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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/14/18

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Beagles and Books is excited to share another edition of 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.

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The Frame-Up by Wendy McLeod MacKnight

The Frame Up is a fast paced, intriguing mystery adventure set in the real life Beaverbrook Art Gallery located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.  In this fictional story, Beaverbrook is not your ordinary art gallery because all the paintings are actually alive.  Once the gallery is closed, all the “residents” interact with each other.  Painted in 1915, Mona Dunn is a 100 year old painting but she is perpetually a thirteen-year-old who loves to visit the beach in the San Vigilio, Lake Garda painting and hang out with her partner in crime, Clem Cotterell who lives in a portrait with his family.

Mona knows that the most important rule of the gallery is don’t let the humans know that the paintings are alive.  One day Mona accidentally breaks that rule and reveals the gallery’s secret to Sargent Singer, the son of the gallery director.  Sargent who is visiting his estranged father for the summer promises Mona that he won’t divulge this incredible secret, and the two become fast friends.   Their friendship becomes crucial when Mona discovers a plot to steal paintings and replace them with reproductions.  Can Mona and Sargent stop the heist before it’s too late?

I enjoyed The Frame Up from start to finish!  Wendy McLeod MacKnight has written a fascinating middle grade mystery weaving elements of both the past and the present.  While living in the present, Mona and the residents give you a glimpse of life long ago. Because they are alive, the “residents” are aware of modern amenities such as movies, popular music, and even the internet.  The mystery involving the art heist kept me guessing until almost the very end. Sargent’s distant relationship with his father also affected me because I know some readers may identify with his struggle to connect with a parent.

Special thanks to Wendy McLeod MacKnight for sending an ARC of The Frame-Up to my #bookexcursion group.  The Frame-Up releases on June 5, 2018, which will include full color glossy pictures of all the paintings highlighted in the novel.  Since a visit to Beaverbrook is not possible right now, I can’t wait for my hardcover copy to arrive!

Fox & Chick: The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier

Fox and Chick remind me of the iconic Frog and Toad, two friends who don’t always see eye to eye.  This early chapter book includes three stories.  In The Party, Chick interrupts Fox’s reading  asking to use his bathroom but not for the reason one would expect.  In Good Soup, as Fox is gathering vegetables, Chick questions his food choices until he mentions that foxes are supposed to eat little birds.  Oops!  In Sit Still, Fox is in the midst of painting a landscape when Chick suggests a portrait of him would be more exciting. If only Chick would sit still….

I read Fox and Chick to my second grade #classroombookaday class; they absolutely loved each story.  While it is a great read aloud, the illustrations deserve full attention to see both Fox’s and Chick’s expressions throughout each story.  After sharing Fox and Chick, the students wanted to know if there are more Fox and Chick adventures.  I can only hope!

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.

Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates

Dog loves everything about books so he decides to open his own bookstore.  On the day of his Grand Opening, no one came and when they finally did visit, it was not to buy books.  While Dog was a little sad, he did not dwell on it.  Instead, he took a book off the shelf and began to read.  When he read, he forgot he was alone because each book took him on a new adventure.  At the end , a little girl visits his bookstore and while Dog loved books, he realized he enjoys sharing them even more!

How can you not love a dog that loves books!  Author illustrator Louise Yates reminds young readers about the power of finding the right book as well as the joy of sharing books with others.

I look forward to read the rest of the books in the series: Dog Loves Drawing, Dog Loves Counting, and Dog Loves Fairy Tales.

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!  Have a great week! Happy Reading!

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Blog Tour, Book Birthday, Middle Grade Literature, Rockstar Book Tours

Captain Superlative Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway

Happy Book Birthday to J.S. Puller’s Captain Superlative!

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Title: CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE
Author: J.S, Puller
Pub. Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 256
Find it: AmazonB&NiBooksTBDGoodreads

Summary:
“Have no fear, citizens! Captain Superlative is here to make all troubles disappear!” Red mask, blue wig, silver swimsuit, rubber gloves, torn tights, high top sneakers and . . . a cape? Who would run through the halls of Deerwood Park Middle School dressed like this? And why?

Janey-quick to stay in the shadows-can’t resist the urge to uncover the truth behind the mask. The answer pulls invisible Janey into the spotlight and leads her to an unexpected friendship with a superhero like no other. Fearless even in the face of school bully extraordinaire, Dagmar Hagen, no good deed is too small for the incomparable Captain Superlative and her new sidekick, Janey.

But superheroes hold secrets and Captain Superlative is no exception. When Janey unearths what’s truly at stake, she’s forced to face her own dark secrets and discover what it truly means to be a hero . . . and a friend.

Review:
At Dearwood Park Middle School, Janey is content with being Just Plain Jane because the alternatives are much worse.  By flying under the radar, Janey is less apt to get picked on by Dagmar Hagan who to adults is the service-award-winning star of the soccer team, but to students is a brutal bully.   Although Janey has witnessed Dagmar picking on fellow classmate Paige, she does not feel compelled to step in until….she meets Captain Superlative.

Unlike Janey, Captain Superlative has no problem with the spotlight.  Wearing her superhero costume, her mission is to spread kindness to all students including Dagmar.  Janey is intrigued by the masked student.  Who is Captain Superlative?  What is her motive?  Once Dagmar crosses a line with Paige, Janey’s invisible cloak disappears, and she becomes Captain Superlative’s sidekick holding open doors, passing out study guides, giving out mints, and most importantly realizing she can do good things instead of just breezing by.  When Captain Superlative is absent from school for three days, Janey get worried.  She uncovers the superhero’s secret which not only resurfaces the past but also makes Janey question who she really is.  Is she really Plain Jane or Janey with an exclaimation point?

This story really drew me in, and it was difficult to stop reading.  Once Janey made the choice to stand up for Paige and join Captain Superlative, she truly blossomed.  By performing simple acts of kindness, she discovered that she can make a difference.  While Captain Superlative’s secret hit Janey hard, it also forced Janey to think about her identity.  Who is she and what does she stand for?  Middle school is tough to navigate, and readers will definitely be able to relate to Janey’s journey.    Similar to the Julian Chapter in Wonder, readers also learn a revelation about Dagmar which does not excuse her awful actions but helps you better understand them.  I must admit that Captain Superlative was my favorite character because she reminds us of the importance of being someone and doing the right thing.  We can all be superheroes.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Captain Superlative in exchange for a honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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About J.S.:
J. S. Puller a playwright and debut author from the Windy City, Chicago. She has a master’s degree in elementary education and a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Northwestern University. She is an award-winning member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and is actively involved in researching the social-emotional benefits of arts education with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. When not writing, she can usually be found in the theatre. Her play, WOMEN WHO WEAVE, was published by Playscripts, Inc.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway:
Would you like to own a copy of CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE for your library?  Thanks to Rockstar Book Tours, they are giving away 3 copies of this fabulous book (US only).  Be sure to take the time and enter this fantastic giveaway.  Please click link below to enter!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2735/

Tour Schedule:
Join us on the other stops of this tour for more giveaway chances and to read more about CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE and the author J.S. Puller.

Week One:
4/30/2018- BookHounds YA– Interview
5/1/2018- Two Points of Interest– Review
5/2/2018- RhythmicBooktrovert – Review
5/3/2018- Wonder Struck– Review
5/4/2018- A Dream Within A Dream– Excerpt

Week Two:
5/7/2018- Becky on Books– Review
5/8/2018- Beagles and Books– Review
5/9/2018- Ginger Mom and the Kindle Quest– Review
5/10/2018- Novel Novice– Guest Post
5/11/2018- Owl Always Be Reading– Review

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/7/18

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Beagles and Books is excited to share another edition of 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.

Just Under the Clouds by Melissa Sarno

Ever since her father’s death six years ago, Cora and her family have struggled to find stability especially with housing.  Money is tight so Cora, her mother, and her younger sister Adare move a lot with hopes of finding permanent housing they can afford.  Because of her mom’s long work hours, taking care of Adare after school has become Cora’s responsibility.  Adare who lost oxygen to the brain during birth “sees things a different way” which makes caring for her sometimes challenging.

Set in Brooklyn and told in Cora’s point of view, Just Under the Clouds is a honest and touching story about homelessness through the eyes of a twelve year old girl.  While she technically has had a “roof over her head,” Cora never lived in a place that felt like home.

At school, Cora has always kept to herself until she meet Sabina, who until recently had been home-schooled her whole life and lives an untethered life on a houseboat. I just love their friendship because Cora finally takes a chance to truly trust someone outside her family.  I also admire Cora’s mother for maintaining stability in their unstable world and for recognizing Cora’s strength and encouraging her to “climb high.”  Cora’s story reminds us that “you can only grow things if you have faith in them from the beginning.” This is a heart print book that I can’t wait to share with students.

A very special thanks to Melissa Sarno for sending an ARC of Just Under the Clouds to my #bookexcursion group.  It publishes on June 5, 2018.

Power Forward by Hena Khan Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

Date/Time:  May 5, 2018   11:25 a.m.

What I Read: Power Forward is the first book in a new chapter book series about fourth-grader Zayd Saleem.  Zayd lives for basketball, not the violin.  He is determined to move up from the D league to the gold team playing along side his best friend Adam.  Zayd knows that practicing basketball is crucial to achieving his dream; therefore, he decides to skip his morning advanced orchestra practice to play basketball with Adam and other members of the gold team.  All is well until Zayd forgets his violin in the car, and his mother discovers his lie.  As a result, he is grounded from basketball.  Will Zayd be able to convince his parents how important basketball is to him in order to make try outs?

How I Feel:  Sports have never been my thing but Power Forward is so much more than a basketball story.  Zayd is such a relatable character and can be a mirror for young readers.  He is underweight for his age which makes him work harder to prove he is gold team material.  Things come more easily to his sister Zara, which is frustrating for him. His parents wish that he had the same passion for violin that he has for basketball.  What I truly love about Zayd’s story is that it can also be a window.  Zayd and his family are Pakistani American and throughout the book, their culture is seamlessly interwoven into the story from language to food to sports.  As a reading specialist, I am always on the lookout for new #ownvoices titles to share with students as well as share with my media specialist to order for our school library.

Thanks so much to Simon & Schuster for sending an ARC of Power Forward to our #bookexcursion group. It publishes on May 8, 2018. For more information about ZaydSalem, Chasing the Dream series, click here.

Daring Dreamers Club: Milla Takes Charge by Erin Soderberg

Milla Takes Charge is the first book in this new chapter series about 5 fifth grade girls who become friends in their advisory group led by Ms. Bancroft, the new music teacher. As part of advisory, all students will respond to writing prompts throughout the year.  Having a thing for princesses, Ms. Bancroft asks the girls to reflect upon a princess that they feel connected with or inspired by and explain why.  While all girls share their journal entries filled with their dreams, the story centers on Milla.  Raised by her two moms, Milla is an avid reader and writer.  Like Belle in Beauty and the Beast, she yearns for adventure especially participating in the fifth grade overnight to Adventure Camp.  Concerned that her overprotective parents won’t let her go, Milla enlists the help of the Daring Dreamers to prove she is responsible.

Daring Dreamers Club is another great #ownvoices series to add to a classroom library and like Power Forward, the characters can be either a mirror or window to young readers.  What I especially love about this series is how the girls demonstrate true friendship towards one another.  Although each girl has big dreams, they realize they can all achieve their personal dreams by supporting each other!

A special thanks to Erin Soderberg for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Milla Takes Charge publishes on June 5, 2018.  For more information on the Daring Dreamers series, click here.

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

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

Perfectly Norman by Tom Perchival

Disclaimer:  While having no speaking part, Norman’s dog is his loyal companion supporting him without hesitation. Sidekicks are the best!

Norman lived a perfectly normal life until….he grew a pair of wings.  Instead of celebrating his extraordinary wings, Norman hid them inside a great, big, yellow coat. The problem is now Norman is hot, uncomfortable, and miserable.    Will Norman ever learn to just be himself?

Perfectly Norman is a heartwarming story about acceptance and learning to be comfortable in your own skin, I mean wings.  Rather than celebrating his wonderful gift, Norman becomes worried about being different.  Throughout his struggle, his sweet little dog remains his loyal companion.

The illustrations are integral to the story, for author illustrator Perchival uses a minimal palette of black, white, yellow, and red in the first few page spreads. As soon as Norman discovers his wings, more vibrant colors appear in the illustrations.  Once Norman hides his wings, his yellow coat is the only color prominent on each page. Readers have to patiently wait for Norman to realize that the coat, not his wings is making him miserable. Then all the colors of the rainbow of return!

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!  Have a great week! Happy Reading!

#Bookexcursion, Middle Grade Literature

Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison

Every Shiny Thing is a uniquely structured novel told in alternating points of view.  Told in prose, Lauren comes from an affluent family and is struggling with her parents’ decision to send her brother to a residential school for autistic teens.  Told in verse, Sierra is the foster child of Lauren’s neighbors as well as her new classmate.  While her father has been in jail, Sierra’s mother was recently arrested and needs to complete rehab as a condition of her sentence.

With her Quaker school’s theme of simplicity and her new friendship with Sierra, Lauren becomes increasingly cognizant of her privilege.  She embarks on a project to help autistic children from less affluent families and enlists Sierra to help her. While well intentioned, Lauren becomes consumed with raising money at any cost which begins to negatively affect her friendship with Sierra. Sierra is also grappling with her own personal battle of always taking care of everyone but herself. She finally learns that sometimes the best thing you can do for anyone is to let them fall.

I absolutely adored this beautifully written novel on so many levels.  The use of both prose and verse was perfect to share each character’s point of view.  I applauded Lauren’s altruism but I was so worried observing how easily the lines between right and wrong became blurred for her.  Due to her family circumstances, my heart broke for Sierra but I was touched by the fact that she remained courageous and hopeful.  Sierra’s story was definitely a window for me because I know she could be a mirror for many students I teach.

Special thanks to Laurie Morrison for sending an advance reading copy of Every Shiny Thing to our #bookexcursion group.  Preorder now so your copy arrives promptly on April 17, 2018.