Friday, February 20, 2015

Louisiana children's books, spring releases

       There are several wonderful new children's books just out that are either Louisiana related or perfect for this time of year.  
        Johnette Downing has penned a delightful children’s book involving those pesky swamp gases that have inspired numerous legends. In “The Fifolet,” swamp lights attract fishermen Jean-Paul Pierre Downing into the swamps in the hope of finding treasure, but they are not what they seem. Downing will discuss, read from and sign “The Fifolet,” along with illustrator Jennifer Lindsley, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21, at Maple Street Book Shops in New Orleans. The official book launch will include a book reading, art discussion, treasure hunt, coloring sheet, refreshments and a book signing by both the author and illustrator
        Carol Boston Weatherford has published the biography, “Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century,” that follows the groundbreaking soprano from her upbringing in Laurel, Miss., to the New York Metropolitan Opera House. The children’s book is illustrated by Raúl Colón and makes an inspiring tale for Black History Month.
        Another great title for Black History Month is "Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama" by Hester Bass, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Although much of the Civil Rights Movement was violent and turbulent, the integration of Huntsville went much smoother, thanks to the courage and persistent residents of the northern Alabama city. Bass and Lewis are the author/illustrator of "The Secret World of Walter Anderson," which won the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children. Lewis took the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for "Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman" by Nikki Grimes.
         A fun Mardi Gras book for this time of year has been created by Lafayette artist Vergie Banks. “The Journey of the Little Red Tricycle, Zoe Meets Gumbo,” for ages 3 and up, centers around a young girl named Zoe who can speak three languages, English, French and Spanish. Zoe dresses in costumes and enjoys a country Mardi Gras with zydeco music, chasing chickens and a gumbo at day’s end, even though the chicken she brings home becomes a pet. Banks’s little red tricycle is part of her most popular body of artwork that portrays a little Creole girl with pigtails on her three-wheeler. 

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun 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