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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/23/21

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


Our Recent Reads:

Cranky Chicken by Katherine Battersby

Everything makes Chicken cranky so when a leaf is in her path, she kicks it. Unbeknownst to Chicken, there is a smiling worm named Speedy underneath the leaf. Speedy is the antithesis of cranky-polite, peppy and positive. Speedy doesn’t just want to be Chicken’s friend. The worm wants to be BFFs (not what you think…Best Feathered Friends) because Speedy likes Chicken and her crankiness; ashe saved Speedy from the evil leaf! This revelation makes Chicken feel the opposite of cranky (happy) and a little less lonely.

Don’t let the title and cover of this graphic novel deceive you! With expressive illustrations and playful banter between these unlikely friends, readers will be chuckling from beginning to end. What I loved most is Speedy liked Chicken as she was and never tried to change her. In fact, Speedy was willing to join in the crankiness. Accepting Chicken’s crankiness allowed a friendship ( and happiness) to blossom.  Hoping that there are more Chicken and Speedy adventures coming because If not, I am going to be one cranky reader! Thanks to Simon & Schuster for sharing a F & G of Cranky Chicken which releases on September 7, 2021.


Norman Didn’t Do It! (Yes, He Did) by Ryan Higgins

Norman, a porcupine, is best friends with a tree named Mildred but when a sapling starts growing close to Mildred, Norman fears the worst.  Although Mildred does not say or do anything, Norman believes his friendship is threatened especially as the sapling grows closer to Mildred.  And when their leaves touch, Norman has a full blown meltdown. Desperate to save his friendship,  Norman makes a hasty decision which initially solves his problem; however, now his conscience is overwrought with guilt.  Can Norman find a way to right his wrong in order to make amends with himself?

With humor and heart, Norman Didn’t Do It (Yes, He Did)  teaches kids lessons about jealousy, contrition, friendship, and tolerance.  I love that Higgins chose to have a narrator as well as dialogue directly from Norman because kids see Norman’s progression of emotions especially his inner struggles with his actions. Thanks to Disney Books and NetGalley for sharing an eARC. Norman Didn’t Do It! (Yes, He Did) publishes on September 7, 2021.


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.

Cat and Dog: A Tale of Opposites by Tullio Corda 

A cat is awake while a dog is asleep. The cat bravely pounces on the dog who is afraid.  The slowdog chases after the fast cat.  From above, the cat pushes a flower pot which falls on the dog below.  The dog is upset but the cat is unconcerned.   With only one word on each page and a single illustration, Cat and Dog is the perfect book to introduce or reinforce antonyms to kids.  In addition to teaching this concept, the picture book has a plot (it’s a tale after all!) allowing children the opportunity to make and then confirm predictions as well as identify beginning, middle, and end.  Will the cat and dog be enemies or friends?

I am a big fan of case covers or undies that are different from the dust jacket.  I always peek hoping to see something fun and was tickled that the theme was included.  Thank you Red Comet Press and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a copy to read and review. To download activity sheets that supplement the book, click here.  Cat and Dog: A Tale of Opposites publishes soon on September 7, 2021.

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/16/21

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


Our Recent Reads:

Willodeen by Katherine Applegate

11 year old Willodeen has a soft spot for the underdog which is why she loves the smelly and grumpy screechers who derived their name from their insane nightly scream. Most villagers deem screechers a pest in contrast to the sweet hummingbears who draw tourists for the annual money-making Autumn Faire. Luckily, Mae and Birdie who unofficially adopted Willodeen after her family died in a wildfire also believe in the worth of screechers and allow Willodeen along with Duuzu, her pet hummingbear, to wander the forest in search of the strange beasts.  Willodeen observes that both the screechers and hummingbears are becoming scare.  She knows why the screechers are disappearing, for the village elders put a bounty on them deeming them a nuisance but what is the cause for hummingbears dwindling? 

During her travels, she meet artistic Connor who unexpectedly leaves her one of his carved puzzlers in the form of a screecher as a birthday gift. Upset about the screecher situation, Willodeen’s angry tears magically make the screecher come to life.  Named Quimby, this extraordinary animal teaches Willodeen the connection between screechers and hummingbears. Now if only Willodeen can convince the village to trust her.

I am always in awe of Applegate’s writing because her signature concise text carries a lot of weight and meaning.  With short chapters, lots of white space, and Santoso’s gorgeous, delicate illustrations, Willodeen is accessible to a wide range of readers. While Willodeen is a blend of realistic fiction and fantasy, readers are easily transported to the village of Perchance because while screechers and hummingbears are not imaginary, the issues facing the town were real. I love that readers witness Willodeen’s astute deductive reasoning skills as she uncovers the relationship between screechers and hummingbears. Acknowledging the symbiotic relationship among species is vital to protecting the environment whether you live in Perchance or your own town. Thanks to Macmillian Children’s Publishing and NetGalley for sharing an eARC.  Willodeen publishes soon on September 7, 2021. 


A Soft Place to Land by Janae Marks

12 year old Joy dreams of becoming a motion picture music composer, but due to her father losing his job, both the promise of her own piano and her piano lessons are on hiatus. To make matters worse, her family was forced to sell their home and move to an apartment.  As a result, Joy shares a bedroom with her younger sister, transfers to a new middle school and hears her parents argue more.  A bright spot occurs when Joy meets Nora who attends the same school and wants to be a filmmaker. Nora introduces Joy to the Hideout, a secret place near the laundry room where kids can come to get a break.  Another glimmer of hope is the dog walking business that Joy and Nora start.  Suddenly, resuming piano lessons seems within reach since Joy is earning her own money.  But Joy’s happiness is short-lived when she intentionally exposes the Hideout to adults and a clash with Nora adversely affects both their friendship and business.  Will Joy be able to find a way to fix everything?  

Written from Joy’s perspective, Marks aptly captures the vulnerability and strength of her main character. At the beginning of the novel, readers see how Joy feels she defeated and her parents don’t value her opinion.  Once Joy meets Nora and they start their dog walking business, her self esteem increases because she believes she has more control over her life.  Then Joy makes some hasty decisions without thinking things through which have disastrous results.  What I loved most about Joy is her geniune remorse and determination to make things right.  A Soft Place to Land teaches that mistakes do not define you; they help you grow. Another lesson is home is not necessarily a physical place; it is about being with the people who love and care about you. Thanks to Katherine Tegen/Harper Collins Publishers and Edelweiss  for sharing an eARC.  A Soft Place to Land releases on September 14, 2021. 

Amara and the Bats by Emma Reynolds

Ever since a bat got trapped in Amara’s attic, she is fascinated by the only mammal that flies. After learning a new bat fact, Amara writes it down in her notebook.  Amara and her family move to a new house and she eagerly visits the local park to see bats flying in the sky at sundown.  The park ranger tells Amara the bad news.  Over the years, park land has been sold; therefore, bats no longer have a habitat.  Amara is devestated.  How can she help bring the bats back? After reading about kids who have made a difference protecting the environment in her nature magazine, Amara’s outlook quickly changes.  Using her knowledge about bats, she shares the idea of building bat houses with her family and her classmates.  Collectively, they all work together to not only save the bats but also other animals that could live in the park.  

Reynold’s debut as author and illustrator is a positive and uplifting story about how a child can champion a cause and successfully make an impact.  I love that Reynolds choose a narrative format because children get to see the evolution of Amara’s passion for bats as well as learn cool bat facts.  The warm illustrations show Amara’s enthusiam and determination to make a difference and how her energy ignites others to join her in her mission.  Back matter includes more bat facts, a guide to bat houses, and tips for how kids can advocate for bats.   Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sharing a finished copy.  Amara and the Bats released on July 20, 2021. 


Walking for Water: How One Boy Stood Up for Gender Equality by Susan Hughes Illustrated by Nicole Miles

In the small African village of Malawi, Victor and his twin Linesi race to the kachere tree and then head in different directions.  Victor walks to school with his friend, Chikondi while Linesi travels to the riverbed with Chikondi’s sister. Enifa.  Since village does not have a well,  girls eight and older join the women to fetch water from the river five times a day.  Victor knows that it is not fair Linesi can no longer attend school so his teacher introduces the word, equality, and asks the boys in the class to think whether how girls and boys are treated equally, Victor observes and notices quickly that boys have a lot more choices than girls.  How can he help make things more equitable?

Inspired by an actual Malawi boy, Walking for Water is a compelling story about the power of own’s voice to help others.  After unsuccessful attempts to teach Linesi at night, Victor realizes that there is a way to be equitable, but it requires him to speak up on behalf of his sister and be willing to give up school every other day.  His actions sways other boys to join Victor as well as the potential for more changes in the future.  With kid friendly language and hopeful illustrations, Walking for Water is a great introduction to gender equality for elementary students.  Thanks to the author for sharing a copy.  Walking for Water released on June 1, 2021. 


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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Pug & Pig and Friends by Sue Lowell Gallion Illustrated by Joyce Wan

In the third book in the Pug & Pig series, new friends Squirrel, Robin, and Cat are introduced.  Cat does not partake in exploring or running around the yard.  She prefers watching her friends.  Once readers turn to the next page, they learn exactly what Cat is up to-surprising Pug when he is sleeping.  Of course, Pug, along with Squirrel and Robin, does not appreciate Cat’s antics.  When a thunderstorm rolls in, all the animals seek refuge in their homes and frightened Cat climbs up the tree.  Even after the storm ends, Cat remains in the tree afraid to climb down.  Recalling Cat’s favorite activity, Pug lays down for a nap.  Will Cat pounce on Pug or will Pug pounce on Cat?  No matter what, the friends have a good giggle which will encourage readers to join them in the laughter!

Friendship is always at the core in the books in the Pug and Pig series.  I appreciate how Gallion reminds kids that you don’t always have to agree or like the same things to be friends.  This idea is important to reinforce especially with young children.  As a reading specialist, I love Gallion’s text because it support children just learning to read with repetition, high frequency words, and short sentences. Questions are also posed which gives children the opportunity to actively interact with the text.  They can answer questions based on the illustrations as well as make and then confirm predictions.  Wan’s illustrations are also perfect for emerging readers. The artwork is simple and keeps the readers attention on the characters’ actions and feelings.  Thanks to BeachLane Books/Simon and Schuster and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for the copy.  It celebrates its book birthday tomorrw on August 16, 2021.  To read my full review, click here

 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/2/21

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

Last week, I featured a review of Animals Go Vroom! written and illustrated by Abi Cushman publishing later this month.  As a thank you for my review, Abi shared an adorable illustration of my book beagle Bella reading the book. 

Abi Cushman 2021

My heart just melted seeing my sweet girl and am awe of the neverending kindness of the #kidlit community.  Educators, authors, and illustrators are all in this together to share stories with kids.  With less than a month left until my school year begins, I am grateful for the time to read and share reviews of upcoming releases that readers of all ages will enjoy.


Our Recent Reads:

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Hope Springs by Jaime Berry

Since her father died in a motorcycle accident and her country singer mother is on the road, 11 year old Jubilee lives with her grandmother, Nan and they move around a lot.  Nan calls it a “search for substance” but observant Jubilee sees the pattern.  When things get tough, Nan gets out the maps and recites one of their 19 Relocation Rules such as Why fight on the battlefield when new fields await?  But this time, Jubilee has a plan to steer Nan to Hope Springs, Texas, the hometown of her idol Arletta Paisley, star of the crafting show, Queen of Neat.   Nan is aware of Jubilee’s scheme, but is all for the move. 

On the first day they arrive in Hope Springs, Jubilee meets Abby, whose mother is mayor of the town and they quickly become friends violating Relocation Rule Number 6: It’s best not to make best friends.  Because of her love for crafting, Jubilee is offered and accepts a part-time job at the Fabric Barn helping the owner Holly.  When Jubilee hears Arletta is returning to Hope Springs to open a SmartMart superstore, she is beyond excited but the rest of the town is worried about the effect on small businesses.  Jubilee discovers her idol isn’t the same in person as on television and is determined to support Hope Springs, the one place that feels like home, even if Nan and her mother whose career is finally taking off are considering another move.  

Written from the point of view of Jubilee, Hope Springs is a story that drew me in right away.  As soon as I met Jubilee, I could tell what a creative, kind and wise soul she is.  In the past, Jubilee had always gone along with packing up and moving on, but the people of Hope Springs changed her mind by touching her heart.  What I love about Jubilee is readers see both her vulnerability and her strength.  Jubilee courageously stands up not only for the town but also herself and learns that the more love she gave away, the more she got back.  Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Hope Springs publishes soon on August 10, 2021.  


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Trubble Town: Squirrels Go Bad by Stephan Pastis

Wendy the Wanderer would love more than anything to live up to her name and explore not only her hometown of Trubble but also the world.  Her father, Worried Willy, has a much different attitude and when he leaves on a business trip, he hires Watchful Willamina to keep a close eye on his daughter.  To her surprise, Willamina is not watchful and allows Wendy to wander freely around town.  Her first stop is Mooshy Mike’s where she gets a chocolate and marshmallow drink (known as a Mooshy) and then walks to the park where she drinks it while eating nuts.  When a hungry squirrel begs for a nut and Wendy has none left, she offers him the last bit of her sweet Mooshy.  As a result of a sugar high, the squirrel’s energy level increases (as well as his penchant for Mooshies) causing a devastating yet hilarious chain of events that brings trouble to the once quiet Trubble Town.  

With a cast of eccentric characters, both human and animal, a fantastical plot that keeps one giggling while turning pages, and creative chapter titles, Pastis’ new graphic novel series will be a hit with readers because the laughter never stops.  And amid the laughter, Wendy learns that by sticking up for the squirrel, Trubble Town will not be in trouble when her father returns home.  Thanks to Aladdin/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for sharing an ARC.  Squirrels Go Bad releases soon on August 31, 2021.


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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Best Buddies by Lynn Plourde Ilustrated by Arthur Lin

On the day he came home from the hospital, a boy with Down syndrome and a basset hound’s relationship began.  No surprise that their bond became stronger once the boy shared his snacks with the hound.  Soon they are inseparable enjoying car rides, playing in the yard, and snuggling at bedtime solidifying their status as best buddies.  But on the first day of school, the teary eyed boy got on a bus while the sad hound watched from the door.  Luckily, the duo was reunited at the end of the school day, but they both were still full of worry.  What about tomorrow?  How will the boy and hound cope? 

Best Buddies is a touching story celebrating the friendship between a child and his dog.  What I love most is the boy cleverly finds a way for him and his pup to stay close to one another when apart.  With the start of school approaching, Best Buddies is a perfect real aloud to support children nervous about leaving a loved one.  Thanks to Capstone Publishing for sharing an eARC.  Best Buddies publishes soon on August 15 2021. 

 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/26/21

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


Our Recent Reads:

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Isabel and Her Colores Go to School by Alexandra Alessandri Illustrated by Courtney Dawson 

Isabel is all set for her first day of school except for one thing-she is fluent in Spanish and doesn’t feel confident speaking or understanding English.  Alessandri cleverly connects Isabel’s emotions to color, for Isabel associates bright colors to Spanish, but less vibrant colors to English.  Dawson’s vivid artwork complements the text well. for these colors swirl around Isabel along with her facial expression clearly show her feelings.  Before Isabel walks into school, her mother gives her advice, “To bad times, a good face.”

When Isabel is unsure of what to do in class, she follows along with the rest of her classmates. When they count in English, she chants in Spanish,  but then feels dark colors engulfing her.  At story time, a classmate named Sarah offers a place next to her on the carpet.  When Sarah asks to be friends, Isabel does not understand which makes both girls feel awkward.  Fortunately, drawing becomes the way for Isabel to articulate.  She shows Sarah a picture of the two of them and says “Amigas”  Sarah repeats and then says “Friends,”   I love that Isabel’s artwork is her communication and makes the stormy blues and blizzards colors of English soften to aquamarine. 

Written in both English and Spanish, Isabel and Her Colores Go to School was inspired by Alessandri’s own experience of starting kindergarten.  A must read for the first day of school.  Isabel will be a friend to all anxious about a new school year. Back matter includes Spanish to English translations. Thanks to Sleeping Bear Press for sharing a finished copy.  Isabel and the Colores Go to School recently published on July 15, 2021. 


I Can Read Comics from Harper Alley

This addition to the I Can Read line introduces children to the graphic novel format.  To the left of the title page, guidance on cartooning basics is provided including vocabulary (panel, gutter, tier, word balloons) and how to read the panels.   To learn more about I Can Read Comics, click here. 

 

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Fish and Sun by Sergio Ruzzier

Fish is bored at the bottom of the cold, dark ocean and decides to venture to the surface.   When Fish first pokes out of the water, it is still cold, dark, and boring until Sun rises in the sky.  Fish and Sun become fast friends playing together until Sun starts to set.   Confused and sad, Fish thinks Sun has disappeared forever, but is reunited with Sun when Fish returns to the surface the next day.  I am a big fan of Ruzzier’s work especially Fox and Chick.  With concise text including high frequency words in speech bubbles and warm full panel illustrations that show both character’s feelings, young readers have support to read and enjoy Fish and Sun.  

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Friendbots: Blink and Block Make a Wish by Vicky Fang

Frowning Block sits on a bench while the other shapes play.  Using the sensor on its head, Blink roams nearby in search of gold, silver or gems.  Each time, Blink excitedly finds an item such as a bottle cap or a gum wrapper, Block immediately discounts it as insignificant.   When Blink finds a penny, Block is not impressed but Blink proudly says ” a penny can turn into a wish”  After throwing it in a puddle, Blink prances with glee because the wish came true.  Block is bewildered and argues with Blink.  It turns out Blink’s wish was for a new friend.  Block’s frowning face turns into a smile and the duo search for more wishes. 

I love how kids will takeaway that friendship is truly something to treasure!  Fang’s Blink and Block are adorably drawn and reinforce shape and color concepts.  In fact, I can see kids drawing their own Blink and Block adventures or based on the first page spread, choose another shape bot (triangle, rectangle, oval, etc.) as a character in their story.  Book 2: Blink and Block Bug Each Other publishes in September. 

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Tiny Tales: Shell Quest by Steph Waldo

While exploring the backyard, a lonely slug sees two creatures that look similar but they have “things” on their backs.  After learning the “thing” is a shell,  the snails tell the slug to find a shell so the slug can play with them.  Thinking a shell is the solution to making friends, the slug searches for one.  An acorn, a thimble, and even a real snail shell seems like good alternatives, but unfortunately, none of them  stay put.  Luckily, one of the snails offers to help the distraught slug find a new shell and on their travels in a rainstorm, the slug discovers the snail is a true friend.  A  downpour carries them to a hollow log where the duo meet other creatures without shells.  Without hestitation, the slug and snail are invited to stay.   With themes of empathy, friendship, and self-acceptance and the cutest slug I have ever seen, Waldo’s debut as author/illustrator is gastropod-tastic!  Book 2: A Feast for Friends publishes in September. 


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Animals Go Vroom! by Abi Cushman

“Roar!! goes the….” Through the die-cut windows, readers see a tiger but when the page is turned, a truck the tiger is driving is the cause of the sound.  Subsuquent sounds include hiss, screech, and squeak, but astute kids will quickly recognize the pattern that the vehicles, not the animals, are making the sounds.  I love that the Cushman chose to begin the story on the title page with the snake family buying a yellow car.  Each page spread gradually reveals how the traffic jam occurred and the chain reaction. Cushman has a gift for adding details into her illustrations, which creates stories within the story.  Opposite of the title page, a young crow receives a toy car that is identical to the snake’s.  The crow and his mother show up in the background of many page spreads and it’s fun to hunt for them and see what they are doing.   

I loved Cushman’s debut picture book Soaked so I was eager to read her Animals Go Vroom! This interactive story which encourages children to be active participants exceeded my expectations.  Children will beg for repeated readings and parents won’t complain!  The expressions on all the animals are priceless and a second read focusing on the illustrations is crucial to follow the painting otter.  Pre-order now so you can check it out for yourself!

Thanks to the author and Viking/Penguin Random House for sharing an eARC.  Animals Go Vroom! publishes on August 17, 2021. 


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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Mayor Good Boy by Dave Scheidt Illustrated by Miranda Harmon

After a dog named Good Boy is elected as mayor of Greenwood, the town is divided.  During his first speech as mayor, a group of angry constituents storm the city hall.  Abby gets her younger brother Aaron to willingly expose his stinky socks thus creating a diversion to rescue Good Boy.  In gratitude for their effort, Good Boy’s chief of staff, Ms. Monica, offers the siblings a job to work with in the mayor’s office.  Their first order of business is to enhance the public image of Mayor Good Boy with all the people in town.  Can Abby and Aaron help get the town on Mayor Good Boy’s side by exposing Old Man Mervis for his dastardly deeds?  

Schiedt’s humorous plot and Hamron’s energetic illustrations will bring smiles and giggles to readers.  Not only will kids laugh out loud especially at Aaron’s gross antics, but also they will learn about how they actively get involved in their own community.    I especially liked seeing Abby’s confidence grow and the reinforcement of teamwork makes the dream work. Following the story is The Mayor Good Boy Pledge promoting positive change and a mini-comic on how kids can contact elected officials to voice their concerns.  Tutorials on how to draw Mayor Good Boy, Abby, and Aaron will support budding ilustrators create their own adventures. 

Two more books in the series are forthcoming-Mayor Good Boy Goes Hollywood in 2022 and Mayor Good Boy Turns Bad in 2023.  Thanks to Random House Graphic for sharing an eARC.  Mayor Good Boy publishes next month on August 31, 2021. 

 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.

Early Chapter Books, Graphic Novel, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/19/21

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


Our Recent Reads:

Long Distance by Whitney Gardner

Named after a star, Vega loves astronomy but is not thrilled about her family’s recent move from Portland to Seattle due to her dad Wes’ new job.  Will the distance impact her relationship with best friend Halley?  To help Vega make new friends, her dad Javi enrolls her in a sleep away summer camp.  Not long after Vega arrives at Camp Very Best Friend, she realizes that things are not normal.  With the help of campers, Querty and twins Gemma and Isaac, Vega discovers truths about the camp which even caught me by surprise.  

Long Distance is a engaging and entertaining middle grade graphic novel about friendship-maintaining old and making new.  Not to give away the plot, but I love that Gardner blends genres to make the plot more intriguing.   The chapter titles are clever inspired by Vega’s internet search on how to make friends. She discovers 7 tips for making friends, and each tip is a chapter title. Because of Vega’s love for astronomy and Gemma’s love for gems, sidebars teach science concepts such the star wheel and thunder eggs. Gardner’s artwork is eye popping with bold colors and ranges from multiple panels of different sizes to splash panels.  Thanks to Simon & Schuster for a review copy.  Long Distance recently released on June 29, 2021.

Mindy Kim and the Trip to Korea by Lyla Lee Illustrated by Dung Ho

In the fifth story in the series, Mindy, her dad, and his girlfriend Julie travel to South Korea to visit her father’s family.  This is not only Mindy’s first trip to Korea but also her first out of the country which makes her both excited and nervous.  After arriving, Mindy has the opportunity to speak Korean more often, eat her grandmother’s yummy food, visit the capital Seoul as well as take a family camping trip to Gangwon-do, a vacation spot with mountains, rivers, and beaches.  And while Florida is very far away from Korea, Mindy realizes that she and her family are all looking at the same moon. This knowledge makes Mindy feel closer to her family in Korea despite the distance.  Saying goodbye was hard but Mindy was happy to be reunited with her dog Theodore.  

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.  Readers also learn about the Korean culture, for each time Lee introduces a word, she explains the meaning in kid friendly language.  I love that Mindy’s dad suggest she write a blog about her trip to record her thoughts and memories.  Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sharing a finished copy.  Mindy Kim and the Trip to Korea published on June 8, 2021.  


You Have to Read This Book by Bruce Eric Kaplan

A father bear named Morris sees a beloved childhood book in a store window, buys the book, and takes it home telling his son Benny “You have to read this book!”  Benny responds “I don’t want to.” Determined to change his son’s mind, Morris continually places the book in Benny’s view for months, bribes him with an ice cream breakfast, and even hides all the books on Benny’s bookshelf.  Benny remains firm in his stance.  Morris’ final attempt is pretty drastic but it does get Benny to at least grab the book.  Now will his son read it? 

The battle of wills between Morris and Benny is hilarious.  As I was reading, I wondered. How far would Morris go and would Benny stand his ground? Amid the laughter, I realized that the story could support the skill of assertiveness taught through Conscious Discipline, a program we use in our district.  Children are taught to use a big voice to be assertive.  Benny definitely uses his big voice to convey his feelings to his father.  Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sharing a copy with me.  You Have to Read This Book published in March 2021.  


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.

Ciao Sandro! by Steven Varni Illustrated by Luciano Lozano

Since he was a puppy, Sandro and gondolier Nicola do everything together, but today Sandro is venturing out in Venice solo on a very special errand. Because of his acute sense of smell and hearing, Sandro knows the city better than most Venetians which helps him locate friends Alvise and Francesca to deliver a message. Then he travels to the vaporetto stop, walks on the boat, and gets off at Murano to see Giorgio, the glassblower. With this last errand complete, Sandro returns to Venice and reunites with Nicola. After the last gondola ride for the day, Nicola and Sandro walk to meet their friends and the last page spread reveals Sandro’s secret mission-to remind their friends to attend Nicola”s birthday celebration.

My husband and I were married in Sardinia, Italy. Venice was our first stop on our honeymoon so the city will always hold a special place in my heart. I loved being able to be see Venice from Sandro’s perspective, but what especially warmed my heart was the sweet relationship of a dog and his gondolier. And it’s pretty adorable to see a dog wearing a striped shirt with a red bandana around his neck. An added bonus is a glossary pronouncing and defining Italian words immediately follows the story. Ciao Sandro! published on June 8, 2021. 

 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/12/21

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


Our Recent Reads:

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Better with Butter by Victoria Piontek

12 year old Marvel is anxious all the time. The school therapist says she is a free range worrier and worries just to worry.  Strategies such breathing, journaling, and practicing mindfulness are supposed to calm her; however, Marvel feels these exercises will cause her even more anxiety.  Her mother believes group therapy is the solution. Marvel disagrees, for the thought of sharing her fears with other kids is equally frightening.   

After Marvel freezes during an oral presentation in front of the school, she believes she has hit an all time low, but that all changes when she sees a group of kids from her school teasing a baby goat causing it to faint.  Marvel immediately identifies with the animal’s helplessness rescuing it and bringing the goat named Butter home.  Her mother is absolutely against Marvel keeping the goat Fortunately, her father, who is on leave from the army, is on Marvel’s side convincing her mother to allow Butter to stay until her owner is found.  Butter has such a calming effect on Marvel that after a little research,  she boldly decides to bring the goat to school as an emotional service animal.  With Butter at her side, Marvel finally feels confident.  Will Butter be able to stay with Marvel or will her owner claim her?  

Better With Butter is a touching middle grade story about how a girl & a goat rescue each other.  Written from Marvel’s point of view, Piontek did a beautiful job capturing Marvel’s conflicts,  courage, and compassion.  My heart hurt for her as she struggled with her anxiety feeling like there was no one who understood her.  Butter changed Marvel’s perspective making her open to making friends and trying new things.  With themes of family, friendship, and facing fears, Better with Butter is a story that is a must read for middle grade readers. Thanks to Scholastic for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Better with Butter publishes soon on July 20, 2021. 


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Listen by Gabi Snyder Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

The world is full of a lot of noise occurring simultaneously.  Cars honking, dogs barking, scooters moving.  As a young girl walks with her dad and younger sibling, Snyder invites readers to stop and take a moment to listen to each specific sound.  The sounds in the text are highlighted in a red orange color as well as the word, listen, which is repeated frequently.  As I was reading the text, I was taking in Graegin’s tender, detailed artwork to locate the things making the sounds.  A crow cawing on a wire, slapping of shoes on the pavement, a hello from across the playground.  At school, the girl is listening to her teacher read aloud a story.  This page spread might be my favorite, for the classroom has shelves upon shelves of books with a few well known picture books on display.  The focus changes to how words sound. Words can pop or stretch, bring joy, and cause pain.  When the girl gets home, Snyder concentrates on the quiet having her listen to her inner voice before she goes to sleep.  

With Snyder’s soft, lyrical text and Graegin’s warm and inviting illustrations, Listen is a story that is soothing to the soul.  I appreciate that Snyder reminds us to listen past the noise. When I am on our deck, while there may be a neighbor moving a lawn,  I can still hear a catbird singing, the fountain in our pond, and  frogs croaking.  Thanks to the author for sharing an digital ARC.  Listen celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on July 13, 2021. 


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How to Wear a Sari by Darshana Khiani Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Tired of being called too small, a young girl takes matter in her own hands.  If she wears a sari like her mother, perhaps, her family will treat her like a grown up.  But wearing a sari isn’t as easy as it looks and it takes patience and persistence (and help from your trusty pup) to get the pleats just right.  With jewelry and sandals as the finishing touches, the girl is ready to show off her style.  Running is not encouraged, but it does allow one to make a memorable entrance especially when a relative is camera ready.

How to Wear a Sari is a humorous and heartwarming story.  Using a second person point of view, Khiani engages children immediately.  Kids will easily relate to the the theme of asserting their independence  What I love most about the story is readers of all ages learn about a tradition in South Asian culture. Lew-Vrietoff’s bold and energetic illustrations show the little girl’s excitement and resolve to prove herself to her family.  Thanks to the author for sharing a finished copy with my #bookexcursion group.  How to Wear a Sari recently published on June 22, 2021. 

To access “Make Your Own Sari” activity sheets, please visit illustrator Joanne LewVriethoff’s  website by clicking here


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The New Kid Has Fleas by Ame Dyckman Illustrated by Eda Kaban

A new kid joins the class and because she acts differently than everyone else, a student named Molly starts a rumor about her.  When a boy in the class gets paired with the new kid, he is worried.  But once he gets to know her, he realizes she is not only fun and smart, but also a great teammate and now, friend.  

While never explicitly stated, the playful text and lively illustrations imply the new kid has been raised by wolves which explains her unconventional behavior.  I am a big fan of Dyckman’s picture books because amid the humor, there is always heart. The New Kid Has Fleas is a great read aloud for the beginning of the school to teach and reinforce lessons in courtesy, friendship, and acceptance.  Thanks to Macmillian Children’s Publishing for sharing a finished copy.  The New Kid Has Fleas recently published on June 15, 2021. 


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Secret Secret Agent Guy by Kira Bigwood Illustrated by Celia Krampien

Franklin Brothers Investigations (F.B I.) have a covert mission-to get a lollipop from the kitchen without their parents’ knowledge.  One brother works behind the scenes drawing a map that outlines the steps and giving advice through a walkie talkie and a tablet.  The other brother dons a trenchcoat and hat, sets up traps using toys in case he is being followed and stealthily moves around the house.  As the boy is approaching his final destination, the family dog is on his trail.  At the moment, the hound doesn’t appear to be a threat.  Once the lollipop is safely in his care, the boy walks upstairs to deliver the goods, but the hound double-crosses the F.B.I. snatching the prize and giving it to…. no spoilers here! Read it for yourself to find out!

Set to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Secret Secret Agent Guy is pure delight! I am in awe of Bigwood’s perfect poetic meter. In fact, Bella enjoyed my reading of the story multiple times because the text begs to be read aloud. Krampien’s detailed illustrations have a vintage feel and nimbly move the plot along building suspense from the introduction to the resolution. Of course, I love that the dog is involved in duping the brothers in exchange for a dog bone. Thanks to the author for sharing a finished copy with my #bookexcursion group.  Secret Secret Agent Guy released on May 11, 2021. 


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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Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family by Nelly Buchet  Illustrated by Andrea Zuill

A man has a dog.  A woman has a dog and a cat.  The man and woman move in together along with their pets. And that’s where the fun begins as the new family adjust to living together.  What is so unique about this picture book is Buchet deftly uses pretty much only two words, dog and cat, in a variety of combinations (Dog Cat, Dog Cat Dog, Dog) in the text.  Since the text is minimal, Zuill’s humorous illustrations move the plot along showing the progression of the animals’ relationship  from roommates to family.  The expressions on all the characters’ faces are priceless!  As a reading specialist who works with developing readers, Cat Dog Dog is a perfect book to put in their hands because the same words repeat throughout the story.  The story has a lot of depth and is a great text for teaching plot elements as well as character traits and/or feelings.  

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/5/21

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


Our Recent Reads:

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Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne 

Since her mom passed away five years ago, it has just been 11 year old Josephine and her fisherman dad.  Her father has recently started to date and Josephine is determined to keep them a family of two resorting to extreme measures like Operation Slime to scare anyone from staying around.  When her dad brings home Mariss to meet her, she is different from all the others; Josephine cannot scare her away no matter how hard she tries.  And it seems like Josephine is the only one who feels something is not right with Mariss.  With help from her best friend, Ahkai and the librarian, Mrs. Edgecombe, Josephine uncovers information to uncover the true identity of Mariss. 

Set in Barbados, Josephine Against the Sea is a story that pulled me in right away.  I absolutely loved Josephine’s boldness. I have not met many characters who have no qualms with dumping fish guts on others to protect her family.  Beneath that tenacity though is a girl who misses her mom, loves her dad, and desperately wants a spot on the cricket team.  As I got deeper into the novel, details emerged as to why Mariss has crept into her life.  I appreciate that Bourne reveals clues gradually which arouse my curiosity and made the novel hard to put down.  And through it all, I always rooted for Josephine because despite her not so good moves, all her actions came from a place of love.  

If you enjoy an intriguing adventure with dynamic characters, I highly recommend this novel! Thanks to author Shakirah Bourne for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group.  Josephine Against the Sea celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on July 6, 2021.  


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The Caiman by Maria Eugenia Manrique Illustrated by Ramon Paris  Translated by Amy Brill

In the small town of San Fernando de Apure in Venezuela, a young girl finds a baby alligator, a river caiman, who is believed to be an orphan.  Just as the girl was about to return the creature to the water, the town jeweler and watchmaker, Faoro passes by and immediately offers to take the baby alligator home.  The animal was so small that it not only fit in the palm of his hand but also in his shirt pocket.  Faoro names her Night for her dark skin. Night accompanies Faoro to his workshop and business booms.  How many places can you get a clock fixed, jewelry mended, AND pet a baby alligator?  

The Caiman is a heartwarming story about the incredible bond between a jeweler and an alligator.   To read my full review and enter a giveaway, click here


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Let Liberty Rise: How America’s School Children Helped Save the Statue of Liberty by Chana Stiefel Illustrated by Chuck Groenink

Today, the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of pride and freedom, but back in 1885, she arrived at Bedloe’s Island in 350 pieces and wasn’t able to be unpacked. Why? France had asked the United States to build a pedestal for the statue to stand on, but it was only half built. Why? Apparently, the the price of the pedestal was $100,000 and Americans weren’t too keen on contributing to the fund. 

With Stiefel’s spirited text and Groenink’s energetic illustrations, Let Liberty Rise is an uplifting story that makes me proud to be an American.  What I love most is the 120,000 donors to the pedestal fund were a diverse group made up of all ages and professions and it especially warms my heart that Stiefel made a conscious decision to highlight the contributions of children.  Children from all over the country gave up their earned or saved money to be a part of something bigger. To read my full review and enter a giveaway, click here


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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Secondhand Dogs by Carolyn Crimi

Miss Lottie gives dogs a second chance. Gus was the first so under Dog Pack Law, he is the pack leader and has to give the seal of approval before Miss Lottie brings another dog into the pack.  Gus’ track record is perfect with Roo, Tank, and Moon Pie. When Miss Lottie introduces Decker to the pack, Gus smells something not right.  He wants to trust his gut instincts, but Miss Lottie keeps comparing Decker to her first dog, Mr. Beans.  Perhaps Gus’ dogginess is off and Decker just needs a chance so Gus gives a half hearted woof and wag. Immediately, Decker walks into Miss Lottie’s the van ahead of him. Uh oh!   Is Decker challlenging Gus as leader of the pack?

As the story unfolds, readers learn about all the dogs’ history and how they found their forever home with Miss Lottie.  Crimi also shares Decker’s story and why he acts the way he does. Reading the back story of each dog really hit me because as the proud dog mom of Bella (& Etta who passed in February 2020), it is very rare to know about dogs’ lives before adopting them.  Bella is a sweetheart wagging her tail 90% of the time, but if she hears the sound of metal, immediately, her tail goes down and she scurries to her safe spot under our bed. I can speculate, but will never know the roots of that behavior.  

At its heart, Secondhand Dogs is a story about  family, for after Miss Lottie’s husband passed away, she needed a purpose.  She soon discovered that giving dogs a second home was a way to heal and be whole.  Another important character in the story is Quinn, Miss Lottie’s neighbor who is coping with a lot of loss-his father’s sudden death, an accident which claimed the life of his dog, Murph, and his changed relationship with his older brother Jessie. After reading Secondhand Dogs, my heart was filled with hope, for whatever happened in the past, we all have a second chance to be happy.

Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Harper Collins for sharing an ARC with me.  Secondhand Dogs celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on July 6, 2021. 

 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/28/21

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


Our Recent Reads:

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Saint Ivy: Kind at All Costs by Laurie Morrison

Having a kind heart is what makes 13 year old Ivy special.  Her nana who she bakes with every Friday worries about Ivy’s big, soft heart.  Ivy disagrees and believes caring for others is her talent; hence how she got the nickname “Saint Ivy.”  As readers get to know Ivy, it becomes apparent Ivy is navigating a lot of change in her life; her parents recently divorced and her father is now with Leo.   She is starting to feel like the third wheel in her friendships with best friends Kyra and Peyton.  And Ivy just found out her mother is pregnant, acting as a gestational surrogate for good family friends.  On the outside, Ivy claims that she is fine, but on the inside, resentful feelings begin to take root which Ivy pushes far down unwillingly to admit they are real.  

So when Ivy receives an anonymous email from bythebay@mailme.com who thanks her for turning her awful day into an almost okay one, Ivy plunges into a new project-to uncover the identity of the person behind the email. This quest gives Ivy the ability to neglect her own needs and fears because she is so busy being kind to all the people she thinks may be the sender.  Ivy soon learns that she needs to extend the same kindness to herself by sharing her honest feelings with both her family and friends. 

Like her last novel, Up for Air, Saint Ivy is a story that I would have devoured when I was in middle school.  It is definitely a solid book for readers not quite ready for YA.  Middle grade readers (including a thirteen year old me) can relate to Ivy because change is scary and it can be difficult to own your feelings especially when you should feel grateful for your good life.  Morrison beautifully captures Ivy’s genuine concern for others but at the same time, her vulnerability .  What I love most about Saint Ivy is that readers see Ivy gradually realize that she can’t pour from an empty cup.  She (We) need to take of yourself first. Thank you to Laurie Morrison for sharing a finished copy with my #bookexcursion group. Saint Ivy  released on May 18, 2021.


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Dear Librarian by Lydia M. Sigwarth Illustrated by Romina Galotta

Debut author Sigwarth shares a personal story of how one librarian changed her life.   When Sigwarth was five years old, she and her family (nine in total) relocated to Iowa from Colorado.  When they first moved, the family could not buy their own home; therefore, they took turns staying with relatives.  Her grandma’s house was too small, aunt’s too nice, and cousin’s too full of people.  When her mom took her and his siblings to the library one day, Sigwarth finally found her special spot not only because of the wide space but also due to the friendship of the librarian.   Even after Sigwarth’s family moved into their own home, the library always held a special place in her heart for she affectionally calls it “a Library Home.”  On the final pages, Sigwarth shares that she is now a librarian inspired by the kindness of Debra Stephenson, the librarian who made her feel safe and happy as a child.

Dear Librarian is a beatiful story that tugged at my heart.  As a young child, I never experienced homelessness like Sigwarth, but I was a regular patron at my local library.  Mrs. Johnston, the librarian, always held books for me that she thought I’d enjoy and along with my mother, I credit her with instilling my love of reading.   Galotta’s warm illustrations complement the text well evoking a nostagic feel.  Thank you to MacMillan Children’s Publishing for sharing a finished copy with me. Dear Librarian recently released on June 1, 2021.


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New Ready-to-Read Graphics from Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Do you know a beginning reader that would enjoy graphic novels?  I can’t wait to share Simon & Schuster’s new Ready to Read Graphics, which complements their popular Ready-to-Read line with my students.  The first book in each series will be published tomorrow on June 29, 2021. 

  • Thunder and Cluck: Friends Don’t Eat Friends by Jill Esbaum Illustrated by Miles Thompson
  • Nugget and Dog: All Ketchup! No Mustard! by Jason Tharp
  • Geraldine Pu and Her Lunchbox Too! by Maggie P. Chang

 To read my full reviews of each book, click here.   Thank you to Cassie Malmo for sending review copies of Ready-to-Read Graphics to Beagles and Books.


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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Puppy In My Head: A Book About Mindfulness by Elise Gravel

To help young children cope with anxiety, Gravel uses the analogy of a “puppy in my head.”  In the story, the young female narrator tells introduces readers to her puppy, Ollie, who is quiet most of the time, but when Ollie is excited, scared or upset, he runs around in her mind making noises.   To help Ollie (and her) calm down, she takes out her magical leash which is actually a breathing strategy taking deep, slow, gentle breaths.  Other calming techniques include exercising and talking to someone. 

Gravel’s distinctive comic like illustrations and large, colorful text not only appeal to the eyes but also help get the message to kids.  I especially love how a specific word or phrase on each page (feelings, breath, slowly, talk about it) is written in bubble letters to emphasize its importance.  At the end of the book, a pediatrican briefly shares her thoughts on the value on introducing children to mindfulness to support their mental health.  Puppy in My Head will be a perfect read aloud at the beginning of the year with my primary students!


Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
-Jim Butcher
#IMWAYR is dedicated to dear Etta, my original book beagle. Blessed that Etta is part of my story.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Novels in Verse, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/7/21

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

Summer is upon us! 12 more days of school until my year officially ends. It’s definitely been an historical school year beginning 100% virtual in September and transitioning to hybrid in March. As challenging as it has been at times, I have grown professionally and personally. I am so grateful for time to relax, reflect & rejuvenate and as always, read! Books remain a source of comfort and I am grateful for all the stories read that always they remind me to always be hopeful.

The 17 year cicadas are in their glory right now.  Apparently most dogs include my sweet Bella consider them a tasty treat.  I have to closely monitor Bella to ensure she does not over indulge.

The cicada sounds are very soothing.  Take a listen. 


Our Recent Reads:

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The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron 

It’s the fall of 1989. 12 year old Etan loves rooting for the San Francisco Giants with his dad, drawing, and walking Buddy, his neighbor’s dog. Ever since his mom checked into a hospital to treat her mental illness, Etan has stopped speaking because she was the one person he could talk to about everything. He and her best friend Jordan have drifted apart and with his dad working a lot, Etan spends a lot of time at his grandfather’s jewelry shop who shares stories of immigrating from Prague to the United States to flee the Nazis.

One day, a neighbor and fellow shop owner, Mrs. Li, asks Etan to make a delivery to the home of Malia, a young Filipina girl living with severe eczema. Bullied because of her skin, Malia is now homeschooled. After Etan shares a drawing of her dragon mailbox with Malia, the two connect quickly. Etan feels comfortable talking with her and as they explore the redwoods near her house, Malia opens up about her health condition. After Etan is cut during an earthquake tremor, his grandfather applies a clay from the old world on his arm and sings something in Hebrew making the cut disappear. He wonders if this earthly material could cure Malia. What Etan has yet to realize though is “true friendship is the oldest and strongest form of medicine.”

Gorgeously written in verse from the point of view of Etan, The Magical Imperfect is a touching and hopeful story of family, friendship, and finding out who you are. The setting perfectly fits the plot, for throughout the story, small earthquakes occured emphasizing the uncertainty in both Etan’s and Malia’s lives. Would Etan’s mom come home? Would Malia skin heal? When the historic earthquake occurred right before the third game of the 1989 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants, my heart was racing and I couldn’t stop reading. And like Rajani LaRocca’s novel in verse, Red, White, and Whole, I loved being transported back to the 1980’s and cannot deny I visited YouTube to watch Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time video. Thanks to the author and MacMillan Children Publishing for sharing an eARC with me. The Magical Imperfect celebrates its book birthday next week on June 15, 2021.

Nerdycorn by Andrew Root Illustrated by Erin Kraam

While her fellow unicorns are leaping over rainbows and splashing in waterfalls, Fern is building robots, coding, experimenting, and reading.  She also has a big heart always willing to help others but after being called Nerdycorn and not being invited to Sparkle Dance parties, Fern decides that her kindness has run out and refuses fixing Flutter Phones and Shimmer Bikes. On the night of the Sparkle Dance, all the machines that are on the fritz.  The unicorns apologize for their behavior, but Fern is still annoyed.  Will Fern accept her apology or hold on to her grudge?

Nerdycorn is a sweet story about not only having the confidence to be yourself but also sthe courage to stick up for yourself.  I love that Fern is proud of who she is, but my heart did hurt for her when the other unicorns teased her.  Fern’s decision to take a hiatus from lending a hand taught the unicorns the valuable lesson, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”  The bold and lively illustrations show the range of both Fern’s and the other unicorns’ feelings throughout the story.  Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of Nerdycorn.  It recently published on May 18, 2021.

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Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places by Katie Frawley Illustrated by Laurie Stansfield

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


 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.

Hugo and the Impossible Thing by Renée Felice Smith and Chris Gabriel Illustrated by Sydney Hanson

At the edge of the forest, there is the Impossible Thing. a mess of boulders, thorns, rivers and cliffs. Hugo, a curious French bull terrier wonders why it is called impossible, for no animal has ever attempted to get through it and see what is on the other side. Apparently, Mr. Bear, Little Fox, Miss Otter, and Old Mr. Goat have deemed it impossible. While Hugo may not be as strong and clever as Mr. Bear and Little Fox and have the swimming and climbing skills as Miss Otter and Old Mr. Goat, Hugo decides he has to try. The next morning, when Hugo reaches the edge of the forest, he realizes that he does not have to tackle the Impossible Thing alone. All his forest friends are there ready to lend a hand to make the impossible possible.

Inspired by Smith’s and Gabriel’s dog, Hugo, who overcame a life threatening illness, Hugo and the Impossible Thing is a feel good story about courage, friendship, and teamwork. I love Hugo’s positive attitude. He doesn’t question each animal’s response when he/she says the Impossible Thing has always been impossible. In fact, he agrees that is what he has heard, but despite it, Hugo thinks he is going to try. Hugo’s determination propels the animals to change their fixed mindset to a growth mindset. The soft illustrations show Hugo’s positivity from beginning to end and the other animals’ transformation from skeptic to believer.

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/24/21

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


Our Recent Reads:

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly

There is no maybe….I absolutely love 8 year old Marisol!  She loves watching black and white silent films, bestowing names to inanimate objects like appliances and furniture, playing claw machines,  and has a vivid imagination.   In Marisol’s backyard, there is a magnolia tree that was made to be climbed.  Marisol named the tree, Peppina, after a silent film starring Mary Pickford.  But Marisol has yet to climb Peppina because she is afraid of falling.  Jada, Marisol’s best friend, gets her and doesn’t care if Marisol prefers the ground to Peppina.  But Marisol wants to be brave.  When she and Jada play, Marisol pretends she is a bird, but that doesn’t give her the courage to climb Peppina.  When Jada finds a nest, Marisol desperately wants to see it with her own eyes. Will Marisol’s maybe finally change to yes?

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey, the first book in Kelly’s new illustrated early chapter book, is just perfect.  With themes of family, friendship and facing your fears, kids will easily relate to Marisol. While Kelly wrote in the third person, Marisol’s inner struggle over climbing Peppina are apparent to readers.  As a reading specialist, I am always excited to add a new series for children transitioning to chapter books.  Supports include length (only 160 pages), short chapters, and endearing black and white illustrations drawn by Kelly herself.   Thanks to Madison Ostrander of Spark Point Studios for sharing an eARC with me. Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey recently released on May 4, 2021.

Pizazz by Sophy Henn

Most kids will love to be a superhero, but not 9 year old Pizazz.  Why? Well, she has to wear the same clothes everyday (don’t worry…she has spares), still has to go to school (gotta have a back up plan says her mom) and just when you start eating ice cream or get to the best part of a book, you have to stop and save the world.  But the worst part is unlike her little sister, who got a cool name (Red Dragon) to match her awesome super power (breathing fire), Pizazz has the most embarrassing super power ever (and Henn doesn’t reveal it until the second to last chapter)!

And to make matter worse, Pizazz and her family just moved; now she is at a new school and doesn’t know anyone. In an effort to make friends, Pizazz volunteers to be her class’ representative on the school council.  When she is not chosen, her teacher makes her eco monitor instead.  At first, Pizazz isn’t all in (doesn’t she spend enough time saving the world?), but after a little reflection, she changes her mind which results in meeting classmate (and possible new friend) Ivy who wants Pizazz to focus on stopping the local park from becoming a car garage.  Saving a park sounds easy compared to Pizazz’s other missions, but it turns out that her superhero ideas don’t work as well in the normal world. Will Pizazz be successful in not only saving the park but also making a friend?

First published in the UK, Pizazz is a fun illustrated chapter book series that will keep readers engaged.  I loved the format, for in addition to artwork, Henn used comic panels throughout the text. For example, whenever Pizazz and her family went on a mission, this layout was utilized.  Character names were also written in bold and fun fonts which helped me keep track of characters.  Thanks to Jenny Lu of Simon and Schuster for sharing an ARC of Pizazz with me.  Pizazz and Pizazz vs. The New Kid, Book 2 in the series, releases soon on June 1, 2021.

Is Was by Deborah Freedman

With concise, lyrical text and warm, breathtaking artwork, Freedman tells a quiet story about how nature is constantly in motion. One moment, it is the present and then it was indicating the past.  The blue sky turns into a downpour allowing a chipmunk, bird, and fox to enjoy drinks from puddles. A songbird flies away and a buzzing bee can now be heard. Mere seconds later, the chipmunk escapes the talons of a bird thanks to the prey’s shadow. While the chipmunk seeks refuge in between rocks, a bee buzzes by a spider web as the songbird observes.

Soon a child appears reminding us that nature is always in flux around us regardless if we are watching or listening. As night falls, the sky turns blue again and the chipmunk takes in the starry night while the child and her mom sit on their porch steps. With just two words, Is Was celebrates the subtle and obvious changes that occur daily in our world. Thanks to Jenny Lu of Simon and Schuster for sharing a finished copy with me.  Is Was recently published on May 4, 2021.


 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.

Pawcasso by Remy Lai 

It’s 11 year old Jo’s first day of summer break and she is already bored.  When an unleashed dog walks by her house alone with a basket in his mouth, Jo is intrigued and follows the pup.  To her surprise, the dog stops in different shops where clerks read a list, fill up the basket, and take money for payment.   Still on the dog’s trail, Jo follows him into a bookstore aptly named Dog Ears, where some of her classmates are taking an art class.  When asked if the dog belongs to her, Jo is caught off guard and says yes.  The teacher asks Jo to bring her dog (who she quickly names Pawcasso) to art class every Saturday as a model for the children to draw. Reluctantly, Jo agrees but isn’t certain that she can keep her promise.  Remarkably, Pawcasso has a consistent schedule on Saturdays which allows Jo’s lie to live on gaining friends in the process.  But Jo’s luck runs out when Pawcasso becomes a local celebrity and a debate erupts about leash laws dividing the town into two factions-the Picassos (in favor) and the Duchamps (against).   Will being truthful put Jo in the doghouse forever or will the town be “paw-giving?”

Since her debut, Pie in the Sky, I have been a devoted fan of Remy Lai’s novels, which can make you go from laughing to crying to laughing without even turning the page.  Pawcasso is Lai’s first graphic novel and was inspired by her dog, Poop Roller, who has a penchant for well, rolling in poop. Lai’s characters always take an emotional journey where they take risks and make mistakes and as a result, learn and grow.  Readers will easily relate to the themes of self-identity, family, and friendship, and honesty. Thanks to the author and Macmillan/Henry Holt for sharing an eARC with me. Pawcasso celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 25, 2021.

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!