Sunday, May 11, 2014

Grammy-winning producer and musician Delfeayo Marsalis tackles cell phone use

             New Orleans musician and Grammy award-winning producer Delfeayo Marsalis has written a book on putting down technology and enjoying life without it in the children’s picture book “No Cell Phone Day.” The book is illustrated by award-winning Harlem artist Reginald W. Butler and playfully addresses the idea of imposing cell phone technology and how it affects our relationships with loved ones. In the book, Delfeayo and his daughter decide to ignore cell phones for a day to explore their hometown of New Orleans, enjoying both the city’s sites and each other. To view a video made in connection with the book, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV4Vw4S8ndw&feature=youtu.be

New children’s releases
            Connie Collins Morgan of Lafayette (now of West Virginia) has penned a Louisiana take on the classic “Gingerbread Man” titled “The Runaway Beignet,” published by Pelican Publishing of New Orleans. Illustrated by Herb Leonhard, who has done several Pelican children’s books, Morgan’s tale follows a trouble-making beignet who pops off the pastry table and takes to the New Orleans streets. The book offers an exploration of New Orleans, as well as a handy glossary in the back defining typical New Orleans words and sayings.
            Also following in the revising of nursery tales is prolific Dianne de Las Casas of New Orleans, who uses an elephant character in the role of Cinderella in “Cinderellaphant.” All the other characters are animals as well, including the fairy godmouse. “Cinderellaphant” is illustrated by Stefan Jolet of New Iberia.
            I used to have a T-shirt that exclaimed, “A Woman’s Place is in the House –and the Senate.” I was pleased to discover a book for young readers showcasing women in Congress in “A Woman in the House (and Senate): How Women Came to the United States Congress, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country” by Ilene Cooper, with illustrations by Elizabeth Baddeley. Mary Landrieu, Lindy Boggs, Rose Long and Elaine Edwards are among those represented in this informative book on women in Congress, starting with the right to vote in 1920 and continuing until today.
            New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray is a pseudonym for Amy Vincent, a young adult paranormal romance author who lives in New Orleans. She is best known for her Evernight series, which takes place in the Gothic Evernight Academy, and the Spellcaster series, the latest of which, “Steadfast,” came out last month. “Steadfast” is set in Captive’s Sound in Rhode Island and revolves around Nadia, descended from witches. Booklist said of “Steadfast,” “Just as smoothly written and appealing as the first entry. The ending will provide terrific fodder for book discussions, so make sure you have enough copies to go around.”
            I somehow missed the latest book from Kimberly Griffiths Little, author of “The Healing Spell” and other books set in South Louisiana. Last year she set another young chapter novel in the bayou region. “When the Butterflies Came” involves Tara Doucet who finds butterflies following her around after the death of her grandmother. Doucet discovers a mystery concerning her Grammy Claire, one that could change her life. And this July she will release “The Time of the Fireflies,” centered around young Larissa Renaud who starts receiving eerie phone calls on a disconnected old phone in her family's antique shop and soon realizes she’s in for a strange summer. Both books are appropriate for ages 8-12.
            Cokie Roberts details the lives of the women behind the American Revolution in “FoundingMothers: Remembering the Ladies,” discussing the accomplishments of heroic, patriotic women such as Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, Phillis Wheatley, Mercy Otis Warren, Sarah Livingston Jay, and others. Details are gleaned from their letters, private journals, lists, and ledgers. The book supports the Common Core State Standards with a timeline, biographies and web resources. 
            A dog with a nose for trouble, a cat under attack, two wild burros, a determined bear and a talking bird are a few of the animals that live on the pages of “What’s Watching Me? And Other Animal Stories” by Nancy Rust and Carol Stubbs of Lafayette. The middle grade reader combines fictional stories with bits of trivia and facts, the first in the Twixt and Tween series published by Copper Iris Books of Lafayette. Each story begins with a quote from literature that sets the tone for the story. There are fun facts about the featured character in the story (in the first book of the series it’s all about animals), a “Discover and Discuss” section in the back of the book and a curriculum guide available for teachers that includes reading, writing and art activities. For information, visit www.copperirisbooks.com.
            Whitney Stewart of New Orleans, the author of many books for children including “Marshall: A Nantucket Sea Rescue,” “Who Was Walt Disney?,” “Becoming Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha” and “Jammin’ on the Avenue,” has published a new book closer to home, “A Catfish Tale: A Bayou Story of the Fisherman and His Wife.” A Cajun fisherman named Jack catches a magic fish that offers to grant wishes in exchange for being set free. Jack doesn’t have a lot of wishes, but his wife Jolie sure does. When Jolie wants to be crowned Mardi Gras queen, have things gone too far?
            Mo Willems of New Orleans continues his popular pigeon series with “The PigeonNeeds a Bath,” a picture book for ages 3-6. Per the usual routine, the bus driver (clad in shower cap and bathrobe) opens the story by asking readers to help convince the pigeon to take a bath. Though he’s covered in grime, the stubborn bird predictably resists. 
            Rick Atkinson, author of “An Army at Dawn” (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history), “The Day of Battle” and “The Guns at Last Light,” has adapted “Guns” as a book for young readers. “D-DAY: The Invasion of Normandy,1944” examines the liberation of the French coastline that led to the end of World War II.

Book events
            Two films by independent local filmmakers Pat Mire and Connie Castille will be shown for the final session of the film series, “Images of South Louisiana on Film,” at 3 p.m. today in Room 112 of Oliver Hall on the UL-Lafayette campus. The series is sponsored by the Friends of the Humanities and the College of Liberal Arts. Mire’s 1990 film “Anything I Catch: The Handfishing Story” explores the tradition of handfishing and Castille explores a disappearing practice in “I Always Do My Collars First,” her 2007 documentary about ironing. Both artists will be present along with discussion leader Dr. Barry Ancelet. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 278-7166.
            Bestselling author and star of  “Chelsea Lately,” Chelsea Handler, will sign copies of her book, “Uganda Be Kidding Me,” at 2 p.m. Friday at Garden District Book in New Orleans. Tickets are $29.43 and will include admittance for two adults as well as one book. For information, visit http://www.gardendistrictbookshop.com/.


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.