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