#Bookexcursion, Book Birthday, Debut Author, Picture Books

Sterling, Best Dog Ever by Aiden Cassie

Beagles & Books wishes Aiden Cassie and her debut picture book, Sterling, Best Dog Ever a very Happy Book Birthday!   A very special thank you to Aidan Cassie and Macmillan for sending a copy of Sterling to my #bookexcursion group to read and review prior to its release. Below is my review which was featured on my #IMWAYR post on 6/25/18.

Sterling is determined to find a home.  Sleeping outside the Butlery Cutlery Company, he sneaks into a box of forks that are delivered to the Gilbert family.  When the family opens the box and finds Sterling, the mom and dad are perplexed but the daughter ‘s and her baby sister’s smiles say it all.  Sterling strives to be the best fork ever but soon discovers that perhaps, the family doesn’t need a fork.  Being adaptable, Sterling attempts to be a whisk, a rolling pin, and even a stick but none of these tools seems to make him or the daughter happy.  Will Sterling ever realizes his one and only job is to just be himself?

Sterling, The Best Dog Ever is a heartwarming and humorous story about learning to be comfortable in your own skin or in Sterling’s case, fur. The rich and colorful illustrations beautifully complement the plot and depict not only Sterling’s determination to be needed and useful but also the little girl’s true desire to have a dog of her own to love.

I can’t wait to share Sterling, The Best Dog Ever with students in the fall!  Its message of self acceptance makes it a perfect read aloud for #classroombookaday. If you need any more convincing, get a sneak peek of Sterling by viewing the trailer below.


Book Birthday, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus! by Jody Jensen Shaffer


Beagles and Books wishes a very Happy Book Birthday to It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus written by Jody Jensen Shaffer and illustrated by Claire Messer. Special thanks to author Jody Jensen Shaffer for sending me a copy that I will also share with my #bookexcursion group. All opinions are my own.

Who isn’t nervous on the first day of school?  It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus tells the tale of Busy Bus who is both anxious and excited for his first day on the job. Ben, the bus driver, thoroughly checks Busy to make sure he is ready performing tasks such as measuring the air in his tires, filling his gas tank, turning his lights on and off, inspecting his emergency door, and of course, starting Busy’s engine.  Although Ben is confident that Busy is ready for the road, Busy is worried.  What if he gets homesick or doesn’t make any friends?  Thankfully, Ben is there to ensure Busy’s first day of school is a success!

For early childhood teachers, It’s Your First Day of School, Busy Bus is the perfect read aloud for the first week back.  Busy is experiencing all the same emotions that children feel anticipating their first day of school.  Busy is adorably drawn, and Messer sweetly conveys his range of emotions with his eyes and mouth. The illustrations span the spread so the artwork is large enough for children to view during a read aloud, which is a plus.

What I love most about the book is that Ben is right by Busy’s side to support him.  When he places Busy’s nameplate on him, Busy not only realizes he is ready but also that he is safe, clean and most importantly, loved.  When I think about children returning to school in the fall, building relationships is by far the most crucial.  Like Busy, children need to feel safe and loved which in turn instills confidence and a belief that they can achieve great things.

Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books, Rockstar Book Tours

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Dear Substitute by Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick


Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the Dear Substitute Blog Tour organized by Rockstar Book Tours.

Author: Audrey Vernick, Liz Garton Scanlon, & Chris Raschka (Illustrations)
Pub. Date: June 19, 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 40

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooksTBD

Dear Substitute High Res.jpg

When a substitute teacher named Miss Pelly comes to class, one student bristles at the change in routine-Miss Pelly doesn’t follow the rules like Mrs. Giordano. But in time, our student learns that even though the substitute may do things a little differently, and she may be a bit silly, mixing things up might not be so bad. Told in a series of epistolary poems, this funny, relatable picture book is a great fit for classrooms and for any child nervous about new experiences.

There is no substitute for a great teacher or is there?  Written as a series of humorous letters, Dear Substitute gives readers a child’s perspective of having a substitute teacher for the day.  On the very first page, the young narrator immediately shares her displeasure and wonders “Where’s Mrs. Giordano and why didn’t she warn us?”  As the day progresses, the substitute is not held in high regard because she mispronounces students’ names, fails to collect homework, and she is not aware it’s Tank Tuesday.  Let’s hope Elmo the turtle will survive one more day in dirty water. According to our narrator, Miss Pelly (Pelly like a pelican) doesn’t take anything seriously which may be why she’s not worried about students returning books to the library or who is supposed to be line leader.

While Miss Pelly may not follow all the rules and routines, she does catch the narrator swapping food at lunch, which evokes some tears from the young student.  Thankfully, her sadness is short-lived, for Miss Pelly shares funny poems which inspire the narrator to write her own poem with the help of the substitute.  Although Mrs. Giordano is missed, it turns out that a switch-around day with Miss Pelly is actually A-OK.

Dear Substitute is an amusing and engaging story that will entertain both students and teachers.  I love the message that change while scary can lead to positive results. Who would ever argue with more story time and encouraging students to write poetry? The authors definitely did their research, for the voice of the young narrator is spot on. The structure of the text told in epistolary poems makes the text fun to read aloud especially since each letter is written for a different recipient.  Chris Rascha’s lively and detailed watercolor illustrations beautifully complement the text, for the artwork gives readers additional insight about the narrator’s feelings towards Miss Pelly and how they change throughout the story.  As I am reading and gathering read alouds for the new school year and planning for #classroombookaday, Dear Substitute is without a doubt a picture book I will share with both teachers and students in the fall.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


About Audrey:
Audrey grew up in Whitestone, New York, where she lived with her parents and two sisters and a not very bright small white dog. She has a freaky memory about the names of the kids in her class at P.S. 184Q, and even remembers where most of them stood in size order. She always loved to read and still rereads Harriet the Spy on a regular basis.  She was not one of those children who always knew she wanted to be a writer; she didn’t love to write until college. She’s been writing ever since.  In addition to writing for children, Audrey has published more than a dozen short stories for adults in magazines and literary journals. She received a MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and has been honored with two fiction fellowships from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts.  Audrey divides her time between writing (which is mostly spent revising) and visiting elementary schools to talk about writing and publishing. (For school visit info, click here.) She also speaks at conferences around the country. She lives near the ocean in New Jersey with her family and a semi-smart medium-sized dog.     Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Liz.jpgAbout Liz:
Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of numerous beloved books for young people, including the highly-acclaimed, Caldecott-honored picture book All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee, and her debut novel for middle grade readers, The Great Good Summer, as well as The Good-Pie Party; Happy Birthday, Bunny!; Noodle & Lou, and several others. Ms. Scanlon is also a poet, a teacher and a frequent & popular presenter at schools, libraries and conferences. She grew up in Colorado and Wisconsin, and now lives with her husband and two daughters in Austin, Texas.
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

Would you like to own a copy of Dear Substitute for your library?  Thanks to Rockstar Book Tours, they are giving away 3 finished copies of this fabulous book (US only).  Be sure to take the time and enter this fantastic giveaway.  Please click link below to enter!


Tour Schedule:
Join us on the other stops of this tour for more giveaway chances and to read more about Dear Substitute.

Week One:
6/18/2018- For the Love of KidLit– Interview
6/19/2018- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review
6/20/2018- Mythical Books– Guest Post
6/21/2018- Book-Keeping– Review
6/22/2018- Wonder Struck– Review

Week Two:
6/25/2018- BookHounds YA– Excerpt
6/26/2018- RhythmicBooktrovert– Review
6/27/2018- Book Dragon Lair– Review
6/28/2018- Beagles & Books– Review
6/29/2018- Two Points of Interest– Review

Book Birthday, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to Goodbye Brings Hello: A Book of Firsts by Dianne White


Beagles and Books wishes a very Happy Book Birthday to Goodbye Brings Hello: A Book of Firsts  written by Dianne White and illustrated by Daniel Wiseman. Special thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending a copy of Goodbye Brings Hello in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


“There are many ways of letting go. With each goodbye, a new hello.”  These sentences open this incredibly beautiful picture book that extols the positive effects of change.

Interior from GOODBYE BRINGS HELLO by Dianne White, illus © 2018 by Daniel Wiseman.jpg

From growing out of an old coat, leaving home, taking your first plunge in a pool, trying out a new hairstyle, writing letters, making your own lunch or getting ready for your very first day of school, change can be scary.  What I love about Goodbye Brings Hello is it celebrates being brave enough to take that leap big or small and try something new.   Written in short rhymes, Diane White delivers the story’s message beautifully and concisely.  Daniel Wiseman’s soft and colorful illustrations tenderly show each child’s apprehension but once the reader turns the page, the children’s expressions shows their immense pride and happiness in taking the leap.   As I am reading and gathering read alouds for the new school year and planning for #classroombookaday, Goodbye Brings Hello is without a doubt a picture book I will share with both teachers and students in the fall.

A free Goodbye Brings Hello activity kit is available by clicking here.

Dianne White_credit Bridgette Balmes

About Dianne:
When she was five, Dianne White said goodbye to her house and her teacher, Mrs. Dunlap, and hello to a new school, and her newest favorite teacher, Mr. Loop. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the award-winning author of Blue on Blue. She lives in Arizona, where she writes full-time. For more information, visit diannewrites.com or on Twitter @diannewrites

About Daniel:
Daniel Wiseman remembers saying goodbye to the training wheels on his bike, and saying a great big hello to skinned knees and elbows. But the freedom of rolling on two wheels was well worth the bumps and bruises. He still rides his (slightly larger) bike almost every day. Daniel loves to draw, and has illustrated several books for children. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Visit him at danieldraws.com. and at Instagram @d_wiseman

Blog Tour, Picture Books, Rockstar Book Tours

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Off and Away by Cale Atkinson


Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the Off and Away Blog Tour organized by Rockstar Book Tours.

Off & Away (1)

Author: Cale Atkinson
Pub. Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 48

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NTBD

How would you get mail if you lived in the middle of the sea? It’s Jo’s dad’s job to deliver it, taking bottles wherever they need to go. He always comes home with exciting stories to tell-but Jo is far too afraid to go out on the ocean herself. Until Dad gets a bad sea cold, that is. With no one but Jo to deliver the bottles, she must find her courage and set sail alone. As she embarks on her mission, her fears just might be replaced with new friendships . . . and grand stories of her own. With beautiful, atmospheric art and endearing new characters by author-illustrator Cale Atkinson, this picture book is a treasure.

Jo always wanted to be a great adventurer like her dad, but her apprehension about what lurked below the sea always kept her from stepping off their dock.  When Jo’s dad falls ill and bottles keep piling up, Jo takes a deep breath in before embarking on a courageous journey.  On her voyage, Jo soon realizes that appearances can be deceiving and she is in fact, a brave adventurer .  Jo’s heroic actions reminded me of a great quote from Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

“Being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. Being brave means you are scared, really scared, badly scared, and you do the right thing anyway.”

I am a big fan of Cale Atkinson’s books and Off & Away is “sea-sational!” It is a touching and uplifting story about having the courage to face your fears. The gorgeous illustrations are full of such details that a re-read is essential just for viewing the beautiful and intricate artwork.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About Cale:
Cale Atkinson is an illustrator/writer/animator currently residing  in Kelowna Canada. Believing in tea more than sleep, Cale is constantly working on numerous projects. His work can be found in children’s books, animated shorts, television, and games. Cale’s always looking for new and exciting projects that challenge his skills and allow him to grow creatively.
Clients: Disney Hyperion, Marvel, Tundra books (imprint of Penguin Random House), OWL Books, Grosset and Dunlap (Penguin), Disney.com, Pearson, American Greetings, Hyper Hippo Games, Lerner Books, Scholastic.  Cale is currently working on multiple projects including two picture books he is writing and illustrating.

Website | Twitter | Tumblr

Would you like to own a copy of Off and Away for your library?  Thanks to Rockstar Book Tours, they are giving away 3 copies of this fabulous book (US only).  Be sure to take the time and enter this fantastic giveaway.  Please click link below to enter!


Tour Schedule:
Join us on the other stops of this tour for more giveaway chances and to read more about Off and Away and the author/illustrator Cale Atkinson.

Week One:
6/4/2018- Little Red reads– Review
6/5/2018- Margie’s Must Reads– Excerpt
6/6/2018- BookHounds YA– Guest Post
6/7/2018- Bri’s Book Nook– Review
6/8/2018- Bookish Lifestyle– Review

Week Two:
6/11/2018- Beagles & Books– Review
6/12/2018- Jrsbookreviews– Review
6/13/2018- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review
6/14/2018- Peaceful Oblivion– Review
6/15/2018- Wonder Struck– Review

Book Birthday, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday to My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing

My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing by Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor Illustrated by Michelle Polizzi

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book to review by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

My Magic Breath; Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing teaches children about breathing strategies to help combat negativity.  Magic breath is special because taking deep breaths can help children handle worried, nervous or sad thoughts.  The book continues by asking children to focus on things that make them smile and use their magic breath to blow out those happy thoughts directly on the page.  The new page reveals an almost full spread of colorful bright waves which evokes a sense of calm.  My Magic Breath continues to ask children to use breathing and a focus on happy thoughts to help combat sad ones.  Blue waves appear on the next page but are gradually blown away as children breathe deeply.  The sad blue waves are replaced with vivid and vibrant ones. At the end of the book, children are reminded to use their magic breath to not only help them through difficult moments but also to appreciate happy times!

I sponsor a second grade class for #classroombookaday.  Each day, I read a picture book aloud and ask students “What is the author trying to teach us?”   After reading My Magic Breath, one student shared that the book can help kids visualize good things so that they will stop thinking about bad things.  Another student also made a connection to a previous read aloud, Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall.  In the story, Jabari is having second thoughts about jumping off the diving board.  Jabari’s father tells him when he is scared, he takes a deep breath to help him get ready.   The student went on to say that deep breaths can help calm you down when you are nervous.

About the Book:
From New York Times bestselling author Nick Ortner comes a beautiful picture book that will help children discover calm through the magic of mindful breathing:

Do YOU have the magic breath?
Let’s see…Take a deeeeeep breath in…and BLOW it out…

…and like magic, you can feel better just by breathing! Sometimes it’s hard to feel happy. But with this interactive picture book, children breathe along as they learn how to make angry or sad thoughts disappear.

In a world that is sometimes too busy, with too many things going on, My Magic Breath will help steer children into a serene space of mindfulness, self-awareness, and balance.













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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/14/18


Beagles and Books is excited to share another edition of 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.


The Frame-Up by Wendy McLeod MacKnight

The Frame Up is a fast paced, intriguing mystery adventure set in the real life Beaverbrook Art Gallery located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.  In this fictional story, Beaverbrook is not your ordinary art gallery because all the paintings are actually alive.  Once the gallery is closed, all the “residents” interact with each other.  Painted in 1915, Mona Dunn is a 100 year old painting but she is perpetually a thirteen-year-old who loves to visit the beach in the San Vigilio, Lake Garda painting and hang out with her partner in crime, Clem Cotterell who lives in a portrait with his family.

Mona knows that the most important rule of the gallery is don’t let the humans know that the paintings are alive.  One day Mona accidentally breaks that rule and reveals the gallery’s secret to Sargent Singer, the son of the gallery director.  Sargent who is visiting his estranged father for the summer promises Mona that he won’t divulge this incredible secret, and the two become fast friends.   Their friendship becomes crucial when Mona discovers a plot to steal paintings and replace them with reproductions.  Can Mona and Sargent stop the heist before it’s too late?

I enjoyed The Frame Up from start to finish!  Wendy McLeod MacKnight has written a fascinating middle grade mystery weaving elements of both the past and the present.  While living in the present, Mona and the residents give you a glimpse of life long ago. Because they are alive, the “residents” are aware of modern amenities such as movies, popular music, and even the internet.  The mystery involving the art heist kept me guessing until almost the very end. Sargent’s distant relationship with his father also affected me because I know some readers may identify with his struggle to connect with a parent.

Special thanks to Wendy McLeod MacKnight for sending an ARC of The Frame-Up to my #bookexcursion group.  The Frame-Up releases on June 5, 2018, which will include full color glossy pictures of all the paintings highlighted in the novel.  Since a visit to Beaverbrook is not possible right now, I can’t wait for my hardcover copy to arrive!

Fox & Chick: The Party and Other Stories by Sergio Ruzzier

Fox and Chick remind me of the iconic Frog and Toad, two friends who don’t always see eye to eye.  This early chapter book includes three stories.  In The Party, Chick interrupts Fox’s reading  asking to use his bathroom but not for the reason one would expect.  In Good Soup, as Fox is gathering vegetables, Chick questions his food choices until he mentions that foxes are supposed to eat little birds.  Oops!  In Sit Still, Fox is in the midst of painting a landscape when Chick suggests a portrait of him would be more exciting. If only Chick would sit still….

I read Fox and Chick to my second grade #classroombookaday class; they absolutely loved each story.  While it is a great read aloud, the illustrations deserve full attention to see both Fox’s and Chick’s expressions throughout each story.  After sharing Fox and Chick, the students wanted to know if there are more Fox and Chick adventures.  I can only hope!

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.

Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates

Dog loves everything about books so he decides to open his own bookstore.  On the day of his Grand Opening, no one came and when they finally did visit, it was not to buy books.  While Dog was a little sad, he did not dwell on it.  Instead, he took a book off the shelf and began to read.  When he read, he forgot he was alone because each book took him on a new adventure.  At the end , a little girl visits his bookstore and while Dog loved books, he realized he enjoys sharing them even more!

How can you not love a dog that loves books!  Author illustrator Louise Yates reminds young readers about the power of finding the right book as well as the joy of sharing books with others.

I look forward to read the rest of the books in the series: Dog Loves Drawing, Dog Loves Counting, and Dog Loves Fairy Tales.

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!  Have a great week! Happy Reading!


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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/7/18


Beagles and Books is excited to share another edition of 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.

Just Under the Clouds by Melissa Sarno

Ever since her father’s death six years ago, Cora and her family have struggled to find stability especially with housing.  Money is tight so Cora, her mother, and her younger sister Adare move a lot with hopes of finding permanent housing they can afford.  Because of her mom’s long work hours, taking care of Adare after school has become Cora’s responsibility.  Adare who lost oxygen to the brain during birth “sees things a different way” which makes caring for her sometimes challenging.

Set in Brooklyn and told in Cora’s point of view, Just Under the Clouds is a honest and touching story about homelessness through the eyes of a twelve year old girl.  While she technically has had a “roof over her head,” Cora never lived in a place that felt like home.

At school, Cora has always kept to herself until she meet Sabina, who until recently had been home-schooled her whole life and lives an untethered life on a houseboat. I just love their friendship because Cora finally takes a chance to truly trust someone outside her family.  I also admire Cora’s mother for maintaining stability in their unstable world and for recognizing Cora’s strength and encouraging her to “climb high.”  Cora’s story reminds us that “you can only grow things if you have faith in them from the beginning.” This is a heart print book that I can’t wait to share with students.

A very special thanks to Melissa Sarno for sending an ARC of Just Under the Clouds to my #bookexcursion group.  It publishes on June 5, 2018.

Power Forward by Hena Khan Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

Date/Time:  May 5, 2018   11:25 a.m.

What I Read: Power Forward is the first book in a new chapter book series about fourth-grader Zayd Saleem.  Zayd lives for basketball, not the violin.  He is determined to move up from the D league to the gold team playing along side his best friend Adam.  Zayd knows that practicing basketball is crucial to achieving his dream; therefore, he decides to skip his morning advanced orchestra practice to play basketball with Adam and other members of the gold team.  All is well until Zayd forgets his violin in the car, and his mother discovers his lie.  As a result, he is grounded from basketball.  Will Zayd be able to convince his parents how important basketball is to him in order to make try outs?

How I Feel:  Sports have never been my thing but Power Forward is so much more than a basketball story.  Zayd is such a relatable character and can be a mirror for young readers.  He is underweight for his age which makes him work harder to prove he is gold team material.  Things come more easily to his sister Zara, which is frustrating for him. His parents wish that he had the same passion for violin that he has for basketball.  What I truly love about Zayd’s story is that it can also be a window.  Zayd and his family are Pakistani American and throughout the book, their culture is seamlessly interwoven into the story from language to food to sports.  As a reading specialist, I am always on the lookout for new #ownvoices titles to share with students as well as share with my media specialist to order for our school library.

Thanks so much to Simon & Schuster for sending an ARC of Power Forward to our #bookexcursion group. It publishes on May 8, 2018. For more information about ZaydSalem, Chasing the Dream series, click here.

Daring Dreamers Club: Milla Takes Charge by Erin Soderberg

Milla Takes Charge is the first book in this new chapter series about 5 fifth grade girls who become friends in their advisory group led by Ms. Bancroft, the new music teacher. As part of advisory, all students will respond to writing prompts throughout the year.  Having a thing for princesses, Ms. Bancroft asks the girls to reflect upon a princess that they feel connected with or inspired by and explain why.  While all girls share their journal entries filled with their dreams, the story centers on Milla.  Raised by her two moms, Milla is an avid reader and writer.  Like Belle in Beauty and the Beast, she yearns for adventure especially participating in the fifth grade overnight to Adventure Camp.  Concerned that her overprotective parents won’t let her go, Milla enlists the help of the Daring Dreamers to prove she is responsible.

Daring Dreamers Club is another great #ownvoices series to add to a classroom library and like Power Forward, the characters can be either a mirror or window to young readers.  What I especially love about this series is how the girls demonstrate true friendship towards one another.  Although each girl has big dreams, they realize they can all achieve their personal dreams by supporting each other!

A special thanks to Erin Soderberg for sending an ARC to my #bookexcursion group.  Milla Takes Charge publishes on June 5, 2018.  For more information on the Daring Dreamers series, click here.

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

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

Perfectly Norman by Tom Perchival

Disclaimer:  While having no speaking part, Norman’s dog is his loyal companion supporting him without hesitation. Sidekicks are the best!

Norman lived a perfectly normal life until….he grew a pair of wings.  Instead of celebrating his extraordinary wings, Norman hid them inside a great, big, yellow coat. The problem is now Norman is hot, uncomfortable, and miserable.    Will Norman ever learn to just be himself?

Perfectly Norman is a heartwarming story about acceptance and learning to be comfortable in your own skin, I mean wings.  Rather than celebrating his wonderful gift, Norman becomes worried about being different.  Throughout his struggle, his sweet little dog remains his loyal companion.

The illustrations are integral to the story, for author illustrator Perchival uses a minimal palette of black, white, yellow, and red in the first few page spreads. As soon as Norman discovers his wings, more vibrant colors appear in the illustrations.  Once Norman hides his wings, his yellow coat is the only color prominent on each page. Readers have to patiently wait for Norman to realize that the coat, not his wings is making him miserable. Then all the colors of the rainbow of return!

Etta, Bella, and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!  Have a great week! Happy Reading!

#Bookexcursion, Debut Author, Picture Books

Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime by Cate Berry Illustrated by Charles Santoso


Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime by Cate Berry Illustrated by Charles Santoso

On the very first page, pajama clad Penguin announces “This is not a bedtime book” with night cap wearing Tiny Shrimp chiming in saying “We don’t do bedtime!”  The adorable characters make it clear that there is no room for typical bedtime rituals such as toothbrushing, big beds or counting sheep.  On the contrary, readers will be enticed to stay wide awake with fireworks, vine swinging, hot air balloon rides, songs, jokes and even the rare appearance of a Uni-Hippo!  After Penguin and Tiny Shrimp engage in all their adventures, they maintain their anti-sleep position stating “This book will never make you yawn” but their actions begin to contradict their original declaration. It is not long before the two characters are crawling into bed and sleep soundly.  Clearly, storytelling is tiring work!

Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime is a hilarious and highly entertaining picture book from debut author Cate Berry. Not only did I pre-order this book immediately, I now have the perfect recommendation for a bedtime read aloud (sorry Penguin and Tiny Shrimp!) that parents will take great pleasure in reading again and again to their children.  Santoso’s pictures adorably depict Penguin and Tiny Shrimp’s insistence and excitement in staying awake yet by the end of the book, his illustrations subtly and sweetly transition to show their fading energy.  Even the background color of the pages becomes gray to signify the change.


Special thanks to Cate Berry for sending an ARC of Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime to our #bookexcursion group.  Can’t wait for its release May 2018.   I sincerely hope there will be more Penguin and Tiny Shrimp adventures to come!

#Bookexcursion, Picture Books

Mama’s Belly by Kate Hosford Illustrated by Abigail Halpin

A very special thanks to Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing Mama’s Belly  with Beagles and Books. All opinions are my own.

There is no doubt that a new sibling can cause feelings of both excitement and apprehension.  Mama’s Belly tells the tender story of an inquisitive young girl who poses a variety of questions to her parents about her sister’s arrival.  The questions start simple.  “Does my sister know me already? “Will my sister have freckles?”  Mama explains that the baby already knows her sister’s voice. While the baby will not be born with freckles, her father thinks yes, perhaps after a few summers by the lake have passed.

As the young girl asks questions,  Halpin’s gorgeous illustrations not only depict her excitement in the present but also the girl’s visualizations of helping her baby sister learn to swim and take a bath in the future.  All of Halpin’s paintings warmly show how the girl’s parents have included her in preparing for her sister’s arrival.

Clutching her blanket, the questions turn more personal.   “When my sister comes, do I have to share my blanket?”  ‘Will your lap ever come back?” Mama assures the girl that her blanket will always be hers and suggests making another one together for her baby sister.  As for her lap, Mama tells her daughter it will return after her sister is born.

The young girl saves her most important question until the end. “When my sister comes will you still have enough love for both of us?   Gently holding her daughter’s face in her hands, Mama lovingly looks at her and says  “More than the all the stars in the sky.”

For any child preparing for a new sibling, Mama’s Belly is the perfect gift.  As a teacher, I also look forward to sharing Mama’s Belly with students.   Hosford has written a beautiful and touching story to remind us that a parent’s heart expands with each child, and there is always room to love everyone.

Mama’s Belly will be released on April 17,  2018.  For a sneak peek, view the trailer.

About the Author and Illustrator
Kate Hosford is the author of several picture books, including Infinity and Me, which was a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book award and was named an ALA Notable Children’s Book. Her books have been translated into Chinese, Korean, French, and Romanian. Kate lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. To learn more, visit her website ae khosford.com.
Abigail Halpin is the illustrator of many books for children, including Finding Wild. She lives in southern Maine. Visit her on the web at theodesign.com