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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/17/20

 

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.

My book beagle Etta is slowing down and sleeping more so she wasn’t up for posing for pictures. Grateful that little Bella (with her tongue out) was timidly willing to stand for all photos. Thankful for the live feature on my iPhone camera.

Our Recent Reads:

Beginners Welcome by Cindy Baldwin 

Not only is sixth grader Annie Lee grieving the sudden death of her music loving dad, but she also has to adjust to moving and attending a new school.  And to make matter worse, Annie has drifted apart from her two best friends, and money is tight even with her distressed mom working full time. To cope with her grief, Annie escapes to Brightleaf Square, a mall where she meets Ray, an older gentleman who plays the piano. 

Befriending Ray play is the first step to Annie Lee shedding her invisibility cloak.  After seeing a flyer about a piano competition, Annie Lee asks Ray to teach her so she can enter the contest.  Playing the piano helps Annie Lee feel closer to her father and the cash prize would help pay for things she and her mom can’t afford right now.  Gradually, Annie Lee starts to find her way to heal her broken heart and befriends Mitch, who like her recently transferred to her school.  But when Ray goes missing, Annie Lee makes a decision that may jeopardize her friendship with Mitch.  

Beginners Welcome is an authentic and powerful story about Annie Lee’s journey from grief to hope. Told from Annie Lee’s point of view, it is clear that she and her dad shared a close bond. Without her dad as the glue, she and her mom are having a hard time navigating their new life together as a family. Annie Lee’s and her mom’s relationship is rocky, and Annie Lee really resents her mother for their predicament. But as the story unfolds, readers learn that while Annie Lee’s dad was indeed a wonderful person, he lived in the moment without planning for the future. My heart ached for both Annie Lee and her mom, for they both experienced grief and anger because of their situation. Once they both were willing to accept support from each other and others, they finally began to truly heal. 

Thanks to author Cindy Baldwin and publisher Harper Collins for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group, for Beginners Welcome is one of the novels on my #mustreadin2020 list. It recently published last week.

The Box Turtle by Vanessa Roeder

The Box Turtle is a sweet story about Terrance, a turtle who has born without a shell. Fortunately, Terrance’s parents were not concerned and fitted him with a box which kept him dry, safe, and big enough to share with his hermit crab friend.  When another turtle makes fun of him, Terrance’s confidence turns to shame and he gives up his box in hopes of finding a better shell.  But after many tries, nothing fits.  Will Terrance ever feel comfortable in his own skin, I mean shell? 

First, one look at Terrance and your heart will melt.  Author/illustrator Vanessa Roeder’s illustrations are utterly adorable, especially when he is shell-less (is that even a word?)  What I love about his story is through an act of kindness by his crustacean friend, Terrance learns that his shell does not define him and with a little help from friends and his loving parents, Terrance gains the confidence to be appreciate his uniqueness and stand proud. 

And don’t miss the creative endpapers, for the front is a collection of different objects Terrance tries out as a shell and the back endpapers show Terrance’s humorous side using other objects as shells.  Thanks to Penguin Random House for sending a copy to my #bookexcursion group.  The Box Turtle celebrated its book birthday last week.  

Are My Stars Like Your Stars? by Leslie Helakoski Illustrated by Heidi Woodward Sheffield

Colors are universal.  Regardless of where you live, blue is essentially blue.  But what you see as blue may differ.  Are My Stars Like Your Stars is a gorgeously written and illustrated picture book that teaches children how they can be connected to others all over the world through color.  For example,  in one page spread, an African American family goes on an outing to an apple orchard and the last sentence begins “Is your red…. In the next page spread,  a Chinese family is celebrating the New Year.  The author completes the sentence with the words “..like my red?”

Children can compare and contrast themselves with other kids, for they can relate to activities such as playing soccer, baking cookies, and planting a garden. Kids can also learn about other cultural traditions such as Diwali.  With lyrical text and highly textured, collage-style illustrations, Are My Stars Like Your Stars is a story that will both delight and teach.  Thanks to illustrator Heidi Woodward Sheffield for sending a copy for Beagles and Books to review.  Are My Stars Like Your Stars? recently published in January 2020. 

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex

As a reading specialist, I love when I find a book that not only will make kids laugh out loud but also teach them critical life skills. As the title clearly suggests, Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots teaches the difference between facts and opinions.  But author/illustrator Michael Rex doesn’t stop there.  Speaking directly to the reader, the robots also teaches that at times, one needs more information to decide if a statement is a fact or opinion.  And in my humble opinion, the best lesson is the robots reminds us the importance of listening to each other’s opinions and respecting our peers’ right to think differently.  

With an opinion writing unit coming up, Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots will be a great mentor text to share with my second grade students.  Thanks to Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House for sending a copy to my #bookexcursion group.  Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots celebrated its book birthday last week.  

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.

Hound Won’t Go by Lisa Rogers 

Hound Won’t Go is an fun and engaging story about a stubborn basset hound. What starts out as a leisurely walk turns into a traffic standstill when Hound won’t leave his spot in the street.  Treats, tugs, horns, or stares will not change Hound’s mind.  He just won’t go.  But the sound of thunder does cause action and Hound wastes no time racing home with his owner following behind him.  When he finally reaches home wet and tired, Hound shakes, jumps into bed, and cuddles with his person.  

Author Lisa Rogers’s amusing story really resonated with me because my sweet Etta has been known to show her stubborn side especially on a walk.  Unlike Hound who won’t move, Etta would never let me stop to talk to a neighbor.  She was always on the go ready to return home for a treat.  Like Hound, Etta (years ago, when she could hear) hated thunder.  She always went to her safe spot in the den and would burrow under pillows.  

Written in rhyming couplets, Hound Won’t Go is a perfect read aloud for young readers. I can already hear the children chiming in to finish the couplet.  And kids will love the illustrator Meg Ishihara’s full page animated illustrations of adorable Hound.  Thank you Albert Whitman & Company for sending an ARC of Hound Won’t Go to Beagles & Books for review. Look for Hound Won’t Go’s release in April 2020.  

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/27/20

 

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

Our Recent Reads:

Drew and Jot; Dueling Doodles by Art Baltazar

Dueling Doodles is the first graphic novel in the Drew and Jot trilogy. On the first day of fifth grade, new student Andrew meets Foz and the two boys become fast friends due to their love of drawing. They quickly decide to collaborate on a crossover comic strip featuring Andrew’s superhero Drew and Foz’s evil Doctor Danger. Soon other characters such as Jot, a canine sidekick for Drew and Poop Monster are born. But when Drew’s little sister Patsy borrows the sketchbook and adds her own characters to their story and Dr. Danger book jumps from Foz’s sketchbook to Andrew’s, the adventure goes to a whole other level. 

I love that Baltazar draws reality with the kids’ interactions as well as their artwork in the sketchbooks. I have no doubt that readers of all ages will not only devour this series but also will be inspired to draw and collaborate on creating their own stories. Special thanks to author Jarrett Lerner for recommending Dueling Doodles which recently published on January 7, 2020.

Mack Rhino Private Eye: The Big Race Lace Case by Paul Dubois Jacobs and Jennifer Swender Illustrated by Karl West

In The Big Race Lace Case, Mack Rhino and his assistant, Redd Oxpeck have recently solved their 99th case and it doesn’t take long before they are handed Case #100. Apparently shoelaces are disappearing right before the Big Race in Coral Cove. With news of the Ant Hill Gang escaping the ant farm upstate, Mack is certain they are involved. But who are they working with? With an engaging and humorous plot, young readers will enjoy piecing together the evidence gathered by Mack to help solve the mystery.

In my district, second grade students read mysteries as part of an ELA unit but I must admit, it is difficult to find mysteries for striving readers.  So excited to read the first book in the Mack Rhino Private Eye, which is part of Aladdin’s Quix Fast Fun Reads. Launched in 2018, this book line supports developing readers in becoming independent readers. Written in under 70 pages with short chapters and illustrations on every few pages, Mack Rhino has other great supports to help children transition to chapter books. These accessible features include a list of characters with their role, the use of bold font for characters when first introduced and vocabulary words, which are then defined with pronunciation in a glossary. I plan to buy multiple copies to use with my striving reading group during the mystery unit,

Special thanks to author Jennifer Swender for sending me a review copy.  Mack Rhino Private Eye: The Big Race Lace Case just celebrated its book birthday on January 21, 2020. A second book, The Candy Caper Case will publish in May 2020.  

Trouble at Table 5: The Candy Caper by Tom Watson Illustrated by Marta Kissi

Molly likes things a certain way. She likes her socks folded not rolled up. She only reads one book at a time. Her pillows must be arranged in a particular order. So when she sees a big glass jar full of Skittles in her principal’s office, she needs to know how many Skittles are in the jar. Fortunately, Molly’s friends Rosie and Simon understand when she has something she can’t get out of her head. They not only help her concoct a plan to count the Skittles but also help her carry it out. Young readers will enjoy problem solving with the trio.

With progress bars at the end of each chapter, full and half page illustrations and only 96 pages in length, I just love this new illustrated Harper Chapters series which support kids in building stamina to read chapter books. Special thanks to the publisher Harper Collins for sharing an ARC at the NCTE convention.  The Candy Caper and Busted by Breakfast, the second book in the Trouble at Table 5 series will both be available on February 25, 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.

Honey: The Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln by Shari Swanson Illustrated by Chuck Groenink

Most of my knowledge of Abraham Lincoln is about his career as a lawyer and of course, as our 16th U.S. president.  Debut author Shari Swanson has written a heartwarming story about Abe’s boyhood friendship with his dog Honey. 

On his way back home from the mill, young Abe finds a stray dog with an injured leg.  He makes a splint with sticks, bark, and rawhide and takes the dog home with him.  From that day on, Abe and newly named Honey are inseparable.  Loyal Honey repays Abe for rescuing him by seeking help when Abe got stuck between boulders in a cave.  What I especially love about this story is Swanson embeds young Abe’s other acts of kindness towards animals saving those in distress.  Chuck Groenik’s warm and nostaglic illustrations complement the text well showing Abe’s gentleness and compassion.  Also included is a timeline titled Abraham Lincoln and His Animal Encounters which provides even more information and an author’s note which shares the origin of this picture book, for Abe’s childhood best friend, Austin Gollaher orally recounted stories to a journalist.  Honey: The Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln recently published on January 14, 2020.  

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/20/20

 

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

Our Recent Reads:

How to Make Friends with the Sea by Tanya Guerrero

Since I started reading How to Make Friends with the Sea before the New Year, I did not originally include it on my #mustreadin2020 list, but this novel, beautifully written by debut author Tanya Guerrero is now officially on my #mustreadin2020 middle grade list because this moving story has my whole heart.  Here’s why.

Twelve year old Pablo has lived most of his young life being anxious but with his parents’ divorce and his move to the Philippines, his apprehension continues to build. Unable to share his fears with his zoologist mother, Pablo’s anxiety reaches an all time high when she agrees to foster Chiqui, an orphaned girl with selective mutism and a cleft lip. But gradually, as Pablo spends more time with Chiqui, she eventually speaks to him and he learns that his fears of germs, dirt, and the sea are not as big as his fear of losing Chiqui. 

Being brave is hard when so many things scare you but Pablo is truly one of the most courageous kids I have ever met.  In the beginning of the story, my heart hurt for Pablo as he struggled with his anxiety but each time he took a small leap, my heart cheered him on.  Written from Pablo’s point of view, Guerrero’s voice for him is perfect, for she captures all of Pablo’s raw feelings and emotions so readers truly get to know him. What I love about Guerrero’s writing is that she makes it clear that Pablo’s fears never completely go away; rather, he learns to cope with his anxiety especially when it comes to Chiqui.  Pablo doesn’t do this all alone, for new friendships with his neighbor, Happy, his mother’s boss, Miguel and even meetings with barista Heinz and dog Lucky give him the strength to step out of his comfort zone.  How to Make Friends with the Sea is an honest and dynamic story about family, friendship, facing your fears, and forgiveness that I will carry with me forever. 

Special thanks to Tanya Guerrero and Farrar Strauss Giroux/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now, for How to Make Friends with the Sea publishes on March 31, 2020. 

Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business by Lyla Lee Illustrated by Dung Ho

Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business is the first book in a new early chapter book series written by #ownvoices author Lyla Lee. Narrated by seven year old Mindy, readers quickly learn she is navigating a lot of changes in her life.  Mindy’s mom has recently died, and she and her father move to Florida from California. She desperately wants a puppy and is extremely nervous about starting a new school. 

Her first day of school in Florida is challenging because unlike her old school, she is the only Korean American in her class and at lunch, classmates make fun of kimchi and seaweed.. While Mindy hates being the new kid, she is cheered up by her babysitter’s Maltese, which makes Mindy want her own dog even more.  On the very next day of school, Mindy is determined to be brave and seek out a friend.  Her plan works and not only does she have someone to sit with at lunch but also a classmate who asks to try some of her seaweed.  Soon seaweed becomes quite popular in the lunchroom and Mindy decides to make it a business, which gets her and her new friend in trouble.  Can Mindy mend their friendship?

Written in 77 pages with short chapters and full page illustrations in almost each chapter, Mindy Kim has great supports for primary students transitioning into chapter books. What I especially love is Lee skillfully tackles tough themes such as grief from losing a parent and microaggressions in a way that is accessible to younger readers. Special thanks to Jenny Lu of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sending me a review copy.  Mindy Kim and the Seaweed Business and Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade, the second book in the series recently published on January 14, 2020.  A third book, Mindy Kim and the Birthday Puppy will release in May 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.

Thunder Pug by Kim Norman Illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi

When Percy the pug’s best friend Petunia the pig wins a blue ribbon at the county fair, their relationship changes. Sporting her ribbon everywhere, she gets the attention of many of farm animals leaving little time for Percy.  After stumbling upon Thunder Man, an old comic book, Percy reinvents himself as Thunder Pug donning a cape and spending his days rescuing those in need.  But being Thunder Pug was lonely without a sidekick so imagine Percy’s glee when Petunia joins him as superhero, Pink Lightning.   Together they learn that being a hero is a lot more fun with a friend!   A follow up to Puddle Pug, Thunder Pug is a celebration of friendship.  What I love about this story is it reminds children that even the best of friends can weather through any storm!

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/13/20

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

Our Recent Reads:

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From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

From the Desk of Zoe Washington is my first #mustreadin2020 middle grade novel and author Janae Marks celebrates her debut novel’s book birthday tomorrow! Special thanks to the publisher Katherine Tegan/Harper Collins for sharing an ARC at the NCTE convention. 

On aspiring baker Zoe’s twelfth birthday, her life is forever changed when she checks the mailbox and finds a letter from her biological father Marcus who has been in prison her whole life.  While this letter is the first one Zoe has read, she learns that Marcus has been writing her letters for a long time. Curious about a man she has never met who calls her his Little Tomato and loves music, Zoe secretly begins writing to him unbeknownst to her mother and stepfather.  With each letter, she gets to know Marcus better and finds it hard to believe that he is in jail for committing murder.  When Zoe finally gets the courage to ask him about the crime, he not only explains he is innocent but also shares his alibi.  

As if the weight of clearing her father’s conviction isn’t heavy enough, Zoe is also juggling an internship at a local bakery, a possible audition with Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge, and a disagreement with her best friend Trevor.  Fortunately, being honest with both her grandmother and Trevor provides Zoe with support as she searches for the truth. 

Written from Zoe’s point of view, debut author Marks expertly captures the voice of passionate and determined Zoe who is an advocate for her father. Readers see Zoe struggle with lying to her parents but they also see her boldness and urgency in her quest to uncover the truth about her father. Marks tackles tough issues such as institutionalized racism in a way that is accessible for middle grade readers. From the Desk of Zoe Washington is Zoe teaches us that one person can indeed make a difference and how family can forgive each other for making mistakes.

I highly recommend From the Desk of Zoe Washington! Just waiting for my hardcover copy to arrive so I can share with students and teachers!

You Can Do It, Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi

You Can Do It, Yasmin is a collection of the four recently published books:

  • Yasmin the Soccer Star
  • Yasmin the Gardener
  • Yasmin the Writer
  • Yasmin the Friend

Each story is a chapter in this bound book.  Faruqi’s Yasmin is a great role model for young readers because while she can be hesitant, she demonstrates perseverance and innovation when faced with a problem. In Yasmin the Soccer Star, Yasmin learns soccer isn’t dangerous with a good coach.  In Yasmin the Gardener, she shows good problem solving skills when her flowers wilt.  In Yasmin the Writer, she realizes that heroes are everyday people.  In Yasmin the Friend, Yasmin’s observation skills help her find a way to get her friends to play a game together. 

Not only do I love Yasmin and her determination, but I also love that she has a strong support system in her parents, grandparents, friends, and her teacher, Ms. Alex (who I especially relate to, for she has short hair like me!)  Aly’s colorful and dynamic illustrations show Yasmin’s range of emotions which makes her very relatable.  Can’t wait to share the latest Yasmin stories with my students!  

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.

Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph

Written in an upbeat rhyme, Odd Dog Out is a gorgeously illustrated picture book that celebrates marching or rather dressing to your drum.  While every dog in the city looks and acts exactly the same, one free spirited female dachshund is the odd dog out. Feeling alone, she leaves her home in search of a place where she will feel more comfortable. After much traveling, she is ecstatic, for she finally finds a place where all the dogs look exactly like her except one dressed completely different.  Feeling empathetic, she consoles this odd dog out only to discover an important lesson.  Uniqueness is something to be proud of!  So when she returns home, the odd dog out is greeted warmly because she was greatly missed.  And it doesn’t take long for the city to embrace that being different is really great, for the last illustrations show the dachshunds proudly showing off their individuality.

There are countless reasons that I love Odd Dog Out. It is visually appealing with lively and colorful illustrations, and the cheery rhyming text begs to be read aloud. Add the powerful message of being true to yourself, which in my opinion means that author/illustrator Biddulph has pulled a hat trick in the world of picture books.  Special thanks to Brianna Robinson of Wunderkind PR for sending me a review copy.  Odd Dog Out recently published on December 3, 2019.

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? 1/6/20

Happy New Year! Beagles and Books is thrilled to share our first post It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? for 2020!  #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:

A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan

Told through the points of view of Sara and Elizabeth in alternating chapters, co-authors Faruqi and Shovan have seamlessly written an authentic and powerful middle grade story that explores themes of family, culture, religion, identity, racism, friendship, food and most importantly, finding the voice to speak up for yourself and others.   I highly recommend A Place at the Table to not only students but also teachers and parents, for I gained perspective on Pakistani and Jewish culture and the challenges of being a first generation American. 

I finished reading A Place at the Table before the New Year so I did not include it on my official #mustreadin2020 list, but this novel, beautifully co-written by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan  and releasing in May 2020 is truly one you do not want to miss. To read my full review, click here.

Cub by Cynthia Copeland

Set in the early 1970s, Cub is a graphic novel memoir which chronicles the author’s internship as a cub reporter for a local newspaper. Cindy was recommended by her English teacher and is mentored by a young female reporter, Leslie Jones. While Cindy is learning to navigate the world of reporting, she is also facing the challenges of being a seventh grader. Cindy shares her tactics on how to go unnoticed by the mean girls at school (known as the predators which is a nod to Wild Kingdom), experiences her first crush, and copes with changes in her friendship with her childhood best friend.   

What I loved most about Cub is Copeland gradually shows the positive effects of Cindy’s internship.  Cindy hones her writing skills, develops an interest in photography, and gains confidence in not only her writing but also in herself.  While the predators will always be there (in school or in the real world), Cindy learns that she is in charge of telling the world who she is.  The illustrations blew me away and I especially enjoyed seeing Jones’ edits of the Cindy’s typewritten ledes, which showed how feedback contributed to her growth as a writer.   

I was born in the early 70s so I am a little younger than Cindy, but I could relate to both the historical references as well as her journey in discovering her true passion and finding her own voice.  Cub also champions the importance of having mentors and the support of your family and friends.  

I would most definitely add Cub as to my #mustreadin2020.  It is an honest and engaging coming of age memoir with a positive message.  It has definite kid appeal but I also recommend it to adult readers (like me) who wish to journey back in time.  Special thanks to the Algonquin Books for Young Readers/Workman Publishing for sharing a copy at the NCTE convention.  Cub celebrates its book birthday tomorrow!  

 Love, Sophia on the Moon by Anica Mrose Rissi  Illustrated by Mika Song

Love, Sophia on the Moon is a heartwarming story of how a little girl creatively handles her mother’s scolding.  After being sent to time out, Sophia decides to run away to the moon. She & her mom keep in touch through writing letters. Proclaiming her independence, Sophia moves to the moon bringing her cat, Mr. Wubbles as her companion.  In her letters, Sophia shares the perks of living on the moon such as a new friend, Frurgbert, moon-juice, and most importantly, no time outs and better yet, no bedtimes.  Mom’s letters back shows her concern for Sophia’s absence and while she respect her daughter’s decision, she makes subtle mention of things in an attempt to get Sophia to come home.  

I absolutely love that the story is told in the form of letters which allows readers to see both Sophia’s and her mom’s perspective. Starting with the title page, Song’s warm and muted illustrations are full of significant details giving readers a true glimpse of what has and is really happening in the story and why Sophia choose to escape to the moon.  Love, Sophia on the Moon is an excellent read aloud for families, for it reinforces the unconditional love between parents and their children.  Special thanks to the author for sending a F & G to my #bookexcursion group.  Love, Sophia on the Moon publishes March 31, 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.

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Stormy: A Story about Finding a Forever Home by Guojing

Stormy is a gorgeously illustrated wordless picture book about a stray dog who seeks shelter under a park bench.  When a young woman sits on the bench, the dog runs away but stays nearby within the view of the woman.  Befriending the dog with a ball, the woman shows extreme patience waiting for the dog to make the first move. Gradually, the dog begins to show a little trust fetching and dropping the ball but is still too frightened to get close.  When the woman leaves, the dog follows her home with the ball in its mouth.  A fierce storm erupts and the dog finds shelter in a box while the woman returns to the park frantically searching for the pup.  While heartbreaking to see both apart, readers are rewarded with a heartwarming reunion that brought me to tears.  Guojing’s use of muted colors in each stunning panel deftly conveys the changing mood of the story.  A story about patience, trust, and love, Stormy is a book that proves pictures are indeed worth a thousand words.

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? 12/2/19

Beagles and Books is back and thrilled 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:

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Santa’s Story by Will Hillenbrand

It is Christmas Eve and Santa is ready to begin his monumental sleigh ride but he has a problem.  None of his reindeer can be found.  To read my full review and to enter a giveaway, click here.

One Snowy Morning by Kevin Tseng Illustrated by Dana Wulfkotte

In this fun story, a chipmunk and a squirrel see a snowman but do not recognize it as one.  Instead, they show readers their vivid imagination as they invent different uses for each item. For example, the coal eyes are lumpy kickballs, the scarf is a theater curtain, and the carrot is a rare dragon tooth.  Feeling inspired, they decide to use the carrot to stir up a pot of dragon tooth soup, find new uses for each item, and invite their friends over for a party. After their party ends, the items are returned to the “giant pile of snow” so that others can enjoy them.  What I love about One Snowy Morning is that the two woodland friends teach us to be out of the box thinkers. Readers will enjoy the humorous  and creative plot and the warm and lively illustrations. Thanks to the publisher for sharing an early copy with my #bookexcursion group.  One Snowy Morning recently published on November 5, 2019.

Snowy Race by April Jones Prince Illustrated by Christine Davenier

From the very first page, readers will feel the excitement of a little girl as she wakes up and says “Today’s the day! She’s on her way!” Behind her bed nailed to the wall is a calendar with many crossed out dates and only one date circled in red.  Who is the little girl waiting for?  The excitement grows as the little girl and her father eat breakfast and then board the snow plow headed for town. As the weather worsens, the rhyming text and energetic yet warm full page spread illustrations conveys the mood as the father and daughter brave the storm together.  Finally, they reach their destination, a train station and readers finally see who the little girl was waiting for.  Snowy Race is a heartwarming story about family.  Thanks to the publisher for sharing an early copy of Snowy Race with my #bookexcursion group.  It recently celebrated its book birthday on November 26, 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.

We Could Be Heroes by Margaret Finnegan

Fourth grader Hank is a compassionate kid with autism.  He is largely overlooked by his classmates, but Hank is content spending time with his rock collection.  After an incident at school which leads to a three day suspension, Hank gains the attention of high-spirited classmate Maisie.  And coincidentally, her parents are geologists. Maisie invites Hank over to her house to see rocks but actually has an ulterior motive. She wants to find a new home for her neighbor’s dog, Booler.  Booler suffers from seizures so in order to keep the dog safe, Booler lives outside tied to a tree.  From Maisie’s perspective, Booler is being mistreated and needs to be rescued, but Maisie doesn’t know the whole story.  Hank is eager to have a real friend, but experiences anxiety for Booler and his situation.  Maisie though is so relentless that Hank refers to her as a barnacle, for she has latched on to a plan to save Booler and won’t it go.  Reluctantly, Hank agrees to help Maisie and while their intentions are admirable, their actions do result in some negative consequences, but the silver lining is learning how to truly be a friend.  

I read a lot of middle grade novels and many are written with older characters.  I love that debut author Finnegan novel features two dynamic characters for a younger audience.  Drawing from her own experiences as a parent of a child with autism, and epilepsy, , Finnegan also did a beautiful job creating authentic characters in Hank and Maisie.  While the novel is under 250 pages, Finnegan slowly and skillfully reveals the plot which makes the book hard to put down.  Readers do not learn until close to the end why Maisie is so steadfast in wanting to rescue Booler.  I also love how the friendship between the children and Mr. Jorgensen gradually unfolds.  With themes of family, friendship, and forgiveness, We Could Be Heroes is a must read.  Pre-order now, for the novel publishes on February 25, 2020.

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

 

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#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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