Giveaway, Middle Grade Literature, Spotlight

Spotlight & Giveaway for The Revenge of Magic: The Last Dragon by James Riley

Beagles and Books is spotlighting James Riley’s THE LAST DRAGON, which is the second novel in THE REVENGE OF MAGIC series.  It celebrated its book birthday this week!

About the Book:
Title:
 THE LAST DRAGON
Author: James Riley
Pub. Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 372

Find It:       Amazon       BAM        Barnes and Noble       Indiebound

Publisher’s Summary:
Fort Fitzgerald is determined to uncover the truth, but a new student at school and the secrets he has to keep complicate matters in this second novel in a thrilling new series from the author of the New York Times bestselling Story Thieves!

Fort Fitzgerald can’t stop having nightmares about the day his father was taken from him in an attack on Washington, DC. In these dreams, an Old One, an evil beyond comprehension, demands the location of the last dragon. But other than some dragon skeletons dug up with the books of magic on Discovery Day, Fort has never seen a dragon before. Could there still be one left alive?

And weirdly, Fort’s not the only one at the Oppenheimer School having these nightmares. His new roommate, Gabriel, seems to know more than he’s letting on about this dragon as well. And why does everyone at the school seem to do whatever Gabriel says? What’s his secret?

Fort’s going to need the help of his friends Cyrus, Jia, and Rachel, if he’s going to have any chance of keeping the Old Ones from returning to Earth. Unless, the Old Ones offer something Fort could never turn down…

In this refreshing take on the perennially popular theme of magic schools, THE LAST DRAGON is filled with mystery, magic, and mayhem and is sure to keep readers hooked! For a sneak peek, view the book trailer below.

About the Author:
James Riley lives in Virginia. He is the New York Times bestselling author of the Half Upon a Time, Story Thieves, and Revenge of Magic series.

Enter The Revenge of Magic Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of both books in The Revenge of Magic series, courtesy of Simon and Schuster (U.S. addresses only).

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Good luck! Thank you for stopping by Beagles and Books!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/7/19

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

Our Recent Reads:

Give and Take by Elly Swartz

When dementia causes Maggie’s Nana to not recognize her as her granddaughter, Maggie becomes anxious that she too will forget. To ensure she can keep hold of her precious memories, Maggie begins saving small objects.  Not only is Maggie attached to these mementos, but also Izzie, the baby their family is fostering until her adoption is final. And when her coach dad dismantles her all girl trapshooting team, her anxiety becomes even more elevated.   

Maggie’s saving becomes out of hand filling up 10 boxes in her room and most of her school locker.  When her mother discovers the enormity of her collection, Maggie’s normally kind temperament quickly turns to uncontrollable anger. Maggie quickly shows contrition and her mother assures her they will work together as a family to help her make the mad go away.  With the help of a child therapist and her supportive and loving family, Maggie begins to slow process of learning how to let go.  Some of my favorite scenes are when Maggie visits her grandfather who reminds her that saving things doesn’t necessarily keep you from forgetting but “love never leaves; it carves into your heart.” 

Written from Maggie’s perspective, Swartz did a beautiful job capturing Maggie’s compassion, conflicts, and courage.  My heart hurt for her as she struggled with the act of throwing away her keepsakes and even though it got a little easier each time, Swartz continued to show the full process Maggie had to undertake to be successful.  With themes of family, friendship, facing fears, and forgiveness, Give and Take is a story that is a must read for middle grade readers.

Special thanks to the author Elly Swartz and fellow #bookexcursion member Lisa Maucione for sharing an ARC of Give and Take with our group.  Pre-order today so you have Give and Take in your hands, for it celebrates its book birthday next week!

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Along the Tapajós by Fernando Vilela Translated by Daniel Hahn

Alligators, anacondas, and winter rains oh my!  Get a glimpse into the everyday life of two siblings who live in Para, Brazil in Along the Tapajós. To read my full review and enter a giveaway, please click here.

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

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

Very Lulu: The (Mostly) True Story of a Training School Dropout by Stephanie Campisi Illustrated by Jessica Gibs

In an effort to calm her energetic behavior, Lulu is enrolled in police dog training school.  While all the other dogs do as they were told, Lulu can’t follow directions no matter how hard she tries. Even with increased supports, Lulu is not successful. What should Lula’s handler do with her?

It becomes clear that perhaps Lulu’s job isn’t to be a police dog but rather to be the fun loving, super sniffing member of the handler’s family, which the last couple of page spreads show is a perfect fit for Lulu. Gibson’s lively illustrations capture Lulu’s free spirit, and Campisi gently teaches the importance of accepting others for who they are, which is an important lesson for both children and adults. 

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

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/30/19

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

Our Recent Reads:

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Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence
 

I am a huge fan of both of Debbi Michiko Florence’s early chapter book series, Jasmine Toguchi and My Furry Foster Family so I was so excited to hear she had written a middle grade novel.  What was even more thrilling is having the opportunity to read an ARC.

Keiko loves chocolate, her family, her two best friends, Audrey and Jenna, and everything pretty much staying the same.  But beginning seventh grade means changes such as Keiko’s mother working full time, sharing the same school building as Audrey’s annoying brother and his friends, and Audrey declaring that this is the year they all need to get boyfriends and go to the Fall Ball.  So when Audrey and Jenna get into a disagreement (about a boy), the trio’s friendship is threatened.  Always the peacemaker, Keiko attempts to fix things but begins sacrificing her own happiness to keep the friendships intact.

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter is a novel that I would have loved when I was in middle school. It is a solid upper middle grade novel for those not quite ready for YA.    Michiko Florence’s voice for Keiko is perfect, for she captures her hopefulness of wanting to believe the best in everyone with the gradual realization that true friendship means wanting the best for each other.  The story also shows that heartbreak can come in all forms-a daughter missing time spent with her mother, a changing friendship, and a first crush. Thanks to the author and publisher Scholastic for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. Keep It Together, Keiko Carter publishes in May 2020.

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The Itty Bitty Witch by Trisha Speed Shaskkan Illustrated by Xindi Yan

The Itty Bitty Witch is much more than a Halloween story.  Shaskan has written an engaging and positive story with themes of assertiveness, persistence, and acceptanceTo read my full review and enter a giveaway that ends on Friday, October 5th, click here.

Old Rock (is not boring) by Deb Pilutti

Spotted Beetle, Tall Pine, and Hummingbird all think Old Rock lives a pretty boring life, for he sits in the same spot day after day.  He doesn’t get to fly like Hummingbird, climb high like Spotted Beetle or dance in the breeze like Tall Pines. Or did he? Old Rock tells the story of his life from his birth erupting out of a volcano, living among the dinosaurs, traveling inside a glacier, and tumbling down a ridge, which explains how he ended up in his no boring but rather, very nice spot.  With a touch of humor, rich vocabulary, and charmingly illustrated, Old Rock (is not boring) is the perfect text for teaching about history of natural world.  It also would be a great mentor text in English language arts to teach perspective.  On the last page, an infographic beautifully summarizes Old Rock’s journey from 1.8 billion years ago to present day.  Thanks to Penguin Random House for sharing a F & G with my #bookexcursion group. Old Rock publishes in February 2020.

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I’m Trying to Love Math by Bethany Barton

If you are one of 4 out of 10 Americans that hate math, this picture book might help you change your mind.  An alien visiting the Earth seeks to convince the narrator and readers how cool math is.  For example, you can’t make cookies, music, and travel without math.  While I may not love math, I don’t mind reading about it because Barton’s text is hilariously funny and interactive and her pen and ink illustrations are colorful, engaging, and make use of the whole page spread.  Thanks to Viking/Penguin Random House for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. It published in July.

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

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

Sparky & Spike: Charles Schultz and the Wildest, Smartest Dog Ever by Barbara Lowell illustrates by Dan Anderson
 

This picture book tells the story of how Schultz’s dog, Spike became the inspiration for the iconic cartoon character, Snoopy.  Spike was an unusual dog for he virtually could eat anything without getting sick and could ring the doorbell to come inside.  Aside from spending time with Spike, Sparky (Schultz’s nickname) loved reading the comics and loved drawing.  But Sparky realized that drawing cartoons was much harder than just drawing pictures.  Fortunately, having an extraordinary dog like Spike gave Sparky an idea.  He wrote a letter to Mr. Ripley about Spike and included a drawing of his wild and smart dog.  After a lot of waiting, two months later, Sparky’s drawing appeared in the Ripley’s Believe It or Not comics, which makes him realize that becoming a cartoonist was indeed possible.  What I love most about this story is the illustrator shares his own personal story of writing a letter to Schultz and includes the cartoonist’s reply encouraging him to continue drawing and writing.  Sparky and Spike is a great picture book for teaching perseverance to young students.

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

 

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Cover Reveal, Middle Grade Literature

Cover Reveal Blitz for Fly on the Wall by Remy Lai

Beagles and Books is so excited to be part of the cover reveal blogger blitz for Remy Lai’s upcoming middle grade novel, Fly on the Wall, which will publish in May 2020.  I am a big fan of Remy’s writing and artwork and was honored to read an ARC of her first novel, Pie in the Sky with my #bookexcursion group.  To read my full review, click here.

Publisher’s Summary for Fly on the Wall:
Henry Khoo’s family treats him like a baby. He’s not allowed to go anywhere without his sister/chaperone/bodyguard. His (former) best friend knows to expect his family’s mafia-style interrogation when Henry’s actually allowed to hang out at her house. And he definitely CAN’T take a journey halfway around the world all by himself!

But that’s exactly his plan. After his family’s annual trip to visit his father in Singapore is cancelled, Henry decides he doesn’t want to be cooped up at home with his overprotective family and BFF turned NRFF (Not Really Friend Forever). Plus, he’s hiding a your-life-is-over-if-you’re-caught secret: he’s the creator of an anonymous gossip cartoon, and he’s on the verge of getting caught. Determined to prove his independence and avoid punishment for his crimes, Henry embarks on the greatest adventure ever hoping it won’t turn into the greatest disaster ever.

Remy Lai takes readers on an adventure filled with humor, heart, and hijinks that’s a sure bet for fans of Jerry Craft, Terri Libenson, and Shannon Hale!

And now the cover reveal….

 

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I absolutely love the cover and can’t wait to meet Henry!  Please visit http://bit.ly/cr-flyonthewall for more about Fly on the Wall.  You can also follow on Twitter at @Remy_Lai@MacKidsBooks or Instagram at @rrremylai@macmillankidsbooks.

Thank you for stopping by Beagles and Books!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/19/19

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

Our Recent Reads:

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The World Ends in April by Stacy McAnulty

Elle is probably the only student in her middle school who has a bug-out bag (otherwise know as BOB)? Why? Because Elle’s grandfather is a prepper or in plain speak, he has been preparing for her and her brothers for the apocalypse ever since she can remember.  Just when Elle is officially tired of her grandfather’s favorite hobby, she stumbles upon the website of Dr. Martin Cologne, an Ivy League astrophysicist who unequivocally believes that an asteroid will cause the world to end in April.  Confiding in her best friend Mack, they start an TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) club, which is formally known at school as the Nature Club in order to not raise suspicions.  But while the other members including Mack take the prediction in stride, Elle becomes totally obsessed with Dr. Cologne’s prophecy which causes trouble at school and at home.

The World Ends in April has a unique plot but I believe it is Elle that will hook readers. Written from her point of view, Ellen is such a dynamic character and while strong, McAnulty also allows readers to see her vulnerabilities. Elle learns that true friends and family will always be there for you. And believing in TEOTWAWKI can actually change you for the better. Special thanks to Random House Kids for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Look for The World Ends in April’s release soon on September 3, 2019.

A Swirl of Ocean by Melissa Sarno

For most of her life, 12 year old Summer has enjoyed a quiet life with her adoptive mom Lindy in the beach town of Barnes Bluff.  But their family of two is about to change with Lindy’s boyfriend, Elder moving in.  Worried she is being replaced by Elder, Summer starts to question who she really is and does she really belong with Lindy, for Lindy found Summer on the beach when she was two.  Then after getting caught in riptide, Summer starts to have vivid dreams about a girl named Tink and her friends.  Like Summer, Tink is dealing with feelings of insecurity.  With her best friend Jeremiah, Summer tries to find answers about Tink which ultimately will help Summer discover more about own her identity as well as Lindy’s.

Author Melissa Sarno seamlessly and beautifully intertwines themes of change, friendship, family, and identity in this intriguing upper middle grade novel.  A blend of realistic fiction, fantasy and mystery, A Swirl of Ocean’s captivating plot will draw readers in and only 217 pages long, it is a story that is hard to put down.  Special thanks to author Melissa Sarno for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  A Swirl of Ocean recently published on August 6, 2019.

Cape: The League of Secret Heroes by Kate Hannigan Illustrated by Patrick Spaziante

A blend of historical fiction and fantasy, CAPE is a fast paced adventure that middle grade readers will devour. Set during World War II, readers are introduced to three astute and diverse young girls, Josie, Akiko, and Mae who are recruited to join a league of secret heroes to fight injustice. There are so many reasons I enjoyed reading CAPE.  Hannigan’s unique plot makes the novel a page turner. While CAPE is undoubtedly fiction, Hannigan intertwines real life elements of the period such as the discrimination that particular ethnic groups faced during World War II as well as characters based on actual people who supported the war effort like Josie’s cousin Kay who worked as a human computer during the war. I absolutely love the camaraderie between Josie, Akiko, and Mae.  Interspersed throughout the novel are Patrick Spaziante’s incredibly illustrated comic panel sequences which depict the girls’ transformation into superheroes and their fight against evil, which will make the novel even more appealing to readers.  To read my full review, click here.

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What If Everybody Thought That? by written by Ellen Javernick Illustrated by Colleen Madden

Everyone has thoughts about us that we never hear.  These preconceived opinions are based on our stature or appearance and while never vocalized, silence and body language can still affect our self-esteem.  Rather than dwell on these negative thoughts, we should believe in our abilities and show them that they are wrong.  What If Everybody Thought That? does more than just foster inner confidence.  The story has a higher goal of challenging children to stop making negative assumptions.  For example, instead of presuming that individuals who are short can’t excel at basketball, we should not form an opinion before seeing them on the court. To read my full review and enter a giveaway for all 3 books in the What if Everybody 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.

The Grumpy Pets by Kristine Lombardi

August 17th was Clear the Shelters Day.  Thanks to an Instagram post by author/illustrator Kristine Lombardi, I discovered a “new to me” book that promotes animal adoption.

Grumpy Pet
Kristine Lombardi 2019

Billy is a grouchy kid who finds it hard to smile. In hopes of cheering him up, his mom takes him to Perfect Pets Animal Shelter.  Everyone including his sister finds a pet that suits them except for Billy.  They are all just too perfect. But when Billy hears barks coming from another aisle, he discovers to his surprise, the grumpy pets, which had similar dispositions to Billy.  Within moments, Billy makes eye contact with one particular dog which ultimately helps turns his frown upside down.

With concise text and expressive illustrations, The Grumpy Pets is a story that teaches readers that animals can rescue us from a bad mood with just one look, lick or tail wag. And as a dog mom of 2 rescue beagles, I love that the Lombardi promotes visiting a shelter or rescue to adopt your furever friend.

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

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Blog Tour, Middle Grade Literature

Blog Tour for CAPE: THE LEAGUE OF SECRET HEROES by Kate Hannigan

Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the CAPE: THE SECRET LEAGUE OF HEROES Blog Tour. Special thanks to Lauren Carr of Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

About the Book:
Title:
 CAPE: THE SECRET LEAGUE OF HEROES
Author: Kate Hannigan
Pub. Date: August 6, 2019
Publisher: Simon and Schuster/Aladdin

Publisher’s Summary:
Josie O’Malley does a lot to help out Mam after her father goes off to fight the Nazis, but she wishes she could do more—like all those caped heroes who now seem to have disappeared. If Josie can’t fly and control weather like her idol, Zenobia, maybe she can put her math smarts to use cracking puzzles for the government.

After an official tosses out her puzzler test because she’s a girl, it soon becomes clear that an even more top-secret agency has its eye on Josie, along with two other applicants: Akiko and Mae. The trio bonds over their shared love of female superhero celebrities, from Hauntima to Zenobia to Hopscotch. But during one extraordinary afternoon, they find themselves transformed into the newest (and youngest!) superheroes in town. As the girls’ abilities slowly begin to emerge, they learn that their skills will be crucial in thwarting a shapeshifting henchman of Hitler, and, just maybe, in solving an even larger mystery about the superheroes who’ve recently gone missing.

Inspired by remarkable real-life women from World War II—the human computers and earliest programmers called “the ENIAC Six”—this pulse-pounding adventure features bold action and brave thinking, with forty-eight pages of comic book style graphic panels throughout the book. Readers will want to don their own capes for an adventure, and realize they have the power to be a superhero, too!

Review:

“Whatever strength you need dwells within you.” -Hauntima

A blend of historical fiction and fantasy, CAPE is a fast paced, intriguing adventure that middle grade (and adult) readers will devour!  Set during World War II, readers are introduced to three astute and diverse young girls, Josie, Akiko, and Mae. In addition to their shared love of superheroes such as Hauntima and Zenobia, the girls are all missing a loved one fighting overseas. Meeting at puzzler tryouts in the Carson Building, they are each rejected because of their gender but soon discover they have a higher calling.   Mrs. Constance Boudica (known as Mrs. B) of Room 12 has been observing all three girls independently and believes collectively, they possess the intelligence, heart, spirit, determination, and courage to join a league of secret heroes to fight injustice.  After the superhero, Stretcher is vaporized by Hank Hissler, an evil henchman of Hitler, the girls acquire Stretcher’s cape, mask, and boots which helps them each unearth their own super hero powers.

There are so many reasons I enjoyed reading CAPE.  First, Hannigan’s unique plot makes the novel hard to put down. While CAPE is undoubtedly fiction, Hannigan intertwines real life elements of the period such as the discrimination that particular ethnic groups faced during World War II as well as characters based on actual people who supported the war effort like Josie’s cousin Kay who worked as a human computer during the war. I absolutely love the camaraderie between Josie, Akiko, and Mae.  While all strong as individuals, they soon realize their super powers are not derived from Stretcher’s costume but rather through their common belief in wanting to do good and not giving up when things get tough. This is a great lesson for middle grade readers.  Interspersed throughout the novel are Patrick Spaziante’s incredibly illustrated comic panel sequences which depict the girls’ transformation into superheroes and their fight against evil, which will make the novel even more appealing to readers. 

In an 11 page author’s note, Hannigan explains the inspiration for CAPE which began with the simple question: Who came before Wonder Woman?  As she researched early superheroes, Hannigan discovers real life female heroes such as the six women who were the ENIAC Six (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer).  Recommended resources for further research are also included.

And what makes me even more excited is CAPE will be followed by MASK and BOOTS in The League of Secret Heroes series.  Stay tuned for release dates. I look forward to sharing CAPE with my students when school begins!

Check out the compelling plot by viewing the book trailer below.

About the Author:

Kate Hannigan is a noted author with a special passion for stories that empower girls and women. Her picture and middle grade books have received high praise, multiple starred reviews, selected for Booklist Editor’s Choice and a Golden Kite Award for Middle Grade fiction. She lives in Chicago with her husband and three children. Please visit her at KateHannigan.com.

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/29/19

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

Our Recent Reads:

Roll with It by Jamie Sumners

Born with cerebral palsy, Ellie just wants to be a regular kid and is tired of having an aide at school.  She craves space to show her independence so that others will see beyond her wheelchair.  Ellie’s sanctuary and passion is baking, a talent she has nurtured ever since she could reach the kitchen countertops.  When her grandfather’s dementia worsens, Ellie and her mom temporarily move from Tennessee to Oklahoma to help out.  Her grandparents’ trailer may be small and not exactly wheelchair-friendly, but Ellie soon discovers that the benefits far outweigh the negatives.  She becomes friends with Coralee and Bert and more importantly, convinces her mother (with her grandmother’s help) that she does not need an aide at her new school.  And now she can finally enter the annual bake-off at her grandparent’s church.  Challenges still exist; however, Ellie is confident that she can handle wherever life takes her.

Ellie’s voice is perfect, for she is both spunky and vulnerable, which are important traits for a dynamic middle grade character.  Kids get to see Ellie’s highs and lows through not only her narration but also through the letters she writes to famous chefs.   The supporting characters are also amazingly well developed.  While I love Ellie’s family, I especially enjoyed watching Ellie’s friendships with Coralee and Bert grow.  Coralee and Bert each have their own struggles which are gradually revealed throughout the story.

I can’t wait to share Ellie’s story with my students! Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the review copy at ALA, which I am sharing with my #bookexcursion ARC group.  Roll With It publishes in October 2019.

Truman by Jean Reidy Illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

It seems like an ordinary day for Truman but when his Sarah strapped on a big backpack, gave him extra beans, and whispered to him “Be brave,” he starts to worry.  Where is Sarah going?  Impatient, Truman decides to find Sarah and while on his journey, he discovers something else-courage.

Truman is a quiet story with a big message.  When I read it aloud (my book beagles are excellent listeners),  I consciously took my time reading each gorgeous word and lingered over the exquisitely drawn illustrations.  Reidy’s words and Cummins’ artwork combined are pure magic.  Although I have over a month until summer begins, I am certain Truman will be one of my first read alouds of the year; it is perfect for the first week of school with themes of new beginnings, courage, and friendship.   Truman recently published in July.

My Furry Foster Family: Betty the Bearded Dragon by Debbi Michiko Florence Illustrated by Melanie Demmer

The My Furry Foster Family series is about the Takano family and their adventures fostering animals for the Happy Paws Rescue, the same shelter where they adopted their dachusund Ollie.   All 4 stories in the series are narrated by eight year old Kaita.  In April, I had the pleasure to read and review Truman the Dog before it was released. To read my full review, click here.

In Betty the Bearded Dragon, the Takano family gets their first non-furry foster pet.  While Kaita has learned a lot about animals through fostering, she knows nothing about bearded dragons.  Of course, Kaita can read to gain knowledge but it’s also fun to learn from her dad who used to have a “beardie” when he was in college.  While Kaita is nervous when she learns Betty is to be adopted two days after she arrives, her worry turns to excitement when she finds out Betty’s new forever home.

After the story ends, author Debbi Michiko Florence shares information on how to become a foster family which includes advice from real life Kaita, who inspired the series.  Her tips are spot on especially acknowledging that it’s ok to be sad when a foster is adopted.  But knowing you have saved the life of a pet is a proud feeling.

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.

Take Your Pet to School Day by Linda Ashman Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

After a note circulates that pets will be allowed at Maple View School for just one special day, students arrives with their pets which include dogs, cats, birds, and fish but also a horse, llama and a colony of ants.  The pets bring noise, interruptions, and mess which makes every adult say “Why would someone change the rule?  Pets do NOT belong in school!”  When the principal denies writing the note, she demands that the author speak up.  Who could it be?  With Ashman’s lively, rhyming text, Take Your Pet to School Day is an engaging and fun read aloud for young children.  Kaufman’s vibrant and detailed illustrations will captivate the reader especially all the animal antics.  Thanks to Penguin Random House for the review copy at ALA.  Take Your Pet to School Day recently released in July.

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? 7/22/19

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

Our Recent Reads:

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A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity by Nicole Valentine

12-year-old Finn has experienced a lot of loss in his young life. First, his twin sister Faith when they were both three and now his mother has abruptly disappeared. His dad’s response: Mom will be back; she just needs time.  But on a visit to his maternal grandmother’s house, Finn finds his mom’s purse in the basement.  Why would his mom have left her wallet and cell phone?  Finn wants the truth from Gran, but it is not at all what he expected.  It turns out that the women on his mother’s side of the family are Travelers and can move back in time; Finn’s mom and Gran also have the unique ability to go forward.

Through Gran, Finn discovers that his mom is lost somewhere on the timeline but built a portal in a tree in case of an emergency.  With the support of his best friend Gabi, Finn journeys to find and help his mom.  On his travels, he learns about the ISTA (The International Society for Temporal Adherence) and how in his small town of Dorset, Vermont, there is a difference of opinion of how to use this incredible gift of time travel.

A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity is an intriguing, fast paced adventure with so many twists and turns, I constantly was questioning, thinking, and reevaluating.  What I love most about the story is witnessing Finn’s growth as a character.  Once only believing in facts he can scientifically prove, Finn gains the knowledge that everything cannot be explained by logic and learns “if you want to change time, you must change hearts.”  Hearts are changed by the way we treat each other so let’s all work together to be kind and believe in the good of others.  Thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity publishes on October 1, 2019.

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White Bird: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio

For fans of Wonder, your wait is almost over.  Releasing on October 1, 2019, White Bird, a full color graphic novel written and illustrated by R.J. Palacio tells the story of Julian’s Jewish grandmother, Sara, who was hidden from the Nazis in occupied France. Readers first met Julian’s grandmother in The Julian Chapter, which was originally released as an e-book and then included as a chapter in the novella, Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories.

Sara describes her early life as a bit spoiled living in a large flat with two loving parents and blessed with pretty clothes.  At first, living in the free zone of France seemed normal but it doesn’t take long before Sara (and her parents) are in danger. When a roundup occurs at her school, Sara hides in the bell tower and is rescued by Julien, a classmate stricken by polio and bullied by other classmates.  While Sara never directly bullied Julien, she also did not ever stand up for him.  Through Julien’s kindness, Sara learns that “we are not defined by our mistakes but by what we do after we’ve learned from them.”  Julien and his family protect Sara by hiding her in their barn until the end of the war. Through Julien and his parents’ actions, Sara learns that it takes bravery to be kind because “kindness can truly cost you everything.”

While White Bird may begin as a story of heartache, it ends as a story of hope.  And more importantly, 7 years after Wonder, author R.J. Palacio is still teaching us about the immense power of kindness.  An afterword, author notes, a glossary, a suggested reading list, and organizations/resources provide readers with a wealth of historical information about the holocaust. Thanks to Penguin Random House for sharing an ARC at the ALA Annual Conference.

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Look! I Wrote a Book! (And You Can Too!) by Sally Lloyd Jones Illustrated by Neal Layton

Attending my first ALA conference was amazing but also overwhelming. There are so many books to stop and look at in each booth.  When I walked by this book, the eye catching and playful cover immediately made me stop and want to open the first page. I’m so glad I did!

A young girl takes through the writing process in this humorous and informative picture book.  Writers need to start with a good idea and have knowledge about their topic. They must think about their audience, their title, and the elements of a good story such as a great beginning to reel in readers.  Getting feedback is also important because writers revise to make their stories better.   Final advice includes getting blurbs from famous people, adding an author bio, and always thinking about a sequel.

As a teacher who recently participated in the Teachers College Writing Institute in June, I am excited to share this engaging picture book with students to launch writing workshop.  It will be a great mentor text to use and refer to throughout the year.  Thanks to the publisher Schwartz and Wade/Penguin Random House for sharing a F & G at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC.  Look! I Wrote a Book! (And You Can Too!)  celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on July 23, 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.

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Mighty Reader and the Big Freeze by Will Hillenbrand

As a reading specialist, I love books about reading.  As a dog mom, I love books about dogs so what do you think happens when I find a book about reading and dogs and the main character is….wait for it…A BEAGLE!  You realize Mighty Reader and the Big Freeze was written to be featured on Beagles and Books! Special thanks to Alexa Higbee of Holiday House for providing a copy to me at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

Hugo, a beagle, boards the bus on his first day of school.  He quickly makes friends with Barkley, a bull dog who is reading The Adventures of Mighty Reader. Once in school, the class is excited about their author visit later that day.  Their teacher, Ms. Wulff asks Barkley to read aloud a book written by the author, but Barkley freezes up forgetting all his reading strategies.  Luckily, Hugo knows how to solve this reading emergency.  Raiding the class’ dress up center, Hugo finds a superhero costume, grabs Barkley’s favorite book from his cubby reminding Barkley that he is a reader and how he can use his strategies to read new books.  With encouragement from Hugo, Barkley regains his confidence remembering familiar words and using the pictures to tell what is happening.

Beginning readers need support building their confidence in applying their reading strategies. When I work with young, developing readers, I always remind them that they do not have to know every single word; pictures are a great tool to help us read a story.  Mighty Reader and the Big Freeze also teaches kids that they can help each other through prompting which is what Hugo did for Barkley.  Can’t wait for students to meet Hugo (a.k.a. Mighty Reader) when school begins!

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/15/19

Beagles and Books is excited to share our recent reads in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor 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:

Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj

Count Me In is a moving story told in alternating perspectives by seventh graders Karina and Chris who are next door neighbors. At the beginning of the story, they are not friends but that all changes when Karina’s Indian grandfather, Papa moves in with her family and shortly after becomes Chris’ math tutor.  On a walk, all three of their lives are forever changed when Papa is assaulted and badly injured by a stranger who targets him because of his race. Karina refuses to let hate win and with the help of social media becomes an “accidental activist” launching a movement called #CountMeIn, which celebrates not only that Americans are from many races and cultures but also the power of speaking up and standing up for what is right. 

I loved hearing both Karina’s and Chris’ perspectives and how they both learned that we are all stronger together when we use our voices.  Thank you Nancy Paulsen and Penguin Kids for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Count Me In releases soon on August 27, 2019.

Unicorns 101 by Cale Atkinson

Would you like to earn a certificate in unicorn science? Well you’re in luck because Cale Atkinson has written and illustrated a highly entertaining and super engaging picture book that will teach you everything you want to know about unicorns.  The book is comprised of 10 sections informing readers about topics such as unicorn biology, diet, history, habitat, and social behaviors.

While Unicorns 101 is clearly fictional, it reads like an informational picture book. In fact, I strongly believe it would be a great mentor nonfiction text, for text features (diagrams, timelines, labels and captions) are prominent throughout the book.  I can’t wait to share this imaginative yet informative book with students and teachers.  (And by the way, I think I found a new rare unicorn breed if there is ever addendum to Unicorns 101).  Thank you to Random House for sharing an F & G with my #bookexcursion group.  It publishes on September 3, 2019.

Hangry by Drew Brockington

What happens when a lizard monster is hungry and angry because the best hot dog restaurant in the city is closed for vacation?  Of course, he becomes HANGRY terrorizing the city on his search for his favorite food.  When he finally gets a hot dog with the works from.a street vendor, it seems his stomach will be happy. But just as he begins to put the hot dog in his mouth, a pigeon swipes his food.  Will the monster’s hangriness ever be satisfied?

Boldly illustrated in comic panels with all dialogue in speech bubbles, Hangry is a fun read with a simple message at the end.  Before you get hangry, ask the street vendor if he has any more hot dogs left in his cart.   Hangry recently published in June 2019.

Rocket’s Very Fine Day by Tad Hills

In this early reader, Rocket and Bella feel lucky because it is a beautiful sunny day perfect for romping and playing outside. But when the sky turns dark and is full of clouds, there is worry that their fine day will be ruined.  Fortunately, the pair realize that while they do not like rain, they love puddles!

With concise text and large expressive illustrations, Rocket’s Very Fine Day is a perfect book for emerging readers.  I also love the theme of making the most out of the day rather than dwelling on the negatives.  Thanks to Penguin Random Home for sharing a F & G at American Library Asssociation’s Annual Conference (ALAAC19) this June.

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.

Dogs and Their People by Anne Lambelet

Charmingly illustrated in a vintage, art deco style, Dogs and Their People is a story about young girl walking home from school.  On her journey,  she observes the dogs and their people noticing how some dogs match their owners perfectly while others are complete opposites. What is clearly similar in all relationships is the genuine love and affection dogs and their owners have for each other. 

When the girl arrives home to greet her own pet. readers will be surprised to see her furry best friend is not a dog, but rather a cat!  It just goes to show you that even cat people can appreciate dog and their people too!  Thanks to Page Street Kids for hosting an author signing at ALAAC19 where I received a copy.  Dogs and Their People recently published in June 2019.

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/1/19

Beagles and Books is excited to share our current reads in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor 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.

It’s summer! Excited for time to relax, renew & of course, read!

Thanks to my administrators, I was blessed to participate in the TCRWP June Writing Institute at Columbia University. Even though I have been writing this blog for almost 2 years, I really didn’t identify myself as a writer. A reader, definitely, but a writer? This institute provided me with the opportunity to engage in my own writing and learn how to support teachers and students in writers’ workshop. One of the best professional learning experiences in my career! And the fact that I was able to explore and enjoy New York City made it even more memorable.

 

 

After returning home, I couldn’t pass up the chance to attend ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC. I was only able to spend 1 day but what an incredible day meeting authors, personally thanking authors & publishers for sharing ARCs and finally getting to meet fellow literacy specialist and #bookexcursion member Lisa Maucione in real life after being virtual friends for years. At the end of the day, my heart, bags, and TBR list were (& still are) full.

 

Our Current Reads:

The Problim Children: Carnival Catastrophe by Natalie Lloyd

In the second book in the series, The Problims have 2 big missions ahead of them.  The 7 siblings need to find the remaining 3 twigs which when snapped together, create a water witch.  According to their Grandpa Problim, this water witch will lead them to “a treasure beyond measure.” They also need to find Mama Problim, who is still missing.  Set during the Annual Love Cove Corn Dog Carnival,  Mona Problim encourages all her siblings to enter one of the contests, for the prize is a boat trip to Pirates Cove which she believes is key to locating the treasure and their mother.

While all the Problim siblings are part of this adventure, Mona is the center of the  intriguing plot.  After being called cruel (more than once) and feeling misunderstood by others, Mona seeks the support of her father.  His advice is simple.  “Lead with the good. Find one good truth about someone and mention that. See how they react.”  This advice aids Mona to learn not to judge others, for she realizes everyone wants to shine and be seen in their own unique way.

In Carnival Catastrophe, readers will discover the roots of Desmonda O’pinion’s distaste for the Problims and why there was a falling out between the two families.  Amid all the mystery and mayhem, the youngest Problem keeps us chuckling with his myriad of over 200 toots.  As in Book 1, the siblings teach us the power of collaboration because it’s hard to outsmart the Problims when they are working together.  So pile up readers.  You are in for quite an adventure! But don’t worry when you get to the end. The story will continue in The Problim Children 3.

Special thanks to author Natalie Lloyd for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. The Carnival Catastrophe recently celebrated its book birthday on June 25, 2019.

Max Attacks by Kathi Appelt Illustrated by Penelope Dullaghan

With a simple yet intriguing title & the cover illustration of a striped blue cat sitting quietly in the top right corner, what reader could resist opening this picture book?

As the title states, Max likes to attack things but the question is…Can Max catch his prey?  Throughout the story, the thing Max wants to catch most are the fish swimming in a bowl. But every time he gets ready to pounce, something distracts him such as a lizard, a toy bird, a basket full of socks or shoe strings.  Will Max ever be victorious?

Written in rhyme with rich vocabulary, author Kathi Appelt’s words beg to be read aloud.  I also love that the narrator keeps score of who is winning.  For example, after Max attacks the socks in the basket, the next page spread simply states “Socks, None. Max, Ninety One.”  Illustrator Penelope Dullaghan’s artwork is gorgeous and it’s hard to believe that Max Attacks is her debut picture book.   Her expressive illustrations capture Max’s feisty and confident personality.  And I can’t forget to mention the black and white dog who watches Max’s escapades with concern, surprise, and satisfaction.

When school begins in the fall, I will be sharing Max Attacks widely with both teachers and students! Special thanks to the publisher Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy to share with my #bookexcursion group. Max Attacks recently published in June 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.

Diary of a Pug: Pug Blasts Off  by Kyla May

I love the Scholastic Branches series because the books are specifically written for readers transitioning into chapter books.  Pug Blast Off, the first in the new Diary of a Pug series, is a fun and engaging story written from a pug’s point of view in the form of diary entries.

Baron Von Bubbles, Bub for short, was rescued by young Bella at a pet adoption fair.  In this story, Bella must craft her own creation to enter in her school’s Inventor Challenge. When Bub’s accidentally ruins Bella’s invention, he is determined to make it up to her.  Through words and illustrations, readers see Bub’s brainstorming and planning process which helps Bella realize that sometimes accidents happen for a reason and collaboration makes a better invention.

With comic illustrations and written in under 75 pages, readers will think Diary of a Pug is simply paw-tastic.  Thanks to publisher Scholastic for sharing an ARC at ALAAC19. Look for Pug’s release on October 1, 2019. Three more books will be published in 2020.

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