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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/25/21

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:

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The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams by Mindy Thompson 

Set in Sutton, New York in 1944, 13 year old Poppy Fulbright and her family own the bookshop, Rhyme and Reason. What makes Rhyme and Reason unique is that it searches in the past and the future for customers who need light and hope and brings them to the shop. When her older brother Al’s best friend dies in World War II, Al wants to go back in time to save him.  Rhyme and Reason has strict rules, one of them being shopkeepers must never use the magic for their own gain.  But Al becomes obsessed with moving forward with his plan undeterred when their father, who has mysteriously fallen ill, tells them the rule was made because the magic is complicated; it has more than one side. 

An observant Poppy begins to see odd things occurring at the bookshop and after some research discovers while bookshops spread light, love, and hope through stories, the Dark lies in wait searching for an open door.  Poppy must be the girl who chases the light to save Rhyme and Reason and all those she loves. 

Debut author Mindy Thompson time travel fantasy appealed to me immediately.  I cannot deny I was first drawn to the book because of the setting (a magical bookshop is a dream!),  but once I began reading, it was Poppy who made the story hard to put down. I liked her instantly because of her love for books, her kindness, and her want to make everything right.  Since Al was the oldest, he would inherit Rhyme and Reason and this hurt Poppy, for she had a deep connection with the shop. When strange things started to happen, she was not only worried for her family but also her best friend, Rhyme and Reason who she sensed was suffering.  Poppy learns that while the bookshop was magical, she has magic inside of her too. She just needs to believe in her own strength to find it.  

Thanks to the author and publisher for sharing an eARC.  The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams celebrates its book birthday tomorrow!


 

Waffles and Pancakes: Planetary-Yum (Book 1) by Drew Brockington 

A prequel to Brockington’s CatStronauts series, this early graphic novel series focuses on a young Waffles as a kitten. In this first adventure, Waffles and his sister Pancake go to the science museum with Cat-Dad. Young readers will giggle at the exhibits which are feline themed-Dino Cats, Hairballs in 4-D, and a planetarium show with cat constellations. When they visit the Hall of Planets, Cat-Dad reminisces about the CatStronauts’ moon landing. They join a guided tour of the exhibit and are so mesmerized, they get separated from Dad-Cat. These kittens are smarty cats and seek help from the guide and are soon reunited with their worried father.  On the drive to Mom-Cat’s house, Dad-Cat asks their favorite part. While the siblings say lunch, it is clear that the outing sparked an interest in the night sky as they gaze as stars. Readers will see the beginnings of Waffles’ interest in space travel.

 

What I love most about Planetary-Yum is the sweet relationship between the cat siblings and their divorced parents. Written in under 60 pages with engaging and expressive comic panels, primary age kids will enjoy this STEM adventure that is full of both facts and fun. Thanks to Wunderkind PR for sharing an ARC. Planetary-Yum celebrates its book birthday tomorrow.


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.

The Longest Letsgoboy by Derick Wilder Illustrated by Catia Chen

You will need to grab some tissues before you open Wilder’s debut picture book about an old dog’s last walk with his girl who he calls Little. I love that Wilder chose to have the dog narrate the story because while the story is sad, the dog’s words will make you smile. He calls the sun “fireball”, dirt “diggiedirt” and memories “waybacks.”  Wilder’s inventive use of language coupled with Chen’s gorgeous artwork lets readers know the dog has enjoyed the very best life with Little and their love will continue even after he leaves the earth.  

What sets The Longest Letsgoboy apart from other picture books about loss is that the story does not end with the dog’s passing.  After he closes his eyes, he feels the “flutter of beautifuls” lifting him up high. Again, Wilder’s lyrical text and Chin’s brilliant illustrations warmed my heart.  The dog watches over Little and her pack of “twopaws” (parents) as each  seasons comes and goes until finally he catches a glimpse of an “awwpuppy” on a “letsgoboy” with Little. Little acknowledges him by looking up at the sky and smiling showing that their love is forever.  And the last page spread is just breathtaking.  I know the loss of a beloved pet is devastating.  The Longest Letsgoboy helps the heart heal by focusing on the joy rather than the pain. 

Thanks to the author and Chronicle Books for sharing a finished copy.  The Longest Letsgoboy celebrates its book birthday tomorrow. 


Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is etta-beagles-and-books-e1624813174378.jpg
“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.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/18/21

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:

Thanks to Jenny Lu of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for sharing these Halloween picture books with Beagles and Books.  All published on July 20, 2021. 

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Vampenguin by Lucy Ann Cummins

What happens when the Dracula family visits the zoo? When the door to the penguin habitat is ajar, the youngest vampire seizes the opportunity to visit the birds. With his black and white clothing, his yellow pacifier mimicking a beak and yellow shoes matching webbed feet, the resemblance is spot on and the two swap places with the penguin climbing into the stroller. Unaware, the Dracula family travels through the zoo yet the animals are wise to the switch.

A soft color palette and charming illustration make Vampenguin spookingly sweet. What I love most is Cummins makes the story fun for both children and adults. Young children will adore the plot and the illustrations and adults and older readers will chuckle at the discrepancy between the text and the illustrations. For example, the text says “after a short wait in line…” but the illustrations shows many people in front of the Dracula family. The last illustration is simply fabulous, for it is a copy of the souvenir photo with the penguin in the stroller and the youngest vampire peeking through the window of the penguin enclosure.


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How to Hide a Ghost: A Lift the Flap Book by MacKenzie Haley

Where can a ghost hide?  This Halloween board book is a perfect interactive read aloud for toddlers.  On each page spread, children will encounter a lively, rhyming text, sweet (not scary) illustrations, and a sturdy flap that can be lifted easily by small hands to reveal the ghost’s hiding place.  Under the flap, the ghosts’ expressions are simply adorable and will put a smile onto a child’s face.  

I love that the cover also includes a flap and the durability of the board book. It is actually one of the most well-made board books I have ever seen.  How to Hide a Ghost is an engaging (not eerie) story that kids will want to read again and again. 


Bella’s Dog Cat Pick of the Week

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

Warning: A cat pounced on the opportunity to take over Bella’s Pick of the Week. Rest assured that dogs WILL be back next week. 

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Hardly Haunted by Jessie Sima 

A vacant house feels lonely and worries people won’t move in because she is haunted.  A curious black cat enters the residence and takes the reader on a tour of each room as the house attempts to suppress her creaks, squeaks, and rattles but is unsuccessful.   The quivering cat leaps out of the house but remains close by.  Holding her breath, the house tries again, but this time, the wind is the culprit rustling leave and scratching branches against her side causing her lights to flicker and base to groan. Finally, the rush of air makes a howling sound through her roof.  Instead of feeling depressed, the house feels invigorated.  Perhaps being haunted is her thing!  Now all she needs is to find a family who will embrace her spookiness.  Don’t worry readers! A happy ending awaits for this haunted house as well as the cat. 

I love how Sima’s illustrations make the house come alive. The third story windows serve as her eyes which convey her range of feelings from apprehension to contentment. The black cat also helps set the tone for the story, for its expression and disposition changes once the house accepts herself unconditionally.  


Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is etta-beagles-and-books-e1624813174378.jpg
“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.
Blog Tour, Giveaway, Middle Grade Literature

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Susie B. Won’t Back Down by Margaret Finnegan

 
 
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About the Book:

Title: Susie B. Won’t Back Down
Author: Margaret Finnegan
Pub. Date: October 5, 2021


Beagles and Books is excited to share a review and giveaway for Susie B. Won’t Back Down published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon and Schuster. 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.


Review:

Susie Babuszkiewicz is a peppy fifth grade student who has a lot of opinions.  For starters, she can’t be called Susie because Soozee Gupta is also in her class which seems unfair.  B comes before G right?  But after reading about Susan B. Anthony and her crusade fighting for women’s rights, Susie embraces being called Susie B. and when choosing a personal hero for the fifth grade Hero Project, Susie immediately knows her choice, duh.  

I absolutely love the format of the novel, for Susie narrates in the form of letters penned to Susan B. Anthony.  The letters are written in a conversational tone so readers feel that Susie is speaking directly to them.  What I love most is that Susie does not hold back; she tells it like it is.  For instance, she shares her honest feelings about Chloe Howard who she secretly calls “Old Fakey Fake” because of her phony personality and how Dylan Rodriguez is one of usual geniuses-kids who always get pick for everything.  And Susie reveals her life long dream of running for student council president because who wouldn’t want to use the big microphone to say The Pledge of Allegiance at assemblies? 

As Susie researches Susan B. Anthony more, she learns that her hero made alliances with individuals who did not believe in equality for all people.  Susie is deeply troubled by this revelation and feels betrayed especially since her half-brother Locke is biracial.   But once more students do research, they also discover their heroes’ flaws.  As her friend Carson who chose Picasso as his hero eloquently states, “It’s easier when you just know what people did, not who they were.”  

Susie also discovers that friends can surprise you too.  Jocelyn has always been her best spark, but as she is running for student council treasurer, Jocelyn sees an opportunity to befriend Chloe.  Susie tries but finds it difficult to be friendly with “Old Fakey Fake.”  When Susie asks her to choose, her best spark chooses the other side which I agree was pretty stabby-stabby.  Susie, I would be proud to eat lunch with you every day.  

Susie B. Won’t Back Down is an authentic story of a young girl trying to figure out who she is.  Is she passionate or high maintenance? Her brother Locke tells her it to her straight-“Fill yourself up by being your best.” Susie realizes that her best means being true to herself.  With that revelation, Susie and Jocelyn may not be besties right now, but sparks don’t happen with only one person.  Susie learns that friends Carson, Soozee, and even Dylan can help her Inner Light shine.  Thanks Susie for being real.   


Praise for Susie B. Won’t Back Down!

“Susie is energetic, breathless, enthusiastic, and genuinely, charmingly funny.” —Kirkus Reviews

A Junior Library Guild Selection


About the Author:

Margaret Finnegan is the author of the middle-grade novels Susie B. Won’t Back Down and We Could Be Heroes. Her writing often focuses on themes on inclusion, hard choices, and being true to yourself. She also makes a really good chocolate cake. To learn more, and to download free discussion guides, visit MargaretFinnegan.com.

Twitter: @FinneganBegin

Instagram: @finneganbegin

 

Check out the fun mock newspaper, The Susie B News–available for download here!

Blog Tour, Book Birthday, Giveaway, Picture Books

Happy Book Birthday & Giveaway for Between the Lines by Lindsay Ward

 
 
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About the Book:

Title: Between the Lines
Author/Illustrator: Lindsay Ward
Pub. Date: October 1, 2021


Happy Book Birthday to Between the Lines written and illustrated by Lindsay Ward! Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour! Special thanks to Two Lions Publishing and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review:

A young boy recalls how the colors began fading from his neighborhood street.  

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A lightning storm not only takes the color away but also creates a split in the road that separates the community.  As I read aloud the story to a kindergarten class, the kids were surprised with their mouths open when I turned the page and the color was gone.  I asked them the questions that author/illustrator Ward poses on the page spread below.  Like most 5 year olds, their responses to the first question was literal. 

  • “The rain made the colors go away.”
  •  “The lightning made a hole in the street and took away the colors.”

The answers to the second question showed their thinking skills.

  • “I think the colors will come back because they will fix the hole.”
  • “They look sad so if they fix the hole, they will be happy again, and then the colors will come back.”

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As I continued reading, the kids immediately noticed that the boy and girl remained sad.  When the boy stopped dreaming about the colors, he realized that he must take action. 

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From their windows, the community observes the boy’s initiative and determination and gradually joins him in repairing the crevice that divided them.  When rain begins to fall, the boy’s and girl’s smiles fade but instead of going their separate ways, the community stands together.  Their unity allows color to return and makes the community whole again.  When I turned the page and the kids saw the color, they clapped. My heart melted seeing their excitement and hearing the sound of their happiness. 

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After the clapping ended, I revisited the question, “Why did the color come back?’ and the kindergarteners were bursting with their thoughts.

  • “The boy started fixing the street and then everyone else helped.”
  • “The boy was sad so he decided fixing the street would make him happy.”

One particular student was bubbling with lots of ideas while I was reading aloud.  At the end of the story, she said, “They worked as a team and you know, teamwork makes the dream work! That’s why the colors came back.”  

Wow! I was blown away by their thoughtful responses!  Ward’s colorful and black and white illustrations are the perfect vehicle to teaching theme with our youngest learners. Kindergarteners could see easily the change in mood and feelings through the use (or absence) of color.  We also discussed the importance of working together as a class family when there is a problem.  Between the Lines is a picture book that promotes deep thinking at all ages. 


Praise for Between the Lines!

“A vibrant neighborhood loses its color, literally, as the community becomes fractured.” 
Kirkus Reviews

“The illustrations…bring the atmosphere and ideas of the story to life. The depictions of both isolation and community in a dense urban neighborhood are poignant, especially after a year when COVID-19 forced people worldwide to forgo, and then to reinvent, community togetherness.”
 —Booklist


Lindsay Ward author

About the Author/Illustrator:

Lindsay Ward is the creator of the Dexter T. Rexter series as well as Rosie: Stronger than Steel; This Book Is Gray; Brobarians; Helping Hospital; the Wheels on the Go series; Rosco vs. the Baby; and The Importance of Being 3. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play. Lindsay lives with her family in Peninsula, Ohio with her family. Learn more about her online at www.lindsaymward.com.

Twitter: @lindsaymward
Instagram: lindsaymward


Click the picture below to check out a storytime for Between the Lines and other books on Lindsay Ward’s website!

 

Early Chapter Books, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/4/21

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.


Our Recent Reads:

All for One (Definitely Dominguita Book 3) by Terry Catasus Jennings Illustrated by Fatima Amaya

In the third book in the series, Dominguita’s love for reading and re-enacting the classics continues with The Three Musketeers. While at Fuentes Salvages borrowing costume props, El Senor Fuentes asks Dom to take a check to Tava’s Butcher to pay for the pigs for his granddaughter Leni’s quinceanera. Always of service, Dom is happy to oblige. When Dom arrives at the shop, Mr. Tava is not there; only a boy named Vinnie. With his hyena laugh, Dom senses something is not right, but feels she has no choice than to give Vinnie the check. Dom’s suspicions were correct, for Vinnie is the oldest of the Bublassi brothers. Why would Vinnie and his brothers want to sabotage Leah’s party? Dom along with her other musketeers Pancho and Steph refuse to let them win and embark on an adventure to save Leah’s important day.

With themes of family, friendship, and fortitude, the Definitely Dominguita series has a lot of kid appeal. Written in under 130 pages with short chapters and engaging illustrations, the series is perfect for readers transitioning to chapter books. Kids not only learn some Spanish words and traditions, but also a knowledge of classic stories. Most importantly, Dom is a great role model demonstrating creativity, grit, perservance, and kindness.

Thanks to the author for sharing a finished copy with my #bookexcursion group.  All for One recently published on August 17, 2021.  Stay tuned for Book 4: Sherlock Dom, which releases on November 16, 2021.


Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites by Jamie Michalak & Debbie Michiko Florence  Illustrated by Yuko Jones

Paying homage to chef Niki Naykayama’s 13 course meal, this picture book biography tells her life story in 13 bites. Growing up in Los Angeles with Japanese born parents, Niki’s enjoyed American foods with a Japanese flair. While Niki always did well in school, her parents’ focus was her brother. Niki was determined to prove she could be a success. Michalak and Florence repeatedly use the word, Kuyashii (meaning I’ll show them) to show Niki’s persistence.

After graduating high school, a visit to her cousin’s inn in the mountains of Japan introduced Niki to kaiseki, a multi course meal that tells a story.  Despite her family’s misgivings, Niki enrolled in cooking school and not only excelled but also became one of the first female sushi chefs. She returned to Japan to learn more about kaiseki and once back home in Los Angeles, Niki opened her own restaurant.

Co-writers Michalak and Florence flawlessly convey the message-Never give up on your goals. I loved Niki’s spunk (Kayashii) because no matter the obstacle, she always had the tenacity to pursue her passion. Illustrator Jones’ artwork shows Niki’s determination to make her dream come true.  Thanks to Brittany Pearlman of Macmillan Children’s Publishing for sharing a finished copy, Niki Nakayama: A Chef’s Tale in 13 Bites recently published on September 14, 2021. 


Between the Lines by Lindsay Ward

A young boy recalls how the colors began fading from his neighborhood street.  A lightning storm not only takes the color away but also creates a split in the road that separates the community.  As I read aloud the story to a kindergarten class, the kids were surprised with their mouths open when I turned the page and the color was gone.  I asked them the questions that author/illustrator Ward poses. .  Like most 5 year olds, their responses to the first question was literal. 

  • “The rain made the colors go away.”

  •  “The lightning made a hole in the street and took away the colors.”

The answers to the second question showed their thinking skills.

  • “I think the colors will come back because they will fix the hole.”

  • “They look sad so if they fix the hole, they will be happy again, and then the colors will come back.”

As I continued reading, the kids immediately noticed that the boy and girl remained sad.  When the boy stopped dreaming about the colors, he realized that he must take action. 

From their windows, the community observes the boy’s initiative and determination and gradually joins him in repairing the crevice that divided them.  When rain begins to fall, the boy’s and girl’s smiles fade but instead of going their separate ways, the community stands together.  Their unity allows color to return and makes the community whole again.  When I turned the page and the kids saw the color, they clapped. My heart melted seeing their excitement and hearing the sound of their happiness. 

After the clapping ended, I revisited the question, “Why did the color come back?’ and the kindergarteners were bursting with their thoughts.

  • “The boy started fixing the street and then everyone else helped.”

  • “The boy was sad so he decided fixing the street would make him happy.”

One particular student was bubbling with lots of ideas while I was reading aloud.  At the end of the story, she said, “They worked as a team and you know, teamwork makes the dream work! That’s why the colors came back.”  

Wow! I was blown away by their thoughtful responses!  Ward’s colorful and black and white illustrations are the perfect vehicle to teaching theme with our youngest learners. Kindergarteners could see easily the change in mood and feelings through the use (or absence) of color.  We also discussed the importance of working together as a class family when there is a problem.  Between the Lines is a picture book that promotes deep thinking at all ages

tpThanks to Two Lions and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a copy. Between the Lines published on October 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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How to Make a Book (About My Dog) by Chris Barton Illustrated by Sarah Horne 

Barton’s most frequently asked questions from kids, “How do you make your books? and “Are you ever going to write a book about your dog?” inspired him to write a nonfiction picture book about his beloved rescue dog Ernie.  

Barton thoroughly and humorously explains the process of writing a book from concept to publication.  Before sharing each step in order, he tells readers that books take a team to be created and during his explanation, Barton makes a point to identify all the different jobs they perform.  Research is very important even when writing a book about his own dog.  Barton shares that he asks family members, Ernie’s foster, and even the shelter about Ernie so he had the most accurate facts about him.  I love how he uses the example that while he initially thought Ernie was part dachshund and part Jack Russell, a DNA test revealed a few other breeds.  

To support young writers, Barton discusses how he begins formulating his ideas into writing.  He discusses the roles of his agent, editor,  the art director, and illustrator.  LOTS of questions are asked by them and other team members which strengthen the text, illustrations, format, and presentation.  Once the book is printed and delivered to bookstores and libraries, How to Make a Book (About My Dog) meets the final member of the team-the reader!

Publishing on October 5, 2021, How to Make a Book (About My Dog) is a perfect mentor text for a nonfiction writing unit. I love that Barton speaks directly to the reader in a conversational tone and includes Ernie anecdotes throughout the book. Horne’s colorful and energetic comic illustrations perfectly complement the text.   Thank you to Millbrook Press/Lerner Publishing and NetGalley for providing an eARC.  


Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is etta-beagles-and-books-e1624813174378.jpg
“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.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Picture Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/20/21

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:

Squirrel’s Sweater by Laura Renauld Illustrated by Jennie Poh

As Squirrel prepares for winter, she discovers a problem. Her favorite sweater no longer fits her.  Unsure if the garment shrank or she grew, Squirrel asks her friends for advice.  Doe, Bear, and Porcupine all attempt to help, but sadly, her sweater cannot be fixed.  This realization hits Squirrel hard because her grandma knit it for her when she was young.  Porcupine consoles Squirrel reminding her that Granny Gray will always live in her heart.  Porcupine’s words not only provide comfort but also give Squirrel an idea of how to use the materials her friends gave her to repurpose her sweater into a heart pillow.  Squirrel’s new creation is now a keepsake of her dear grandma and supportive friends. 

The third book in Renault’s Woodland Friends series, Squirrel’s Sweater is a sweet story for young children.  While friendship and problem solving are both themes central to the plot, the story also addresses how to handle the heartache of losing a loved one.  I loved how Renauld chose to have the pillow represent Squirrel’s love for her grandma and her friends.  Poh’s lively illustrations show Squirrel’s range of emotions from the beginning to end.  An added bonus are directions for how to make a no-sew memory pillow. Thanks to the author for sharing a finished copy.  Squirrel’s Sweater celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on September 21, 2021. 



Looking for a Jumbie
by Tracy Baptiste Illustrated by Amber Ren

If you are a fan of Baptiste’s middle grade Jumbies series, you’ll be excited about her picture book debut!  Young Naya is not scared of jumbies in stories and wonders if they could indeed be real.  After her mama puts her to bed, she climbs out of her window in search of these Caribbean fairies or trolls.  Kids will love joining in the read aloud with the repeated chant “I’m (We’re) looking for a jumbie. I’m (We’re) going to find a scary one.” As Naya walks through the dark woods, she encounters a variety of creatures who each have Jumbie characteristics such as large mouths, sharp teeth, glowing skin, tangly hair full of leaves or a long snake tail.  These creatures are friendly, not scary; therefore, they can’t be jumbies right?  

Baptiste’s playful text begs to be read aloud and Ren’s vivid illustrations make the story come alive.  As I read Baptiste’s descriptions of different types of jumbies, I couldn’t wait to turn the page to see how Ren drew the creatures.  While Naya’s mama said jumbies are only in stories, Naya’s moonlit adventure may make her mama change her mind. Thanks to Sabrina Kenoun of Sparks Point Studio for sharing a finished copy.  Looking for a Jumbie celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on September 21, 2021. 



Before We Sleep
by Giorgio Volpe Illustrated by Paolo Proetti

Little Red, a fox, is happy for the arrival of autumn, for he can blend in with the brown, burgundy, anmd copper colors. The fall colors make it more difficult for his best friend Hazel, a dormouse to find them during a game of hide and seek.   But winter is quickly approaching which means Hazel will be hibernating soon.  Worried about being alone, Little Red attempts to keep Hazel awake, but a yawning Hazel knows sleep is imminent. She assures her dear friend when spring comes, they will play again. Finally, Little Red asks if he can tell Hazel a story and before a word is uttered, the duo drift asleep together with Hazel’s head resting on Little Red’s bushy tail.

Translated from Italian, Before We Sleep is a lyrical lullaby.  The gentle, soothing text and warm, expressive illustrations are the perfect combination for a bedtime story that both kids and adults will enjoy.  What struck me the most is how both the words and artwork show the endearing friendship between the fox and the mouse. Thanks to Red Comet Press and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a finished copy.  Before We Sleep recently published on September 7, 2021. 



Mister Fairy
by Morgane de Cadier Illustrated by Florian Pigé

Unlike all the other fairies in the forest, Mister Fairy does not know what his true gift is.   Whenever he waves his wand, animals giggle or trees turn to pink fluff.  Distraught, Mister Fairy leaves the forest and flies to what he thinks is another forest, but it’s actually the city. Immediately, he notices the gray and gloom of the both the buildings and people.  Wanting to help, Mister Fairy waves his wand and a splash of yellow appear on a building which brings smiles from all the onlookers.  Feeling invigorated, he flies down to the subway and his wand waving invokes giggles.  Back above ground, at an outdoor café, his wand turns umbrellas into cotton candy balls to the delight of the patrons. Something inside Mister Fairy makes him fly home to his forest.  Upon arrival, he sees a colorless forest and sad animals and with one self-assured wand wave, the forest is full of color and laughter.  

Originally published in French, Mister Fairy is an uplifting story that reminds us we all have a purpose; sometimes, it takes a journey away from home to discover our talent.  Thanks to Red Comet Press and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a finished copy.  Mister Fairy recently published on September 7, 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.

Lost Things by Carey Sookocheff

In a park, a squirrel picks up an acorn.  A dog (actually, a hound!) with a stick in its mouth is on a walk with his person and sees the squirrel.  As the hound chases the squirrel, the girl loses her orange hair ribbon as well as the hold of her dog’s leash.  The dog loses the stick and the squirrel loses the acorn.  As the girl runs to catch her dog, a bird finds the hair ribbon and takes it back to its nest.  Something lost is now found.  The story continues with other lost things (a stuffed bear, a pencil, a ball) and how they are found by the people who need them most.  And when the girl picks up the ball in the park, she is soon reunited with her hound as is the squirrel with its acorn.  

As a reading specialist, I am always looking for books to support teaching of key reading skills. With minimal text and illustrations,  Lost Things would be a great anchor text for teaching cause and effect relationships at any grade level as well as plot for the story comes full circle.  I love that Sookocheff consciously chose to color all lost things orange, for it tied them all together. Thanks to Kids Can Press and Edelweiss for sharing a digital ARC.  Lost Things recently published on September 7, 2021. 

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is etta-beagles-and-books-e1624813174378.jpg
“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.
Blog Tour, Giveaway, Picture Books

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Magic Candies by Heena Baek

 
 
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About the Book:

Title: Magic Candies
Author: Heena Baek
Translator: Sophie Bowman
Pub. Date: September 1, 2021


Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for Magic Candies 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.


Review:

A young boy named Tong Tong plays marbles alone in the park while his dog watches.  Depressed, Tong Tong goes to a shop to buy new marbles.  Instead he finds hard candies that look like his round toy.  As soon as Tong Tong puts one in his mouth, the magic begins, for the candies give him the ability to hear things such as the sofa talking.  Tong Tong not only finds the missing remote but also that his dad has a stinky habit that the sofa does not like.  Once the candy dissolves, the sofa is silent.  Tong Tong wonders what will happen if he eats another?  

Guess who starts talking? Yup! Tong Tong’s dog, Marbles who gives him important information.  This page spread is just precious because while I wouldn’t want Bella to talk all the time, I love that Marbles can verbally communicate his feelings. 

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When his dad comes home, Tong Tong only hears questions and commands which appear in the form of words and take up the space of an entire page.  Angered by his dad’s barks, he puts a spotty candy in his mouth and then hears three words over, I love you, over and over again.  Perhaps, these magic candies tell the honest truth? 

Not long after Tong Tong puts a pink candy in his mouth and blows a bubble, he hears his decreased Grandma’s voice and discovers she is doing well. I love this page spread which shows his range of emotions from shocked to determined.

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With the last candy, the only word uttered was bye.  This page spread is gorgeous because Baek cleverly blends in the word with the falling leaves.  As Tong Tong walks through the park, he sees another boy in the distance.  Since the candy did not produce sound, Tong Tong realizes that maybe, he should do the talking and asks the boy “Do you want to play with me?”

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Always eager to share books with students, I read aloud Magic Candies to a class of third graders yesterday.  I was blown away by their observations. Here are some of their thoughts regarding the lesson.  

  • “The boy got the magic candies to learn how others were feeling.”
  • “The shopkeeper knew Tong Tong needed help and sold him the candies.”
  • “The candies gave him the courage to make friends.”
  • “At the beginning, Tong Tong was lonely but the candies made him realize he was not alone.”

The last statement really resonated with me.  Magic Candies is a story of hope, for with each candy, Tong Tong realizes he is not alone.  His dog, father, and grandma are there with him.  The photographed clay molds make the story come alive because readers see the transformation of Tong Tong from lonely to loved.  What I loved the most is the back endpages which show the effect of Tong Tong’s brave actions- he and another boy are playing together in the park.  Baek does a magnificent job of bringing the story full circle; at the beginning, Tong Tong was shooting marbles by himself and now he is riding with a friend. I highly recommend Magic Candies because the story will promote engaging discussion no matter what the age! 


Praise for Magic Candies!

★“Show-stopping spreads by Baek, similar to art by Red Nose Studio, feature molded, emotive figures in meticulously constructed scenery with miniature furniture, photographed under dramatic lighting—an effect startlingly close to animation. It’s a fully realized world that considers discerning meaning and making friends, while offering artwork that lingers in the memory.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

“The enhanced artwork establishes depth and perspective…depictions of facial expressions are skillful and endearing, and the interplay between text and illustrations will cause readers to linger and ponder. An enigmatic, quirky representation of an active imagination in search of understanding and companionship.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Deeply touching, funny, and incredibly odd, this is the kind of picture book that gets you excited about picture books all over again…Magic Candies is so remarkable…a book that is both about giving voice to the voiceless and finding your own.” —Betsy Bird, School Library Journal


About the Author/Illustrator:
Heena Baek is an acclaimed picture book author and illustrator from South Korea. She won the 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, a huge international award honoring the body of work of children’s book creators. She studied educational technology at Ewha Womans University and animation at the California Institute of the Arts. Utilizing her diverse animation production experience, Heena creates powerful and interesting picture books, often sculpting characters and building sets. She is the author and illustrator of a number of picture books, many of which have been translated and have received awards from South Korea and internationally. Follow her on Twitter @heenastory and on Instagram: @baekheena

About the Translator:
Sophie Bowman is a PhD student at the University of Toronto, studying Korean literature. She was awarded the ICF Literature Translation Fellowship at Ewha Womans University. In 2015, she won the Korea Times Modern Korean Literature Translation Award grand prize for poetry with her translations of Jin Eun-young and co-translated Kim Bo-Young’s I’m Waiting for You and Other Stories. Follow her on Twitter @SophieOrbital.

 

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/6/21

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.


My school year with students officially began last week.  Even with masks on, I could see the enthusiasm and excitement in the kids’ faces.  What warmed my heart the most is seeing teachers set up their classroom libraries, introducing kids to books through book tastings, and visiting classrooms for read alouds.  Our school is once again celebrating birthdays with books and it is a joy to see students choose a title to add to their home libraries.

In August, Beagles and Books celebrated its 4th birthday.  Last week, my blog was featured in Feedspot’s Top 20 Middle Grade Book Blogs.  I am so grateful for the recognition and have to give a shout out to all the authors, illustrators, publishers, publicists, my #bookexcursion group, and the many #kidlit book bloggers who support me.  And of course, my beagles who patiently pose as my book models.  I love being part of this amazing community that aims to ensure every kid sees themselves as reader!

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Our Recent Reads:

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Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt Illustrated by Eric Rohmann

In the foothills of the Chiso Mountains in West Texas lives an old camel named Zada and a family of American kestrels.  Zada is Auntie to Wims and Beulah, two chicks who are barely two weeks old.  When a dust storm quickly and violently comes across the canyon, Zada tucks the chicks in her fur, for after all, camels are the ships of the desert.  But when a stray dust devil seizes the chicks’ parents, Perlita and Pard, and they go adrift,  Zada knows her mission is even more important. She must keep Wims and Beulah safe at all cost until they can be reunited with their parents.  Aging and wise Zada travels with her two fledglings to the closest shelter.  The only issue is the trio’s refuge is mountain lion Pecos de Leon’s territory, but Zada is certain that it is their best chance.

Once Zada reaches Pecos’ den, she is relieved it is empty. He could come back at anytime; therefore, Zada remains standing and on alert because if she sits down, she might not be able to get back up in time. With two scared chicks in her fur missing their parents, Zada realizes the only way to console Wims and Beulah is to tell them stories about her early days as a racing camel in Turkey, her friendship with fellow camel Asiye, and her voyage to the United States.  So once she has OOD (Official Okie Dokie) from the chicks, Zada begins telling her story which gives you ALL the feels-happy, sad, excited, scared, and most importantly, hopeful. 

Appelt’s words are pure joy to read, for she writes directly to the reader and her concise text carries a lot of weight and meaning.  As I read, I was literally transported to West Texas as well as Turkey and felt I was on the caravan with Zada. Rohmann’s illustrations complement the text showing readers the feelings of the characters.  I would highly recommend Once Upon a Camel as a class read aloud, for with short chapters, engaging characters, and an intriguing plot, kids would be captivated by the story begging the teacher to continue reading.  What touched my heart the most was Zada’s love for everyone she met in life-Asiye, Perlita, Pard, Wims, Beulah, and many others.  Zada was truly the brighest star because of her love, perseverance, and courage.   As a reading specialist, I love that Zada reminds us that stories both comfort and save us.  And in my opinion, once upon a time… in a land far away… is always a perfect beginning to a story. 

This review was originally posted as part of the Once Upon a Camel Blog Tour and Twitter giveaway. Once Upon a Camel celebrates its book birthday tomorrow on September 7, 2021.


 

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The Stars Beckoned: Edward White’s Amazing Walk in Space by Candy Wellins Illustrated by Courtney Dawson

When he was a young boy, Edward White was mesmerized with the night sky. With a rhyming text, Wellins energetically expresses how White’s fascination with the stars never waned with these repeating lines-“Come back in. He’d resist, but then he’d go, walking back…so slow…so slow.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Edward became a pilot. But flying a jet was not enough. Edward wanted to get closer to the stars. The timeline following the story reveals White was chosen to be an astronaut after earning an advanced degree in aeronautical engineering and attending Air Force Test Pilot School, On June 3, 1965, Edward became the first American to walk in space.

With Wellins’ lively rhythmic pattern and Dawson’s warm illustrations conveying White’s curiosity and commitment, The Stars Beckoned is a perfect picture book biography for young children. While Wellins clearly captured White’s passion for the stars, I love how she ended by sharing that his family were truly the brightest stars in his life. Thanks to the author for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. The Stars Beckoned published in April 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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All Pets Allowed (Blackberry Farm 2) by Adele Griffin Illustrated by Le Uyen Pham

In the follow-up to The Becket List, Becket and her twin brother Nicholas are turning 10 on October 10th. In true Becket fashion, she wants to celebrate big inviting all their classmates (even prankster Travis) while Nicholas prefers a much smaller affair. The twins not only get their wish granted for their birthday parties but also in their presents. Becket gets to choose a dog to adopt from the shelter and Nicholas can pick a cat. At first, the twins are excited about their choices; however, their pets’ personalities appear to be the opposite of their own. Becket’s dog, Dibs, is shy and anxious while Nicholas’ cat, Given, loves the spotlight. Will the twins accept their pets unconditionally? 

 
 

While All Pets Allowed is the second book in the Blackberry Farm series, it can definitely be read as a stand alone. Griffin clearly conveys while the twins share the same birthdays, they do not have similar depositions.  Becket is all spunk and energy and Nicholas is all quiet and reserved. What I love about this story is because of their pets, the twins has a greater respect and appreciation for each other. Pham’s fun and expressive black and white illustrations capture both Becket’s & Nicholas’ personalities as well as Dibs and Givens. The theme of family is strong, for the Branches are true team supporting each other on their farm and with the new pets. Thanks to Lonnie Lane Marketing for sharing a copy with my #bookexcursion group. All Pets Allowed published last week on August 31, 2021.

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is etta-beagles-and-books-e1624813174378.jpg
“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.
Blog Tour, Giveaway, Middle Grade Literature

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt

 
 
            IMG_0859                                                   

About the Book:

Title: Once Upon a Camel
Author: Kathi Applelt
Illustrator: Eric Rohmann
Pub. Date: September 7, 2021


Beagles and Books is excited to share a review and giveaway for Once Upon a Camel published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon and Schuster. 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.


Review:

In the foothills of the Chiso Mountains in West Texas lives an old camel named Zada and a family of American kestrels.  Zada is Auntie to Wims and Beulah, two chicks who are barely two weeks old.  When a dust storm quickly and violently comes across the canyon, Zada tucks the chicks in her fur, for after all, camels are the ships of the desert.  But when a stray dust devil seizes the chicks’ parents, Perlita and Pard, and they go adrift,  Zada knows her mission is even more important. She must keep Wims and Beulah safe at all cost until they can be reunited with their parents.  Aging and wise Zada travels with her two fledglings to the closest shelter.  The only issue is the trio’s refuge is mountain lion Pecos de Leon’s territory, but Zada is certain that it is their best chance.

Once Zada reaches Pecos’ den, she is relieved it is empty. He could come back at anytime; therefore, Zada remains standing and on alert because if she sits down, she might not be able to get back up in time. With two scared chicks in her fur missing their parents, Zada realizes the only way to console Wims and Beulah is to tell them stories about her early days as a racing camel in Turkey, her friendship with fellow camel Asiye, and her voyage to the United States.  So once she has OOD (Official Okie Dokie) from the chicks, Zada begins telling her story which gives you ALL the feels-happy, sad, excited, scared, and most importantly, hopeful. 

Appelt’s words are pure joy to read, for she  writes directly to the reader and her concise text carries a lot of weight and meaning.  As I read, I was literally transported to West Texas as well as Turkey and felt I was on the caravan with Zada. Rohmann’s illustrations complement the text showing readers the feelings of the characters.  I would highly recommend Once Upon a Camel as a class read aloud, for with short chapters, engaging characters, and an intriguing plot, kids would be captivated by the story begging the teacher to continue reading.  What touched my heart the most was Zada’s love for everyone she met in life-Asiye, Perlita, Pard, Wims, Beulah, and many others.  Zada was truly the brighest star because of her love, perseverance, and courage.   As a reading specialist, I love that Zada reminds us that stories both comfort and save us.  And in my opinion, once upon a time… in a land far away… is always a perfect beginning to a story. 

About the Author:

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award Finalist, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award Finalist for The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. Some of her award-winning books include Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and Max Attacks to name just a few. She lives in College Station, Texas. To learn more, visit her website at kathiappelt.com

Find Kathi Appelt on Facebook and Pinterest!

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/23/21

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:

Cranky Chicken by Katherine Battersby

Everything makes Chicken cranky so when a leaf is in her path, she kicks it. Unbeknownst to Chicken, there is a smiling worm named Speedy underneath the leaf. Speedy is the antithesis of cranky-polite, peppy and positive. Speedy doesn’t just want to be Chicken’s friend. The worm wants to be BFFs (not what you think…Best Feathered Friends) because Speedy likes Chicken and her crankiness; ashe saved Speedy from the evil leaf! This revelation makes Chicken feel the opposite of cranky (happy) and a little less lonely.

Don’t let the title and cover of this graphic novel deceive you! With expressive illustrations and playful banter between these unlikely friends, readers will be chuckling from beginning to end. What I loved most is Speedy liked Chicken as she was and never tried to change her. In fact, Speedy was willing to join in the crankiness. Accepting Chicken’s crankiness allowed a friendship ( and happiness) to blossom.  Hoping that there are more Chicken and Speedy adventures coming because If not, I am going to be one cranky reader! Thanks to Simon & Schuster for sharing a F & G of Cranky Chicken which releases on September 7, 2021.


Norman Didn’t Do It! (Yes, He Did) by Ryan Higgins

Norman, a porcupine, is best friends with a tree named Mildred but when a sapling starts growing close to Mildred, Norman fears the worst.  Although Mildred does not say or do anything, Norman believes his friendship is threatened especially as the sapling grows closer to Mildred.  And when their leaves touch, Norman has a full blown meltdown. Desperate to save his friendship,  Norman makes a hasty decision which initially solves his problem; however, now his conscience is overwrought with guilt.  Can Norman find a way to right his wrong in order to make amends with himself?

With humor and heart, Norman Didn’t Do It (Yes, He Did)  teaches kids lessons about jealousy, contrition, friendship, and tolerance.  I love that Higgins chose to have a narrator as well as dialogue directly from Norman because kids see Norman’s progression of emotions especially his inner struggles with his actions. Thanks to Disney Books and NetGalley for sharing an eARC. Norman Didn’t Do It! (Yes, He Did) publishes on September 7, 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.

Cat and Dog: A Tale of Opposites by Tullio Corda 

A cat is awake while a dog is asleep. The cat bravely pounces on the dog who is afraid.  The slowdog chases after the fast cat.  From above, the cat pushes a flower pot which falls on the dog below.  The dog is upset but the cat is unconcerned.   With only one word on each page and a single illustration, Cat and Dog is the perfect book to introduce or reinforce antonyms to kids.  In addition to teaching this concept, the picture book has a plot (it’s a tale after all!) allowing children the opportunity to make and then confirm predictions as well as identify beginning, middle, and end.  Will the cat and dog be enemies or friends?

I am a big fan of case covers or undies that are different from the dust jacket.  I always peek hoping to see something fun and was tickled that the theme was included.  Thank you Red Comet Press and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sharing a copy to read and review. To download activity sheets that supplement the book, click here.  Cat and Dog: A Tale of Opposites publishes soon on September 7, 2021.

Bella and I thank you for visiting Beagles and Books!