Sunday, November 23, 2014

Celebrate Picture Book Month with wonderful new titles

             November is “Picture Book Month,” a time to not only purchase great children’s books for those on your holiday list but to pass on stories that celebrate gratitude, love and giving this Thanksgiving week.  
            Leif Nedland Pederson, author of “The Adventures of the Swamp Kids: The Missing Chord” published by Ally-Gator Bookbites of Lake Charles has written a charming holiday sequel that delivers a great message titled “Tutu’s Christmas on the Bayou.”
            Tutu the turtle enjoys his Louisiana Christmas but for once he’d like to see a real Christmas tree. By the time he drags a Christmas tree from the lot to his home on the bayou the tree is devoid of needles. Heartbroken, Tutu’s friends make light of the situation and decorate it nonetheless. The moral of the story is “Whenever you give those you love something special, you’ll always feel good in return.”
            Pederson concludes the book with a holiday lagniappe lesson and ways to create holiday pinecones and popcorn and cranberry garlands. The book is illustrated by Tim Banfell.
            A young boy awakens in Tonya Bolden’s “Beautiful Moon,” realizing he hasn’t said his prayers. He quickly falls to his knees beneath a full moon and prays for the hungry to be fed, the sick to be healed and for wars to end, in addition to those he loves. What makes this story so exceptional — beautifully illustrated by Eric Velasquez — is the intertwining of other people’s stories relating to the child’s prayers, proving that one person’s prayers are universal. Both the story and illustrations make this a heart-rendering book.
            Pelican Publishing has several new children’s books out in time for the holidays, including “New Orleans Mother Goose” by Ryan Adam, illustrated by Marita Gentry and “Macarooned on a Dessert Island,” a fantasy about being marooned in candyland by the ever imaginative Johnette Downing, illustrated by Christina Wald. There’s also a couple of holiday tales — “The Great Pirate Christmas Battle” where Santa stops marauding pirates from stealing Christmas toys by Michael G. Lewis, illustrated by Stan Jaskiel and “My Puppy Gave to Me” by Cheryl Dannenbring, illustrated by Cynthia Kremsner, a canine take on the “12 Days of Christmas.”
            For more information on these books and to view their covers, check out the “Louisiana Books” Pinterest board.

Ally-Gator
            At the recent Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge I met Tommie Townsley, publisher of Ally-Gator Bookbites in Lake Charles. This innovative woman has not only created a publishing house for her own children’s books, but of those of several authors. Townsley’s “Cajun Tales” with illustrations by Anne Dentler involve whimsical animals such as Adolpheaux the Adventurous Dolphin, Amos the Artistic Alligator and Dixie the Ole Dawg. Rebecca Stelly writes and illustrates “To the World Above,” centering around an imaginary deep sea creature named Ruke who sends a message in the bottle to the surface and receives a reply. The correspondence between the two educates readers about the deep sea, including science lessons throughout the book disguised as storyline, a handy glossary in the back and activities. Townsley is also the chairman of Southwest Louisiana Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Guild and a board member for The Children’s Museum of Lake Charles. For more information, visit www.ally-gatorbookbites.com.

Meeting authors
            Another author I was privedged to meet at the Louisiana Book Festival was Kendare Blake, winner of the Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Honor Book Award for “Anna Dressed in Blood,” a young adult paranormal mystery in which a teenage ghost hunter meets his greatest challenge in the ghostly Anna of Thunder Bay, Canada. Being a ghost lover — and a fan of modern young adult fiction — I nabbed a copy as well as her latest, “Antigoddess.” Blake smiled sweetly when she handed me the book and added, “Hope you like it.” I think she secretly doubted a woman my age would. But I did, couldn’t put it down, even though I always cringe at the death of teenagers (it’s a mother thing) and am amazed at how many people die in YA books.  Even better, there’s a Louisiana connection, but I won’t give that away.
            On Nov. 15, I was honored to be a part of the Heart of Louisiana Romance Writers annual author luncheon, with best-selling author Diana Crosby as the keynote speaker. Participating authors — and ones you will not want to miss — included Christa Allen, Nancy and Steve Brandt, Donna Caubarreaux, James Buddy Estes, Shana Galen, Lori Leger, Trish Leger, Anne Clarye Mason, Shirlee McCoy, Judy McDonogh, Rhonda McKey, Farrah Rochon, Wendy Russo, Lynn Shurr, T.S. Tate and Jo Templeton. For more information on these authors and a list of their books, visit my blog post at http://louisianabooknews.blogspot.com/2014/11/heartla-author-luncheon-celebrates.html.
            The Heart of Louisiana RWA chapter meets at 10 a.m. the fourth Saturday of every month in Baton Rouge. For more information, visit www.HeartLa.com.

Book news
            Authors Stacey Judice, Kathy Higginbotham and Donna Latiolais will discuss and sign their new book “Images of America: Carencro” from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at the North Regional Library in Carencro.
            Carol Stubbs and Nancy Rust of Lafayette created a delightful combination Louisiana holiday celebration-cookbook with “A Louisiana Christmas: Heritage Recipes and Hometown Celebrations.” The book sold well for the duo but now that Pelican Publishing of New Orleans has picked it up, the title will be available everywhere. Don’t miss this charming blend of Louisiana travel with holiday recipes, perfect for holiday giving.
            I’ll be signing copies of my latest book, “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Wild Birds Unlimited.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.