Sunday, September 27, 2015

Encourage children to read with new Louisiana books

Multi-talented Louisiana songwriter and children’s book author Johnette Downing of New Orleans has penned a charming introduction to Louisiana with “Louisiana, the Jewel of the Deep South,” lovingly illustrated by Julia Marshall of New Orleans. The book is a literal tour of the state, focusing on the state’s crustacean and official dog (crawfish and Catahoula), among many others, but also honoring its musical traditions, diverse terrain and unique customs, proving it’s truly a jewel of the Deep South.
Other children’s books to consider:
Jeff’s dog Bob can make breakfast, drive a car and play golf, but when Mimi shows up with her puddle, she informs Jeff, “My dog is better than your dog.” Turns out the puddle can fetch a stick and sit on command, something Bob doesn’t do, so naturally Mimi considers Bob inferior. In the end, neither Bob nor Jeff cares for they know Bob is an exceptional pet. “My Dog, Bob” by Richard Torrey is a simple but powerful story honoring those who are “quietly amazing” as Torrey mentions in the dedication.
Just in time for election season is “Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box” by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein with illustrations by James E. Ransome. Young Michael joins his proud African American grandfather to the voting precinct only to watch him turned away by Jim Crow laws. He vows that one day he would vote for him. When the day arrives for Michael to vote, he vows never to take it for granted. “Granddaddy’s Turn” not only reminds us how only yesterday not everyone was allowed to vote, but that this important American freedom should never be unappreciated and always observed.
Leif Nedland Pedersen and illustrator Tim Banfell return with their “Adventures of Swamp Kids” series featuring whimsical animals in a South Louisiana setting. In “A Dog Named Cat,” Tuti the alligator, Pierre the turtle and Mon Cher the raccoon visit the SPCA to adopt a Catahoula puppy, which they name “Cat.” As with previous books in the series, the story comes with a fun song, information on Catahoulas, crafts and a “lagniappe lesson” from New Orleans newscaster Angela Hill on how to care for pets.


New releases
            “Lafayette in Transnational Context: Identity, Travel, and Nationalism in the Revolutionary Atlantic World,” edited by Jordan Kellman and exploring the many facets of the Marquis de Lafayette’s life and career, has been published by LSU Press.
UL-Lafayette professor Charles Richard’s book, “Coastal Sketches: Field Notes and Photos from The End of the World,” a collection of personal essays and creative nonfiction about the loss of place and identity occurring in Louisiana’s rapidly eroding coastlands, has been published by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.
            Local author and journalist Constance Monies has collected stories that defines Acadian culture within three Louisiana towns in her new book, “Never Say Goodbye.” The stories include a Lafayette love story and the excitement of the early cattle drives, the adventures of two priests in Abbeville who build a church and learn about the traditions of the early Acadians and the courage of a woman who alone faces the occupation of her New Iberia plantation home by Union troops during the last days of the Civil War in Louisiana. Monies will discuss the “Art Of Writing” and her books “Never Say Goodbye” and “A House For Eliza” at the Writers Guild of Acadiana meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Barnes & Noble, Lafayette. Her books are available at www.CypressCovePublishing.com, Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and local bookstores and gift shops and will be available for signing at Tuesday meeting.

Book Festival
The 12th annual Louisiana Book Festival will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, in downtown Baton Rouge’s Capitol Park. The festival will feature presentations by local and national bestselling authors, panel discussions, activities for children and teens, live music, food and a Halloween costume contest. A variety of writing WordShops are scheduled for the day before the festival, including a discussion about telling a story in fiction or memoir by authors Molly Antopol and Skip Horack.  For more information or to volunteer, visit LouisianaBookFestival.org.

Book news
            Charlaine Harris, the New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse vampire mysteries set in “Bon Temps, Louisiana,” will be inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame Tuesday at Noah’s Event Center in West Little Rock. The Hall of Fame honors individuals with Arkansas connections who have made significant contributions to the entertainment arts. The exhibits commemorating the members are permanently housed on display in the Pine Bluff Convention Center in Pine Bluff, Ark. Harris’ most popular novels include “The Southern Vampire Mysteries” and the “Harper Connelly” series. “The Southern Vampire Mysteries” feature Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress from Louisiana, and are the basis for HBO’s “True Blood.”

Book events
The Baton Rouge Gallery will host five writers — Ronlyn Domingue, Laurie Lynn Drummond, Renee Bacher, Jacqueline Dee Parker, Dorothy Early Davis and Claire Boudreaux Bateman  — as part of Women’s Week beginning at 4 p.m. today.
Writers’ Guild of Acadiana meets at 7 p.m. the last Tuesday of the month at Barnes & Noble Lafayette. The meetings are free and open to the public.
Barbara Sillery discusses “Biloxi Memories” at 6 p.m. Monday at Octavia Books in New Orleans. Also at Octavia this week, Fredrick Barton reads from and signs his latest novel “In the Wake of the Flagship” at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Melinda Rose discusses her latest book, “Of the Rising Tide — A Photo Essay of the Vanishing Bayou Community of Isle de Jean Charles” at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Keller Library and Community Center in New Orleans. Also on Wednesday, Michael Murphy reads from and signs “Fear Dat New Orleans: A Guide to the Voodoo, Vampires, Graveyards and Ghosts of the Crescent City” at 6 p.m. at New Orleans’ Maple Street Book Shop.
            Dixie Poché will sign copies of her book “Classic Eateries of Cajun Country” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Books-a-Million in Lafayette.

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.