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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/16/21

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:

Willodeen by Katherine Applegate

11 year old Willodeen has a soft spot for the underdog which is why she loves the smelly and grumpy screechers who derived their name from their insane nightly scream. Most villagers deem screechers a pest in contrast to the sweet hummingbears who draw tourists for the annual money-making Autumn Faire. Luckily, Mae and Birdie who unofficially adopted Willodeen after her family died in a wildfire also believe in the worth of screechers and allow Willodeen along with Duuzu, her pet hummingbear, to wander the forest in search of the strange beasts.  Willodeen observes that both the screechers and hummingbears are becoming scare.  She knows why the screechers are disappearing, for the village elders put a bounty on them deeming them a nuisance but what is the cause for hummingbears dwindling? 

During her travels, she meet artistic Connor who unexpectedly leaves her one of his carved puzzlers in the form of a screecher as a birthday gift. Upset about the screecher situation, Willodeen’s angry tears magically make the screecher come to life.  Named Quimby, this extraordinary animal teaches Willodeen the connection between screechers and hummingbears. Now if only Willodeen can convince the village to trust her.

I am always in awe of Applegate’s writing because her signature concise text carries a lot of weight and meaning.  With short chapters, lots of white space, and Santoso’s gorgeous, delicate illustrations, Willodeen is accessible to a wide range of readers. While Willodeen is a blend of realistic fiction and fantasy, readers are easily transported to the village of Perchance because while screechers and hummingbears are not imaginary, the issues facing the town were real. I love that readers witness Willodeen’s astute deductive reasoning skills as she uncovers the relationship between screechers and hummingbears. Acknowledging the symbiotic relationship among species is vital to protecting the environment whether you live in Perchance or your own town. Thanks to Macmillian Children’s Publishing and NetGalley for sharing an eARC.  Willodeen publishes soon on September 7, 2021. 


A Soft Place to Land by Janae Marks

12 year old Joy dreams of becoming a motion picture music composer, but due to her father losing his job, both the promise of her own piano and her piano lessons are on hiatus. To make matters worse, her family was forced to sell their home and move to an apartment.  As a result, Joy shares a bedroom with her younger sister, transfers to a new middle school and hears her parents argue more.  A bright spot occurs when Joy meets Nora who attends the same school and wants to be a filmmaker. Nora introduces Joy to the Hideout, a secret place near the laundry room where kids can come to get a break.  Another glimmer of hope is the dog walking business that Joy and Nora start.  Suddenly, resuming piano lessons seems within reach since Joy is earning her own money.  But Joy’s happiness is short-lived when she intentionally exposes the Hideout to adults and a clash with Nora adversely affects both their friendship and business.  Will Joy be able to find a way to fix everything?  

Written from Joy’s perspective, Marks aptly captures the vulnerability and strength of her main character. At the beginning of the novel, readers see how Joy feels she defeated and her parents don’t value her opinion.  Once Joy meets Nora and they start their dog walking business, her self esteem increases because she believes she has more control over her life.  Then Joy makes some hasty decisions without thinking things through which have disastrous results.  What I loved most about Joy is her geniune remorse and determination to make things right.  A Soft Place to Land teaches that mistakes do not define you; they help you grow. Another lesson is home is not necessarily a physical place; it is about being with the people who love and care about you. Thanks to Katherine Tegen/Harper Collins Publishers and Edelweiss  for sharing an eARC.  A Soft Place to Land releases on September 14, 2021. 

Amara and the Bats by Emma Reynolds

Ever since a bat got trapped in Amara’s attic, she is fascinated by the only mammal that flies. After learning a new bat fact, Amara writes it down in her notebook.  Amara and her family move to a new house and she eagerly visits the local park to see bats flying in the sky at sundown.  The park ranger tells Amara the bad news.  Over the years, park land has been sold; therefore, bats no longer have a habitat.  Amara is devestated.  How can she help bring the bats back? After reading about kids who have made a difference protecting the environment in her nature magazine, Amara’s outlook quickly changes.  Using her knowledge about bats, she shares the idea of building bat houses with her family and her classmates.  Collectively, they all work together to not only save the bats but also other animals that could live in the park.  

Reynold’s debut as author and illustrator is a positive and uplifting story about how a child can champion a cause and successfully make an impact.  I love that Reynolds choose a narrative format because children get to see the evolution of Amara’s passion for bats as well as learn cool bat facts.  The warm illustrations show Amara’s enthusiam and determination to make a difference and how her energy ignites others to join her in her mission.  Back matter includes more bat facts, a guide to bat houses, and tips for how kids can advocate for bats.   Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sharing a finished copy.  Amara and the Bats released on July 20, 2021. 


Walking for Water: How One Boy Stood Up for Gender Equality by Susan Hughes Illustrated by Nicole Miles

In the small African village of Malawi, Victor and his twin Linesi race to the kachere tree and then head in different directions.  Victor walks to school with his friend, Chikondi while Linesi travels to the riverbed with Chikondi’s sister. Enifa.  Since village does not have a well,  girls eight and older join the women to fetch water from the river five times a day.  Victor knows that it is not fair Linesi can no longer attend school so his teacher introduces the word, equality, and asks the boys in the class to think whether how girls and boys are treated equally, Victor observes and notices quickly that boys have a lot more choices than girls.  How can he help make things more equitable?

Inspired by an actual Malawi boy, Walking for Water is a compelling story about the power of own’s voice to help others.  After unsuccessful attempts to teach Linesi at night, Victor realizes that there is a way to be equitable, but it requires him to speak up on behalf of his sister and be willing to give up school every other day.  His actions sways other boys to join Victor as well as the potential for more changes in the future.  With kid friendly language and hopeful illustrations, Walking for Water is a great introduction to gender equality for elementary students.  Thanks to the author for sharing a copy.  Walking for Water released on June 1, 2021. 


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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Pug & Pig and Friends by Sue Lowell Gallion Illustrated by Joyce Wan

In the third book in the Pug & Pig series, new friends Squirrel, Robin, and Cat are introduced.  Cat does not partake in exploring or running around the yard.  She prefers watching her friends.  Once readers turn to the next page, they learn exactly what Cat is up to-surprising Pug when he is sleeping.  Of course, Pug, along with Squirrel and Robin, does not appreciate Cat’s antics.  When a thunderstorm rolls in, all the animals seek refuge in their homes and frightened Cat climbs up the tree.  Even after the storm ends, Cat remains in the tree afraid to climb down.  Recalling Cat’s favorite activity, Pug lays down for a nap.  Will Cat pounce on Pug or will Pug pounce on Cat?  No matter what, the friends have a good giggle which will encourage readers to join them in the laughter!

Friendship is always at the core in the books in the Pug and Pig series.  I appreciate how Gallion reminds kids that you don’t always have to agree or like the same things to be friends.  This idea is important to reinforce especially with young children.  As a reading specialist, I love Gallion’s text because it support children just learning to read with repetition, high frequency words, and short sentences. Questions are also posed which gives children the opportunity to actively interact with the text.  They can answer questions based on the illustrations as well as make and then confirm predictions.  Wan’s illustrations are also perfect for emerging readers. The artwork is simple and keeps the readers attention on the characters’ actions and feelings.  Thanks to BeachLane Books/Simon and Schuster and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for the copy.  It celebrates its book birthday tomorrw on August 16, 2021.  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.

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/4/21

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.

Continue reading “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/4/21”

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/22/20

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

It’s the first official day of my summer and it’s almost hard to believe.  When I left school on March 13th, I never thought my school year would continue and end with remote teaching.  But with the support of my administration and colleagues and an inner drive , I continued to connect with students, teach and co-teach content, and still read to my #classroombookaday second grade students.  I don’t know what school will look like in the fall and to be honest, I have no control over what will happen.  What I do have control over is taking time to renew, recharge, and rejuvenate this summer which will include spending time with Bella, my husband, social distancing with family and friends, and of course reading and growing personally and professionally.

Tune It Out by Jamie Sumners

From a very young age, 12 year old Lou struggled with loud noises and physical contact. In fact, her mom was the only one who doesn’t make her jump or cringe.  She and her mom have moved around a lot and are currently living in their truck.  Lou has a beautiful singing voice and while she hates performing in front of crowds, she sings at coffee shops, casinos, or any place her mom can land a gig to help pay for their basic needs.  On a snowy night, Lou is involved in an accident when she attempts to pick up her mom from her job.  The accident causes Lou to be separated from her mom and placed in the temporary custody of her lawyer aunt and teacher uncle.  Living in a new home, attending the private school where her uncle teaches, and making new friends is a big transition for Lou but gradually she learns more about her mom, her grandparents, and most importantly, herself.  While her mom never wanted Lou labeled, Lou begins to realize that acknowledging her sensory processing disorder doesn’t make her weak, it gives her the strength to manage it and be truly happy.

Narrated by Lou, Tune It Out was a story of heartache, happiness, and hope.  At the beginning, my heart broke for both Lou and her mom.  I know Lou’s mom loves her daughter and never intended anything bad to happen to her, but was too proud to ask for help.  I was overcome with happiness as Lou began to trust others especially new friend Well realizing that good friends accept you for who you are.  And lastly, Lou gave me hope because with the support of family, school, and friends, she stopped running away from her problems, learned from her mistakes, spoke up for herself, and forged her own path. Thanks to the author, Simon and Schuster, and NetGalley for sharing a digital galley of Tune It Out with my #bookexcursion group.  It releases on September 1, 2020.

Doodleville by Chad Sell

Since Drew was very young, she has been doodling at her parents’ diner and at the age of five; her doodles came alive. Drew draws a home named Doodleville where her art can live when they are not in her sketchbook. On a field trip to The Art Institute of Chicago, her art club advisor challenges the students to find a piece of art that will inspire their next project. Drew gets distracted because her doodles escape her sketchbook invading the art museum. Drew captures them all but not before doodle Mike steals a hat from one of the paintings. When called on to share her project, Drew is not prepared so she is now determined to show everyone with something amazing and big. She creates a monster named Leviathan (Levi for short) which she can’t wait to share with her art club. But when they give her constructive criticism which makes her angry, Levi takes on her emotion creating chaos for all her classmates’ work.  Can Drew find a way to control Levi and make amends with her friends?

At times, we all struggle with feeling anxious and inadequate.  This fantasy graphic novel reminds us that while those emotions are normal, we need to find a way to get past them and see the good in us.  What I loved about the story is how Drew realizes that being different can make you powerful and problems can be solved when you work together.  In fact, unity can lead to better friendships and better art. Thanks to Penguin Random House for sharing an ARC at NCTE 2019. Doodleville is the first in the series, for Book 2 will release sometime in 2021.

That’s Life by Ame Dyckman Illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld

Most adults have heard the saying “That’s life” but how do you explain this to kids? Enter Life, a small, furry, tongue licking creature that suddenly appears disrupting a young child who is deep in thought writing.  Wittily using other life expressions, Author Dyckman (and adorably drawn little Life) take our protagonist and young readers on an adventure which shows life can be unpredictable, surprising, exhausting, messy, sweet, funny, tough, crazy, and beautiful.  Doerrfeld creatively illustrates all of the life idioms so that kids can visually understands them.  And to be sure to check out the gorgeous case cover.

I am a big fan of both Ame Dyckman and Cori Doerrfeld so I knew their collaboration would be larger than life. With all that has happened since March, That’s Life (which coincidentally published on March 31, 2020) is a light and humorous story with a big message reminding us with the right mindset, we can weather any storm.

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.

 

Brooklyn Bailey, The Missing Dog by Amy Sohn and Omar LePap Illustrated by Libby VanderPloeg

Inspired by a true events, Brooklyn Bailey, The Missing Dog recounts the story of a goldendoodle who went missing for two days and three nights. And don’t worry, she was found!

Every morning Yotam and his mom visit Henry’s Local, a neighborhood cafe, on their way to school.  When Yotam sees a friend in the cafe, he ties Bailey’s leash to a metal chair since dogs are not allowed inside.  Something startles Bailey causing her to jump and freeing her from the chair.  Bailey is on the loose.  With the help of the whole Brooklyn community of Carroll Gardens, Bailey is reunited with her family.

The whimsical illustrations drawn in a pastel palette are gorgeous and make Brooklyn a main character in the story. What I especially love is how the neighborhood banded together in support of finding Bailey. The family replaced the missing dog signs with Bailey Came Home signs inviting the community to celebrate on their stoop. Thank you to Penguin Random House for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group.  Brooklyn Bailey, The Missing Dog published in April 2020.

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

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