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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/23/20

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

Today marks the second week of schools being closed in Maryland.  I thought I would actually get more reading  and reviewing done but I must admit it has been harder to sit down and concentrate than I thought.  Besides long walks with Bella, I have spent time checking in with family and friends, cleaning, and decluttering.  In an effort to support parents and other educators, I write a blog post compiling a list of free digital guided reading resources.  I also helped my school community connect by creating a Facebook page and YouTube channel.  Here’s hoping this week I have better focus to read and review.  I am a glass half full person so I am looking for the silver lining in all of this, which to be thankful for the gift of time in a comfortable home with electricity, water, food, my husband, books, and of course, my sweet girl Bella.  Wishing everyone well!

Our Recent Reads:

Write! Write! Write! by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater Illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke

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In my very first #IMWAYR blog post, I reviewed Read! Read! Read!, Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’s inspiring collection of poetry celebrating reading.  Imagine my excitement when I discovered she has written a companion book dedicated to writing.  Her first poem titled “Our Alphabet” is a perfect beginning reminding young writers that “words are always different but the letters are the same.”  Subsequent poems focuses on stages of the writing process (“Ideas (Like Peaches”), genres of writing (“Opinion”) as well as the joys (“Anything Can Grow”) and pitfalls (“Same Feeling”) of writing.   As a teacher, not only can Write! Write! Write! be a mentor text for poetry, specific poems can also be a way to introduce types of writing such as a small moment narrative (“My Story”).  O’Rourke’s gorgeous and inclusive artwork complements Vanderwater’s lively text which encourages budding writers to persevere.  Can’t wait to share this motivating treasury of poems with students and teachers.  Thanks to the author Amy Ludwig Vanderwater for sharing an F & G with Beagles and Books.  Write! Write! Write! recently published last week on March 17, 2020.

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Green on Green by Diana White Illustrated by Felicita Salas

Green on Green is a serene and charming story about a family’s journey through the seasons in their coastal community.  While the color green is a thread throughout the entire book, other colors are emphasized in each season.  The story begins in spring with the young boy picking yellow flowers, drinking lemonade, and splashing in stomping in puddles in his yellow rain boots. Each subsequent season is introduced on a wordless two page spread.  In summer, blue is the prominent color. The boy and his family are enjoying the beach, the sea, and picnics in the field.   Fall is depicted in brown and orange with leaves changing, pumpkins growing, and a Thanksgiving meal shared. Not only does winter bring snow but also the arrival of a baby for the family.  On the last page spread, spring has returned bringing the story back full circle.

White’s text is succinct and symphonic and coupled with Sala’s tender and vivid illustrations evoke a sense of peace and warmth. Green on Green is a celebration of family, seasons, change, and community which makes it a wonderful read aloud for children.  Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media and the publisher Beach Lane Books/Simon and Schuster for sharing a copy with Beagles and Books.  Green on Green celebrated its book birthday on March 17, 2020.

Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

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Blue Daisy by Helen Frost Illustrated by Rob Shepperson 

Friends and next door neighbors, Sam and Katie see a stray dog in the neighborhood.  Dirty and skinny, they are desperate to befriend it.  But when the dog returns to Sam’s backyard, Sam and Katie make a impulsive decision which they later deeply regret. Ironically, their mistake has some positive consequences for now people in their neighborhood begin treating the dog with more kindness. In addition, Sam and Katie learn that the Tracy twins aren’t as mean as they once thought.

Stories about stray or shelter dogs always tug at my heart. Blue Daisy is a uniquely structured novel because it is told in both poetry and prose by Sam and Katie respectively.  Even the font is different for each account.  Written in under 80 pages with detailed full page black and white illustrations every few pages,  Blue Daisy is a heartwarming story with themes of friendship, contrition, forgiveness, and trust.  It is a text that would definitely prompt great discussion for students.  And the author also includes recipes which is a nice bonus.  Thanks to the publisher Holiday House for sharing an ARC at the 2019 NCTE convention. Blue Daisy recently published last week on March 17, 2020.

 

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/16/20

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

For at least the next two weeks, I am home.  Last Thursday, it was announced that all Maryland public schools would be closed from March 16-March 27 in an effort the flatten the curve of COVID-19.   Grateful that we were able to go to school on Friday  and send our students home with lots of books from our school library.  And look how many books were checked out in my district in ONE DAY!

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As hard as it is to wrap my head around the magnitude of this virus, I am taking this time to make a big dent in my neverending TBR stack, get fresh air by walking Bella a couple times a day, declutter, and tackle a few home projects that I never seem to have time for.   Wishing everyone good health as we weather this crisis together.  Glad we can all stay connected through our love for books.

Our Recent Reads:

Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker: Sabotage by Shelley Johannes

Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker holds a special place in my heart because Shelley Johannes was one of the first authors to send an ARCs(advance reader copy) to our newly formed ARC sharing group, #bookexcursion.  Almost 3 years later, Beatrice is back for her third adventure in Sabotage. 

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In Sabotage, Operation Upside is now a team of three: Beatrice, Lenny, and Sam.  The trio is handing out a new batch of Upside Down awards.  Lenny’s choice is new student Chloe for bravery.  Sam’s choice is private, and Beatrice needs inspiration.   But when Chloe is awarded for being the BEST VET rather than bravery, Beatrice and Lenny are suspicious.  Who would have sabotaged the award?  Lenny thinks Sam is the culprit but Beatrice does not agree and is determined to find out who is responsible.

I just love Beatrice for her curiosity, loyalty, and most especially her resolve.  When faced with the possibility that Operation Upside Down could be lost, Beatrice puts all her energy into not only solving the mystery but also diverting uncomfortable situations between Lenny and Sam.  And with her new break dancing moves, Beatrice can take her upside thinking to a whole new level.  In addition, Johannes’ whimsical black felt tipped pen (with a splash of color) drawings of Beatrice and her friends make the book even more fun to read. Sabotage celebrated its book birthday last week on March 10, 2020.  Hoping there are more Beatrice adventures to come!

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Whoo-Ku Haiku by Maria Gianferrari Illustrated by Jonathan Voss

Whoo-Ku Haiku is a captivating narrative nonfiction picture book that vividly describes the life cycle of the great horned owl. Gianferari’s decision to write haiku is bold and brilliant. Using the 5-7-5 structure, she chose her words carefully using rich and strong vocabulary to convey the owl family’s story. Here’s one of my favorites.

Sprouted ear tufts twitch
Pinecones whispering autumn
Soon fledgling owls fly.

Voss’ watercolor illustrations complement the lyrical text.  His gorgeous art fills the double page spreads and intensely shows not only the astuteness but also the great agility of these amazing birds. To read my full review and enter a giveaway for your own copy, click here.

 

A Tiger Without Stripes by Jaimie Whitbread

When a tiger is born without stripes, her family is not concerned.  But to the young tiger, it does matter; therefore, she embarks on a journey to find her stripes.  Shadows, scrapes, and streaks of mud gave the tiger only temporary stripes which leave her feeling distraught.  When she demands a reason why she hasn’t earned them yet, an unidentified voice responds saying “A tiger does not earn its stripes. They are a gift.”

Author/illustrator Jaimie Whitbread’s debut picture book gave me all the feels. At first, my heart hurt for the tiger who feels different but then my heart rejoiced because the tiger learns a valuable lesson on self-acceptance.  I also loved how Whitbread kept to a limited palette using only a few colors in her striking illustrations.  A Tiger Without Stripes reminds us that sometimes, the journey we take in life is the true gift.  Thanks to author Asia Citro for sending a copy to my #bookexcursion group.  A Tiger Without Stripes recently published on March 3, 2020.

Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

Where’d My Jo Go? by Jill Esbaum  Illustrated by Scott Brundage

Jo and Big Al are constant companions with Jo driving a big, blue rig and Big Al riding shotgun.  Always together, wherever they go.  When pup Big Al gets distracted playing and is accidentally left at a truck rest stop, he sits and stays.  Two kids see Al and attempt to befriend him, but Al knows Jo will come back for him.  And indeed she does and their reunion is epic.  Esbaum’s rhyming text and Brundage’s expressive watercolor and pencil illustrations make Where’s My Jo Go? a heartwarming story.  As a reader, I appreciate that Esbaum shares the inspiration for the story and how she wanted the dog to tell part of the story from his point of view.

As a dog mom, I can emphasize with Jo when she realizes her precious Al is not in her truck with her.  When we first adopted Bella, she attempted to chase a bunny out of our fenced yard.  I immediately bought a GPS tracker to ensure Bella’s safety.  If you look closely, you can see Bella’s Whistle tracker in some of her shelfies.  Thanks to author Jill Esbaum and publisher Sleeping Bear Press for sending a copy to Beagles and Books.  Look for Where’d My Jo Go? when it’s released soon on April 15, 2020.

 

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/9/20

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

Our Recent Reads:

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Ronan The Librarian by Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie Illustrated by Victoria Maderna

Ronan is living his best life as a barbarian invading, raiding, and trading treasures until one raid’s pillage was unusual. Instead of jewelry and weapons, Ronan’s loot was books. Since barbarians do not read books, Ronan’s solution was to use the pages for kindling, origami or even toilet paper.  But thankfully, a picture in one of the books grabs his attention and turns this reluctant reader into a voracious reader.  Even on raids, Ronan can’t stop reading and soon he has so many books that he opened a library.  But how will Ronan convince other barbarians to love books as much as he does?

I am a big fan of the sister writing duo Luebee and Cattie and as a book lover, I can’t gush enough about Ronan The Librarian.  I especially love that all it takes is a picture to hook Ronan, which reminds me of the anonymous quote “Everyone is a reader… Some just haven’t found their favorite book yet.”  Not only does the story have a great message but also kids will be laughing out loud for the text and Maderna’s illustrations are full of humor.  I particularly chuckled reading Ronan’s library rules and advice board which reminds barbarians that swords make terrible bookmarks and no juicy meats are allowed in the library.   Thanks to Tara Leubbe for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. Ronan The Librarian publishes in April 2020.

World So Wide by Allison McGhee by Illustrated by Kate Alizadeh

World So Wide is a quiet book with a big message, which is the boundless love between a parent and child. To read my full review and enter a giveaway courtesy of Two Lions/ Amazon Publishing, 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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A Dog’s Day: Jax Protector of the Ranch by Catherine Stier Illustrated by Francesca Rosa

A Dog’s Day is an engaging new early chapter book series about working dogs.  In the first book, a Great Pyrenees named Jax describes his job as a livestock guardian dog (LGD).  Narrated by Jax, he tells how he and puppy Stormy, a LGD in training, protect their flock of sheep from predators.

Even as an adult reader, this novel was hard to put down.  I was so interested in learning about the training and duties of LGDs which was shared in the first few chapters.  Then the plot became especially suspenseful, for Bev, the lead LGD, was injured by a coyote leaving Jax and Stormy alone.  The duo must work together to guard the sheep from a mountain lion. This task becomes even more challenging because one of the ewes gave birth to a lamb that evening.   Stier does an amazing job of explaining the training and the responsibilities of LGDs so that kids can understand.  I also appreciate all the supports for young readers transitioning into chapter books. The actual story is written in 84 pages with 10 short chapters and Rosa’s appealing black and white illustrations appear every few pages.  At the end of the book, Stier includes more information about LBDs which provides even more facts about these incredible working dogs.

Thanks to Albert Whitman for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group. Look for Jax Protector of the Ranch and the second book in the series, Ava Seeker in the Snow in April 2020.

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/2/20

 

It’s been a tough week with the loss of our sweet Etta.  I am so grateful to Etta for being the inspiration for my blog and consider every post a tribute to her.  If you would like to read my blog post in memory of Etta, please click here. While Bella may be slightly camera shy, she is rising to the occasion posing for book photos.   Ever grateful to Bella for her love and support. 

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

Our Recent Reads:

Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us by Lauren Castillo

The first book in the Our Friend Hedgehog series, The Story of Us tells how Hedgehog’s circle of friends grew.  At first, it was just Hedgehog and Mutty, two friends living on an island. But when a terrible storm carries away Mutty, Hedgehog finds the courage to take a journey to find her dear pup. On her travels, Hedgehog meets Mole, Owl, Beaver, Hen and Chicks, and finally, Annika Mae, a young girl who recently moved to Hedge Hollow.  Each character is introduced in a chapter where readers gets to know their unique personality and traits.  

Reading about Hedgehog and her friends transported me back to the books of my childhood.  I grew up on friendship stories like Frog and Toad and Winnie the Pooh.  And I love that Annika Mae takes photographs with a classic Polaroid.   As a reading specialist who works with striving readers, I appreciate all the supports author/illustrator Lauren Castillo provides to help children who are transitioning to reading chapter books. A map of Hedge Hollow and an illustrated cast of characters appear before the first chapter, rich and warm artwork graces on almost every page, and short chapters make the novel less daunting.  Can’t wait for my students to meet Hedgehog, Annika Mae, and all the other animals in Hedge Hollow!  Thanks to Random House Kids for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us will publish in May 5, 2020.

Monsters 101 by Cale Atkinson 

Did you know…

  • One in every three homes has a monster hiding under a bed?
  • Mummies are terrified of puppies?
  • Tofu Cauliflower was the first vegetarian zombie?

Fans of author/illustrator Atkinson’s Unicorns 101 are in for a spooky treat with his upcoming release, Monsters 101.  Readers will be enlightened, not frightened as they learn top-secret monster knowledge on topics such as monster biology, daily life, diet,  habitat and homes, fears, and monster-human interactions.  

What I love about Monsters 101 is that Atkinson blends a fantasy topic with an nonfiction format including lots of engaging text features (diagrams, timelines, labels and captions)  and comical illustrations. I know this amusing and entertaining picture book will be in high demand with my students no matter what their age!  Thanks to Random House Kids for sending a F & G to my #bookexcursion group.  Look for Monsters 101 on August 4, 2020. 

Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

This Little Pup by Laura J. Bryant

This Little Pup is a charming and creative counting book.  On the front endpapers, a little gray scruffy puppy eyes a blue ball in the grass.  On the first page spread, readers see a little boy getting ready to bounce the ball to the puppy.   Once the ball is bounced, the energetic puppy follows the ball passing by the many animals on the farm.  Written in concise text in a larger font, counting and colors are reinforced as the puppy chases the ball all over the farm. Will the puppy finally catch it? 

I especially love that author/illustrator Laura J. Bryant utilizes all the space of each page spread as well as the end papers to tell the story with delicate and warm illustrations. Bold dashes show the immense bounce of the big blue ball.  Children will love counting up all the animals on the last few spreads. And like the little pup asks for another round of fetch, young readers will also beg for second read.  Thanks to Albert Whitman for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group. This Little Pup publishes soon on April 1, 2020. 

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

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

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

 

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

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

Our Recent Reads:

Beginners Welcome by Cindy Baldwin 

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

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

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

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

The Box Turtle by Vanessa Roeder

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex

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

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

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

Hound Won’t Go by Lisa Rogers 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Our Recent Reads:

Drew and Jot; Dueling Doodles by Art Baltazar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With progress bars at the end of each chapter, full and half page illustrations and only 96 pages in length, I just love this new illustrated Harper Chapters series which support kids in building stamina to read chapter books. Special thanks to the publisher Harper Collins for sharing an ARC at the NCTE convention.  The Candy Caper and Busted by Breakfast, the second book in the Trouble at Table 5 series will both be available on February 25, 2020. 

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Our Recent Reads:

How to Make Friends with the Sea by Tanya Guerrero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

Thunder Pug by Kim Norman Illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi

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

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

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

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

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

Our Recent Reads:

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From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

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

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

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

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

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

You Can Do It, Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi

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

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

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

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

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph

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

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

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

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/6/20

Happy New Year! Beagles and Books is thrilled to share our first post It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? for 2020!  #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give it a #kidlit focus and encourage everyone who participates to visit at least 3 of the other #kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Our Recent Reads:

A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan

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

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

Cub by Cynthia Copeland

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

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

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

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

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

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

I absolutely love that the story is told in the form of letters which allows readers to see both Sophia’s and her mom’s perspective. Starting with the title page, Song’s warm and muted illustrations are full of significant details giving readers a true glimpse of what has and is really happening in the story and why Sophia choose to escape to the moon.  Love, Sophia on the Moon is an excellent read aloud for families, for it reinforces the unconditional love between parents and their children.  Special thanks to the author for sending a F & G to my #bookexcursion group.  Love, Sophia on the Moon publishes March 31, 2020.

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

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Stormy: A Story about Finding a Forever Home by Guojing

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

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

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/2/19

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

Our Recent Reads:

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Santa’s Story by Will Hillenbrand

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

One Snowy Morning by Kevin Tseng Illustrated by Dana Wulfkotte

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

Snowy Race by April Jones Prince Illustrated by Christine Davenier

From the very first page, readers will feel the excitement of a little girl as she wakes up and says “Today’s the day! She’s on her way!” Behind her bed nailed to the wall is a calendar with many crossed out dates and only one date circled in red.  Who is the little girl waiting for?  The excitement grows as the little girl and her father eat breakfast and then board the snow plow headed for town. As the weather worsens, the rhyming text and energetic yet warm full page spread illustrations conveys the mood as the father and daughter brave the storm together.  Finally, they reach their destination, a train station and readers finally see who the little girl was waiting for.  Snowy Race is a heartwarming story about family.  Thanks to the publisher for sharing an early copy of Snowy Race with my #bookexcursion group.  It recently celebrated its book birthday on November 26, 2019.

Etta’s and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

Wanting to spread the dog love, Beagles and Books has a weekly feature of highlighting a literary selection with a canine main character.

We Could Be Heroes by Margaret Finnegan

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

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

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

 

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