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My Elephant Is Blue–sadness
My Elephant Is Blue
written by Melinda Szymanik
illustrated by Vasanti Unka
Children sometimes have trouble verbalizing their feelings and managing them. My Elephant Is Blue was written to help children deal with sadness. “Big, heavy feelings” are represented by the crushing weight of the elephant Blue. The child’s family members try to help in various ways, and gradually the child does feel the weight of sadness lifting. This is Mental Health Awareness month, and My Elephant Is Blue is one of many picture books published by Flyaway Books to help young children and their families deal with emotions.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Category: Children’s Fiction, Health
Notes: 1. Ages 3-7
2. Supporting resources linked to this book are found at http://www.flyawaybooks.com/resources. There is a Discussion and Activity Guide that helps the reader understand the symbolism in the book. This guide includes Discussion Starters, Activities, a list with links of organizations that offer support, and a coloring sheet. There is also a book trailer if you would like a preview of the book.
Publication: April 11, 2023—Flyaway Books
They said, “Perhaps if you cheered up a bit…or smiled at it.” But it’s hard to cheer up or smile with an elephant sitting on your chest.
“It’s an elephant,” Mom and Dad said. “Surely it can’t stay forever. It’s bound to move on sometime.” I hoped sometime was soon.
Theater Nights Are Murder–elder sleuths
Theater Nights Are Murder
by Libby Klein
Poppy, a plus size single in her forties, and her Aunt Ginny, a red-headed octogenarian with all kinds of spunk, are the main characters in Theater Nights Are Murder. There is a huge cast of supporting characters sporting lots of quirks. Topping the list are Gia, an Italian barista, and Tim, a chef with romantic ties to Poppy’s youth; both men are vying for Poppy’s heart, and six months after her move back to her hometown, she remains indecisive. Also, front and center, are the “biddies,” friends of Aunt Ginny who manage to get into all kinds of trouble. Figaro, her cat, has a mind of his own and has free run of the Victorian house the two ladies are trying to convert into a Bed and Breakfast. As a pastry chef, Poppy divides her time between Gia’s coffee shop, Tim’s restaurant, and her own B&B.
As if friends, family, and business are not enough to keep Poppy busy, author Libby Klein immerses her and the biddies in the senior center’s production of Momma Mia, starring Royce, an aging, homegrown, Shakespearean star. The plot of this cozy is complicated by old rivalries, reignited loves, and mysterious men who appear in the audience during practices. All is fun until one of the cast members falls to his death from a catwalk. Is it a suicide, an accident, or murder?
The biddies are so funny as they investigate, bringing in Sponge Bob walkie talkies and applying tips they have picked up from Murder She Wrote and other television shows. Meanwhile, trolls are scattering bad reviews under various names across social media. They focus on criticizing Poppy’s pastries at all three establishments while actual demand for the goodies and praise at the restaurants remain consistently high. A frustrated Poppy has no idea how to stop the false reviews, uncover a murderer, or solve her love dilemma.
Theater Nights Are Murder is packed with fun situations and dialogue. The plot and quirky characters will keep you turning the pages to help out the likable, down to earth, pastry chef who ironically is confined to gluten free treats. Throughout this cozy mystery, Aunt Ginny and her pals prove that octogenarians can enjoy fun, romance, and some senior humor at their own expense.
I would like to extend my thanks to Netgalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: 1. #4 in the Poppy McAllister Mystery Series, but OK as a standalone as the author fills you in as you read.
2. Recipes are included at the end of the book.
Publication: December 3, 2019—Kensington Books
I was a little stunned, the way Miss Piggy was a little self-involved.
I can barely control myself, let alone a group of stubborn biddies who have their minds made up. In their heads, those ladies were conducting an FBI sting rivaling that of capturing Osama Bin Laden, and they were going to get their man.
The peachy-pink glow is a bouquet of empty promises of warmth and comfort mocked by the frigid wind blowing off the Atlantic Ocean. Even the seagulls sit with their wings wrapped around themselves, too disgruntled by the cold to dive-bomb passersby for potential smackerals.
The Spirit in Question–mysteries abound in the old playhouse
The Spirit in Question
by Cynthia Kuhn
Having 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.
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
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.