, anacondas, and winter rains oh my!  Get a glimpse into the everyday life of two siblings who live in Para, Brazil in Along the Tapajós. To read my full review and enter a giveaway, please 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.

Very Lulu: The (Mostly) True Story of a Training School Dropout by Stephanie Campisi Illustrated by Jessica Gibs

In an effort to calm her energetic behavior, Lulu is enrolled in police dog training school.  While all the other dogs do as they were told, Lulu can’t follow directions no matter how hard she tries. Even with increased supports, Lulu is not successful. What should Lula’s handler do with her?

It becomes clear that perhaps Lulu’s job isn’t to be a police dog but rather to be the fun loving, super sniffing member of the handler’s family, which the last couple of page spreads show is a perfect fit for Lulu. Gibson’s lively illustrations capture Lulu’s free spirit, and Campisi gently teaches the importance of accepting others for who they are, which is an important lesson for both children and adults. 

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

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/30/19

Beagles and Books is excited to share our recent 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:

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Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence
 

I am a huge fan of both of Debbi Michiko Florence’s early chapter book series, Jasmine Toguchi and My Furry Foster Family so I was so excited to hear she had written a middle grade novel.  What was even more thrilling is having the opportunity to read an ARC.

Keiko loves chocolate, her family, her two best friends, Audrey and Jenna, and everything pretty much staying the same.  But beginning seventh grade means changes such as Keiko’s mother working full time, sharing the same school building as Audrey’s annoying brother and his friends, and Audrey declaring that this is the year they all need to get boyfriends and go to the Fall Ball.  So when Audrey and Jenna get into a disagreement (about a boy), the trio’s friendship is threatened.  Always the peacemaker, Keiko attempts to fix things but begins sacrificing her own happiness to keep the friendships intact.

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter is a novel that I would have loved when I was in middle school. It is a solid upper middle grade novel for those not quite ready for YA.    Michiko Florence’s voice for Keiko is perfect, for she captures her hopefulness of wanting to believe the best in everyone with the gradual realization that true friendship means wanting the best for each other.  The story also shows that heartbreak can come in all forms-a daughter missing time spent with her mother, a changing friendship, and a first crush. Thanks to the author and publisher Scholastic for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. Keep It Together, Keiko Carter publishes in May 2020.

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The Itty Bitty Witch by Trisha Speed Shaskkan Illustrated by Xindi Yan

The Itty Bitty Witch is much more than a Halloween story.  Shaskan has written an engaging and positive story with themes of assertiveness, persistence, and acceptanceTo read my full review and enter a giveaway that ends on Friday, October 5th, click here.

Old Rock (is not boring) by Deb Pilutti

Spotted Beetle, Tall Pine, and Hummingbird all think Old Rock lives a pretty boring life, for he sits in the same spot day after day.  He doesn’t get to fly like Hummingbird, climb high like Spotted Beetle or dance in the breeze like Tall Pines. Or did he? Old Rock tells the story of his life from his birth erupting out of a volcano, living among the dinosaurs, traveling inside a glacier, and tumbling down a ridge, which explains how he ended up in his no boring but rather, very nice spot.  With a touch of humor, rich vocabulary, and charmingly illustrated, Old Rock (is not boring) is the perfect text for teaching about history of natural world.  It also would be a great mentor text in English language arts to teach perspective.  On the last page, an infographic beautifully summarizes Old Rock’s journey from 1.8 billion years ago to present day.  Thanks to Penguin Random House for sharing a F & G with my #bookexcursion group. Old Rock publishes in February 2020.

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I’m Trying to Love Math by Bethany Barton

If you are one of 4 out of 10 Americans that hate math, this picture book might help you change your mind.  An alien visiting the Earth seeks to convince the narrator and readers how cool math is.  For example, you can’t make cookies, music, and travel without math.  While I may not love math, I don’t mind reading about it because Barton’s text is hilariously funny and interactive and her pen and ink illustrations are colorful, engaging, and make use of the whole page spread.  Thanks to Viking/Penguin Random House for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. It published in July.

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.

Sparky & Spike: Charles Schultz and the Wildest, Smartest Dog Ever by Barbara Lowell illustrates by Dan Anderson
 

This picture book tells the story of how Schultz’s dog, Spike became the inspiration for the iconic cartoon character, Snoopy.  Spike was an unusual dog for he virtually could eat anything without getting sick and could ring the doorbell to come inside.  Aside from spending time with Spike, Sparky (Schultz’s nickname) loved reading the comics and loved drawing.  But Sparky realized that drawing cartoons was much harder than just drawing pictures.  Fortunately, having an extraordinary dog like Spike gave Sparky an idea.  He wrote a letter to Mr. Ripley about Spike and included a drawing of his wild and smart dog.  After a lot of waiting, two months later, Sparky’s drawing appeared in the Ripley’s Believe It or Not comics, which makes him realize that becoming a cartoonist was indeed possible.  What I love most about this story is the illustrator shares his own personal story of writing a letter to Schultz and includes the cartoonist’s reply encouraging him to continue drawing and writing.  Sparky and Spike is a great picture book for teaching perseverance to young students.

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

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/23/19

Beagles and Books is excited to share our recent 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:

Hand Me Down Magic: Stoop Sale Treasure by Corey Ann Haydu Illustrated by Luisa Uribe

Alma is excited to be living in the same place as best friend and cousin Del but moving from her old home by the lake is still an adjustment.  It’s a lot noisier in the city and more commotion since Alma and her family now live in the same building as her extended family.  And she doesn’t know a lot about helping out at the Curious Cousins Secondhand Shoppe. But the biggest challenge is Del believes in magic and Alma isn’t convinced.  So when Del finds a pair of hand me down earrings while stoop sale shopping, she believes they are magical.  Why? Well, the earrings are clip on and Del’s ears aren’t pierced. And almost immediately after putting the earrings on, Del’s good luck doesn’t stop (or show she thinks).  Alma is tired of Del acting like she knows everything about everything so she decides to get rid of the earrings which are the cause of their disagreement.  Will Alma and Del be able to come to a understanding about magic to mend their friendship?

I am always looking for a series that will appeal to readers who are transitioning to chapter books or striving readers in the intermediate grades. Written in 110 pages with short chapters, charming illustrations, an engaging plot and themes of friendship, family, and forgiveness, Stoop Sale Treasure will be a hit with many of my students!  Looking forward to reading more in the series. Thanks to Corey Ann Haydu and Katherine Tegen Books for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Stoop Sale Treasure releases on January 20, 2020.

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A Crazy Much Love by Joy Jordan-Lake Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

There are many picture books I could recommend about welcoming a new baby in the family but A Crazy-Much Love is the first story I have read that celebrates the joy of adoption.  Inspired by the author’s own experiences adopting a child, A Crazy-Much Love reminds us that love makes a family.  To read my full review and enter a giveaway, click here.

Gross as a Snot Otter by Jess Keating Illustrations by David DeGrand

Because Jess Keating’s The World of Weird Animals series is a hit with all ages of students at my school, I feel blessed to get a sneak peek at her latest book.  From reading the title, I assumed that all the animals featured would be offensive due to their appearance, but I quickly discovered that Keating choose animals for their foul looks or behaviors.  My biggest takeaway was the majority of animals are disgusting in order to survive.  For example, snot otters are covered in mucus to protect themselves against infections and to easily slip away from predators.  The cute Siberian chipmunk rubs dead snake flesh or rolls in snake pee so that predators stay far away.  At the end of the text, Keating discusses the Science of “Ewww” by reminding readers that gross is truly in the eye of the beholder, for it can depend on where and how you live.  David DeGrand’s cartoon style illustrations provide a chuckle and help readers better understand other characteristics of each animal.   Thanks to Alfred A. Knopf/Random House for sharing a F & G with my #bookexcursion group.  Gross as a Snot Otter publishes next month on October 29, 2019.

How to Code a Rollercoaster by Josh Funk Illustrated by Sara Palacios

Pearl and Pascal are back to teach us about coding.  In this adventure, they are spending the day at an amusement park.  With so many options and only 10 tokens, Pearl uses code by using the variable MyTokens to ensure her tokens will last her the whole day. Pearl’s main goal is to ride the Python Coaster, but the line is ridiculously long.  No worries!  Pearl and Pascal develop another variable called ShortLine, which has a value of true or false.  Using IF-THEN-ELSE, Pearl decides if the line at the Python is short, they will ride the rollercoaster but if it’s long, they will choose another activity.  But what happens when the Python line is short and Pearl is one token shy of being able to ride?  Luckily, Pearl is a problem solver and with Pascal’s help, they figure out a solution.

How to Code a Roller Coaster is a great follow up to How to Code a Sandcastle and reinforces the same concepts. While the story teaches kids about coding, a guide to coding which defines vocabulary words, code, variable, loop, if-then-else and sequence is included in the back matter.  Thanks to Penguin Random House for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. How to Code a Rollercoaster publishes tomorrow!

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.

Uh-Oh, Rollo! by Reed Duncan Illustrated by Keith Frawley

Young readers love dog books so I am excited to find a beginning reader series featuring a rambunctious bulldog named Rollo.  In the first book, Uh-Oh, Rollo, Rollo gets into a lot of mischief and is constantly being scolded by his young owner.  But even though Rollo doesn’t make the best decisions, he always makes things better by saying he’s sorry.  Rollo is a series I can easily give to primary grade students, for it is written with decodable text and high frequency words with some repeated phrases. The expressive and humorous illustrations make the text even more accessible and fun! Thanks to Penguin Kids for sharing with my #bookexcursion group.  Check out the Rollo series here.

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/16/19

Beagles and Books is back to share our recent 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:

Filigree’s Midnight Ride by Pam Berkman and Dorothy Hearst Illustrated by Claire Powell

Filigree’s Midnight Ride, the first book in the At Heels in History series. is an entertaining, engaging, and educational story about Paul Revere’s ride taught through the eyes of a pint size Pomeranian named Filigree.  Written in under 200 pages with short chapters and charming illustrations,  it is an appealing text for a variety of readers from those transitioning to chapter books to striving readers in the intermediate grades. To read my full review and enter a giveaway, click here.

Emergency Kittens by Jody Jensen Shaffer Illustrated by Dave Mottram

In Emergency Kittens, readers meet Mimi, Twee-Twee and Adorbs who make everything better.  And one look at the cover and it is pretty clear why.

When a group of kids won’t give Sheldon his basketball back, it’s up to this trio of felines to save the day.  What is their super power?  Even this dog fan is mesmerized by their immense kitty cuteness. Shaffer’s text is so fun and Mottram’s illustrations are utterly adorable.  Special thanks to Doubleday Books/Random House for sharing an F & G with my #bookexcursion group.  Emergency Kittens publishes in January 2020.

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.

Two Brothers, One Tail by Richard T. Morris  Illustrated by Jay Fleck

Two Brothers, One Tail is a heartwarming picture book that celebrates the unconditional love between a boy and his dog. Written in rhyme, Morris sweetly tells the story of their friendship by recounting the simple activities the boy and his dog do together such as laying on the grass, riding in a car, fishing, eating, and my favorite, reading. Fleck’s illustrations tenderly convey the boy and beagle’s warm relationship. The story reminds me so much of my husband’s first beagle, Beaglie, who was his best friend and taught me to be a dog mom. We still talk about him everyday.

Special thanks to fellow reading specialist and book blogger Michele Knott for recommending this precious book to me.

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/19/19

Beagles and Books is excited to share our recent 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:

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The World Ends in April by Stacy McAnulty

Elle is probably the only student in her middle school who has a bug-out bag (otherwise know as BOB)? Why? Because Elle’s grandfather is a prepper or in plain speak, he has been preparing for her and her brothers for the apocalypse ever since she can remember.  Just when Elle is officially tired of her grandfather’s favorite hobby, she stumbles upon the website of Dr. Martin Cologne, an Ivy League astrophysicist who unequivocally believes that an asteroid will cause the world to end in April.  Confiding in her best friend Mack, they start an TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) club, which is formally known at school as the Nature Club in order to not raise suspicions.  But while the other members including Mack take the prediction in stride, Elle becomes totally obsessed with Dr. Cologne’s prophecy which causes trouble at school and at home.

The World Ends in April has a unique plot but I believe it is Elle that will hook readers. Written from her point of view, Ellen is such a dynamic character and while strong, McAnulty also allows readers to see her vulnerabilities. Elle learns that true friends and family will always be there for you. And believing in TEOTWAWKI can actually change you for the better. Special thanks to Random House Kids for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Look for The World Ends in April’s release soon on September 3, 2019.

A Swirl of Ocean by Melissa Sarno

For most of her life, 12 year old Summer has enjoyed a quiet life with her adoptive mom Lindy in the beach town of Barnes Bluff.  But their family of two is about to change with Lindy’s boyfriend, Elder moving in.  Worried she is being replaced by Elder, Summer starts to question who she really is and does she really belong with Lindy, for Lindy found Summer on the beach when she was two.  Then after getting caught in riptide, Summer starts to have vivid dreams about a girl named Tink and her friends.  Like Summer, Tink is dealing with feelings of insecurity.  With her best friend Jeremiah, Summer tries to find answers about Tink which ultimately will help Summer discover more about own her identity as well as Lindy’s.

Author Melissa Sarno seamlessly and beautifully intertwines themes of change, friendship, family, and identity in this intriguing upper middle grade novel.  A blend of realistic fiction, fantasy and mystery, A Swirl of Ocean’s captivating plot will draw readers in and only 217 pages long, it is a story that is hard to put down.  Special thanks to author Melissa Sarno for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  A Swirl of Ocean recently published on August 6, 2019.

Cape: The League of Secret Heroes by Kate Hannigan Illustrated by Patrick Spaziante

A blend of historical fiction and fantasy, CAPE is a fast paced adventure that middle grade readers will devour. Set during World War II, readers are introduced to three astute and diverse young girls, Josie, Akiko, and Mae who are recruited to join a league of secret heroes to fight injustice. There are so many reasons I enjoyed reading CAPE.  Hannigan’s unique plot makes the novel a page turner. While CAPE is undoubtedly fiction, Hannigan intertwines real life elements of the period such as the discrimination that particular ethnic groups faced during World War II as well as characters based on actual people who supported the war effort like Josie’s cousin Kay who worked as a human computer during the war. I absolutely love the camaraderie between Josie, Akiko, and Mae.  Interspersed throughout the novel are Patrick Spaziante’s incredibly illustrated comic panel sequences which depict the girls’ transformation into superheroes and their fight against evil, which will make the novel even more appealing to readers.  To read my full review, click here.

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What If Everybody Thought That? by written by Ellen Javernick Illustrated by Colleen Madden

Everyone has thoughts about us that we never hear.  These preconceived opinions are based on our stature or appearance and while never vocalized, silence and body language can still affect our self-esteem.  Rather than dwell on these negative thoughts, we should believe in our abilities and show them that they are wrong.  What If Everybody Thought That? does more than just foster inner confidence.  The story has a higher goal of challenging children to stop making negative assumptions.  For example, instead of presuming that individuals who are short can’t excel at basketball, we should not form an opinion before seeing them on the court. To read my full review and enter a giveaway for all 3 books in the What if Everybody series, 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.

The Grumpy Pets by Kristine Lombardi

August 17th was Clear the Shelters Day.  Thanks to an Instagram post by author/illustrator Kristine Lombardi, I discovered a “new to me” book that promotes animal adoption.

Grumpy Pet
Kristine Lombardi 2019

Billy is a grouchy kid who finds it hard to smile. In hopes of cheering him up, his mom takes him to Perfect Pets Animal Shelter.  Everyone including his sister finds a pet that suits them except for Billy.  They are all just too perfect. But when Billy hears barks coming from another aisle, he discovers to his surprise, the grumpy pets, which had similar dispositions to Billy.  Within moments, Billy makes eye contact with one particular dog which ultimately helps turns his frown upside down.

With concise text and expressive illustrations, The Grumpy Pets is a story that teaches readers that animals can rescue us from a bad mood with just one look, lick or tail wag. And as a dog mom of 2 rescue beagles, I love that the Lombardi promotes visiting a shelter or rescue to adopt your furever friend.

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

happiness-is-a-warm-puppy-and-a-good-book

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/29/19

Beagles and Books is excited to share our recent 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:

Roll with It by Jamie Sumners

Born with cerebral palsy, Ellie just wants to be a regular kid and is tired of having an aide at school.  She craves space to show her independence so that others will see beyond her wheelchair.  Ellie’s sanctuary and passion is baking, a talent she has nurtured ever since she could reach the kitchen countertops.  When her grandfather’s dementia worsens, Ellie and her mom temporarily move from Tennessee to Oklahoma to help out.  Her grandparents’ trailer may be small and not exactly wheelchair-friendly, but Ellie soon discovers that the benefits far outweigh the negatives.  She becomes friends with Coralee and Bert and more importantly, convinces her mother (with her grandmother’s help) that she does not need an aide at her new school.  And now she can finally enter the annual bake-off at her grandparent’s church.  Challenges still exist; however, Ellie is confident that she can handle wherever life takes her.

Ellie’s voice is perfect, for she is both spunky and vulnerable, which are important traits for a dynamic middle grade character.  Kids get to see Ellie’s highs and lows through not only her narration but also through the letters she writes to famous chefs.   The supporting characters are also amazingly well developed.  While I love Ellie’s family, I especially enjoyed watching Ellie’s friendships with Coralee and Bert grow.  Coralee and Bert each have their own struggles which are gradually revealed throughout the story.

I can’t wait to share Ellie’s story with my students! Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the review copy at ALA, which I am sharing with my #bookexcursion ARC group.  Roll With It publishes in October 2019.

Truman by Jean Reidy Illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

It seems like an ordinary day for Truman but when his Sarah strapped on a big backpack, gave him extra beans, and whispered to him “Be brave,” he starts to worry.  Where is Sarah going?  Impatient, Truman decides to find Sarah and while on his journey, he discovers something else-courage.

Truman is a quiet story with a big message.  When I read it aloud (my book beagles are excellent listeners),  I consciously took my time reading each gorgeous word and lingered over the exquisitely drawn illustrations.  Reidy’s words and Cummins’ artwork combined are pure magic.  Although I have over a month until summer begins, I am certain Truman will be one of my first read alouds of the year; it is perfect for the first week of school with themes of new beginnings, courage, and friendship.   Truman recently published in July.

My Furry Foster Family: Betty the Bearded Dragon by Debbi Michiko Florence Illustrated by Melanie Demmer

The My Furry Foster Family series is about the Takano family and their adventures fostering animals for the Happy Paws Rescue, the same shelter where they adopted their dachusund Ollie.   All 4 stories in the series are narrated by eight year old Kaita.  In April, I had the pleasure to read and review Truman the Dog before it was released. To read my full review, click here.

In Betty the Bearded Dragon, the Takano family gets their first non-furry foster pet.  While Kaita has learned a lot about animals through fostering, she knows nothing about bearded dragons.  Of course, Kaita can read to gain knowledge but it’s also fun to learn from her dad who used to have a “beardie” when he was in college.  While Kaita is nervous when she learns Betty is to be adopted two days after she arrives, her worry turns to excitement when she finds out Betty’s new forever home.

After the story ends, author Debbi Michiko Florence shares information on how to become a foster family which includes advice from real life Kaita, who inspired the series.  Her tips are spot on especially acknowledging that it’s ok to be sad when a foster is adopted.  But knowing you have saved the life of a pet is a proud feeling.

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.

Take Your Pet to School Day by Linda Ashman Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

After a note circulates that pets will be allowed at Maple View School for just one special day, students arrives with their pets which include dogs, cats, birds, and fish but also a horse, llama and a colony of ants.  The pets bring noise, interruptions, and mess which makes every adult say “Why would someone change the rule?  Pets do NOT belong in school!”  When the principal denies writing the note, she demands that the author speak up.  Who could it be?  With Ashman’s lively, rhyming text, Take Your Pet to School Day is an engaging and fun read aloud for young children.  Kaufman’s vibrant and detailed illustrations will captivate the reader especially all the animal antics.  Thanks to Penguin Random House for the review copy at ALA.  Take Your Pet to School Day recently released in July.

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

happiness-is-a-warm-puppy-and-a-good-book

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/22/19

Beagles and Books is excited to share our recent 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:

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A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity by Nicole Valentine

12-year-old Finn has experienced a lot of loss in his young life. First, his twin sister Faith when they were both three and now his mother has abruptly disappeared. His dad’s response: Mom will be back; she just needs time.  But on a visit to his maternal grandmother’s house, Finn finds his mom’s purse in the basement.  Why would his mom have left her wallet and cell phone?  Finn wants the truth from Gran, but it is not at all what he expected.  It turns out that the women on his mother’s side of the family are Travelers and can move back in time; Finn’s mom and Gran also have the unique ability to go forward.

Through Gran, Finn discovers that his mom is lost somewhere on the timeline but built a portal in a tree in case of an emergency.  With the support of his best friend Gabi, Finn journeys to find and help his mom.  On his travels, he learns about the ISTA (The International Society for Temporal Adherence) and how in his small town of Dorset, Vermont, there is a difference of opinion of how to use this incredible gift of time travel.

A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity is an intriguing, fast paced adventure with so many twists and turns, I constantly was questioning, thinking, and reevaluating.  What I love most about the story is witnessing Finn’s growth as a character.  Once only believing in facts he can scientifically prove, Finn gains the knowledge that everything cannot be explained by logic and learns “if you want to change time, you must change hearts.”  Hearts are changed by the way we treat each other so let’s all work together to be kind and believe in the good of others.  Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity publishes on October 1, 2019.

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White Bird: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio

For fans of Wonder, your wait is almost over.  Releasing on October 1, 2019, White Bird, a full color graphic novel written and illustrated by R.J. Palacio tells the story of Julian’s Jewish grandmother, Sara, who was hidden from the Nazis in occupied France. Readers first met Julian’s grandmother in The Julian Chapter, which was originally released as an e-book and then included as a chapter in the novella, Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories.

Sara describes her early life as a bit spoiled living in a large flat with two loving parents and blessed with pretty clothes.  At first, living in the free zone of France seemed normal but it doesn’t take long before Sara (and her parents) are in danger. When a roundup occurs at her school, Sara hides in the bell tower and is rescued by Julien, a classmate stricken by polio and bullied by other classmates.  While Sara never directly bullied Julien, she also did not ever stand up for him.  Through Julien’s kindness, Sara learns that “we are not defined by our mistakes but by what we do after we’ve learned from them.”  Julien and his family protect Sara by hiding her in their barn until the end of the war. Through Julien and his parents’ actions, Sara learns that it takes bravery to be kind because “kindness can truly cost you everything.”

While White Bird may begin as a story of heartache, it ends as a story of hope.  And more importantly, 7 years after Wonder, author R.J. Palacio is still teaching us about the immense power of kindness.  An afterword, author notes, a glossary, a suggested reading list, and organizations/resources provide readers with a wealth of historical information about the holocaust. Thanks to Penguin Random House for sharing an ARC at the ALA Annual Conference.

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Look! I Wrote a Book! (And You Can Too!) by Sally Lloyd Jones Illustrated by Neal Layton

Attending my first ALA conference was amazing but also overwhelming. There are so many books to stop and look at in each booth.  When I walked by this book, the eye catching and playful cover immediately made me stop and want to open the first page. I’m so glad I did!

A young girl takes through the writing process in this humorous and informative picture book.  Writers need to start with a good idea and have knowledge about their topic. They must think about their audience, their title, and the elements of a good story such as a great beginning to reel in readers.  Getting feedback is also important because writers revise to make their stories better.   Final advice includes getting blurbs from famous people, adding an author bio, and always thinking about a sequel.

As a teacher who recently participated in the Teachers College Writing Institute in June, I am excited to share this engaging picture book with students to launch writing workshop.  It will be a great mentor text to use and refer to throughout the year.  Thanks to the publisher Schwartz and Wade/Penguin Random House for sharing a F & G at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC.  Look! I Wrote a Book! (And You Can Too!)  celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on July 23, 2019.

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.

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Mighty Reader and the Big Freeze by Will Hillenbrand

As a reading specialist, I love books about reading.  As a dog mom, I love books about dogs so what do you think happens when I find a book about reading and dogs and the main character is….wait for it…A BEAGLE!  You realize Mighty Reader and the Big Freeze was written to be featured on Beagles and Books! Special thanks to Alexa Higbee of Holiday House for providing a copy to me at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

Hugo, a beagle, boards the bus on his first day of school.  He quickly makes friends with Barkley, a bull dog who is reading The Adventures of Mighty Reader. Once in school, the class is excited about their author visit later that day.  Their teacher, Ms. Wulff asks Barkley to read aloud a book written by the author, but Barkley freezes up forgetting all his reading strategies.  Luckily, Hugo knows how to solve this reading emergency.  Raiding the class’ dress up center, Hugo finds a superhero costume, grabs Barkley’s favorite book from his cubby reminding Barkley that he is a reader and how he can use his strategies to read new books.  With encouragement from Hugo, Barkley regains his confidence remembering familiar words and using the pictures to tell what is happening.

Beginning readers need support building their confidence in applying their reading strategies. When I work with young, developing readers, I always remind them that they do not have to know every single word; pictures are a great tool to help us read a story.  Mighty Reader and the Big Freeze also teaches kids that they can help each other through prompting which is what Hugo did for Barkley.  Can’t wait for students to meet Hugo (a.k.a. Mighty Reader) when school begins!

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

happiness-is-a-warm-puppy-and-a-good-book

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/15/19

Beagles and Books is excited to share our recent 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 Textsdecided 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:

Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj

Count Me In is a moving story told in alternating perspectives by seventh graders Karina and Chris who are next door neighbors. At the beginning of the story, they are not friends but that all changes when Karina’s Indian grandfather, Papa moves in with her family and shortly after becomes Chris’ math tutor.  On a walk, all three of their lives are forever changed when Papa is assaulted and badly injured by a stranger who targets him because of his race. Karina refuses to let hate win and with the help of social media becomes an “accidental activist” launching a movement called #CountMeIn, which celebrates not only that Americans are from many races and cultures but also the power of speaking up and standing up for what is right. 

I loved hearing both Karina’s and Chris’ perspectives and how they both learned that we are all stronger together when we use our voices.  Thank you Nancy Paulsen and Penguin Kids for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Count Me In releases soon on August 27, 2019.

Unicorns 101 by Cale Atkinson

Would you like to earn a certificate in unicorn science? Well you’re in luck because Cale Atkinson has written and illustrated a highly entertaining and super engaging picture book that will teach you everything you want to know about unicorns.  The book is comprised of 10 sections informing readers about topics such as unicorn biology, diet, history, habitat, and social behaviors.

While Unicorns 101 is clearly fictional, it reads like an informational picture book. In fact, I strongly believe it would be a great mentor nonfiction text, for text features (diagrams, timelines, labels and captions) are prominent throughout the book.  I can’t wait to share this imaginative yet informative book with students and teachers.  (And by the way, I think I found a new rare unicorn breed if there is ever addendum to Unicorns 101).  Thank you to Random House for sharing an F & G with my #bookexcursion group.  It publishes on September 3, 2019.

Hangry by Drew Brockington

What happens when a lizard monster is hungry and angry because the best hot dog restaurant in the city is closed for vacation?  Of course, he becomes HANGRY terrorizing the city on his search for his favorite food.  When he finally gets a hot dog with the works from.a street vendor, it seems his stomach will be happy. But just as he begins to put the hot dog in his mouth, a pigeon swipes his food.  Will the monster’s hangriness ever be satisfied?

Boldly illustrated in comic panels with all dialogue in speech bubbles, Hangry is a fun read with a simple message at the end.  Before you get hangry, ask the street vendor if he has any more hot dogs left in his cart.   Hangry recently published in June 2019.

Rocket’s Very Fine Day by Tad Hills

In this early reader, Rocket and Bella feel lucky because it is a beautiful sunny day perfect for romping and playing outside. But when the sky turns dark and is full of clouds, there is worry that their fine day will be ruined.  Fortunately, the pair realize that while they do not like rain, they love puddles!

With concise text and large expressive illustrations, Rocket’s Very Fine Day is a perfect book for emerging readers.  I also love the theme of making the most out of the day rather than dwelling on the negatives.  Thanks to Penguin Random Home for sharing a F & G at American Library Asssociation’s Annual Conference (ALAAC19) this June.

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.

Dogs and Their People by Anne Lambelet

Charmingly illustrated in a vintage, art deco style, Dogs and Their People is a story about young girl walking home from school.  On her journey,  she observes the dogs and their people noticing how some dogs match their owners perfectly while others are complete opposites. What is clearly similar in all relationships is the genuine love and affection dogs and their owners have for each other. 

When the girl arrives home to greet her own pet. readers will be surprised to see her furry best friend is not a dog, but rather a cat!  It just goes to show you that even cat people can appreciate dog and their people too!  Thanks to Page Street Kids for hosting an author signing at ALAAC19 where I received a copy.  Dogs and Their People recently published in June 2019.

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