Board Books, Debut Author, Graphic Novel, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Middle Grade Literature, Nonfiction, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 11/1/21

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:


The Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayhem by Jarrett Lerner

Comprised of Mr. Toots, a bean, Chip Ninja, Tomato Tammy, and Leonard, a nervous chunk of cheese, the Hunger Heroes are a team of food who have one mission-saving kids from a missed meal.  When the quartet gets an alert from a nearby elementary school, they quickly jump in their taco hovercraft in hopes of arriving in time before a student, Jason, takes his math test. The Hunger Heroes must not only gain access to the building but also get past his teacher, Mrs. Sternbladder whose classroom is a no-snack zone. Once inside, the team realizes that time is of the essence because Jason is fading fast. Mr. Toots knows that they need to distract Mrs. Sternbladder but how? Will the Hunger Heroes be successful in achieving their objective?

I am a big fan of anything Jarrett Lerner writes and illustrates because his books not only engage and entertain readers but also educate in a non preachy way.  In Missed Meal Mayhem, Mrs. Sternbladder appears cranky and then readers learn the backstory behind the teacher’s no snack policy. Prior to reading, Lerner even cautions readers that the chapter may cause them to empathize with an adult.  The Hunger Heroes are so adorable and remind me of the Del Monte Country Yumkins; we saved many, many labels to get the whole family (although we did not have the pineapple and plum). 

Del Monte Fruit & Vegetable 7 Piece Plush Toy Set 1983 Vintage Fruits  Vegetables Country Yumkins Del Monte : Toys & Games -

Thanks to Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sharing a finished copy. Missed Meal Mayhem celebrates its book birthday next week on November 9, 2021. Already eagerly awaiting the Hunger Heroes’ next adventure, Snack Cabinet Sabotage, due out in August 2022!

Barb The Last Berzerker by Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson 

In the land of Bailiwick, humans and monsters are at war and the Berzerkers keep the monsters in check.  Spunky Barb is the youngest and smallest Berzerker and is always told to stay back because of her age and size.  But when the Berzerkers are tricked by the evil Witch Head, Barb is only one able to escape and she doesn’t leave empty handed; she takes the legendary Shadow Blade, a magical sword with her.  Befriending a yeti named Porkchop, Barb is on a mission to find the Northern Zerks to help her her Berzerker family.

Character development is on point.  Readers will immediately determine from her words and actions that Barb is no pipsqueak; she is determined to not only help her Berzerker family but also others she meets in her quest to find the Northern Zerks.  Amid the humor, there is a lot of heart, for Barb is always putting others before herself.  Through her relationship with Porkchop, Barb shows that humans and monsters are not that much different and surprisingly, can be friends.  This friendship forever changes her, for even when she defeats the monster Grom, she feels compelled to save him from drowning in mud.   With an intriguing fast paced plot, dynamic characters, and vivid comic panels, kids will love this graphic novel adventure! Thanks to Simon and Schuster’s Children Publishing for sharing a finished copy.  Barb the Last Berzerker recently released on September 28, 2021.  And don’t worry.  Barb will be back in Barb and the Ghost Blade in May 2022!



A Home Again by Colleen Rowan Kosinski Illustrated by Valeria Docampo

A newly built house eagerly awaits its first family to call their home.   As the family grows, their level of activity and noise increases until one day they leave the house with tears in their eyes.    Readers see a For Sale but the house is unaware. When people come to look at it, the distraught house makes it shingles shake and steps creak in hopes the family will return.. As times passes, the house’s despair in evident in its roof sagging and brown, weed filled garden until one day two men and their dog see past the squeaks, cracks, and weeds. Will the house be willing to be a home again?  

Told from the house’s point of view, Kosinki’s lyrical text and Docampo’s use of light and dark in the illustrations beautifully conveys the house’s range of emotions.  A Home Again teaches the important lesson that we can all can heal after a loss and learn to love again.  Thanks to Two Lions Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a finished copy.  A Home Again celebrates its book birthday today!



Odd Beasts: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Animals by Laura Gehl Illustrated by Gareth Lucas

Toddlers and preschoolers will be captivated by this nonfiction picture book that introduces them to animals with unique characteristics. On each page spread, children learn a fact about an animal and as the concise text is read aloud, the rhyme scheme is revealed.  Lucas makes use of the whole page spread for his large and appealing illustrations of each animal. Even as an adult, I learned new information like the immense weight of a sunfish and glass frogs have see through skin.  And I especially love that at the end of the book, Gehl has included real photographs of all the animals and an explanation about their unusual trait.  

Thanks to Abrams and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a finished copy.  Odd Beasts: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Animals celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on November 2, 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.


Awake by Mags DeRoma

A girl and her pup Oscar are all ready for a good night’s sleep but right before she turns off her light, she spies a spider and its web in her window. Now she is wide awake because she can’t go to sleep knowing a spider in her bedroom! As she ponders her options, Oscar holds the book titled Itsy Bitsy Spider in his mouth but she doesn’t give him credit when she thinks of the nursery rhyme.  The girl continues to brainstorm ideas until finally her frustration overtakes her and she captures the spider under a glass.  DeRoma’s illustration of the spider under the glass  tugs at the heart because the arachnid looks small and harmless to not only the reader but also the girl. This revelation changes the girl’s perspective resulting in her releasing the spider and naming it Harry.  

I love DeRoma’s debut picture book because it teaches kids about empathy.   The plot conveys the theme and on the back endpapers, DeRoma cleverly provides kids with illustrated step by step directions for how to kindly and carefully relocate a spider.  Oscar is a loyal companion never leaving his girl’s side.  Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing for sharing a finished copy.  Awake recently released 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.
#classroombookaday, Blog Tour, Giveaway, Nonfiction, Picture Books

Review & Giveaway for Let Liberty Rise! How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save the Statue of Liberty by Chana Stiefel


About the Book:

Title: Let Liberty Rise! How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save the Statue of Liberty
Author: Chana Stiefel
Illustrator: Chuck Groenink
Pub. Date: March 3, 2021

Beagles and Books is excited to be share a review and giveaway for Let Liberty Rise! published by Scholastic. Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Truth.  I only know the basic facts about the Statue of Liberty.

  • It was a gift from France.
  • It sits in New York Harbor.
  • It is a national monument.
  • Emma Lazarus’ poem is on the pedestal.

After reading Let Liberty Rise, I am a little ashamed at my lack of knowledge. But that is the great thing about reading nonfiction picture books. Even as an adult, I can learn more information about a topic and wow did I!


Interior illustration © 2021 Chuck Groenink from LET LIBERTY RISE! How America's Schoolchildren Saved the Statue of Liberty by Chana Stiefel_1

Today, the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of pride and freedom, but back in 1885, she arrived at Bedloe’s Island in 350 pieces and wasn’t able to be unpacked. Why? France had asked the United States to build a pedestal for the statue to stand on, but it was only half built. Why? Apparently, the the price of the pedestal was $100,000 and Americans weren’t too keen on contributing to the fund. 

These illustrations was particularly eye opening to me, for I did not know about the Americans’ indifference toward the statue which would become a national treasure.  Another new fact was that crates with her parts were just laying around Bedloe’s Island out in the elements.  Groenink’s illustrations show the honest feelings of New Yorkers.  It was too expensive and she should be send back to Paris.  Interior illustration © 2021 Chuck Groenink from LET LIBERTY RISE! How America's Schoolchildren Saved the Statue of Liberty by Chana Stiefel_3

Interior illustration © 2021 Chuck Groenink from LET LIBERTY RISE! How America's Schoolchildren Saved the Statue of Liberty by Chana Stiefel_4

Luckily, Lady Liberty had a an ally-Joesph Pulitzer, a Jewish Hungarian immigrant who now owned a newspaper, The New York World. In March 16,1885; Pulitizer encouraged people to donate to the pedestal fund and promised to print all contributors’ names in The World, no matter the sum or age of person.


Newspaper across the country reprinted Pulitizer words and over $2000 was raised in the first week. Children were instrumental in raising money emptying out their piggy banks of the precious coins they have saved.. By August 11, 1885, thanks to the generosity of 120,000 donors had collectively raised $100,000 to reach the goal.  The Statue of Liberty would soon be freed from her crates and rise for all to see and admire whether one was an immigrant sailing into New York Harbor, a visitor to New York City or a native Native Yorker.  


With Stiefel’s spirited text and Groenink’s energetic illustrations, Let Liberty Rise is an uplifting story that makes me proud to be an American.  What I love most is the 120,000 donors were a diverse group made up of all ages and professions and it especially warms my heart that Stiefel made a conscious decision to highlight the contributions of children.  Children from all over the country gave up their earned or saved money to be a part of something bigger.  After reading Let Liberty Rise to kids, imagine the conversation that can occur about how a small act can add up to a great difference.   Backmatter includes a timeline, more facts about the Statue of Liberty, a bibliography, and a look back in time through photographs.  

Praise for Let Liberty Rise!

  • “This charming history title is a true inspiration for the present. An informative must-have for all libraries.” — School Library Journal, starred review🟊
  • “All rise to this evocative, empowering offering.” — Kirkus Reviews


  • “[A] true tale of cooperation among all ages.” — Publishers Weekly

Check Out This Book Extras!

Download a free curriculum guide and check out the book trailer below!

About the Author:

Chana Stiefel is the author of more than 25 books for kids. She hails from sunny South Florida and now lives in New Jersey, just a ferry ride away from the Statue of Liberty. Chana loves visiting schools and libraries as well as sharing her passion for reading and writing with children. She earned a master’s degree in Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting from New York University. To learn more, visit Chana at

Facebook: Chana Stiefel

Twitter:  @chanastiefel

Instagram: @chanastiefel

About the Illustrator:

Chuck Groenink hails from an overgrown village among the peat bogs in the north of the Netherlands, where he spent his formative years climbing trees, drawing, reading, and cycling. He attended the Artez Institute of Visual Arts in Kampen, graduating from the Department of Illustration in 2004. He now resides in Valatie, New York, with his wife, dog, and two cats. Visit Chuck at

Instagram: @c.groenink

Let Liberty Rise_Cover

Giveaway Details:

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Let Liberty Rise! How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save the Statue of Liberty, courtesy of Scholastic (U.S. addresses only). This giveaway is open on Sunday, July 4, 2021 ending at 10:00 p.m. EST.   Please note that book may take longer to ship so patience is appreciated.  Enter below or head over to my Twitter account, @lauramossa and retweet my Let Liberty Rise! post.

Giveaway, Nonfiction, Picture Books

Review & Giveaway for The Caiman by María Eugenia Manrique 


About the Book:
Title: The Caiman
Author: María Eugenia Manrique 
Illustrator: Ramón París
Translator: Amy Brill
Pub. Date: July 1, 2021

Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for The Caiman published by Amazon Crossing Kids which aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives. Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


In the small town of San Fernando de Apure in Venezuela, a young girl finds a baby alligator, a river caiman, who is believed to be an orphan.  Just as the girl was about to return the creature to the water, the town jeweler and watchmaker, Faoro passes by and immediately offers to take the baby alligator home.  The animal was so small that it not only fit in the palm of his hand but also in his shirt pocket.  Faoro names her Night for her dark skin. Night accompanies Faoro to his workshop and business booms.  How many places can you get a clock fixed, jewelry mended, AND pet a baby alligator?  


Night grows to more than six feet long and during this time, Faoro falls in love with his neighbor, Angela. Would Night accept Angela?  With support from Faoro, Night gives her approval and the couple marries.  I especially love this illustration because with the exception of one guest, all those invited to the wedding are smiling as Night holds Angela’s veil. Clearly, the guests are comfortable with Night too. 


Their little family is blissful full of song and laughter for many years, but then Faoro falls ill.  Night is distraught refusing to leave Faoro. Faoro’s parting words to Night are “Don’t be afraid;  Angela loves you and will take care of you.”  Night mourns Faoro’s passing and goes into hiding for weeks, but finally resurfaces when Angela is moved to sing after reading an old card written by Faoro.  The gift of song helps both Angela and Night heal keeping Faoro close to them.

Gorgeously written and illlustrated, The Caiman is a heartwarming story about the incredible bond between loved ones.  While I admit that an alligator is not a typical pet, the message shines through, for Night loved Faoro unconditionally which is a true gift.  Another important lesson is we all react to a loss differently.   Angela stopped singing, and Night retreated to a storage room refusing to leave or eat.  Each needed their own space to grieve, but I love that Faoro, through his words, was responsible for their initial healing.  

París’ illustrations are absolutely beautiful, and the landscape format is perfect for a book that features an alligator that grows to ten feet long. The tip of Night’s tail is actually on the back of the book cover showing her immense length. After reading each page, I noticed my eyes lingered longer to take in the artwork; each page spread seemed to be its own scene in Night’s life from baby to adult.  And pay close attention to locate the animals drawn in black and white on a few of the page spreads.  Can you find armadillos, a turtle, an iguana, hedgehogs, and chickens? 

One last observation-if you typically skip an author’s biography or any backmatter, I highly suggest you take the time to read them.  Valuable information about the origins of this story are shared (and I don’t want to give it away).  The Caiman reminds us what where there is love, there is also grief, but the love is always worth it.  

Praise for The Caiman!

New York Times Globetrotting Pick!

★“The striking illustrations…have a wild and whimsical feel about them, featuring lush foliage and expressive characters, including the eventually enormous caiman. It’s a memorable and unexpected demonstration of the universality of love, grief, and kindness.” —Booklist (starred review)

About the Author:

María Eugenia Manrique is one of the girls portrayed in this story. She rode the caiman when she visited her family in San Fernando de Apure. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and currently lives in Barcelona, Spain. She studied fine art in Mexico City, specializing in xylography and engraving; Eastern painting at Nankín University, China; and sumi-e and calligraphy at the Nihon Shuji Kyoiku Zaidan Foundation in Japan. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. The Caiman is her first children’s book. For more information, visit her website:

Instagram: @mem.manrique

About the Illustrator:

Ramón París was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and as a child lived in Barinas, a plains state like Apure, where he also heard the story of the caiman. He currently lives in Barcelona, Spain. Hismost recent book for children, Duermevela, was selected for the Bologna Book Fair Illustrators Exhibition. His books have been recognized with honors including Los Mejores del Banco del Libro and  the IBBY Honor List, among others, and they have been translated into numerous languages. Visit him at:

Instagram: @ramon_paris_ilustrador

About the Translator:

Amy Brill’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications including the Washington Post, Medium, Real Simple,, and One Story. Her first novel, The Movement of Stars, was published by Riverhead Books. A native New Yorker, Amy lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.



Giveaway Details:
One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Caiman courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids (U.S. and Canada addresses).  This giveaway is open from Friday, July 3 through Friday, July 10, 2021 ending at 10:00 p.m. EST.   Please note that book may take longer to ship so patience is appreciated.  Enter below or head over to my Twitter account, @lauramossa and retweet my The Caiman post. 


Book Birthday, Nonfiction, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to Woof! The Truth About Dogs by Annette Whipple


About the Book:
Title: Woof! The Truth About Dogs 
Author: Annette Whipple
Illustrator: Juanbjuan Oliver
Pub. Date: June 30, 2021


I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own. 

Bella and I are thrilled to wish a very Happy Book Birthday to Woof, Whipple’s latest book in THE TRUTH ABOUT series!  Woof provides answers to simple yet valuable questions that any dog owner (or lover) should know.  While I had a general idea of the answer, Whipple sets the record straight with the key facts.  Here are a few of the questions explored. 

  • Do dog have feelings?  
  • Why do dogs smell butts?
  • How do dogs help people?
  • Are dogs just tame wolves? 

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 match the question showing the dog engaged in the activity; a sidebar also appears on every page spread and includes Oliver’s illustrations and the dog’s humorous point of view on the topic. 

Dogs Sweat

Throughout the entire book, different breeds, each identified with a label, are highlighted in the photographs to show kids the wide range of dogs.   Of course, I was happy to see both the beagle and basset hound breed featured!  

What I love most about Woof is Whipple strongly advocates for dogs in shelter, a cause close to my heart.  The last question, How Can I Help?, explains how kids can volunteer at or raise money for a local shelter.  And if your family is able-welcome a dog into your family by adopting.   Other helpful information are steps on how to properly meet a dog, directions for making a dog tug toy, a glossary, and a list of websites. 

After reading Woof, kids (and adults) will know the why behind the wagging tail, sniffing snout, and happy bark.  And if they didn’t like dogs already, Woof might indeed change their mind!  Whipple shares a lot of information that may help children calm their fears about canines.  

If you know a child who enjoy learning cool facts about animals,, check out Whipple’s other books in THE TRUTH ABOUT series.

  • Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls (September 2020)
  • Scurry! The Truth About Spiders, (Coming Fall 2021) 

Praise for WOOF!

Woof Kirkus

Meet the Author!

Annette Whipple celebrates curiosity and inspires a sense of wonder while exciting readers about science and history. She’s the author of ten fact-filled children’s books including The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press) and The Truth About series (Reycraft Books) including Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls and Scurry! The Truth About Spiders.

Early Chapter Books, Literati Kids Book Club, Nonfiction

A Review of Literati Kids Book Clubs (Month 3)

Literati (2)

Disclosure: Beagles and Books was provided a complimentary product in exchange for its honest review.

For the last 3 months,  I have shared my thoughts on Literati Kids Book Clubs.   As a reading specialist, one of my favorite job responsibilities is to provide parents with book recommendations.  Literati opened my eyes to the fact that my book lists always focused on fiction and neglected to suggest nonfiction options.  Cultivating independent readers is not only about reading picture books, chapter books, and/or novels.  Some kids may be more interested in reading an illustrated nonfiction book or an interactive book with puzzles and games.  Interest is the most important factor in order to engage young readers.

Recently, I received a third Literati Kids box and wanted to share my final honest thoughts about the books curated for this month.

Which Literati Kid Book Club is Best for Your Child? 

A friendly reminder that there are 6 options for book clubs. 

  • Neo-newborn to 3 years
  • Sprout-ages 3 to 5
  • Nova-ages 5 to 7
  • Sage-ages 7 to 9
  • Phoenix– ages 9 to 12
  • Titan– 13 and up

Visiting the Literati website will provide you with more information about the types of books curated for each club.  Since I mostly work with children transitioning to chapter book reading, Club Sage was the best choice for me. 


What Was Inside My Literati Box?

Early Chapter Books 

This month, my box contained 3 early chapter books.  This month, the books were diverse in terms of the genre- realistic fiction, adventure, and mystery.  Like last month,  all books curated for this month are part of a series.  Chapter book series are a great way to hook a reader because of familiar main characters, setting,  plot structure, and writing style.   

What I especially love about this month’s books is that they vary in length.  In my teaching experiences, I have worked with children who struggle with chapter books because in their mind, the story is too long.  As children transition to chapter books, I teach that a book may not be read in one sitting.  I appreciate that books curated for this month range from 37 pages to 89 pages providing scaffolds for children to increase their stamina. 


  • The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake (A Wilcox and Griswold Mystery) by Robin Newman Illustrated by Deborah Zemke
    Miss Rabbit’s carrot cake is missing!  Missing Food Investigators (MFI) Captain Griswold and Detective Wilcox are on the case.  Piecing together clues, the duo interview suspects such as an owl, a pig, and a dog.  With fun characters and puns, the mystery is entertaining and will entice kids to read more in the series (37 pages).
  • Ghost Island (Choose Your Own Adventure Dragonlarks)
    When I was a young reader, I devoured Choose Your Own Adventure books! I did not know that the series was written in an early chapter book format. In Ghost Island, the reader is a main character taking on a family vacation in the Caribbean islands.   During the adventure, decisions await.  Do you go to visit a cemetery and pretend you went? When you meet a pirate ghost, you do help him or say no? I love how the reader is part of the story and that the book can be read multiple times with different endings (73 pages). 
  • Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina 
    Winner of the 2017 Pura Belpré, Award, Juana and Lucas is a delightful story about a young girl growing up in Colombia.  Juana loves drawing, reading, Brussel sprouts, her city of Bogotá, and most especially, her dog Lucas.  Juana does not love learning English and doesn’t understand why she has to learn the language.  Her grandfather though gives her a good reason which motivates her.  With short chapters, colorful illustrations on every page, and Juana’s charming personality, readers will love Juana and Lucas and enjoy the opportunity to learn Spanish words and phrases (89 pages).

Interactive/Informative Books

Along with the chapter books were interactive and informative texts that will engage young minds’ brains.  


  • Incredible Animals by Dunia Rahwan and Paola Formica
    As soon as I looked at the table of contents, I knew kids would spend hours reading this text. The book is organized in categories such as Brainy Beasts, Special Snoozers, Strange Superpowers, and Small But Deadly.  Young readers can choose a topic and go right to the page to learn more about animals with this common characteristic.  Incredible Animals is a great text to teach kids that nonfiction has a different structure than fiction and does not have to be read from beginning to end.   All the animals featured in the book are then categorized into their respective group such as mammals, invertebrates, reptiles, etc.

  • Color, Doodle, Draw!
    For kids who love to color, doodle, and draw, this interactive book will keep them engaged for hours.  Dinosaurs, pirates, dragons,, Russian nesting dolls, roller coasters, mythical creatures are just a few of the scenes that kids can color, doodle, and draw.  With over 100 pages, this activity book is great for sparking imagination and creativity!

Other Goodies!


  • A collectible poster featuring original art by illustrator Jennifer M. Potter
  • Personalized bookplates
  • A bookmark that can be planted in garden to grow wildflowers

How Does the Club Work?

As a subscriber, children receive 5 expertly curated age-appropriate books. I was greatly pleased to see the books were all recently published.  The subscription runs at $9.95 a month. You only get charged for the ones you keep. There is a price breakdown of each book on the included packing list so you know how much each one will cost.

What I love is children can touch, open, skim, and read a portion of each book to decide which are a good fit for them.  You only keep the books they want and return the rest for free with the included pre-paid return shipping label.  Literati Kids books match or are less than Amazon pricing which I greatly appreciate.

If you’re interested in trying out Literati Kids a try, click here for 25% off your first box. 

Bella and I sincerely grateful to Literati Kids for sharing this this final book box in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.