#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!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/10/19

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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 Current Reads:

Awesome Dog 5000 by Justin Dean

A video game fanatic, Marty is nervous about starting a new school and making friends.  While he failed to follow any of his first day rules (do not do anything weird, embarrassing or uncool), Marty did meet Ralph and Skyler who both share his love for his favorite video game Sheriff Turbo-Karate.  One day, the trio find a robot dog at Marty’s house which was was left behind by the previous owner who was an inventor.  The robot dog, Awesome 5000, is well, pretty awesome because a walk means a flight in the air at 300 miles per hour.  But Marty’s adventure hits a snag when he and Awesome 5000 accidentally ruin Dr. Crazybrains’ birthday party, an eccentric scientist with a mad passion for making evil potions.  Dr. Crazybrains vows revenge on Marty which leads to a comical adventure that is so engaging, it will be hard to put Awesome Dog 5000 down.

Author/illustrator Justin Dean’s new series (yup, Book 2 comes out in Spring 2020) is perfect for a wide variety of readers.  At 160 pages long with short, illustrated chapters. Awesome Dog 5000 will appeal to kids who are transitioning into chapter books. Within those 160 pages is an intriguing plot with dynamic characters so solid middle grade readers will devour the novel in one sitting. As an adult who grew up in the 80’s and fondly remembers playing video games at an arcade or at home on our Atari system,  Dean’s old school video illustration transported back to my childhood which was a lot of fun! What I love most about Awesome Dog 5000 is it’s also a story of friendship between 3 kids who not only love playing Sheriff Turbo-Karate but also have each other’s back.  Special thanks to Random House for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group. Awesome Dog 5000 releases on July 2, 2019.

Being Small (Isn’t So Bad After All) by Lori Orlinsky

Being one of the smallest in my class for pretty much my entire school career (and still only 5′ 3), I can easily relate to the main character in Being Small (Isn’t Bad After All).  While the little girl focuses on all the negatives of being small (having to stand on a stool to get a drink, getting picked last for a team), her mother identifies the benefits of her small stature (squeezing through small spaces and having the most leg room on a plane).

Written in rhyme, Being Small (Isn’t Bad After All) is a heartwarming story that promotes a positive self image for the mother tells her daughter to not dwell on her height because “you can do anything when you give it your might.”   As a reading specialist, I have shared this picture book with primary grade teachers as well as our guidance counselor to teach the virtues of empathy, respect, and tolerance.

Special thanks to the author for sending a copy to Beagles & Books. Being Small (Isn’t Bad After All) recently published in April 2019.

 Etta 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.

Kayla & King and the Case of the Found Fred by Dori Hillestad Butler Illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Our second graders have a mystery genre unit and at our school, students have an option of reading books from the Kayla and King series.  In the Case of the Found Fred, King discovers a lost dog who needs help finding his family.  Told from King’s point of view, he is able to learn the dog’s name (Fred) and his family’s location (campground).  But of course Kayla doesn’t know this but with King’s help (and nose), the duo works together to piece the clues together.

To solve the case, Kayla models effective problem solving skills by making a list of all that she knows and writes questions about what she doesn’t know.  King’s amusing narration (nine or three days go by showing a dog’s concept of time) keeps the reader both interested and entertained.  With less than 50 pages, short chapters, an engaging plot, and humorous and colorful illustrations, King and Kayla is perfect for early readers transitioning to chapter books.  Special thanks to Peachtree Publishers for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Kayla & King and the Case of the Found Friend recently published in March 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? 6/3/19

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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 Current Reads:

The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue by Karina Yan Glaser

Once you meet the Vanderbeekers, you instantly fall in love with this family! So blessed to have the opportunity to read an ARC of the eagerly anticipated The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue, which is the third book in this beloved series.

It may be spring break but the Vanderbeekers’ schedule is jam packed! Isa is prepping for a violin audition and Oliver can’t wait to build a treehouse with Uncle Arthur. The most exciting news of all is Mama’s cookie business will be featured in an upcoming issue for Perch Magazine and the brownstone needs to be photo shoot ready.  But when an inspection of Mama’s baking business uncovers serious violations, the kids need to think and work fast without Mama and Papa knowing.  And while the Vanderbeekers are huge animal lovers, the animals that mysteriously appear at their door every morning are making their job even harder.

If you know the Vanderbeekers, you know that when epic mistakes are made, they band together to problem solve. Better yet, when one sibling feels defeated, another sibling reminds another to think positive.  And their actions speak louder than words, for as neighbor Miss Josie beautifully states “From where I am standing, I see five kids who are growing up and wanting to do good in the world. And that fills me with hope.”  Reading the Vanderbeekers always warm my heart and soul because of their genuine kindness toward others and their love for their community.

Special thanks to Karina Yan Glaser and Houghton Mifflin Publishing for sharing an ARC for my #bookexcursion group.  The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue publishes in September 2019.

Moon: Earth’s Best Friend by Stacy McAnulty Illustrated by Stevie Lewis

The second grade class I adopted for #classroombookaday this year absolutely loves McAnulty’s Earth and Sun so I was so grateful to get an advanced reader’s edition (ARE) of Moon to read aloud before the school year ends.

McAnulty’s Our Universe series is a blend of fiction and non-fiction which is highly engaging for read aloud.  Playfully narrated by Moon, readers learn facts about the moon’s formation and its close relationship with Earth.  While I knew Earth depended on the Moon, McAnulty’s lively text and Lewis’ adorable illustrations help even me better understand space science concepts such as rotation and gravity. I love how even as an adult, I can learn from reading picture books!

After reading Moon, several students crossing their fingers eagerly asked “Is there another picture book in the series? When I visited the Macmillan website, I saw a new title, Dude, I Am Ocean slated for release in spring 2020.

Special thanks to Christian Trimmer of Henry Holt/Macmillan Kids for sharing an ARE of Moon, which releases soon on June 11, 2019.  

Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Make Waves! by Lauren Kerstein Illustrated by

Searching for a fun summer read?  Look no further than Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Make Waves!   Written by debut author Lauren Kerstein, this lively picture book provides a splash of entertainment after a hot day at the beach, pool or park.  To read my full review and enter a giveaway, please click here.

Flora’s Tree House by Gabriel Alborozo

Flora’s little brother Will has no idea that his imaginative play inspires her artwork.  Content with her sketches, she retreats to her tree house to hang up her latest masterpiece.  When Will follows her, he quickly discovers that his fantasy world is the subject of all of Flora’s drawings.  As Flora shares and explains her illustrations, the siblings bond realizing that it is even more fun to collaborate to create new and exciting adventures together.  On the very last pages, the tree house becomes a boat on rough seas and Flora joins Will in his latest romp. 

Beautifully drawn, Flora’s Tree House is a charming story about the power of imagination and how play is much more fun with a partner.  Special thanks to Christian Trimmer of Henry Holt/Macmillan Kids for sharing an ARC. Flora’s Tree House recently celebrated its book birthday on May 28, 2019.

Etta 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.

Spunky Tells All by Ann Cameron Illustrated by Lauren Castillo

I have always been a fan of Ann Cameron’s Julian and Huey series so imagine my surprise when I discovered there was a book told from the perspective of the family dog, Spunky.    Of course, Spunky loves the Bates family and knows they love him back.  Occasionally, there are misunderstandings but that is because humans do not understand the language of dog.  This language barrier causes the Bates family to think Huey needs a companion.  Rather than get another dog, the family decides to adopt a cat named Fiona.  Much to Spunky’s dismay, Fiona disrupts his normal routine so much that he refers to his old life as B.F.-Before Fiona and A.F.-After Fiona.  Fiona accompanies the family on daily walks, eats his food and drinks his water and has the audacity to join him and Huey in their Blanket Cave.  Will Spunky and Fiona ever get along?  

At only 106 pages,  Spunky Tells All is a great story for readers transitioning to chapter books or it would be an excellent and engaging read aloud.  In addition, Lauren Castillo’s expressive black and white drawings complement the text helping young readers better understand Spunky and Fiona.

Thank you for visiting Beagles & 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 Are Reading? 5/20/19

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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 Current Reads:

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Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos

It is 1986. 12 year old Nova Vezina is anxiously awaiting for two big events- the launching of the space shuttle Challenger and reuniting with her older sister Bridget. Bridget ran away from their last foster home and Nova is adjusting to living with her new foster family, the Wests.

While Nova’s school reports consistently included phrases such as “cannot read” or “does not speak,” her older sister Bridget always disagreed stating that Nora “is a thinker, not a talker.” Bridget has been Nova’s strongest advocate recognizing and fostering Nova’s intelligence.   With only 10 days before the Challenger launch,  Nova is clinging on to Bridget’s promise that she and Nova will reunite and watch this historic event together.

I love the format of the novel, which alternates from third person to first person.  Nova’s first hand account is written as letters to Bridget, which everyone else calls “scribbles.”  Since Nora is autistic and nonverbal, her letters are extremely compelling sharing her deep thoughts and feelings on everything from her new foster family, new school and friends as well as past memories of her mother and Bridget.  Reading Nova’s letters is truly gut-wrenching because she shares her frustrations that people cannot understand her and how desperately she misses Bridget.  While my heart ached for Nova, Nova’s new foster family gave me hope. Francine, Billy, and their college age daughter Josie take the time to truly get to know Nova recognizing her potential rather than her limitations.

From the very first page, Nova’s story pulled me in and I couldn’t put the novel down. While I knew the outcome of the Challenger launch, debut author Nicole Panteleakos’s well crafted novel kept me wondering until almost the very end.  A heartbreaking yet uplifting story, Planet Earth is Blue reminds us of our universal need for love, respect, and understanding.  I am a firm believer that books have the power to change you and make you a better person; Planet Earth is Blue is that story, for we can all do better in showing compassion, patience, and tolerance towards others.

Special thanks to Penguin Random House and Rockstar Book Tours for a copy of Planet Earth is Blue.  It recently published on May 14, 2019.

Frankie Sparks and the Class Pet by Megan Frazier Blakemore Illustrated by Nadja Small

When Frankie’s teacher announces that the class is going to research and vote on a class pet, Frankie is determined to convince her classmates that a rat is the best choice. Scared of rodents, Frankie’s best friend Maya disagrees and feels a fish is a better choice. Frankie struggles with Maya’s lack of support which creates a rift in their friendship. With the help of her parents, Maya gradually realizes that true friendship means accepting each other’s differences.

Frankie Sparks is an early chapter book series with a lot of depth. Megan Frazier Blackmore has created such a dynamic and passionate main character in Frankie. Readers see her at her best when she is researching and/or creating as well as her worst when she is angry and frustrated that no one is listening to her. As a teacher, I love the inclusion of the endnotes which provide more information on “problem scoping” and encourage kids to be creative.

Special thanks to Simon Kids/Aladdin for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group. Frankie Sparks and the Class Pet and Frankie Sparks and the Talent Show Trick will be released soon on June 18, 2019. A third book, Frankie Sparks and the Big Sled Challenge will be published in November 2019.

Etta and Bella’s Dog Pick of the Week

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

Dog vs. Ultra Dog by Troy Wilson Art by Clayton Hammer

Pup Tuffy and his boy Tim are best buds but then suddenly, Ultra Dog, a cartoon superhero steals Tim’s attention.  Worried that he is losing his boy, Tuffy attempts to be the ultra-est dog at obedience, chores, affection, and even (gulp) flying.  Unfortunately, Tuffy isn’t as successful as he hoped. How can Tuffy convince Tim that he is top dog?

Dog vs. Ultra Dog has a lot of kid appeal. With bold comic illustrations and text written in speech bubbles, the story has a graphic novel feel. While young readers will laugh out loud at Tuffy’s efforts, they will easily relate to Tuffy’s concern over being replaced by a new and more exciting friend. Amid the humor, Troy Wilson has written a heartwarming story that teaches kids that a true and loyal friend is irreplaceable.

Special thanks to Tricia Harlan of Owlkids Books for sharing a copy with Beagles and Books.  Dog vs. Ultra Dog recently published in April 2019.

Thank you for visiting Beagles & Books! Happy reading!

happiness-is-a-warm-puppy-and-a-good-book

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Are Reading? 5/6/19

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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 Reads This Week:

Jaclyn Hyde by Annabeth Bonner-Stone and Connor White

Always striving for perfection, Jaclyn stumbles upon a finds a recipe for perfect potion. At first, Jaclyn thinks the potion will solve all her problems but she soon discovers that when things don’t go her way, she transforms into her ulter ego Jackie, who will stop at nothing to ensure Jaclyn’s victory.   How can she stop Jackie from ruining her life as well as the lives of her dear friends?

A humorous and heartwarming retelling of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jaclyn Hyde is a story that teaches us that “growing up isn’t about hiding your mistakes. It is about learning from them.” As an adult reader, this message is as important to me as it is to middle grade readers.

Special thanks to author Annabeth Bonner Stone and Harper Collins Publishing for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Jaclyn Hyde celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on May 7, 2019.

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We Are (NOT) Friends We Are (NOT) Friends written by Anna Kang Illustrated by Christopher Weyant

I am a big fan of the Kang & Weyant’s You are Not Small series which features two fuzzy friends managing differences in size and perspective, sharing and their fears.  In their latest collaboration, We Are (Not) Friends,  the two friends tackle the age old question “If two is company, is three really a crowd?”  To read my full review and enter a giveaway for a copy of your own, click here.

The Book Hog by Greg Pizzoli

The Book Hog is a heartwarming picture book that celebrates the power of reading.   It is about a pig who loves books but is harboring a big secret-he never learned how to read. On a search for more books, he stumbles upon the library and is invited to story time by the sweet librarian, Miss Olive.  Gradually with Miss Olive’s support and lots of practice, the Book Hog learns to read and appreciate books for not just how they looked, felt, and smelled, but for the stories they tell.  This line brought happy tears to my eyes.

Of course, the plot stole my heart but so did Greg Pizzoli’s illustrations.  I adore the salmon and mint green color palette and what I especially loved is that the titles of his books are not revealed until the Book Hog learned to read.

Etta 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.

Good Dog, McTavish by Meg Rosoff  Illustrated by Grace Easton

I am firm believer that dogs rescue people and in this charming first story in the series, shleter dog McTavish does just that for his newly adopted family, the quirky Peacheys.

Feeling unappreciated, Ma Peachey resigns from her job as mother and decides to devote her time to yoga leaving Pa Peachey and children Ava, Ollie, and Betty to fend for themselves.  Feeling lost, lonesome and lacking in love, Betty, the youngest and most sensible Peachey, decides that the solution to the family’s problems is to get a dog.  What the family doesn’t realize is that McTavish is actually adopting them, and with Betty’s help, McTavish slowly mends this broken family.

While I am big fan of dog books, it is always a treat to read books that truly “get” dogs.  Reading author Meg Rosoff’s description of McTavish settling into his dog bed digging around with his paws and turning around four times is stop on.  In our house, we call it “making the bed.”  With short chapters and totaling only 104 pages, Good Dog McTavish is a great novel for those students who are transitioning to chapter books or are in want of quick read.  Looking forward to more adventures with the Peacheys in the second book, McTavish in the Wild.

Thank you for visiting Beagles & Books! Happy reading!

happiness-is-a-warm-puppy-and-a-good-book

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/29/19

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Beagles and Books is excited to share some of 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: 

Extraordinary Birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnis

Obsessed with birds, 11 year old foster child December is used to flying from nest to nest & wants a place to call home.  In order to cope with a traumatic incident with her mother, December believes that her wings will emerge from the scar on her back and she will one day become a bird and take flight.

Amid the heartache, Extraordinary Birds is December’s story of healing & hope. Helping December on her journey is case worker Adrian, foster mother, Eleanor, and friend, Cheryllyn.  Eleanor, a taxidermist and wildlife rescuer is a gentle soul accepting December as she is. Eleanor helps December emotionally mend through working to rehabilitate an injured hawk. Cheryllyn, a transgender girl, befriends December on her very first day of school and gradually together, they form a friendship supporting each other from the mean girls at school.

While December’s story will remain with me long after I read Extraordinary Birds, what also struck me is Stark-McGinnis’s honest and heartfelt letter to readers sharing the inspirations for this powerful story.  December teachers readers that while it’s hard to let go of the past, it doesn’t have to define you. You can survive with the support and love of others.

Special thanks to Sandy Stark-McGinnis and Bloomsbury Kids for sharing an ARC with #bookexcursion.  Extraordinary Birds celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on April 30, 2019.  Looking forward to getting my own copy to share with students and teachers.

 Flubby Is Not a Good Pet! by J. E. Morris

When compared to other pets, Flubby is well, kind of lazy.  He doesn’t sing, catch or jump or even run. While Flubby may not be full of energy, he truly is a good pet when it matters most providing comfort to his owner during a thunderstorm.

Flubby is a new fun series perfect for children just learning to read, which makes this reading specialist’s heart happy!  Written with early readers in mind,  Morris includes sight words and decodable text.  The eye catching, adorable illustrations support the reader making the text even more accessible.  And I especially love that Morris dedicated Flubby to a cat shelter.

Special thanks to Penguin Kids for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. Flubby Is Not a Pet and a second book, Flubby Will Not Play with That! both published recently on April 23, 2019.

Etta 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.

Felipe and Claudette by Mark Teague

Mrs. Barrett’s shelter has a good track record for getting pets adopted quickly but for some reason a cat named Felipe and dog named Claudette have been at the shelter longer than any other animals.  Grouchy Felipe blames Claudette’s unruly behavior which includes snoring and rolling in garbage.  After each adoption day, Mrs. Barrett wonders “What will I do with you two?”

When Claudette finally gets adopted, Felipe is shocked and sad. And it turns out that Claudette isn’t the same boisterous pup at her new home.  Readers quickly realize that Felipe and Claudette are at their best together at Mrs. Barrett’s house. Felipe and Claudette is a sweet story about an unlikely friendship between a cat and dog.

Thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!  Happy reading!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/22/19

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Beagles and Books is excited to share some of 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: 

Up for Air by Laurie Morrison

Rising eighth grader Annabelle lacks confidence in school but excels in the pool. When she is asked to join the high school swim team. Annabelle is elated especially since her friend Mia who she always feels in competition with wasn’t invited.

Wanting to be accepted by her high school teammates, Annabelle finds herself in uncharted waters having to make choices such as meet her tutor or hang out with the team. Making things even more confusing is the attention Annabelle gets from cute high school sophomore Connor. Is he just flirty or does he really like her? Added to her summer drama is a letter from her estranged father and the worry that she will never live up to mom’s and stepfather’s expectations.

Up for Air is a story that I would have devoured when I was in middle school. It is definitely a solid book for readers not quite ready for YA. Annabelle is a good kid but is struggling to really figure out who she is and where she fits in. Morrison’s voice for Annabelle is spot on capturing both her vulnerability and new-found boldness to go with the crowd. As I read, it was clear that Annabelle knows what she should do but having your first crush means you aren’t always thinking clearly. Haven’t we all been there? What I love most about Up for Air is that readers see Annabelle learn from her mistakes which helps her grow and decide who she wants to be. Special thanks to the author and Amulet/Abrams Books for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Up for Air releases soon on May 7, 2019.

Snazzy Cat Capers: The Fast and the Furriest by Deanna Kent Illustrated by Neil Hooson

In this “meow-nificent” follow-up to Snazzy Cat Capers, classy and classic cat burglar Ophelia Von Hairball’s Vegas vacation is cut short when an encrypted map is stolen from the Furry Feline Burglary Institute’s (FFBI) secure vault.  If the map is deciphered, the three pieces of the Scarlet Claw, a powerful laser pointer will be found, which could threaten the lives of all cats.

Still “purr-furring” to work alone, Ophelia sets off to Cairo to locate the first piece of the Scarlet Claw. But time is of essence especially when Ophelia’s unclassy and sloppy cousin Pierre, bitter about his second class ranking, schemes to thwart her successful mission, and the Central Canine Intelligence Agency (CCIA) is also on her tail. This forces Ophelia to reconsider having her inventor Oscar Fishgerald Gold as her “paw-rtner.” for his disguises and gadgets are “fin-tastic”  Will Ophelia and Oscar be victorious in the FFBI’s most important mission to date?

Sequels can be tough but The Fast and the Furriest is “purr-fection.”  While the fast paced plot is action packed,  I especially love how Ophelia’s and Oscar’s “paw-rtnership” is evolving in the second book along with the addition of P.U.G., the robot dog created by Oscar.    A blend of graphic novel and illustrated chapter book, the unique format is cleverly drawn and appeals to both striving and thriving readers regardless of age.  Special thanks to Deanna Kent, Neil Hooson, and Imprint Books for sending an ARC for my #bookexcursion group for read and review. The Fast and the Furriest releases in September 2019. And be on alert! Book 3 Meow or Never is due out in 2020.

Sadiq and the Desert Star by Siman Nuurali Illustrated by Anjan Sarkar

Written by debut #ownvoices author Siman Nuurali, Sadiq is new transitional chapter book series.  Before the story begins, readers get to know third grader Sadiq who is of Somalian descent and lives in Minnesota with his family.  To build schema for the story, Nuurali shares facts about Somalia as well as defines vocabulary.  In Sadiq and the Desert Star, Sadiq is excited about an upcoming field trip to an observatory but worried about missing his father who is leaving for a business trip.  His father, Baba, shares a story of the Desert Star, the brightest star in Berbera, Somalia.  Hearing about the Desert Star and visiting the observatory ignites Sadiq to form a space club with his friends working together to raise money to buy their own telescope.

Themes of family, friendship, collaboration, and resourcefulness abound in this first book of the series.  Sadiq is an inquisitive character who perseveres with the help of family and friends when problems arise. Back matter includes a glossary, questions, writing prompts as well as directions for building a home telescope. I am so excited that all four books in the series will be released in August 2019 before the start of the school year so that students can meet Sadiq.  Special thanks to Capstone Publishing for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. 

Little Juniper Makes it BIG by Aidan Cassie

At home, Juniper does not appreciate her size. No matter what creative inventions she makes, she was still too little.  School is better, for compared to her classmates, Juniper doesn’t feel as small. New student Clove is tinier than her and never lets her diminutive size stand in her way.  After a sleepover at Clove’s much smaller house, Juniper gains perspective realizing that while her house isn’t perfect, it is just the right size for her.

Beautifully drawn and written, young readers will relate to Juniper’s struggle to appreciate herself.  Cassie’s illustrations warmly convey Juniper’s journey to self-acceptance.  Special thanks to the author and publisher for sending an advanced reader’s edition to my #bookexcursion group.  Little Juniper Makes It BIG! publishes in July 2019.

Etta 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.

Wake Up, Color Pup by Taia Morley

A small yellow bird brings color into Pup’s world as they take an adventure outside.  Concisely written with vivid verbs, the once white pup gradually becomes vibrant with all the colors of the rainbow.  The observant reader sees a storm brewing in the distance which washes away all of Pup’s beautiful colors.  Once the storm ends and the sun peeks out, Pup is determined to regain his colorful self.  What I love most about this gorgeously drawn book is with a hearty shake, Pup’s color spreads to his surroundings awaking the world around him.

Wake Up Color Pup is a picture book with great depth, for while it can be read to very young children to introduce and reinforce colors, themes of overcoming fears and how a bright outlook can positively affect the world can be also discussed. Special thanks to Random House Children’s Books and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending a copy to Beagles and Books to review.  Wake Up, Color Pup recently published in March 2019.

Thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!  Happy reading!

 

happiness-is-a-warm-puppy-and-a-good-book

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/1/19

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Beagles and Books is back to share some of 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.

Thanks so much for your prayers and well wishes for Etta.  Her surgery went well and Bella was a good sister staying by her side while she recovered.  This weekend, Etta was was back to her normal self showing excitement for the Chewy delivery, enjoying a walk on a beautiful day, and willingly posing for pictures.

Our Recent Reads: 

All of Me by Chris Baron

Written in verse from the point of view of 13 year old Ari, All of Me chronicles his journey towards self-acceptance.  Ari has been at battle with his weight for his whole life. New struggles include his move to San Franscisco from Brooklyn, preparing for his belated bar mitzvah, and coming to terms with the end of his parents’ marriage.

From the moment I began reading, my heart really hurt for Ari, for he endures teasing and bullying leaving him feeling utterly helpless.  Baron’s words are honest and raw allowing readers to witness not only Ari’s physical struggles but also his emotional struggles as Ari admits, “My life doesn’t feel good enough and I don’t know how to change.”   

Summer becomes a turning point for Ari, for he embarks on a diet to lose weight, deepens friendships, experiences his first crush, and takes initiative for his bar mitzah.  As he begins to notice physical changes in himself, Ari triumphs and falters learning that his journey is not just about losing weight; it is about gaining an inner strength realizing that he has the power to decide who he is. A great lesson for us all.

All of Me is an incredible story of heartache and more importantly, hope.  Special thanks to Chris Baron and Macmillan Kids for sharing an ARC with my #bookexcursion group. All of Me publishes on June 2019.

Carl and the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman

When a field mouse asks Carl the worm why he digs and tunnels turning dirt into soil, Carl does not know the answer.  Immediately Carl halts his work and begins a quest to find out his purpose asking each animal he meets for help.  While the animals do not offer Carl any answers, readers begin to learn Carl’s purpose through the text and illustrations.  When the ground beetle shouts “I can’t find any grubs,” Carl understands the meaning of his life and gets back to his work.  What I especially loved is that Carl reminds us that even the smallest tasks are important in life because they are connected to something even greater.  With his curiosity, determination, and adorable smile, Carl will win the hearts of readers of all ages.  Special thanks to Penguin Kids for sharing a review copy with my #bookexcursion group.

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I Used to Be Famous by Tara Luebbe & Becky Cattie Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff.

Capturing our attention and hearts in I Am Famous, Kiely returns in I Used to Be Famous.  While Kiely still enjoys star treatment such as a personal shopper, it seems that her fan club is not following her as closely as in the past. Who is the new fresh face getting all the publicity?  To Kiely’s dismay, her baby sister is now center stage which is ridiculous because little Abby is not multi-talented like her.  Will Kiely allow herself to be upstaged or will she learn to share the spotlight?  To read my full review and enter a giveaway for your own copy, click here.

Turkey’s Eggcellent Easter written by Wendi Silvano Illustrated by Lee Harper

Before I began even reading the story, I began to giggle seeing headband wearing animals exercising in the park with Sheep doing yoga, Pig checking his run time on his watch, and Cow stretching his leg.   The animals are not too health conscious though to enjoy an Easter egg hunt but how can they partake in the kids only hunt? Turkey’s Eggcellent Easter is not only humorous but also reinforces positive virtures.  Click here to read my full review and enter a giveaway for your own copy!

Etta 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.

Love is My Favorite Thing by Emma Chicester Clark

Plummie is blessed to be loved by her family but no dog can be perfectly behaved all the time.   When she makes mistakes, she wonders “Will they still love me?”   Plummie’s misbehavior does have consequences, but she learns that her family’s love is strong enough to accept her lapses in judgement.  Inspired by her own beloved dog,  Clark has written and illustrated a charming story about unconditional love. Her illustrations of Plummie are precious, for they adorably show the range of emotions that Plummie feels.  What I love most is the illustrations where Plummie shows her remorse because I have personally seen those sad puppy eyes which are so easy to forgive.

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for stopping by Beagles and Books.  Happy reading!

happiness-is-a-warm-puppy-and-a-good-book