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

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

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


Our Recent Reads:

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

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

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

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


Our Recent Reads:

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Spineless by Samantha San Miguel

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

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


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Lulu & Zoey: A Sister Story by Carrie Finson

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

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


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Swim, Jim by Kaz Windness

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

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


Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

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

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Catch That Dog! by Will Taylor

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

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

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

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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

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

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


Our Recent Reads:

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The Summer of June by Jamie Sumner

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Hiking Viking by Laura Gehl Illustrated by Timothy Grant

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

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

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


Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

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

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

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


Our Recent Reads:

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Hummingbird by Natalie Lloyd

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

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

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

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


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Lizzy and the Cloud by The Fan Brothers

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

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


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

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

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


Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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

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

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


Our Recent Reads:

Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence by Sonja Thomas

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

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

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


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

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

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


Really Bird Stories
by Harriet Ziefert Illustrated by Travis Foster

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

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

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


Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

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

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

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

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

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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

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

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


Our Recent Reads:

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This Book Will Get You to Sleep by Jory John Illustrated by Oliver Tallec

A kangaroo with a megaphone, monster trucks, electric guitars, car alarms, barking dogs, and meowing cats will put you to sleep, right?  In this hilarious bedtime story, the marsupial narrator breaks the fourth wall firmly believing that his tactics will induce a peaceful slumber.  When his strategies do not produce effective results, the kangaroo resorts to counting sheep, but wait….the sheep are being chased by a fire breathing dragon.   The narrator is both perplexed and annoyed as to why sleep has not occurred.  

Contrary to the kangaroo’s mission, kids will stay wide awake to listen to this fun bedtime read aloud and ask for repeated readings because John’s text is so enjoyable and witty.  Tallec’s lively illustrations have immense kid appeal and will not support shut-eye.  In a nutshell, This Book Will Get You to Sleep will not deliver its promise, but it will provide delight and laughter which is much more important. 

Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing for sharing a copy with Beagles and Books.  This Book Will Put You to Sleep publishes tomorrow on April 5, 2022. 


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Hat Cat by Troy Wilson Illustrated by Eve Coy

Hat Cat is a charming story about the relationship between an old man and a rescue cat.  While the cat is curious about the outside, he is loyal because he loves the man who gives him shelter, food, and love.  Wilson’s gentle, melodic text and Coy’s warm, expressive illustrations give this quiet story so much life.  The soft cadence of the text makes the story is a joy to read aloud and kids quickly picked up on some of the repetitive phrases.   Coy’s artwork shows the depth of their relationship, for the man’s face lights up in all his interactions with Hat and Hat reveals his emotions ranging from joyful and content to scared and worried.  To read my full review, click here


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Pruett and Soo by Nancy Viau Illustrated by Jorge Lacera

Pruett and Soo is an uplifting story about friendship and finding your voice. I appreciate how Viau shows Pruett’s conflict between following the rules and doing what was right in his heart.  Both Pruett and Soo are characters that kids will cheer for because they both have big feelings they can relate to. Lacera’s energetic and vibrant illustrations will captivate kids and truly bring Pruett and Soo to life.   What I love most about the story is the message to be true to yourself.  Pruett’s friendship with Soo gave him the courage to speak up and take action. To read my full review, click here.


Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

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

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Doggo and Pupper Save the World by Katherine Applegate illustrated by Charlie Adler

In the second book in the series, Pupper wishes he could be like flying Wonder Dog on TV, but heroes aren’t scared of things like giant squirrels.  And heroes need someone to save. Doggo and Cat don’t need saving so being a hero is not going to be easy.  When Doggo and Pupper go to the park to listen to a band, Pupper hears a sound in a bush.  It could be a giant squirrel, but Pupper is brave and discovers a baby bird who is not yet learned to fly.  Perhaps, Pupper can be a hero after all.

I just adore Doggo, Pupper, and Cat too.  Applegate’s easily accessible text coupled with Adler’s bold and humorous illustrations not only appeals to young readers but also supports them in transitioning to chapter book reading.  I love how Doggo’s and Pupper’s relationship has deepened and how Doggo dotes on the young pup.  Excited to hear a third book, Doggo and Pupper Search for Cozy, will release in March 2023.

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/28/22

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


Our Recent Reads:

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A Duet for Home by Karina Yan Glaser

After the sudden loss of her father, 11 year old June, her 6 year old sister, and her mother can no longer afford to live in their Chinatown apartment and move to Huey House, a homeless shelter.  Depression has consumed June’s mom so June has had to take on the role of parent.  Her viola is the only thing that connects June to her dad , but director Ms. MacMillan does not allow instruments at the shelter.  Marcus, the head of security, assures June that he will keep her viola safe.  To make amends for a prank not intended for June and her sister, Tyrell, a Huey House resident for three years, finds a way to not only reunite June with her viola, but also show her a secluded place to practice.  Gradually, June and Tyrell bond over their mutual love of music.  Just when June is starting to feel safe, Tyrell overhears Ms. MacMillan talking about a new housing program that aims to relocate families out of shelters.  This program’s goal is to make it appear that the homeless numbers are decreasing, but the new housing is undesirable or unsafe.  June and Tyrell feel compelled to do something but will anyone pay attention to kids? 

While Yan Glaser chose to tell June’s and Tyrell’s story in third person with alternating chapters, readers still get to know each character on a deep personal level conscious of their fears and hopes.  I especially appreciate how in the author’s note preceding the novel, Yan Glaser shares the inspiration for Duet for Home having worked as full time in New York City homeless shelters.  Yan Glaser gives voice to children whose families are experiencing a hardship as well as social worker Ms. Gonzalez who always had their best interests at heart.  What I love most about the story is that Huey House is more than just shelter for families.  As June shares, “It has become a place where my family can become whole again.”  Both poignant and uplifting, Duet for Home is a story that will tug at your heart but also fill it with hope.  

Thanks to the author and Clarion Books for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Pre-order now so you can have A Duet for Home on your hands when it publishes next week on April 5, 2022. 


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Bobcat Prowling by Maria Gianferrari Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

A companion to Gianferrari’s Coyote Moon and Hawk Rising, Bobcat Prowling is a narrative non-fiction picture book which tells the story of a young bobcat searching for a home range of his own. At the beginning of the story, the mood is serene.  Snow covers the ground. A boy waits for his bus as a mother bobcat and her son Yearling wake up on a nearby hill.   Not long after, Yearling begins his journey to find a new home.  Gianferrari’s melodic text and Ibatoulline’s gorgeous illustrations capture the intensity of Yearling’s lengthy travel.

Each time, Yearling thinks he has found his new home (and next meal), he is thwarted by a resident animal such as a lynx, another bobcat or a wolf who has already laid claim to that territory.  Gianferrari’s words and Ibatoulline’s artwork are like a symphony with low tones and high notes.  When Yearling discovers a potential new home and dinner, the text and illustrations are soft and calm.  Once a resident animal spies Yearling’s presence, the words and artwork are energetic showing the conflict between the two animals.   To read my full review, get details on entering giveaway, click here


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Emet’s Box by Jeni Chen 

Ever since he was young, painting was Emet’s passion.  When his parents encouraged him to focus on his studies, he compiled and then gradually stopped painting packing his art supplies in a box.  Emet’s world dramatically and literally changed from colorful to gray!  Would Emet ever see color again? Luckily, he spies a multicolored kite and follows it which reignites his love for art. 

With concise text and expressive illustrations, Chen’s debut picture book shares the powerful message of how doing what you love fuels you.  I especially love that last page spread when Chen shows children engaging in their favorite activities whether it be making music, dancing or playing a sport. Emet’s Box will be a great classroom read aloud where kids could share their passion and how it make them feel.  Thanks to Michele McAvoy of Little Press/Blue Bronco Books for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Emet’s Box celebrates its book birthday this Friday on April 1, 2022. 


Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

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

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Bobo and Pup-Pup series by Vikram Madan Illustrated by Nicola Slater

This early graphic novel series feature two friends, Bobo, a monkey and Pup-Pup, a dog.  In the first book, We Love Bubbles, Pup-Pup blows bubbles while Bobo can’t stop popping them resulting in a frustrated Pup-Pup.  A now determined Pup-Pup gets Super Bubble Mix to make unpoppable bubbles. Bobo can’t resist popping but when he does, he gets stuck inside.  Will his Pup Pup save him?   In Let’s Make Cake, the friends see a cake made by mice and decide to make one of their own.  When Pup-Pup reads the necessary ingredients, Bobo improvises substituting butter for lemons and salt for sugar and it’s no surprise that their cake is not very tasty.  In both books, the theme of friendship is evident, despite their mishaps, the duo have fun spending time together.  

Each book has six short chapters with all text appearing in speech bubbles.  As a reading specialist, I love how Madan carefully choose words with short vowels, silent e, and high frequency words to support developing readers. Slater’s bright and energetic illustrations fill the pages and will captivate kids. So excited I found this series to share with my students!  And stay tuned for Bobo and Pup-Pup’s next adventure, The Funny Book, which releases in October 2022. 

 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/21/22

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


Our Recent Reads:

Wave by Diana Firad

Set in 1980s California, 13 year old Ava can’t wait to spend her summer surfing, singing, and being with her best friends Phoenix and Naz. Her surgeon mother decides she should volunteer at her hospital which makes Ava resentful especially when she accidentally falls and fractures a bone in her leg.  Being in a cast on the beach isn’t fun but things get worse when Phoenix’s cancer returns. Phoenix has survived lymphoma before but can he conquer this wave again? Worried about Phoenix and her identity, given her father’s absence and her struggle between being both Persian and American, Ava seeks solace in song and Rumi poetry.  

Written in verse from the perspective of Ava, Wave is both heartbreaking and hopeful.   Farid’s poetry is beautifully written exploring Ava’s inner conflicts.  One of her highlights of volunteering was developing a relationship with a patient in Room 509 who shares her love of Rumi.  Discovering he was an orphan, Ava asks if he felt alone or weird.  His responded “Sometimes. But eventually, I decided, I didn’t want to carry around other people’s feelings about my life.”  I love this conversation because these words help Ava come to terms with who she is later vocalizing “I belong from I came and I belong to where I am.”   Wave is a powerful story about family, friendship, fitting in, and facing fears.   Thanks to Cameron Kids and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Wave celebrates its book birthday next week on March 29, 2022. 



A History of Underwear with Professor Chicken
by Hannah Holt Illustrated by Korwin Briggs

Professor Chicken gives readers a “brief” look at the history of underwear beginning in 3300 BCE.  I learned that underwear is called a pair because early coverings came in pieces.  Long ago, underwear wasn’t bought at the store; animals had to be caught, dried, pounded, and smoked before wearing.  In 1400 BCE, Egyptians used linen and since it could take 4 to 5 months to make a pair, underwear was a sign of wealth.   And since elastic wasn’t invented yet, keeping underwear secure took careful tying and tucking.  Professor Chicken shares facts about the first diapers, how underwear varied based on region, age, class, and gender, and how ladies’ undergarments got bigger during the English Renaissance.   At the end of the book is a page spread full of Underpants Monthly covers which shows the evolution of underwear from the late 1870s to the 2000s.  Luckily, Professor Chicken acknowledges that today, people can chose the undies that work best for them. 

Kids (and adults) will laugh and learn about underwear with Professor Chicken! Holt’s text is full of playful puns and fascinating facts.  Briggs’ animated and expressive illustrations will both entertain and educate. Highly recommend A History of Underwear with Professor Chicken to add to a school, classroom or home library! Thanks to the author for sharing with my #bookexcursion group.  A History of Underwear with Professor Chicken recently published in February 2022. 



That Egg is Mine!
by Liz Goulet Dubois

Duck and Cluck argue about who owns an egg.  The illustrations show the egg is blue with white spots.  Duck has a blue and white spotted bill and Cluck is blue with white spots so readers can infer that the egg could rightfully belong to either bird.  When the egg hatches, the mystery is solved.

Graphic novels are so popular with readers of all ages so I am always excited when I discover a series that is written for younger children.  With most text in speech bubbles and clean illustrations using a limited color palette, Dubois has written a story that will support early readers, make them laugh out loud, and anxiously wait for the next adventure of Duck and Cluck. 


Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

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

Togo and Balto: The Dogs Who Saved a Town by Jodi Parachini Illustrated by Keiron Ward and Jason Dewhirst

Part of the Animalographies series, this narrative nonfiction picture book tells the story of Siberian huskies, Togo and Balto, who were trained as sled dogs.  Kids may know sled dogs compete in the Iditarod but they (along with adults like me) will learn the crucial role that huskies played in the Serum Race bringing lifesaving serum to the children who were stricken with diphtheria in the 1920s in Nome, Alaska.

I love that Parachini chose to tell the story from Togo’s point of view with a combination of text and journal entries.  I also appreciate that she chose Togo as narrator because I have read books featuring Balto, but never knew Togo was a famous sled dog.  Looking forward to sharing Togo and Balto with teachers and students at my school.  Thanks to Albert Whitman for sharing with my #bookexcursion group.   Togo and Balto releases in April 2022. 

 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/21/22

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


Our Recent Reads:

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Golden Girl by Reem Faruqi

Seventh grader Aafiyah loves playing tennis, learning weird but true facts, and hanging with her best friend Zaina.  But Aafiyah has a secret.  She has “itchy fingers” because she loves to borrow things. Sometimes Aafiyah keeps them and other times she gives them back.  On the way home from visiting her grandparents in Pakistan, her father is accused of stealing and subsequently detained.  Her grandfather, Dada Abu, travels to Atlanta for cancer treatment with Aafiyah, her mother and younger brother leaving her father and grandmother behind. 

With her father’s lawyer bills and her grandfather’s treatment, Aafiyah is worried that her family is struggling for money.  Aafiyah knows stealing is wrong but she feels compelled to help her family.  When she is caught, she is contrite and must learn to accept the consequences of her actions.  

With themes of family, friendship, and forgiveness, Faruqi’s novel in verse, Golden Girl is a story that will appeal to a variety of readers.  Faruqi gracefully tackles difficult topics and the verse format makes the novel accessible.  As I read, Faruqi’s melodic verses evoked a lot of emotion and since it was written from Aafiyah’s perspective, I could witness her inner struggles which helped me understand her more deeply.  At the end of the novel, author’s notes shares the origins of the story. Thanks to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Golden Girl celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on February 22, 2022. 


 Jubilee: The First Therapy Horse and an Olympic Dream by KT Johnston Illustrated by Annabella Ortiz

Jubilee is a picture book biography of Lis Hartel, a Danish woman, who was a national champion in the sport of dressage which is described as ballet on horseback.  A diagnosis of polio threatened her ability to not only walk but also ride a horse. Lis was determined to prove her doctor wrong and worked tirelessly to regain her strength engaging in crawling races with her daughter.  Once she gathered strength in her arms and body, Lis was ready to ride again.   Her horse, Gigolo had hurt his leg so her husband suggested young Jubilee.  Lis agreed that she and Jubilee would learn together. 

With patience and practice, Lis and Jubilee became friends developing the ability to communicate to each other through Lis’ light touches and Jubilee’s cooperative nature.  After two and a half years of training, they began to compete competitively qualifying for the 1948 Olympics. It took another 4 years until women were allowed to enter dressage.  In 1952, Lis and Jubilee won a silver medal for their performance competing against men in the sport.  

Johnston’s heartwarming narration and Ortiz’s tender illustration show the incredible bond between Lis and Jubilee.  The duo enjoyed an extraordinary connection which allowed them both to reach their full potential. At the end of the story, the author’s notes provides more facts about the Lis’ and Jubilee’s relationship and how Lis opened the first riding center for people with disabilities.  Thanks to the author and publisher for sharing an eARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Jubilee recently released on February 1, 2022.


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Playing the Lanterns by Wang Yage Illustrated by Zhu Chengliang  Translated by Helen Wang

Playing with Lanterns shares the age old New Year folk custom in the Shaanxi province of northwest China.  On the third day of the fifteen day celebration, children begin receiving lanterns from their uncles. With its gentle text and expressive illustrations, I highly recommend Playing with Lanterns as a read aloud to teach kids about Chinese New Year. To read my full review, click here


Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

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

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The Happiness of a Dog in its Mouth by Bruce Handy & Hyewon Yum

A young girl slowly awakens to a new day.  As soon as she gets out of bed, two dog (one a beagle, perhaps) runs to greet her.  On most subsequent page spreads, Handy contrasts a difficult feeling with a happy one.  While dogs are not highlighted in each situation, I love that the dogs are on the positive side of the experience.  This quiet story sends a powerful message about the importance of how unfavorable circumstances are fleeting not permanent if we have a positive mindset. 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/31/22

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


Our Recent Reads:

Just Right Jillian by Nicole Collier

Fifth grader Jillian is smart but unbelievably shy.  When her class plays Last Man Standing to improve speed and accuracy in math, Jillian knows the final answer to win but is unable to speak or raise her hand.  Her silence allows her classmate and foe Rashida to win.  Jillian knows she needs to find her voice, but since her Grammy died a year ago, she feels lost.  Grammy always said, “Being shy is one thing. Hiding is something else.”  Jillian knows she is hiding by being quiet and blending in with all the other girls’ wearing dull colored clothes and her hair in a ponytail, but how does she find the confidence to be true self? 

Her teacher, Ms. Warren, sees Jillian’s potential and encourages her to enter the academic competition, Mind Bender.  Rashida won the competition last year as a fourth grader.  What chance does Jillian have?  Gradually, Jillian begins to embrace small steps towards change wearing purple or her hair untwisted until she finally find her JTRA (Just the Right Amount) of courage thanks to her friend Marquez.  And the incubating chicks her class is observing remind Jillian to find the courage to break out of her shell.  

Full of hope and heart, Just Right Jillian is a touching story about family, friendship, facing your fears, and finding out who you are.  While Jillian did not share all her insecurities with her parents, her mom and dad were always sharing words of wisdom.  I just loved their positivity and encouragement. 

  • “Never start your story with the other person.”
  • “If your heart knows what’s right, you already have the answer.  It’s up to you to commit to it.”
  • “When you have a something and you do it, it teaches you to know yourself better.”
  • “You don’t need any excuses to be yourself.” 

We all have a little Jillian in us. With Just Right Jillian, debut author Collier teaches us lessons on how to be brave when it is hard.  Thankful to the author for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group.  Just Right Jillian celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on February 1, 2022. 



Bad Kitty Gets Phone
by Nick Bruel

In this new full-color graphic novel adventure, Kitty is obsessed with the online game Feather Tap and keeps stealing her owners’ phone to play.  When she is given the opportunity to play with real feathers, Kitty is not amused. Instead she asks for her own phone in exchange for doing chores for three whole months.  Successfully completing the seven labors (picking up toys, making bed, washing bowl, cleaning litter box, changing the baby, repairing curtains, and giving Puppy a bath), Kitty earns a phone of her very own.  But with ownership comes responsibility and Kitty struggles in making good decisions becoming addicted to a violent game, a Cat Facebook app,  and ViewTube videos.  Her demeanor also takes a downward spiral engaging with heated online arguments with cyberbullies and ignoring her friend Chatty Kitty’s texts. As a result, her owners to take away her phone for a month.  Readers will love the hilarious chapter How to Take a Phone Away From a Cat which consists of seven not so easy steps.  

Bruel’s text and artwork gives readers not only the opportunity to laugh but also to learn, for Kitty’s actions and her owners’ response teach kids about internet safety and digital literacy.  I love that Kitty’s owners were constantly monitoring her activity and deleted apps that they deemed inappropriate or detrimental to her emotional and mental well being.  A recurring section, Uncle Murray’s Fun Facts, teaches kids the difference between fact and opinion.  Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing for sharing a copy.  Bad Kitty Gets a Phone recently released on December 28, 2021. 


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I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu by Refiloe Moahloli Illustrated by Zinelda McDonald

In Southern Africa, ubuntu means connectedness.  It is the belief that people form their identities based on their relationship with others.   I Am You teaches children the meaning of ubuntu using a concise, melodic text and bold and expressive illustrations.  To read my full review including thoughts from first graders, 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 character.

Cat Dog by Mem Fox Illustrated by Mark Teague

In this interactive picture book, Fox’s clever call and response text and Teague’s lively page filling illustrations will appeal to kids of all ages.  On the first page spread, the text says “So there was a scary dog, right?.  The illustrations shows a cat peering behind a couch and a large white dog with clenched teeth.  When the page is turned, the text reads “No!” and the dog is smaller and docile.  The story continues with questions followed by either a yes or no.  Readers will soon discover that sometimes, the illustrations match the text, but at times, reality is actually depicted in the following page spread.  And while the title is Cat Dog, a mouse is also a main character and its antics drive the plot along.   If you are looking for a picture book to teach point of view or perspective, Cat Dog is a perfect text.  Cat Dog published on October 19, 2021. 


Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

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