Monday, June 4, 2012

Lafayette teens win state library 'Video Challenge' with 'Fast Food'

Courman Winters and Michael Hilburn won the State Library of Louisiana’s Own the Night Teen Video Challenge 2012. Their winning video was titled “Fast Food” and filmed at the Lafayette Public Library. The Teen Video Challenge is a national competition aimed at getting teens involved with reading and their public library’s summer reading program. Winners were selected from 23 participating states and their videos are recognized as official Own the Night Teen Video Challenge winners. The winning videos will be used to promote summer reading programs in libraries nationwide and each winning video will earn its creators $275 from the CSLP. To view the winning videos, including the very clever “Fast Food,” visit For more information about Louisiana summer reading programs and the State Library visit
University presses
            Last week I mentioned two new books from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press but failed to mention “New Orleans Sojourn: Premiers pas a la Nouvelle Orleans” by French artist Gersin.
            Part travel diary (Gersin spent three months in the city), part artist sketchbook, this lovely tribute to New Orleans is written in French highlighted by Gersin’s remarkable line and watercolor drawings. It’s the perfect gift for those learning the language and for our cousins and friends across the pond. Of course, you don’t really need to understand French to know what Gersin is honoring; the descriptive photos of the Crescent City tell it all.
            For information, visit UL Press at
            And speaking of university presses, LSU Press has two interesting books out now — “Louisiana Aviation: An Extraordinary History in Photographs” by Vincent P. Caire of New Orleans and “The Garden Diary of Martha Turnbull, Mistress of Rosedown Plantation,” edited and annotated by Suzanne Turner, professor emerita of landscape architecture at LSU.
            “Louisiana Aviation” takes readers through the state’s frontier days of flying to the present-day and the annual Acadiana Air Show. Accompanied by dozens of photographs, the book highlights pioneers, barnstormers, designers and more. There’s Delta Airlines founder C. E. Woolman, aircraft designer James Wedell and Harry P. Williams, who with Wedell founded the Wedell-Williams Air Service in Patterson. Visits by famous aviators including Charles Lindbergh and John Moisant, whose tragic crash inspired the naming of the New Orleans airport (now you know what those letters mean on your airplane tickets!).
            But that’s only the tip of the wing. The book is a must for aviation lovers but general history readers will find it fascinating as well. I know I did.
            Martha Turnbull owned Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville and kept a diary of her extensive gardening exploits from 1836 to 1894. Through these notes, editor Suzanne Turner not only documents in “The Garden Diary of Martha Turnbull” how Turnbull created a plantation garden, giving insight to American horticulture of 19th century upper crust society, but also the daily lives of a Louisiana planter family. 

New releases
            Liz Talley, who grew up in Minden, has published a romantic suspense titled “Waters Run Deep,” a Harlequin Superromance featuring an undercover agent on a case in a town modeled after Breaux Bridge. She has books coming out in July and September of this year as well. “My first one has a little suspense, my second is based on LSU football recruiting and the last one is a coming home reunion story,” she wrote me by email. “I worked hard to make sure I made it authentic Louisiana.” For information, visit
            Hurricane season came early this year even though it’s officially June 1. With climate change wrecking havoc on everything, why not stay vigilant all year long? Meteorologist Bonnie Schneider offers a guide to surviving flash floods, tornadoes, heat waves, tsunamis, and yes, hurricanes in “Extreme Weather.” This book offers advice for all kinds of bad weather including earthquakes, fires and more, plus shows readers how to create a family disaster plan, prepare for emergencies with pets and work with social media. It’s a handy guide to keep with the flashlight and bottled water.
            Rich Cohen has written “The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King,” about Samuel Zemurray, the son of a Jewish Russian farmer who ran United Fruit and influenced Central American politics in the early part of the 20th century. “Cohen claims Zemurray was to New Orleans what Rockefeller was to New York, but the better comparison may be to Robert Moses, who bulldozed both land and people to build many of New York’s roads, parks, and bridges,” wrote Publisher’s Weekly. Cohen will sign copies of his book at 6 p.m. Monday, June 4, at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
            Ken Budd has published “The Voluntourist: A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate, and Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem,” which includes his work volunteering for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief in New Orleans, among other causes around the world.
            The spring issue of The Southern Review is now on bookstore shelves, featuring poems, drama, photographs, essays and fiction. The Southern Review was founded in 1935 by Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks and is published four times a year by LSU.
            James W. Miller has published “Where the Water Kept Rising: A College Athletic Director’s Fight To Save a New Orleans Sports Institution” by Arthur Hardy Enterprises, a New Orleans publisher. Miller was athletic director at UNO.
            Bill Loehfelm has published a mystery, “The Devil She Knows,” and will sign copies of this book from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, at the Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans. Also at the bookstore will be true crime writer August Palumbo signing copies of “Assassin Hunter,” which deals with New Orleans mafia and the “underworld of the Cajun French,” among others, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 9.

Book awards
            Curt Iles’ “A Spent Bullet” won the Director’s Award at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. Iles is a Christian author and storyteller who lives in Dry Creek.
Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at