Monday, March 24, 2014

Warren offers peek inside 'New Orleans Historic Homes,' new children's titles and more

            I’ve had the pleasure of knowing journalist Bonnie Warren of New Orleans, enjoying her home and garden features in New Orleans magazine for years. Naturally, I was thrilled to see Warren had compiled a selection of these fabulous homes in her debut book, “New Orleans Historic Homes,” published by Pelican Publishing.
            Complemented by beautiful photographs by Cheryl Gerber, the book offers readers sneak peeks into some of the finest homes of the Crescent City, in a wide variety of neighborhoods. There’s the Creole “bargeboard” cottage in the Faubourg Bouligny with its “secret garden,” the colorful Midcity beauty, ironically a few blocks from the owners’ weekend getaway home (also spotlighted in the book) and my personal favorite, a 1828 Creole cottage in Treme, built with bricks hauled across Lake Pontchartrain from St. Tammany Parish, among so many more.
            Home details such as local artwork and unique antiques are as fun to absorb as the interior designs. The history behind these homes is equally fascinating.
            Warren was the founding editor of New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles and the former city editor of Better Homes and Gardens. Her publication list is impressive, as is Gerber’s bio, which includes Rolling Stones, Elle Décor and GQ. I’ve heard rumors that more books may be coming from this duo. Let’s hope so.
            Another great book from Pelican for home and garden lovers, especially now that azaleas are in bloom and the Audubon Pilgrimage is this weekend, is the reissue of “The Majesty of St. Francisville” by Lee Malone, with photography by Kerri McCaffety. St. Francisville is a small town with a massive collection of historic properties, not to mention exquisite gardens, and this book offers a guide to it all.

Children’s books
            Monroe attorney David Ingram Burkett must have had the perfect childhood for his adorable picture book, “Old McIngram Had a Farm,” relates life on a farm will make you pack up city life and head to the country.
            The book follows a young boy visiting his grandparents’ farm (Burkett’s real farm is in Mer Rouge), experiencing the animals, machinery, a smelly outhouse — even running into a ditch while learning to drive. The accompanying illustrations are equally as charming, filled with animals in the background creating their own stories and humor.
            Burkett offers the perfect book for spring, a time when drives to the country and — if you’re lucky — a grandparents’ farm is on the agenda. Let’s hope this talented attorney writes more of these delightful tales.
            Other new children’s books out now include: 
            After both the relocation of Native Americans to Oklahoma, and the following land rush, small parcels of land were given to Creek freedmen, former slaves or free men and women of color who were part of the Creek nation. Children were included and one of those landowners was young Sarah Rector. When oil was discovered on her property, she not only became wealthy, but famous as well. Her story drew so much attention, she retreated from pubic view, only to cause more publicity.
            Rector’s story, along with the history of Oklahoma, the Trail of Tears, African Americans in the mix and much more is the subject of Tonya Bolden’s “Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America,” a fascinating history lesson through the life of a child forced into the spotlight.
            Leif N. Pederson, along with illustrator Tim Banfell, both of Slidell, have penned a delightful book of rhyme centered around a swamp band of animals performing in the moonlight. “The Adventures of the Swamp Kids: The Missing Chord” follows the band as they struggle to rehearse for a contest, until Sashay the crawfish comes to the rescue with a washing tub bass. This fun Louisiana-themed book includes instructions for kids to make their own washtub bass as well as a “Lagniappe Lesson” by Cajun musician Doug Kershaw.

ForeWord Awards
            Four authors at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press are finalists in the ForeWord Book of the Year Awards. They are Darrell Bourque’s “Megan’s Guitar,” Dennis Paul Williams’ “Soul Exchange,” Zachary Richard’s “The History of the Acadians of Louisiana” and Marty Mule’s “Game Changers.” Winners will be announced at the American Library Association's annual conference on June 27. 

LEH awards
            The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities has named journalist and author Walter Isaacson as its 2014 Humanist of the Year. Isaacson and other recipients will be honored at the Humanities Awards on Saturday at the Audubon Tea Room in New Orleans.
            Born in New Orleans in 1952, Isaacson is the president and CEO of The Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute based in Washington, DC. He has been the chairman and CEO of CNN and the editor of TIME magazine. Isaacson is the author of the best-selling biographies “Steve Jobs,” “Einstein: His Life and Universe,” “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” and “Kissinger: A Biography,” plus the coauthor of “The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made.”
             Other winners include Peggy Scott Laborde, Lifetime Contribution to the Humanities; “Bayou Maharajah” by Lily Keber, Humanities Documentary Film of the Year; Richard Sexton, Michael P. Smith Memorial Award for Documentary Photography; “A Company Man: The Remarkable French-Atlantic Voyage of a Clerk for the Company of the Indies” by Marc-Antoine Caillot and “Livestock Brands & Marks: An Unexpected Bayou Country History” by Christopher Everette Cenas, 2014 Humanities Books of the Year; The Zemurray Foundation, Chair’s Award for Institutional Support; Ashley Hardee Boudreaux and Debra S. Lee, Public Humanities Programming; and Stephen Webre of Louisiana Tech, Individual Achievement in the Humanities.
            Tickets to the Humanities Awards ceremony are $125 per person. For information, visit http://www.leh.org/.

Book events
            Keiko Nitta speaks on “Black Botto of Modernity: Racial Imagination in Japanese Modernism” at 3:30 p.m. Monday, March 24, at the Ernest J. Gaines Center of the UL-Lafayette Dupré Library in Lafayette. Free and open to the public.
            Shellie Rushing Tomlinson signs “Heart Wide Open: Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus” on Tuesday, March 25, at the Barnes & Noble in Shreveport.  
            The Writers’ Guild of Acadiana meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, at Barnes & Noble. Jean Hurley, author of “The Returning,” will speak. The meeting is free and open to the public.
            Sam Irwin will sign “Louisiana Crawfish: A Succulent History of the Cajun Crustacean” at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 27, at the Thensted Center in Grand Coteau, titled “Stories of Crawfish and The Way Things Used to Be” as part of the Festival of Words, and at noon Friday at LSU-Eunice.
            The Historic Delta Grand Theatre of Opelousas presents “The Infinite Pages” at 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday, March 28-30. Based on a children's book, this is a world premiere play for young audiences and features 21 young actors.
Tickets can be purchased at www.deltagrandtheatre.com or by phone at (337) 407-1806.
            Warren Perrin, Pat Morrow, Phillip Andrepont will sign “St. Landry Parish” at 5 p.m. Thursday at Champagne’s food store in Eunice. Warren Perrin and Nelwyn Hebert will sign “Iberia Parish” and “St. Landry Parish” at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at Kjuntales, Etc., 309 Pere Megret in Abbeville.      

Cheré Coen is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana,” both from The History Press, 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 cherecoen@gmail.com.