Sunday, August 23, 2015

Numerous books mark 10th anniversary of Katrina

           Don Brown tells historic stories through illustrations for ages 12 and up much in the style of comic books. His “Great American Dust Bowl” was so successful in telling that slice of American history it won numerous awards, including one of Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of 2012.
He follows up with an explanation of Hurricane Katrina slamming the Gulf Coast in 2005 with “Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans.” Naturally, it’s a grim retelling, with haunting illustrations of the storm’s fury, its devastation and the travails of the people left behind. Brown doesn’t mince facts, either. One photo shows three white men arguing with the caption, “Back in New Orleans, disaster relief stumbles, federal, state, and city officials can’t decide how to share responsibility.” Another shows Pres. George Bush telling FEMA head Michael Brown “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” with the caption reading “The President’s praise confuses many Americans.”
The book details much about the storm, from the brutal realities of people drowning to the heroes who risked all to save lives, concluding with the clean-up and construction efforts that has happened ever since. The construction worker’s final words are emotional as well: “We’re coming back. This is home. This is life.”
Don Brown will discuss and sign “Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans” from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. today at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St. in New Orleans.
Here are other children’s books out now to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Katrina:
Phil Bildner shares the fictional story of real-life Cornelius Washington, a sanitation worker who sang and danced while working through the French Quarter, in “Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans.” Joyfully illustrated by John Parra, the story shows Cornelius celebrating life as he collects trash in pre-storm New Orleans. When Katrina hits, Cornelius doesn’t know how he will clean his beloved city but he trudges ahead nonetheless, aiding by the residents and volunteers, the latter “a flood of humanity” who descend upon New Orleans to help. Bildner will read, sign and discuss “Marvelous Carnelius” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30, at Octavia Books of New Orleans.
Tamara Ellis Smith’s “Another Kind of Hurricane” (Schwartz & Wade Books, ages 9-12) tells the story of Zavion, who loses his home during the storm and Henry, who loses his best friend during a hiking trip in the mountains of northern Vermont. Zavion ends up with Henry’s blue jeans and the marble, and through a series of coincidences that verge on the miraculous, Henry ends up in Louisiana. The boys meet, bonding over their experiences of trauma and loss.
Allan Zullo spotlights the heroes of the storm, from those who commandeered boats to rescue people to medical staff at area hospitals, in a chapter book titled “10 True Tales: Heroes of Hurricane Katrina.” 

Book news
            Yale University Press has published the paperback version of “The Good Pirates of the Forgotton Bayous: Fighting to Save a Way of Life in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina” by Ken Wells, a Pulitzer Prize finalist who has worked at the Miami Herald, Wall Street Journal and currently Bloomberg News. The book relates how a small group of shrimp boat captains in St. Bernard Parish faced the wrath of Katrina and then its equally  painful aftermath. A native of Bayou Black, Wells is also the author of the Catahoula Bayou trilogy and “Crawfish Mountain.”

Heritage Lecture Series
Author and architectural photographer Robert S. Brantley will discuss his latest book “Henry Howard: Louisiana’s Architect” Thursday at the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, located in the Old Governor’s Mansion in downtown Baton Rouge. There will be a reception from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. followed by a 6:30 p.m. lecture and booksigning. The event is free and open to the public. The book, which details a prolific yet largely unknown 19th century architect, is co-published by The Historic New Orleans Collection and Princeton Architectural Press, written by Brantley with Victor McGee and features photographs by Brantley and Jan White Brantley. It retails for $60 and will be available for purchase at the event. For more information, visit www.fhl.org or www.hnoc.org or call (225) 387-2464. 

Book events
Ellen Urbani signs “Landfall,” a novel about two women connected through fate after Hurricane Katrina, at 6 p.m. Monday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
Blaine Lourd has published a gothic coming-of-age memoir set in South Louisiana in the 1970s titled “Born on the Bayou.” Actor Matthew McConaughey says of the book, “As the youngest brother and son of a father whom I respected, feared, and idolized, I know well the rights of passage Blaine writes about: We don’t really become men in our fathers eyes until we buck them and go our own way. Hard, scary and at times unfair, it works. Blaine Lourd tells a personal story that a lot of sons and little brothers know well. A story that a lot of us wouldn't be where we are today without.” Lourd will discuss and sign copies from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday at Books Along the Teche in New Iberia and at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
Writers’ Guild of Acadiana meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Barnes & Noble Lafayette. The meetings are free and open to the public.
Claire Manes discusses and signs her book “Out of the Shadows of Leprosy” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Jeanerette Museum in Jeanerette. Manes is an adjunct professor at UL-Lafayette. The event is free and there will be books for sale.
New York Times best-selling young adult novelist Libba Bray visits New Orleans this week to celebrate the release of her “Lair of Dreams,” a supernatural novel that’s a follow-up to “The Diviners.” Bray is the author of “Beauty Queens,” the 2010 Printz Award-winning “Going Bovine” and the “Gemma Doyle” trilogy. She will sign books at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
            Gary Rivlin signs “Katrina: After the Flood” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Maple Street Book Shop in New Orleans. The book traces the storm’s immediate damage, the city of New Orleans’s efforts to rebuild itself and the storm’s lasting affects.
The book traces the stories of New Orleanians of all stripes as they confront the storm’s aftermath.
Festival of Words literary organization offers poetry and short story readings beginning at 7 p.m. on the last Wednesday of every month at the Grand Coteau Ballroom in Grand Coteau. The public is invited to bring own work and share via open mic.
Katherine E. Browne reads from, discusses and signs “Standing in the Need: Culture, Comfort, and Coming Home After Katrina” at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.

Dr. Cheryl Taylor, the Southern University Baton Rouge Graduate Nursing Program Chair and a Proctor Katrina commissioner will speak on “And We are Still Standing” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Greenwell Spring Regional Branch Library in Baton Rouge. There will also be an unveiling of the no-sew quilting project and opportunities to journal on the wall of memories and share stories in the “Big Book of Katrina Stories. A reception and music will follow.

Cheré Dastugue 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.” She also writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire, “A Cajun Dream” and “The Letter.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.