#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? 7/18/22

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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Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez and Gabriella Epstein

Five students who have been completing community service hours in the cafeteria are called to Principal Powell’s office at Conrad Middle School.  Why?  To share their recollections of what happened on April 18th.  On the surface, they all appear to be similar in that they speak Spanish, but they are completely different.  As the synopsis states, George is the brain, Sara, the loner, Dayara, the tough kid, Nico, the rich kid, and Miguel, the athlete.  Wait a minute…wasn’t there a 1980’s movie with the same cast of characters?  These kids are usually invisible to everyone around them, but once they meet someone in need, they need to decide whether to extend a helping hand knowing they could get in trouble. 

As I read Invisible, I was a rollercoaster of emotions.  Angry at first that an adult thinks they are all Mexican.  Worry for George because his family has moved, but doesn’t want it to jeopardize his chance to get into the magnet school.  Sadness for Miguel who is talented artist but his father wants him to concentrate fully on baseball.  Heartache for Dayara who needs support in learning English as well as Sara who has a huge heart but is shy.  Annoyance for Nico who seemed to think he was better than everyone else.  But as I read on, I got to know the characters better and witnessed the kids gradually becoming a team which warmed my heart and on the final pages, I cried happy tears.  Written in both English and Spanish, Diaz Gonzalez’ text is authentic and moving.  Epstein’s detailed comic panels are full of energy and expression making the the story come alive.  Can’t wait to see the finished color artwork!  Highly recommend pre-ordering Invisible.  It is a middle grade must read!  Thanks to Scholastic for sharing a copy with my #bookexcusion group.  Invisible releases on August 2, 2022. 


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Llama Rocks the Cradle of Chaos by Jonathan Stutzman Illustrated by Heather Fox 

“I AM LLAMA” is back for a third adventure in the series.  Llama just celebrated his birthday with his friends and a doughnut with extra sprinkles.  The yummy dessert consumes his mind and as a result, he gets a deliciously dangerous idea to go back in time to savor the donut again.  Unlike his dancing pants, time travel pants come with directions. But Llama is too rushed to read them. so when he goes back in time, he goes back way farther than a day.  Based on the clothing and music, Llama traveled back to the 1980’s to his birthday when he was a wee, little llama.  After eating the donut, Llama travels back to the present bringing his younger self with him.  Not one for sharing, Llama sends Baby Llama back to the past but is unsuccessful and with each attempt. Baby Llama bring more “friends” with him.  Worried about his house but mostly about his secret cake cellar, Llama wonders how can he end the chaos?

Llama is one of my favorite picture book characters because his penchant for food especially sweets always gets him in trouble.  I love how Llama is just reckless and doesn’t worry about any ramifications from his risky decision thinking once he has satisfied his stomach, life can just go back to normal.  His lone action sets off a chain reaction that seems impossible to solve but somehow, Llama wins!  Stutzman’s lively and witty text and Fox’s adorable and whimsical illustrations perfectly complement each other.  Thanks to Macmillan Kids for sharing an eARC.  Llama Rocks the Cradle of Chaos recently released on July 5, 2022. 


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K is for Kindness by Rina Horiuchi  Illustrated by Risa Horiuchi

Looking for an alphabet book with a positive message?  This ABC book teaches young children the 26 letters with animals showing kindness to each other.  As a reading specialist, I love so many aspects of K is for Kindness!  On each page, a sentence concisely captures one animal’s goodwill to another.  The targeted letter is blue and begins each sentence. Not only does the text have some alliteration, but it also rhymes with the subsequent sentence.  For example, “Cow covers Cat with a coat ’cause he’s cold. Donkey gives Dog her dear dolly to hold.”  Accompanying the text is a charming, uncluttered illustration that shows the animal’s altruism.  All the benevolent acts are simple yet powerful such as saying thank you, reading a book or signing XOX in a letter showing kids that good deeds are free.  At the end of the book, kids are asked to think about something considerate they could do which will promote a rich conversation and inspiration. Thanks to the author for sharing a copy.  K is for Kindness published in April 2022. 


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 character.

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Millie, Daisy, and the Scary Storm (Life in the Doghouse #3) written by Danny Robertson, Ron Danta & Crystal Velasquez Illustrated by Laura Catrinella

In the third book in the Life in the Doghouse series, Millie and Daisy are bonded pups rescued during Hurricane Katrina.  Although they are best friends, they are completely different.  Daisy is scared of storms and Millie watches them from the front door. Millie is excited about getting adopted in contrast to the worried Daisy.  What if the two get separated?  Millie hatches a plan to ensure they are adopted together, but Daisy isn’t certain that is what she wants.  She likes living at Danny and Ron’s Rescue.  Will both Daisy’s and Millie’s dreams come true? 

At only 108 pages with short chapters and black and white illustrations, Millie, Daisy, and the Scary Storm (along with the other books in the series), is a great chapter book for children transitioning to middle grade.  Kids will also enjoy learning about the true story of Daisy and Millie which comes after the fictionalized story.  Of course, being a rescue dog mom, I love that this series features a rescue dedicating to finding furever homes for dogs and the text shows how the dogs like Daisy can be scared or anxious given the trauma they experienced. Thanks to Simon Kids for sharing for a copy. Millie, Daisy, and the Scary Storm recently released on July 12, 2022.   To learn more about this engaging and informative series, 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, Debut Author, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/11/22

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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Play Like Girl by Misty Wilson Illustrated by David Wilson

Rising seventh grader Misty loves football because it has strategy. teamwork and most of all, players can tackle. When the boys won’t her play during a practice, go getter Misty refuses to stay on the sidelines. She signs up for the town’s football league determined to prove that she has the skills and stamina to be on the team. Training is grueling and while her best friend Bree decides football is not for her, Misty remains steadfast. Her decision to keep playing puts a strain on their friendship which is tough at the beginning, but Misty learns there are others who understand and accept her desire to play football.

Once I began reading Misty Wilson’s graphic memoir, I couldn’t put it down. While I never played a team sport, I could still relate to Misty’s competitive nature and cheered her on along the way. Readers will also connect to her struggles navigating middle school friendships and how old relationships can change and new friendships can blossom. I especially loved how her football coaches and her stepdad were her biggest supporters.  Misty Wilson’s honest and humorous text and David Wilson’s engaging and expressive artwork showed Misty at her best and worst allowing the reader to see an authentic main character. Misty also learns valuable lessons in friendship, teamwork, family, forgiveness, and acceptance. Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. Play Like a Girl publishes on September 27, 2022. 


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Bright by Brigit Young

Marianne has always been able to get by in school, but this year her grades in Mr. Garcia’s math class may cause her to repeat the eight grade. She reluctantly joins the Quiz Quest team thinking her presence will earn her extra credit but Mr. Garcia is firm; Marianne must prove she is putting forth effort, not just sitting on the sidelines. It doesn’t take long before Marianne discovers the Quiz Quest members are not a true team. While Marianne may not be able to quickly recall facts, she does possess a natural ability to help her teammates each discover their strengths making Quiz Quest a more cohesive unit.  

Young’s upper middle grade novel touched me as a teacher. What struck me is Marianne has a good support system of family and friends,, but was still able to slip through the cracks until Mr. Garcia’s class.  Readers do learn the cause of her lack of effort which I appreciated.  Because of an innocent mistake that occurred in her sixth grade social studies oral presentation, an embarrassed Marianne chose to stop trying convincing herself she couldn’t learn.  I have personally worked with kids who have shared Marianne’s attitude; Bright reminds me that my job is to help kids identify their strengths and understand there are all kinds of ways to be smart. Of course, no one is successful without effort and Marianne must take some responsibility.  Being on Quiz Quest teaches Marianne that everyone has feelings of inadequacy including the smartest people she knows and her greatest competitor has always been herself.  I loved witnessing Marianne learn and grow and I know middle grade readers will too! Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group.  Bright recently released on July 5, 2022. 


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Hurry, Little Tortoise, Time for School! by Carrie Finson Illustrated by Erin Kraan

On the first day of school, Little Tortoise is prepared to not only be on time, but perhaps, the first one to arrive.  Surely, the extra lettuce for breakfast will help his momentum.  As she walks, Cheetah, Llama and other animals including Snail riding a scooter pass her.  Little Tortoise remains undeterred plonk-a plunking along.  When she finally makes it to the schoolhouse, she hears noises inside.  Thinking she is late, she hides in her shell until the teacher Mr. Sloth picks her up admitting he is indeed tardy.  He calms Little Tortoise saying while he is working on being on time, it’s more important to be present.  The smile on Little Tortoise’s face shows she has an ally, and they both keep up their pace to get to the classroom before the clock turns to 8:30 a.m. 

As a teacher, I constantly hear kids announcing being first which I always answer with “It’s not a race” I love Mr. Sloth’s attitude that faster isn’t better; perseverance and presence is paramount.  Finison’s steadfast shelled protagonist reminds us of the moral “Slow and steady wins the race,” Kraan’s charming and lively woodcut illustrations perfectly complement Finison’s witty text and makes Hurry Little Tortoise, Time for School a perfect real aloud for the beginning of the school year.  Thanks to the author and Random House Studio for sending a copy to my #bookexcursion group.  Hurry, Little Tortoise, Time for School! releases next week on July 19, 2022. 


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Pink is Not a Color by Lindsay Ward

When Pink discovers that the Primaries and the Secondaries are planning for the Rainbow Extravaganza, she wants to lend a hand.  But she wonders why hasn’t she ever heard of this event before?  The Rainbow Extravaganza celebrates all the colors in the rainbow and sadly, Pink is not one of them. The colors still invite Pink to come, but she feels awkward and begins to question her identity.  Is she still a color if she is not in the rainbow? I love Ward’s format for Pink speaks directly to the reader sharing her inner thoughts in speech bubbles and the illustrations show Pink’s range of emotions as she grapples with this question.  

Fortunately, her friend Gray sets her straight by taking Pink on a stroll around town to show her how all things pink such as ice cream, art, and toys bring joy.  And best of all, pink is a color in the sunrise and sunset.  Can’t get any better than that!  The message of Pink is Not a Color is sometimes it takes a friend to help you see your true self-worth. To read my full review, 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 canine characters.

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Lou by Breanna Carzoo

Dogs are typically the main event in this feature, but Lou, a fire hydrant, is pretty deserving given his contribution to the canine crew.  He knows he is useful as a toilet for the neighborhood dogs yet he yearns to serve a higher purpose.  As Lou narrates the story from the sidewalk, readers see a fire starting in an apartment in the background.  Unbeknownst to Lou, a fire truck parks close by him and when a dalmatian pays a visit, he thinks it’s business as usual until the firefighter attaches a hose to him. Suddenly, Lou knows his true gift.

I absolutely adore everything about Lou. In her author/illustrator debut, Carzoo has created an utterly endearing character who possesses both a sense of humor and incredible depth.  I love seeing the story within the story involving a cat, a pot cooking on a stove, and a dad and his child leaving the kitchen which ultimately leads to Lou realizing his superhero powers.  With potty puns and a passionate main character,  Lou is a story that make you chuckle and tug at your heart.  And while my local fire hydrant is orange, I am so tempted to paint it red and give it eyes and a mouth.  And don’t worry Lou; Bella only sees you for the hero you are! Thanks to the author and Harper Collins for sharing an eARC. Lou celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on July 12, 2022. 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/27/22

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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Party Animals (Cranky Chicken #2) by Katherine Battersby

Chicken & Speedy are back to keep kids smiling and giggling. Chicken hasn’t lost her crankiness; however, her friendship with Speedy definitely keeps it in check. In the first chapter, Chicken is hangry and Speedy does everything he can do to help her (except ask her what she wants to eat). In the next chapter, Speedy plans Chicken an unsurprising birthday party because Chicken loves parties but not surprises. In the final chapter, Speedy takes Chicken on a bus trip to the beach and of course, beaches and buses make Chicken cranky.

Battersby’s Cranky Chicken series is pure delight.  As in the first book, Speedy accepts Chicken’s peevish personality and it is through their friendship that Chicken mellows reevaluating at times what makes her cranky. Speedy’s energy and positive attitude shine through in Battersby’s artwork and while Chicken’s facial expressions remain consistent for most of the novel, readers can see the genuine love for her adventurous friend.  I adore their playful exchanges with one another because while Chicken’s dialogue is somewhat predictable, one never knows where Speedy is going to go.    Their relationship is a reminder to kids that friends do not have to agree on everything; being together and supporting each other is what counts. Thanks to Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sending me a copy. Party Animals celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on June 28, 2022. 


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The Big Scream by Kirsti Call Illustrated by Denis Angelov

What happens when a child wants more and mom says no? First, come tears. Next, comes temper tantrum, and finally, a big scream. As a result, the boy gets a time out. His disposition starts out pouty and angry but it is clear that he has been taught calming strategies. He breathes in and out and as he slowly counts to ten, his scowl turns into a smile. While he did not get another cookie, he does get a big hug from mom!

Call’s concise, rhyming text and Angelov’s nostalgic and expressive illustrations perfectly complement the plot of a child who experiences the full range of emotions when he doesn’t get his way. What I love is this board board can be a great parent tool to teach kids how to handle big feelings.  Thanks to Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sending me a copy. The Big Scream celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on June 28, 2022. 


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I Want to Be a Vase by Julio Torres  Illustrated by Julian Glander

Tired of unclogging toilets, a plunger makes an announcement.  It wants to be a vase. The sink, bathtub, toilet, and vacuum cleaner immediately scoff at its declaration.  The plunger is not deterred stating it can switch jobs.  It leaves the bathroom, enters the kitchen, and resourcefully tapes some flowers onto its handle.   A pot remarks “Oh, yay, look!  It’s a vase” to the plunger’s delight. Then the pot proclaims it wants to be a trash can.  Soon other household items follow suit wanting to be something different which does not sit well with the vacuum.  When the hair dryer decides it wants to be a vacuum, the vacuum has hit its breaking point and as a result, expel its contents all over the house.  Who can help clean up this mess? Hmmm…perhaps, a dryer?

When I read aloud I Want to Be a Vase to kids, they could not contain their laughter.  Torres’ playful conversational text gave life to a peppy plunger who dared to think differently as well as all the other household items in the story.  Glander’s unique 3-D art is so visually appealing that the kids wanted to closely examine the illustrations after I read.  Amid the humor, themes of identity, acceptance, and speaking one’s mind are explored which promotes a great discussion.  Thanks to Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sending me a copy. I Want to Be a Vase recently published on June 7, 2022. 


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 character.

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Hot Dog by Doug Salati

Summer in the city is no fun for a dachshund doing errands with his human. It’s too
hot to sit or sniff and the streets are so crowded. Putting his paws down, the pup lays in the street until his human gets the message. On the next few page spreads, readers see the pair in a taxi, a train, and a boat which takes them to an island where the dog can let loose literally and figuratively. Once off leash, he runs on the beach, splashes in the water, and collects rocks. As the sun sets, the pup and his human travel back to their city home to eat supper and snooze. 

As I read, I was aware of how both Salati’s text and artwork elicit emotions. I could feel the stickiness and loudness of the city as well as the dog’s frustration. The moment his human got down on her knees to rub under his chin, I knew she understood his needs and a smile never left his face. I love his use of alliteration (crowds close in, welcome whiff, skyline shimmers) and at times, Salati let his artwork alone tell the story. The format had a graphic novel feel with some pages having multiple panels of varying sizes.  The heart of the story was the relationship between the dog and its human; the immense love they have for each other poured out from the illustrations.  Hot Dog recently published on May 24, 2022. 

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.
Board Books, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/21/22

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.


Happy Summer!  This school year has been one of my most challenging ever, so I am especially grateful for time to relax, renew, and read and of course, spend time with my book beagle Bella!

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Our Recent Reads:

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The Pet Potato by Josh Lacey Illustrated by Momoko Abe

Young Albert desperately wants a pet, but his parents dismiss any type he mentions.  When his father jokingly gives him a potato as a pet, Albert is not pleased.  He puts it on the table not paying it any attention until he looks up and sees it frowning.  Is that even possible? Albert began including the potato in his daily activities such as playing at home, going to the library, and sleeping on his pillow. Kids will quickly recognize that the potato is smiling whenever he is with Albert.  One morning, his potato is missing and Albert is distraught.  Adults can probably guess the inevitable demise of the potato and while Albert is heartbroken, he and his dad give his potato a proper burial in the backyard.  Not only do Albert’s parents learn he is responsible enough to take care of a pet, but also Albert learns a valuable lesson in gardening.

What a fun and unique pet story!  Abe’s playful and nostalgic artwork perfectly compliments Lacey’s unconventional plot. What I love most is the story evokes a lot of emotions.  It’s humorous yet heartfelt.  Thanks to Roaring Books Press/Macmillan Children’s Publishing for sharing a copy.  The Pet Potato celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on June 21, 2022.


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Pigeon & Cat by Edward Hemingway

Cat lives in a cardboard box in an vacant city lot. When Cat finds an egg on the ground, he takes super good care of it until hatches.  Once Pigeon enters Cat’s life, his world is now forever changed.  I love how Hemingway chose to have Pigeon communicate in emojis so kids can decipher what she is thinking.  Once Pigeon perfects flying, she is eager to explore the city.  A nervous Cat is relieved when Pigeon returns with a piece of red chalk, her first of many gifts.  Inspired by Pigeon’s generosity, Cat’s creative juices start flowing bringing color to the once drab lot. One afternoon, Pigeon doesn’t return to the lot so Cat bravely leaves the lot to find his best friend.  He searches high and low leaving chalk messages all over the city. Soon the city doesn’t feel scary anymore and Cat willingly befriends other strays in hopes of locating Pigeon.  The two finally reunite in the now vibrant and bustling lot which Pigeon has opened to all the strays.  With themes of friendship, compassion, courage, creativity, and community, Pigeon & Cat is a must read picture book. To read my full review and see what kindergarteners think, click here.

Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Little Brown and Company for sharing a copy. Pigeon & Cat celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on June 21, 2022. 


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Sylvie by Jean Reidy illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Reidy’s and Cummins’ Truman is a heartprint story to me. I read it to my #classroombookaday class at the beginning of each new school year.  When I discovered they were collaborating on a new story, I was bursting with excitement! 

Sylvie, a spider, prefers to remain hidden living underneath the fire escape.  You see if spiders draw attention to themselves, disastrous consequences could occur.  Day and night, Sylvie enjoys going up and down the fire escape to check on all her people who live in the building including a girl and her tortoise.  But when she notices her people not engaged in their hobbies, Sylvie is worried. How can she help them out of their rut? Inspired by the sun, Sylvie allows herself to be visible weaving  webs on windows leading her people to the roof of the building.  The result is inspirational and heartwarming.  

Since Charlotte, I don’t think there has been a spider who has touched me like Sylvie.  She is a true friend to her people and while she was scared to be exposed, Sylvie knew she must step into the spotlight to help them.  Reidy’s text is such a joy to read.  Your heart fills up with every page. She uses a lot of fun alliteration like “the same sun that seldom saw” and “basking in that beautiful beam.” With a pastel color palette,  Cummins’ beautiful artwork is warm and inviting.  And with her many facial expression, Cummins brings that sweet, small, savvy spider to life.  Thanks to Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sending me a copy. Sylvie recently published on May 10, 2022. 


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 character.

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Adventure Awaits by Henry Cole

A dog and a cat wake up for a day of adventure. They both leave their house separately to explore and investigate the backyard. The dog follows a squirrel and the cat chases a pair of blue jays.  They both stop at a tree where an owl’s yellow eyes peek out of the trunk.  Their inquisitiveness turns to fear and the pair run back to their shared home. Now safe, they snuggle together on a pet bed. But as the title says, adventure awaits for a raccoon appears at the door.

Using only word narration on most pages, Cole allows young children to interpret the illustrations.  I love his use of alliteration which makes the story fun to read.  Cole’s text exposes young kids to robust vocabulary such as inspect. stalk, dart, nuzzle, and slumber which will promote great discussion. His warm illustrations convey the changing mood of the story from calm to lively. Thanks to Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sending me a copy. Adventure Awaits recently published on May 10, 2022. 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/13/22

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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The Little House of Hope by Terry Catasús Jennings Illustrated by Raúl Colón 

Esperanza, her little brother Manolo, and her parents move from Cuba to the United States.  They find a house that is within their budget to rent.  During the week, her parents work to make money at their many jobs and Esperanza and her brother work hard at school and doing household chores. On weekends, the family collaborates on making “la casita” a home.  When family or friends need a place to live, Esperanza’s family welcomes them with open arms utilizing all parts of the house including the garage to make space. 

What I love about this story is young children get a first hand account of moving to the United States as an immigrant and the many reasons why families leave their homelands. Kids not only see the work ethic of both Esperanza’s family and her extended family but also their absolute willingness to lend a hand to others.  Inspired by her own childhood, Catasús Jennings tells a story full of heart and hope.  La casita became a home because of the people that lived in it.  You can feel the love and support through Catasús Jennings’ descriptive text and Colón’s warm watercolor illustrations evoke a nostalgic feel.  Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group.  The Little House of Hope celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on June 14, 2022. 


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Rosa’s Song by Helena Ku Rhee Illustrated by Pascal Campion

Moving from South Korea to the United States is tough for Jae.  Everything looks and feels different.  When his mother suggests meeting other kids in the building, Jae is nervous, but he takes the initiative and knocks on a door.  Rosa and her parrot, Pollito, greet him and immediately, the three become fast friends.  Remembering what it was like when she moved to this country, Rosa supports Jae when he feels homesick. When Jae remarks about missing the mountains or the sea, Rosa helps him visualize the sights and sounds of South Korea.  Rosa and Pollito also teach Jae the song with the lyrics “When I fly away, my heart stays here.”  One morning, Jae discovers Pollito in his bedroom. His mother explains that Rosa and her family had to leave quickly and move back to their homeland and she wanted Jae to have Pollito. Even a singing Pollito can’t cheer up Jae until two kids knock on his door asking about his bird.  

Ku Rhee’s heartfelt narrative and Campion’s expressive illustrations chronicle the short but sweet friendship between Rosa and Jae.  In the author’s note, Ku Rhee shares the inspiration for the story came from her childhood living in an apartment building where families came and went due to many circumstances.  Rosa’s Song teaches kids that we can honor our past friendships by being open to making new friends.  Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Random House for sharing a copy. Rosa’s Song celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on June 14, 2022. 


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Odd Birds: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Flock by Laura Gehl Illustrated by Gareth Lucas

As a companion to their board book, Odd Beasts, Gehl and Lucas have collaborated on the engaging and informative Odd Birds which introduces toddlers and preschoolers (and adults) to a flock of unique feathered friends. Gehl’s concise text of one sentence per page spread highlights each bird’s distinctive feature. Lucas’ page filling illustrations emphasize the special trait making it easy for young children to see the connection.   Gehl choose her birds wisely, for what could be more interesting than a bird that smells like poop or one with blue feet!  At the end of the book. Gehl has included real photographs of all the animals and an explanation about the function of their special characteristic.  While the birds may seem odd, their features serves a purpose. Hoping there are more books to come in this nonfiction series. Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Abrams for sharing a copy. Odd Birds celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on June 14, 2022. 


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 character.

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Every Dog in the Neighborhood by Phillip C. Stead Illustrated by Matthew Cordell

On a walk with his Grandma who is checking out something in the neighborhood, Louis tells her he wants a dog. She responds, “There are enough dogs in the neighborhood.”  Louis asks her “How many dogs?” but Grandma does not answer.  Since city hall doesn’t have a count of dogs, Louis decides to tally up the dogs himself going door to door.  His data collection project gives him the opportunity to meet all the dogs as well as their owners.  I love how for some dogs, their names match their personalities, for E.B. dreams of writing animal stories. But a name does not always hold true, for Caboose likes to first.  My favorite dog of all was Harvey, who now lives in his owner’s heart; sweet Louis counted him.

Meanwhile, Grandma was working on a project of her own.  Because the city refused to help, Grandma refurbished an abandoned lot into a dog park.  It is clear from where Louis gets his initiative (& humor).  Louis’ final count of dog is 19, but Grandma believes he missed one.  Could this be a surprise for Louis?

Cordell’s loose, expressive artwork brings Stead’s quiet and touching story to life.  His illustrations perfectly capture both Grandma and Louis’ personalities. I love how Grandma’s project is not mentioned in the text, but only through the illustrations so readers truly have to read both the words and the pictures.  I also adore Louis’ relationship with his Grandma; and he is right. Grandma knows everything which is why I love her too!  Thanks to Neal Porter Books/Holiday House and Edelweiss for sharing an eARC. Every Dog in the Neighborhood publishes next week on June 21, 2022.

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/6/22

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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Spineless by Samantha San Miguel

12 year old Chicagoan Algie has asthma so his concerned mother takes him and his older brother to a health resort in Gilded Age Florida for the winter. Algie is in his element, for he aspires to be a naturalist and is enthralled by his surroundings.  When another hotel guest wants to harm a small octopus, Algie not only speaks up but literally goes overboard to save the creature.  Peculiar things begin to happen at the resort and Algie is puzzled. He become friends with budding field biologists Frankie and Lulu, the hotel owner’s daughters, and the trio go on a mission to discover what is real and what is a hoax. The small octopus, now aptly named Pulpy, becomes a sidekick and ally to Algie and the sisters as they search for the truth.  

Not wanting to give the story away, Spineless is a middle grade novel with dynamic characters, an exotic setting and imaginative and suspenseful plot.  Algie tugged at my heart because of his challenges with his health, his relationship with his family, and his discovery that his idol Professor Ransom Champion was a fraud.  Despite his struggles, Algie perservered and taught not only himself but also others the importance of observation, patience, doing the best with the day you have, being willing to accept help, and seeing the best in people.  Thanks to Jenny Lu of Union Square Kids Books for sharing an ARC. Spineless celebrates its book birthday on June 7, 2022. 


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Lulu & Zoey: A Sister Story by Carrie Finson

Sisters can be the best of friends or the greatest foes.  Written in rhyme, Finson honestly shares the peaks and valleys of having a sister.   On the very first page, Jackson’s animated illustrations show older sister Zoey’s frustration as Lulu interupts her work wanting to play.  Zoey’s subsequent facial expressions convey her growing annoyance with Lulu which advances to the sisters having a physical argument.  Finson’s lyrical text convey how Lulu’s actions hit a nerve with her older sister. Luckily, Aunt Eliza to the rescue who intervenes and soon the girls have time apart to cool down.  Their time alone renews their relationship allowing them to collaborate on writing and illustrating a story without conflict.  This partnership is important because on the last page spread, their parents return home from the hospital with their newborn baby sister.  

With words and pictures, Finson and Jackson realistically depict the ebb and flow of the sister relationship, for as Finson beautifully states “Sometimes they fight. Sometimes they’re friends. A sister story never ends.”  Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. Lulu & Zoey celebrates its book birthday on June 7, 2022. 


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Swim, Jim by Kaz Windness

Young crocodile Jim has a problem. He does not like the water. He is afraid of sinking to the bottom.  His parents understand, but his siblings, Sim and Kim tease him. Jim takes initiative by searching for a shallow swamp. Readers will quickly notice that Jim finds not a swamp but a pool full of kids using pool noodles and floaties. Once the kids go into the house to sing happy birthday, Jim outfits himself with accessories to help him stay afloat.  Turns out Sim and Kim followed Jim and encourage him to try out his new attire in the pool. When the floatie pops, Jim    panics, but Kim reminds him he can stand up to feel safe and she and Sim can teach him how to swim. Pretty soon Jim is swimming confidently in the pool until the kids return. Can Jim use his new skills in the family swamp? 

With adorable illustrations and a
main character you want to root for, Swim, Jim is a story that kids will love. When I read it aloud to a kindergarten class, they felt empathy for Jim because his siblings made fun of him and were happy when they supported him.  I love that Jim demonstrated resourcefulness in solving his problem. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for sharing a copy. Swim, Jim recently published last week on May 31, 2022. 


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 character.

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Catch That Dog! by Will Taylor

10 year old Joanie Dayton finds a dirty stray dog in the alley.  Lonely and desperate for a friend, Joanie brings the pup home knowing convincing her parents to let her keep him won’t be easy.  Money was tight in the Dayton family and Joanie’s mom preached hard work and good behavior, not chasing dreams. Fortunately, her father spoke up for Joanie and her mom reluctantly agreed with a firm set of rules.  Elated Joanie names him Lucky unaware that the dog not only has a name, Masterpiece, but also is a world famous poodle. 

Joanie and Lucky become fast friends because they both trust each other.  Joanie shares her artwork and her soft or lazy eye which gives her perspective when painting.  Once Lucky compares his relationship with Joanie to his relationship with his true owner Count Pulaski, he realizes the love and companioship he has been missing from his life.  When Joanie sees an article about a stolen dog in the newspaper, she realizes that Lucky is Masterpiece.  She can’t imagine saying goodbye to her very best friend but she can’t keep a dog that is not legimately hers.  And the reward money could immensely help with family.  Will Joanie and Lucky have a happy ending? 

Inspired by the true story of Masterpiece who disappeared in May 1953 and was never found, Taylor’s adventurous and heartwarming novel shares what may have happened to the “world’s most valuable dog.”  Taylor’s fictionalized account was so intriguing, I read the novel in one sitting, and I believe kids will be unable to put the story put down.  Joanie and Masterpiece are characters readers will cheer for!  After reading, I researched Masterpiece on the internet and found many articles about his life, disappearance and theories about what may have occurred.   Because of Masterpiece’s notriety, the poodle dethroned the beagle as the AKC’s most registered breed in 1960! Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. Catch That Dog! releases soon on June 28, 2022. 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/23/22

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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The Summer of June by Jamie Sumner

Hair-pulling was one of the ways 12 year old June dealt with her anxiety so after school ends, she makes the bold decision to shave her head.  In solidarity, her mom shaves her head and while her mom says her daughter is a “wonder to behold,” June regrets her decision 10 minutes later.  June’s mom is in charge of the town’s library teen department and June regularly accompanies her mom to work during summer vacation.  At the library, she meets Homer Juarez who quotes poetry and a widower, Luis, with a passion for gardening. Making friends is not her summer goal; taming her anxiety and owning her independence are.  

June has a great support system in her mom and her therapist Gina, but as her mom says “sometimes you have open yourself up to more than you got to know what you’re missing. And that can be scary for anybody.” So when both Homer and Luis help June in a time of crisis, she allows her circle of support to widen.  Feeling more in control, June stops taking her medication so when her anxiety is set off at a local event, June’s secret is revealed. Will her new friends accept her and more importantly, will June accept herself? 

Written from June’s perspective, Sumner did a beautiful job capturing her struggles and strengths. Of course, I loved that so much of the story took place in the library and June shared that books help ease her trapped feelings.  Her friendship with Homer was so endearing and once she was honest about her anxiety, he didn’t walk away and opened up to her. The Summer of June is a story that will fill your heart and soul. 

Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. The Summer of June celebrates its book birthday on May 31, 2022. 


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Ribbit! The Truth About Frogs by Annette Whipple Illustrated by Juanbjuan Oliver

Whipple’s latest book in THE TRUTH ABOUT series! Ribbit teaches there is more to frogs than their leaping legs, bulging eyes, and sticky tongue. Here are a few of the questions explored. 

  • What is the difference between frogs and toads?
  • How do some frogs live underground?
  • Why don’t frogs freeze to death?
  • Are frogs important to people?

I love the format of this nonfiction picture book. for it is a great mentor text to teach children about text features.  A question is posed in a large and appealing font.  Each answer is written in kid friendly language so the facts are easy to understand.  Clear, crisp photographs of the frog match the question; a sidebar also appears on every page spread and includes Oliver’s illustrations and the frog’s humorous point of view on the topic. 

As an elementary reading specialist, I adore THE TRUTH ABOUT series because Whipple’s text is  accessible to kids at all reading levels.  After reading Ribbit, readers of all ages will be even more fascinated with frogs next time they see or hear one in their travels! To read my full review, click here.

Thanks to the author for sharing an eARC. Ribbit! celebrated its book birthday last week on May 15, 2022. 


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The Hiking Viking by Laura Gehl Illustrated by Timothy Grant

Leif was a Viking, but he didn’t want to battle, brawl, holler, and howl.  His dream was to hike and explore.  His family does not understand chiding Leif that he must help the clan win the Viking Games. Leif dutifully prepared and participated in the Games and while his strength was outmatched, the score was tied between the two clans. The clan showing the greatest treasure would prevail as winner. Leif’s clan learned that his strength was not in his physical body, but rather in his ability to see the treasure in nature.

Gehl’s inspiring text and Banks’ bold and expressive artwork reminds us to appreciate the beauty in the world’s natural wonder. I love that Leif showed loyalty to his clan but ultimately taught them a lesson on stamina and perspective.

Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a copy.  The Hiking Viking released in February 2022. 


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 character.

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Friends Fur-ever (Must Love Pets #1) by Saadia Faruqi

Summer vacation has begun and Imaan has one wish-a dog of her own.  Convincing her mom is no simple task, but perhaps, starting a pet sitting business with her best friend London and new friend Olivia will show her mom she is responsible.  And when her neighbor is in need of emergency pet sitting for her dog, Sir Teddy,  Imaan feels obligated to offer.  Didn’t her mom just say that neighbors are like part of our big family and we should take care of them if they need something? 

The thrill of pet sitting is tempered by reality.  When her little brother Amir starts to sneeze out of the blue, Imaan doesn’t want to admit he is allergic.  Imaan also doesn’t like sharing Sir Teddy with London and Olivia and her feelings are hard to hide from them. Due to circumstances, she relishes the opportunity to have Sir Teddy all to herself for a day but discovers that taking care of him alone is not as fun or as easy.  

With themes of family and friendship,  middle grade readers will relate to this pawsome series.  I love that Faruqi chose to have Imaan narrate because readers get to really know her as a character exposing her strengths and needs.  What I love most about Imaan is that she admits her mistakes and learns from them.  Looking forward to the next adventure in the series! Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. Friends Fur-ever celebrates its book birthday on May 31, 2022. 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/2/22

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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Hummingbird by Natalie Lloyd

12 year old Olive has one prayer, wish, and wildest hope-to be a student at Macklemore Middle School.  Because Olive has brittle bone disease and uses a wheelchair, she has been home-schooled since kindergarten. She is tired of being called  “fragile” and while her bones may be breakable, her spirit is not. Another reason is that she has a keen sense that her BFF is there waiting for her. 

After delivering a three-point sermon, Olive convinces her parents to attend Macklemore Middle School. Just right before her first day, feathers start appearing randomly throughout her Tennessee mountain town.  According to local folklore, the feathers are a precursor to a magical hummingbird’s arrival who grants a wish to the first who solves its riddle.  Olive and pretty much the whole town is on the hummingbird hunt.  While Olive got her wish to go to middle school and has become friends with classmate Grace Alice Cho, entrepreneur, she still wonders. What if she could wish her brittle bones away?   Would that make her life better or does she already have the best life? 

I am a huge fan of Lloyd’s novels.  She weaves in magical elements into her stories and makes readers believe they are real.  Olive is such a beautiful soul.  I adore her spirit and her determination to not allow her fragile bones to define her.  Secondary characters teach lessons about perseverance and how one can make their own wishes come true.  But most of all, I appreciate Lloyd sharing in her author’s note that Olive’s story was inspired because she herself was born with brittle bone disease. 

Full of heart and hope, Hummingbird is a story that will make you smile, laugh, and cry. But most of those tears were of joy not sorrow.  Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. Hummingbird celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 3, 2002. 


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Lizzy and the Cloud by The Fan Brothers

Lizzy doesn’t care that clouds may be a bit out of fashion so when she goes to the park on Saturday, she heads straight to the Cloud Seller.  She chooses an ordinary looking cloud, names him Milo, and follows the instructions to water it daily.  Never confine a cloud to a small space is Rule 6 and Lizzy takes Milo on neighborhood walks on sunny days and gives him the opportunity to soar high in the sky on rainy days. Like many pets, Milo grows bigger and bigger covering her whole bedroom ceiling.  When Milo began rumbling, Lizzy knows Milo is unhappy and makes the grown up decision to set him free.  

I am always in awe of The Fan Brothers’ glorious illustrations.  Their use of color is powerful because it helps your eyes focus on what is important. What I love most is the message of loving something so much to let it go.  This is a lesson important to discuss with kids.  Thanks to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for sharing a copy. Lizzy and the Cloud celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 3, 2022. 


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Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome by Kat Zhang Illustrated by Charlene Chua   

In the third story of the Amy Wu picture book series, Lin, a new student from China, joins Amy’s class. The class enthusiastically welcomes Lin and Amy tries to engage him in conversation, but Lin doesn’t say a word. When Lin is picked up by his family at the end of the school day, Amy notices his beaming face and willingness to speak Chinese with his sister. Amy comes up with plan to invite Lin and his family to a dumpling party to give him a warm welcome. Will it work?

I adore Amy Wu! She is exuberant and determined demonstrating problem solving skills which is great for kids to see. I love that Zang chose to have Amy experience a loss of words when sharing the welcome banner she and her grandma created.  Amy learns from Lin that actions can be as kind and welcoming as words. Thanks to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for sharing a copy. Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 3, 2022. 


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 character.

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Fenway and the Bone Thieves (Make Way for Fenway #1) by Victoria Coe Illustrated by
Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

My favorite Jack Russell Terrier is back with his human Hattie in the Make Way for Fenway chapter book series. In this first adventure, Fenway is in the car headed to the Treat Place (pet store) with his family.   Luckily, Fenway’s attention is now focused on his bone, but when he sees squirrels in the Dog Park (backyard), he fears the rodents want to steal his treat.  Fenway must find a place to hide his bone so it is secure.  Once his bone is safely tucked underground, Fenway is relieved.

But now the rain is preventing him from digging up his bone and enjoying it. Fenway is not a very patient pup; playing with his toys isn’t keeping his mind off his bone.  In the morning, Fenway sees sunshine and can’t wait to go out to the Dog Park. Hattie lets him out but when he digs, his bone is not there!  Did the squirrels steal it? 

Written from Fenway’s point of view, author Coe has created a character who I doggedly love! As a dog mom, Fenway’s dialogue and actions are on point.  Kids (and I) love Coe’s Fenway middle grade novels so it’s exciting to read a new series written for young readers.  As a reading specialist, I appreciate all the support for readers transitioning to chapter books such as length (85 pages), short chapters, and Lew-Vriethoff’s adorable black and illustrations which perfectly capture Fenway’s personality. Thanks to the author for sharing an eARC. Fenway and the Bone Thieves celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 3, 2022.  And a bonus-Fenway and the Frisbee Trick publishes simultaneously and 2 more Fenway adventures are to come in 2023!

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.
#classroombookaday, Earth Day, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Nonfiction, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Earth Day Edition 4/18/22

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.

Grateful for my spring break to relax and reset. We took a short getaway to Luray, Virginia. When we discovered small dogs were allowed in Luray Caverns as long as they are carried during the tour, we knew it would be one of our stops. Bella even donned a had hat for the tour.

We stayed in a cozy cottage right on the Shenandoah River enjoying its peaceful sounds.

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School resumes tomorrow and while this year has been challenging, always appreciative of time to recharge and the knowledge that summer vacation is getting closer. 


This Friday, April 22, 2022 is Earth Day! Read my reviews of newly released picture books perfect for celebrating our planet and encouraging kids to take action to preserve our precious resources.


Our Recent Reads:

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Only One by Deborah Hopkinson Illustrated by Chuck Groenink

An exuberant young girl educates young readers about our universe and all its wonders. She begins sharing her knowledge with her brother defining content vocabulary such as stars, galaxies, and the Milky Way. As the siblings stroll the neighborhood, they encounter other children who accompany them on their walk. The sun, our solar system, and the atmosphere are a few additional terms explored by the girl. Towards the end of book, the children reach the woods where they observe the wonders of nature and join their community in tree planting. 

I love that Hopkinson’s chose to have the young girl narrate the story because it makes the content more accessible to kids. Groenink’s soft illustrations convey the message that while the universe is indeed immense, our actions make an impact on Earth.  Only One teaches that it is our responsibility to treat our planet with care.  Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Anne Schwartz Books for sharing a copy.  Only One recently released on April 5, 2022.


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Be Thankful for Trees by Harriet Ziefert Illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald

This narrative nonfiction picture book celebrates trees and their importance in our lives. Ziefert’s short, rhyming phrases and Fitzgerald’s large, bright illustrations are pleasing to the ear and eye making the content easy for young children to understand. Kids learn trees provide food, comfort, music, art, recreation, and homes for living things.  The last chapter celebrates that life would not be possible without trees and stresses how humans must do their part to protect trees. Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Red Comet Press for sharing a copy.  Be Thankful for Trees published on March 29, 2022.


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Once Upon a Forest by Pam Fong

On the first page spread, an adorable marmot is tending to her garden while her bird friend looks on. At the top of the page, smoke is in the air. Concerned, the marmot follows the smoke into the forest and sees the damage. She quickly returns home to fetch her wagon carrying tree seedlings and garden tools and the bird accompanies her. In this wordless picture book, no text is necessary, for the breathtaking artwork shows the animals’ dedication throughout the seasons toward restoring the area ravaged by fire. I love Fong’s choice of utilizing mostly gray tones and representing life with pops of color. Once a Upon a Forest is a perfect read aloud to teach kids how a small act of kindness can make a big difference.  Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Random House Kids for sharing a copy.  Once Upon a Forest published on February 8, 2022.


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 character.

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Apple and Magnolia by Laura Gehl Illustrated by Patricia Metola

Every day, Britta and her pup visit two trees named Apple and Magnolia. Britta believes the trees are best friends. Apple drops her fruit and it rolls under Magnolia and Magnolia’s leaves fly to Apple in thanks. As she and her dog dance under a starry sky, Apple and Magnolia careen together. Both her father and her sister disagree with Britta; however, her grandmother is on her side. When Britta discovers Magnolia with patchy bark and yellow leaves, she is worried. Being her only ally, Britta consults Nana who asks if Britta has a plan. Britta is one smart girl creating ways to connect Magnolia with Apple and her pup “helps” her with her tasks. It appears that the trees are getting closer to each other each day. Britta takes measurements and the data proves her observation is correct. Over time, Apple’s support allow Magnolia to bloom again. 

In the author’s note, Gehl shares how trees can communicate and help each other. While the story is about the relationship between two trees, Gehl also sweetly highlights the bond between a girl and her Nana who has faith in her. And while Britta’s dog is not central to the story, Metola’s soft, gentle illustrations show her pup is always there by her side supporting her. Gorgeous artwork and a heartwarming plot make Apple and Magnolia a touching story for Earth Day or any day!  A discussion and activity guide on how trees are connected to each other and to us can be found here.  Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Flyaway Books for sharing a copy.  Apple and Magnolia released on February 8, 2022.

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/11/22

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:

Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence by Sonja Thomas

12 year old science-loving Mira Williams must face facts.  Her summer sucks (although her grandmother chides her for her inappropriate language).  Well, you be the judge.  Her best friend, Thomas, has moved far away, her father is laid off, her science fair rival, Tamika, has moved into Thomas’ old house, and her cat, Sir Fig Newton, was just diagnosed with diabetes.  And the worst part is treatment is so expensive, her parents think the only solution is finding a new home for Sir Fig.  No offense Gran, but I think Mia’s word choice is spot on.  

Mira cannot let go of Sir Fig without a fight. She convinces her parents to give her a month to make the money for Sir Fig’s care. Babysitting and selling lemonade are good starting points, but $2000 is a lot of money to earn.  Inspired by Tamika’s mother’s activism, Mia discovers a way to raise money, but now another worry has emerged.  Will Sir Fig respond to his treatments? Mira who typically only believes in facts must also have faith for as Gran says, “Faith allows for possibilities.” 

Written from Mira’s point of view, debut author Thomas beautifully captures the voice of smart, authentic, and determined young girl who readers will relate to and root for.  As I was reading, my heart hurt for Mira as she worried about both Sir Fig, her dad, and her friendships, but I appreciated how Thomas did not allow Mia to wallow in her sorrows. Mia’s determination was invigorating and I especially loved how Thomas showed how Mia’s experiences, good and bad, changed her, for the better.   Mira learned that with patience, curiosity, observation, and persistence, she had not only survived the worst summer of her life but also emerged stronger.   Thanks to the author for sharing with my #bookexcursion group. Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence recently published on March 22, 2022. 


Donut: The Unicorn Who Wanted to Fly by Laura Gehl Illustrated by Andrea Zuill

After seeing a bird flying in the air, a unicorn sweetly named Donut has one wish-to fly!  But wanting and doing are entirely two different things.  Donut makes multiple attempts to achieve her goal but none are successful.  Witnessing her struggle and desire, her animal friends lend their support to help make Donut’s dream come true.

I absolutely adore Donut!  On each page spread, Gehl’s text only consists of two words.  For example, Donut jumps! is followed by Donut thumps!  Gehl’s concise rhymes allow kids to join in the reading which is a read. Zuill’s illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.  What I love most is Zuill’s attention to detail, for readers can see Donut’s not only determination and frustration but her forest friends’ reactions and responses. With themes of persistence, friendship, and collaboration, Donut is another great picture book for teaching and/or reinforcing social skills. Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Random House Kids for sharing a copy.  Donut celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on April 12, 2022. 


Really Bird Stories
by Harriet Ziefert Illustrated by Travis Foster

When you are a bird with really big feelings or wants, the best name is well, Really.  In I Really Want to be First, Really is tired of always being last so his friends, a dog and a cat, give him the chance to be the leader. Really leads his friends to a tree to climb.  But when Pup and Cat get scared, can Really who can fly, take charge and lead his wingless friends back to the ground? In I Really Want a Bigger Piece, sharing a blueberry pie is not equal.  Really gets the smallest piece, Cat’s piece is messy, and Dog’s piece is perfect.  How can these three friends solve their problems so everyone is happy? 

Fans of Elephant and Piggie and Pigeon and Duck will REALLY love Ziefert’s and Foster’s new early comic series.   Appearing in speech bubbles, Ziefert’s lively text is all dialogue making the story easy for kids to access. Foster’s bright and energetic illustrations fill the pages and will captivate kids.  As a reading specialist, I love that the stories teach and reinforce positive virtues such as friendship, teamwork, sharing, and kindness.  In addition, a Think About/Talk About section follows the story where kids can make connections to each story.  More adventures are coming! A third book, I Really Want to Fly to the Moon, releases in September 2022. 

Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and Red Comet Press Books for sharing copies of the series.  I Really Want to Be First and I Really Want a Bigger Piece celebrate their book birthday tomorrow on April 12, 2022. 


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 character.

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Being A Dog: A Tail of Mindfulness by Maria Gianferrari Illustrated by Pete Oswald

If you are looking for a picture book to support social emotional learning, I highly recommend Being a Dog.  Children not only get to learn mindful strategies, but also are exposed to vivid verbs (munch, romp, ruffle, wade, whirl) which enhances their oral and written vocabulary.  The back matter includes directions on how to take a mindful nature walk with a canine friend in all four seasons as well as instructions on a mindful breathing exercise. 

With rhythmic, concise text, and warm, expressive artwork, Being a Dog is a tale that gives children the “oppawtunity” to learn how to mindful of their feelings in order to reach their full “pet-tential.”  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.