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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The Poetry of Mister Rogers

Lyrics by Fred Rogers and Josie Carey

Music by Fred Rogers

Illustrations by Luke Flowers

A Beautiful Day in the NeighborhoodMr. Rogers (Fred McFeeley Rogers) influenced several generations of children with his kind and gentle ways in his television neighborhood. He understood that children need routines to feel safe so he started and ended his show the same way each day. Now we have a compilation of his poetry which, as a trained composer, he put to music as well.

I enjoyed reading his poems. They have a wide range of topics, but contain reassuring verses to help children understand their feelings, and the world around them. He is not shy about sharing his love and encouraging children to do the same. Other topics he addresses include positivity, doing your best, feeling good about yourself just the way you are, and parents. One poem that I think particularly demonstrates his understanding of childhood fears is “You Can Never Go Down the Drain.” 

I think this would be a fun book to share with children, choosing poems at random or when a child has a particular need. The illustrations are colorful and reflect the magic of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. This book ends with a brief biography for adults of a fascinating man who has influenced so many in a positive way.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Quirk Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Nonfiction, Poetry

Publication: March 19, 2019—Quirk Books

Memorable Lines:

You’ve made this day a special day by just your being here.

 

It isn’t by size that you win or you fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

 

It is the people you like the most

Who can make you feel the maddest.

 

It’s you I like. 

It’s not the things you wear. 

It’s not the way you do your hair. 

But it’s you I like.

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Benchmark Assessments: Weighing the Pig More Often?

As a practicing teacher, I always thought benchmark assessments were worthless and that I had more in-depth knowledge about a child’s progress than would be demonstrated on an exam. Boots on the ground are so important! This is an excellent blog post to explain the effectiveness of benchmark assessments.

Robert Slavin's Blog

There is an old saying about educational assessment: “If you want to fatten a pig, it doesn’t help to weigh it more often.”

To be fair, it may actually help to weigh pigs more often, so the farmer knows whether they are gaining weight at the expected levels. Then they can do something in time if this is not the case.

It is surely correct that weighing pigs does no good in itself, but it may serve a diagnostic purpose. What matters is not the weighing, but rather what the farmer or veterinarian does based on the information provided by the weighing.

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This blog is not, however, about porcine policy, but educational policy. In schools, districts, and even whole states, most American children take “benchmark assessments” roughly three to six times a year. These assessments are intended to tell teachers, principals, and other school leaders how students are doing, especially in…

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Corned Beef and Casualties–St. Paddy’s Day novella

Corned Beef and Casualties

by Lynn Cahoon

Corned Beef and CasualtiesHow about a quick and easy read? Corned Beef and Casualties is good for St. Patrick’s Day or any day you want a brief distraction. It is a fun little novella from one of my favorite cozy mystery authors Lynn Cahoon. It is part of the extensive Tourist Trap Mystery Series.

Cahoon does a great job of making the novella into a standalone with necessary information about the characters relayed succinctly. We witness  unusual cooperation between the main character, Jill, who owns a bookstore/coffee shop and Darla, the proprietor of a winery and also a reporter for the local paper. Be ready for a surprise ending!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. A Tourist Trap Novella

2. Cheesecake recipe included

Publication:   February 5, 2019—Kensington Press (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

“You need to stop worrying about her and get on with your life.” The look he gave me was filled with such love and sadness I almost teared up. “Miss Gardner, that sounds like a perfectly logical thing to do. Unfortunately, the heart isn’t logical.”

“Some couples just fight…I see couples at their worse. They get a few too many into them, and every slight becomes a big deal.”

Darla was always preaching about the free press and her responsibility to the newspaper-reading public, but deep down, she knew not to release something that might ruin someone’s life. Especially if he was innocent.

FREE Download: Academic Curveball (1st in Braxton Campus Mystery Series)

Free Cozy Mystery! Jump right into this series with this opportunity to get #1 FREE. I’m excited that the third book in the series will be published soon. #1 is a delight!

This Is My Truth Now

Academic Curveball, the first book in my new series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, is FREE for 5 days from 2/7 thru 2/11. You can buy the CRITTER AWARD-WINNING Kindle e-read version via Amazon — SHARE everywhere you can to help promote the book.

Tomorrow we launch the pre-sale for the third book in the series, Flower Power Trip. We will also reveal the cover with over 25 bloggers sharing the first look. Stay tuned for more information on the launch date and blog tour!

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Overview / Description:
When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds a dead body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father and someone attempts to…

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The Lost Traveller–a mysterious victim

The Lost Traveller

by Sheila Connolly

the lost travellerI was delighted to have an opportunity to get my first taste of Sheila Connolly’s mysteries as she has a number of books and series to her credit. I don’t usually start a series this far in (#7), but Connolly does a good job of introducing her characters. She starts The Lost Traveller off with a nervous American family, first time travelers abroad, visiting Sullivan’s Pub, giving the author a natural opportunity to explore the setting with the reader and present Maura, the American owner of the pub. The pace continues briskly as Maura, on lunch break, spots what appears to be a trash bag down a ravine on her property. It isn’t trash caught by a bridge pier, however, but something more ominous. Next we are introduced to the local gardaí (police). The plot pace moderates as Maura struggles with various types of issues—relationship, crime, business, and legal. It picks up again at the end with the resolution of some of those problems.

I enjoyed the Irish brogue and sprinkling of Irish words and names throughout. I learned more about Ireland and the Travellers, a sort of Irish version of gypsies, but they are not Romani. More information about the Travellers would have been welcome along with some character development of Peter, the father of the Traveller family that Maura meets. In fact, character development is a weak link in the book. For example, there are a group of men who frequent the pub and try to help Maura discover the identity of the victim and who murdered him. This group stands as a Greek chorus, with little revealed about any of them. They serve to reflect Maura’s progress involving the murder mystery. Although I am not thoroughly taken by the book, I enjoyed the intricacies of the plot well enough to try another book in the series.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #7 in the County Cork Mysteries, but works as a standalone.

Publication:   January 8, 2019—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

Was she getting soft? She’d always been independent, mostly out of necessity. She hated to ask people for help, much less emotional support. Now she had someone in her life who offered both, although cautiously.

This was ridiculous: she was being bossed around by a child. Well, one who could definitely cook, and who knew more about computers than she did.

What had Ireland done to her? She’d gone soft. And, she realized, she kind of liked it.

Mardi Gras Murder–lots of Louisiana flavor in this mystery

Mardi Gras Murder

by Ellen Byron

Mardi Gras Murder.jpgMardi Gras Murder takes place in Pelican, Louisiana, as the townsfolk work together to recover from flooding. Maggie Crozat is an artist who works at her family’s B & B as well as a tour guide at Doucet, the plantation that belonged to her mother’s family. The story starts with action as a body no one can identify shows up during the cleanup, but the author, Ellen Byron, also very quickly gives a background introducing many of the characters. It is fortunate that Byron includes a list of characters because I had to refer back to it may times. Families and lineage are very important in determining status in Louisiana, and it seems like everyone is related to or at least knows everyone else in Pelican.

The plot gets complicated as Maggie has to substitute for her grandmother as a judge in the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen competition, there is another murder, and Maggie uncovers a lot of local secrets. The storyline is interesting, and I enjoyed the Louisiana setting and a generous sprinkling of Cajun French dialogue. It was also fun to read about the local cuisine, frequently leading me to the Internet for personal searches to learn more. Gopher, a Bassett hound pictured on the cover, attracted me to the book, but he has only a minor presence. All in all, Mardi Gras Murder is an enjoyable read.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes:  1. #4 in the Cajun Country Mystery Series. There are a LOT of characters in this book, but the author seems aware of potential issues and manages them well. This was my first foray into the series, but I enjoyed it.

  2. A detail that makes a fun side story, but is inaccurate: A cast iron pot used for the gumbo cook-off had been passed down the family line. The seasoning that had accumulated over the years was supposedly ruined when some dogs licked it. Actually “seasoning” does not affect the flavor of foods cooked in the pot. Seasoning makes it nonstick and prevents rusting. The well-seasoned, prized pot need not have been discarded. A simple hand washing, heating to dry, and wiping with lard or oil would have restored the pot quite satisfactorily.

Publication:  October 9, 2018— Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

He made himself sound important, but it came across as someone trying very hard to inflate a small balloon.

“Boy, I had a bad case of SDS back there,” Denise said. She saw the puzzled expression on Maggie’s face. “Southern Door Syndrome, where you take almost as long to say goodbye as you stayed at the party.”

“You know the old cliché, chére. Ninety-nine percent of American families are dysfunctional, and the other one percent is lying about it.”

The Spirit in Question–mysteries abound in the old playhouse

The Spirit in Question

by Cynthia Kuhn

The Spirit in QuestionHaving enjoyed the first two cozy mysteries in the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Series, I was looking forward to another. This book has many good features. Readers are filled in on background quickly. The series branches out from the typical college professor tenure issues by focusing on Professor Lila Maclean’s role as dramatic consultant to a play written by one Stonydale professor and directed by a visiting professor from France. The play is embroiled in conflicts over changes the director wants to make as well as picketing by the local historical society over potential damages to the Opera House, an old theater with a flamboyant and murderous past. 

Cynthia Kuhn, the author of The Spirit in Question, chooses to develop her plot with a lot of paranormal activity, even bringing in the Spirit Wranglers who try to prove ghostly existence for their TV viewers. Is a ghost responsible for accidents and murders or is there a human element at work? Not a fan of paranormal novels, I did not enjoy this cozy mystery as much as the others in the series. I did enjoy watching Lila unravel some of the mystery threads and obtain a confession. I’m assuming the author will drop the paranormal focus in future books and resume mysteries that look more at life in the Colorado university town of Stonedale and Lila’s role there as a professor.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #3 in the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Series, but effective as a standalone

2. Author and characters seem to be unable to decide if there was paranormal activity involved in the mysterious happenings in the theater.

Publication:   October 2, 2018—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

I knew I needed to focus the conversation so that she wouldn’t begin regaling me with a cascade of memories about the time she went here or there with future celebrity x, y, or z. Once that train left the station, there would be no stopping it.

Gavin scratched his head, resulting in a dry little scratchy sound that made me want to run for the nearest tank of hand sanitizer.

…somehow it was difficult to think of him as actively guilty. He was more like a casualty swept up in the tsunami of her relentless determination.

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