Sunday, June 21, 2015

Local and international books to please young readers

            Last week I promised more children’s book review to keep kids occupied — and reading — this summer.
A great book to read to your children, followed up by a trip to the University Art Museum, is “Grandma in Blue with Red Hat” by Scott Menchin, illustrated by Harry Bliss. A young boy loves taking classes at the art museum and his teacher explains that art provokes many things — happiness, beauty, storytelling, uniqueness and much more. The boy realizes these are the same qualities as his grandmother, who ends up painting in the style of famous artists. He realizes that art, like his grandmother, are one of a kind pieces.
Joe writes his grandfather explaining what he’s learning this summer in “Ice Cream Summer” by Peter Sis. There’s plenty of math, reading, geography — even cartography, but it all contains an ice cream theme. Even Joe’s history lessons explain how ice cream was born in China 2,000 years ago. When grandpa arrives to take Joe on a special, the theme continues in this charming and innovative book that makes learning fun.
Journalist, teacher and performer Mel LeCompte Jr. of Opelousas has penned and illustrated a geography lesson of Louisiana in a rhyming story in which T-Boy loses his turtle and travels the state in search of him in “T-Boy and the Terrible Turtle.” The young boy searches several towns and cities, emphasizing their attributes, such as rice in Crowley and the Biedenharn Museum in Monroe. In the back is a handy map and list of the cities with more information. LeCompte is also author of the children’s book, “The Ice Cream Cow,” and “Sharpened Iron” The Tee Cotton Bowl Story.”
Home comes in many forms, which is why Carson Ellis, illustrator of “The Composer is Dead” by Lemony Snicket, showcases the many different homes of the world in “Home.” There’s French homes, bee homes, urban apartments, artistic dwellings and the home of a Norse god, among so many more.
Young children will also love “The Monkey and the Bee” by C.P. Bloom, illustrated by Peter Raymundo, a simple but vibrant tale of a monkey at first irritated by a bee when he lands on the monkey’s banana. When the monkey swats at the bee, he disturbs a lion who chases the monkey — until the bee threatens the lion with his stinger. In the end, the monkey appreciates having a friendship with the bee.
Don’t wait until summer’s end to get “Ally-Saurus and the First Day of School” by Richard Torrey, an adorable book about a young girl who loves dinosaurs and plays the part and how she reacts to the other kids on her first day of school. Although it’s difficult adjusting to the other kids at first, children who don’t necessarily roar at snack time, Ally discovers that other kids have vivid imaginations too. What makes this the perfect summer book is the children visit the library at book’s end and discover a variety of new worlds. After all, books inspire the imagination so don’t forget to visit the library for more.
Cap off the night with Cornell Landry’s latest, “Goodnight Cajun Land,” a beautifully illustrated (by Sean Gautreaux) and delightfully rhyming book that says goodnight to what makes Acadiana special, such as zydeco dancing, Evangeline Maid Bread, boudin and the UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns. Landry has written  Cornell P. Landry has written several New Orleans-centric books such as “Goodnight NOLA,” “Happy Mardi Gras” and “One Dat, Two Dat and Are You a Who Dat?” View his books at http://www.blackpotpublishing.com/.

Book events
David Atwood will be signing his latest book of poetry, “Catfish Bones and Cajun Ghosts,” from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 27, at 1921 Jackson Street Coffee House in Alexandria.
“Dollbaby” by Laura Lane McNeal is now in paperback and to celebrate the softcover release McNeal will sign copies from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 23, at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.
The Historic New Orleans Collection’s latest exhibition, “Purchased Lives: New Orleans and the Domestic Slave Trade, 1808–1865,” will run through July 18, and several special events have been scheduled. Heather Andrea Williams will lead a book club session on “Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery” at 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday, June 26-27, at the New Orleans museum. Admission is free.

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, 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 cherecoen@gmail.com.