Monday, September 24, 2012

Zachary Richard offers 'balanced overview' of Acadian, Cajun history in new book

    UL Press will launch a new book by Zachary Richard this week. The musician, raconteur, poet, historian and friend of French in Louisiana has written “Histoire des Acadiennes et Acadiens de la Louisiane” and will celebrate its publishing beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Blue Moon Saloon. The event is free but there will be music by Luke, Zach & Phillip Huval and food by Chef Pat Mould. Feufollet will play after the party for a $10 cover or $5 with purchase of the book.
    The book wasn’t available at press time, but according to Richard on the event’s Facebook page, the book was inspired by an earlier volume published in New Brunswick.
     “I felt that a similar volume would be important for the Acadian/Cajun community of Louisiana,” Richard writes on Facebook. “With the support of the original publisher, Les Editions La Grande Marée, we were able to create a work which shares the same history as the Acadians of the Canadian Maritimes up to the deportation of 1755. At that point, our book follows the route of exile that brought the original Acadians to Louisiana. It studies the evolution of the Acadian community in Louisiana and furnishes a portrait of contemporary Acadian/Cajun culture through its social traditions and artistic expression.”
    Although Richard’s book is intended for French immersion students in Louisiana studies in the eighth grade, “this book is a balanced overview of Acadian/Cajun history and culture,” he writes. “Rich in archival images and captivating photography, this book is a beginners guide to the Acadian/Cajun experience of Louisiana.”

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mother and son team publish Eunice history

    Mother and son team Alma Brunson Reed and Van Reed have teamed up again for another historical look at Eunice with “Legendary Locals of Eunice” by Arcadia Publishing.
    The authors also collaborated on “Eunice,” part of the Arcadia Publishing Images of America series. 
    Their new book features a variety of Eunice residents, from city founders and early settlers to business people, musicians, veterans and NFL football record-holder Kyries Hebert, among many others.
    The Reeds will discuss “Legendary Locals of Eunice” at noon Friday, Sept. 21, in the Louisiana Collection Room of the LSU-Eunice LeDoux Library in Eunice. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Book Sale
    The Friends of the Lafayette Parish Library Book Sale will be Monday through Thursday, Sept. 17-20, at the Heymann Convention Center Ballroom. A Friends member-only sale will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, followed by the public sale from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday.
    For those who are not members but wish to attend the first night sale, you can join the Friends of the Lafayette Parish Library at the door. The membership fee is minimal.
    To date, the Friends of the Library has donated $566,249.16 to the Lafayette Public Library system with much of this money raised through book sales.
    In addition to the book sale at the Heymann Center, there will be a Silent Auction at the South Regional Library from now until Oct. 4.
    For more information, visit the Friends’ website at

New releases
    New Orleans jazz musician Wynton Marsalis take children on a tour of interesting sounds with a new children’s board book titled “Squeak! Rumble! Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure,” will illustrations by Paul Rogers.
    Liz Talley of northern Louisiana traveled to Breaux Bridge to create the fictional town of Bayou Bridge for “The Boys of Bayou Bridge” series published by Harlequin. Her first two books in the series were “Waters Run Deep” and “Under the Autumn Sky,” and conclude this month with “The Road to Bayou Bridge.” All three are set in Louisiana. For more information, visit
    Pelican Publishing releases several new cookbooks this month. They are “The Art of Brazilian Cooking” by Sandra Cuza; “Mr. Dickey’s Barbecue Cookbook: Recipes from a True Texas Pit Master; “New Orleans Classic Cocktails” by Kit Wohl; “The Louisiana Seafood Bible: Fish Vol. 1 by Jerald and Glenda Horst: “Meanwhile, Back at Café Du Monde: Life Stories about Food,” created and edited by Peggy Sweeney-McDonald with photographs by Troy Kleinpeter and a foreword by Karen Benrud; and “A Savannah Christmas” by Kimberly Ergul and Holley Jaakkola with photography by Richard Leo Johnson.
    Joe Reese follows up his “And the Flowers Began to Dance” with “Swann Song:  A Leah Swann Mystery,” part of a series featuring a non-traditional graduate student at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette who’s attacked by an alligator, stalked by a psychotic professor, lured into the Atchafalaya and accused of murdering her mentor.
    Dr. Hillary Keeney, adjunct faculty in UL-Monroe’s marriage and family therapy program, and Dr. Bradford Keeney, professor and Hanna Spyker eminent scholars chair in education, released a new book, “Circular Therapeutics: Giving Therapy a Healing Heart.” Dr. Stephen Lankton, editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, said it is a “fantastic book capable of transforming the entire thinking and practice of therapy.” For more information and to purchase a copy, visit:
    Geoff Wyss has published a collection of short stories that pose questions such as “How did we get here?” titled “How.” The book won the Ohio State University Prize in Short Fiction. Wyss will be reading from and signing books at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, at Maple Street Bookstore in New Orleans.
    Tyrone “Li’l T” Roberts meets Buddy when his family’s car accidentally hits the stray dog on their way to church and the dog becomes part of the family —until Hurricane Katrina arrives and they must leave Buddy behind. Li’l T refuses to give up on Buddy after they return and the dog is long gone, but his perseverance makes up “Buddy,” a young adult book by M.H. Herlong. Kirkus Reviews calls it “A touching tale of hope, of holding on when you can, and of letting go when it’s the right thing to do.” Herlong will sign copies of “Buddy” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at Maple Street Bookstore in New Orleans. Herlong is a teacher, writer and the author of “The Great Wide Sea,” a YALSA 2010 Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults.
    Now in paperback is “The Homecoming of Samuel Lake” by Jenny Wingfield, about a preacher and his family who leave Louisiana and return to the preacher’s homestead in Arkansas after the death of the preacher’s father-in-law.

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

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Children's book entertains, tells story of Acadian Diaspora; PlantFest Saturday

    Nova Scotia author Lila Hope-Simpson and illustrator Doretta Groenendyk pay homage to the Acadians of Grand Pré in their charming new children’s book “Fiddles and Spoons: Journey of an Acadian Mouse,” published by Nimbus Publishing of Nova Scotia.
    The book follows the Souris family of mice who live beneath the floorboards of the Dubois household. The mice dance when music is played above and enjoy Acadian meals when crumbs fall through the floor cracks. Life is good for both families until the English exile the Acadians from their homes beginning in 1755. When the Dubois family is forced aboard ships, the mice follow too, ending up in a Southern port and eventually making their way to Louisiana.
    Both families regroup with other Acadians but cannot forget their homes in Acadie. But as time moves on, they begin to dance, picking up fiddles and spoons once again.
    “Fiddles and Spoons” is beautifully told and lovingly illustrated, explaining well a complicated, horrific history. Children will understand le grand dérangement or the great exile through this telling, connecting with the sweet story of the mice but grasping the larger picture of one of North America’s most tragic Diasporas. Kudos to Hope-Simpson and Groenendyk for offering a lovely book to explain a little-known history.

Plant Fest
    The Lafayette Parish Master Gardeners are hosting its annual plant sale and festival from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at the UL Horse Farm, now a city park. PlantFest will include a plant sale to help fund the Master Gardeners program, workshops, food by Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro and sales of nature-inspired products, among much more.
    There will be an author table at the event, hosted by the Writers’ Guild of Acadiana and featuring books that involve nature. I’ll be there selling my “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets” books and explaining out to make your own, along with:
    Bill Fontenot, author of “Native Gardening in the South,” “A Cajun Prairie Restoration Chronicle” with Charles Allen and Malcolm Vidrine, “Gulf Coast Birds” with Brian Miller, “Louisiana Birdwatching” with Bill Thompson III, “Vanishing Before Our Eyes” with Wylie Barrow Jr., “Wings Over The Wetlands” and “Watching a Forest Grow;”
    Jacklyn Hirshberg, “Nicky the Swamp Dog,” “Roger the Tree Frog;”
    Yvette Naquin, “Louisiana Through My Lens;”
    John LaFleur, “Creole Gourmet Cookbook;”
    Mel LeCompte, “The Ice Cream Cow;”
    Don Stanford, “Southern Kingdom” series;
    John Mayeux, “The Avogel Tribe of Louisiana;”
    John Francois, “The March,” “Cajun Fire,” “Cajun Knight,” “Carrier-of-Bones” and “Pontiac;”
    Rosemary Smith, “Lizzie Walks on the Wild Side,” “Woody Gets Dunked;”    
    and The Advertiser’s awesome garden columnist Ann Justice!
    Please come out and support local authors and support the Lafayette Parish Master Gardeners.

New releases
    Peggy Sweeney-McDonald is the creator and producer of the “Meanwhile, Back at Café Du Monde…” live food monologue shows. Her coffee table book of the same name with 67 of the Louisiana food stories with recipes and photos has been published in time for Café Du Monde’s 150th anniversary this year. She will be participating in the French Quarter Cookbook Festival Sept. 16 with monologues on stage and again at the Louisiana Book Festival on Oct. 27 in Baton Rouge. For more information, visit
    Danny Allain, a professor of comic drawing and illustration at McNeese in Lake Charles has published “Dead Reckoning,” a comic book featuring two brothers in the Old West who encounter zombies in their journeys. The book is the first in a series.
    LSU Press and the LSU Museum of Art are hosting an exhibit on the life and work of artist Clementine Hunter and the release of a biography on the artist. Authors Art Shiver and Tom Whitehead will be signing copies of “Clementine Hunter: Her Life and Art” in conjunction with the opening reception of the exhibit, “Louisiana’s Artist: Clementine Hunter,” from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at the LSU Museum of Art. The event is free and open to the public and the exhibition will run until March 2013. The book will be available at the LSU MOA gift shop, online at and at local and national bookstores. LSU MOA is located on the fifth floor of the Shaw Center, 100 Lafayette St. Baton Rouge.
    Bonny L. Schumaker has published “Pellie Lou: A Pelican Who Survived the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill,” about a pelican who must find a way to survive after her home and family are destroyed by the Gulf oil spill of 2010. She will sign copies from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at Maple Street Bookstore in New Orleans.
    Robert Medina, a resident of Miramar Beach, Fla., who was raised in New Orleans, has published a cookbook and memoir titled “If You Can’t Stand the Heat...a New Orleans Firefighter’s Cookbook.”
    Gerald N. Caskey of Farmerville recently retired from the U.S. Army and working as a family counselor with Child Protective Services. He has just published “The Bullfrog, Bigfoot, and the Beast on the Bayou.”
    “The book could well have been titled ‘Growing Up in Bayou Country’ with a little fiction/fantasy thrown in for good measure,” he wrote me by email. “Louisiana legends continue to flow freely through the veins of true Louisianans.”
    He will be speaking and signing copies of his books from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Union Parish Library, 202 W. Jackson St. in Farmerville. 
    Also in Caskey’s future is a piece of historical fiction.
    “My wife Debbie and I are currently putting the finishing touches on a joint writing venture, ‘Turkish Delight,’” Caskey wrote. “Having lived in Izmir, Turkey, for two years while working with NATO we are extremely excited about this ambitious venture.”

Book events
    HeartLA, the Baton Rouge chapter of Romance Writers of America, will host its 6th Annual Reader’s Luncheon Saturday, Nov. 10, at Juban’s restaurant in Baton Rouge. The keynote speaker is New York Times best-selling author Heather Graham, with emcee F. Paul Wilson. There will be a book signing immediately following the luncheon. For more information on tickets and registration, visit 

    Bonny L. Schumaker will be signing her children’s book, “Pellie Lou: A Pelican Who Survived the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill,” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at Maple Street Bookstore in New Orleans.
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

Monday, September 10, 2012

Kidnapping that captivated nation now a book, offers interesting conclusion

            Aug. 23 of this year marked the 100th anniversary of the alleged kidnapping of a boy by the name of Bobby Dunbar, a story that has fascinated America for years, including airing as an episode on National Public Radio’s “This American Life.”
             The Dunbar family was enjoying an afternoon at their camp on Swayze Lake near Opelousas when four-year-old Bobby vanished. After extensive searches of the area, the parents became convinced the boy had been kidnapped.
            The case soon gained nationwide attention, with newspapers following the case for months. Eight months later a boy believed to be Bobby was found in southern Mississippi, the companion of a wandering tinker named W.C. Walters. The parents, broken by the disappearance of their son, traveled to Mississippi and claimed the boy as their own, despite physical discrepancies and the boy’s reaction. Walters insisted the boy belonged to a woman named Julia Anderson of North Carolina, but the Dunbars took him back to Louisiana and Walters was incarcerated.
            When Anderson arrived in Opelousas to view the boy, she insisted Bobby Dunbar was Bruce Anderson.
             And so became the nationwide mystery as two mothers insisted the boy was their own. Even after the case was settled and Walters sentenced, Bobby Dunbar could never fully believe he was who his parents claimed he was.
            This fascinating case is told in a new book, “A Case for Solomon,” by Tal McThenia and Bobby's granddaughter, Margaret Dunbar Cutright. Cutright had heard the tales of her grandfather’s notoriety and inherited the newspaper clippings of the case. She decided to discover the truth for herself, to learn if her grandfather had become someone else due to a mother’s pain and grief. Cutright met descendants of the Anderson and Walter families and convinced her father to conduct a DNA test, which proved, after all these years, that they weren’t Dunbars after all.
            “A Case for Solomon” is a lengthy examination of the case, with detailed information from all involved. It’s obvious the authors conducted painstaking research from the media, local archives, library collections and personal histories. It’s a fascinating read of a case that not only captivated a nation but haunted a young child who grew into adulthood doubting his identity. 
             Cutright and McThenia will sign copies of “A Case for Soloman” at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10 at the Lafayette Barnes and Noble and 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept 11, at the Baton Rouge Barnes and Noble.