Monday, September 19, 2011

Barkley, Secret Service Dog

There’s a new cartoon character in the White House — and no, this is not a political dig. A new chapter book series has been published involving Barkley, a secret service dog patrolling the halls of the White House. This charming series aimed at children ages 8-12 began this summer with “The Case of the Purple Diamonds.” The book, and those that will follow, contain an interesting cast of characters and Barkley’s high-tech Gizmo Gear, plus 12-year-old Gabby who teams up with Barkley to solve cases. The books are the creation of H.K. Gilbert of Shreveport and screenwriter Misty Taggert (“Scooby Doo,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”). Together they make up Gilbert & Taggert Entertainment Properties, with illustrations by Tim Davis. Coming out this fall will be “Invasion of the Ice Age,” where Gabby’s science teacher accidentally sets off his Ice-0-Matic Blaster just before the president arrives, and this winter it’s “The Mystery of the Ghostly Guest,” involving dead White House pirates who continue to hang around. For information on the “Barkley, Secret Service Dog” series, visit

New releases
Preston Lauterbach discusses the Chitlin’ Circuit, an underground circuit of Southern musical clubs frequented by African American musicians, in “The Chitlin’ Circuit: And the Road to Rock ’n’ Roll.” Preston looks at musicians James Brown, B.B. King, Little Richard and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, as well as Chicago Defender columnist Walter Barnes and gambler Denver Ferguson.
Louisiana romance icon Jennifer Blake has published a new series involving three sisters and a curse titled “The Three Graces Trilogy;” any man betrothed to the three Graces of Graydon without love will be doomed to die. The first two books in the series are “By His Majestry’s Grace” and “By Grace Possessed” with “Seduced by Grace” arriving later this month. Sourcebooks has also reprinted Blake’s “Midnight Waltz,” set in Southern Louisiana in the 1850s and concluding with the hurricane at Isle Derniere, or Last Island, in 1856.           
Tom Piazza of New Orleans collects writings on American roots music, New Orleans, desperate times and more in “Devil Sent the Rain: Music and Writing in Desperate America.” Piazza is the author of “City of Refuge” and “Why New Orleans Matters.”
Todd-Michael St. Pierre has created a fun-loving, big-boned feline who loves to dance and enjoy life in New Orleans, but who longs for a mate in “Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras: La Chatte Noire” by Piggy Press. This adorable book has Chatte Noire going out on dates to places such as Cat O’Brien’s and St Louis CAThedral but no one stirs her fancy until she hears the sounds of Max playing "killer sax." Illustrated by Diane Millsap, the book is published in English and in French.
The Images of America series of Arcadia Publishing has released “K&B Drugs Stores” by John S. Epstein, with a foreword by Sydney J. Besthoff III, grandson of the founder with Gustave Katz of the Katz and Besthoff drugstore chain. The book showcases wonderful old photos of the 50 New Orleans stores, plus the others located throughout six states during the business’s 92-year span. The book also contains photos of old advertisements, fountain menus, K&B products (with their trademark purple) and even K&B LSU football schedules. For anyone who fondly remembers eating K&B ice cream at their counters, the purple paper bags or the “double checked” prescriptions, they will love this trip down memory lane.

100 Thousand Poets
On Sept. 24, several Louisiana poets will be part of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change, the largest poetry event in history involving more than 500 events in 350-plus cities in 80 countries. In Louisiana, two events will occur in New Orleans and one in Lafayette. Numerous poetry–related events will happen at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in downtown Lafayette, with the $6 admission being donated to non-profit organizations. Poets from Shreveport, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge and throughout Acadiana are scheduled to participate, and the ULL poetry group will perform a series of open-space musical and literary skits.  During the intermission, Webcasts of other 100 Thousand Poets for Change events will run in the AcA's James Devin Moncus Theatre. The Lafayette event will be webcast and recorded and archived by UC Stanford’s LOCKSS program. For more information, visit